Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve 2005

I wonder what I’ll do tomorrow that’s out of the ordinary?

For murdering the English language and his profligate use of useless adjectives, the anti hero of this poem receives the long sentence he deserves

My favourite Christmas morning breakfast is home-cooked ham on bread and butter.

We are spending the New Year in Vlissengen, in the Netherlands. It’s where Jill and I fell in love, in a little attic room in the house of Annemarie and Hans. They’re selling up and moving to Italy and so this will be our last visit.

one, two, three, four, five
accumulating darkness
crow keeps his counsel

They found Santa dead in the back garden, a gun lay close by.
They are rounding up the usual suspects

As I write this, the watercolour sun sets
in an orange sky
behind the scribble of hedge
and the spilt water of bank

My favourite ever Christmas present was my first guitar.

I haven’t written a song for Jill this year
But I have composed a symphony for her
in my head

A frosty morning
In the corner of the council tip
is a huge blue cage
chocabloc with broken TVs, computers, laptops, monitors, maybe there are a thousand carcasses there, bashed, splintered, split, crushed, cracked, dead
their ghosts sucked back
into the ether
Frank blows into his gloved hands
It’s cold enough for snow, he says

Despite Christmas being for children I enjoy it too
How about you?

I saw my granddaughter in her first Christmas play
She was an angel

How rare to end a sentence with an empty stop

Friday, December 09, 2005

If Life Was Real

If your life was on celluloid
What film would you be in?
If your life was a song
How would your chorus begin?
If your life was laid out on a plate
In the best restaurant in town
What first course would you choose?
And if you woke alone
In the empty hours
And couldn’t sleep
Would you turn on the TV
Or listen to jazz on the radio
Or pick up your guitar
And quietly sing the blues?

Please also leave comments for the Tony Meehan poem here.

Goodbye Tony Meehan

Who noticed you
Packing up your kit
Stowing it in the back
Of the cold, black van
Leaving the town for good
And no return gig?

It seems the world sat watching
And waiting for the final whistle
Of extra time
In the George Best game

Not for you
A noisy farewell
One minute of wild, rapturous drumming
At the Brixton Academy

But I shed a private tear
For my lost youth
When you stepped out of the shadows
When life had a simpler four four beat
And your paradiddles dazzled

You were the stylist
The silhouette in the yellow spotlight
The star
And because of you and Jet and Hank and Bruce
I bought my first guitar

Friday, December 02, 2005

TV Lover

I saw you in the adverts
And ordered you
On your special number

At last
You appeared in my life
And I loved you

I adjusted the widescreen control
(I never liked girls who were too thin)
Altered the level of colour
To bring out the blue
In your eyes
Tweaked the contrast
To lighten your hair
And darken your skin
Turned down the volume
And turned up the bass just a smidgeon
For those husky notes

My Girlfriend Guide informed me
You would be round every Saturday at nine
After the watershed
But if I missed you
You'd be round again on Sunday at eleven
After the news
And again in those lonely wee small hours
On Triple X Gold

To be on the safe side
I programmed you into my sigh-pod

Now that your transmissions are over
I often replay the bit
Where you said
You loved me too

From Searching For Blue Sea Glass (the book) (Rabbit Press)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What’s Been Going Down

Well, lots of school visits at the moment, which I’m enjoying. And last week I read some poems at a Hastings Festival gig. Most enjoyable. Yes, I did read the dog in the zoo poem (pronounced shitzoo!) as well some old favourites. Top of the bill was Zena Edwards, who, as well as being an excellent poet, played the thumb piano (or, I think, the marimba – correct me if I’m wrong).

And now I see that there’s a programme on UK TV on December 1st called The Contenders – featuring five performance poets – including Zena and Matt Harvey. Matt’s brilliant – so much so that I persuaded him to sell some of his little books on the Rabbit Press website (see opposite) He visited Hastings earlier in the year. I believe it’s aPop Idol type show with the winner winning some cash. If you get a chance to see it be sure to vote for Matt. It's good to see some poetry getting TV coverage.

This weekend we went to the North of Scotland (brrrrrr!!!) where there was a blizzard raging. Had a lovely time though, visiting old friends, eating and drinking. Mind you it took me over twelve hours to get home – including travelling on two cars, a plane and five different trains. Home now though, and just one more school visit, then time to do some more writing... Hooray!

Here are two of Matt’s poems…

A Pinch and a Punch
(a traditional spell to avert disaster)

a pinch and a punch
for the first of the month
a clip round the ear
for the start of the year
quite a bad headache
for the start of the decade
a pretty nasty injury
for the start of the century
and accident involving plutonium and uranium
for the start of the millennium

If Love

If love
can build a bridge
can affection
put up a shelf?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Found Poem

Our local zoo
Has only one animal
A dog

It’s a shiatsu

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On My Way To School...

My New Book Posted by Picasa

Staying In

Crawling across the classroom
is a black shiny beetle called Bill

A fat, furry fly called Fred
sits on the window sill

A thin, hairy spider called Sid
climbs up the classroom wall

A boy who’s been naughty called Me
sits on his own in the hall.

I am staying in at playtime
Just me, myself and I

All alone with my regrets
and a beetle, a spider, a fly

Small White Egg Poem

I find
a small, white egg
under the conker tree
in the corner of the school field

I hold
the small, white egg
in the palm of my hand
and peer up into the tangled branches

The tree
is empty and the
small, white egg
is cold

I think
there is a song inside
the small, white egg
that we will never hear

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the bed
The little dog laughed
But not for long
Because the cow landed right on his head

Saturday, October 29, 2005


A man raided my parents’ house
He wore brown trousers and a white vest
He looked like Alexei Sayle

The front door sagged open
Like a corpse’s mouth
I yelled for a neighbour’s help

The man ran out
A memory clutched to his chest
I dropped my bag

I had no time to wonder
As the chocolate bells
I’d rescued from the Christmas tree

At the top of the road
(In that late January rain)
Splattered on the pavement

The man and I grappled
His accomplice ran from the door
Neighbours appeared

The robbers were arrested
And my memories were recovered
But after I woke

I knew
I’d never go back
Into my parents’ house again

Writing in the Dark

This is not a chic area of Paris
Outside the night life rumbles
like indigestion. People argue
Outside my window. A motorbike
Roars past. Tyres squeal.

I look at the clock.
It’s a quarter to four.
I’m writing this down in my notebook
In the dark. I hope the writing is

In the morning
I see that I have written this poem
Over the top of another one
And so I begin the task of trying
To decipher my own poems.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Read the Sign

The sign quite clearly says
Do not feed the wildfowl bread
It encourages the Canadian Geese
Who bully the ducks and moorhens

The sign quite clearly says
Do not feed the wildfowl bread
As bread encourages the algae
And the build up of toxins in the water

So why are you standing there
With your bin bag of bread
Scattering crumbs to the geese
Like a stupid bird shepherd?

Can’t you read?

St Albans Haiku

I heard a boy say
Look at that duck! The
One with the Egyptian head

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pere Lachaise

Pale yellow and fading green
Acacia leaves tumble like stone birds

A naked woman poses
With uneasy familiarity

The angel-winged cherubs
The bat-winged skulls

The hoarse laughter of crows
Rising into a grey marble sky

Change of Position

I had been standing on her two feet
for some time
when she remarked -
Stand on your own two feet
for once!

