Excerpt for And Still I Breathe by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

And Still I Breathe

A sequence of poems by
Rik Roots





Copyright © Richard James Roots 2017

First published in the United Kingdom
and worldwide in 2017
by Rik's Sparky Little Printing Press

Smashwords Edition.

This chapbook forms part of the RikVerse.
The RikVerse is a living book,
updated regularly and available for viewing online at
poems.rikweb.org.uk





Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only. then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.





Dedicated to ... well, me.
Because innit!





Table of Contents

Tumblewords

» It's like a boil, this need to write

Poverty

» I want to write of iced desolations

A tribute, of sorts

» Snow on the bough snuggles about

March Tease

» This year the world around

The Cake

» Simnel, it breaks our Lenten fast

Rapture v2

» One day I woke and the world was stacked

Twenty Twenty

» I have a chip that lets me palm

When the net goes down

» Blue sky at noon: deep, smooth, no clutter

Annie

» Annie sees dragons in all things

Not a Good Fit

» Our cozy office echoes more today

You'll Never Guess What

» I watch his mouth, let the slip of his lips

Rita

» We gather like clotting scrapes, a clutter

Attic

» It takes more than a ladder

Today we count in perfections

» My first wart grew where my fingers would cross

Magpies

» It's the way they eye you

Rush Hour

» A surl of girls at bicker, their satchels

Flotsam

» A parade of waves renders pale fat, salty

Exercising my Right

» I voted for sausage, once, at a winter

Poppy

» They say: we must remember!

Three strophes to change your life forever!

» Shall I lie to you, today

Who?

» My book has moved again, the edge of pens

And Still I Breathe

» The sky ripened and the sun bled



About the author

Other books by Rik Roots



Tumblewords

It's like a boil, this need to write -
a pulsed heat set at the back of my skull
that compels phrases to form and dance

in patterns: cadenced hopes, a catenate
of murmers at the threshold of meaning
beyond their means; blastocyte verses -

I shall lance the urge now, watch words
spurt too soon from the pock-wound, reach
ears before their time - oh, sweet relief!



Poverty

I want to write of iced desolations -
my skull-bound voice would rather sing.

I could pretend the wind outside is shrill –
it barely stirs a leaf. What chance have I

of etching stark horizons when my eyes
fill with the scrabbles of kids on bikes?

Such first-world problems I must suffer, stuck
here in this wealth of health and simple hopes:

a sturdy roof, refrigeration, heat that burps
through pipes – I have a tap that drips

and cash to pay a man to fix it. Still,
there's always the internets to steep my gut

in growly biles, bring acid foams to churn -
a proxy grief to make some words spill out.



A tribute, of sorts

(After: 11 February 2012)

Snow on the bough snuggles about
the form of a blackbird, her brown feathers
still, now, her hymn stolen by the gale
buffeting the twigs that built her cage.

So cold, this weather. A chorus of beaks
unite, for a moment, to mark the end
of a heart-rent song sent to the heavens
too soon, too soon. A snowdrop blooms.



March Tease

This year the world around
seems earlier, some weeks
ahead of the earth's curve,

keen to get things done –
buds unpacked, petals stretched
and shaken dry in a cool

of meandered air – as if
it knows the hidden plan:
interesting times shall come.



The Cake

Simnel, it breaks our Lenten fast
in halves, she says, her glasses perched
mid-nose, dusted in flour. A treat
we make for Mothers day, all fruits
and zests, sugars and spices mixed
in the last of the flour we sieved for weevils,
and eggs and butter churned before sunrise –
now spit in the bowl, my lad, to keep
the fair folks away: them buggers would sour
most all of our work. See how it sticks
to the spoon? Now bring us the rounded tin,
then roll out that almond paste as flat
as the cat your dad ran over last week
and cut it in circles: two we need.
Then we can pour, half over half
with the ladies' fancy between the pair –
though it melts in the bake, golden no more.
Once that is done we top it in marchpane
and toast the whole in flames to sear
the tastes together. And last, we sprinkle
garlands and buds to make it a treat:
some petals of apple, some snowdrop hope
and a twist of purple lobelia, just here,
for betrayal.



