Friday, December 30, 2011

Clarinet Lesson

Walking home
After my clarinet lesson

Anticipating supper

Humming the theme
To Coronation Street

I open the door to my first floor flat

A surprise on the stairs
A snake

A hissing, hooded cobra rears
Ready to strike

I reach for my clarinet

Monday, December 26, 2011

Man Goes Into a Pub

I'm waiting for Robb
Nursing a pint
Two men discuss the Arsenal
The conversation goes on for half an hour
And is full of interesting and detailed fact
And conjecture
And opinion

I wonder if Wenger
Might consider
Employing them
In a coaching role maybe
Or as tacticians
Or scouts

Then I think, No
That’s silly
They probably have
Perfectly good jobs

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Poem Is Not Just For Christmas

A poem is not just for Christmas
A poem is for life
It’s for a child, a mum or dad
A husband or a wife
It’s for the changing seasons
For the many, for the few
But this poem is for Christmas
This poem is just for you

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Am the Song of Winter

I am the beard of icicles
That hangs beneath the eaves

I am the rock-hard mud
The frosty crunch of frozen leaves

I am the chilly wind that searches out
The cracks around the door

I am the wet scarf on the radiator
The puddle on the floor

I am the bustling of the birds
The seeds thrown in the snow

I’m the blue tit on the bacon rind
The patience of the crow

I am trees drawn with a fine black nib
Against a troubled sky

I am a pensioner. All alone
As another day creeps by

I’m the awesome silence
When the final snowflake’s fallen

I am the halo round the moon
The dark the day has stolen

Yes, I’m the gloomy afternoon
The leeching of the light

I am the growling, howling song
The wind sings in the night

Sometimes I’m hot buttered toast
As the snowstorm roars outside

But sometimes I’m untimely death
And the feeling hope has died

Monday, December 19, 2011


The hundredth anniversary. Disney
lures the children to the rink
in their satin pinks and creams. Buy an angel
on a stick. Mickey Mouse inflatables
only a tenner. Parents trudging
from the car park. Bambi lying dead beneath
the Christmas crowds. Dreams packaged in silver stars.
You see, it’s not the traffic that is far too loud
for hollow carols. You can’t blame the band.
It’s just the eerie silence of deserted fairyland.

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

What Grandad Did Next

After he’d battled the baddies
Vanquished the knights
And dealt with the dragons
Grandad decided to have a snooze
In the garden

So he fetched the sun lounger from the shed
And set it up
Under the cherry tree
In a patch of shade

He took his shoes and socks off
Lay down
And closed his eyes

But he couldn’t sleep.

He was comfy enough.
The birds were tweeting in the trees
Which was very pleasant.

And he wasn’t too hot.
And he wasn’t too cold.
He was just right.

But something was nagging at him.
A tiny thought in his head.
It was saying, You can’t snooze yet!
There’s something you’ve forgotten.
Something important.

Grandad tried to think what it was.

He’d locked the car door.
Yes, of course he had.

He’d given Granny a kiss
Before she set off for the shops.
Of course he had.

He had put his screwdriver and screws away
After he’d fixed the shelf.
Of course he had.
Granny got cross
If he left his tools lying about.
And he’d changed the light bulb in the bathroom.
So what had he forgotten?

Then he remembered.
Of course!
Grandad sighed.
He put his shoes and socks back on.
He got up from his sun lounger.
And he whistled for his horse.
Then he called for his special assistant, Sammy.

What had he forgotten?
To rescue the maiden in the tower of course.
Come on, Sammy, he said,
Let’s go!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glass Tunnel

In the Sea Life Centre
Is a tunnel of glass
And you can pass beneath shoals
Of silver fish and rays
And sharks

And Harry notes their names
In his book
And Dreamfish

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Paradise Ahead

When I was young
I asked a girl on the bus
Where will you be getting off?

Paradise, she said. But first
I've got to go to Tesco’s

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Water in the Well – a Villanelle

A chance encounter with a Texan Belle
Leads to lunch - the café at the zoo.
You wonder if there’s water in the well.

Do crocodiles get tired? How does one tell?
You wonder what the meat is as you chew.
Most poets write at least one villanelle.

She takes you to the desert. And it’s hell.
Your dry cough’s captured by a camera crew.
You wonder if there’s water in the well.

Back home your life’s a cracked, unpolished shell.
Your Texan babe has left. What does one do?
Most poets write at least one villanelle.

