The first and the last poem from the collection Always Our Likely Finale.


Inked ribbon a slash of silver winked
beneath the arch-browed brick
I pulled over, quick just past the bridge.

Next Sunday, set out from where Id left off another voyage
down that towpath: about six miles after calling a halt and tracking back.

Though you could not get lost, I noted landmarks: a stone cottage by a lock;
an aqueduct; the walking-time between every outpost pub;
discovered plain silence mounted astride an oak scrub
under drizzle by an empty hen-coop.

Then, after following the cut along a high-banked loop,
surprised twenty minutes later when a tunnel,
spooling in the black one, forced me to surface from an unrecognised angle
on a stretch of suburban road that I could name.

After several Sundays, Id worked out our likely finale before it came
fences closing in along the backs of terraces,
past cobbled loading-wharves and shored-up warehouses:
the last leg terminated in a derelict canal basin.

Id been navigated back to within
a short bus-ride from where I live;
released from the countryside, once more a native,
where, above this oily maze of waterways, railway bridges criss-crossed
long distances rigged in a rusty blue-grey and iron-latticed.

In fact, the canals urban ending I liked that decaying format best.
But just as Id got off pat this new topography, a quest
felt ended all behind-the-scenes concealments charted, or mentally, at least,
connected up. I went home finally to consult a map.

Since when by me the canals not been visited. Never made another trip.

Poem 2