21st August 2011



It’s been ages since I posted a poem on ‘Heckle’. Too long. This is for my daughter’s 21st. It’s very much a first draft.

21st August 2011


In 21 minutes we could have steered

a narrow-boat through Saddington Tunnel

there and back, the time it takes us to walk across the top,

there and back, looking down the Grand Union.

At least 21 leaves on each branch of each tree,

are ochre, or rust and not green.

Our shadows stretch taller on the towpath,

 let’s say 21 inches a piece,

and the heat is 21 degrees, maybe hotter,

 though more autumn than summer.


The years, 21, each like a ghost,

butt in for attention.

Lit candles blown out by the wind

on your birthday weekend,

(starting on Thursday in Sheffield,

ending in Leicester on Sunday)

were re-lit by your mates.

21 candles. Stuck into deep chocolate icing.

More than 21 bottles going for recycling.

Young in your year you’re the last.

Go Derry! Your uni mates holla

and clap, but the flames

wouldn’t let you blow them out,

as if they didn’t want the party to end.


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