The Rain in Kettering

This sky is a professional
on loan from East Anglia
or some other official region
with its own BBC News
and school of landscape art.

All afternoon it has sucked
the shadows from under our feet
up into its black yawn,
suspending us in air so thick
it might contain the grindings
of another non-league town
as mild and brickish as our own.

Splashes now land like hot kisses
tasting of stale meat and steel.
the first drops fritter onto laurels
in globs and splats and rills
over butts and pots and sills.

Retirees flee into conservatories,
stricken as citizens of Gomorrah,
with pails and copies of The Mail
rolled into truth truncheons
against the great wet reckoning.

Civilians stand ceremoniously
under hammered bus shelters
still as Britain’s many rain dead
while hoody loons turn cartwheels
in Wicksteed Park, ditch-giddy.

All the kids wish to be tumbling fish
wondering if we were Eskimos
how many words we’d give to this.

Just as suddenly the artillery stops.
New mud rises, blinks from drains.
The guttering of Kettering breathes.
Its honeysuckle declares world peace.

Runner-up in the 2015 Wells Literature Festival Prize

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Ex.

She waited for the eclipse to dump him.
It felt right with her light so hidden
for so long by so changeable a man.
She slipped orbit outside Caffè Nero
on the Victoria Station concourse
after buying him a full fat mocha.

Soon the solar shadow closed over them.
Southern Rail pigeons drifted widdershins
in slow-motion as if underwater,
like the man, turning tie-less on the spot,
upper lip frothed with milk and she wondered
if she’d have loved him more with a moustache
or a dog, or a dangerous hobby.

Kissing him on the ear, she moved off
with the wave she plucked from her handbag
through the barriers to Platform 12
where down the tracks the sun spilled back
like the opening credits in a dark cinema
beyond Selhurst, Woodmansterne, Brighton
and all stations south to her sea without tides.

Awarded 1st prize at the 2105 Domineer International Literature Festival, Ireland