Rapture v2

One day I woke and the world was stacked
in a new placenta, a box that cuddled my palm
like comforts. "I shall be your new friend,"
it didn't say, for no tool talks platitudes.

Before I would check for my face in clouds:
now I have many faces there. Some smile.

What moves beyond my thumb-summoned truth
is false news; I switch past ghosts, eat
amid revenants. Between emojis stir bears
from cracks.



Twenty Twenty

I have a chip that lets me palm
my way through gates and barriers
unhindered; journeys happen. Cars
appear at fingersnap, their calm

dispatch a pleasure bought online
unseen, but checkable by app –
a happy state, this wiretap.
My shopping list emits its whine

and groceries appear, their health
and mine an algorithm's dance
towards a peak perfection. Chance
is banished here, this land where wealth

is guaranteed alongside God –
for God is in the cloud today
as is my right to sleep and play
and trade my pleasures freely: slot

me in for more celebrity –
such gossip feeds me well and keeps
the worry-mongers safe asleep
inside my skull. They must not see

such deviance, those spies and eyes
that track my worth and map my steps
– ten thousand more to win that prize!
I must not break the rhyme – objects

unwilling to comply shall be
assaulted, mocked and shamed. Each day
the same: the bus the work the play
the sex the words my thoughts ...



When the net goes down

Blue sky at noon: deep, smooth, no clutter
of cloud to stall the fall of filtered sun -
an accountant kicks her shoes from her heels,
pivots tired eyes from her frozen screen

to dream: pillow dens for her childcared boy.
Around her the chatter gathers, a growl
of irritations – deadlines missed, reports
lost: each spendthrift second sours the holy

Profit. The man who nests at the desk opposite
offers a smile, an introduction of sorts.
She would stall his words but etiquette requires
an answer from her: a name; a sympathy nod

as he lists the wrongs heaped in his in-tray.
She knows he cannot hear her words nor spy
the child inside her eyes who fights dragons
with cushions and battens and hope.



Annie

Annie sees dragons in all things
hidden like moths amid fur:
here in the bricks of her office
is a wyrm set to watch her flinch
through doors opened by ghosts.

She ignores the nip of its breath
and clips through the marbled foyer,
lets the lift-drake enfold her
in glittery wings and huff
her aloft to her work nook.

The wyvern at the tea point
winks as it casts a cere
of flame over water; she strokes
the nub of its snout as it drips
steam through her bitter grinds.

Associates walk the corridors
ahead of her, their heels a hiss
of static on the knots of a great
blue tongue, each step a whisper –
"I taste you; I hunger; I want."

Annie would tell her colleagues
she sees dragons in all things,
that the office will eat them
... but the scales on their eyes
are part of the hide, best left.



Not a Good Fit

Our cozy office echoes more today.
Where once a colleague sat, a colder light;
a clear expanse of of boxy white, contrite
desk: how could he fail? The deft display
of his dismissal scares me: bait and switch
and – gone. Just yesterday we spoke of hopes
and holidays, some action points – those ropes
that keep us dancing at our stations ... which

of us is next? I look around at friends,
acquaintances, their jaws slack and their skins
a touch more blanched. For each of us has sins,
I guess; each one of us must guard our plans
and hope the folks who file the axe forgive
our daily, thoughtless faults: I can't give in!



You'll Never Guess What

I watch his mouth, let the slip of his lips
and the sounds of his words slide slowly
out of sync. These phrases must be important:
the way he tubes his cheeks round 'boot'
and 'threw' suggests I should share in his shock.
"She never," I offer, keen to see if the drawl
of his vowels can twang the tether of slaver
caught at the edge of his gob. The spit
of 'she'll never change' spats in my eyes. Still
the story spills past the paired, pink leeches
nestled within his stubbled skin - some chant
of names, some known to me. The bloodworms
stretch thin; slacken to plump comforts; part
for a moment as his tongue glides forwards
to lick them to a shine. When his teeth nova
I, too, laugh at what I hope is the joke.



