Saturday, 30 June 2018

before he was my father my father was

before he was my father 
  my father was 

the man with the fag;
  in the desert with a fag;
in the war.

the man with david niven moustache,
  and tight curly hair;
in his uniform. 

in the war he was a man;
  a young man;
away from home.

in the war he was tough;
  him and his oppo;
tough in Cairo.

at home my mum
  sent the telegrams;
missing you.

at home my mum,
  remembers when they met;
missing those smiles.

in the photographs;
  jack the lad;
he knew.

in the photographs;
  the looks,
you know.

with his brothers,
  in their suits;
posing for the photograph.

with his brothers,
  in their uniforms;
posing for the photograph.

down the pub,
  lifting a pint,
over a hand of cards.

down the pub,
   between youth and manhood,
on her hand a ring.

my mum;
  in his eyes;

my mum;
  he was in her eyes;

that’s all he was,
  before he was
my dad.

that’s all he was,
  before i was his son.
now he is

my dad.
  sad isn’t it?
he was his.

my dad.
 sad isn’t it?
now he’s my dad.

so where is he, was he?
  my dad.
here or there?

where was he is he?
  my dad.
did he make it home?

i have him at home;
  but did he make it home?
what does he think?

he has me at home;
  but has he made it home?
what do you think?


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

hospital city

hospital city

“the enemy’s upon us”
said the enema saponis

"high hot and a hell of a lot"
said the nurse who’d lost the plot 

“just a little prick”
said the nurse without a dick

“no need to panic”
said the bedpan mechanic

“roll on your side”
said the doctor’s bride

“big breaths”
said the lisp with the yeths

“are you awake”
said sleeping pills take 

"i’m boracic lint"
said the nurse who was skint

"going to take out the stitches"
said the nurse in breeches

"out comes the pus"
said the nurse with no fuss

"well and truly plastered"
said the nurse who mattered

"time for discharge"
said the nurse in charge

summertime and

summertime and

the washing flies on a summer breeze,
cat on a sunbeam under the trees.
flowers of every colour under the sun,
the sort of day when i am the only one,
to flare of nostril, eyes and skin,
to feel that the whole world is my next of kin.
stop the sun! stop the spin!
let me hang here for evermore;
but no, 
             but no.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

a painting

charcoal and chalked;
time hanging in this painting
of a muse lost on the tides of thought,
reclining with a sensual sadness,
in thought of a past lover?
or an imminent assignation?
she is at that age,
you know.
see the fire in her cheeks?
she is in love with you.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, 25 June 2018

high summer

hot and summer
front and back doors open wide
and then a cool poet’s breeze
across my knees

i sit still
for more

summer hot
the cat tires of chasing the poets
and sits beside me
she can see them
and purrs

we sit still
for more

summer hot
a fly buzzes in
the cat’s head swivels
it settles on a line of poetry

we all doze

Sunday, 24 June 2018


i am the cavern into which all poetry flows
paged as white as a blind cave fish 
swimming in a cataract of words
flowing from where i care not
into the heart of the world i dare not
i cannot see the cathedral caves
but i can feel the golden walls
if the flow of poetry stops then
this blind fish may never see

the morning dew

the cat has eaten of the morning
and is washing over her ears 
there’s a breeze at the breakfast table
and the sun is sniffing at the trees

frogspawn on the chickweed days
stop tickling my childhood heels
drink now of the magic dew
and see how summer feels

Friday, 22 June 2018

the word is

the word is

the poets are pillow fighting in my mind
their torn dictionaries spilling feathers
to fall as snow upon my lines
as i fly around grasping at straws 
to build a huff and a puff castle
in which i screech scared that 
a real poet will burn it down
and leave me with the ashes of a dream
of a poem on a pyre 
a nugget of pyrites 
that doesn’t even warm a fool 

Thursday, 21 June 2018


power-storm an idea
power-up the word conveyor
power-wash the poem
power-strim the words 
power-blow away the detritus 
power-roller the rhyme
power-up the presses
power-promote the ego ergo 
power-shortcut blows a fuse
power-less the words
power-hole as black as ink

anyone seen my pen

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


all the blues of winter
nodding in prayer
to the bees and the butterflies
in the summer sun