On My Head

I had been standing on my head
for two years
before I discovered
that the simple act of jumping to my feet
released the weight of the world
from my shoulders
like a helium-filled balloon

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fish Sandwich

A thin girl in a turquoise top
Looks at me and smiles
Or maybe she is smiling at her boyfriend’s joke
Or the lopsided sign behind me
Or maybe she is gazing
Into the middle distance of her memory
And recalling the time
Her mother fell and was caught
By a clown in a spotted smock

We are sitting at the Canadian Bar
On the Left Bank of the Seine
Just round the corner
From where Picasso painted Guernica

And Jill looks over my shoulder
And, seeing the opening lines, writes in my book
Does she want my fish
For a sandwich then?

And I laugh and say, Fish?
A fish sandwich?
And Jill laughs too
And says no – fist!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Newcastle Serenade

On the train to Newcastle
I can hear a small orchestra
Violins and woodwind
And a crooner

I look around
There –
In the luggage racks
Giving the train
A sophisticated swing
It’s almost jazz

And the conductor
Sways down the aisle
With the microphone
I am tempted to join in
But instead
I point out to him
That this carriage
Is a dedicated quiet carriage
And so could he please take his orchestra


Sometimes time ambles
Now, for example
As I practise
The art of living
In a fast food chain
Whilst waiting for an aeroplane

I could be sitting at my computer now
Gazing at the slate roof above the front door
Listening to the birds in the mock-orange tree
The interlocution of words

But I’m not
I’m sitting on some plastic seating
Eating a pizza


Sorry about that! I was trying to upload a new picture for my profile. I couldn't get it to work and so, as I was a bit pushed for time, I gave up. Little did I know that in my absence the computer would try to upload a little coloured square.

Sorry also about the lack of blogs. I've been so busy. Hopefully will be putting some more poems up soon. Bad news on the book deal - it all fell through at the last minute. So it's back to the writing desk.

Hey ho.

My poem on BBC2 did happen - although I missed it. I thought it was on Blue Peter but I was wrong.

Mr Organised - that's my middle name.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005


I’m walking into Hastings
Down a long and sunny slope
Past the Toad Hall Dental Clinic
To the Post Office of Hope
“My Tony’s dream is failing,”
Sally tells us in the queue -
And Bob’s been with the same firm
Since nineteen sixty two
While Bob and Sal are chatting
Jasmin wanders to and fro
She hugs Bob’s youngest, Sammy
How soon the youngsters grow
Then the lady at the counter
Says Sally’s credit’s bad
But while the sun is shining
She refuses to be sad
I buy a stamp and post my card
Climb up the sunny slope
And I wonder how the car is
In the Kwik Fit Hall of Hope

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Autumn Catalogue

Imagine if our clothes
Were living things
And in the autumn they withered and dropped
Green pullovers turning yellow, dying
Blue jeans turning purple, dead tops
Turn-ups, curl-ups
Denim peeling away
Everywhere you look
People losing their clothes
Streets littered with remnants
Small brown snagged squares of tights
Scraps of socks
And everyone nude for the winter

Fat men with fields of once hidden flesh
Wobble along the wet pavements
Old thin women
Wrinkled and wafery
Huddle in Lowry groups
Like sticks blown into a corner

And naked through howling
Icy winds and squalls
Of snow, everyone struggles gamely on
Until the spring
When fresh clothes buds start growing again

From Searching For Blue Sea Glass (the book)
available from
Rabbit Press

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another Day

The week clicks past
A ratchet and cog
The shudder of morning traffic
Judy coughing on the carpet
Licking her swollen paws
You are reading
Propped awkwardly on three pillows
You didn’t sleep well
Your arm hurt and your back
Freefalling in your dreams
I look around
The second hand
On the cartoon clock
Moves another notch
My Gaudi mug steams with coffee
Behind my eyes
A vague ache
I can’t pin down
Blurred shapes shrug in the angular light
Judy is panting on the crooked rug
She wants her breakfast
I must get up
Get started
On my book of the maze
I stand barefoot on the rug
that will be whipped away
before the day is done
A turn of the cog
A tick of the clock
The pant of the dog
You drop your book
Sigh in your sleep
It’s just another day

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Walk in Bedoin

A pale sphere of softest mauve
And the sharp thistle thorn

A black butterfly
Wings wrapped, eyes closed
A leaf snagged in the sunburnt grasses?

A butterfly, a black and yellow dart
With eyes and face on its tail
To confuse its enemies

The kamikaze cricket
Who leaps into the wind
And tumbles along the cracked asphalt road

The wire fence vibrates
Around the abandoned quarry
The jazz of the donkey’s trumpet

Brambles and blackberries
Gunshots leap across the valley
As the hunting season starts

Scattered rock, blinding white, purest pink
The red stone outcrop
The scratched names of travellers

Mont Ventoux
Moving implacably through the dark cloud
A ship that will never reach its destination

An artist’s light
The unmistakable sounds
Of Provence

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Race in Provence

Each step I take
on the dried-out grass
releases a dozen grasshoppers
like a starting gun
in the run-every-way-at-once race.


I am the clouds
rising from the volcanic basin.
I am the shadows
racing the Doré
as it ambles north.
I am the hills
woven with pines and mist.
I am the dart of lizards
chasing flies on hot stone walls.
I am the jazzy full of coffee
and the dry
of last night's red wine.
I am the rumble
of log-laden trucks
in the sub-zero winter.
I am the listener
to tales of home
on the balcony
above the half-tamed garden
of cherry trees
and hard mountain soil.

Friday, August 12, 2005

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday.

Yes the words of that great Cliff Richard classic ring in my ears as we prepare for our Summer Holiday. We’re off tomorrow – heading for central France for a couple of weeks to stay with Jill’s folks and then further South for a week in Provence. Whilst there I will be mainly eating drinking, playing Scrabble and writing. I’ve some work to do on a children’s novel, a few other ideas to polish up and I might get started on a sit com. And of course some poems.

Meanwhile my first blog anniversary passed and I missed it. I’d hoped to do a bit of blogging this week but for some reason I never found the time. I looked everywhere for the time but it obviously didn’t want to be found. Sometimes time just likes to hide, have a bit of fun. Sometimes it meets up with Tide and they wait for a man. But, to be honest, that’s quite a rare occurrence.

A year on the blog, eh? Who’d have thought it. Maybe I have to make a new blog year’s resolution. To be a better blogger? To blog more often? To give more and visit other people’s blogs more regularly. Any of you out there with a year or more blog experience? What would your blog resolution be I wonder?

Well, just time to visit a few blog regulars, see what they been up to in the last week. Then off to bed. We leave around midday. We’ve three lots of people coming to look after the house, look after Judy the aged Border Collie and to water the tomatoes and courgettes. Back in three weeks time – the beginning of September.

