The Horses

In the first bright slew of laughter and bedclothes
we hear them, and cars slowing to pass,
the drifting talk of their riders.
They clop through gathering dark
as lights come on and the baby kicks
and dreams inside you. Hooves break
the skin of our sleep, wake us to green shoots
or rusted leaves, to shoe prints in early frost,
a puddled road and soft scatterings.
The boy grows tall and oversleeps
as we lie tangled or back to back,
while the phone brings news
of a slipping away, a collapse
into nearly nothing. Blossom is blown
to blizzard, blackbirds return
to nest in clematis. But always
we hear horses; though we never know
their barreled flanks, the sway
and tilt of a saddled back
as they trot through the days
of promise, arrival, exit.

From ‘The Great Animator’ (Shoestring Press, 2017)



Son, I’d rather leave you the memory of the day
we cycled to Mevagissy
than these shelved books and racks of clothes
that carry the trace of my scent.
Two swans rode their reflections round
the double harboured wall
as rust hulled fishing boats rose
on the swell. That night at Jodrell Bank
astronomers watched Ison speed sunward
with a snowball’s chance in hell.
None could quite believe
its re-emergence, the brilliance of the new tail.

First Published in The North


Uses of the Body as a Source for Allegory and Metaphor

The excavated skull of the affair and the built up
head of steam; the face of loss,  a clock, a cliff; the teeth

of cogs, combs, the wind; the lips of pitchers, craters
and augers;  the jaws of mull-grips and dilemmas, not to mention

death; the tongues of brogues and ancient Doc Martens;
the crotches of arches; the long arm of the church

and of boredom; the armpit of the paramilitary wing; the brow
of the beaten, the hill, of morning; the breast made clean; the skin

of milk and of a balmy evening; the hard shoulder of regret,
the hair of the dog and its breadth; the knuckle of attraction

and the pierced nipple of fate; the long femur of the terminally hip;
the greased palm and the padlocked heart of British Steel; the spine

of the barn, of stepping stones, of the poem; the vertebrae
of e-mail and the gonads of vulnerability; the nose of the drink,

of the parson, to the grindstone; the cheeks in lame’ trousers
like two peaches in a solder fountain ; the ear to the ground,

the chest, the sky; the tender inner thigh of expectation;
the eye of the storm, the potato and the sunflower;

of the hurricane, the needle, the target, the tiger;
of love, of god, of the beholder.

First Published in Poetry Wales, Spring 2016 



I’d rather take this road
to that chapel of larch on the hill

but my boy insists, so we step
into a nave of pines

screened by webs
where sound falls dead,

except for the rattle of cones.
Each breath is sealed with resin:

he finds a long bone,
lifts it from the needles:

fox or maybe badger, I tell him
taking his hand

suddenly aware
of our temporary skins.

From ‘The Sun Bathers’ Shoestring Press, 2013

Instant Karma

The office cleaner sings beautifully and in Hindi.
I ask her what her song means.

‘The Lord says, I will give you what you want,
when the time is right.’

She leaves a world bright with belief,
the mopped floor under my feet,

the emptied bin of me.

First published in New Walk.




  1. Roy,
    I have read a mere handful of your poems including these, but I must say I have found your works to be deliciously inspirational. I feel better for having devoured
    ‘A close brush with Death leads to a greater appreciation of life’. I have never complimented a poet on his work (it’s not the sort of thing you do really is it?), but you have shown me a new direction through your use of language, and in particular the way you use descriptives so effectively. I love really good quality poetry that conveys something clever to the reader…something that makes you think. You have made me think.


    • Thank you Stephen. I too have complimented poets on their work(and have done so this evening in fact) so you are not alone. I think that to say that one is inspired is the very highest compliment.
      Thanks again.


  2. I’m with Julian.

    ‘Each breath is sealed with resin;’
    This is an extraordinary poem that in so few words captures the distance and closeness of a father and son walking together.


  3. a non-academic poet for once, one who has worked, who has direct experience of life rather than the fine dust that sifts out the ceilings of institutes as Roethke (i paraphrase) puts it somewhere.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s