Friday, June 13, 2008


I met a beautiful young woman
her life overwhelmed with pain and sorrow
and although I didn't recognise her
I knew her

I saw her struggling with children
juggling love and desperation
and bewildered frightened kids
and I knew her

I saw the harshness of her life
and the warmth of her heart
and though I didn't know it
I knew her

I felt her vulnerability
admired her strength and hope
and lack of bitterness
and I knew her

How could I not fall in love with you
protect you, support you
come to life before your eyes
most beautiful lover?

For I had found one long since lost
the mum I'd had before she paid the cost
the one I'd forgotten, my beautiful Mother
discovered at last in the eyes of another.



Serbian absurdities
tragic atrocities
black and blue bruises
bloody noses on bloody birthdays
nobody knows
Slobodan somebody
bloody slob of a nobody
now makes us all no-bodies
blood in the mud
so bloody snowy
no blood in the bloody bodies

Blind with the blood in your eyes
burning with the blood of your birth
ethnically filthed
your filthy hands are rotted
in pure blood
Slobastard Serb
may it cleanse you from this wretched Earth

Where filth is thrown
the foul shall follow
this stinking corpse filled mud
that soon shall swallow you
is purer than your sweetest dream
our darkest night.

** With sincere apologies to all Serbs, I acknowledge your sufferings, this was written in anger.
** It has been suggested that Milosevic, both of whose parents committed suicide, was an abused child.

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Kurdistan 1991

The news pays nightly hommage
to Kurdistan
and I make nightly pilgrimage
to Kurdistan
daily I perform my painful duty
witnessing to the agony of a nation

as if by sharing in the suffering
I could lessen theirs;
as if my faithless prayers
could reach God's ears;
as if my precious tears
outweighed an ocean.



Slipping over the sill of history
from memory into mythology
from passion to trivia
the forgotten people of the forgotten valleys of those long forgotten years

Armenia: I imagine
an almost empty land
of ochre mountains and silent lakes
everything tinged with washed out red
empty to a vast sky
the end of summer;
a haunted land
whose meanings and messages are invisible
to its present transient inhabitants
who see the piles of stones, but not
the cherished churches, gardens, homes
of another time, another life.

I see it still, in nineteen-sixteen;
how sad it is, neither gardens nor graves
no-one remembers Armenia.

"Who now remembers the Armenians?" - said to be Hitler's response to an aide who hesitated at the posibility of exterminating the Jewish people.


Paki shop

In the local Paki shop
the customers come in to talk
talk up the hopeless housing
talk down the high-rise rents

The shopkeeper stands respectfully
it's not his place to speak his truth
of racism and emigration
isolation, separation
uncounted hours, unfeared of years
in your local Paki shop

Saved for, paid for, silently prayed for
it's not his place, full stop.


Family Life

Two people in love
fitting like hand in glove
a hidden fist clenched
soul and body wrenched

the first time was the worst
the rest monotony at best
is this what all the world lives for?
a child born, a woman torn

husband and wife, trouble and strife
as now they know, found out too late
it wasn't worth it, all a mistake
they ache and hurt and bite and hate

a mother and child
one smothered, one wild
each alternately in turns
while smouldering bitterness icily burns



To have and to hold
to love and enfold
to cover with gold
to bare and behold

To buy and be sold
to tell and be told
to scare and to scold
to fear growing bold

To hate getting old
to chase from the fold
to kill and be cold
to millder and mould.

*millder, a dialect word formed as a cross of mildew with moulder.


Prayer to the Rain

Oh may it never stop, this cleansing rain
may it fall heavier and heavier
clean the roads and houses new
wash away the marks and stone
wash away all sign of life
Oh may it rain and more and more
wash away all of life
cleanse this Earth of all our works
cleanse our souls of every stain
sweep away our cluttered lives
undo our deeds, unbind our bonds
wash away our sin and pain
may it rain and rain and rain.



Walking through the nightwind
long and cold and heavy and dark
invisible river
flowing over me
pushing between the houses
small and unlit
beneath a bottomless starless sky
no sound but this steady exhalation
unvarying, unliving
quietly, slowly robbing me of warmth
stealing through these endless empty streets
quiet, but in this total silence
loud as a funeral wail
unseen, but large as the sky
devoid of smells, of noise,
of any sign of life,
this dying breath of Earth.



That moment of the evening
when the cats sit still
and all the world is hushed:
the labours of the day are done
the night's exertions yet to come.

The sighing breeze of evening
and the softest colours of the sky
with all enwrapping tenderness
bathe the toilers of their sweat
soothe the troubled hearts of men
and usher in with gathering night
one by one the silent stars.


Home from Home

I love Longsight
scruffy, vibrant, full of life
where Africans and Gypsies, Jamaicans and Afghans
all can feel at home
in our little Anglo-Pakistan.

I love Rusholme
where Mumbai meets Little Mogadishu
and the summer evening air is scented
with shisha and curry and diesel.

I love the city centre
the masonry mountains
the pride of past ages
and the hopes of today.

But Chorlton is where I come to be with me
to drink coffee, read the papers
to think, to write, to listen to music
to visit the river, to feel the changing seasons
to watch the people walking, to note the passing years.

I have my home in Longsight
amid the hurley burley
of asylum struggles and shopkeeper wars,
I work in Gorton
peeping in on fractured lives
and people getting by, doing their best,
But I live my truest life in Chorlton
alone in coffee bars or by the river
I am not lonely, I’m with myself.

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