Friday, 15 June 2018


The two poems in this post appeared unheralded giving no indication as to how they were formed. This happens occasionally. Most of the time I have a good idea where the components of a poem have arrived from, though I am loath to dissemble them in public. 

ghosts come uninvited to activate the machinery
that projects forgotten memories

and he swims through the resultant images
to re-taste a thousand defeats

on awakening from a night of bitter lost chances
he wonders if he is not his ghost’s lab rat

but the day clamours for his attention
ghost choreography directing his every step
The second one seems to repeat the first but more optimistically.

No matter

We run in circles,
though at the zenith point we believe we have escaped,
our feet only know a set number of steps so eventually we return.
Possibly we give thanks like mariners sighting landfall.
Probably we do not, viewing the familiar through
a black and white lens that sepias our soul.

But for now all that is in the future,
the mist will burn off, the day promises sun
and the road to who knows where reels him in.
I quite like the idea that the lure of the road draws us on. 
There is a fatality to these poems that surprises me. I am usually more positive.
Brooke Sharkey is in the studio recording a new album-very excited. Watch this space for more news.
On spec I downloaded an album by Maria Gadu this week, I'd listened to a couple of snippets and thought it was worth a gamble and it was. It is really good music from Brazilian. Surprisingly she covers Jacques Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas, which featured in a tv show.
Here she is singing Bela Flor.
This is Veja Bem.
Until next time.

Friday, 8 June 2018


I'm not sure this first poem is complete. I suspect it hurtles too quickly towards its conclusion and would benefit with another example in the middle. Things feel better in threes, however I don't have one at the moment. So you will have to file this one under work in progress.

They used to say
you can take the boy from Widnes
but you can’t take Widnes from the boy.
I have to agree,
my voice carries Widnes,
all those long vowels pin me to a place and time.
Widnes casts a long shadow,
it settled on my father’s lungs,
caused him to fight for every breath,
until it just wasn’t worth it anymore.
I could not locate a suitable photograph of Widnes so you will have to make do with a winter shot of Hestercombe Gardens.
I appear to be writing a series of interconnected poems, or one long one, it is too early to say, about a coup. You can read the first part here, it concerned a woman being arrested at the outbreak of the coup and subsequently released.
This second section concerns her return to her flat.

It was if he had never been there
and the obligatory search,
that now follows any arrest
has left your rooms in ruin.
The hurried, half hearted destruction
of bed, clothing and books
is matched by the ransacked kitchenette.
Sunlight shafts through torn blinds,
despair is a fast filling space inside
then you remember the cell, stop yourself.
It is too early for questions
they will come later.
I am not sure where I am going with this work. I am writing it in random sections. Watch this space.
Here is Laura Marling. Her last LP is proving to be a popular one in our house

Until next time.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


Palooka 5 Somerset’s coolest band have done it again. They have just released an 8 track mini LP. Regular browsers of this blog will know that I have long been impressed by Palooka 5’s live shows. They are a tight five piece who play fuzzy organ surf psych with an Apocalypse Now twist, or at least that’s what the back of the record says! 

Live they are a powerhouse of good tunes, only rigor mortis could keep you from dancing. Although they subscribe to a psych surf aesthetic this does not mean they are merely copyists as their new album Rough Magic attests they can write a good, original song.
This could be one of the albums of the year for me. It has been on heavy rotation on my record deck.

The album kicks off with Cactus Blossom Heart and storms through the first side. I’ve been listening to it since Friday and I cannot decide which is my favourite song. Every time I play the album I am struck by the quality of the individual songs and the musicianship of the band.
The second side features three remixes from their first cd EP along with a stonking new tune Heavy Ju Ju.

 The band are touring all summer and I certainly intend to catch them live.
Here’sa link to their web site. You can download the album at all the usual places.
Here's a live set:

Until next time.

Friday, 1 June 2018


Another poem inspired by my days in Abu Dahbi. It is self explanatory. 

such a vacant highway
six lanes of no traffic

my early morning flight
requires this pre-dawn drive

beyond a wire fence
on a service road

coach after square functional coach
head in the opposite direction

just the movement of invisible workers
towards a city that cannot run without them
I had some difficulty shaping the poem. At times I get lost in the frame, that part of the writing that leads you into the poem, the explanatory lines. While these are useful to the poet they add nothing to the poem. It took me some time to pare the words back to the essential.
I thought I'd leave you with I Am The Walrus. I first saw this on Boxing Day in 1967. It has lost none of its majesty.
Until next time.

Friday, 25 May 2018


On the way back from Australia we stopped over in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days to catch up with some friends. We stayed on the New York University campus and early one morning I watched a group of men drag an electrical cable across an overpass. It was back breaking work even in the cooler hours of the dawn [jet lag had me awake at strange hours].
I wrote this:

Abu Dhabi 2018

Over this bridge anchored in dream,
before the real heat of the day builds,
in a snaking, straining line,
seven men haul a cable,
every step an individual battle with friction.
Reluctantly it unwinds from a large wooden spool,
as opportunistic gravity amps up their burden.

Three stories up and further away than geography,
I watch their struggle,
more than distance separates us.

This was the view from the lounge window and it was across this long overpass the men were unspooling the cable. The vista looked like something out of a J G Ballard novel.
On my first morning I awoke even earlier, in the half dawn, and watched a bus drive along the overpass. It was so dreamlike. I was reminded of the final scenes of Ghost World. You can watch it here.
I've been listening to Loch Lomond's latest lp recently, Pens From Spain. Here's the title song.
And here is Your Eyes.
Until next time.

Friday, 18 May 2018


A  couple of poems about the past. 
The first concerns a book I read in the early 1970's, that promised to be a guide to astral projection. Now you can find out the technique on Wiki How

Astral Projection

We pooled our resources,
bought the book together,
a common strategy in those days.
Whoever read it first,
tight lipped until the other
slowly reached the final page.
I want to say it was a primer,
that it opened my life fantastically,
but it did not.
Active dreaming could not be learnt from that book.

In Bali, several lifetimes later,
every night while I slept
I soared over Somerset fields.
That was the nearest ever I came.
This next poem was sparked while painting. An image of the white bands of paint that used to be painted on the main road in the factory where I used to work just popped into my head. 

Castner-Kelner Poem 2

There were these white lines of paint
on the main road inside the factory gates
where the company tested
its domestic paint range.
Every week, it was someone from the Labs job
to check how they fared
under the industrial traffic and tainted air.
That’s how it was back then,
a huge complex system that gave lives meaning.
Employment has coarsened over the years,
now zero-houred, I do not have that security.
We let it go too easy.
I do think we have lost job security since the 2008 Crisis. The gap between rich and poor is growing and social mobility is a thing of the past.
I leave you with Anna Ternheim Keep Me in the Dark.

Until next time.

Friday, 11 May 2018


I haven't got much to say about this post's poem save I began it at the start of this academic year and only managed to complete it last week. 
I had been thinking how when we are new to a job, house, city, everything looks new to us. We do not yet have the connections, the history of the place.

Of course the room had been sanitised:
floor swept; windows washed;
shelves dusted; desk polished bright.
It's all so shiny and new
to the man who,
one day each week
sits behind it.
Which just leaves the dust in my head,
the taste in my mouth
and the sequence of unoccupied spaces
that litter the university.
The new broom has swept so clean
that the students don't know what they have lost.

I am going through something of a Katherine Williams phase at the moment. here is Monday Morning.
Until next time.