Betrayal. Loss. And loneliness. That sells.
An empty sheet of paper. Start anew.
You wonder if there’s water in the well.
Most poets write at least one villanelle.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Not a Poem About a Fish

A dark red leaf
Falls on my orange shirt
And is blown
Down to the dried-out lawn

There, many dark red leaves
Are snagged by the spiky grass and thistle

A winged insect
Teases pollen from a clover flower
And an ant
Whizzes across the cracks and chasms
Of its giant landscape

And, as often happens,
I am distracted from the poem
That I am trying to compose.

A poem about a fish

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Truth

To be honest
I’m happy to be part
Of the lesser design of things

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Book on Kindle

For anyone with a Kindle - have published a book in that format. You can see it here. More anon, I dare say!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Plum Tree

A photo of the tree
Would certainly save this description
A thousand words – at least.
No need to write cherry plum
Or dark red leaves
Or discuss the depth of shadow
In the French afternoon

A film of the tree would say more, of course.
How its leaves shake and shiver and hiss and rustle
In the blustery wind

But only words will find the thousand tiny plums
Hidden in the dark red foliage
And only words can tell you about its relationships:
To the lawn, the house, the stables
To the bugs and birds who live in it
Or visit it
To people, like myself, who sit beneath its shade
Or contemplate its past, or present, or future.
Who use it, maybe, as the inspiration
For a story. Or a poem such as this.

And words can suggest it role
As a handy backdrop for tales of love, or lust, or loss

How, long ago, a young woman,
On a night lit by stars,
Wearing a white nightdress,
Ran beneath the tree’s branches
Like a ghost
And into my young arms.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Schroedinger’s Coffee

Here’s your coffee, love
Said Shroedinger’s mum

He wondered if it was sugared
And decided that
Until he tasted it

It was neither sugared
Nor un-sugared

Monday, June 27, 2011

Parc Botanique, Tours.

April 2011

The bear pit is empty
Giant slabs of cracked concrete
Litter and weeds

The wallabies say,
Good day, mate.
Good to hear the mother tongue again

I ask the emu,
Sitting on his own, in the wallaby enclosure,
Feathers all shabby and grey,

Don’t you have any friends?
No mate, he says
Only these bloody wallabies

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thirty Five Minute Poem

Thirty five minutes ago
The alarm clock woke me
It was cold
I put on a tee shirt
Went downstairs, made a coffee
Peered through the blind
It was still dark

Half dreams, thoughts, drifting fragments

I watch the clock
It’s five to
I have to get up at eight
The window-fitters arrive at half past

Thirty five minutes to go
The phrase passes by again
And I wonder if there’s a poem there

Probably not

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Tough One

So, you think you’re hard
Said the tortoise
To the rock

The rock
Its own counsel

Thursday, June 09, 2011


As the ball
Hit the bat
The bat
Reflected upon
Its defective

Monday, June 06, 2011

New Look

I have a new eye
Through which you look
As beautiful a being
As I ever beheld

Monday, May 30, 2011

Missing Poem

This poem is missing
This isn’t actually the poem
This is just something
Written in the space
That the poem would have been in
Were it not missing

If you find the missing poem
Please return it
To its rightful place
Right here
And then I can go home

Thank you

Monday, May 23, 2011


Every day Sam (two and a half)
Walks past the building site
Granny asks, What are the builders building?
Sam says, Castle.
And, as the scaffolding rises higher
And indeed
It turns out
To be a castle.

And who will live there, Granny asks
Knights and dragons
And indeed, it turns out
That they do

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thanks a Bunch

I wondered, worried, on the train
About my debts and how to pay my bills
When all at once, as the train slowed down
I saw a bank
Of lovely daffodils

Monday, May 16, 2011


Where are you?
In the dark
What are you doing?
What are you waiting for?
The usual.

Is it night where you are?
Are you below ground?
In space then?
We are all in space.

