I knew a man who searched for it for years, searched



pored over politics, economics, read history and stats,

thumbed genealogy


exhumed parish records, trudged sodden churchyards,

navigated ruins


peered deep into the past to demonstrate nothing was

down to him


and when he found another proof his fate was none

of his own making


his eyes would close and a thin smile would release

a knowing sigh


he shared at badly-run meetings in cold village halls

and rank gymnasia


where all present agreed the problems couldn’t result

from their own actions


that the injustices they suffered came from the prejudice

and discrimination


of overpaid self-seeking time-servers they’d never liked

and never met


and he cast this forward into the future with predictions

of further injury


then sat arms folded, convinced no-one was listening,

wronged yet again.


© Michael Curtis





To contest certainty


inside the cathedral

chaos has been installed

in a simple machine


flying freehold

water flows

to the centre of a beam


that then tips to let it out.


Which way will it go?


the poster wonders

assuming ignorance

will test our equilibrium


this work of art

descending to science

to shake our convictions


and make its point.


What made it tip this way?


God is present here

in word and sacrament

the leaflet tells us


sounding confident –

but posing questions

without an answer


opens other windows.


The pendulum swings


past marble monuments

tableaux and mausoleums

of rich benefactors



through the wide eye

of the needle


tipping into chaos?



© Michael Curtis






All that night I’d argued
with the unrepentant owl
and by morning we’d agreed
to disagree, but I was surprised

when sunrise over the castle
sucked up any thought of sleep,
skimming the tip of a steeple
on a slow burn of pixels

so I moved inside to wash up
and forget my loosening anger,
the promises I couldn’t keep,

and didn’t try to stop

the last warmth of my father
slipping from my shoulders,
didn’t attempt to defend
the faded songs of my mother

and right to the end
couldn’t think what I’d become,

told wife, sons, correspondents,
my oldest friends

this had always been my name,
my way of talking, politics, team,

dodged reunions, downsized, shifted

my domicile to an unlisted home.


© Michael Curtis



© Michael Curtis