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God’s house is a white dome

lucid and impossible, perched

on a pinnacle of rock.


Take the pilgrim’s track blessed

by mountain shadow, holm-oak,

apricot and wild gladioli.


Faith draws your body on

through blisters and sweat

to the high plateau,


the lentil pasture of Vouni,

a stony dust of field

lined with hand-torn harvest.


The final stretch invites you —

its gentle rise scoring black

through thin blue air —


towards the low oak door.






First published in the Newcastle University/Poetry School MA Anthology 2021


The Entitled

They lined them up in the great hall. Remember

you are the ones who will go on to run

the country - Nothing stands in your way.

One or two shuffled their feet,

ran index fingers between pinched flesh

and starched white collar, stole sideways glances

for signs of fellow deserters, found none. Most of them

buried the questions, made it through unscarred

but the little clip mics picked up a hiss on each

syllable as the lies slid out of their mouths 

and the TV close-up caught a strange twitch 

in the corner of their eyes. At night love stripped

them down and found them out, their desperate 

lips, how tongue-tied they were between each kiss.

First published in The Rialto, Summer 2021



Czechoslovakia 1976

A man is shuttered away in a laboratory
he stares down the lens of a microscope
into the peppercorn eyes of a moth.
At night words fall through him like particles

that cluster and mutate in spiralling patterns –

Nemuze uverit, nemuze uverit, nemuze uverit.

Every twenty-two hours
the moth hangs in its pupa

waiting for the blood to fall
and for the wind and the currents.

Columbia 2011

A woman is kept in a jar, the jar
is kept in darkness, the darkness
is blacker than her eyes. Inside herself

she dreams she is a girl running barefoot

with a net in the garden.
creelo, creelo, creelo

between thought and dream, between

decades and hemispheres and species

the edge of belief begins
like a wing that trembles
and then lifts.

(This poem was featured on BBC Radio 3's 'The Verb'. It is a poem in response to 'The Poetry Exchange's conversation with Claudia Orduz about the poem that has been a friend to her; 'The moth' by Miroslav Holub.)


The Secret Library, Darayya, Syria, 2016. *


‘but as a pilgrim resolute, I took,

even with the chance equipment of that hour,

the road that pointed toward the chosen Vale.’ – William Wordsworth, The Prelude. 

From his post on the edge of what’s left 

of his city – among rubble, hoops of barbed wire 

and burnt out cars – he watches 

through his father’s old binoculars

for black marks on a dirt-grey sky.


All clear he puts his rifle down, takes up 

the small, solid block of a leather-bound book,

one ear remains on duty as foreign syllables 

swim up from the page then cluster into shapes 

his mouth closes round like cherries –


‘home’, ‘pomp’, ‘stone’, then

the strange musical ones he loves most,

‘empyrean’, dedication’, ‘magnificent’. 


The old idea comes back to him, nudges

at the edge of who he once was - Pilgrimage,

the right to travel out in search of something holy

and to return to the sanctity of home.




* This poem was inspired by Mike Thomson’s Crossing Continents , Syria’s Secret Library, 

BBC Radio 4, 2016. 


Shortlisted in The Wolverhapton Literature Festival poetry prize.





He languishes in dark caverns - 

second-hand furniture stores crammed

with the carcasses of domestic endings,

air thick with the sticky cocktail of polish and mould.


Among the aisles of carelessly sequenced items,

he halts now and then to suckle on the intimacy

of a worn handle, a strand of hair 

caught in the screw behind a mirror.


Beside the monolithic cast-offs his own grief 

shrinks to an old penny he can hold,

the edge of it bites his palm - 

he’s still here in Winter’s dark funnel.


He brings home a special find - 

a giant chest with slender drawers 

for maps and plans no longer drawn 

and wider than his spread-eagle arms 

when he goes to embrace it.


Eclipsed in the golden pools of light

from two angle-poise lamps, 

long evenings see him scooping

wax into the splintered grain

bringing it back to life, 

honouring the old ways.







Short-listed in the Bridport Poetry Prize, published in San Pedro River Review.



Some mornings you open 

the curtains and light falls 

into your little world as if 

all the chaos of the night 

were suddenly evolution––

a wild growing busy 

with silent intention;
a pile of books gestates 

on the wizened armchair, 

the small wooden figure 

waiting for your sketches 

is poised, one leg lifted 

for a leap that is always 

just about to be taken. 

The harmonica, sits pert 

in its open case, nudges 

into your cornucopia
of possible beginnings. 






This poem first featured as part of The Poetry Health Service, a project offering the healing power of poetry, created and curated by Hafsah Annela Bashir. 

Up There


Space, he needed more

space. On The Waterfront,

Marlon Brando and the pigeons

have haunted him all his life.

He settled for a loft conversion; 


apex lines he gazes up into,

giant upside-down ticks or 

that symbol for inserting words 

when something is missing.

He painted everything white.


Below, bath-time terrors,

a sink full of crusted dishes,

damp laundry congealing 

in a basket. He takes himself

up there most nights,


raises the ladder, sits

in front of his screen saver;

24 inches of blood red rust into which 

he downloads a thumbnail 

of two white doves. Digitally 


he masters their flight, watches 

slow-motion wings billow 

through crimson grit, flutter to the edge 

of the screen, fly off





Published in the on-line journal Halfway Down The Stairs


Viewpoint on the River Dee

in memory of Michael J Bennett


I come when the edge of darkness returns you to me.

The water is swollen above the weir before it breaks

into a gush of white foam. The heron stands poised

fixing the moment. I remember your hands, the tension

in your forearms forcing them steady as you held them up

in a square for the view you never came back to paint.

I look into your scene, the arc of the bridge, lamposts,

the curved row of houses lining the hill, winter trees 


all reveal themselves to me now as a complex web

of thin black lines like an X-ray held to the light,


the challenge of perspective that ruled your life. 





Part of the collaborative Poem of The North, celebrating 50 years of the Northern Poetry Library

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