Tuesday, July 11, 2006


At first
the living
outnumbered the dead.
Back then the wheel was the latest fad
and cooking fish
in the embers of the fire
as the sun set over a sparkling sea
was haute cuisine.

But as the years passed
and the body count grew
there came the moment
when the dead and the living
numbered the same.
And the first questions were asked
and ignored.

So now the teeming dead mock us,
above and below.
And a cup of clean water
is a rare feast
to be gulped in the warming wind
beneath the burning sky.

Monday, July 10, 2006


1 The new book by Billy Collins. The Trouble With Poetry. Are his poems losing their edge? There are, for him, a couple of quite aggressive poems. And a few brilliant poems, too. But so many end in his trademark anti-climax. The cased guitar leaning against the bookcase. The sparrow on the porch roof. Discuss.

2 Despite that – the book has inspired me to write several poems. Including the one below – which you may like to comment on here.

3 Little Onion commented in the haiku flurry (see entry for March 27th) that it was unusual to see haiku keeping to the 5,7,5 syllable count – and somehow not necessary. But I disagree. I think the discipline of the form, together with the need to produce that little frisson of haiku magic – is what makes the haiku so fascinating.

4 England limp out of the World cup (yes, talking soccer here) Was it the fault of Sven, the manager? Was he just not up to it? Bad luck and injuries? Or the cheating Portuguese team? What do you think? And were the Italians worthy winners?

5 And finally – here in the Northern Hemisphere – it’s summer! What are your plans?


A new notebook
full of clean and crisp white pages
sits on the top shelf in my office
and waits patiently

my old notebook is open
on the white duvet that covers my lap,
as time slows,
and the mist on the fields
slowly evaporates
and cars pass,
making an early start to the week.

And as I sip my coffee
the last few empty pages
of my old notebook
also wait patiently
for a new poem,
the fragment of a memory,
a crossword clue, perhaps
a doodle of children
with uncertain hands
or your name
in block capitals
and filled with inky hearts

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Always Chair

When we were kids, eh?
I remember Mum
Rubbing the white burn from the polished table top
With ash and a potato
The smell of polish and boiling clothes
In the copper
And buttered toast
The chatter in the kitchen
Behind every door an adventure

Now Mum sits
In her always chair
Bills and documents to hand
In an awkward cardboard box
The conservatory cuts the light with dust
But there’s nothing to see anymore
The orchard’s gone
Just the blank end wall
Of the town house
Shadowing the ruin
Of Dad’s shed
The smell of cats

I remember those houses going up
Us and all the neighbours
In our gardens complaining
And rightly so

Dad’s chair is empty, of course
Although Mum still chats to his ghost
She has troubling getting about now
And her memory’s no longer a scythe

She sits and knits
And chats to Dad
From her always chair
When we were kids, eh?
Always sunny, never raining
Behind every adventure
A door