Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cross Country

We have left the Brighton to London
Commuter line
And are travelling cross country

No longer heading for the city
The carriage is quiet, nearly empty
And outside an early frost
And watercolour sky

I spoke too soon
Into the carriage pour
A hundred school or more
School children

Why do they shout?
Why such loud conversation?
Why are their voices so shrill?
The cacophony and impatience
of the i-phone generation

Oh, where is the quiet girl, reading a book?
Where are the two boys engrossed in chess,

Where is the boy with the nervous glances
And unrequited fantasies?

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The guillemot
Gazes at the sky
And hopes
That today’s weather report
Will be more accurate

Than yesterday’s

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Her hands,
large, but delicate.

Her fingernails,
Bitten, cracked, unadorned.

She is painting an old,
French, sanded-down headboard,
Antique gold.

Why is she painting so meticulously,
Her face, masked in concentration?

I knew you would come, she said,
As she removed her apron
And, naked, moved through the cold room

Towards me

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Night of the Knives

In the Pizza Express
The young man on the next table
Asks the waitress
Do you have the new knives?
She says, We are supposed to have them by now
But they haven’t arrived yet

The young man continues,
Because I was in Stratford the other day…
He lets the sentence hang
And does a cutting pizza mime
Then, as she walks away he says,

They’re one hundred times better.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Counting Spiders

Six mischievous spiders
Tumble out of the dice shaker

One has the gift of healing
One is poisonous
One is drunk on fly brandy
One is a loser
One has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever
And one can never stop cracking jokes

It’s your move.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


(after Leonard Cohen)

Better than the chaotic hunger
Of Brighton gulls
The ordered beachcombing pigeons
Of Villefranche-sur-mer

Better than noon sunshine
The early-morning light
And the buildings’ palette of whites,
Ochres, yellows and orange

Better than the bass tones
and wind-snatched muzak
the stereo-panned swish and swash
of the Mediterranean

Better than neatness
The secret order
Of organic growth

Better than a reality check

A fantasy boost

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Last Lines of Leonard Cohen

And this is the book
You get married
A single step
And there’s no one left in Hell

Jikan Eliezer
You’d sing too

You are listening to Radio Resistance
They’ve wanted all these years
And raising kids

Better and better
Is a comb
My turn to resurrect

I prefer my stuff to theirs
In other little ways
The patient forgets to suffer

“Do not kill”
Why should I want to smile forever
Over my enormous hard-on

Old Jikan smoking

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Apologies from Sarah. It’s her throat.
Not just the karaoke and the booze.
It is the ‘flu’. And Mindy’s sent a note
Her mother’s had some tests. Might be bad news. 
I’m on my hols in Lanzarote. Well
Yes, yes, the conference... But half-price flights?
The secretary, Cath, who makes the coffee,
Is at the school. Her Zeb’s been in another fight. 
You’ll have to write the minutes. Tom (tall guy – HR)
Has e-mailed his report. He’s on a course
Eighteen holes (his little joke). Bill’s crashed his car.
And Natalie has fallen off her horse. 
Clare has run off with the caretaker, and so

There’s only you. Please, turn the lights out when you go.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Four in the morning
I am naked
Watching the jet-black moth
On the white bathroom tiles
Unfold its wings
And take off

Seven forty five
In bed, a cup of coffee by my side
I am writing this poem
My wife appears, naked
Her hands cupped
I open the window

We release it to the wild

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Call to Prayer

Here the sun-loungers
Worship their own
Brown-fleshed god
With sunscreen
Soak up the words of cheap novels
Drift through consciousness
Like boats
Loose in the bay

A wind rattles the sunshades
Flaps their bleached white folds
Tosses the plastic lilo
Into the water
Where it also drifts
A small bird darts along the water’s edge
Dips its beak nervously
Into the blue-shadowed pool

Wailing voices rise and fall
Across the valley
From the loud speakers

On the mosque

Friday, September 20, 2013

On Geoffrey's Hill

Am I channelling Chaucer or kicking at the flotsam
and jetsam along the hard shoulder? Forget
those scribbled lines on bus tickets and travel vouchers.
Into the bin.

The moon’s umbra lost to fog
Smothered whispers and the trampling of hay
A curse. My laptop fails to charge.
An upturned pail.

Yo. Yo ho. Yo ho ho.
My sweetheart came clad
in the naked root of ginger. Barley shadows
shifting, unkind pearls strung around
her salty neck.

The Muses, lost in mundane operations,
Fetching the washing, sweeping the floor…
Their scalpels slice the beetroot so…
Exactly so.

And now? The thoroughbred that rushed
the windy fields like clouds, is slowed.
But, oh, what folly. The clasp is rusted.