Au Revoir

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Three Poems


In the morning
After her shower
In the cramped bathroom
Of her tiny hotel room
She decides to wear her green top
Baggy khaki cut-offs
White trainers
And white socks

Later, on the island,
In the shadow of the twin towers
Of Notre Dam,
In the shadows of a thousand pigeons
And a million cameras,
As the bells clank and clang,
She gathers dutifully around
Her English guide in the square
Who explains –

When travelling on the Metro
Allow two minutes per station
And five to ten minutes
If you have to change lines

This information
Will prove invaluable
Later on


I idly watch the bicycle policemen
In their black and blue crash helmets
As they stop and chat to the
Singing double bassist
Whose stage is the Quai Aux Fleurs

On the Steps of Sacré Coeur

Before the poem even starts
I see my father’s shadow
Cast on the brightly-lit stone steps
But that soon fades
And words begin to shape my thoughts
Not images

To think, you were here
On these same steps
Overlooking Paris
Nearly forty years ago

And we could have told the French kids
Strumming a guitar
And singing California Dreaming
That you sang that song
When it was new
As you sat on the same steps
Breathing the clouds of dope
Rising from the city
Engulfing the future
In peace and love

And kids in baseball caps
Toss fireworks
The tourists take snapshots
Of the church
For their screensavers
And we gradually wind down the hill
Along the cobbled roads
Past weary street artists
Past Lapin Agile
Back to our hotel

And I think about how far we’ve come
And how we’ve come
No distance at all

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Rejoice in the Details

The heartland of France
Outside the morning’s wavering
The birds are confused
By the clouds
But aren't showing it

Tiny black creatures pepper us
And itch like Billy Oh.
We saunter through breakfast
Loose preparations
For our expedition
To trace the source of the Indre

Crunch of toast
Brush of crumpet
Click of pot
Will you take your butter with you?
No, it will melt
Can’t go to a restaurant
And take your own butter

The weight of carpet on floor
The conversation stumbles for a while
Read the instructions
Why not?
We’ve plenty of time
Rejoice in the details

A fly lands
On my short-sleeved tee shirt

A discussion.

How subtle are the differences
Between the saturates and the palm oil
And the fatty acid equation

The fly rises

Like a mini-helicopter
On jet fuel

The car is patiently waiting

Friday, July 15, 2005

Foot Notes

It’s been an interesting week.
I’ve been cleaning out the big walk-in cupboard at the top of the stairs. A couple of months ago the ceiling collapsed. Dust and bits of plaster everywhere. It was where we shoved everything that didn’t have a home anywhere else. Drum cases, suitcases full of old clothes, all our old games and boxes of I don’t know what. Alan, a builder friend of ours, is coming to fix it next week so it has to be done. The house is full of piles of dusty things. Meanwhile we’re having a party tomorrow so the piles of things are being stored in our bedroom, which is getting quite difficult to enter.

As I write this we should be at the supermarket buying the food and drink. We’ve around 80 people coming. But a couple of things happened to slow us down.
First, Jill sprained her foot. Just went over on it in the garden on Tuesday night. We went to the casualty department of the hospital in Hastings where a nurse assessed us – Yes, she said, you’ll need to see the doctor and have it X-rayed. It seemed a fair assessment. There were four other injured parties in there. It shouldn’t be too long, the nurse said, we’re fairly quiet.
After about an hour the pain was getting too much for Jill to bear so I hailed a nurse and he gave Jill some painkillers, which helped. After about another hour and a half we finally got to see the doctor. You’ll need that X-rayed, he said. So we went back into the waiting room and waited. Only twenty minutes this time. After the X-ray we had to go and wait in the waiting room again.
An hour later we saw the doctor. It’s not broken, he said, just put it in a Tubular Bandage (great album BTW), take painkillers and we’ll give you some crutches. The swelling and bruising should go down in a couple of days.
To be fair – we only had to wait another half an hour for the bandage and the crutches.
We were there four and a half hours. Ridiculous. On the way out we passed someone who had come in with a badly scratched arm. He’d set up a little tent outside and was brewing up a cup of tea on a small camp fire. He was expecting to be seen around September!
Then, last night, at around 9.30, we had a power cut. We often get them – being out in the country and all. So we lit lots of candles and waited. Jill was giving a radio interview on the phone at 11 so she assembled her notes and lots of candles, found a phone that didn’t need electricity, got her foot comfy on a stool and waited. No power and so she did the interview by candlelight.
Woke up this morning. Still no power. We’re all electric here in the country. So - what do you miss most when the electricity goes down? A cup of coffee. I was about to fire up the barbecue when the power finally returned. Desperate or what?
All back to normal now, though. And the computer’s working again too. (That broke yesterday – turns out to be the monitor so I’ve borrowed the monitor from Jill’s office.)
Hey ho. A week in the life. No poems on this blog. I’ll sort something out for the next one. Can’t think what to write about…

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Tale of Edward and Lizzie

Well, while the country regains its breath after the bombings, life goes on. The G8 summit seems to be going well, with a lot of aid promised, cancelling of third world debt happening, and leaders moving on Fair Trade and London has been awarded the 2012 Olympics – what a week, eh? And Gerrard is staying with Liverpool FC! Right now I’m listening to the BBC3 recordings of the Live8 concerts, which I’m recording for Jill who’s in Nottingham tonight. Coldplay on right now on the TV in the room next door to Jill’s office where I’m writing this. I think Canada looked like it had the best concert, the crowd having a ball and some great bands. Just caught Deep Purple yesterday. Did I ever tell you I used to be in a Deep Purple Tribute Band?
Meanwhile – I’m not sure if the Radioblog is working. Maybe I need to rethink the whole thing. Nearly the first anniversary of my blog. Some blog-acquaintances gone now, new ones will no doubt take their place. It’s a funny old thing – the blog - as if life.

The Tale of Edward and Lizzie

Edward moved with casual ease
Ideas tumbled with the breeze
Lizzie sat with tied constraint
Words pulled tight enough to faint

Edward called the clouds to tango
Melodies danced round his hands
Lizzie painted with precision
Dotted Ts and polished sand

It was obvious to the world
Watching from another place -
Lizzie struggling with a thimble
Ed demolishing a case -

That the pair were most unlikely
Lovers. They'd not travel far.
The world would watch their love unravel
Like a disintegrating star

But Lizzie gave Edward direction
Focus - and a place to start.
Ed gave Lizzie fire and passion
Opened doors within her heart.

Now Edward studies microcosms
Know the secrets deep within
Lizzie lies beneath the stars
And kisses Edward on the chin

From Searching For Blue Sea Glass (the book) available from
Rabbit Press

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Half Rhymes

Like the picture you show Miss Card
Who says, That isn’t too bad

Or the present you give Aunt Flower
Who says, That isn’t my colour

Or when your best friend is playing catch
And she says, If you like, you can watch

Or the day that you thought wouldn’t come
And you walk to school on your own

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Old Flatfish

A piano sat in the corner
I must have transported it
The hundred odd miles from the South
To the Midlands
But, no, that bundle of images
Is not there any more
Probably being recycled as we speak
It may turn up

And why am I writing this?
A memory sparked by a melody?
Is that why I’m writing this?
For warm glows and the sad regrets?
I’m not sure.

I was staying above a shop.
What did it sell?
Decorating stuff, paint, wallpaper.
I think.
What can I remember?
One wall was banana yellow.
The bed was a mattress on the floor.
My guitar, of course.
My stereo – as we called record players then.
And the piano in the corner.

I wrote a song
With descending notes.
Lower and lower.
Down to depths hidden.
I liked the words
But never knew what they meant.
Never imagined I’d be turning them over in my head
In the next millennium, more than thirty years
In the future

Listen to the death of old flatfish
My oh my
He has a long way to float
Listen to the death of old flatfish
My oh my
Old flatfish flies by boat

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Questions and Answers

Here are five questions set for me by Transience. If you’d like me to ask you five questions you only have to ask. I’ll try and personalise them, as Transience has done, but I won’t try and match her dedication to the Blog. So it’ll be the first 3 of you to apply. You will then have to publish the questions and answers on your blog and pass the invitation on. Here we go then…

1 - your new radio blog sounds really interesting. could you describe it for me? answer in haiku, please.

a regular blog
with added radio waves
as well as broadband

and if you take part
you might find your words voiced
by a famous actor

2 - if it is indeed true that peter piper chose a large number of peppers that had been soaked in vinegar and spices, where are they? i'd have to ask why they got there in the first place, too, you know.

