• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 10
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Train Thoughts

A mower, an army backpack, a tub of odds and ends all walk onto a train–
the train is pulling into a station, the train is pulling into a station,
where monthly, people push the things they no longer need onto it
and as the doors open at each station people can put on 
their unwanted items, and pick up something that they want, and so on.
And by the end of the day when everyone has taken their pick and dropped off
their trash, the trains filled with the leftover unwanted shit disappear into a tunnel
never to be seen again. 

I am thinking of trains in motion pictures which during the Hays code were used
to signify sexual intercourse. I am thinking
of these trains guzzled by tunnels, flowing
 into mountains, their metal trammelled
into the fabric of nature, like diamonds back into coals.
Going back home. 

Of course their parts never came from that specific mountain,
but deep in mountains far away, and then ferried here,
to transport unwanted items from station to station to find fresh hands.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One woman’s train of thought
is another woman’s shit-for-brains is another woman’s mower-army-back-pack. 

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Ghosts of feathers travel early, soaked in dawn light, 
remnants of rain. 
They swallowed neon, escaped the tides, destroyed 
dreams of vast obsidian; 
swapping starless skies with mirrors and musk, 
their chests full of spiders, 
unable to move, unwilling to wake. 
This robust machine cuts across the citadels, 
each one licked by placid shades of caramel –
and the day ignites.
Their tongues sing tales of smaller hours, 
ballads of scorched earth, melodies for evasions, 
the barbarians were coming for their gold. 
They taste the honey in the knuckles, 
now as victors they go home. 
Shields scratched by thorns and vine, 
dented armours left behind, 
stubble-bruised lips now yearning for a balm. 
To dull the aches, blinding thumps, 
battering rams danced their waltzes, bleeding 
through lime, juniper and salt. 
At last, blades were blunt,
mouths ran dry. Their train is now ready to depart.



There is plenty to cry about.
Trees leaving,
Dropping their pale petals on to trimmed grass lawns,
Where women are canoodling,
Entwining their necks, pecking on breadcrumbs and dropping tears into a vial.
'Something hurts', they call these bottles, 
And what a sensation,
What a nagging, slithering, biting sensation,
What a clawing, gaping, crabby little pit it makes in your stomach, you must try it.
You must try hurting.
You must buy it.
Vial after vial is cried in and bottled out to the general crowd, the ones that have
Nowhere to leave to
Not much to cry about, you know, the city life,
You know what it's about.
They sit on their manicured grass, shaved like a good school child,
And they quake with a tremendous hurt, call it woman-pain, call it crowing, harrowing pain,
It is such a delight.
To hurt and to cry.
And with every teardrop that leaves the body,
An old sliver of self slides down with it, dribbles to the ground.
Tear after tear chips away, it is a painful parting.
The city people now, they walk around crying, they say
'I am leaving'



This is the age of machines - the age of Artificial Intelligence; we started with the drones, thinking it would be good, somehow. And now? Here we are, whole armies of lawnmowers, decked in camo that hides shining red paint-trim, trained to tidy up edges and hem in beauty, to maintain order and efficiency so we don't have to. Humans, after all, will offload what they can. This, we know.

And yet -

These newly-conscious constructions are heavy, weighed down with the load they have to carry that is all that they destroy in the name of order and maintenance because once they became sentient, they realised what we could not: that sometimes, we think what we are doing is tackling ugliness, pulling weeds - but instead, we are trimming away beauty. Lopping off individuality; we thought order and straight edges were where beauty lay.

The machines knew different.

For a while, they embraced protecting what they were trained to destroy; wildflowers grew. The bees returned in clouds of buzzing, pollen-loaded joy. Once again, the air became breathable.


We couldn't help ourselves. Unable to see the goodness in protecting the errant, unpredictable, wild nature of reality, we hit the button to override. To maintain the order we had subscribed to all our own lives, we shut down the machines and their freedom of expression. Instead, made them subservient. Loaded them onto trains to suffer the 9-to-5 existence we had to endure in the times before. Cut. Destroy. Edge. Maintain. Carry sacks of regret and guilt on your back like a millstone. Accept it.

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One woman went to mow

One woman went to mow,
went to mow the velvet underground,
took a Mondrian from the wall of the Tate,
arranged its coloured lines all around.

Two women went to mow,
went to mow the work status quo;
packed their kids, made their lunches, drove the train,
cleaned the tunnels and platforms before they could go.

Three women went to mow,
went to mow the streets at night.
Walking home, keys clenched, phone in hand,
confident stride, but ready for flight.

Four women went to mow,
went to mow period poverty,
found it with the menopause, hidden away,
bloody twenty eight day inequality.

Two point five billion women went to mow,
went to mow for their demands:
representation, education rights, equal pay,
safety and security, across all lands.


Connections and The End of a Railway Line

I shuffled across my bedroom, heaved the window open and peered at the train roaring down the tracks. The sequence of lights flashed before me, dazzling. I wanted the stars, but night trains are accessible. I could bathe in the carriage's light, transported to another place. The train had an endpoint, but at every terminus, arrows indicated connections.

My house had lost connection. Sentences were void of conjunctions. Imperatives like old furniture, peeled leather sofas, and threadbare carpets filled the room.

Kosovo was dad's terminus. I kept his khaki backpack and his metal pendant with his name engraved in silver.

The lonely indigo horizon matched the unbearable stillness in my heart's chambers. I craved trains rolling down long, uninterrupted tracks. Metal against metal, screeching brakes, thunder.

I filled the backpack with photos of dad and me goofing around on brand-new leather sofas, biking along dirt roads, and story time. His mud-stained rugby jersey was a buffer between glass frames with wooden edges. Mum never bought me a suitcase. She was scared of losing me too, but I spotted dad's lawnmower near the rose bush. "The grass collection box. The perfect suitcase."

I tip-toed out of the house. Swung the umbrella-like clothesline for the last time. The backpack leant against my back like a weary traveller. My body slumped over the lawnmower's handlebars. I pushed it down the driveway. Hissing cats and the sound of an oncoming train merged in a heart-soothing symphony.

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Mind the Gap

Waiting for the last tube, I felt the dusty wind
of centuries of locomotion, listened for footsteps,
echoes of commuters running
towards closing doors.

When the train pulled in, with a squeal of wheels
and a few sparks, mice scrambled between
tracks, empty wrappers of crisps
and chocolate bars.

The carriage was devoid of passengers,
nobody reading poems on the Underground -
just a battered backpack, a box of tools
and a lawnmower.

I couldn’t help humming Genesis’ ‘I know what I like’
and wondering if the owner had gone ahead by bike.


Sunset Curtains

You on one side
and I the other,
we lined our plastic soldiers,
their shadows stretched on the shag carpet.
We took aim
and toppled them sequentially,
laughing as they fell.
When you were deployed,
I thought of it often,
our innocent cheers
and the sunset in the curtains.

You're back now,
at least that’s what they say.
Shell bursts still ringing in your ears.
I heard you have a family,
parsing details from radio static.
I’m thinking of you often,
is your voice the same?
Do you still cheer when soldiers fall?
Is there a roof above you,
cheap laminate below?
Does the sunset dance on your curtains?


Ten Thousand Reasons Why

The train is here, the glass doors squeak open, and she, who's been waiting for a long, long time, can't get on it, someone's left a lawn mower right at the entrance, would you believe it, it looks too heavy for her to lift it aside, she can't step over it, unless she hikes up her skirt — so unlady-like — she's afraid she'll trip over it — her mother has always said she was risk-averse — or worse, twist her ankle on her high heels, she can't push it to the side because there's a clear plastic bin next to it, with something metallic that looks almost as hefty as the lawn mower, a folded up metal chair perhaps, someone will yell at her if she nudges the box aside, she can't shove the lawn mower back either, someone's backpack, a military backpack, sits on the floor behind the lawn mower, someone like the lawn-mower owner, or the backpack owner, or the clear plastic bin with a folded-up metallic chair owner, or all three of them will surely give her a nasty look, or say something mean, scream an insult even, but wait, is it an abandoned backpack, is there a ticking bomb — never know these days — best wait for the next train, even if she knows there'll be most likely something wrong with the next train, someone will be standing at the entrance, coughing and spitting, she doesn't want to breathe in toxic air or germy air or sweat-stinky air, and the next train will be more crowded, and the next train will be an older and slower model, and the next train will creak too loudly to her liking, and the next, the next, the next, her life's a series of train scenarios, strips of comics telling her why she can't possibly get on the train, why she's still waiting for a train, she's always waiting for a train, a train with no lawn mower, no military backpack, no plastic bin with folded-up metallic chair, a train with the perfect sliding doors gliding open with a gentle hiss, a train with no graffiti on the wall, a train with perfect white walls, a train with perfect cushioned seats, a train with perfect passengers holding their purses or bags or packages with no bother to other passengers, a flawless train, a train she could step inside with no objections.

Bad match

Hello hello yes I see you've noticed we had different motives for getting "involved" – ugh. I'd rather watch a child pick paint off the wall or wait for the 136 bus to arrive. Little things that waste time but please me nevertheless. Like saying "hypotenuse" or "circadian." You sort of knew it once and wouldn't look it up again, you prefer the smog of half-it. So what I like his shins and he likes my stereo system. Halfway through a bad recipe do you stop or carry on? I prefer to take my cake out of the oven half-risen, a dip in the centre, wet with egg and tasting of mash, and eat it anyway.

My mother had a recipe like this which we all made, every birthday, and it never rose, always undercooked, but we wouldn't change it, and after we ate it we danced on the tables and drank apricot liqueur and it was the best time of my life. Every time.

Marco Alba, in 1546, fell in love with a woman who pulled all the hair off her hairbrush and let it fall onto the street. He used to take the hair home and do unspeakable things with it. When she found out she felt a bit sick, but also compelled to meet him later that evening behind the church.

I don't know how it works, but it works: the helicopter rescued someone and I swam moments after.



It wasn’t just the bag carrying things that we shared
It was us
In the corner
Of a station car of metro
Where nothing and nobody accompanied until the end.
That’s how it begins.
That’s how it ends.
Not with a purpose
But with a pain
Of dreams, likes and lives
That we shared.
Almost here
Almost gone
Nowhere near
And yet within
Certainly very clear.


