Monthly Archives: July 2015


I thought I’d post this poem following the amazing news story last week about Mick Fanning, the surfer who kept his cool when a large shark came up behind him and took hold of his surf board rope. The Australian was filmed as he fended off the shark and swam away to safety.

The second section of the poem might require a little explanation. Some divers and fishermen have managed to stun great whites by stroking the tips of the sharks’ noses, which are full of nerve endings. It’s thought that the touch overloads their sensory system and induces a dreamy, trancelike state. Makes you wonder who first tried it out.

White was first published in Other Poetry, II.18.



i. Ambusher

Salt water drags across the yellow eye
looking up from gloom to light –
fanning out the sun’s cascade of rays,
a shadow slithers on the surface –

you are dark, directly below.

With a thrash of the tail rise up fast and smooth,
seize and crush with one savage bite.

Grind a little, then let go –

Retreat to a distance, watch and wait
as your succulent dinner bleeds, slowly, to death.

Rise through unfurling clouds of blood.
Eat, and retreat to the deep to digest.

ii. Curiosity

A large shape on the surface, cutting its splutter.
Rise steadily, slowly, to investigate –

Above the shape something half-formed,
outside of the world, an illusion.
Rise, start to bring up one (left) eye.

Then, on the zenith of the nose,
and in the racing ancient mind,
the sudden stun of bliss,
unmediated, never before known –

then drifting, hypnotised, back into the dark.

For the first time
touched by the hand of man.


Weather Map

Weather Map

I love the blue and green weather map, its spindly augur.

She stands beside it, what we know is not
really there – broad Britain, so much rock, trees
villages and towns
teeming beneath its battered outline. I am ready
for the quickening.

Tell me about Britain’s weather,
the pressure we are about to bear.
Tell me of squalls on moorlands in the night,
soaking into huddled sheep.
Tell me of the summer sun
warming zigzags
on adders’ backs.
Tell me
how hot it is in Manchester.

Her fingers reach up, stroke two hundred miles of Wales.
There will be snow on frosted hills.
Some atmospheric fog
will go on loan to Scottish lochs.

That night we sleep against a storm in the eaves,
wake in London, on the banks of the Wandle.
You get up, throw back the curtains
to show me the weather –

full sunlight,
slipping on the spittle of webs

on the morning river.


First published in ‘Cool and Quirky’, Farringdon Poetry Competition 2008