Sleep is an avalanche I'm hoping for
to powder over the past and present –
leaving only a child's whiteness that
waits with patience for a single step.
I'm haunted by how they found him –
George Mallory – clasping the mountain.
One dead English, toughened old leather,
bound like a hoop. I'm proud of those two,
last seen through a gap in the clouds
crawling to the summit, falling through
all time and standing grinning in tweeds.
No sign of fear or doubt or the crimes
fools think our country was written by.
We have been ill – are ill – yet remain well.
This is our place, one made by boredom
or madness – glory all around – in gaps
between smashed gates and roadworks.
I'm researching my lost Greek grandfather.
The horrible old sod who swam somehow
from Smyrna to Athens, then London. His
city was burned by the Turks – birthplace
of Homer and Europe – whipped to the sea.
Horses' legs smashed, the boats capsized –
bodies floating as jetsam. He was a bastard
who beat my yiaya and abused my mother.
Violence is a solid you can't swallow which
sticks in your throat and needs spitting out.
Now dawn. How I love this grey of English
watercolour, tracing a gorgeous suburb
where stories somehow start or end.
Born in London, 1964. Six collections - most recent from UK publisher Knives, Forks and Spoons Press: "Jack the Stripper", April 2021. "Falling Off" (KFS, January 2015) was Poetry Book Society Recommended Autumn Reading, 2015. US Collections: "Parables for the Pouring Rain (2019) and "Brains Scream at Night" (2010), from NY publisher BlazeVox.