The rhyme started out as an example in a book of pronunciation published in 1813. No one knows who Peter was or why he was given the task of choosing the peppers and what happened to them. I think he probably went to the pepper shop with his mum who said, Pick us some peppers, Peter. Then, on the way home they were stolen by a pepper thief. Eventually they would have been eaten by the thief and his mates, possibly stuffed with stolen hamster meat or similar.

3 - you are allowed only one wonky journey in your life. your survival kit is composed of one poem, one literary work, one song and one art piece. identify what the poem, literary work, etc. will be. how will these help you survive?

Tricky. Does one go for nostalgia? Or something that will release its pleasure slowly? Something short or long? Only one poem. I’d have to think about this a long time before I could decide. It might be Roger McGough or e.e. cummings or maybe something that would take some unpicking like a poem by Don Paterson. The literary work is slightly easier. I’d probably choose the Gormenghast trilogy. It would remind me of my youth, help me pass the time, and it’s a big, densely packed book so it would bear several readings and to keep me going for a long while. The song would be Strawberry Fields Forever. To cheer me up, remind me of good times, to astound me with its cleverness and the genius of the song structure, and to remind me how a good song lyric ought to be written. I’ve been listening to it for over thirty years now. Scary. And probably sad. The art piece? Hmm… how to fit it into my travelling kit. Something small. Maybe something tactile. A small bhudda. Someone who also once went on a very wonky journey. I’d like its contemplative nature.

4 - damn right i got the blues. but i want to shake them off. what is the best remedy for a girl who pedals constantly in search of norway?

Well, where or what is norway and why are you searching for it? I’d need to know that first – then it would be a pleasure and an honour to help.

5. you don't think roses-are-red-type verses very original. but they seem to be everywhere. would you rather be non-original and enduring or original and forgotten? why?

That’s not a fair question. Obviously I want to be original and enduring. I guess that the options you give are better than being non-original and forgotten. Okay – I’ll go for original and forgotten. The human race will be forgotten one day. One day the solar system will be consumed by the sun. One day even the universe will probably cease to exist. So, I’ll take my day now, thankyou.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Thanks for the questions
How did I do?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Chrome and Glass

I would stand on a hill in Umbria
hoping for an early glimpse

of the wild boar

I would sit in the shade
of unfamiliar trees
by the pool,
sip a cold beer
and watch you swim towards me,
glistening in the bare sunlight

scattering tiny rainbows

I would breath in the scent of wild thyme
and woodsmoke,
watch the swallows dart and chase
through the lessening light
see the stars appear
in the valley below

If I were in Italy right now
Instead of Milton Keynes
Instead of in this Novotel
Instead of in this restaurant
Instead of at this small table
writing this poem
and waiting for my pudding

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Swimming Pool Tear

When you wrote me that letter
Saying goodbye
A swimming-pool tear
Fell from my eye

It splashed on the floor
It flooded the room
It drowned my dog
Of an afternoon

The salt water stream
Ran out on the street
Like the rush of a stranger
You don’t want to meet

It ran down the drain
With a choke and a sigh
Like the words on the letter
When you said goodbye

Fancy being on the radio? Check out Radio Blog

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A New Blog

Well, I'm back from my travels and will be doing the rounds later, visiting blogland. I expect everyone will have done lots of amazing things, started lots of new and fascinating discussions, written new poems and fallen in love, fallen out of love and probably fallen over. I wrote a few poems while I was away - so I'll hopefully be knocking them into shape and posting some of them here.

Meanwhile I was talking to a friend of mine who's a radio producer and we thought it might be fun to write something for the radio based on blogging. Maybe a play, a drama, a comedy - maybe a soap. Then we thought - why not create a blog for that purpose and use it as the basis of the programme. And that's what we've done. It may work - it may not. But it should be fun.
So if you'd like to contribute visit
Radio Blog

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wonky Journeys

Just a quick note before I leave for Cornwall (not Devon at all) and the last stint of the current school visits - mind you, I'll also be looking up a couple of old friends.

Great reaction to Wonky Finger! You can read a fab review at
The Utility Fish Shed - thanks to CJ. And some equally fine comments from Liam at The End of the Pier Show

Meanwhile - had a very funny poem sent in to the
Poetry Zone by Asley Iam (aged 12)

Rose are red
Violets are blue
The zoo called
They're looking for you

Usually I don't post these Roses are red type verses because they're not very original - it must be the corniest little Valentine's verse ever. But here's the challenge. Can you come up with an original one? Something new?

Back next week when I hope to visit everyone's blogs and catch up with all the thrilling news here in Blogland.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Travelling Poet

I’m off on my teaching travels for the next couple of weeks – Milton Keynes, Wolverhampton, Devon, Rainham – all over the place – spreading the word in schools. I’ll try and do a bit of blogging in between times – but may not manage it. If I haven’t dropped by your blog for a while – or if I don’t visit in the next couple of weeks - forgive me. Hopefully I can catch up on all the blogging news when I return.

Below is a poem I published nearly year ago when I began this blog. New readers might enjoy it.

And also to say that you can now listen to some samples of Wonky Finger on the Rabbit Press website. Let me know what you think.

See you soon.


I’ve had a stack.
Too many to mention, really.
Girls in the main.
They say that it’s a knack
I never was a flirt
I mastered that too late.
A shame.
I could have taken centre stage
Won them over with a well-worked speech, I’m sure
Or hammed it up
Or dazzled with a fancy line of dialogue
Or pratfall (actually I tried that – just got hurt)
My mind was dancing
My head was thinking of the craic
For that’s what being young is for
In truth I was too self-absorbed
Assembling the programme
I didn’t see the exit sign
Above the door

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Cider House Days

I remember the cider house
Where the ring roads met and circled
Where I met Sam

There was little joy there
Where the old boys with the sour apple scent
Sat at the wet wooden tables

And the desperate laughter
Getting more maniac with every sip
More intense

Until we tripped arm-linked hell-bent
Into the high-pitched singing air
of Birmingham

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Finchley Encounter

He opened his mouth
and a bird flew out

I think it was a wren
It was small and brown anyway

I know that sounds a little vague
but to tell you the truth I was startled

Are you a magician? I asked
He smirked and shook his head

He bent and picked up a discarded note
Is this yours?

I swallowed. Now it was my turn
to shake my head. We parted

I walked into the Swan
and ordered a swift half

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Live at Staplecroft Village Hall

Posted by Hello

Here it is then - at last!. The project that began nearly a year ago when I bought a little electronic box that enabled me to record directly on to my PC.
It started out as a verse novel about a group of teenagers who formed a band. I wrote about a dozen or so songs for it on holiday in France last summer. But the story run out of steam. So I decided to record the songs anyway. The band were going to be The Mighty Molecules. But, after lots of arguments in the pub, they settled on Wonky Finger.
Jill said of my first recorded effort that it sounded like it had been recorded in a village hall. Aha, I though - then that’s what I’ll do. Make it a live album. The awful acoustics in the hall will surely make up for my technical deficiencies.
If you're interested you can buy the album – or swap for something similar (your album – or maybe a compilation you’ve made) at Rabbit Press Regular visitors can contact me at the Rabbit Press e-mail address to swap. Oh, and the CD comes in a little hand made case.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Blur of Sea Bass

I am sitting in Bella Pasta
without my glasses
I left them in my hotel room

The waiter explains the specials
and reads me the menu
which is in particularly small and blurry print

The tables and chairs are polished beech
The ambience is chrome and glass
Light fizzes playfully on the cutlery

I dip my rustic bread into the dish
of virgin olive oil and sweet balsamic
and savour the warm Shiraz

From this commanding street-corner seat
I watch Wolverhampton and the world
pass before the large windows

The evening traffic is heavy
A motorcycle roars past the
Harley Davidson Motor Cycle Shop opposite

The first course arrives. Arranged artfully
around a bed of rocket (rained-upon

with olive oil) four thin slices of succulent duck

A quartered fig sits on the rocket
and a fold of Parma ham perches upon the fig
My taste buds swoon, recover, swoon some more

I finish the generous glass of red
I order another. The young Italian waitress
has an intoxicating scent

A truck rumbles past the
Harley and Japanese Cruiser Specialists
Two teenagers slouch past The Tattoo Palace

I am regretting my lost youth
I want another chance. A few more chances, actually.
So much to do. So much to taste.

