When I Look at My Hands (for my dad)

Around 1977, I think the photographer was my mum.

When I look at my hands I think of my father,

and feel his pain through my fingers.

Rubbing the tips for the memory

of a working-class legend and his stories,


and I thank everything that can be thanked

for not being born into privileged rank,

(for an honest life cannot be bought

but must be learned the hard way).


I was born to a man who worked his soul,

twelve-hour days delivering coal,

ten ton he packed into hundredweight sacks,

while the English winter stabbed at his back.


I look at my hands & the mem’ries are ingrained,

and as I watch my hand drag a pen across this page,

I remember his hard work and sacrifice,

and thank him for being born into such a rich life.


What Else Is There But Love?

What else is there but love?

Stripped back, we are bare

& vulnerable,

just a basic force

in a complex being.

Pull apart all the years –

all the thoughts & transformations –

& we are left as we are,

nothing but

.         a birth,

        a death,

.         & the loves in between.


A version of this poem first published as But love? in Pash Capsule, 25 December, 2012