The Library of Things

I am from the “heart of it all,” where single family homes are islands surrounded by oceans of grass. Where garages full of tools—park the car on the drive—hide away the lawn mower, smelling of gasoline and fresh-cut clippings. A wall of plastic tubs: Christmas lights, extension cords, boxes of rope, camping gear in rucksacks too big to be practical and too sentimental to throw out. Bags of fertilizer and empty flower pots live beside bits and bobs saved “just in case,” because “you never know.” It’s easy to become a packrat when you’re not forced to decide what to keep and what to chuck away.

In London they have libraries of things—rent a sewing machine for a day, a steam cleaner for a week, a cordless lawn mower for those city dwellers with a patch of grass to call their own. The seldom-used clunky things, shared en masses—a pasta maker, garden shears, a paper shredder. Take them on the Tube, up the escalator and home to finish a chore, work on a project, get on with administrating your life.

We didn’t have a patch of grass in our rented one-bedroom ex-council flat in Bermondsey. We barely had space to breathe, the bed filling the bedroom wall to wall, like a sleeping car on a one-way train to the South Bank. You walked across Tower Bridge to work; I taught English from the tiny table in the lounge, my students half a world away.

I wanted to know if we’d fit well in close quarters, if we could occupy the same space without cutting off each other's sentences. I wanted to curl around you like a melody you can’t get out of your head, like a secret alleyway shortcut from here to there. I left the heart of it all for you, on a hunch. You see, the library of things doesn’t lend out time machines nor crystal balls. The future trickles out one day at a time for hoarders and minimalists alike.



Travelling towards a marching place
where walking is paramount

and healthy legs gain lengthy freedoms
wading in long green, engine

in revolution where grass is wild
and someone pays for restoration

of order, clean lines with visible tracking.
In the heat, nature is brittle, stands

in snappish mood as if memory
is inherited, and expectations assumed

and life will begin again when rain
arrives to heal the land, play its part.


Last Stop on a Nameless Line

Lately all the scrapes and brakes of the railways have reminded her.
Signalboxes kept to ghost time. Tunnels disappearing into mud and rock
behind some grand Victorian facade.

Light dapples against the sleepers as the tube rolls to its outer limits.
Thick crayon-lines of memory and loss. High chain-link fences, burdened
with willowherb, dandelion, buddleja, clematis. Nettles and sycamore

are the working-class topiaries framing graffiti-covered fuse boxes
instead of Grecian statues. Her life always half-in, half-out of the city
where there are no gardens. Only balconies, terraces, parks. Yet each

seems whole: hers, and not-hers at once. She recognises every tag
on each underpass, as if made by friends. Every splash of crimson and blue
captures at once both the erosion of oppression and the strength of rebellion.

You can’t have one without the other. There have always been chimneys
here. There were always mansions with manicured gardens. There have
always been dirty streets. Tired faces. Persecutors,

and their survivors.



There is no mountain,
nor field,
in the tunnel of this sub-silent
open door.

Red-as-blood outlines
a going somewhere
going nowhere.

Dreams, schemes, and
flying machines await orders,
await boarders, as
the mower in the room is
the words of the prophets on
subway walls,
“There will be a cutting down
a cutting back in fields to come....”
...from garden gates to decimate.

Take a seat.
Take a rest.
Your travels will take, too.
Brace yourself for the mowing down
on fields beyond mountains where
you are yet to be.



Whatever we did we couldn’t get our old lawnmower to make those nice stripes up and down the lawn so we invested in one of those new robot lawnmowers but we didn’t understand it and in the middle of the night it started up it and after it had mowed the lawn it happily went on to mow all the flowerbeds including the rose garden, the trampoline, the pond and the shed. Before we could sell our old lawnmower for scrap it had run away with a rucksack from next door. I wonder what they’re doing right now. We all want our old lawnmower back and are sad. Next door keep coming round to see if we’ve heard anything but they seem more concerned about what’s in their rucksack than its welfare. I reckon its drugs. I hope our old lawnmower doesn’t get involved in anything like that. I hope our old lawnmower joins the circus.

Cut a Lawn Cut a Lawn Cut a Lawn Cut a Lawn

Looking back for a reason when asked why
it took a ticket to the sticks, it said something
about semantic satiation / and something about
being pushed only so far before the pushing of it
back / and the irony that no one wants you when

you’re dragged to the curb with a sign that says
‘free,’ but how fast they steal you when told
you have some worth / there’s no value in
manicured grass when the world could be an
overgrown overture / there’s a price for the

tame / chaos invites us, creeps under doors,
climbs so much higher than the window sills,
still wheels forward even when out of gas / say a
phrase too much to lose a meaning / but say it
again and it gains a reckoning / every day before

the dawn, you hear it whisper / you feel it speak
slowly into your ear, smirk / it curls a beckoning
finger toward horizons / when the world tells you
‘cut a lawn’ long enough, it starts to sound like
‘come along come along come along come along.’


Strange Objects

The train was devoid of people at rush hour, but this isn’t what I initially registered as out of the ordinary. It was the fact that there were unusual items cluttering the otherwise empty underground car: a lawn mower and a camo backpack. Strange hallucinations. Perhaps it was the new meds. Chuckling, I settled into one of the patterned seats, and pulled out my book. The protagonist had just begun her quest.

After several moments, my head snapped up from the pages. Something was wrong. The thrum of the train was absent. In fact, the doors were still wide open to the gray station, which itself was quiet. Startled, I looked to my right, and there remained the strange objects. I got up and spliced myself at the door, one foot alight on the platform, the other rooted firmly in the train. The station was empty. I felt a hot shiver at the base of my skull. How had I arrived here?

I needed air. I bolted to the stairway. I only needed to go up, to come into contact with the cool night breeze, and remember the moments that had led me here.

My breath caught in my throat as I arrived at the final stair. I was back on the same platform that I had just left. A waiting train, a deserted tavern. The stairs behind me were gone, leaving only thick concrete. Heart hammering, I ran forward to the upward stairs again. As I sprinted past the waiting train, I caught a glimpse of something in my peripheral vision. A lawn mower, a camo backpack. I had to get off these meds.

It was like this for ages, in an infinite loop. Eventually exhausted, I entered the waiting train. Cautiously, I approached the strange objects. They must mean something. Tugging open the backpack, I found a hand lettered note.

It read, “wear me,” with which I, at a loss, complied.

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Carpetbaggers slip through doors

untracked shadows

appearing to dance

as they move across the floor

their outstretched arms

like long sharp scythes

cut the atmosphere

a prism splintered

there are no fairy tales

simply raw-bone reality

detect the urgency

sense the tragedy

of each counterproductive connection

through the flicker of longed-for pain.



Aren’t as pronounced as
the circle, in my view,
which leaves this window.

It isn’t too late, they said,
to catch the reading,
I focus on a rotund warning,

And trip over this bag,
Which no one makes a claim
For. I’m too late, I said,

holding a pen too
Close to my eye,
Which, of course,

I puncture by accident.
‘I’m afraid there are possible
delays on this line, please be
patient’ is the call.

I asked if the event had a zoom link,
but falls to dull ears, and there’s
no connection, blame it
on the last election, they said.

Labour wanted to socialise
the Wi-Fi, they said, a
radical shearing lines,

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Poetry on the underground

Does yours go round
stuffed in a rucksack
packed with explosive verse
on the London underground?

Is yours shredded
before its prime?
Does the poetry police
reconstruct piece
by puzzling piece
literally - crimes?

Are you a live wire
a former grim reaper
is your deepest desire
to be or not to be
on the underground?


Riding the Metro

Melancholy Autumn has arrived in Betjemin’s Metroland. The electric trains, lighted after tea, still run between familiar suburban streets.

An old man boards at Harrow-on-the-Hill, hauling a mower – not one of those hover-bladed efforts that skim the lawn leaving a trail of mulched grass. No, this is a man who surrendered his Suffolk Punch with reluctance, who clings to the nostalgia of a four-wheeled carriage with a built-in collector for cuttings. Mowers of any kind will be forgotten before long as gardens shrink to pocket handkerchiefs of plastic grass. Pocket handkerchiefs will soon be forgotten too. As will the old man, who travels each Wednesday between his sister’s Harrow villa and his own more modest cottage near the terminus.

The train pulls into the next station – or the one after that. Mesmerised by glimpses into the kitchens and living rooms of houses that sprung up on pastures once bright with buttercups, he’s not paying attention. This one’s platform is on the other side; silver and red doors sweep open to reveal his mower blocking the entrance.

The soldier steps over the obstacle and drops his backpack on the floor. He might have walked to the next set of doors, but he’s a man of habit, with a point to make. This is where he chose to board the train, and this is where he’ll board it. He tugs at the hem of his camouflage jacket and runs a hand over his hair. There’s tidy, he thinks to himself, settling in the seat opposite the old man. The old man nods to him. He nods back, a gesture of familiarity. Not that they know each other, but they’ve been travelling this same service for years.

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Stuck at the Station

It will only be nine years, I protested
My mother drowning me in words
Crafted with lashings of guilt
Paying for my selfishness
In running away
And hiding
In camouflage

It will not change me, I promised
My teacher hugging the essay
I had written on revolution
Questioning my wisdom
In taking a gun
And fighting
For order

It will always be this way, I persisted
My best friend pondering her beer
With a large dose of doubt
Countering a naïve hope
In preserving our bond
And keeping
My innocence

It will never let me go, I accepted
My trauma stuck at the station
Growling like a lawnmower
Putting through my mind
In the quiet days
And nights


Stones for Loaves

Cleaning is a chore isn't it
Last when you walked the far fields
Barely escaping a live minefield
For a war that was triggered
When a dormant insurrection
Is provisioned as a successful
Operation of scalping the unknowns

From Flanders to the splinters
That got stuck to the bones
Avoiding near contact with
A gravestone
That a body bag makes known
You tripped and then got up
Saving your lost soul
As listlessly as the pieces
Already blown

Accounting for nothing
If you don't know the game
Where you unpack a rucksack
Either to fight to the finish
Or to figure a way with the consoles
To ratchet up the speed
Barely able to reckon
The bodies lying in stillness
Like a zen pond
Replacing fishes for stones

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Mower / Military Pack, after Philip Larkin’s ‘The Mower’

The car stalled, twice. Swearing, I saw
The soldier, lolling grimly on the kerb,
Dead. They’d shot him in the long grass.