The sexy waitress brings the sea bass
It lounges on a bed of asparagus
dripping warm flavours over the crisply turned
vegetables around which laps

the sweet, tangy sauce,
redolent of dusty Mediterranean holidays

And I am losing the poem

the form, the style
the plot

Any moment now I shall be rhyming
I finish the second or fourth glass of Shiraz
I order chocolate ice-cream
I stare at the old people, lining up
by the door of the Flame and Lily Nursing Agency

I sign the bill
but have no idea what I’m signing
up for

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Cold Poem

Some mornings
When the cold creeps into the warm corners
That you’ve been saving
And you’ve nothing to say
And even less to write
And the wind is from the North East
And the clouds have spent their grey snow
You stand against the radiator on the landing,
The halfway point,
Scribbling these words
Gazing through the window
At the ripped and naked hoarding
On the freezing street
At a loose, brown bird
Chipping at a cracked paving stone
At the hole left by rhyme and reason

Poetry, you write, is easy to define
By its absence.
But you are thinking about the bed you recently left
Her hot afterglow
And soon the bathroom floor
Cold marble beneath colder feet

More Train Conversations

Hi, yeah, nah – it’s little Bill
he didn’t say nuffink
yeah, Tunbridge Wells
Nah – Wobbler
yeah, me an’ Wobbler
Nah – why would I say anyfink about that?
Think of all the skirt
we’re gonna pull in Tunbridge Wells
yeah, gaggin’, yeah, that’s right
me an’ Wobbler
yeah, sweet

The train slows
We’re approaching the station
I smile at the woman opposite
She smiles back, a knowing smile
Tunbridge Wells, eh?
It seems unlikely
They’ll even make it through customs

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Story So Far

Do you remember
At the beginning of the story
how I caught my reflection
in the bedroom mirror?
Do you remember
that I noticed how tall I was,
that I had dark hair
falling loosely over my collar
and smouldering eyes?
How I dressed casually, but smartly
keeping one step
ahead of the fashion crowd?
How I smiled at my reflection,
noting my bulbous nose
and long sideburns
framing my generous face,
a smile that said
You are one cool dude
and you know you are?

Well, I caught my reflection again,
this time in the window
of a back street café
where I am sheltering from the rain
and sipping a scalding hot cappuccino.
Maybe it’s the way I’m sitting
but I look much shorter,
and my hair is grey and thinning.
I’m wearing a heavy woollen coat
that belonged to my father,
a fashion that hasn’t yet swung around.
My nose, too, seems narrower, more angular,
and my lips are thinner,
my smile slightly lopsided,
like a rowing boat as you step in.

And I wonder
Am I the same person?
Or am I someone else,
who has wandered into the story
by mistake?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Danny Chaucer (1)

Having posted some children’s poems from my two solo collections I thought maybe I'd post some poems from my other book – this one is for teenagers. It’s called The Journal of Danny Chaucer (Poet). The poems form a narrative. The narrative is based my own teenage years - the seemingly hopeless quest for a girlfriend and the band that I started with some mates. I've hopefully disabled comments on parts 2, 3 and 4 and so any comments should all be together, below. I've also put a link after part four. Please excuse this blatant consumerism. But a poet cannot live by rhyme alone...

Alarums Stage Left

Why does the firebell ring?
When Jenny and I
Are halfway through
An experiment to determine
(if she fancies me, really,
deep down)
The coefficient of expansion
Of various metals that
(she has a lovely figure
all curves
and light-brown hair
so soft
I can hardly keep from
running my hands through...)

Mr Paine yells
It’s probably just a practice.
Leave your coats and bags and...
His voice is drowned
In the noisy tide of Special Needs
Sweeping past like excited elks
In the corridor.
I hope it’s a real fire, I say to Jenny.
Of course you don’t!
People would get hurt.
Smoke. Suffocation...

We join the flood of students
And I lose her in the jostle
And noisy chatter
We go Down the Up stairs
(Which in these circumstances
We’re allowed to do)
But then I remember Tommy.
Where is he?
He’d never manage the crowd
With his leg in plaster.
And what if it’s not a practice?
What if it’s real?

I wait at the bottom of the stairs
Until the crowds have gone
And suddenly all is eerily deserted
And is it my imagination
Or can I smell smoke?
No sign of Tommy.
I rush up the stairs
Along the corridor.
I’m sure I can smell smoke.
And in to the classroom.
Empty - just a slew of bags
And coats.
No Tommy!
I rush back down the stairs
And out on to the playground.
My class see me and they all cheer.
Mrs Taggert tut tuts.
And there’s Tommy, grinning.
I went back for you, I yell,
In case it was a real fire.
I thought you’d need help!
It’s okay, he says,
We went down the other stairs.
Jenny lent me
A hand.

Danny Chaucer (2)

Poem to Jenny

I sit by the window
As the sky grows dark
Watching the road
From your house to the park

As you walk past the window
You see me and grin
I glance up - our eyes meet -
I wave - Come on in!

I open the front door
My face has gone red
I bring us two drinks
(There is much left unsaid)

There’s a film at the Showcase
We both want to see
I suggest that we go there
You quickly agree

I sit by the window
The street lights come on
If you had passed - I wonder
What would I have done?

Girl Talk
(Poem unfortunately found by Jenny
in my notebook and read by all her friends)

Girl talk
All about shopping
Who’s dating Namalee
What did Alyx say to Lee
Girl Talk
Make up
Who fancies Kerrie
What did Martin say to Emily
Girl talk
Make up
Boring as watching
A brick on a chair
Chit chat
Soap dish
I sometimes wish
I was somewhere

Boy Talk
(Written in my notebook
by Jenny Keane)

Boy talk
All about football
Who scored the goal
And bugger all
(Excuse my French)

I could say more
But please don’t tempt me
It’s basically
Their brains are empty !

Danny Chaucer (3)

The Very Worst News

Bad News
Like a seaside hotel with no sea views
Bad News
Like a crossword with no clues
Bad News
Pants too loose and too tight shoes
Bad News
When you never win and always lose
Really -
B-a-d N-e-w-s

Tommy rang to say
He’d had everything he wanted for Christmas
And what was that? I asked cheerily,
Not anticipating the kick in the shins
The sledgehammer blow to the head
The punch in the solar plexus
The meteorite about to obliterate the Earth
He said,
For Christmas I had

Danny Chaucer (4)

I said to Tommy Lock
I’m thinking of forming a band
Whaddya think?
Punk? He enquired
Boogie-woogie, Hip-hop?
70s influenced? Retro rock?
Acid-soul-house-jazz or pop?
Heavy metal? Hard core? Slash?
60s, flower-power, disco, soul?
I shrugged, You know. Just rock ‘n’ roll.

