Friday, 3 April 2020


I  wrote this post's poem in response to a prompt from #iamallstories, a creative project that offered people 31 envelopes, each with a different prompt. I have to say I am enjoying the challenges of the envelopes. 

This particular prompt was:

What were we thinking when we wrote this prompt?

he holds up a mirror
tells me to look in the glass
left is right and I’m left handed
secure in my penmanship
even if I cannot read half of what I write

this could be the counter earth
always half a hidden orbit ahead
the other side of the sun
right is left and I favour the right now

so I’m looking for a second mirror
to make it all better again
hoping to avoid that infinity thing
left is right is left is right is
all too much for me

so I stare and stare
and normalise what I see
a man in a mirror
looking back at me

I suppose I could have been paranoid, thinking that whatever I wrote would reveal something hidden of me, but every act of creation does that. 
There will be more poems from these prompts later.

I was listening to Murray Head recently. Here's a recent version of his big hit.

Until next time.

Friday, 27 March 2020


I  have been long distance writing with the Secret Poets. Annie supplied a photograph of a museum diorama of a Diictodon. It was a proto-mammal that lived millions of years ago. 
It promoted me to write this:

Diictodon’s Dilemma

they ate
and they fought
and they fucked on
tumbling into to an ecological niche
they could exploit until over population

we have even found their burrows
the now fossilised spaces they crawled through

as the hazards of flood plain living
became too apparent 

This set me thinking about mass extinctions.
I wrote this about brewing beer.

I think of the Paleoprotozoic extinction
every time I make beer
cheering on that powered yeast
to drown in its own waste product

excreting alcohol
itself a poison
I welcome

photosynthesis began like that
food for free
all those cells amazed at how easy it was
until the oxygen bi-product did them in

Essentially that's what happened. 
Here's the Larkin Poe.

Until next time.

Friday, 20 March 2020


Two poems about our present predicament. The first concerns the Babacombe Cliff Railway, which is now closed for the duration. 

The last ride on the Cliff Railway for the foreseeable future

we remain the safe social distance apart
smile but do not speak
for what is there to say
at least the spring has been closed
each person’s isolation beckons

This second poem was written in response to a prompt from Secret Poet Liz. The prompt concerned two people and a discarded Corona beer bottle.

once she would have picked up that corona bottle
the morning after the merry makers had left it there
along with any other litter
thoughtlessly scattered by the through traffic

wary of infection
she leaves it be
notes its seeming permanence
every morning now she keeps herself to herself

he concentrates on keeping his distance
no jane austin character was ever more precise
they pause they do not speak
he double checks the space between

Liz suggested scrapping the first two stanzas and on reflection I think she is correct. 
I'll let you edit it for yourself.
Here's Sean Taylor. Like all musicians he makes his living from playing live, which in the present circumstances is impossible. Please do what you can to help Sean and other creative people like him survive this crisis.

Until next time.

Friday, 13 March 2020


Here's a poem about dyslexia.

my life in letters

for me bs and ds were interchangeable
one letter and its reflection I could fit wherever
this practice hall marked me a slow learner
word blind and spelling remained a mystery

my mothers advice to break down difficult words
did not take into account
my long vowel northern voiced tendency
to sprinkle extra a’s and e’s about

the thesaurus became my life preserver
as I looked up words of similar meaning
and hoped what I required was waiting patiently
amid the ranks and columns with its friends

the spell check facility of middle age
enabled spellings to be puzzled out
different combinations chanced
until the red underlining went away

secretly I still suspect those people
who demand consistent sequences
who fear the world of bespoke words
tailored to suit that unique moment

I don't need to say much about it. I think it speaks for itself and keen readers of this blog may have already come to this conclusion.

Here's Anna Ternheim with a song I haven't heard before.

Until next time.

Friday, 6 March 2020


This is a rewrite. You can read the last version here.

Next to the surgery
which used to be someone’s home,
the bank [built in ‘31] missed out
on its century of service by fourteen years,
another high street casualty.
Note the sale boards have been removed
and the new signs proclaim wealth management.
But who’s? I wonder this Sunday
as I walk past the locked off parking spaces
where on public days like this one
the community used to park.

Their bin overflows and the gulls
have had their own wing-ding,
bursting the black plastic sacks.
Now the remains of their office party
clutters the pavement.

Optimistic, a young gull sidles up
to glean whatever is left.
I want to tell it not to bother,
that the wealthy don’t leave rich pickings,
but the bird is too young to know
that no meal is ever free.

The latest version came about because I stumbled over some of the words when I was practising reading the poem aloud. If you have difficulty consistently over reading a sequence of words then it needs to be changed. I wanted to read the poem at Stanza Extravaganza here in Torquay and it is always a good idea to have a read through.. 
The poem also lost its last line as I thought it was too telling rather than showing.

This poem was written at Marjons and is once again about the magpies that run the place.

magpie at the window

nano second hover
as strobing feathers
defy physics

the captains keep tabs on
each lecture space and office
oblivious we think we own the place

The world is more mysterious than we can ever know and birds have been around far longer than us monkeys.

Here is a new song from Fay Wildhagen and Ana Brun.

Until next time.

Friday, 28 February 2020


I  was talking with a poet this week who was telling me that he keeps his poems in the drawer for years once he's written them, that way he know they are good or not when he finally takes them out to reread. I take my hat off to him. I usually allow a couple of months for that.
This post's poem sequence was written in December.

a convenient
[translate that as cheap]
weekend rental flat
step over the threshold
it is not the wealth generator
anonymous ikea space
you had imagined

it is not that simple
you are in a vacated home
with too many personal touches to register
and where are the occupants
while you sleep in their bed
and use their cups to brew your tea?

on the second day curiosity to the fore
I look at the photographs that claim the walls
most are of their marriage
a grand affair in some wiltshire country house
and a jolly admiral with his mrs
this is another slice of the cake
loaded perhaps with more than most

It is basically a slice of life. As I have said on my occasions, it is good to put yourself in a different environment and write what you see.
Not sure this one is finished. I think I need the Secret Poets input.

Here's Ketama.
Until next time.

Friday, 21 February 2020


Poems should be unique works of art and expresses the ineffable in a manner that speaks to every human. No mean feat, a tall order for anyone to contemplate. But we do more than mere contemplation. I have no idea how many poems are produced each day, each hour, or every minute around the globe. I suspect that more poetry is produced than there are people to read it.
Here's another one to add to that morass.

the butcher

Today he wears his salesman face,
a sober suit but no tie,
relaxed, casual, all smiles.
Each word is emphasised
Help us to help you.
A reasonable transaction
We can all benefit from this.

Then my shirt pocket vibrates,
it's the redundant past calling.
Normally I welcome the overlays,
reality shifted a few degrees.
Then I look up catch his other face,
the razor's edge, the copper taste
and each word rings hollow.

This poem follows on from an earlier one. It is set one year later. The killing is over, for now, it is negotiation time, and no one wants to hear ghosts.

Here's Ryley Walker looking very well.

Until next time.