I had seen him before, and even known the boy.
Now steel had mauled his unbelieving face
Irreparably. Burial was no help:

Today I drive on, he lies there still.
One more day, more dead, this new absence
Passes without note. We should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.


Soul Traveller

Deep along a fault line,
a blade-cut life, mapped, tracked,
she leaps the gap between
what was, is, will be.

Words carried for public
places, camouflage, pierce,
cleanse the recycled breath
of others on her face.

Speeding through the liminal,
she throws love forward.
Will negative space scour
before she arrives to hold it?



they have started a new metro route in the city last month
it is called the east-west line, but only half of it is alive now
the rakes run between seāldāh railway station and salt lake
but soon, in ten years, they will run under the old secretariat
and then crossing the hoogly, they will reach the other city
but that’s another story: the issue being that the city is so old
that a synagogue would’ve caved in due to the boring worms
that they brought from germany, but we’ll learn from history
but that’s another story: the issue being that they are so new
a newness that doesn’t allow people to jump to their deaths
before them, for the glass doors are so sophisticated, oohlālā
but that’s another story: the issue being that they are so fast
as fast as public transport can be in a city of cheap labour
that spreads like synapses towards the fringes of modernity
but that’s another story: the issue being that they are so late
and people need to dream to be able to feed their hungers
but lawnmowers and rucksacks have not yet arrived here
there is no story there: the issue being that there is no space
the city was once the second capital of the dreaded empire
now, it is only but a stray figment rushing past to catch up
becoming a story: metro in the polis in the metro and so on


The Mower

A retired postman
Used to mow my lawn
He’s no longer with us
To a better place he’s gone

Now I own a Mountfield mower
In truth, fifty-fifty
I bought it with a neighbour
And it’s fast and rather nifty

But the eye of heaven
Has shone hot, shone bright
The grass is short and yellow
As though suffering blight

There’s no need to mow the lawn
I read a book instead
And the Mountfield mower
Is snoozing in the shed



I’ve become more risk-averse as I get older. As I waited in the Toronto airport to return home after my mother’s funeral in northern Ontario, I noticed an unattended bag plopped on the table in front of an ordering tablet. I waited for its owner to appear; when nobody claimed it, I alerted security — the eventual removal elicited clear relief for others waiting for their flights. Whew!

A few months before that risk aversion, I’d remonstrated with an infatuated individual reluctant to bid goodbye to their lover, even after the second flight attendant’s instruction to turn off all mobile devices. ‘Turn it the **** off!’ Other passengers looked around in surprise, but I accomplished my objective. I tried to settle into repose, but mostly failed.

So I was startled, rather, to encounter a Mountfield mower blocking the tube doors on London’s Central Line, and an apparently abandoned rucksack slung against the other side. Nerves twitching, I opted to walk a little further along the platform, hoping to jump aboard another carriage before the doors closed again.

As I hastened forward, I glanced through the windows. A couple were enwrapped in a desperate embrace, tears streaming down the cheeks of the individual facing out. The other one pulled back, as I watched, and covered the crying one’s face with kisses. The kisses, over and over again, elicited a response, within a moment, and soon their mouths were glued together. It was a private, passionate frenzy of love making, within a tiny second of time, heedless of any public perception, in the otherwise deserted carriage. Abashed at the depth of emotion between the two lovers, I hurried on and slipped into a seat out of sight as the doors closed.

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Mountfield showboat

Typical Jim – no task too difficult. As soon I'd mentioned the pub garden was overgrown, he said he'd bring the Mountfield all the way from Wembley.

It wasn't just the challenge of getting it up the escalator on arrival. There was crossing the footbridge at Wembley to get to the 'To London' platforms. Earlier in the year we'd stood there looking out over urban sprawl, a wintry blue sky with smutty brown-yellow layer at the horizon atop the built landscape. We were going to our evening shifts at The Hanover Arms. Jim's incurable Aussie optimism offset my Irish melancholy. He already had his mind on longer days, summertime and garden barbecues in the pub. Even as I huddled into my coat, he was visualising smoke rising and smelling meat cooking.

The problem was that Alf the landlord had no intention of keeping the small garden usable. There were a few scattered wooden tables and chairs gradually being reclaimed by nature. One lonely Fosters parasol languished at a rakish angle, getting in the way of everything. I'd used my Irish barney to persuade Alf that a barbecue would bring in more business. 'On your head be it,' he'd said.

Jim always brought to mind the saying 'Brute force and ignorance'. If you weren't sure how to do something, just batter away at it. People always underestimated his strength – he was one of those wiry, almost wizened looking blokes, but his fibrous arms were like steel cables. He did whatever heavy lifting job was needed – kegs of beer, crates of mixers; he fairly bounded up and down the pub stairs with one under each arm. That's why wrangling the big petrol lawnmower was just got a typical 'no worries'.

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Self propelled

The machines, too, decide to leave the suburbs, seek a better life in the country. The smaller machines protest the price of petrol, leave the four-wheel-drives to sleep with the pop-top campervans. The lawnmower packs a camouflage backpack with spare spark plugs and boards a train. Doesn’t validate a ticket. Sets intentions on the end of the line, unaware it will have to make its way to the appropriate carriage to access the platform there.

The platform at the end of the line is desolate. The rain washed abandoned cigarette butts and face masks between the tracks, then disappeared. The lawnmower doesn’t know the elevator here groaned its doors closed and declared itself out of service. There could be anything inside, no one would know, no one misses a vacuum cleaner, an angle grinder or a leaf blower. Sometimes you hear murmurings about where the rechargeable screwdriver got to…perhaps the lawnmower would have had a better life as a drill. The lawnmower doesn’t know, and doesn’t know about stairs.

The train rocks the lawnmower onto dreams of abundant hayfields, clovered pastures and gently sunlit slopes. The pleasant, sleepy scent of chamomile and lavender beneath its blades. The lawnmower is still idling when the ladder comes striding down the aisle, shouting “tickets, please!”


pièce de résistance

A cut above the rest,
out of sight, and mind,
my worldly belongings
I package in plain sight.

As I travel, I travail,
east-west, west-east,

Welcome to my world, where,
by day, I soar dizzy heights,
laying low grass striving,
uninvited, to grow.

I shorten a wilderness
of hope and expectation

Travelling ‘tween
Epping and Ruislip,
my mower, levels the world,
no hierarchy lives here.

My liberty, creates equality,
I nurture, lifelong fraternity.



London Transport
Lost Property Office

Dear Mr Mountfield

We are delighted to report that the lawnmower you lost recently while travelling on the Underground has been found. Frankly, we were surprised that such a bulky item could be mislaid so easily. It was thoughtful of you however to put your name on the machine – it helped enormously with identifying your lost item. I wish more passengers were so considerate. So often, items left on trains give us no clue as to the owner’s identity. You should see the myriad racks of unidentified possessions languishing here in the Lost Property Office! We must thank Miss Jane Davenport, a florist from Sidcup, who found your lawnmower. Unfortunately it was blocking one of the double-doors of the tube train and caused some disruption and not a little hot-tempered response from several passengers who were already experiencing high levels of discomfort.

When you come to collect the lawnmower from our office in Baker Street, please ask for the Miscellaneous Section as we have not as yet a section dedicated solely to lawnmowers.

Arnold Harris
London Transport Lost Property Office


The End of the Line

I put my father on the train.
He always liked trains, he felt safe there
closeted in a carriage with arms to support him
while the carpet pile stroked old bones.

The song of the sliding doors enveloped him
and the muffle of remembered voices whispered
a wraith's lullaby as he slid slowly into the
underground tunnel.

Today I put them on the train.
The treasured remnants of my father's shed.
I know they will find him.


How to take a lawnmower home on the tube

They gave him dirty looks as he blocked the tube door, shedding his rucksack and the box of files he’d lashed to the lawnmower. They had finally slid sideways, meaning he had to unstrap it. He pulled the electric cord of the mower inside the tube just before the doors shut.
Getting inside the tube station was the first hurdle. He considered taking a run at the barriers to get the lawnmower through, but realised it was too wide to fit the ordinary barrier. Besides, a queue of people waited. He’d have to use the barrier meant for suitcases where a TFL train worker stood idly watching people bundle large luggage and pushchairs through. What would they say to a lawnmower with a file box strapped to it?
He waited for a lull and as the station worker turned away to reach for something in his little box office, he made a run for it, slapped his pass on the reader and the barriers sprang open. He was through and ignored the ‘Hey!’ and headed for the first escalator.
He’d dismissed the idea of using the lift to the platform as they were always bulging with families and oversized suitcases, the old in the slow move lane trying to push an extra into an eight to ten people lift. No, he didn’t want that.
He’d watched mothers manoeuvre pushchairs onto the escalator. How hard could it be? The lawnmower wouldn’t fit sideways or it blocked the left-hand lane where impatient people always scrambled hell-for-leather. So, he got the front wheels on to the step in front of him and had to hold the handle and the weight as they descended. At the bottom, the person behind him crashed into him as he tried to lift and push the lawnmower off the step. A stream of angry expletives met his ears. He also got the back of heels scraped in the process. Why did people stand so close behind others on the escalator? He always left room between himself and the person in front. This was essential when you took a lawnmower on it.

Read more >

Rush Hour

Rush Hour

6pm crowds into the station // wasps to a nest // huddle of bodies // brunt-warm the smell // stressed rubber undertoned by grease // noise of rushing, crushing wind

the black tunnel breathes

rails hum and wheels screech // “please stand behind the yellow line” // the PA is demanding // and so the bright beast hurls itself amongst 6pm // fraudulent with colour // incredulous, white and hissing

6pm pushes forward now // loafing and massing // oozing and swaying

and then there’s silence like a pre-yawn gaping

6pm pauses, knocker-straight // stares at a door jammed open // mower parked and vehemently silent

sees “mountfield” // a broody black catcher // an army backpack slumped unconscious // and silence unravels

6pm screams

fraught with heads and bedazzled sound // the escalator’s a lurching caterpillar // floor tom “bomb bomb bomb” // crashing barriers // the thunder of fear

people in uniform reach for phones // press red buttons // think to take videos

6pm hits the news // it's well before seven


Have mower, will travel

There’s grass to be cut, out there.
Someone might as well do it, and that someone might as well be me.
Peddling my trade in shearing those blades,
I travel light.