Wanted to Rock

The ad on the Music Department
Notice board read -
Drummer and Keyboard player
For Exciting New Band
Influences Oasis
Deep Purple
And Led Zeppelin
(although Anna
thought that the inclusion
of the last two was rather sad
and wasn’t sure if anyone
would have heard of them)
( Tho’ Mr “Mickey” Most, Head of Music, had)

To find out more or to buy
The Journal of Danny Chaucer (Poet) CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ivor Cutler

I was at a school in Tunbridge Wells today. On the way I saw half a magpie, stuck to the road. Oh, I thought. That must mean I'm going to have a moderately average day.

Meanwhile - I’ve just been watching the BBC4 programme about Ivor Cutler. He came up in my writing class a few weeks ago. The question was asked - is he a poet? Well, I think so. But he’s much more than that. The programme was excellent with contributions from Billy Connelly, Paul McCartney and others. It was followed by his last public performance.


The sun disappointed me so I crawled under the ground. There was neither night nor day. I did not know when to sleep. My sandwiches ran out. The temperature was even. I could not be alone - an animal was always bursting in and with a muttered apology was gone. The same with insects. Yet the cool earth was to my taste and up above like madmen life went on. Only once did I return, for some underwear.

There are some music clips on amazon. If you’ve not heard him see what you think and report back. If you have – then enjoy!

The music of Ivor Cutler

Monday, April 25, 2005

Escape Plan and Introducing Dad

Been away from the computer for a while but looking forward to visiting a few blogs and catching up. Work’s more or less up to date and so I’m thinking about a new writing project. Not sure what it will be yet. This week I hope to finish the Live at Staplecrust CD. Mind you, I’ve said that before.
Visited a couple of primary schools last week. One – a school in a run-down part of London – was excellent, lots of enthusiasm from teachers and kids, dynamic, if slightly laid-back, head – had a great time – the other, in a smart area of London, well-dressed, well-monied kids – not so good. Badly organised, ineffective teachers, head with limp handshake… just goes to show.
Another little train incident (see earlier blogs). Got the train from Charing Cross. It forgot to stop at Waterloo. Great consternation from passengers waiting to get off. Especially when the guard said the next stop would be High Brooms – around 50 minutes away. The collective gasp in the carriage was something to behold. But then they managed to arrange with the signalman to stop at London Bridge, a few minutes away. Just forgot…
A couple more children’s poems then, before I return to the more adult (or are they?) poems.

Escape Plan

As I, Stegosaurus
stand motionless
in the museum
I am secretly planning
my escape.

At noon
Tyrannosaurus Rex
will cause a diversion
by wheeling around the museum’s high ceilings
and diving at the curators and museum staff
while I
quietly slip out of the fire exit
and melt
into the London crowds

Introducing Dad

If I may, Miss
I’d like to introduce my Dad
Mum left us last year
And that made him really sad
He told me you were pretty
And his favourite colour’s beige
And it isn’t that uncommon
To date women half your age
And we all know that he’s bald
Beneath that funny flick of hair
You just have to humour him
And pretend his hair’s all there
His feet smell a bit funny
And his brain’s a trifle slow
And you haven’t got a boyfriend, Miss
So… could you please give Dad a go?

For more info click on
The Monster That Ate the Universe

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Teacher said,
Leave out the the,
two too's one too too many
and and after the comma
should go after the any.

The the, the too -
and move the and
and that should make it flow.
Not that that, that that's fine -
but this that, that could go.

I said,
The the, the too, the and -
I would agree with you.
But I'm very fond of that -
this that and that that too.

Which that is that?
Is that this that?
Asked teacher with a grin.
Okay - but take that last in out
And leave that last out in.

From I Did Not Eat the Goldfish
Available from Amazon Click Here

Friday, April 15, 2005

Shout Hurrah

Shout hurrah
For the first open-eyed view
Of the woken room

Cry hooray
For the slap of bare feet on cold tiles
And the first sip coffee

Chirrup with joy
As the pulling of curtains
Reveals a blue sky
And the boisterous birds
Give the world an earful

Sing ooh-la-la!
As a splash of warm sunlight
Sprays her naked body

Raise the roof
As she opens her eyes
Sees me and says
Why are you so bloody cheerful?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

My Love

I am the warm duvet
Patterned with tulips
Wrapped around
Your sleeping body

I am the cup of tea
Waiting by the clock
I am the tick of the clock
Barely perceived

I am the curtains
Hiding the morning light
The cloud shadows
Sweeping the ocean’s surface

I am the speck of sleep dust
On your eyelid
The moisture
On your lip

I am the sigh
The stretch
The blur of vision
The remnants of fading dream

I am
The first kiss
Of a new together day

Meanwhile - I'm still checking your top fives - see the post before last.
It's been great fun!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Scale of My Love

On a scale of one to nine
I love you twenty three
On a scale of grass to dandelion
I love you tree
On a scale of drip to puddle
I love you sea
My love for you is off the scales
You weigh the world to me

On a scale of nudge to bump
I love you ricochet
On a scale of sigh to smile
I love you hip hooray
On a scale of each second lived
I love you every day
On a scale of here to there
I love you all the way

Meanwhile - carry on contributing your Top Fives!
I’m enjoying them – as I hope everyone else is! (See previous post below)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Top Five Fun

One of my very first blog posts was my top five poetry books. Which made sense, as the blog was going to be a place to publish my grown-up poetry.
But a few years ago I ran a little mail art project inviting people to submit top five lists. The resulting booklet was very interesting. So I thought I might repeat the exercise again as a blog. And here it is…

Send your Top Fives here!
They can be straightforward lists like –

My Top Five Beatles Songs

1 Strawberry Fields Forever
2 I Am the Walrus
3 Something
4 Hey Jude
5 She Loves You

or be more obscure. For example –
My Top Five Surfaces

1 Old wooden table top
2 Good-quality, white drawing paper
3 Manicured lawn
4 A hot cotton under sheet in the depths of winter
5 The surface of the Moon on a crystal-clear night

I’m looking forward to reading yours.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fear of Lifts

Am I more scared than you?
Not scared, perhaps, just very nervous,
As they trundle you into the lift.

The nurse asked you
A hundred questions
About allergies
When you last ate and drank
Did you have any loose teeth
But she didn’t ask
About your claustrophobic
Fear of lifts.

You smiled
As they wheeled you away
Reassuring me
A small and routine operation
Half an hour
And you’ll be back
Dozy, no doubt, and smiling

Having braved the lift

Only twenty five more minutes
To wait then.
How these absences
Remind me of our love.