Rita

We gather like clotting scrapes, a clutter
of people drawn to her door. "It needs
to be managed; she has no one, no friends
to help her sort herself." I'm late
to the crowd, rogue starling, tumbling
after the flock. "She thought the world

of him," my neighbour says. "Her world
was nailed to his; look at the clutter
in this garden!" Amid the tumbling
frames a crocus unfurls, the needs
of its cycle pushed by a threat of late
frost. Gust-whipped, it seeks friends

... I suppose at a push you can call them friends:
early bees sipping through the world
one sugar pot at a time. "Her late
husband?" I ask. He nods, the clutter
of chatter now growing louder: who needs
to do what, and how, and when. Tumbling

overhead is a skirl of clouds, tumbling
like lambs let loose in the field, friends
on the lam from the afternoon sun. "She needs
some spring smiles to thaw her world,"
he decides. Welters of lines clutter
his face. Glancing about, I can relate

to his want – I know I saw her late
last year, a cambered matron tumbling
from the pavement's cracked kerb to clutter
up the road with her shopping. We were frail friends;
she refused my help, scared that the world
would scoff at her trivial widow's needs.

"Don't fret for me. It's my son who needs
the help," she told me. "He's always late,
but it's not his fault, poor lad! The world
won't give him a breath or a break, tumbling
him between chaos and crisis – his friends
don't help; he can do without my clutter!"

Our story is clutter, like hers; boxed needs
biding to be sorted by friends come too late:
you're tumbling too fast from my world.



Attic

It takes more than a ladder
to reach the cocoon that sits
atop the bricks of her life.
"Careful! Don't fall on the dog!"

She panics too much: we are
not here to steal her history.
Rather we pack it and force it
through the wood-rimmed hole –
the suitcase that carried
her life-goods to England;
the suit she married; coats
still in their wrap, bought
on a payday whim. "He knows,"

she tells us, "he doesn't like
change." The guard he left behind
to keep her - a moment's purchase
a week before his last breath -
watches us strain-sweat-shove
the last vacuum-sucked packet
out of sight. "Grrr," I throat
back at her tongue-lolled yaps:
she smacks her cable-thick tail
on the carpet like a dare.



Today we count in perfections

One for a wish, two for a kiss ...
My first wart grew where my fingers would cross,
tight in the web; a new knuckle quick to fist
for battle. Friends asked: "who was the witch?"
We spied on playtime supervisors for evidence
of brooms, checked teacher's pockets for toads.

Three for a letter, four for something better ...
I grew a style, once, to block out the world
from my eye. I would wake early to admire
the gathering puss that pressed out the lid
and patch my face with a pirate's jewel. "Who
was the witch," asked friends. "Give us your rum!"

Five for silver, six for gold ...
I saved my impetigo for adulthood, and spread
it wide across my jaw with each fresh shave.
A mate said: "why have you been looking
under toilet doors?" Idiot: that's cold sores
and the boon of this rash is I can sprinkle it dry.

Seven for a secret never to be told ...
Do I regret those drunken lusts? Yes
– and yet: no.



Magpies

It's the way they eye you,
those two-tone bloods
perched in their manor
tree, or dance-formation
spread across the field.

You have it, and they
want it, know, head
cocked, jet-eye wide
and unblinked – and what
they want, they get.

You can't nursery rhyme
these feathers; the asbo
can only handle seven
– secrets never told –
I count eight, ten, twelve.

"We like the cut of you,
and your suit."
They caw
some chuckles as you cross
the road: "we'll check
your window later, mate!"



