Friday, 18 June 2021



I am late posting today, this week has been kind of crazy, we've had many visitors and no time for blogging ahead, as I usually do.

After writing the poem below I spent some time trying to divine how you spell washateria. I always think it sounds far superior to laundrette.  When we were in London recently I thought the place we had rented didn't have a washing machine [it did behind a cupboard door, but that was too sophisticated for me] and it led me to think about how boring it must be watching your clothes wash in a washateria. This thought in turn prompted the poem.

washateria blues

he envied his clothes

in the laundrette's tumbling drum

happier without him inside

suddenly alive

free to tangle  to have fun

to throw impossible shapes

that would break a limb

the next morning he sensed

their longing for something

beyond his predictable moves

their reproach apparent in each casual crease

I was rather taken with the idea of my clothes having more fun without me in them than when worn. I liked the thought that they could be bored by my actions, having seen them so many times before.

I think the poem is just about there and for once I have a title as well.

Here are Sweeney's Men with Willy O'Winsbury, one of my favourite traditional songs, though the king is somewhat dubious, but the tune is lovely. Apparently it is not the correct tune but it works.

Until next time.

Friday, 11 June 2021


 Can any poem ever be said to be an accurate account of an event? I do not think so. Poets take their experiences and transform them into something universal, rather than offer reportage.

So it is with this poem.


half recognised

stopped in the street

asked my name

by friends become strangers

the gulf grown

a quarter century wide

so we swap major events

the achievements of children

obliquely they assess my status

we exchange numbers  emails

say we must catch up

properly get together

then break off  walk away

How much of me is in the poem? You know I am not sure. It is a specific event altered to, hopefully, appeal to all.

This poem wrote itself this morning out of a piece of stream of consciousness prose I had written late last night.

then you wake up

the morning after the divorce

the lost years

the redundancy

whatever particular defeat claimed you

and the physical laws are just the same

sunlight pinballs round the system

planets spin

ecosystems work  more or less

and you must decide what it is you do

yes we know what you have been

that is past

receding by the second

what will you be now?

You could argue that I have experienced some of the events mentioned, but who hasn't?

I have been listening to Pollyanna a lot recently and here's a live song.

Until next time.

Friday, 4 June 2021



I have a beach hut and I've been spending the weekends there just looking at the sea. I am also a confirmed watcher of people and this is how the poem below came about. It happened pretty much as described. 

from the blue sack she produces her phone

they selfie against a backdrop of incoming tide

they turn to document the six yellow roses

they had just cast into the sea

but the blooms are lost in the swell

which constantly baptises the rocks

no seventh wave today

the water is relentless

after they turn and go

I search for the flowers

and spot one

small amid the diamond surface

I do not know what the two people were commemorating, but it seemed to me to warrant a poem. 

Here is Annabelle Chvostek, rumour has it she is touring the UK next year, I can't wait.

Until next time.

Sunday, 30 May 2021


I am posting two days late this week to coincide with the fact that Magpie Bridge is ten years old today! Yes, it is amazing! I never thought when I started this bog I would still be going in five years let alone ten. Blogs I assumed were ephemeral creatures but here I am still at it.

You can read the very first blog post here. There have been 593 other ones since then and over 800,000 visits. I would like to thank you all for your continuing support.

This is a poem revised with the assistance of the wonderful Secret Poets, thank you chaps. 

Farewell Sheila

double masked

eleven people in a chapel

the clock is running down

on our fifteen minute slot

if I had though about it and I had not

I would not have imagined it this way

interlaced with flashes

of every sad ceremony I’ve known

You can read the last version here. The layout has changed as has the final line. 

I was in London this week and I bought a copy of the Funky Rob Way, an old Nigerian lp that I had downloaded a while ago. The vinyl is even better. I leave you with the title track.

Here's to the next ten years!

Friday, 21 May 2021



Yes, these are lilies not roses. So close but not cigar. 

This poem grew from a simple idea, a man wanting to propose to his girlfriend while a whole string section played on in the background. The poem wrote itself.

She’s Mine

he wanted violins

for only the complete string section could describe his love for her

the price was beyond him so he maxed out his plastic

on a string quartet from the local music college instead

she told him they were history and this was typical

him lost in the grand gesture unable to see her needs

this could have been a blessing

for her eyes were on the cellist

those long expressive fingers his strong hands

they left together in a taxi for her place

as he stood in the street he was left to wonder if he could return the roses

perhaps the florist would refund him under the circumstances

I did not want the main character to have an easy time but such a grand gesture seemed to lend itself to failure.

The Secrets aided the layout, thank you. Its always a good idea to play about with the layout of a poem, you may stumble upon something better than you realised.

I have just come across Polyanna, a rather wonderful French singer-songwriter. You can listen to more of her music here.
I shall leave you with In The Snow.
Until next time.

Friday, 14 May 2021



I wonder if you remember the old slang phrase Holy Cow? It's a piece of my 1960's childhood. Robin the Boy Wonder used to say it in the Batman tv series. The Cassell Dictionary of Slang defines Holy Cow as an American in origin, an exclamation of surprise, first recorded in the 1920s. It sits between Holy Cod [a 19th century term for Good Friday]  and holy crap! A exclamation of amazement [1960s + US].

The slang dictionary is a totally absorbing read. I often think I could run a poetry workshop on slang, writing new words, generating a poem from a definition - watch this pace...

Holy Cow!

Holy cows were forbidden in our house,

my mother did not hold with mid-60s lingo.

I could watch [and hear] Robin, the Boy Wonder,

Holy Cow! And Holy Broken Bones, Batman!

But could not echo his words.

Lee Dorsey, on our monophonic

solid state transistor radio,

could sing the phrase thirty or more times

in his song of the same name

but I could not utter it once.

Because nice people don’t say words like that,

common people do, and Paul, we are not common.

[We were but my mother steadfastly denied it]

I just happened to see on the open page of the dictionary the phrase home on the pig's back, which is an Australian saying meaning very contented, happily or successfully placed, having arrived at a successful conclusion [1910s +]. May you be high on the pig's back.

I have to end this post with Lee Dorsey singing that song. Great New Orleans music courtesy of Allen Toussaint. 

Until next time.

Friday, 7 May 2021




The other day I noticed just how tall one of the horse chestnut trees was in the local park was. 

the horse chestnut

All is energy once more,

a sap green canopy

ablaze with conker candles

and suddenly over brimming with life.

Taller than the houses

that cordon Carey Park.

I originally had:

I walk between the trees

words of praise on my lips.

at the end but thought the poem did not need my endorsement. 

Here is another poem I've shortened.

Night Meteorites

the bathroom window

was a dark blue square

stained by the street light

he chanced to see

friction lines cut the sky

on waking he will question the memory

You can read the original here.

Essentially I have removed the first two lines which described waking in the night. Sometimes the poem needs a frame to contextualise the events but where ever possible I try to let the poem stand as it is. Once written and out in the world poems can be interpreted in many different ways. Who is to say the poet holds the definitive explanation?

I leave you with Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena.

Until next time.