And when you return
With your smile
The weights that hang
Along the edges of my self
Are lifted

But then surgeon says
I’m afraid it’s a little more complicated
Than first we thought

Friday, March 25, 2005

Losing Track

I’m composing a note
With a heavy pen
An empty station glides by
A sprawl of factories
Suspended in the middle distance
And then canals
Pylons, B&Q, motorways bend
Back lit by a low-slung blazing sun
A confetti of silver birch trees
An empty sky
Saves a vapour trail for later
The Virgin train
Trundles through Heaton Chapel
Rib of chatter
Spotlights in near empty carriage
Park and dogs
Littered track
Houses tucked beneath the bank
Young lad heads for home
In kit with low-slung black bag
Bright red bin with silver graffiti
Tired shops
Not so pretty lives
We slow and slide into the station
I stare
At the blank page

Saturday, March 19, 2005


A black wind
Gusted in from the sea
And salted our dreams
As we slept
Between blue sheets

I stood on a transparent beach
And gazed down
At the lugworms
And molluscs
Floating beneath me

You walked towards me
Shimmering with heat
Without your shell

I woke
And listened to the troubled flight
Of the owls
Heading for the island
Heading for home

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Mime

A white dog hunts for his master, the Mime
A young piano accordionist jigs about
Showing up his father with flash arpeggios

A February evening
And we are sitting at an outside table
Overlooking the Piazzo Della Fiori

The friendly flat-faced waiter
Suggests Jill might like a whisky
She settles for a Martini

The Mime makes absolutely no sense
And we struggle to find the lost plot
I guess it doesn’t translate too well from the Italian

The scent of roses rises from the market stalls
We give the Mime a Euro
The Gods of Silence mark time

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Sistine Chapel

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
The Akia crowd carries us forward
Towards the Sistine Chapel
At an excited snail’s pace
It seems like we c
over every exalted inch
Of the four miles of Vatican corridors
Gazing at tapestries, details, paintings, reliefs
And potted New Testament histories

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
We shuffle on our pilgrimage
And I lift my feet and the crowd carries me towards the Big Match
Towards the Sistine Chapel
Delighted that Michelangelo has passed a late fitness test

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
We finally decant into the Sistine Stadium
And the room, and ceiling, is breath-taking, and beautiful
And we gasp, as do the other five hundred tourists,
Crammed onto the terraces, moving towards the touchline
No cameras! No cameras! bark the officials
But everyone’s holding out a phone
As if to bless the ceiling
Or catch a whisper from God
Sending the great story though the firmament
To the folks back home who couldn’t afford the ticket prices
And to all those outside, anxious to hear the half-time score
And little flashes flicker over the crowd
Like incandescence on the waters
Where Jesus might have walked

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
We later pass the secret rooms of the Vatican
The closed bookcases and arcane ledgers
We browse the many retail opportunities
Gather our bags from the cloakroom
And are spewed into the reality
Of a cold and refreshing Roman rain
And the voices in the market place cry
Buy the Pope’s Likeness!
Buy a Virgin Mary key ring!
Buy an umbrella!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Rome Arrival

Late evening
and we arrive at the Colosseum Metro
to the applause of thunder and heavy rain
But as luck would have it
an umbrella salesman is at hand
to sell us an umbrella

We wake to sunshine
And the knock of hammer
and cold chisel on old stone
Through our fourth floor window
We glimpse the Forum
I doubt if they’ll finish repairing the lift
before the end of our stay

Rome Dream

I dreamt of Joseph
A crow was circling
and Joseph had made the crow
his friend

Now that I’m wider than awake
I wonder who the crow signifies
Joseph’s mother?
His girlfriend?

Or maybe it was just the usual
random fragments of my imagination

Now, as I walk along the ruins
of the Forum
I watch a piebald crow
picking over Rome’s bones.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jerez Flamenco

Sharp beggars who shake their pesetas to shame you
And children who chase through the afternoon’s litter
See high-heeled young chicas with phones on their earlobes
The splash of the water below the stone general
In Jerez the home of Flamenco and Sherry

We sit in the cool of abandoned bodega
And sip at the table of Pepe Gonzalez
Outside in the night air the festival ferments
The bright lights are neon, the costumes all shimmer
And everything here in this world is inverted

The houselights are dimming, the stage lights are dawning
The flamenco baby, his guitar awaking
His face is a mirror, his fingers are slender
He trills the cool waters, he plucks a small fish
And his thoughts hit the air with a cascading thunder

A young man arrives like a bull in a temple
He paces the ground and his eyes are the soldiers
Who seek out the peasants who helped the stone general
He tells of his love for a shy senorita
She hides in the ruins of Alcalzar fortress

And teases and wails that her village is ruined
Her brothers are dead and her father is dying
He begs her to love him, she says that she cannot
Her heart is the dust that blows cold from the mountains

She raises her hand and she turns to the shadows
And spins to the sunlight and treads the grapes under
Her heels are the echoes of vultures and buzzards
Of gunshot and cannon. Reflects in the eyes
The bright fire of the young man, her fingers catch bullets

The dance of flamenco, as wild as the wind
And as crazy as fire and her heart is a mouse
In the vaults where the barrels of sherry are resting
Like graves in the darkness of Pepe Gonzalez

The youth with the guitar, his fingers spark lightning
The lovesick young man is dancing El Torro
He gives his life gladly, his heart and his soul
But the heartbroken girl succumbs to his passion
Too late.

As the doves on the general of stone
Fly up to the moon that is brimming with blood
And the stars spell flamenco
The click and the clack of the rhythms and circles
And crazy inversions
Flamenco my lover
Flamenco my saviour


Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Stormy Afternoon

The thin light
beneath the jungle canopy
The mud where pond worms
swim and squirm
A dusty tomb
The hole in the clay bank
and the badger's tail at dusk

Tales of deception,
revenge and lust
Impenetrable shadows
as you walk across the midnight park
I hope you like my poem
even though it is a little dark


The sallow-faced man
stood in the doorway
a knife in hand
watching me

I looked past him
aware of his scrutiny

I could see the naked flesh
hanging from steel hooks
in the neon light

I said,
I think I’ll plump
for the sausages

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

On Time

Five o-clock
In these Italian hills
The birds hide in the mountain oaks
A cuckoo calls high upon
A distant wire
We reach for the binoculars
But the rogue’s gone
Hans says
Now we’ll have to wait an hour
For another

Facial Tear

I failed to catch
The spinning bottle
Of sun-tan oil properly
And now have
A tiny red moustache

This will produce
A small scar
Not unlike Harry Potter’s
After his confrontation with

Three Star Luxury

It’s half term in the UK and so no school visits. A whole week of writing. (Hurrah!) The good news is I’ve finally worked out how to revise “The Story” (see earlier blogs) to make it (hopefully) work.
I was at a school in Wakefield, Yorkshire on Friday. I stayed in a very interesting hotel. The lift was covered in pine tongue and groove, fitted by some drunk TV presenters on a makeover show I think. The neon light was jammed in place with a strip of wood. And the little metal plate that tells you the floor you’re on had been stuck directly on to the wood over the door. It wasn’t connected to anything.
There was also no remote control for the TV. But the TV didn’t have the programmes that the brochure claimed anyway, so that was okay. No Sky Sports channels. I asked the guy at reception for a new remote and he said, Well, some of the rooms don’t have them because people take them. That’s okay then.
The soap dispenser came off in my hand. How I chuckled. Maybe I’d strayed into a cartoon hotel.

It was so shabby and dowdy. I didn’t eat in the dark and gloomy restaurant. I found a very nice Italian restaurant instead. But I did eat my breakfast there.
After breakfast I was waiting for the lift to come – I’d only been waiting about five minutes – when I fell into conversation with a couple. He said, I think we’re in the hotel California. I said I hope not. I want to leave.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I caught my reflection
On the Northern Line
My face in the glass
The rushing tunnel behind me
And I looked sad

I’ve always looked thoughtful
Serene, even.

As I write this
In the British Library café
I force a smile
In case anyone is watching me
In case I am being written
Into a writer’s notebook
To become a minor character
In a fiction.
Not the sad guy on the underground
But the man with the foolish grin
Glancing suspiciously around.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This Book Begins

This book begins
With a mad rush for the train.
The alarm wakes me.
I wash, shower, dress
Black trousers, orange shirt, yellow socks.
Smooth operation.
I’m early.
I have time to spare.
I sip my coffee.
Check the map.
But time concertinas.
Maybe time saxophones.
Either way I’m in a hurry now.
Time metronomes.
I’m leaving the house.
My glasses!
They are in my dressing gown pocket
On the back of the bedroom door.
I run up the stairs.
I’m moving fast.

