Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Poem

I completely cracked it yesterday.
Everyone I showed it to agreed.
My friend the Doctor of Creative Writing
covered his mouth and ran from the room.
It even made my sceptical wife swoon.

It wasn't just the best poem I'd written.
It was the best poem ever written.
An Aurora Borealis in your heart.
A Niagara word-fall gushing in your head;
the wild moon: there! - at the bottom of your bed.

I folded it up, put it in a tin,
buried it deep behind the compost patch
near where we interred the family cat.
No poet wants to see poetry like that.

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Guinevere walked through the morning gardens
where primroses partied in slanting light.
A liquidity of songbirds pardoned
the slinkingly slow departure of night

This walking around in meadows at dawn,
this dripping about in ethereal dreams,
was wearing thin on her, losing its  charm
she'd give it all up for Starbucks and jeans.

She'd buried Arthur at Avalon Tor,
that squalid town with its hill of hippies:
already they'd opened souvenir stores,
tarot talkers, spell sellers and chippies.

In a parallel world through a wormhole in time
she'd drink gin and tonic. With Lancelot and lime.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Le morte d'Arthur

Arthur returned to his kingdom in leaf.
Vibrant grass at his feet, overhead
a bursting beech. He took off his armour,
drank from a stream then lay in the April sun
feeling its warmth on his grey stubbled face.
Saracens, Moors, Dervishes. The dust
of foreign lands. He was done with it all.
The wound in his shoulder was still bleeding
and no flowery poultice had staunched it yet.       

The shallow brook clattered through green cresses
and the impatient grass grew taller.
He slept untroubled while blood pooled round him,
until he resembled Ophelia floating
in her willowy glade, the blades of grass,
red as her hair, waving in the Spring breeze.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Celia revisited

She walked the weed and twig strewn watermark
meandering in outsize clumpy boots,
her eyes cast down, as daylight slid to dark.

At dawn, when the singing of a shorelark
echoed round the empty house of owl hoots,
along the weed and twig strewn watermark

she was there - still scanning bladder wrack, bark
and flotsam: all the sea's discarded fruits,
her eyes cast down as day emerged from dark.

One day I met her carer in the park
and asked about her charge's strange pursuit
along the weed and twig strewn watermark.

She sighed and offered only this remark:
"We all seek - she treads an eccentric route..."
then looked downcast, as daylight slid to dark.

Now under a winter sky, iron and stark,
I search through answers that I can't compute
along the weed and twig strewn watermark
my eyes cast down as grey days slide to dark.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Lancelot in the park

I know you used to come here
because you told me. Perhaps
an unguarded confession?
Anyway, that was back then

and now, this bench, this park
- with its quivering poplars
silly ducks and bread-waving
kids. It's just mine alone so

I sit here in chain-mail with my
thoughts, poems, vanity and I
wonder if I couldn't achieve
more in a different life. This

shield I wear, this suit of
words, this sword of art,
once they swept young damsels
off their small glass slippers,

won princess's hearts. I
would regale travellers in
dog-floored, noisy mead halls,
lie about fire breathing

dragons. Then another's Queen
punctured my bravado
split my shield and left
me enjambed and alone

in this theme park of my making.

Tea with Mingus

You made the tea
offered ginger cake
from the Village.
I opened my case
dusted off strings
found my picks
took the tea things
into the dry yard
played standards
in the hi-rise sun
shine over your flat.
When I got home
I found I'd left my
small brimmed hat.


Monday, 13 April 2015


Looking up you smiled as if willing me
to quickly take a snapshot souvenir.
Behind you in the desert scenery
a disgruntled looking sphinx sat and leered.
You then rose to ease your stiffness away,
sitting down again in a new seat where
thirty foot palm trees fringed the sunny bay
and happy kids threw beach balls in the air.

Egypt was somewhere we'd wanted to go...
They called your number, you stood up again,
disappeared. Instead of reading 'Hello'
studying celeb lifestyles, I remained
fixed on the bright murals. Oncology?
Painted like a damn travel agency..?

Thursday, 9 April 2015


The woodworm in the cross weren't Jewish
and Christianity hadn't yet come to town.
Nor did they belong to pagan cults
and when the spear slit in and blood dripped down,
the woodworm, feeling only sticky rain,
with no sense of bad or good,
just chewed deeper in the wood.

The woodworm weren't Buddhist,
Jainist or even Zoroastrianist
and if they were inhabited by Hindus
on their long journey passing through,
well, the woodworm never knew.

The woodworm now aren't Moslem
and still they follow no religion.
They live the lives bestowed on them.
Non-denominational and secular,
they ate a wooden Buddha,
they ate the holy cross.
Even now they're chomping down
in churches, synagogues and mosques.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


Dark blue night sky punctured by stars,
a sea so calm it holds their light
in yellow stains.
And nearer on the cold, damp sand,
two starfish in a lover's kiss,
left by the change.
The new tide will wash clean the beach.
Morning sweeps the stars from the sea.
These worlds and planes
revolve and circle, mirror and repeat;
the stars of heaven grind beneath our feet.


        It's an odd thing, fire.
               We're all aware of it
                when it's blazing.
            And after the flames
       there is often still smoke.
               But when the
                smoke has gone,
                     what's left?
            Charred black wood.
               A kick of grey ashes;
               and the scent.
           Like a country bonfire
     unseen from a passing car:
          it's existence
              known only
          by it's fragrance.
                 That smell:
              always there to
            take you back
              to the smoke,
            the flames,
             the lighting:
                 to our


I log the fallen alder
This bright, frank morning.
The rasping saw,
My soft hands,
Unaccustomed, raw.

So damn cold...
The grass crunches
and crystals shine all
along the crumbling
red brick garden wall.

My throat hacks twice.
My breath is caught
escaping and suspended,
above my arm, the saw
and the alder trunk, upended.

I want to stop this now
but greater want the pain.
The frozen ground,
the low slung sun,
the saw's coarse sound.

Such physicality
the heat and cold:
life's elemental law.
Beyond our pink rooms
a truth awaits us, raw.

Friday, 27 March 2015



The levee
broke and our
flatlands flooded
up to the farmhouse door.
A cow swam by and all manner
                                                     of stuff floated round.
For 6 months I'd sat in my room.
                     Looked out across constant fields.
                                         Watched cattle come and go,
                                                                              taking their turn.
                                                Wondered at seagulls
                                                                             stamping the turf,
                                                                                         summoning worms.
                                                                Saw last year's rooks grow
                                                        feather trousers, balding beaks.
                                             Slowly, unbeknown to me,
                                                                        the levee was springing leaks,
                                                                                       waiting for a storm to break.
                                                All that time my mind lay numb,
                                                                              empty of words, ideas.
                                                                          I reasoned they might never come,
                                                         and to slake some kind of thirst
                                        I lay down in a deluge of music.
                                                 Stolen blues and songs of desolation.
                          Now the levee's broken
                                                                                          maybe I'll write again.
                                                                           When the water's drained.
                                              Think I was just dry, you know?
                                                                                    In need of irrigation...