Occasional Poems 2012-2019

60pp book published by Speculative Books, 2020.

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Teaser poems:

On When You Are Told, While Very Hungover, That Michael Phelps
Has An Armspan Of Six Feet And Four Inches, Whereupon You Reply,
In Your Astonishment, ‘He Could Just Hold Me!’, Thereafter Being
Challenged To Write A Poem On The Subject, And Later Noticing
That The Line ‘Hold Me, Hold Me, Michael Phelps’ Has Exactly The
Same Metre As The First Line Of Blake’s ‘Tyger’, After Which Things
Get A Bit Out Of Hand


Hold me, hold me, Michael Phelps!
You’re the ocean, I’m a whelk!
What Olympian hand or eye
Did frame thy armspan, o’er six foot wide?

In what distant lengths and breadths
Cleaved thy limbs well-tonèd heft?
With what stroke dare thy impress?
Front crawl, butterfly, backstroke, breast?

What the bicep? What the palm?
What limbs maketh such a man?
What the medal? What the ore?
Unfortunately not gold on this occasion, as thou wast beaten by
a young fellow from Singapore.

But what shoulder! But what art!
’Twere by thy hand the seas did part!
’Tis thy hand toucheth Adam so
In Rome’s most famous graffito! (technically Vatican City)

When the stars throw down their spears (javelins)
And the tears dryeth for four more years
Dost thy thoughts turn with some longing
To heavy petting, ducking, bombing?

Hold me, hold me, Michael Phelps!
You’re the ocean, I’m a whelk!
What Olympian hand or eye
Did frame thy armspan, o’er six foot wide?
After the Self-Immolation of Patrick Harvie We Were Never the Same

We were there that day in George Square in 2025.
Sudden shards of sunlight liquefied the lumpen snows
and warmed your freckles. Strange, that day, to be alive.
My last ever pair of adidas. Meltwater oozing at the shelltoes.
You gave me balm for my chapped lips – lemon flavour, I remember –
and dug your nails into my palm as we were gurgled by the mass.
I thought about the matcha tea we shared back in November.
‘I’ll love you till the end of time’, you said. It couldn’t last.
An air horn blared. The crowd convulsed. The polis closed their ranks.
A frenzied chorus rose and cawed and fell like frightened birds.
‘You know a hundred years ago this place was full of tanks.’ 
‘There are no tanks today but.’ Neither tanks nor words.
Then back we drew and weaved a circle round a wee bald figure
and pinned among that grim circumference fixed upon its centre.

Swaddled in biofuel-soaked party banners he struck a dull match to a flame
The fire engulfed his whole martyring bonce and his eyes in their spectacle frames
Pierced us both to the forlorn inferno; pierced us all for shame
After the self-immolation of Patrick Harvie we were never the same.


That was Saturday. Late spring. The next day we stayed in
listening to meaningless seagulls squawk and our phones
chiming, chiming. My fringe was all singed.
You stroked it, muttering something. ‘Is your flatmate home?’
I asked. Your elbow-bone felt sharp against my ribs. 
I kissed your wrist and made to tug your hair.
‘No’, you said, ‘I don’t know where she is.
I haven’t seen her since yesterday. She could be anywhere.’
I kept thinking that I could smell burning
until I remembered I could.
I yawned. ‘Will the world keep turning?’
‘I don’t know’, you replied, ‘but it should.’
Then you asked me ‘here, have you still got that lip balm that I gave you?’
‘Aye here it’s, aye’. I put some on your lips. Lemon flavour.

Over the rooftops and terminal Sundays the pitch of the aftermath came
You Googled our fortunes you knew it was hokum your thumbprints just inking for blame
I told you forget it the stars are all stupid and life is a video game
After the self-immolation of Patrick Harvie we were never the same.


We both quit our jobs that summer. We took
long walks through the city and talked about the future 
as if it were a book
we’d rather pulp than read. I asked you
hesitantly, if you’d rather have been born
in another century. You paused, said ‘ha. What a stupid thing to say,
I mean, yes, obviously’. I would have thought it scorn
in your voice had I not known better. ‘Okay’,
I said, ‘fair play. But everybody died back then too you know.’
‘I know right’, you said, ‘what a bummer.’
And it really didn’t matter how slow
we walked. It was not more beautiful that summer.
It was better, perhaps, to keep our eyes downcast.
We talked about the past a lot. We talked about the past.

Remember that summer the city ablaze with the faith in a vision to claim
We met in the Yes Bar you liked my hair but you thought that my poem was lame
Oh please never tell me of what happened after, of the rages that rendered us tame
After the self-immolation of Patrick Harvie we were never the same.


So the leaves turned red and red-brown 
with the last push notification.
To your flat we said ‘see you round’
We forgot to say bye to the station.
We watched as the city turned solid
with the first of the what winter frost.
Your cheek tasted dry and salted.
You told me that you could smell toast.
I noticed your lips were chapped.
I fumbled around for the balm
but I’d left it back at your flat.
I looked at you. ‘Damn’, I thought. ‘Damn.’
You told me you’d love me till the end of the world
Then the sky fucking cracked. And so ended the world.

All huddled in litters at the mouth of the tunnel for what doesn’t kill you will maim
You clawed at my face and sobbed for a moment. I cried to your freckles your name.
I grasped at your body. We’re already fallen. We scented the drones taking aim
After the self-immolation of Patrick Harvie we were never the same
After the self-immolation of Patrick Harvie we were never the same.

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