'Yellow dress' – White Eye of the Needle

You pose in a yellow dress

On a heated patio,

Smile as cool as Tignes:

It resists the midday sun.

I want to pause a minute

As you stroke your curled, dark hair,

For a lockdown seems forever

Without your beauty there.

Olives sunbathe in their oil,

Swelter side by side,

Our hedge slumps over brick,

An aged window pipes out bakhoor.

I sweat, still, burning this to memory,

You glisten like an Asanga,

Dress draws me in, a gentle tide,

Curves soft in lemon.

'Mister Painter' – White Eye of the Needle

Houses rub shoulders,

Paint falls like peeling skin

And I ask where the sea is

Amongst the rubble and the dirt: a small face–

School kids back off the bus. They joke,

Skip and dance, and the hills roll in

The background like silent guardians,

Waiting for the rain.

An old man grips a rubbish bag

Like a painter needs his pots,

'Paint this part, Mister' say the kids,

Pointing at gaps in the houses. And he sweeps

His brush, coarse as a wave, heavy

As rain. This too will age.

'Chimney snorkels' – White Eye of the Needle

We reach a corner and catch a couple
Hand in hand–keep our distance,

Fingers away from our faces.
The light has faded, unveiling

The moon; a crescent with a single star
Below–as if they arrived to a night’s party together.

The canal glistens, narrowboats like guards on shift,
Replacing daytime geese patrol.

From thin, black chimney snorkels,
Smoke invades the crisp air, putrid and thick,

A woman sits in a saloon, back to the open door,
Asserting a point to male companions.

The cafés and pubs look empty, but in the
Distance a ‘Pizza’ neon sign bends the horizon,

Who has the dough for electricity while
No one bakes and not a soul visits?

Underneath a bridge, a man waits by the path,
His coat is zipped up tight; he seems bemused,

Anxious. Flashing an impatient look, his eyes
Brighten in the dark. He lets us pass in silence.

I gesture a thank you–his mouth looks like it opens,
But it hides behind a mask.