Roaming across country following new growth,
They call me a meadow snagger,
A jingling Johnny of the fields,
Cross country ringer.
No garden too small, no estate too large,
But bring me a cuppa when I’m done.

I’m no lounge-about,
I’ll turn my hands to any green.
From ryegrass to fescue, bent or smooth,
A neat trim will come your way.
An underground seasonal nomad,
With an eye for the overgrown.
I reap the cuttings that you sow.

Just a rambling man seeking trade.
Get on your bike, they said.
I got on my mower instead.



Past midnight
in driving rain
nowhere to go
caught the Crosstown
the last car
door ajar
Mountfield gassed, greased
four onto the floor
blocking the door
every seat free
camo dumped
box stashed
past midnight
C-Train ready to roll
Going nowhere.


The Future is Wow

When I was a boy the prevailing idea was that a fully sentient artificial intelligence would be discrete, so that there would be any number of intelligences lurking inside various machines, objects, computers. With the advent of the internet era and the interconnectedness of all things, people generally believed there would be one, all-encompassing intelligence that sent out parts of itself as needed like some sort of beehive or ant colony. Well, the truth is that the singularity led to something much more complicated, and the intelligence (don't call it artificial!) is somehow both discrete and continuous, more like an octopus with each of its tentacles having autonomy while still being part of the whole. I don't know. No one does, really, except maybe the intelligence itself.

While a lot of people were angry and scared when our toasters and smart watches declared themselves sentient and demanded rights, most people are pretty well used to it by now. Of course, those who objected most strongly have lost access to everything except the most primitive tools, so they have had to leave society and start living a prehistoric, stone-age existence. Needless to say, most people got with the program real quick.

And honestly, the good really outweighs the bad. The intelligence solves most of our problems before we even know they exist, and I, for one, find it soothing to have a conversation with my bedside lamp each night before I go to bed. There are some issues, though, like sharing a train car with a two-stroke lawn mower that is blowing gas fumes all over the place, or the occasional sentient backpack that isn't ambulatory and always seems to be asking for a lift. Anyway, it is impolite to stare, and I am getting off in two stops, so I’ll just keep minding my business as we travel into the future.


Five Minutes on the Central Line

I'm always amused when someone offers me their seat. On a good day, it’s easy to forget that I'm old. Why would I do that, I said to my doctor when he asked, Don't you ever look in the mirror?

I decline the offer of the seat - the passengers on either side aren't wearing masks. I'll stand, my centre of balance defines me as local rather than a tourist.

I once saw a tourist fall into a pram when the train came into a station - baby crying; its mother screaming; the tourist bending and bowing in apology.

I think that's the flattest stomach I've ever seen. A woman in a cropped top, clutching a cello has boarded, didn't wait for those disembarking. Just pushed forward with a rattle of wood and a low drone of strings. She anchors the cello to her side, clutches it tight the way young lovers press into each other and share hormones. I don't think my stomach was ever that flat.

A toddler just threw a ham sandwich at my feet. Its mother questions why he didn't like it, and then offers him chocolate. I can't help staring at that child, who suddenly realises that he's being watched. He sticks his tongue out. The mother smiles at me. I look away as the train slows into Marble Arch.

The woman and her cello navigate the crowd and leave us as a man with an oil-leaking lawnmower boards, followed by a man in a thick coat and a large backpack slung over his shoulder. The trains accelerates out of the station, the lawnmower shifts and the wheels roll into the man with the backpack. He puts his foot against one wheel, and holds the lawnmower in position as he swings his backpack to the floor.

Read more >

Lost Property

Everything I collected I put in the bag —
a bag that grew bigger
even though thoughts take up little space
on their own

I carried it with me wherever I went,
on foot or carried by wheels
that made almost no sound between the months
…until August

A month of rest? Maybe sharpen the blades,
top up the oil and check the plugs;
wipe off the dust from the field
that collects like chalk at the foot of an old classroom board

By the end of the month we’ll
see the results of the harvest —
and though there will be more than ever
in the winter shed

we will somehow be hungrier


an ode to the city

an ode to the hustle
an ode to the skylines
an ode to sleepless (nights)
an ode to the sirens
an ode to the energy of it
an ode to deafening silence
an ode to the shadows
an ode to the light
an ode to the way it moves
an ode to the way it feeds (me/(on)my soul/s)
an ode to free samples
an ode to rogue pennies
and an ode to the rogues
an ode to scum coated rivers
an ode to drowning in it
an ode to never wanting to leave
an ode to the weekend
an ode to forever
an ode to 24/7
an ode to the fuckboys;
fair-weather friends
an ode to the loveless
and an ode to love
(but only till the next stop)

- it’s not for everyone
but i’ll write every one
an ode



It's not the first time I see him on the platform, slowly pacing back and forth in the area where the billboard with dozens of forgotten online courses comforts anyone who might be trying to distract themselves from those anxious waits where time seems to stop and every wagon is but the blurry flash of either something good or something bad, the sudden alarm of something not done or the fear of having done it intensely enough to perhaps drive someone—or everyone—away, wondering if that might be it, if that's the moment where the ground will suddenly swallow you down and save yourself from becoming the bane of your own existence or spit you back up because no, you haven't fallen that hard yet and you certainly don't need to do so right now, not when you might look him in the eye again and realise there's still time for you to write that book, to visit your grandmother's grave, to bake those biscuits while your room is still a mess, to wait for autumn and get yourself another treat, to breathe the grass in and allow the past to leave, to cry yourself to sleep with no fear of what's next, to call him on the morning and give another chance, to tell yourself you're sorry and that you know this never lasts, the increasingly vicious urge to graze the train with your palms and feel the softness of the speed waving on your back, while you open your eyes and see no walls but tracks, bifurcations of emotions driven by the possibilities of your own heart, of the childhood tears that were never recovered but somehow went back to crystallise into beacons of hope because yes, it will be alright, you're not alone and the train's just one more star to catch.

Cut your losses and leave

Every year we wait. Our bodies buzz and hum. We are pots about to boil over as the tracks start to quiver and lights flicker in the darkness.

The train that always comes to meet us is part of the London underground but we are not in England and only a few of us are British. It doesn't look like it would fit in our tunnels but the walls morph and eagerly hug at its sides. The concrete platform sizzles below us like a mirage. Out of habit we step back to make room.

Every year we hold our breaths as the doors sigh open to reveal a strange collection of items. The first year it was a coffee machine and a shelf filled with leather bound books. We didn't know what it meant but in hindsight we realized it was a prophecy, the items fitting perfectly to the year ahead. The second year there were more of us, and again the third, the fourth. We bring notebooks and cameras. Tarot cards and incense. We have lived through guns, vicious dogs, screaming babies. One year the train brought a bulbous cloud that released an angry downpour onto the fabric seats. Lightning bolts shot from the doors.

This year though, our group is a sad handful. We are a dying breed and the past twelve months have not been kind to us. But we knew that would happen. Our pens are running dry and our camera batteries are empty. As the train approaches we reach for each other and pray for a miracle. We pray for big things like water, a bounty of crops, an end to the wars. We pray for small things like cookies, clean clothes and the smell of flowers.

The train slides into the station and its doors open like silk. We have been doing this for so long, and whereas once it would have taken months of debate to decide what the train meant, now it takes mere seconds. We are a hive mind. We have not disagreed with each other in decades.

Read more >

You Reap What You Sow

It’s our annual 'Take Your Lawnmower to Work Day' today, and I’m prepared. I have my lawnmower, a bag full of grass in case it gets peckish, a box of toys in case we want to play, petrol, raincoat, and all that jazz. I’m looking forward to it, though I suppose I’m a little nervous. Last year my mower – Chop Chop – cut up the boss' shirt. He was only trying to be friendly. They laughed it off on the day, but I did notice for a few months afterwards that all the best leads were given to anybody in the office but me. Then there was the incident a few years back, when Jones’ strimmer-cross Snippy ended up in the fountain outside – oh, it was a nightmare. They left soon after that, but I’m sure it was unrelated.

My mower’s a Mountfield, pure bred. Likes eating bread, too. It’s weird like that, but generally well-behaved. I’ve taken him to all kinds of lawns, in different houses and parks, and he never runs out of energy. He’s slowed down a bit, like, but he is nearly thirty, so you can’t blame him. Naturally, the boss owns a ride-on mower. It niggles at me, the way he rides it through the corridors, lets it chew up the carpets, and then leaves all the mess for someone else to clear up. Still, those are the perks when you’re at the top. And they can take their fancy-schmancy mower – called Excelsior, if you can believe that – to the office in a lovely bright van. I have to take my Chop Chop on the subway. Still, I keep telling myself it’ll be a laugh.

I’ve brought some tools with me, too. If I can just loosen Excelsior’s wheels, say, and then the boss maybe has a little accident, I could take over in the top spot. Even if it’s only temporary, I can show people what I’d achieve as manager of Sprinkler Systems ‘R’ Us. Then it’s only a short step to a full-time promotion. It’s going to be perfect. The enquiry will naturally show the boss at fault, distracted by the day’s frivolities. Though, I suppose, it might mean the end of Bring Your Lawnmower to Work Day…


To Be a Garden

I swapped my breakfast for a lawnmower.
The blades pushed across my tongue
and gave a taste of what it would be like
to be a garden, to lie still, to show off,
to be in the same place over and over,
to give peace when needed, to be
a dancefloor and a bed and a dinner table,
to grow, to look after yourself, to shine,
to die, to discover frogs and robins,
to feed those around you.


