Read sample poems and listen to audio recordings (*) of Sean Haldane reading.

 Lake Monroe, Indiana


The grass is worn and beaten down

By snow just gone,

Each tree in the wood alone.


We sit, us two,

On a fallen log above a view

Of ice sheets fraying into water.


Gulls shriek

And crows cry out in desperation.

A pair of cardinals flit in a naked oak.

A blue jay picks at the ground,

A party of scuttling killdeers call their names,

A dove goes ‘tink tink’ like a muted bell.

A long ago hell

Comes to mind, a Spring without promise.

Now there is nothing to miss.

Is this perfection?

Expectation, the ice melting.

Is our long time of despair really over?


We make

Something like love before we fall asleep

And as we awake.


Will this hush

Of nothing happening before the Spring

Tempt these New World birds to sing?


Buds will burst and shoots like arrows leap.

Melting will push

Volumes of sap up through the waiting bush.


We shall make

Something like love again by the shimmering lake.

I sit in your chair and I look at my chair and despair

At the lack of a view of us both, as above in the air

A vee of geese honking veers down to the park and its lake

And I don’t know if ever I’ll love you without a mistake.

You know what I am but whatever I am is not clear.

All I know in your chair is I wish me in mine and you here.

Chair is flesh in your language ma Chère, I am able

To envision my body, to see me from you across the table.

But this is taboo to my mind.  I would usually think

It schizoid in a void to see me through your eyes, in a blink.

(What pain will he cause the next time he moves off and comes back?)

When I look at my chair opposite its pressed back is a rack

Where my body is stretched – seen from you – or (another view)

I am back in my own self there in that chair and see you

Bleeding slowly for me – as I bleed for you now: face to face,

I don’t know which way the directions of time or of space.

As I look at you in my mind are you looking at me?

In a warp of the universe not here or there we

Are two knobs – a tube in between – a dumb-bell

Tumbling over and over it seems between heaven and hell.

Your email: I love you very much. But here in your chair

With nobody there in my chair my existence is bare

As if I’m alone in a pew in a dusty old church,

Ready to pray you won’t stay far off and leave me in the lurch.

Where is our azimuth? When can we stop

The tumbling? – and still stay connected and drop

As one down to earth and just be you and me

Each in our chair sitting here with the locust tree

And the usual Constable clouds to look at, and we

Both North both South, each an alternating pole

Of a vast rolling world we don’t need to control.

Where on earth is Hand Trough Creek?

Where are Cuckold’s Haven,

Clap’s Gate Lane and Gallions Reach?

Names on a map of Dockland,

To you, a rogue, they promise heaven.

Outside St Paul’s, gaze

At this puddle in the lap

Of a black marble woman

Reclining. The water glistens.

Let John Donne speak:

Not a minute left to do it

(Repent, he means, not love –

The Dean is not a poet).

Not a minute’s sand.

(An hour glass on his pulpit).

His shrouded death-mask listens.

The hour glass

Is just a frozen shape

In a quantum landscape:

Time doesn’t pass.
The sermon doesn’t teach,

But endures like the walls

Of old St Paul’s

And blitzed houses ablaze.

All that moves is mind.

Here, rogue, stand

By the black woman,

Share her daze,

Frozen in the East wind

From Cannon Street.

Out at Cuckold’s Haven

Wives spread their legs

To take on the dregs

Of Gallions Reach

And pass on the clap.

Spend all the coins

From a pocket without holes,

Lie in their loins

And on their breasts blubber

In convulsive emotion:

In the life of dove-tailing souls,

A quiver if not of matter

Of, yes, love.

That can prove

White and black, rogues and whores move.

When you cracked open the Mumm’s champagne

To celebrate our first whole night –

In the new sheets you had bought, striped blue and white –

You didn’t know how much pain

Would follow from being together.

But our love has not turned vinegar,

Though it’s no longer bubbly – a blood red wine

Pressed from the last grapes of two ageing vines

Whose limbs would have to be snapped

To get them apart.

We have grown around each other, and here

Are the same sheets, the stripes faded and worn,

And a bottle of something more modest than Mumm’s.

The champagne spurts

And though we forget nothing, nothing hurts.