For the Shedmen of Wandsworth

It’s the month of great hunkering

Winter, grey and skinny, loiters

Like a hoodie round the corner  

With his pisshead mate Christmas


 The Shedmen fist their mugs of tea

As sweet and brown as the allotment

Where they sit on good spade days

Hunched in busted plastic chairs

Banished from marital patios


 The Shedmen mustn’t grumble

Between retreat and armistice

They hint at bold escape plans

In their voluntary Colditz

Watched by poplars still as sentries


 The Shedmen poke the idle smoke

From bonfires that can’t be arsed

To rage or dance flamenco

Stoking up dreams that smoulder

In the green damp snapping fire


 Yet still they believe – in rhubarb

Swiss chard and monogamy –

Folding each sodden day back

Into itself with loam and hoe

In sombre geometry

Shortlisted for the 2013 Charles Causley Prize