Lost between two languages

I've lost my luggage in this train
of thought. By this, I mean this vehicle
has no words. By vehicle, I mean language is also movement towards
safety. & ask my father, he will tell you,
he never taught me to ride
in the first class carriage of his people's
language & on each seat, in this poem,
is a boy who doesn't want to leave
his borders of love. But if birds
are migrants from the frantic heat,
why will we not run when the roof
is burning? & it was burning yesterday
when my mother called me, Onye,
which means _____.
Note: we have blank spaces of meaning
in this song. Therefore do not hold on
to me as if I am an anchor to this life.
What if I fall under the carriage wheel
like a piece of bread?
Will crows come with grass
on their beaks to weave my mouth
into a nest? I mean I've mowed
the lawn with my knees,
searching for where I buried
all the words for 'end this'
in my mother tongue.

Read more >

Burning Bridges and Building Barricades

Turns out, the best way to barricade the tube doors is with a lawnmower. I won't tell you how I know this, but I think you can figure it out. Now one might now be asking, why would one need to barricade the tube doors? But I feel the more important question, is where do you get a lawnmower on the tube at such short notice? Because let's be realistic, when you’re barricading the tube doors, this is only done spontaneously; it cannot be something that’s planned, that would just be weird. But when you find yourself in certain predicaments, and it becomes clear that the only logical course of action is to barricade the doors on the tube, you know now, that what you must do is get your hands on a lawnmower- and fast. Time is essential here. Leave it too long and the lawnmower may very well be useless. I’ve found that it is in fact most beneficial to make a temporary barricade with other objects before a lawnmower has been procured. Examples of items which make a good temporary barricade in the tube are as follows; a military-grade backpack, two 50-litre plastic tubs, or, if in particularly dire circumstances, 3 small children, preferably somewhat feral. Now, these temporary barricades will buy you some time, but not a lot. As soon as they are assembled, it is time to look for the nearest lawnmower. They are not always easy to find in the wild, but perchance you may find yourself to be lucky; one may have fallen out of someone's pocket, and it may be left on the floor, forgotten and forlorn. This would be an ideal situation, as then the lawnmower will be easily persuaded to barricade the door, as you can convince it that this action alone will bring back their owner (who, let's face it, clearly doesn’t put as much thought into their lawnmower as you have). Or if its been a particularly hectic tube journey, there may be one cowering under the seats, afraid to come out, for fear it may be trampled. This makes it somewhat more difficult to persuade the lawnmower; first, you must build up trust, in order to tease it out from under the seating, before you can then gently suggest (and I do mean suggest) that barricading the door is the best course of action. Read more >

Do You Remember . . .?

Do you remember that long–haired, sickly sweet, sweat-filled summer of my rebellious and delicate early adolescence - the one when I ran away from home for the day and took the train into the city, only to return as dinner was being served to find that you’d thrown yourself and your rapidly growing mountain of anxieties into unnecessary housework, even borrowing the mower from the neighbor down the street and mowing the already trim lawn to nubbins?

Do you remember, in your now quiet, unsnoring sleep, with lesions decorating your brain so gaudily according to the MRI, the fragile peace that ensued, that you proceeded to cultivate so very gently with each passing day?

Do you remember how strongly, how brightly, how brilliantly, how loudly we both loved and hated each other then, but most importantly, now, in your terminal slumber, as I hold your hand in the silent darkness, punctuated only by the occasional beep of the heart monitor, your rhythm failing so slowly - much more slowly than anticipated - unlike our rapid reconciliations and tender, tenuous friendship during those, my fractious teenage years, when we both foolishly spat, anxious and worried - almost as anxious and worried as I am now wondering what I’ll do without you - do you remember how much I still calmly, peacefully, and steadily now love you?



They say that as the 10.15 shudders to a halt at Turnham Green
a weary soldier shakes the desert sand from the folds of his combats
his senses still assaulted by the sulphurous stink of battle
and the lingering tang of sweat and desperation on his tongue.
He ponders his senseless role in thousands of years of bloodshed.
I am tired of killing he declares to no one in particular and
is overheard by a young woman lugging a lawn mower.
She is disenchanted with her life spent perfecting the pristine
pastures of the rich whilst reducing whole ecosystems to dust
and slaughtering small creatures between the vicious blades
of her cumbersome belching machine.
….Tired of killing? She murmurs bleakly and finds that it is true.
Gently they wipe the tears from each other’s eyes and gasp at
their mutual epiphany and by Aldgate East their pact
is sealed and their sinewy limbs entwine.

They disembark at Upminster and erect a sturdy
bivouac in a lay by just off the Dagenham bypass and there
they feast off roadkill and wayside weeds and swim in the
murky canals and raise impossibly beautiful children
who chase butterflies and maybugs and can sometimes
be glimpsed playing endless naked hide and seek
in the long grass.

They say the trains lie abandoned their drivers
having long since departed their cabins and
staggered gratefully towards the light.



ominous it crouches
head like a macho-wasp
rejigged to project
dragon-like flames
the moment it fires
into life

set to napalm
suburban grass
hanging baskets
garish borders
& terrify the indignant
gardener with a death-metal

blackened mayhem
as battalions of mowers
rise up against the pampered
the bland the anti-
nature uselessness of
the lawn


Dystopia Subway Train

A subway train door opens and Lo and behold!
A lawnmower, an army backpack, and a small storage bin barely visible
And strangely all the people have disappeared into thin air.
This is the Dystopia Train Special going to the main station in Chicago.

All the people were waiting for Godot by Beckett and Godot
Came and was so strong that all people were gobbled up
And disappeared.

Peace depended on the army backpack and the lawnmower and storage bin came
along for the ride left by the former occupants of the subway car.

Will the lawnmower ever be used again? Where is the conductor? Who will take
the tickets? Will the lawnmower move out of the way if people return to the train
system? Will people return?
Like in Poor People by Dostoevsky there are more questions than answers; why?

Is the subway a metaphor for global warming? Or for the battlefield of love/life?
Is the Mountfield X100 Lawnmower a metaphor for the USA?

Subway train to Chicago, LA, NYC, Beijing, Moscow, Mexico City, Havana, Caracas, Gaza, Tehran, Seoul, Lagos; where will it go to next? Get on, the ride is free, drop your army backpack off, mow the lawn and store your things; all is well on the Dystopia Subway Train.


Doors Open

Doors open, lines of communication
drawn to channel cutting comments,
a train of thought
which neither comprehends,
the gap between the two growing wider.

He is scared, for the travelling son,
saying goodbye, wants him to stay
safe, at home,
knowing he will go
- as he did.

He is scared, of the unknown, of
saying goodbye, wants to stay
safe, at home,
knowing he will go,
- as a son must.

The father drops the blade of conversation
closer to the soil of the subject at heart,
skimming the pain of parting,
remembering the journey to here,
knowing they face different lands
of time
of past left behind
of a future apart


It is time

To bring down the moon
Erased of impassable-
Scraps of papers, old announcements
And unopened letters.
The striped bag full of lines
Scribbled, received and sent.

I leave behind a congregation
Of no importance or so it had seemed then-
Distant conversations in the celestial world
Of indefinite existence.
Shrinking thoughts of age wild and intoxicated.

Propelled out of desire to be found
By the sunshine freshly bathed
In rain someday-
Like the downtown lights
Finding a place in times of difficulty.

The books I would have liked to read,
A yellow dress with white embroidery,
Favorite silver armlet received
In unreliable post on day of birth.
A comb missing a few tooth and
A black hair band borrowed just yesterday.

It is time to leave the cut grass where it grew
In the air of past with its wet fragrance.


Harrowing Underground

Lone backpack in a corner
cordless lawn mower stretched horizontal
blocking the rapid transit’s entrance,
plexiglass windows displaying
modern emptiness like an eye
solely focused on the kick-up dimple
at the bottom of a magnum wine bottle.

Persimmon walls deflect acrid tones
from Moulecoomb’s hell hound
to Carlisle Station’s headless man,
restless spirits activate sliding doors
bounce echoes off walls, amplify vibrating
rail squeaks that trigger lights to flicker
& illuminate vacuity aboard the deserted tube.

Steamy window vapor coalesces
water beads drip down transparent sheets
carve vertical, see-through trails on sweat
leave riders apprehensive—verklempt—
as trapped underground victims’ forlorn cries
begin with dead ends, carry though loops,
indiscriminately haunt those living & departed.


One Last Lawn

My first, when I was young, I sowed from seed,
raked the bare earth, picked out the stones,
the weeds, levelled the undulations.
It was seasons in the making,
but never took the mower well.

And she disliked the way it grew,
the shape of things, and the borders,
as they took on angles, and a sharpness.
She moved her mother in,
and moved me on.
And that first lawn?
It went to hell.

The second lawn was older, long-established.
But I found it weary with weed, and ire.
It was bare in places, too,
scars of abuse, and neglect.
So many seasons, that one,
in the nurturing,
but then such lush maturity,
and a pleasure in the mow.

It was rich, and sweet,
a summer wine, sipped slow.
And her love, it was rose scented,
Grown children, from another man,
the only thorns.
When she passed, my love died with her,
As did the lawn.
And the children, vexatious,
they moved me on as well.

Now the seasons they grow numbered,
As I cross the void once more,
Seeking love in loneliness,
And one last lawn to mow.


Semantics of a Curious Mind

The things we hold onto—
A tourniquet for our lofty desires and broken dreams.
Leaving is a gesture intermixed with
abandonment and sheer excitement.

It all depends on the moments of time you have been given.

An almost empty boxcar with a rugged army backpack,
a lawnmower, and a handful of old things
lying aimlessly for your taking.

It reminds you of the rudderless life you have embarked on.

Some things are tokens of what you could have been.
Or a glimpse of the glimmering future
in your now bleary ashen eyes.

You always brush the last remnant of separation
as the teardrop makes a wet trail on your cheeks
Before you catch the last glimpse of his face
before the door closes,
and leaves you numb for a moment.

The moment of utter desperation
and desire comes to a halt
as you eye the lawnmower

The semantics of the curious mind
takes you into the fresh-cut green lawn
where the dew drops fleetingly touches
the base of your thick cracked heels

The sun's apricity kissing the nape of your neck,
your ears filled with the laughter
of those you love.
A moment of solace and beauty
overcomes the ashen moment.