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

sunday on kilvey hill

sunday on kilvey hill

every shushed sunday morning high
on kilvey hill under a skylark sky
duncan and peter his corgi and i 
heatherward upward until lunch is nigh 

old walls lizard-stoned and grey
or tussocked white with grass and hay
there often in statue the hare did lay
or a fox curled up sleeping off the day

past the soggy-sock marsh in reed
past the suck-shoe marsh indeed
first bomb-hole pool bound in weed
second bomb-hole pool scarfed indeed

every hushed sunday morning high
above the village that smoking sty
where the industrial psalmists rumble and i 
and we knew anon the end is nigh

but ne’er say never ne’er say nay
for cometh the hour cometh the day
when we can stay and stay
and mature of youth we will say

that we cannot of this sulphur bleed
or over the glassy slag tips indeed
spill youth’s angst or take a heed
for tomorrow in its numbing greed

we under these heather walls and sky
we will overstay and overstay 
and as any two boys in their need will say
we are off home full-pelt for lunch is nigh 

lunch under kilvey hill

Saturday, 16 June 2018

the poem

the poem insists we write it
it asks us to fill its pockets with
the child’s treasured things
the old man’s tobacco
the lady’s damp handkerchief
the whole of the sea and sky
and when we are lost it says
look and remember 
this is who you are

languish in anguish

a blue jellyfish bruising memory
 stinging at a lonely heart
red as a claw buried in the craw
 down where the tears start

the tunnel has been tolerated 
 look has arrived at tomorrow 
where pains are pinned like butterflies
 camphorated in drawers of sorrow

stripped bare of a tomb-like lethargy
 and shivering with thwarted desire
we drink of the spring of sunshine 
  that sets the uplands afire

then the memories sleep 
  ayes close eyes
if only says the past
  we had smelled this summer rose

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Monday, 11 June 2018

high tea

dew-eyed and streaming golden
from an old black-hearted pot
assam or maybe darjeeling 
brewing yar thar brouhaha
on a thousand summer days
high-tea on the foothills
of a cake-stand’s doily sky
basket chairs tilted straw hats
and bees that jam 
and jazz and jazz and then
zzz and zzz and zzz
while all the afternoon a while
the dandelion clocks 
tick tock tick tock 

Saturday, 9 June 2018

still sitting still

i just made friends with a hover-fly
who landed on my palm
then he sat upon my knee
we meant each other no harm
and of course he saw off all the other flies 
which was very nice for me
i like these nature stories
when it’s warm and summery 
but he’s gone now
he’s gone to die

the thrush

what was it that sang
under a foundling moon
that when i answered back
all hell was loosed
and prerogative strode
down the throat of dusk
until the silver birch all defused in lullaby 
and the sleepy stars tinkled down the day
until silence reigned in the owl breath night
and the door closed

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


look at this photo in the album,
you petulant pubescent girl.

mum, dad and 
a teeny weeny baby. 

we’ve come a long way,
don’t spoil it.

tomorrow is yours,
we don’t want it;
we won’t change it;
you can have it your way. 

but don’t spoil it - eh?

Monday, 4 June 2018

luncheon is served

could i order 

a wild garlic and dew starter
followed by
whoops a daisies with a buttercup melt
dressed with a breeze of bees
a mixed grass sneeze
served on a bed of sea thrift
a side dish of warm sea mist
and a glass of valerian rosé
some bluebell fountains as a desert

a sea and sand of witch and lavabread 
periwinkles pinned and sunset
in an indigo sauce
spume poured in waves over
a sparkling tiara horizon
strings of golden clouds in sundown ice
slide off a full-bodied full-blue moon
a whispered i love you 
across a chasm of clotted time
lingering in entwined and treacle eyes 
and a cool glass of you are mine wine 

oh my

oh my
dear planet
we did not plan it
but death came anyway
you did not plan it
dear planet 
oh my

oh my 

oh my

a poem is

a poem is a stream of thought emerging from a cave
flowing golden over the bowdlerising words 
in a flash it’s gone
and here’s another
and it’s gone
but the flow goes on and on

Saturday, 2 June 2018

run me a jig

but of course, it is the secret ways, where
  to be on your own, down the tell-you ways,
is to walk down there, to go that way,
  to be where all the long-ago times lie.

castle cloistered or cemetery interred,
  beach cove coasted,
or down the wooded childhood ways,
  where, fun-sunned and roasted,
or running cold down derelict lanes, is
  to be where all the long-ago times lie.
and running the heathered hills again,
  or fishing through the night, or
running rings around the park bell parkie,
  when all the naughty boys are set to flight;
then, and only then, is every village lane 
  a minded, to write about today tonight, and
to be where all the long-ago times lie.

and so we were,
  we were,
and so we did,
  we did,
and so we are,
  so there you are.

Friday, 1 June 2018


all the words of all the songs
are the mother of pearl to
a grit of a thought 
in a pearl of 
a poem