Rush Hour

A surl of girls at bicker, their satchels
hung low. Each lecturing voice lessens
the pleasure of the ride, rude platitudes
shilling for audience: she was the one
wot said it first
and she's free with her kisses
when it suits her needs.
Their stop can't come
quick enough: the sigh that slices the aisle
when they debark is plush – a prayer that spreads
the length of the bus. Their exit leaves seats
for the claim; passengers tango speechlessly,
compete for a prize - a space to plonk
our still-waking flesh as the wheels
of the Machine tumble us to work.



Flotsam

(After: 2 September 2015)

A parade of waves renders pale fat, salty
spatulas to paddle and turn his form as
the sun heats and bleaches skin. A round

of gut-trapped gas crushes a fish caught
in the folds of his cotton shirt. Nails,
mother-trimmed, pearl and soften as

jelly combs tangle his hair; soon they wear
grit as he beaches, a message in red
that spells in angled limbs: enough!



Exercising my Right

I voted for sausage, once, at a winter
barbecue, but the drumsticks won and I
went hungry. Again. 'Why do you insist
on being different?'
Who knows? I don't
plan it. But whenever the chance comes
for me to raise a hand, a finger, a pencil
somehow I put the big cross right where
the treasure ain't buried. Like that bloke
who surveyed Tenerife for an airport, put
his X in the north to show the only spot
on the island fatal to planes and then died
before he could tell others. Boom, they went,
those sturdy tin birds and there we had it:
the best part of a thousand body bags
over the years. So call me Cassandra
and see if I care – I'll always vote for facts,
not faces or charm, because I can see
the fat chancers at forty paces and I can tell
the Edens they sell are as honest and useful
as a sack of Canarian fog and even though
I know my side will lose still I will vote, not
only because of the millions who fought
for the right to top their kings as they saw fit
but also in the hope that one happy day
I'll eat barbecued sausage in the snow.



Poppy

They say: we must remember!
And while I do understand
'Dulce et decorum est pro
patria mori'
it's the rest
of the lines that squeeze
my eyes to pain. So then,
should I wear you, little
tatter of red card stuck
on your bendy green stick
for the next week or so?

Because you mean more than
horror today, pretty flower.
This button is a token.
It says: I belong; I am
proud of my patria. It says:
we are British, great among
nations, better than lesser
types ... undefeated warriors
stand tall and free; obey
our leaders, who know best.

You say: to refuse my flag
is to shit in the skulls
of heroes who died to keep
you safe – but those people
bled from shrapnels, gases
and fevers while generals
shot pheasant. I say: no.
This land is not that land;
my will not yours to command:
I mourn for England today.



Three strophes to change your life forever!

Shall I lie to you, today,
as I lied so many times
ago? I am good, I am fine;
the crease on by brow is age,
not rage: an applied beauty –

and yet I fret. I read memes,
each clause a spell to hope
and wealth – so many friends
to gather and garnish as I whip
our lives to blessed visions –

I am not good. There's bones
in my dreams, in my daylit
eyes: each breath is a death
to scheme and plan – no will or
time: my stage addles in worms.



Who?

My book has moved again, the edge of pens
I placed around it undisturbed, its leaves
flicked by some hand or gust just as I glanced
away – who tricks a mind this way? That page
of silent faces drew a scene from me
in some elsewhere, a second's glimpse, no more,
and what was there before me shifted. Ghosts?

My room seems stable – walls and carpets all
in place, their weaves and paints remembered right.
The window blind is up, and still; the road
outside seems bright and warm, its cars a chain
of chromes and dents and rusts. Pedestrians
ignore my unblinked stare. The clock says five –
it should be half gone three ... my time has moved

again! The man who comes to wipe my sores
is back today, his whistled tune a grace
of noise to take the ticks of lying clocks
from ears that used to work. I used to work.
This flesh is not my flesh; this skin I wear
is nothing more than wrinkled sunshine. Who
took that old book of grinning lives from me?



And Still I Breathe

The sky ripened and the sun bled;
a shoal of clouds scaled like salmon
in their beaked rush to spawn. Why
does looking up empty my lungs?
Tomorrow the earth's turn will be
as surreal as every other sky-sketch
and my eyes wide like I'm two again.