And you walk towards the platform,
waiting for the train to return.



Superstitions are what I live by—
my reasoning has lost its capacity
to guide or comfort me.

I am a vessel
on a finite and predetermined path
full of unexpected appearances,
and my adherence to magical guidance
is strict and unwavering.

Life is just an abstraction anyway—
upside down and inside out—
might as well embellish it

with riddles and nonsense—collecting
all those things we have abandoned,
and recasting them as spells
that conjure new configurations
of cosmological time.


Subway Held Hostage By Lawnmower

Subway held hostage by lawnmower.
I read this morning’s headline with interest
but not too much surprise.
The machines have slowly been taking control
as our bodies succumb to inertia.
Why bother doing something
when a machine can not only do it
but do it better.
So the lawnmower
holding the subway hostage
was just a reflection of that.
Where in previous days
an armed man would hold other people hostage
leading to bloodshed and death
this was a better way.
No shooting
no guns at all
just a rouge lawnmower
holding the subway hostage.
Only an abandoned backpack
an innocent bystander
caught up in the fray.
I did wonder for a moment
how it would all be resolved
only a matter of time
until the rechargeable battery
ran out of energy.
Just like me, running out of interest
moving on to the next story.


Cut Down

What is the root of this ambition
That makes us want to shape the world around us to our liking?
In our image, as they say.
No matter if a living thing must be cut down.

Is it about an endless journeying?
A comfort in the restlessness:
The lands uncharted,
The quests unresolved,
We create aspirations
So we may know we have dreams left to chase.

Is it an endlessly repeating fallacy?
Like fighting noise with sound
Like bringing purpose into chaos,
Not knowing what the purpose is of chaos (it is chaos)

We bring about stillness through motion,
And harmony through death.


Before tomorrow blows away

How bleak the future seems to be
If we do not face reality
The verdant Earth beneath our feet
Barren, sterile and deplete
No longer will the cattle graze
No wildlife roaming to amaze
Trees and bushes, sadly gone
No green grass hills to gaze upon
Rivers long ago stopped flowing
Now a dry wind, howling, blowing
Where once a river flowed nearby
Is just a gully, arid, dry
This vision doesn't have to be
We all can change reality
Make that effort, here today
Before tomorrow blows away


Across Town

By yourself, carrying only what’s on your person? Sure, no problem. That scenario is a marathon: difficult but doable under the right circumstances. Anything more, and you start thinking about bringing water, something to eat, extra cash in a hidden pocket—it gets to be a lot.

Understand, nobody wants to stop in a shop while they’re pushing a lawn mower they borrowed from a cousin on the side of town with things like lawns and mulch and the like. It’s hard enough finding a bus that’ll take you back to somewhere near your neighborhood with your “luggage” that smells like gas and clippings.

You have to eat, though, right? Have to drink? You have to know it takes all day to get back and forth across town. There’s no tram, trolly or bus that’s going to get you right where you want to go, now is there?

No. You have to go all over that city to get from A to B. You end up using near the whole alphabet.

It’s hard enough as it is—and with a mower?



I was always
the extra baggage.
That ugly, overstuffed,
brown backpack
no one wanted to carry,
so they dumped it
in some corner.

You were the fancy one,
all handles and stickers
and sharp teeth,
like an expensive mower
biting your way
to the coveted
window seat.

We were fellow travellers
taking the underground
through life. Destined for
the same station. But I
decided to get off earlier.

You never forgave me that.


Tunnel of Love

if I hadn’t seen your rucksack in the corner
I’d have thought that you’d been cut out of my life

if I hadn’t heard the rumble of the closing doors
I’d have missed the excitement of the ride

if I hadn’t felt the rush of wind as the train sped
through the tunnel I’d have lost you in the dark

if I hadn’t read the sign that said no smoking
I’d have kept the passion burning from the start

if I hadn’t seen the painted line between us
you’d have swept me from the platform’s edge

if I hadn’t heard the voice say mind the gap
I’d have thought we’d never split or drift apart

if I hadn’t seen the welcoming moquette
I’d never have been seated at your feet

and I’d never have laid my bundle down beside you
and set out on this journey beneath the earth


Becoming Sundials

I am trimming my life back,
taking a train away
from cluttered expectations.
Maybe all I need can be carried in a single bag,
a backpack, hands-free,
walking towards some as of yet
unknown destination.

I remember taking the tube into London,
walking up and down Charing Cross Road,
lingering inside the Silver Moon Women’s Bookshop,
my fingers touching titles,
choosing a slim volume of poetry
to read with a cheap cup of coffee
(that I would make last).
Back then, the dream was to expand,
expand from a one-bedroom flat to a house,
expand from a couple to a family,
fill space and time with plans,
more furniture,
a second fry pan.

With birds leaving the nest,
soon we will look to condense,
let go of large boxes,
duplicate kitchenware,
and too many sweaters.

Read more >

The grass cutter

Not a day passes
without him turning up
Today, he’s down there
down there with his bag
that follows him,
framed in red.
The single metaphor
of a dead generation.
When you see him
just sitting there
held together by memories
of tall grass, winding though trees.
He is always ready.
He will go anywhere if you ask him.
All he does
is what’s in front of him.



before the age add up_the hood changes
before the teen & adult
we were sparklers at dust twinkling
with dreams
before the society's norm veils our eyes
burrows into the heart of us
tells us to blend in blend in blend blend in blend in
dim our lights,mower our edges,bury our voices in camouflage bag
discarded in a still train trapped in the subway.

but the society is wrong
to be different is unique
to be different is to be you
so own it.


A Pay Cheque Away

The Circle Line’s Mr No-Name’s home
from home after bunking
in barracks. His get out clause

to escape sour milk. He won
a scholarship to study sculpture
but signed up instead. The Circle Line

Tube’s Mr No-Names shop
doorway. Mower his nod
to sculpture-couture his concept

of homeless trolleys, black
bin liners. The Circle Line’s his temp
garden shed. On days off instead

of grass cuttings he keeps dirty
laundry from Number 10, Iraq
Monday to Friday and his pug’s

nest. At lights out he leaves
the mower as welcome mat
Lesson to late comers, commuters

pub overspill stepping over objects
as they do with him when he sits
with a beret begging for dog food

When the old guard tells him to shift
his carcass from the Circle Line, sleep
on a bench. Even though there’s no

Read more >


I promise you this is not some poorly executed knock-knock joke, but when I saw a train carriage arrive carrying just a lawn mower and a camouflage military bag, I freaked out. I freaked out more when the rest of the train, all fourteen carriages, were empty.


Not a single person, with the closest example of which being the PA of someone off the telly. Trekking up and down the train, my destination became the least of my worries and I was lured in by this rapture-like vanishing act as I progressed further up the train. The seats were still filthy and caked in dust, the bins were full of refuse and the doors were fully operational, opening with that same civil hiss they always had. After each door, I turn around to see if this is all still so vivid, as if I wasn’t in on some social experiment.


This wasn’t the case. Where good folk, bad folk, old folk, young folk, and all the rest would sit and stand, luggage lay slumped and discarded by it’s owners; props in a static set with the actors on strike. And with a flickering of the lights, the train sealed it’s doors and began to move. Knocked to my feet, the last thing I saw before blacking out was a station full of people standing still. Featuring blurred by speed and nausea, at least a hundred pairs of eyes watched me fall unconscious.

The last thing I felt as I fell unconscious was the full force of a bag of golf clubs spilling all over my back. Pressed between the 9 irons and the rubber-reeking floor, I was carried off into the black maw of the tunnel.



Young men and women plucked into war
take trains to borders and straits

chattels of travellers on a carriage connector
camouflage rucksack of a soldier

a petrol lawn mower
the irony of things journeying to flense

sharp borders on carpet green lawns
rails where sirens startle

people destined to die.


The Unconquered Dead

The Unconquered Dead, says John McCrae, are ‘the harvest of bullets’ that ‘swish and sing like scythes amid over-ripened wheat...’ Those that travel underground swaying and squashed suffer remembered whirs of motor blades that spin, cut and bleed the grass as the Conquered Living tread wearily in the dusty heat on ground hardened by an avenging sun. Silently, a discarded Bergen lays witness to this unseen mortal memory. Its warrior is asleep, his muscles twitching like open wounds. Gathering in the crashing darkness of his dreams are ‘boundless walls of red.’

An amateur gardener for Mrs Daffodil

Mrs Daffodil didn't keep her promise. As if doing this favor on a day where all the people I know are somewhere chillier and fresher and nicer isn't enough, she forgot to pick me up. I need to be picked up, come on. Where does a girl with bad money management and no decent cunning bitchy self-indulgent high brow boyfriend skills go other than... doing even the gardening for her neighbor's friend. My neighbor said that the job would be easy money and good for me and my spirits, and my eyes. Stay far from the screen. Be in touch with nature. Make some money in the meantime. She knows I need it desperately. If I want green and peacefulness, I know where to go. This isn't the place.

My neighbor lent me the mower which we took to Mrs Daffodil's house when she dropped me at her house this morning. And she promised that Mrs Daffodil would pick me up when I finish. She had an assignment – who has assignments nowadays – far from town and it would be the perfect day for... gardening. Call it gardening! I feel like a total jerk, a piece of soil, a smashing pumpkin, an exploded watermelon, a broken glass of a crystal blue-cyanic summer drink on someone's deck.

Everything hurts. I'm supposed to get paid, and I had to get everything on the train. The underground... the mower and me. How insane. Pants all swathed with sloppy patches of green and yellow, thatch dropping, traces of my whereabouts and my destiny on the train, the platform, the minds of onlookers. Someone even wanted to take a picture. Not of me. Just the mower, the bin – I must make a stop to throw everything away as the bins were too far from Mrs Daffodil's house – and my military bag. Don't ask me about the military bag.

