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A Soldiers Time of Day


The morning

has not busied.

Shops, pubs

& cafés are still


in sleep

behind shutters.


A blind vet strolls

the sidewalk

with white cane

snug to armpit.

As yet, no tables

or chairs to avoid

or sandwich boards

or window cleaners'

ladders, no sleeping

dogs, beer kegs

or crates of flagons.


He's back in charge.

A Sergeant Major

once again.

In timely step

once a day

before reveille.




After Breakfast


Well skip the bud

that frees us from

our phobia, boot it

for a day. First step

will be a giant's -

to cross a belching

road without



Then we'll skip

over the wall.

Our feet first

to feel the luxury.

We'll sink into sand

that's not mixed

three to one

and set, unlike

the path we skip



And as sure as we'll have

fish 'n' chips later, there'll

be a dog retrieving a ball

over and over

again, never tiring.


The sea will froth

at the hem

and further off

a dredger will be stuck

in the middle of morning.

And we'll stare and stare

at the openness, our

backs turned on

the city's bane.




Women Only


And further more:

you didn't fool

a frog

when you


headlong onto

the dyke

pretending to be

a shield.

The use of


to disguise

your intentions

was a ham's


Even she

though she

played along

wasn't fooled.   




Taming My View


I thought my wild

window scene

would have lasted

out my years

but they have scythed

the blackberry bushes


while the fruit

was young

like knots.


Rabbits have retreated

well back in the heath

so painfully far

my eyes

can't play on them.



of a concrete new era:

high-rise cell blocks


for drug dealers.


Sun scorched Irish

Navvies with vicious

eyes and fierce tongues

tame my view.






Old times with him

in youth she can't

renew, what then

what seems

millenniums ago
they shared

what they

in adolescence

knew: a culture

in their veins

its ebb and flow.
The size of faith,

clarity now blurred

she yearns to see

to hear her mother's

way, on native soil

to screech

the fathers' word

to pilgrims

waved on

from her sandbur

bay. Seeds

that will never lose

their pride of place
nor will the tree

among strange trees

forget its origin, its

sister root, its brace.
Where will
you nest

in winter, sweet

linnet? Maybe

in the fork

of some cousin-

on some bigoted

brother's blasé-

bogged ranch.

























  Esmond Jones


Dumped As I Slept


An opportunist fly

tipper needed only

the cover of night.


My first gaze

through the window

locks onto the open

gate which doesn't

swing in the wind

because the armchair

with two bottles

of silver top

sat comfy on it

prevents movement.


The postman scissors

the wall. A signature

is requisite.


Midday Barrage


His river's sleek flow

through morning veers

into a maelstrom.


A rapacious afternoon

around the bend scuppers

his sails, barricades

the gateway to his mind,

sinks a hoy of ideas.


His muses

utterly shuttered

and firmly battened

he latches onto

a solitary

salvaged thought:


better the measure

be short of the brim

than sop the literates'

laps with stagnant





Mixing With Aliens


Temulent winebibbers jiffle

among shoppers along the High-

Street. Going nowhere

they U-turn before the throng

filters to a dribble,

not wanting to be kenspeckle

to street-cleaning cops.


The sots are deadpan,

behind which, one can't help

but think there's an

autobiography that cries

for elaqueate.

A would-be bestseller,

a mixture of rhathymia

and woebegoness, but we only

get to see the wrap.


Back home, huddled under

arches alongside the canal,

they gongoozle; talk little

of their day out:

the smell of fresh clothes,

buzz of aliens.






She sits up, hauls herself over

slumbering hills, wells across

the heath's dew-juiced heather,

rolls the tail of the pupil-

black night, marks time

with the beaching tide,

soundless as an ukulele

in a shop window.




One of Them


He digs with a nib

in the dark like an aardvark,

hauls his findings

to a high hill, frees them

into first light; lets them

roll down onto unexpected heads.


Sore and sour, they search

for him to gag the truth

by batter or by bribe,

but he's hidden behind

a pseudonym that floats

and leaves no trail.

Far from done he has an eye

for more and bigger mackerel.  


He'd like to say,

I wrote the facts and set

the trapsthat sent them

to their cells, but he foregoes

the credit due so he can watch

close up, the ooze 

from his colleagues' pores.




Fifty Years On


You had played there before

the houses had been capped

and windowed, when trowels

clattered, and barrows

clanked along planks.


Shouts from busybodies

on scaffolds: pass the ball

you selfish bastard, go on

my son, shoot, shoot.

And you'd run your pants off

without panting.


Spectator now, you watch

your same school colours,

black & amber running through

reds. Another goal!

Another punch in the air.

Three up, the ref blows time.  


You're content to watch

the pitch invasion,

the chimneys smoking,

the black pup leashed

to the white gate  yelping

as you suck from

your asthma pump.




Keeping up Appearances


He'll glide through six days

of it, today. One day in seven

he manages it. When she turns up

she'll do the same

as every week: look at him

framed on the mantelpiece;

in airforce blue.

Just look at you, then.
And he'll jut his chin

from the armchair.
Look at me, now.

But she'll not notice

the cutthroat's craft,

its dip on the upper lip,

its slip down the cheek

and curve around the chin.

She'll just pick up

his pension book and a list

for the grocer.




Hysteria in a Rose Garden


He is hung on his wail,

tongue tight as an acorn,

stretched like the string

of a kite. His mouth

at full throttle brims

to a hush, the air too thick,

too sweet to swallow.






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