Time is a foxtrot.
There’s a heavy frost.
I start the car.
The windscreen is an iced cake.
The de-icer’s in Jill’s car.
The key’s on my key ring

In the ignition.
I turn off the engine.
Find the de-icer.
De-ice the windows.
Now the car won’t start.
I have to de-activate the thief lock.
I manoeuvre through the gate.
Close the gate.

I wait for the de-icer to kick in.
Time is a mazurka.

Time is a polka.
Luckily there’s no traffic at six in the morning.
Luckily the station car park ticket machine works this time.
Luckily there’s no queue at the ticket office.
The level crossing’s down.
I can hear the train coming.
I run over the bridge.
Catch the train

On the last note of the final coda.
Organise myself,
My hat, coat, case, book
And notebook.
I’m starting a new notebook today.
The phrase, This book begins
With a mad rush for the train
Comes into my head.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


I’m sorry, son,
For all I said

Harry Potter’s brilliant
I love the way
He’s always one step ahead

Is sharp, clever
There’s no doubt whatsoever
That, by now, without her
Harry would be dead

And the other one, Harry’s friend
The perfect foil, loyal to the end
The butter on Harry’s bread

And I love the way the books are written
I’d say the they’re best books that I’ve ever read

Now, son, please
Unlock the door
And let me out the shed

The Marker of Graves

The marker of graves
Sings songs by the Beatles
And remarks upon the weather

The manager of letters
Winds down
With a little Bach

The cleaner of windows
Writes his memoirs
Life is a Chamois Leather

The catcher of dogs
Puts her feet up
In the churchyard
And examines her sandwich
For bugs

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Disappearing School.

I was at a school near Leyton today in East London. Nice school but pretty poor area.
I went by tube. When I arrived at where I thought the school was, according to my map, I discovered it was a different school altogether - a school for special needs. So I asked someone where the school I wanted was. He said, "Sorry, mate. I don't know. I've been away. This is the first time I've been here for three weeks." Hmmm... I thought. Must be a very new school.
Then I asked someone else and they pointed at the special needs school and said - That's it!
No it's not, I said. That's a school for special needs.
I eventually found it even though no one seemed to have heard of it.

Up early in the morning. Off to a school in Guildford.


Monday, January 31, 2005


My Blog has disappeared.

What's going on?

Saturday, January 29, 2005


As the wind soared
And sanded our hotel
You woke scared
And we listened to the storm

The wind stole your swimming costume
From the balcony
And tossed it into the night
And lost it

And I held you
As you waited for the tidal wave
That never came


The Fat Lady
Does not disguise
Her lust
As the young monk
Walks past

Close your mouth,
Fat Lady

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Where was my name before it was mine?
It lay in a ditch
Of rotting reeds
Beneath sloughed reptile skins
And pine cones

The clouds that hurried
Moonlit above dark earth
Knew it not
Neither was it voiced in thunder
The wind did not sing it
Nor was it found in the split of a stone

It did not appear on gym kits
Or school registers,
Tax forms, toothpaste surveys
It was not entreated to store credit
Nor digitally encrypted
Nor found on long-expired leases
Nor etched on bone

Other Roger Stevens
Smugly created complicated computer systems
Or archly textured buildings
Or kept themselves to themselves
Or wrote learned theses

Once called, the letters crept from dictionaries,
Or well-worn shiny-edged spelling Bs
Were lifted from lexicons
The Es swanking about, always popular
The V skulking in the corners like a thief

And my name was conjured
From a backwards echo
A retrospective prophecy
A splash of sunlight
On a passing gull’s wing
An overheard remark

In a darkened room

And my name was written
As a forgotten footnote
On the afterward
Of a tumbling leaf

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Sex-o-matic Christmas Gift

For Christmas this year
I was hoping for
A Wilkinson’s Sword Sex-o-matic razor
The world’s first 6 blade razor
With 5 conditioning strips
Giving 4-way directional shave-a-bility
(For everyone’s face is different, unique)
A choice of 3 ergonomic handles
(To give just the right grip for me,
For my hands are different, special, unique)
A choice of 2 colours – macho-maroon
and oh-so-sensitive silver
And a super special offer – a CD
Of sounds to shave to;
A jet plane in quadraphonic detail flying past
A waterfall, with exotic humming bird and elk sounds
A woman’s voice, low and sexy,
Purring in the next room
(Hurry up, big boy!)
And a chill-out track assembled from
The best of Portishead, Moby and Nirvana out takes.

I can’t tell you
How I was looking forward
To unwrapping my Wilkinson’s Sword Sex-o-matic
The world’s first six blade razor
From its special Christmas presentation pack

But alas, I was unlucky
Receiving only books and CDs
And a collection of Argentinean Gold Artefacts
Neatly wrapped in heavy brown calico
With a whiff of diesel oil

Maybe for my birthday in October?
Or, by then, the new Sept-o-matic 7-blader
Might be available
Now that will be a present to remember

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Strawberry Field Gates Posted by Hello

And did those Cuban heels in four four time
Walk along Mathew Street down to
The Cavern, where I’m sitting now
Thinking about the Beatles' fame?
And did the ferry’s chugging beat
Fill Ringo’s head with Mersey sound?
And in the Anglican Cathedral shop?
Did Paul sign postcards with his name?

And passing by the Rubber Soul Café
Did John think that name would make a great LP?
And did George walk these corridors, and once stay in

This Travel Inn - the same as me?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Who Lived in a House Like This? Posted by Hello

The man living in Paul’s house
Looks a bit like Paul
(He may or may not be related.)

John’s house has a blue plaque.
For that honour
You have to be twenty years dead

Ringo’s house has a satellite dish
It is white
And quite understated

George’s house has a nice hanging basket
A purple plastic bag
And it's painted a mystical red

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Back to the Future

Hi, fellow bloggers and interested passers-by. Well, that was a hectic Yule. But a very nice winter break. A very nice visit to meet our old pals and fellow bloggers Michael, Hazel and Archie (see flobberlog blog) – then to other very nice old pals (not quite as old – that is old in the sense of having known them a long time of course) near Manchester – and then a few days in Liverpool which was very nice. We went to an Everton FC match – and watched them win in the last minute of extra time, I got a special hug from the Everton supporter sitting next to me – then we did the tour of Anfield which is, in case you didn’t know, home to the greatest soccer team of all time – L I V E R P O O L . There I touched the precious sign as I walked through the players’ tunnel to the ground and sat in the managers seat in the dug-out. Very nice.

We also visited the two cathedrals, both built last century – so very new. The Anglican cathedral is the second largest in the world and built along traditional lines and the Catholic cathedral looks a bit like a large concrete space capsule from the outside – but is very atmospheric inside – with lots of stained glass and coloured light.

But for me the best bits were the Beatle-related touristy fan-type things. Saw the Fab Four’s birthplaces, went to the Cavern, went on the Beatles tour – stuff like that. It was magical. It was mysterious. It was fab.

So now it’s back to work. Band rehearsal last night where we were filmed for Hungarian TV. It was for Ken, of course, to publicise his new book. They did get a nice shot of my fingers, tho', whizzing up and down the keyboard. It's the Creative Writing course tonight. And at this moment I’m busy trying to gather my working life into some semblance of order. Sort out a few poems for the blog. Sort out what I’m going to be doing over the next few months. But more of that anon – no doubt.
In the meantime – hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start - those of us lucky enough to have that privilege of course.
See you soon.