Telephone box

Tell me a story

  1. I waited for ten rings.
    No answer.
  2. I tried another number. “Tell me a story.” I said. “I am sorry?” I heard. “Tell me a story.” I said.
  3. I tried another number. “Tell me a story.” I said. “Who is this?” I heard. I replaced the receiver.

Three calls each sitting.
Four digits so as to stay local.
I never repeated the same four.
It was easy to remember.

Then one day.

“Tell me a story.” I said. “Tell me a story.” I said.
“Tell me a story.” I heard.


Like snail the voices stick here
Under the floor, on the glass, in here
They still whisper who were here
And them and you

As if seeing not hearing the fear
That crept like snail and hid here
Lives as new as then and hear
Them trill like a bell

As the skyship sails air here
It rings the shell snail ear
Melting the seventy nine year
Curl up in this shell

The burning lips of gas peel
And shrill sounds a siren steel
The souls searing chorus sings

‘Sail away, sail away
Burning whispers of one day
Drop where snail trail glisten
And listen.’


Ring Ring
Ring Ring
Who’s there.
Santa who?
Santa’s claws.

I announce myself, all fancy like, in this gnattering cold!

My fire pert red robin breast
All fur and feathers and glue
Fringed with wintry down
White as Omo, soft as spit.
A rubble brick lead heavy load
a hood full of head and pink wet snout
(as if sneezing)

From my face
A jagged frost bit thorn
Hangs smoking from a crust tipped lip.
My breath and beard
is a dry builders breakfast plate
Rind, ash,sauce and sugar

Licked till bone thin
Squeaks and whines
A string of deers
And a neck out front Rudolf
From whose harness hangs a crusted yoke
Of needle holly and pin berries

A red custard sky oozes
It’s black sauce
And the drunk night crashes home.
I boot up and slap hard the boney hinds
That drag the rusty sleigh
That pulls our arses toward Apollo and tomorrow while


Oer Mr Softies ices we slip and tinkle
A dripping cloud of breakfast, bone, snot and berries
Through the stars electric twinkle
A murky host of fat babies, goats, scales and
and every kid
in every home
at every hearth
in every bed
will sing


‘Antisanta flies tonight’
Or Santa’s claws will shred my bed tonight
Or Santa’s breath will fog my head tonight
for Antisanta flies tonight

‘Marge,’ or, to my phone box

Alone she rests in the lane
This P.O. red electric lady
Has lips
Recalling that

Two bombs struck a school in Catford
A mother’s voice still shrieks
And Lulu’s lovers hum to her hits
My old men piss and puke
And a dog waits while she natters to nan.

But from inside
Her thumbed brass and copper clatters
like clockwork through the slats
To join the Wrigleys, the Number 6 and all the other

Where Marge rests
Around a trillion breaths filled the space
Each breath carried
Voices of lost toys caught in flight
A frisbee, a football
A ringing shuttle that fleets and spins
Till it tangles in these few trees, trussed
and then with care
brought down.

so much later on than then
Unspun now for you
and spread like buttercups butter the green
to hear said as sand speaks
Flowing from sand to glass to glass
like a filament
burns through and breaks
The link from you to him to me.
“Operator what number please?”
it asks us and we reply

That one that takes us back past the stopped sand
Cross the green, the field, the stream
Through the glass to our Wonderland
Where of here we dream
And the past plays back forever
And so do we.”

Thanks Marge.

Odysseus on the phone on Christmas Eve in the Blitz


Wax! You ears.

It’s Christmas Eve it rains tin shimmers
And oil burns the black streets blacker.
Waves of fire lap the wet sky dry
And while the V2 the doodlebug and the Heinkel play death metal toons
I hide in here strapped to my fear.

This is my sail ship against the sirens.
My red ribbed raft oars in a blitz of white surf smoke
Through sinks and shoes and Brooke Bond tips
And the dead and nearly dead that fry and lie
like frankfurters.

You, a phone, and I dial 999.
“Operator, which service do you require?”
Ambulance, fire, police and a storm
Strong enough to blow me
Past the seducing songstress birds
That curl the air’s steel hair.
Not available? Then send me a lifeboat,
A bold crew from Cornwall, a bird catcher and a net
That I may catch one and keep it in a basket
To sing later on, or wot not.


Meanwhile Duck
It sucks
Clean out of luck
In a phone box and you.

And them birds outside that sing
To my nightmare’s muse.
Best we keep talking, drown out the drowners.
“Is the call an emergency or of national importance?”

Well, I am sailing the London sea
When the sky filled and fell
Seven raven winged ladies
Who did tell
A ditty
In my shell
Like that was an itty bitty

These ladies had ginger
Locks and were sort
Of lookers.
So much I thought
I might drop my anchor
In a non naught
Ical manner
And jump overboard
For Good.

Sorry to be flip
But I need to keep
My pecker up and not sink
Down so deep
To lie
Where the starfish sleep
In a sea sand sky.
So for pity’s sake talk to me.


“Ody ody oh dear, what a pickle your in
Up to your neck in the briny and birds.
I tell you what…

You are through to Siren Sue
But in a queue
For whatever it is you want to do
You are through to Siren Sue
But in a queue
For whatever it is you want to do
You are through to Siren Sue
But in a queue
For whatever it is you want to do.

Hello Caller
I am Carol
Christmas Carol – ha ha
While waiting for Siren Sue today
Why not hang your Christmas balls
And fill my chocolate log
Stick in my big red box
With windows
And a door
Where you can get your rocks off.
Press button ‘A’ or say “take me”
If you want Carol to make your Christmas.
(she sings)
Did you say say it?
Hold tight
As you might
Get a rush on and that won’t do
My libido
Oh nooooo…goooo….
(She sings)
Now we can waffle as much as we like
Make my tinsel tonsils tingle and …
Jump in.


So here I am
Down here

It is voices
Just voices
Bodies long gone to pot.
Loads, labeled
on sand shelves fifty million high.
An hallelujah of headless speakers
Each one a pink marbled ear and a mouth
A single membrane that hears and speaks at once
Hangs like a overfed flower.
These feathered waves of words wash a shoreless world.

This is me, it turns out.
And this is where I live.
I am ok like this, not bothered
Happy to mouth like fish
Happy to listen like shells.

A bubble floats by and listen.
It’s me still
a moon drop
and my words flow.

“Once we had feet, now we can only float.
Our voices sea soaked drift to one and then another
Family, friend or unfamiliar equally happily lost.
We can cross the line,
then and now and never are all one splash.
Dreams swim by
And stories grow like weeds
One wrapped within another.
This is the soup we all sup.”