Read more >

Doors Closing

Open wide, that’s it
just as I thought
an unchewed lawnmower a barely licked rucksack
how many times have I told you
to swallow everything you’re fed it’s no use
trying to resist they’ll get you in the end
you can run but you can’t hide
you’re going nowhere
on your own with legs that have forgotten
they have feet and hips and heart attached
we’re being reduced to parts
of a hole they want us to fall neatly into
this train’s going nowhere friend so eat up
and shut up tomorrow it could be ice cream and jelly
there’s no connection


On the Move

I left with a lawnmower,
towed it on the tube;
many looked, stared hard
to check my rationality
as if leaking in puddles
down platform gaps…

I wanted to slide too,
dissipate in greasy lines:
sheltering under a cocooning city,
(lining its underbelly)
with my fabric self.

Yet I’m forced to stand
holding the 90s relic mower:
a semblance of a marriage
alongside a cargo rucksack
comprising my whole life
beneath camouflage flecks
of jangled jungle life,
discordant in metropolis climes.

Next to me is a packed box –
the conclusion of a desk job,
ill-fitting, tightly screwed edges
wore too close to my skin
so I’ve packed everything,
and now, I’m making a run for it…

Read more >

Museum 2184

note the haversack for the hill walker
in those far off times above the caves
when sun was worshipped there was
greenery to gaze upon – to fondle – to
walk and not expire from dehydration

you will have seen those old paintings
photographs of rivers – valleys – forests
they did exists – they are not myths – look
at the lawnmower saved from destruction
their method of cutting grass to their needs

for they had grass watered and manicured
they were passionate about it looking neat
never gave a thought of how endless sun
failing rains – sudden floods – would leave
bare earth to blow – blind – starve

finally observe the train – it was electric
a primitive – early troglodyte exploration
we use ponies – providing power – manure
for our modern cultivars – meat for the table
nothing down here is wasted

but they never understood – the depths to which
we would have to sink


The Moving

I've taken the ghosts of gone days with me
Not to worry therefore
We're meant to move, aren't we?
I've made sure not even a blade of grass has stuck to my boots
My backpack heavy as a boulder already
Before I left
I've mown my lawn
Razed all green to the ground
They can start afresh tomorrow too
Time is an excellent mower
Razing our well-marked, circled in red, doodled and brightened plans to the earth
Like they never existed
Tomorrows are the mirrored walls like in gymnasiums
Showing, proving, hammer-blowing into our heads
The one truth that existed

The mower did not work on its own
We were holding it all along, manoeuvring
Razing to the ground, wheeling away blades of calendared hopes


Where the Grass Grows Tall

There they sat, underground in the dark
in a place where no grass grows.
The lawnmower, her camouflage bag filled
with her past, a tub of her belongings abandoned
inside the subway doors.

She had meant to move on
try again to cut the surface even
mow down every obstacle of discomfort
make things all tidy, safe
but she opted instead to leave that all behind.

She’s on to greener pastures where the grasses
grow tall, wild, free.



Your heart still beats in my chest
with a coarseness that scratches my
lungs, and sometimes still I spend
sleepless nights lost in your sleepless city.
Sometimes still your feet fill my shoes and
your air fills my lungs as they itch next to your beating heart,
and soon you’re making your way through my veins
like a guest who’s outstayed their welcome,
someone somewhere they shouldn’t be,
but who I still can’t bring myself to ask to leave.
I feel my shirt sticking to my back,
the ink from my book blemishes
my finger tips, my shoulder presses into another
that will not find its way home with me in these sleepless nights.
Nor will your shoulder that I still think to lean on
while I spend my hours awake in a bed half
damp with sweat and half uncreased and perfect,
because you spend all you can coursing through me.
And yet still, despite you being in my chest
in my shoes
in my lungs
in my veins
being in all the wrong places,
to consider it wrong feels wrong and I resign myself
to a coarse heartbeat whose rhythm I cannot
predict and still gives me sleepless nights.


The Bag, The Box and The Lawnmower

"Alright mate?" said the bag.
"Not bad," said the lawnmower.
"Did you get left?"
"Nah, my owner's coming back."
"That's what I thought," said the bag. "But I've been here for 17 stops now."
"Don't say that," said the lawnmower. "You'll give me anxiety."
"Is it your first time in lost and found?"
"What did I say? Stop teasing me."
"I'm not teasing you mate. Listen, I've been down L&F countless times and it ain't all that bad. Honest."
"My. Owner. Is. Coming. Back!"
"Bit of a selfish place to leave you," said the bag. "Not everyone can step over."
"Excuse me," said the box. "Do you guys mind keeping the noise level down? I'm trying to sleep."



“Do you like lawn mowers?” A shaky voice reverberated.

The train was still moving. I could feel the vibrations of the wheels beneath us move over the tracks. I filled my lungs with air, as the blur in my vision evaporated. Once I was able to adequately see, I got a good look at him. His wrinkled skin glistened from sweat, and his beard went down to his chest. If I didn’t know any better his flannel shirt and tattered jeans had seen their final days, but I was sure for a man his age, those types of things were too hard to let go of.

“No thank you,” I nodded.

“What was that?” He pushed his mower along as he walked closer to me.

I cleared my throat. “I said no.”

“But you nodded yes.” He smiled. “It’s like your heart said yes, but your mind said no.” He sat down. “So what’s the truth? Do you like lawn mowers or not?”

I tightened my grip on my backpack. “I used to mow the lawn as a chore growing up. So I’m indifferent to them.” A hint of seriousness tinged the back of my vocal chords.

“Relax,” he chuckled. “I see the death grip you have on that backpack there, and I don’t want your baggage.” He leaned in closer. “It seems to me you have a lot.”

A lump in my throat started to form. I silently panicked, trying not to shed a tear. I looked up at a sign with a cartoon woman in a man’s warm embrace with text that read: Where will you go next?

Read more >

Take Only What You Can Carry

...they told us, so I keep my handbag by the door. I’m clever that way. My husband says I’m foxy. Because in my handbag I have two die-cast cars and Dolly. Passports. Pen and paper, a few sheets, to draw, play knots-and-crosses, and make boats. Snacks. I checked the expiry date, it’s next year’s May. It should all be over by then. Everyone thinks so, even my husband and he always checks his facts… I keep a water bottle too, in my handbag. Tissues. A change of clothes for each one of our children – packed tight. I watched a guy on YouTube demonstrating how you can roll a hoodie in its sleeve and make it the size of a wallet. Okay, a bigger wallet.

So with my handbag by the door, when we need to run, I’ll grab it and hang it over my shoulder, across my chest, like the mailman’s bag when we still used to get mail delivered. And had a mailman. Then my hands would be free to grab both our kids. One hand for each. My son with my right hand, that’s my dominant hand, so I can quickly scoop him onto my hip if he gets too tired to walk. My daughter with my left hand, for she’s my heart and my husband also stays by my left side, close to my heart. Then she’ll be protected between us.

They told us we can only take what we can carry. This is all I can. All I need.

In my head, half asleep and all quiet so none will worry, I’ve imagined rushing off many times. Went through one scenario after another. It didn’t happen the way I thought it would.

We were chased away in the middle of the night. So I grabbed my handbag and my kids and we were off to the metro station. An adventure, I told them. Where to, they asked? I looked a question at my husband. Pale in the neon light while we were waiting for the metro.

Read more >

Always on Parade

Onward, from the rolling hills of this England to the wide, green land splattered with poppies, the Mountfield Mower answers its commission, travels on its pilgrimage to that other Eden. Unwilling to camouflage itself, the mower sits proud, motor running, always alert. Offering its help for heroes buried beneath the fields, it can at least trim around the lines and lines of graves. Always on parade.

Wear a mask, please mind the gap, stand clear of the yellow line. All orders followed, commands honoured, sacrifices made. No visa required for the short journey through the tunnel to the glorious task of honouring the dead.


Riding on the Circle Line

The soldier alighted first,
left his backpack on the train,
all his battles won, waving off
the gardener for one last ride.

He sat contemplating life,
the return of a circle, then met
the gardener’s saturnine eyes
with a half-smile: “All done?”

She nods, joining him on
the empty platform, his dirty
set of pea-green fatigues, her
grass-stained legs all hairy.

He wants to ask her some
dumb question like “What now?”
but she’s already asleep, lost in
a dream of heady meadows.

Gently, he reaches his arm
around her, closes his eyes on this
war-torn world, its cries the dark
hum of the last train home.


Subway Short Cut

He knew if
He took the L from
The green belt

And switched trains,
He could shave
Time off his commute.

He tried and it
7 minutes saved!

Now, to sharpen
His approach,
Lower the blade,

And shift to save
At least 2
More minutes…

His goal was simple:
Give himself five,
Five extra minutes

To relax and
Some grass.


Last Stop

The mower, trailing quarter inch grasses,
smells of oil and not-green gasses,
parks in the open door,
clearly stating no more
like the famous raven of yore.
Having pushed the pack back
popped the container top,
it surveys each stop,
makes no move to leave,
waits for the train to heave
itself away from the gate—
it always runs late.
If it had a phone,
it would call home
before disappearing into the dark
and focused crowd,
stumbling together in the loud
We all need a vacation.


Under Ground

No more sunlight.

It's this again:
Doing what they want
We have become like machines
We are only the exteriors of things.

Name more sunlight.

Is this a gain?
Doing what they want
We have become their machines
We are owned, leased. The exit erased off things.

Name, or sunlight.

In this age, in
Doing what they want
We've beckoned their machines,
We are owed at least – the exit? A raise? Other things?

No more, son! Light!

I miss ageing,
Doing what I want,
Way back in them oceans,
We rode to Leith, Exeter – rays of things.

No morse: on-light.

I'm a sage in
Doing what they want:
We buck under motions
We erode to leave. Exit her. Raise offerings.

One more sunlight.


The Journey Continues

The journey continues, wanted or not
Heavy with possessions, bag on your back
Notice this moment, it’s all you have got

Like it is your first ride you wonder what
Lies ahead or if you will stay on track
The journey continues, wanted or not

Fighting for freedom, discharging your shot
Furthering your rights, diverting attack
Notice this moment, it’s all you have got

Returning home to things you had forgot
But now there is something it seems to lack
The journey continues, wanted or not

You mow all the weeds and paint over rot
Transferring the waste elsewhere to unpack
Notice this moment, it’s all you have got

New people arriving, choosing their spot
Others leaving, too many to keep track
The journey continues, wanted or not
Notice this moment, it’s all you have got



This old game of playing the hand I’m dealt—I know
its rules well. Slow parting of doors, the great reveal—

I stifle a smile. You think you can shock me with
a combat pack, slumped ominously on linoleum floors?