The diamond lost.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mother's House

A memory of my mother’s house
A deep, clear lake
Sharp with colour
And the smell of the woods around
But fragmented
Like gravel
Sprinkled on the water’s surface

I could almost stand up
And walk through those rooms right now
I could walk out
Into the overgrown garden
Hang from the rusty swing
By the unwieldy climbing rose
Crimson and overblown
Left to the cold wind
See my father’s shadow
Bending, pulling a weed

The house that we sold
I've passed it since
From the road it hasn’t changed much
The holly tree in the front garden
That gave so freely of its Christmas berries
The rooms and the garden

Stealing other hearts now

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Winter Trees

Winter trees
Etched into
A winter sky
Of scabby grey

Forlorn beasts
Can a tree be lonely?

Laden with snow
We feel their nakedness
We are patient for them

Or waving angrily
But we know
That anger is our own

Giant shadows
Of ourselves

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spoils of War

Imagine, after humans have left the planet
And the new owners of Earth
Are digging about for signs of our past
There will probably be a TV programme
Intergalactic Time Team
Beamed across the universe

Aliens, delicately sifting soil
Looking for ancient artifacts
Trying to discover what our race was like

Excitement as the first items are found
An ancient sword, bullets, a rusted flamethrower
An unexploded mine

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Mum gives Tarik a hug
Don’t cross the Square
It may be further via the church
But it’s safe. You’re not in open view.

And tell him, Belma sends her love
That might be worth an extra loaf or two
I know he has the flour still
And while you are there
Ask him, What news of Ivan?

Mum gives Tarik another hug
And whispers a short prayer
Go now, she says
And do not cross the Square

Monday, July 08, 2013

Learner Drivers?

A trail of smashed milk bottles
The pavement’s milky wet
Billy’s football squashed and burst
Billy’s quite upset

Mrs Jones’ geraniums
Fit for the compost heap
Mum’s vase bounced off the sideboard
You should have seen it leap

And grandad’s bicycle’s been crushed
He’s in a proper fix
And the wall where grandad leant his bike
Is now a pile of bricks

Three lamposts bent like coat hangers
Our cat has run away
You have to learn to drive a tank
And the lessons were today

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Funnel Web Spider

The Australian funnel web spider
Hides in the loo
And is likely to bite your bottom
When you go for a call of nature

Monday, July 01, 2013

Coming Soon

Last year’s fig tree
Leans over the new wall
Next year – figs!

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Certain Age

From the top-edge of my vision
I saw the blur of hair
And for a moment
I thought I had hair
I thought I was young again

But then
I realised
It was my eyebrows’ hair
Growing out of control
Which means, of course,
The exact opposite

Friday, June 14, 2013

Usually this blog is for my own poems. But this poem by my friend, the legendary singer/songwriter that is Robb Johnson,  just has to be out there!  Robb is also a reception teacher. Find out more about him at


At skool
Yoo haf too lurn
Becos yor fonnix
Teechiz yoo
The rools
Ov Inglish
And how too
Rite it
If ownlee
Sillee Billee
Had dun mor
In sted
Ov planting
Size Mykull Goav

by Robb Johnson
© 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

If you were the only girl in the world and I was the only boy

Of course, as the atmosphere slowly cleared
The sunsets would be less dramatic

But the pharmaceuticals would last, I’m sure
Although I’d have to learn chiropractic

We’d have fun watching the grass and brambles
Slowly overwhelm the city

We’d live on tinned beans. And wild berries
No internet. But plenty to read.

Obviously we’d have to get good
At dodging zombies

And we’d have one another
Which is all we'd really need

Monday, June 10, 2013


And there was a board
And it was good.
A grid of blue and pink squares

We pick a tile
And smile

How long has this been going on?
Twenty eight years

How many games have we played
Since that first game?
Too many to count

My boyish bravado
Your quiet confidence
How often I’ve been pipped at the gazebo
With a Qi or a Za
Or a seven letter word
In closing moments of the match

But hope springs
A double triple letter score
And anyway
Who cares who wins?
That’s not what we are playing for

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Here’s the photo I took
Last year on the beach
Dad, wearing the tie
I bought him for his birthday
Billy drinking lemonade
The straw up his nose
And Mum, huddled up in her coat
Against the seaside wind

Now Dad’s in France
And our beach is covered in concrete
And tangled barbed wire
And land mines
In case the Germans invade

But on that day
We’d just made
The world’s grandest sandcastle
And watched the tide
Rush in
Filling the moat
Gradually washing
The sandcastle away

Monday, June 03, 2013

Dear Mum

If you receive this letter
I’ll be gone
To who knows where?
To Heaven, I hope.
So please don’t cry.
And give my love to Lop,
Our cat who lost his tail.
And Dad, of course.
I hope that this year’s crop
Of spuds do well.

