That heavy silence
inherently stencilled
The fences, gardens,
trellises, ramshackle but
An evident
safe haven
set back from the traffic
From the centre’s
crowds and revelry
a place where nothing happens
In each contained
unit, furtive rooms lurk
behind uncurtained
windows lit from some
light deeper inside
or the television’s
lapping blue; neighbours
parties sounding
through the walls
The gathered ornaments
less showy than
a record, artefacts left
modestly in sill corners
A quiet rests over
the streets capturing,
containing broads strips of
becalmed grey sky, bisected
by passing flight paths
Where you can stand
in the road, tracing
the cracks worn in
the tarmac, watch the
slumping course of
hedgerows, these
understated borders
And you can hear
nothing but
slight birdsong on
the indifferent breeze
and the steady warm pulse
of trains passing
at a distance
lulling the neighbourhood
to sleep; Comfort
the anaesthesia
we inhale as
relaxing, we
harden to the
faster currents, to
anything not
routine and
familiar to these
idyllic flat-pack pop-up
eddies that run
a thread the length
of the country – and
could be anywhere
across it - this
launchpad and steady-
state; Home.



They are engineering the mountain now;
Streaking steel across the fell,
Wire-caging wild boulders,
Gluing bridges over precipices,
Marker-painting dangerous edges.
Tools and nails on the shoulder
Of the mountain fence the sky. The hill
We played on! Like a builder's merchants now.

Once we scrambled teetering cliffs somehow,
Vibram soles an inch from hell.
Parks are safer now we're older
But who fidgets over precipices
In our place? There are no badges
Fit for 'scenic trails'. It grows much colder
On the mountain, the hot sweat of skill
Has all gone. Like a DIY store now.

Who needs mountain-factories anyhow?
Snowdon an office landscape? Go to hell.
Authorities should be much bolder;
Put a gadget at fell-entrances
That locks a gate on grockles*, bodges
Holes in tourist's heels. Hold a
Guard on the mountain: "Who may ascend the hill
Of the Lord?", He only who is pure, now.

                *Derogatory term for fair-weather walkers.


BAD DEBT by Melissa Harrison

With each kiss, love blooms hotly up the vein,
as dangerous as gambling.
What once sang in joy now whispers too of pain.
The lips can be a window on the soul
and yours are where I find you:
a more reckless man than that whom others know.
For months we wrote blank cheques and lived in bliss.
Love stalked us all that winter
in the pubs and on the dark streets where we kissed.
The bill comes. Far too late, by now, to find
we can’t pay. Adjustments start
in all the tenderest reaches of the heart.