Night

Over the silent park the low mist hangs;

Blue and smoky shadow maps carved in relief.

Distant silver giants glimpsed through leaves

Glare across the distance.

Brush away the fog and bare the bones;

Chill fingers writing in the sky,

Stark words, bleak prose.

Step back into the small hours and give in.

Waiting For Silence

As the day falls away,

As the dark settles in,

As the sounds simmer down,

As the cold rises up,

As the stars flicker on,

As the calm wanders out,

I will stand and I’ll wait for the silence.

 

With the day dying out,

With the dark climbing up,

With the sounds moving on,

With the cold biting in,

With the stars staring down,

With the calm far away,

I will stand and I’ll wait for the silence.

 

If the day is used up,

If the dark has come out,

If the sounds fade away,

If the cold hunkers down,

If the stars will bed in,

If the calm clambers on

I will stand and I’ll wait for the silence.

 

So, the day has moved on

So, the dark battens down

So, the sounds huddle in

So, the cold has spread out

So, the stars dance away

So, the calm rises up,

I will stand and I’ll wait for the silence.

 

When the day has caved in,

When the dark is switched on,

When the sounds have panned out,

When the cold claws away,

When the stars have stepped up,

When the calm filters down,

I will stand and I’ll wait for the silence.

 

Now the day is worn down,

Now the dark streaks away,

Now the sounds jumble up,

Now the cold fastens on,

Now the stars stagger out,

Now the calm trickles in,

Here I stand as I wait for the silence.

Unbending Sleep

Sleep is no friend to me,

No gentle end for me,

Sleep will not bend to me.

Unruly sleep!

 

Sleep lays a trap for me,

Aims a sharp slap at me,

Sleep leaves a gap in me.

Unfeeling sleep!

 

Sleep turns a light on me,

Makes it too bright for me,

Sleep pulls the night from me.

Unseeing sleep!

 

Sleep runs away from me,

Simply won’t stay for me,

Sleep will not lay with me.

Uncaring sleep!

Questions

Did I leave the oven on?
Did I lock the door?
Did I hear the stair creak?
Can I hear it anymore?
Did I shut the window?
Did I call the cat?
Did I send that email?
Was that noise a rat?
Can I pay the mortgage?
Who will fix the car?
Did I wash the school clothes?
Who knows where they are?
Have we any cereal?
Is there any bread?
When is my appointment?
Should I cancel it instead?
What’s that actor been in?
Why’s the wifi slow?
Did I pay the milkman?
Where did that spider go?
Have I put some weight on?
Are my clothes too tight?
These are things I think when I
Lie down to sleep at night.

The Wakeful

You who sleep believe the world stands still.
You miss the clatter of the postal trains,
The hiss of cats beneath the window sill.
But we, the wakeful, hear it all.

You who sleep believe the world sleeps too.
You miss the wailing of the hungry babes,
The cabs that come and go the whole night through.
But we, the wakeful, hear it all.

You who sleep believe the world packs in.
You miss the barking of the scamp’ring fox,
The reedy racket of a wind-blown bin.
But we, the wakeful, hear it all.

You who sleep believe that life shuts down.
You miss the footsteps of the night-shift gang,
The clink of floats that cart the milk through town.
But we, the wakeful, hear it all.

You who sleep believe we’re all at rest.
You miss the rustling as we shift and twist,
The heartbeat thudding deep within the chest.
But we, the wakeful, hear it all.

Wild

He runs along the verge, his tail hung down,
His fur reflecting red beneath the moon,
Home neither in the country nor the town.
He hurries lest the day should come too soon.
Light steals all prospects of a hearty meal;
A tender pullet or a careless hare.
He begs the wind such off’rings to reveal.
That he might snatch and carry to his lair.
Yet, many days his belly only sees
The stretching hours of starving fretful rest,
With nothing that his hunger would appease.
These are the times that form the wild thing’s test.
Unending seem the nights for such as he;
Such is the price to pay for being free.

Churlish Night

I came to resent the night

For its mystery, its beauty, its perfect peace.

While I, carrying my turmoil like a bundle of my worldly goods,

Had none of those things

And never would.

But, in the ping of the raindrops and the screech of the wind,

I saw the night’s eyes blink

And realised she’d trade in a heartbeat,

Yet had no heartbeat to trade.

Two losers caught in a forced embrace:

The churlish night … and me.

