Some days
a cotton wool tide laps
the windowsill,

drops to reveal
the green valley, grey
limestone peaks,

then billows up
to smother window, view
and the house.

Amid the creak of
the rafters, the chimney’s
tinny commotion

I persevere.
Now you see it –
now you don’t.

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The Master of Sleep


Oh but don’t touch him. This you may do:

let the auricle trap the ghostly filaments
of his dreams; let malleus, incus and stapes
deliver them into the cochlea’s sanctum.

Don’t speak to him. But this you may do:

Let the intangible particles of his slumber
be warmed by keen turbinates, let them
drop anchor in the olfactory epithelium.

Stay! Do not move. Though this you may do:

wave by invisible sine wave, let the heave
of his night hunt pierce the cornea, traverse
the bulbus oculi, and enter the retina.

Do not presume further. This must suffice –

there are lines which shall not be crossed,
lands which uninitiated feet may not tread.
Time itself will stop for an old dog asleep.

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I’m not the kind to walk boldly,
barefoot. I have tried sidling
through life on stocking feet,
but in the long run it wouldn’t do.

Then I met of a pair of
sensible brown lace-ups.
They mean business and
get things done for me.

As the lace-ups leave for work,
the light-weight, cutting-edge
Gore-Tex hiking boots that live
in the mudroom tap their soles.

Sometimes in public places
an enormous pair of shiny black
clown shoes slip over my feet.
People point and laugh; I trip.

I keep away from jackboots.
They might make me march
in step, and to music
I never hope to hear again.

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