image by christine renney

The quality of the footage is as expected – the tiny time lapses causing the figures to judder.  They are out of sync, but the Investigator can see clearly what is happening.  A series of grainy images, the colour bleached by the harsh lights from the street lamps.  It is almost in black and white but not quite. 

The six assailants are dressed the same, layered against the cold, hoods pulled up high around their heads, baseball caps beneath, the peaks protruding.  They are faceless, each indistinguishable from the other.  They move around the victim, who in just a tee-shirt and jeans appears vulnerable and exposed.  Jostling, they push and shove at him and at each other.  The Investigator is reminded of children in a playground, tossing a ball or perhaps a frisbee. 

Eventually, the victim falls down onto his knees and they begin to kick him.  The Investigator pauses the footage and, leaning in close, he studies their feet.  They are all wearing trainers, the same trainers.  He wonders what, if anything, he can glean from this.  The Investigator runs the film for a few seconds and freezes it again and again. 


image by christine renney

I go back and begin again 

I walk the old routes 

Reacquainting myself with all 

That I have never forgotten 

The rubbish at my feet 

Hasn’t changed 

The fast-food wrappers and  

The crisp packets and 

The crushed cans 

The logos and the lettering 

May be different but 

The brand names are the same and 

I’m not sure if  

I should be reassured by this 

Sign of stability 

I kick at an empty can and  

Listen as it clatters 

Across the pavement 

The houses here are deserted and  


The windows and 

Doors have been boarded 

But the boards are old and  


Many are coming away and  

Flap soundlessly in the still half light 


image by christine renney

I construct a rickety bridge 

The timber boards are flimsy 

As I cross, I feel them give 

Beneath my feet 

The path at the cliff’s edge 

Is a narrow ribbon of rust 

With no hand rails 

All of the warning signs have been 

Spun round and in order to read them 

I must move out into the space 

Where there is no ground 


image by christine renney

In the poetry section of the secondhand bookshop 

I stand in front of a wall of lost verse 

Of forgotten poems 

Overwhelmed I choose a volume at random 

And leafing through I begin reading 

But just snippets 

Here and there 

I know some of the poets of course 

Shakespeare dominates almost four whole shelves 

But there are so many poems languishing here 


I reach for a collection by Charles Causley 

And I scan the index for the one about 

The Jolly Hunter and there it is 

‘Jolly good,’ I say 


image by christine renney

The field is almost the same hue 

As the dog’s coat 

The corn has been cut back 

Close to the earth 

Fearlessly the dog 

Ventures out into it 

I gaze back toward our house 

And can just see the bedroom window 

Behind which stands my desk  

And my notebook  


image by christine renney

Today was a blister 

Flattened in the sun 

Skin stretched thin 

Across tarmac and concrete 

Stretched tight across 

The cracks in the dirt 


image by christine renney

In the aftermath of an argument 

My wife reads ferociously 

She doesn’t read fiction 

But the real deal 

She reads about genocide 

About politics and corruption 

Whilst we aren’t talking 

My wife reads ferociously 

Stalking the lines 

Of a hard back book 


image by christine renney

The corn field can’t move out of the sun 

Can’t run for the hills or  

Hide in the trees 

Corn can’t hitch a ride not even 

When it grows  

Close to the road 

The railway track cuts a swathe 

Through the crop but 

Corn can’t hop on a freight train 

Can’t take a break and  

See the sights 

Corn just shimmers in the heat haze 

Corn just sways