The Weird Cat

She’d been a weird cat since she’d first arrived, squeezing her way past the children’s legs one day as they came in from school. “Can we keep it?” they’d begged their mum, but she’d told them that this was somebody else’s cat and lifted it out onto the path, where it sat until the door was opened again before attempting entry once more. The girls had made posters advertising ‘FOUND CAT’, complete with a photo, but it’s hard to tell one black cat from another, especially in a grainy print. No owner had come forward and, day after day, the cat came back with little encouragement from the girls’ mum but secret treats and lots of cuddles from the youngsters. Eventually, it was tacitly accepted that she was now the family cat; a bed was bought and two bowls for food and drink. They named her Clinker and they loved her.

There was no doubt that she was getting on in years; her belly was flabby, the tip of her tail was flattened and hung at an odd angle, she had strange flecks in both eyes and she never meowed, although she often purred. The whole family made a fuss of her, but nobody pretended that she wasn’t weird. She would sit on the window sill, her back to the outside world, watching the room like a small, furry guardian. If anybody got up to leave, she would watch them until they were out of sight before resuming her original stance, rarely blinking, even more rarely sleeping. Most un-cat-like.

Clinker wasn’t very graceful for a cat either. She had an ungainly walk and would frequently fall from the furniture, righting herself as she hit the floor and continuing as though nothing had happened. The one time she displayed anything like the expected amount of feline agility was when she did the weirdest thing of all; whenever she crossed from the rug in front of the fire to head into the kitchen, she would walk in a wide arc, hugging the furniture until she reached the chair closest to the door, whereupon she would leap delicately as though she were clearing a small hurdle. The first time she’d done it, the family had laughed at her odd ways and had subsequently tried to fathom what made her do it. They’d tried moving the lamp in case a stray shadow was causing the cat’s confusion but it made no difference; over time the furniture was rearranged slightly, but she still followed roughly the same path and always ended with a little leap. It was part of her charm.

As the girls grew older, Clinker’s fur sprouted stray white hairs and she looked a little scrawny about the haunches, but she would still sit and survey the room with her almost unblinking gaze, never once facing the outside world. She enjoyed curling up in a lap, rumbling like a fur-covered Geiger counter and there was never a shortage of willing laps. All in all, it was a good life.

It was approaching winter when the burglary happened. As the family lay sleeping, their mother woke to a strange sound. Somewhere, a cat was mewing loudly and a bitter draught rattled under her bedroom door. She thought the girls might have left a window open, as they sometimes did; perhaps a local cat had climbed in, but as she opened her door to go and check, she saw a dark figure halfway up the stairs, or down – it was difficult to know which way they were heading in the gloom – and she cried out and flailed for the light switch. The burglar ran down the stairs and headed through the dining room and into the living room, making for the open back door through which he had forced an entrance.

He’d clearly spent some time in the living room, looking for valuables that didn’t exist, as every drawer of the dresser had been emptied onto the floor and the cushions from the suite had been tossed, as though someone might hide money or jewels in the furniture. The burglar stepped onto some letters and skidded a little before taking a wild step to try and right himself. He hadn’t accounted, however, for the now silent black cat prowling in the only spaces left unsullied and as his foot landed on the flattened end of her tail, she hissed and lashed out with deadly accuracy, raking her claws across his leg. He fell with a crash, catching his chin on the dresser and was already unconscious as he hit the floor. As he lay like a dead man near the kitchen door, Clinker sidled up to him and leapt in a graceful arc over the vanquished intruder, as though clearing a small hurdle.

All-nighter

Daytime crawls in from an all-night party,

Sheepish and trying to hide.

But given away by the racket of birds,

Holding sway outside.

It drags its soiled coat behind it,

Grey with a tinge of blue.

Trips on the milk on the doorstep

And stumbles its way up to you.

 

You’re in no mood to hear its reasons,

Tired from lying awake.

You don’t want to listen to any excuses,

Daytime might struggle to make!

You wish it would try

To creep in quietly,

Try not to wake the street!

Instead of creating a terrible rumpus

And tripping on its own feet.

 

Night doesn’t land like a cat on a bin lid,

Night comes with whispers and sighs.

Rivers of dusk and clouds of darkness

Drift in and fill up the skies.

While you aren’t looking, the evening creeps in,

Spreading its treasures your way,

Wrapping you up in its blanket of care

As certain as night follows day.

Little

When the world was bigger,

When the days were long,

When the night came quickly,

When my legs were strong,

I would climb the lamppost,

Right up to the light,

Swing upon the cross bar,

Holding really tight.

 

When the nights were lighter,

When we were out all day,

When a pound was riches,

When all we did was play,

Then I would write out numbers

In chalk upon the ground

And hop and jump for hours

Until the night came round.

 

When all my friends were little,

When I was little too,

When adults were like giants,

When there was lots to do,

I’d pull the blankets round me,

The world would fade from sight,

I’d lose myself in stories,

‘Til late into the night.