Review this book

Did you enjoy this book? Did you hate it? Are you still shrugging your shoulders, trying to decide if these poems are – really – poems?

Please don't be scared to let your fellow readers know what you think of this book. You can visit any of the following links and leave your comments – ten words or a thousand, one star or five: they all add up!

» Hardcopy: Lulu
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play
» GoodReads: here or here



About the author

Rik lives and works in London. To earn money, he codes websites and stuff. In his spare time he codes, and writes: mainly science fiction and poetry.

Rik's major claim to 'proper' poetic fame is being part of the group that established Magma Magazine - he even edited Magma 6, for his sins. The magazine's subsequent success has nothing to do with Rik; he left the Management Board a few weeks before Magma 7 was published.



Find Rik on ...

Smashwords
The RikWeb website
Facebook
email: rik.roots@gmail.com





Other books by Rik Roots



Rik gives away all of his books (in eBook formats) for free, mainly via Smashwoords, Apple iBooks and Google Play. Hardback copies of each book can be found on Lulu (at cost price). Rik does not sell his works through Amazon or the Kindle Store.

Some of Rik's books can be found on Goodreads. Rik doesn't 'get' GoodReads, so doesn't pay much attention to the site. If GoodReads is your thing, then you can find Rik's Author Page thing here (or possibly here).

Why the free giveaway? Rik writes for fun. He hopes the people who read his works also find some pleasure in the experience. What's life without a few gifts, huh?



The Gods in the Jungle

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£7.99 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

Solstice eve. It rained until after sunset, each cloud unfurling its blanket of fresh water across the city, the force of the liquid sheets flattening the river into a resentful calmness. The storm washed the city's stone streets to a dark grey cleanliness, rivulets digging and scrubbing away the rubbish and dust as they weaved their glugging paths down the great hillside.

The rain stopped as quickly as it had arrived. For a short while the only sounds were the city's sounds: the knocks of doors and windows being unshuttered; the splash and clash of the traders in the Market Square tipping water from their awnings and dismantling their stalls; the warbles of neighbours and friends greeting each other as they started their preparations for the festival celebrations.

Then from across the river and beyond the city walls the volume of the jungle began to grow. High-pitch chirrups, loud in the ears of children but blessedly damped from adult hearing. Deep yowls echoing through the dark from unknown mouths and snouts. Careful people listened to the growing cacophony, attempting to catch the cadence of the imps and demons now rustling through the vegetation, adjusting their personal wards to combat this night's special dangers: an extra green rag tied around the left wrist for some; a stone with blue veins placed in a pocket; a whispered blessing over a thimbleful of warmed ghevvesein turned opaque by the addition of water ...

The jungle city of Bassakesh, the sole source of the valuable Vedegga dye, holds within its walls the keys to the future of the Vreski Empire. In the name of Politics Delesse, the Governor's daughter, must marry Loken – reluctant heir to one of the most powerful Clans in the Empire.

What neither of them expect are the guests who attend their ceremonies: pain, and betrayal; murder and plague ... and yet love, too. But can love ever be enough when great civilisations burn and crash, and die?



The Story Portraits (short stories)

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£2.99 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

'That doctor told me Frank's got maggots in his arse, Dot! What's Frank doing with maggots in his arse?'

Welcome to this, my first collection of micro-fiction. Within these pages you will discover a range of characters looking to tell their stories – some more surreal than others – in various styles and voices. Suffer alongside Frank as he recovers in hospital from an accident; watch young Jacob discover a new form of entertainment; follow Jack as he breaks free of the confines of his bathroom.

But most importantly, enjoy these stories. After all, I wrote them for you.



Spin Trap: the Lonely City

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£5.99 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooks – Google Play

There is evil in the world, and it comes packaged in the form of pretty little capsules.

