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We don’t touch each other any more
twelve years in a double bed

down to business-like deals
we can’t bring ourselves to shake on,

not even an x at the end
of a text. I’m not saying

that I want to. I just wonder
where we went. But today

you sent a photo of our son.
It stopped me as it flashed

across my palm. We were there.
In his face. In each other’s arms.

Your Old Photos (2)

You are showing me your strata, the women

that you were: young and pink-cheeked

on a Croatian beach; oioi-ing at the lens

in noughties Brixton. South London’s grumpiest

barmaid, the bruised TA, sozzled sixteen,

caked in Suffolk mud. They lie

compressed, preserved beneath the cliffs

of you. And I am on the shingle far below,

my head tipped back, gazing at the shading.

Now All That Shined Is Shit

Some felon’s sunk my sovereign sun inside his cloudy keks

and given me the slip. Today is doctor’s waiting rooms

and dog shit on the dance floor. Today my heartache clings

to me like burs, and everyone’s an anti-vaxxer, a queue of cars

behind a tractor. O, today I’m thatch, and Twitter is a tinderbox;

the slightest thing might set me off and I could take you all

down with me hissing. I’m arguing about Brexit on Reddit

and the lines I bellowed beaming from my handlebars just

yesterday are Brasso on my tongue. It isn’t that it’s raining yet,

it’s knowing rain will come.


Like my dad, my Christmas job, it seems

is balling wrapping paper into bags.

You tear through plastic junk you’ll soon forget

until one more, held back to last: a watch.

We sit together, watching seconds tick.

Wow, Dad, you say. It’s going really fast.

O England heal my hackneyed heart.

O England heal my hackneyed heart.

It’s shot with guilt and all those nights.

I’ve shared it far too often, England;

bled it almost dry for eager eyes;

traded it for other hearts

that turned to gristle in my grasp.

Nothing stirs this heart these days;

the party tricks have left it sick.

England heal my hackneyed heart.

O England heal my hackneyed heart.

Show me clumps of pastille homes on hills,

a couple holding hands in Hayle

and chalk-stone words of love in Dorset fields.

Give me roads the motor clings to,

herons over tidal mud

and skinny kids on wild swims —

that Constable-bucolic thing.

England heal my hackneyed heart.

O England heal my hackneyed heart.

Wash it in the North Sea foam,

wrap it up in honey dawn,

make poultices from April dusk

and chicken soup from sleepy days

until it leaps and bangs its cage;

until it thumps me with its thud

and gives me all the grief it should.

England heal my hackneyed heart.