To steer by

Artist's rendering ULAS J1120+0641
(OK, so the northern star isn't a quasar, call it artistic license...)

What's to say here?

Maybe nothing.  Let the poem speak for itself.

To steer by

If I should go to seek the northern star
I'll shoe my stick in adamant
and take whichever road winds farthest
through wider and more disjunct lands --
a drunkard's life journey, endless in retelling
while the eyes fuzz at 3 a.m.

—although I'll leave before the end of this
or any other tale. Many miles expect
unhurried feet and gaze which notes
the climate cooling as I walk, sees
how a plant displaces softer weeds,
and feels it satisfies some need:
translating feet to miles.

But is there any effort of the patient stride
to bring one to the place of total ease,
to stand upon the landscape where it's clean,
unstirred beneath the empty air,
and the sky a passacaglia
for unaccompanied star?

If I should come beside you as I walk—
in dust, or mud, or chill with sprinkled rain—
maybe I will ask about the road ahead
and while you'll think me friendly in my way,
you will not drag my eyes from the horizon.


Three sheets to the wind

Another oldish poem from 2010, and another poem with my favourite layout: the sectional poem with subtitles between the sections.  Free verse this time, although I also incline toward gluing sequences of sonnets together in the same manner...

My preferred typography is for the overall title underlined, and the subsection titles to be bold.  To my mind this makes the mid-flow entitlements less of an interruption and more of a aside that doesn't halt the flow.

I have heard somebody (forget who) say that bold is the usual formatting for titles in general, but surely that is wrong?  Surely titles have always been underlined with two strokes of the Biro and a standard 30cm school ruler?

Be that as it may, I underline them; and I also hold no truck with unnecessary mid-title capitalisation...  Sure, if you've spent the morning engraving it, then by all means add capitals, cherubs, bunches of fruit, but I'm just poking keys on a laptop—no special ceremony is required*.

Three sheets to the wind


A sheet to be swaddled in. The wind blew through
and you could not know any different, from
sixty-odd seconds. But you knew
that life so far was hard, cold, bright.

Even when the warm eyes gathered you,
slathered you with smiles, filled you with milk;
your innocence retained that slight dent.


Storming with the rebel youth
through a city grown older, slower, more inviting,
with each and every pint. You've raised
a fair few prodigal brews while the night
phased late into early and the ghost of a pay packet.

You might recall probable dancing
with definite girls
of the unimpressed variety
but now today is another tomorrow.


One path winding
through sheets of fractured rain
towards some sort of gate.

The cup you recall drinking,
so sweet and heady you used to gulp
each fresh experience, is hollowed now
to sparser and more-bitter dregs
but you can't stop until it's dry.

*Or to put it another way, if Emily Dickinson can invent her own rules of punctuation, why can't I?