You’re in a room?
Is there a light switch?
Then turn the light on
It’s broken

Are you alone?
I think so.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Monkees to Gorillaz
Steam to atomic
Hot air to propellers
To jet (supersonic)
News with real news in
To rolling news updates
A shock-horror diet
Best be quick on the uptake
Email and texting
From pigeon and letter
Dark ages, e-pages
Things can only get better

Monday, May 09, 2011

View from Café Window

Black-clad police force
On Canterbury’s main drag
Touting for business

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


I filled the three brass cylinders
Each the length of a hand
With wet mud
And left them overnight

When I emptied them
The next morning
Bizarre creatures
Had hatched in the mud
A black bug, half spider – half nasty
With thin, stingy bits
Squeezed itself from the tube

A coil of wet mud
Became a short, fat snake

Or maybe it was a worm
The dream is already fading

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hotel Blues Again

It’s clear
I am here
Where you are not
And I have got
The Hotel Blues Again

I watch distracted
Hand with pen
Write these words down
I’m in a foreign town
The Hotel Blues Again

The room is fine
The pictures on the wall do not offend
It’s clean, uncluttered
The bed is comfy and the wine
Has travelled relatively well
To dull and spark my brain in turns, I’ve got
The Hotel Blues Again

I phone you
And we chat. The train was late.
And I got wet in unexpected rain
The meal was Thai (red curry – hot)
And it’s not just being here alone
Upon a rock that’s doomed in time and space
In truth I can’t explain
The how or why I've got
The Hotel Blues Again

Monday, April 25, 2011

When Did That Happen?

I’m reading about a parallel universe
When I notice
That the train
Is travelling in the opposite direction

It must have changed direction
While I was in the loo

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Coming Home on the North Downs Line

From the Great Western main line
Cross country in a grubby train
From Reading 4B
A smudgy pencil of a platform
Crossing stockbroken hinterlands
Of pre-fab housing and forsaken warehouses
We shadow the chalk ridge of the Downs
Blackwater North Camp
Trees seem barely able to summon up the energy to bud
Allotments, a glass-less greenhouse
Bungalows and council houses
And an English flag
A tunnel
To the North the Hogs’ back
Scrubby fields
We amble through Chilworth
In the window reflections
A woman in a headscarf
Tucked in to a Brendan Behan polemic
A woman in a pale mac
Leather bag on her lap like a small dog
Engrossed in daily dreams
Dorking Deepdene
Rusty rails
And what do the three horses
Make of us shuffling past
As the cold night approaches?
At last Gatwick
On the Brighton main line

Monday, April 18, 2011


Where can I hide my heart
Those hot and secret feelings?

In a forest of well-loved trees?
In a book of scrawled-upon leaves?
In an abandoned tin in the biscuit cupboard
Where the golden light
Won’t escape the on-tight lid?

Maybe I won’t hide it
Wear it on my sleeve
In the time-honoured
Or attach it to my hat
With an ostentatious silver pin

I’ll keep it in the kitchen drawer
With the out-of-date seeds, the too-short pieces of string
And the plastic bit of something that may be important one day

Yes, I’ll keep it there
Next to yours

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I’m waiting
On the steps for Jill

A young woman
Crosses the road
Gazing at her mobile phone
A big happy grin

Monday, February 14, 2011


As sure as summer
Follows spring
As sure as a pebble
Flies from a sling
As swallows mate
Upon the wing
As Bob and Dorothy
Follow Bing
As Elvis Presley
Was the King
As a ready microwave
Goes ping
As your morning smile
Makes my heart go zing
You dazzle me
Like a rapper’s bling
Because you’re my Valentine
And that’s the thing

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Million Tons of Junk

Look at all that stuff!

Without electricity
It’s nothing but
A million tons of junk

Like me without you

But when you flip my switch
I am cathode rays
Neon signs
Humming radios
Radar blips
Torch lights
City lights
The cries and shouts
And wails and hurrahs
Of Fender guitars
Of bands in bars
I am transformed
By your loving

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Good Shape

I Circle you
Like picnic bears
And cuddle you
All night
Triangle you
(Each corner
A space filled
With delight)
I Oblong you
My obligation’s
Elongate and sure
I Square you
To my conscience
And consciousness
And more
I Diamond you
You’re priceless
Your Star shape
Cannot fall
You’re my sweet
And sexy Hexy shape
But I Heart you
Most of all

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

You’ll Be Here

When the ice is as thick
as an ice-maiden’s shtick
and the sky is as grey
as Sam Beckett’s lost playand
the wind is as keen
as a miser is mean
and the winter’s as deep
as philosopher’s sleep,
you’ll be here for the ride
with a smile as wide and as warm
as a schoolgirls’ dorm
with a cuddle as close
as warm, buttered toast,
with a laugh as out loud
as a sky without cloud,
with a love as intense
as the sky is immense:
you’ll be here by my side