And give my love to Ruth
I know I promised her
That we would marry in the spring
But tell her that I love her
(And you
And Dad
And Lop, the cat)

I have to go
The big offensive’s come
Don’t worry, Mum
Oh, and please give Ruth
This ring

From John
Your ever-loving son

Friday, May 31, 2013

No Ordinary Person

And should you see her
Walking up the road
Braced against the cold sea breeze
In her sensible black coat and scarf of pink
And her hat with ear flaps
You might not think that she was special
And she might nod, or smile
And that shaft of sunlight
Striking the shingle, like a jewel
Could be coincidence

And should you meet her in the library
You might not spare a second glance
But you might share an idle conversation
That turns to bookish things
And you might just begin to understand
The well of her knowledge

And should you mention, maybe on the bus
Or on Polling day, the plight of the poor,
The disadvantaged, the sick, the greed of the rich
You might be touched by her rage
And passion for justice

And should you see her with her family
You would wish for such a loving person
In your family too

And should you marry her
Why, you would simply think yourself
The luckiest man alive

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


There is a hole
In the space around me
You can’t see it
But it goes everywhere with me
It’s Border Collie shaped
And it doesn’t come when it’s called

For it’s just a hole
It’s empty
And it’s not called Judy

Monday, May 27, 2013


Am only
A fly

Am I

All I want
Is a little food
A mate
Some warmth
Some love

I am not selfish
Like the mosquito
After your blood

Or aggressive
Like the wasp
In a bad mood

Or secretive
Like the beetle
Destroying wood

And so I ask
Do you persecute me?

Am only
A little fly





Friday, May 24, 2013

If I Were a Carpenter

If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady
Would you marry me anyway
Would you have my baby?

If I were an accountant
And you were an MP
I would add up your figures
And be amazed at your fiscal policy

If you were a fire officer
And I were a clown
And I had climbed a wonky tower of mirth
Would you help me down?

If I was a referee
And you were a Chelsea Chick
I’d never whistle you offside
And I’d award you a free kick

If I were a sailor
And you were the ocean blue
I’d dive into the water
And grow fins for you

If I was an Arctic explorer
And you were a painter
I’d build you an igloo
And we’d brave the long winter

I were a firework
Would your oohs!!!  be so loud
As I burst in the night sky
You would drown out the crowd

If I were a lady
And you were a carpenter
Would you carve me a necklace
With your heart in the centre?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Something is Happening and I Know What it Is

You are my bright-eyed lady of the low lands
You rescued me from Desolation Row
You were, you are! the answer when the winds they are blowing

For you were, you are! a vision, singing around the Joanna
My tambourine woman
In your brand new leopard-skin Flit Flop shoes

So absolutely sweet, baby, I never did have to think twice
I never look back
For you never give me
Those subterranean homesick blues

Monday, May 13, 2013


We are the pumpkinseeds
Dressed in silver and yellow and blue
The fashion models of the sea
Preening on the cat-fish-walk
We hang cool
We are not grey and drab
Like the chubby chub or green crab
Who wish they were us

As you probably know
Are beautiful flowers
That grow on the shimmering moon
And scatter their seeds
Into the ocean home

Even our name
Is rather beautiful

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Canadian Black Bear

And at the lay-by where you stopped to dine
On M & Ms. Got stroppy just because
There were none left. They wonder why the sign
Says Bears. Beware! You think it’s obvious.
For one, you’re big. Five hundred pounds of power.
For two, you’re tough. For three - you have to eat.
You open screw-top tins. You scour the tip
But pickings there are slim. You stroll down Main Street
Flick the door latch of a house. You wander through
And grab what takes your fancy. Back on the road
A parked car offers tit bits. And you do
A little dance. You like to work the crowd.
But just remind them that you can’t be bought
When M&Ms run out – your temper’s short.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Big Fonts

Substance over style
A rose by any other name
We have to talk much louder
But our love remains the same

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

As Kierkegaard Might Have Said

Ring-a-ring of roses
A pocketful of posies
The planet drifts into the meaningless
universe as so we might as well
give up now, really.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Next Song

The next song
Doesn’t really need
Any explanation

Just to say
That it’s not autobiographical

And I would just mention
That verse 7 refers
To the year that
Thatcher came to power

Verses 11 – 15
Do go off at a bit of a tangent
But, there is a reason for that,
As you’ll see

The chorus is self explanatory
And please join in
Just remember
There’s no chorus
After verses 3, 11, 15 and 17
And that there’s a double chorus
After every other even verse

It starts in the key of G
But changes to A for the last verse
And there’s a short introduction

I'll just check I'm in tune...

Good. Off we go then…

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eastbourne Pier

The pier
That has witnessed
Over the years
So many amazing sights

The sea front barricades
And the bombs
Falling relentlessly on the town
In 1941

The three pound two ounce plaice
That Ian caught
On that particularly low tide
In 1964

The grand wedding
Of Steph and Joe
The sea scattering sunshine
Like a diamond
In 2012

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I was once given
This brilliant piece of advice
And decided to act upon it

Live each day
As if it were your last

So, I made a will.
And I sorted out my kitchen drawer.

I overdrew on my credit cards
To my limit
And gave all my money
To a children’s charity

I ate four very large
Chocolate and cream cakes
And drank a whole bottle
Of booze

I phoned BT
and told them what I really think
about their service

I sprayed orange paint
On the windscreen of the car
That always takes up two spaces
So that I’ve never room to park

Then I changed all the clocks in the house
To different times
And, feeling pleased with myself,
Settled down for a snooze