Marc ... I'm beginning to think of him as my gaoler. He took Sam to see a doctor, all loose tie and top button undone in slacks and petrol blue brogues: doctors have no sense of theatricality any more. The consultation took less than ten minutes and resulted in a handwritten scribble across a form alongside instructions to visit a particular apothecary – no, I mean pharmacist – who was serving late that night. In exchange for the note Sam was given a rattling plastic bottle, brown, with a lid as complex as a puzzle box for the opening.

That first pill almost rendered me home! It took every fragment of my concentration to keep hold of the host's mind as the chords of his senses eased to a gelatinous slime and the sharp escarpments of his memories eroded.

A second slip of paper from the doctor was more welcome: a 'sick note' which allows Sam to stay away from work for a fortnight and still be paid by his employer. The concept ... astonishes me.

Kal is not having the best of times. Though the changes that have taken place since his last visit to the Outer World - and in particular London - fascinate him, the job he needs to complete is turning out to be a full set of frustrations and confusions.

The fact that his friends keep on killing themselves to escape from some horror he cannot feel only adds to his woes.

Worst of all, the man in whose head he lives knows he is there ... and has no interest at all in being told what to do.



Spin Trap: Worlds Within Worlds
(to be published before 2020)



22 Facets of my Father

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£2.49 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

How can a person define their relationship with their father? In a book, a story? In a poem ... or twenty two of them?

I knew my father for just over seventeen years. It would be another seventeen years before I finally found a way to think about him - his life, his memory - that made sense to me.

I don't expect these 22 free-verse poems to please everyone or, indeed, anyone in particular. And while there's a core of the confessional in each of them, they are not intended to be accurate or truthful: they are poems, after all. Enjoy!



Play Time

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£2.49 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

Within the pages of this short chapbook (in the UK: pamphlet) can be found a set of poems mostly dating back to the early 1990s, a time after I arrived fresh-faced in London and before I abandoned (capital P) Poetry in favour of hard drinking and an overdose of uncaring, anonymous, castaway sexual encounters. I suppose they represent a time when I believed Poetry could be a Force for Good both in the world, and within me.

Scattered between those poems are another set of verses - these ones written around the turn of the millennium when I decided to stop worshipping at the altar of the Great Cock and start twisting poetry (small p) into a tool for giving me a different kind of pleasure, and worth.

There's no over-arching theme to the poems as such but, looking back now - a lifetime later - at these works, I still find I'm proud of each of them, in their own ways. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I had writing them!



From Each Skull, A Story

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£1.99 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

Does everyone have a story in them? A story as interesting and as riveting as any ongoing soap-opera or Hollywood blockbuster?

In the beginning was the word, and that word was - usenet. Before usenet there was nothing un-mediated, un-controlled. Gate-keepers and taste-setters strode between voids, keeping all matter and thought within the bounds of acceptable control. Freedom was illusory; free will a joke played by mostly-unseen godlings.

Usenet changed the world. Usenet changed me. Within its soft explosion, a cleansing wrath that stated, simply: Here Be Freedoms - Be Careful Where You Shit!

It didn't take us (early) adopters long to smear turds over the servers, the networks and, of course, each other. And as quickly as it came, usenet went away - barely remembered nowadays. Yet from those beginnings grew the ideas of free copy and free voice, the power of the social networks and the chattersphere in whose many bubbles we now all live and work.

This book contains poems birthed during that tumultuous time - different kinds of poems, new-yet-at-the-same-time-old kinds of poems. Internet poems whose defining features are as much about the way they were developed, built and polished as they are about content and imagery. People from parts of the planet I had barely heard of before contributed to the makings of these poems; their different ways of looking at the world showed me a different way to see what poetry is, what it can do ... and just how much unvarnished fun the whole mess can be!

The internet has changed poetry in ways people are barely beginning to understand. Have you changed - yet?



Poems to Quote to your Lover

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£1.99 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

"Welcome to this, my third collection of poems. In this collection, I am proud to present you with some love. These poems deal with loves and relationships in all their wonderful and woeful manifestations. Some of the poems are a little raunchier than others, but there's nothing (too) offensive or smutty in them!"

