time traveller

I took the path down
by the cemetery
where heavy rains
had scoured the ground
clear down to
the greensand rock

millions of years ago
(I suppose – I don’t really know)
this was a river delta
where iguanodon waded
buzzed and serenaded
by pterrible pterosaurs
wailing and wheeling
in a sulphurous sky

just over the hedge
two churchwardens
prod a smoky bonfire
‘Alright?’ one says


I blame the dinosaurs

I read somewhere scientists suspect
the apatosaurus had such a long neck
was it meant it could stay in one position
when taking on board tree nutrition

it makes me think there must be genes
for turning us into eating machines
maybe explains the current scenario
as we strip the earth of its natural material

and when it’s done and we’re left with a rock
and the planet’s the planet that time forgot
we’ll finally shift our pendulous bodies
and lurch into space for new opportunities


the comfort of fossils

there’s a monument over the playing fields
to a doctor who found a bone
(I’m simplifying, of course
there’s so much more to say
about the world of Victorian scientists,
how they would squabble like lizards
over the fossilised remains of – well – lizards)
the doctor got a few things wrong, poor chap
he thought the bone was some kind of horn
when it was actually a thumb
but it’s difficult when everyone down in the quarry
thinks you’re completely insane, and
no-one has any idea what you’re talking about
because Jurassic World
won’t be available to rent online
for another two hundred years

looking back it gives me great comfortIMG_7237
to think of the iguanodon
whose thumb (not horn) it was
wading up to its chops in the soupy delta
about where the rugby pitch now is
swiping up a half ton of weed
and methodically chewing
as it watches pterosaurs
wheel and turn in a planeless sky


mantell piece

two hundred years ago
Mantell filled a bucket
with teeth and bones
from the local quarry
hurried home
put two and two together
and came up with a crocodile
later, re-jigging the puzzle,
he made a giant iguana
with a hook on its nose
named it Iguanadon
(the hook was actually
a claw; well,
even monstrous herbivores
needed a little something,
given the size
of the carnivores
hanging around
back then)

now it’s all changed
mountains have peaked
and gone, the earth’s
plates spun out
the Isle of Wight isn’t where Egypt is anymore
and the river delta
where that Iguanadon
chewed his leaves
staring unblinking
at the horizon
– even those endless
shivering softly yielding sands
are rock hard
and where the iguanodon fell
the meat counter at Sainsbury’s

I’m sitting in the foyer
of the health centre
thinking about nothing in particular
sipping a mocha
glad I hadn’t gone for the sprinkles
when a guy walks past with his hood up
the hood is designed to look like
a dinosaur head
not so much Iguanodon
as Godzilla
quite convincing though
especially the way he’s hunched
over an energy bar
the size of a small bus

I wonder what Mantell would’ve made of it


notes from the frontline of adult social care