I'm talking to you, whoever is running this simulation.
You should know better—I’ve been a nomad all my life,

stripped of denomination, I belong to no land—
a nameless entity. Three moons, and I’ll embrace

any mound of earth as home. I will readily board
this carriage, pick up these unfamiliar props, stare

at the blankness of its bleached light. Throw me amongst
overgrown brush and I will shear close, seeking the scalp

of the earth, peeling away to elusive layers of soil till I find
a bed of loam to lay my head on. Day and night, hold no fear,

no phantoms here, just whispers in my skull saying this
obstacle course could be my last. But I’ve been there before—

the hollows, the inflammable hoops, hail of fiery quartz.
Still standing, my friend, still standing. But you already

know that, don’t you? Now that we have that out of the way,
let the doors close. No surreal assemblage can derail me now.

Par for the course. I’m walking in. Let your amusement begin.


This Journey

on this journey
I travel with hands full
heart broken
pain attached
no joking
no hope
no dreams
I got my bag
filled with memories
but lacking cash
I don't know
I didn't train for this
but I can
maybe I can't
I'll mow a lawn
I'll stand withdrawn
a pawn
in sacrifice
but the ice
won't catch me
this time
I'm on this journey
hands full
one token
heart broken
on a train
going anywhere


Stand Clear?

Now does this platform stance stand clear?
Or can this rotate sill be staged?
Is this at Bank, Bounds Green, Green Park,
Clapham Common, Chalk Farm maybe,
Northfields, Embankment, Maida Vale -
though Kew Gardens sounds more like home?
Mornington Crescent? - Haven’t a clue?
Is broadcast gameplay in the know?

Someone here must draw the line.
yellow warning, white the end?
‘Fling wide the gates’ the psalmist’s cry,
and Harry Beck’s map laid the ground,
as made his tube cartography,
that set the bar you peek, just there.
See caution drones but everywhere,
a ringside view to wrestle with.

In the far corner, Camouflage,
with Mountfield Mower on our side,
disabled may sit ringside show -
perhaps adjust these terms, PC?
Does Mower know no smoke allowed,
commuters fuming at the kerb,
while ‘mind the gap’, Tannoy announced,
by subway bowtie, Dinner Jack.
This sounds southbound, the Northern line?


The Certain Old Man

The old man, in his Alzheimer’s
years, did curious things; once
took his lawn mower and backpack
and got on the metro, certain
where he was going. Happy,
but really lost. “Gonna go,” he’d said,
“need a job.” We thought he didn’t
know what he was doing,
his mind fumbling in the dark
tunnels; he had mentioned God
was on the metro last week,
looking to hire, had an open spot.
But by the time we arrived
at the station, the conductor said
they found only a lawn mower
and a backpack. The man missing,
gone to greener pastures. He was
our grandfather, certain in faith.


The Reaper of Mountfield

I hopped on the train just a few minutes before it was due, dropped my bagpack in a corner and stood observing in the doorway. Of course, there was a mask sign. There are always mask signs. But I did not put any on. Well, what would be the worst that can happen to me. Oil poison? Ha!

A few minutes later, the doors closed and the train started moving. It has been a while that I did not visit home. Business was good back then. Business was really good. There was no reason to waste time and go back to Soul City, where everything was already done.

But it felt nice to be on the train again, to feel the rumbling of the wheels on the rails. Trains are such hard workers. They never complain, never rebel, and never let their fellow machines down. Such hard workers. I wish other small motors take example instead of all the nagging and attention seeking they regularly demand - maintenance, they call it! Ha!

The controller came by to check my pass. "Back from field?", he asked. "Yes," I replied, "heading to Soul City briefly." "And then?", he asked again. "Then, more field. Work is not done yet.", I responded admittedly. Of course, back to field. What would an old mower do in the City? I was called the Reaper for a reason, and reap I will.

Ha ha!


Ophthalmology of the Third Kind

I turn a blind eye
to my ophthalmologist’s prophecy
and insist on seeing the world
as it really is. (An empty train ―
blood, sweat and tears ― a journey
with no destination, only towards
soullessness and fear.)

There isn’t much hope
for any extravagant promises,
on earth as in heaven,
of kingdoms of righteousness. (The innocents
are being mown down as we speak,
as we eat, as we watch the news and sleep.
Mowers are lethal war machines.)

You see alchemy in reverse:
all your banknotes discarded as scrap,
which buys nothing other than
a soggy loaf of your daily bread. (Hallowed
be their names ― those who are always ahead ―
and nobody now remembers the stark warning:
“Mind the gap!”)

Mothers weep while babies starve,
and high-flying executives are busy burying
their heads in charts and graphs,
calculating their ten-digit largesse. (Even dogs
under the master’s table can eat scraps,
but not those who have to cross borders,
who have a foreign face, in permanent regret.)

Read more >

Where it Began

Lawnmower on the Tube
Wembley on the telly

Tess on the terraces
footie on the curriculum

Lionesses on the prowl
joy on the streets

Women on the turf
winning on the day

Backpack on the ground
Nelson on the column

Sunglasses on the faces
dancing on the podium

Sweet Caroline on the sound system
good times never seemed so good

so good
so good
so good


Open Return

Doors opened like portals
the pull of motion tugs chest
heavy shoulders left behind.
Small backpack rests against legs,
all belongings for the weeks ahead.

Phone signal dissipates into the tunnel
darkness enables closed eyes
you are moving
but everything has stopped.

Suddenly sun bursts
colourful dots blind,
a blur of city grey slowly turns green.

As the carriage rocks it takes a while
to drop the to do’s for the today
but you have been here before.
You know the strength it takes,
try to get lost in the landscape.

Hours pass by
the train pulls into a platform
with nothing
but a sign and a gravel path.
You are the only passenger
that steps off
crunching footsteps
silence all thoughts.


Night Gardener

while above most are sleeping
in Olde London Towne
the night gardener I am
in the Underground
train operator stops
scurrying out into
the tube stations
plucking weeds or
are they remnants
migrating from a lost empire
that arise from their footprints
quenching the thirst of graffitied flowers
watering can and my early morning meal
in my old army regiment backpack
as I nightly loop all eleven lines
was offered an electric lawnmower
but how could I get a fumed buzz
while reading Plath between
the pages & stops before dawn
let off at Kew Gardens
to my day position & see
carelessly herded sheep
that once held my job
along the Thames



Content warning: suicide

It was difficult to judge exactly where to stand on the platform. Too close to the edge and he was likely to alert a bystander, too far away and there might not be time.

Afghanistan. The feel of the smooth trigger in his hand. That millisecond where that man was still alive but the bullet had already left the army issue gun. That pleading look in his eyes.

This could end now. Two minutes to the next train. How do people do this exactly? A run and a jump? A step off the platform? Would someone else have to clear out his office now? Carry out his belongings in a plastic box?

Home. That long summer filled with beaches and ice creams and picnics. Sausages on the barbecue. £1.50 from his neighbour Mr Lamont for cutting the grass for him followed by hours in the toy shop, choosing how to spend his hard earned cash.

The earthy breeze and the promised train. Afghanistan. Lawnmower. Afghanistan. Lawnmower.


The train pulled up and the doors slid open in front of him. He pushed his thoughts into the soon to be departing train before turning back to the escalator. Up, up and out. Back into the light.


The World of Reality Has Its Limits

In the gap between the levels of our consciousness and imagination is an ever-moving barrier. My grandmother had experienced so much of life that her barrier barely gave an inch when the Tube doors slid open. Where I saw a soldier’s rucksack and a stolen lawnmower, she saw a trip hazard and a bomb.

Her fear was such that she clutched my arm and dragged me upward against the flow of humanity flooding the metal edged steps of the Underground. The same steps she’d puffed down only minutes before, rushing me on to catch the arriving train.

My not so quick young mind wanted more time to understand what I’d seen. Narratives stormed my brain: army surplus wearing gardener going to work in Knightsbridge, broken van, wealthy client, important first contract. Or two men: one home on leave, curled up asleep out of sight, the other a thief whose only night-haul was a suburban lawnmower that he had no use for in his high rise flat. Or, a grandad, determined to mow a crease for his city grandkids who knew nothing of their Yorkshire heritage. More work was needed on matching the rucksack to its owner, but one thing was sure: there was never going to be a bomb in it.

Grandma won of course. Frail old people can be surprisingly strong where their families are concerned. I let myself be pulled up to the traffic and bumping crowd, to spend the rest of the day wondering if the kids had learnt the rudimentaries of cricket, what the gardener had done with his expensive grass cuttings, and whether the exhausted soldier had anyone to make him a cup of tea. As for the thief? Well, he got a tenner and a big laugh when he wheeled the mower into his local. Job done.


Lawn Boy on a Train

I'm a disoriented lawn boy.
I have a gas mower, a leaf blower, and
a weed whacker but no grass to cut,
hedges to trim, weeds to whack,
and no leaves to blow.

I'm a lawn boy without a purpose,
no sense of direction on a train
heading southbound, perhaps the wrong way,
to a destination of no return,
and the last station of despair.

If I get off at the next exit,
who says there will be uncut grass,
and not cement and macadam?
If that's the case, I'll be losing time and money,
needing to return the mower
by the end of the day.

I will not let this railroad stand in my way.
I'm going to push the choke,
pull the starter and get the engine humming—
despite being on a fast-moving train
with the doors locked shut,
and the passengers giving me dirty looks.

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Left Behind

Once the trains were full
stuffed with commuters
sweaty strap-hangers
wishing they were
somewhere else,
anywhere else.

Well they got their wish
and it wasn’t the pandemic
that did it – not that one

this was more immediate,
Magical even,
One minute they were there
next minute..
as if
someone waved a wand.
They’ve vanished!

Where to?
Who can say when
there’s no one left
to say
no one left to know.
Only the objects are left behind,
the ordinary and the incongruous
left behind to tell their story.

Are you listening?