Before the extraction, she had to smash it in three pieces

Each shard she withdrew, bloody and sharp from the drool

Ranging them on the tray like Boadicea’s arrowheads


With each dental invasion, my mouth became an atrocity

From that barnacled Martello molar at the back,

To the gleaming high rise implants that never settled right


When the wedding snapper said cheese my lips drew back

Saying aggressive chimp in alpha male stand off

Not what the bride’s father considered civil or eugenic


In a moonlit defection my tongue found an American mouth

For a year or two until her mocking incisors withdrew

Now it prods about existentially, like Bowie in Tescos


Maybe I’ll follow Grandpa Tommy with his clacking palate

When he yawned his maw became The Scream by Munch

His loose choppers as adrift as a gull in the ocean dark


He left them grinning from the whisky glass by his coffin

Before they planted him under a marble headstone

Part of a set made for somebody else on the NHS


Shortlisted in the 2013 Charles Causley Prize


Following an argument,

We went to look for war graves

Among black limbed olive groves,

Spindled in mist and rumours

Of a quiet atrocity.


Franco’s dead have no maps

Only places of unrest,

Lost in the dust of ditches

Attics and moth balled drawers.

A country widowed too young

(Then wedded to the killer).


Between the rasp of fat crows

Winter has many silences,

To which we added our own,

Tramping over the slow thaw,

Hunting for a massacre.


We interrogate the plot

With boots and sticks unearthing

Rusted caps of Cacaolat,

A jam jar of dead bees,

Japanese pornography,

A shrunken red wool mitten,

The wheel hub of a Citroen,

Shuffled bones of carrion,

And a shivering condom,

Limp ghost of love departed

Not long before our own.


Later we make food for hours.

Almodovar is on TV.

Hands redefine their gravity.

Quietly we both agree

Not to speak of it again.


Shortlisted in the 2013 Fish Publishing International Poetry Competition