Most of the poems in this collection are short. A long poem tends to wander off from experience and thereby perhaps loses that taste of being that I think is all that a poem can give. The collection includes a number of translations and versions from the Japanese and Chinese, including 17 poems of Han Shan.


There’s been a disturbance
outside, some shouting,
fighting, voices raised.
It’s over now,
the silence of the long dark
night prevails. It was,
she always used to say,
something and nothing.



Were you finally to loosen
all the bonds of flesh and knowledge
(you think the birds do now,
arced across the sky)
and free yourself to be as they are,
were you to leave it all
to sing full-throated on the apple bough
and then without a thought
wheel upward, homeward
through the scented air,
how little you would know
of air and freedom, knowing only this.
Listen. Repeated blows of snail shells
hammered on the stone, the flung
shell and ripe flesh, flurry of wings
and then the sudden stillness of the night
are raptures of the real
from which there is no flight.



Click, clock,
the long
grey needles
tucked into
her arms like
extra limbs,
her fingers
moving at a rate
of – knots…

Click, clock,
she knits the ribs
of winter balaclavas,
ravelling and unravelling
all that is to be
and all that’s
endlessly unfinished.

Her eyes measure me,
her fingers knit and knot
and click and clock
all that will become of me.



Last flower,
late bee.

Where now?


What is there
before or after

Everything waits in the dark
for you to say

Come in.


In the field of rape
yellow butterflies
are invisible.
I’m just passing by.