Friday, 25 January 2013


Clifton Suspension Bridge Saturday. Before you say anything I was driving not taking the photograph (- honest officer), that's why you have so much of the left side of the approach. I thought the bridge, which looks wonderful at anytime, looked rather special in the snow. 

But today I am focusing on poems. Old ones I have not yet posted. 

This first one is about the death of my brother in law. It concerns the trip to Wales we made to scatter his ashes and to bury a memory capsule. He was a very active man and had climbed Mont Blanc, I had not realised you get a medal for getting to the top. He is still much missed by me. 


The view pleased,
A road, the lake, other peaks.
(You would have named each one.)

We move the earth,
Consign and cover.

We all found stones to mark this place.

And as we walked uphill
To scatter your ashes,
I thought of the canister found,
As in those science fiction stories
You used to read.
Your life recreated from the photographs,
Your life deduced from the objects.
But I knew in fifty years
The seals will perish;
The embrittled polypropylene tube crack
Then Welsh water wash
Your image from the photographic paper,
The paper pulp and disintegrate,
All the iron oxidise.

Your Mont Blanc medal would remain to be discovered
Before the mountain itself turned to dust.

The aluminium plaque will continue to bear witness,
In a dead language ripe for translation
And all is lost between the words
Will be less than the pain I now feel.


This one is older and as I remember based on a conversation I had with a friend about a car boot sale they had been to where the items for sale were all broken or incomplete. I do not think we shared a bottle of cider though.

Drizzle, a street lamp halo.
Wet, fuzzy hum in head and air.
He spoke: Life is a car boot sale,
we are born into the dreck of other’s lives,
grow in the detritus of the dead.
The fortunate get the best pitches,
you and me get the worst;
metaphorically, a worn left shoe,
a rusting nut and nylon clothes
are the best we can scrape together.
No one ever wants to buy.
I passed him the cider bottle,
if only to shut him up.
Damp cars splashed through the night.
We sat waiting for dawn with no plans,
finishing the cider too soon.


In the middle to the late 1990's I participated in a multidisciplinary group supervision process, I was wearing my social worker hat in those days. One of the people talked about a difficult situation they had been in and the discussion inspired the poem. I liked it at the time because the ending was optimistic - very little was then.


She carries herself with anger,
A quiet violence moves within.
Obliquely, she told me her story
As I administered to her body
                     (and left her head alone).

Within the treatment space
She starts to communicate
Selects words to describe, exactly
How it feels to be her.

It is a function
That description
Will give her relief.

A suspension
But no resolution
To offset her grief.

She leaves potential damage,
It could smear this room,
Ripple out,
Touch other lives.

A baton of rage,
Passed down the years,
Generations of dysfunction.

Such contagion we can stop.
We have the power to dismiss
The ghosts, chart the damage
And to heal.

mid-late 99

The fact that we can facilitate change and healing is important to me. In the economic maelstrom of the present government it is more difficult to hang on to this.

I am going to end on an upbeat, with a photograph of one of our cats asleep the other evening. 

May your weekend be as restful as his. I'll be back on Tuesday with an interview with Louise Jordan.


  1. A baton of rage, /Passed down....Very special few words there Paul. All top poems here.

  2. You are too kind Oscar. I struggled with that one for some time.