The gusts of wind, that fling the scattered rain

against the panes and flail the eucalyptus –

which jerks as if a frantic, shaken doll –

are lowing in the chimney like an owl.

I draw the curtains as the twilight goes,

switch on the laptop and begin to write,

thinking of those who are without – homeless,

hungry, thirsty – no more than a mile

let alone a continent away.

Though giving assuages, on stormy,

desperate nights,



It is wooden, a gent’s, with ‘Elder Dempster’

machined then varnished into one of

the shoulders. It belonged to the shipping line

which plied between Liverpool and Lagos,

via Freetown and Accra. It was purloined,

accidentally or otherwise,

by my father or mother, possibly

the latter on her last trip home, with me

in her womb, to ensure a safer birth

in temperate climes –  U-Boats permitting.


He died of septicaemia three months

after I was born –



When a joiner made the oak frame of this

long sash window, when a builder set it

in the wall, when a glazier puttied

in the panes that keep the weathers in their place,

all I would have seen were hedges, fields, ponds

and grazing dairy cattle – before the rise,

the decline and the fall, in a hundred

and sixty years, of so many empires.


When I stand on the back doorstep and search

for the stars amid the urban glare and the overcast

and then look down I see me silhouetted

in the gazebo’s windows – like the figure,



A young wood pigeon, not much more than a

nestling seems, at first, to be sheltering,

from the almost Mediterranean heat,

in the short shadows cast by the pots

of lilies and lavender.  But, closer,

I see it is limping, its left foot damaged.

Seeing me, it hobbles out of sight

into an exotic, Sleeping Beauty-type

border of camellia, crocosmia,

rhododendron. Later, an adult bird

lands, walks the edge of the border,

its head bobbing, then flies away.



The bus, its doors still open, is about

to depart on schedule. A young mother,

with a toddler, is talking loudly

on her mobile in the bus shelter,

telling whoever it is that she lacks

the fare and will wait for whoever it is

to bring it however long it takes.

Should I offer to give her the fare?

How would she react? How it would look?


With a pneumatic sigh the doors close.

I turn.