Jane, 16


Cropped, her crown
makes a nosedive
off the block, off
the scaffolding, not
hewn but flown.

The axeman, alone
takes a butcher’s,
no bodkin tight
against his crotch,
no thrall of throats,

no locks liberated
whose ardor burns
his conscience like
kindling, nor a swooning
of ladies-in-waiting.

No breast-beating
nor smiting. He simply
frowns, inches out his
axe, scoops up the little
runaround, and he waits.

Politics, luteplaying,
downfalls over bread
and God, and bloodlines
don’t whet his appetite
like his wife’s one pastry.

No-one will remember him,
nor record his sentence,
its fullstop in sack cloth,
his only punctuation, flung
into the chapel pit.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – part 2

The Sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work ‘em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
‘Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.

And some in dreams assurèd were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.



Rattle Magazine has bowled me over with just how good it is. Being an expectant father, I was naturally attracted to the Single Parent Fall 2013 edition, and I wasn’t disappointed. I became a subscriber because I wanted to get a good idea of what the poetry market was like, and what I needed to do to get into that market, but I didn’t imagine it would be so much fun. I don’t know how my life is going to change after the birth. It’s tempting to see myself becoming just another work monkey, banging away til I drop, but I suspect that this is a simplification. Who knows if I will be able to maintain the blog, let alone start a small, side career in selling verse. All I know is I love issues 41, 42, and 43 and that you might too. Go do yourself a favour, and download one of these PDFs onto your smartphone and see for yourself.



Sounding off train stops, a slumped commuter,
up springs a school trip in clusters, sprouting
pockets of mischief mock the carriage,
chanting cacapito to Frère Jacques,
the floor-bound and womb-lost, ballast floating
past feet entrenched, leaflets for hair loss, sages.

The foliage is so thick I cannot
imagine a child’s first folio – experience
of what can be grasped without. The image
and the word are our hands now. Outside the pod,
another. They have not glimpsed the sky yet,
how it stretches down to shelter us, stages

wonder in the cloud scud, feeds us infinity
from its highchair. Lulled by the babble,
I huddle in myself, make this page the world.
A balloon of tuts and sighs ready to ignite
fills us, the train groans as at a bad joke, rumbles
onto the next page, disembarks the word.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – part 1


How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May’st hear the merry din.’

He holds him with his skinny hand,
‘There was a ship,’ quoth he.
‘Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years’ child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

‘The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—’
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.

It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.’

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?’—With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.