Okay ... so that's the blurb to my little book of gay erotic verse, written back in March 2010 when I first self-published it. Between then and now (October 2017) this book - with no effort by me to promote or advertise it - has been downloaded from various online shops more than 28,000 times - which makes it by far my most popular book of verse. For a while it was in the top 10 poetry books in the Apple iShop thingy - at one point reaching #5 in the charts.

Why? I have my suspicions, but I'm not saying. You'll have to download the book yourself to see if the poems deserve such attention.



To Posterity

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£2.49 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooksGoogle Play

Between 2007 and 2011 I did an Open University creative writing course. Some of the things I absorbed during those years I managed to extrude back into the poems I was writing at the time. In other ways, my verse outlook remained as idiosyncratic and obtuse as ever.

Those years were, for me, both wonderful and difficult. For the first time in my adult life I was freed from the need to work (though that ended soon enough). Equally, this was the time when I had to confront death in a very adult, personal way. I enjoy writing about death; I'm less keen on touching dead bodies.

Why should you want to read this book? I think it contains some of my best poems. Those of you who know me, already know my views on poets and posterity; those who don't ... well, it's about time you learned, yes?



Snowdrop (a story in verse)

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£5.00 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: SmashwordsiBooks – Google Play

For most people, Christmas is a time of joy; for some it has become a time of lonely sorrow.

For Snowdrop, Christmas is about to become a timeless place of fear, horror – and unimaginable loss.

On the hill above the Marshes, someone watches; some thing waits …

It took me over eight years to complete this book, from writing the first lines early in 2004 to publishing it in July 2012. When I started writing it, I thought a 'long poem' was something that would be more than five pages. Then Snowdrop took on a life of her own and demanded more: more detail, more story, more life!

Most of the lines are in form; more than half in alliterative verse (rhymes at the beginning of the words, not the end). The story they tell is of a Kent where myths and superstitions are alive and well – and very much out to get you!

Whatever others may think of this book, it remains the one which I am most proud of. I doubt I will ever be tempted to write such a long sequence again in my life.



PaleoRik

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£2.49 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: Smashwords – iBooks – Google Play

Some of my earliest verses came to me one day and said: we feel neglected! We feel ignored - why should all the later poems get all of the glory. Some of us have been published, you know, in proper magazines and stuff!

And I, in an inexplicable episode of sympathy for the poems' plight, agreed to build a chapbook just for them.

Almost all of the poems in this book were written in the 20th century. Looking back on them now I can see where I was experimenting with voice, characterisation and storytelling within the form of a poem. The publication venue for some of these works was Magma Magazine – a venture which I helped to start and which is still going strong more than two decades later.

A lot has changed in the world since I wrote these verses. The internet has transformed the process of developing and workshopping a poem beyond recognition. But I still remember the face-to-face weekly workshop in Stukeley Street with a lot of fondness: most of the bruises to my ego have healed up quite nicely!



And Still I Breathe

» Hardcopy: Lulu (£2.49 + vat + delivery)
» eBook: Smashwords – iBooks – Google Play

In this, the second decade of the twenty first century, the Internet became – more. More than a static repository of knowledge. More than a set of venues for buying and selling goods and services. It became a place where people lived.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, Snapchat, WhatsApp ... Match, eHarmony, Tinder, Grindr ... if you haven't got a presence on these venues, then do you really exist?

The Internet shapes the way we work, play, love and hate. It feeds us news and lies in equal measure. It tells us how to live, what to buy, which way to vote. It has brought us hope. It has brought us Isis and Brexit and Trump. God? Monster? Whatever ...

I find writing poems about the Internet almost as difficult as writing poems about working in an office. The damn thing is too slippery to categorise, and we still have no idea how its powers will play out in our lives. And yet the effort has to be made ... and still we breathe.





More Poems to Quote to your Lover
(working title, to be published before 2020)



Competition Time
(working title, to be published before 2020)



End Time
(working title, to be published before 2020)








Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-26 show above.)