Friday, 15 February 2019


Another poem from the Secret Poets Retreat this post.
It was prompted by an exercise Liz set. She asked us to list significant books, then films and lastly songs. We then reflected on the lists to see if anything was sparked into life.
This is mine:

He walks down the street,
going to the supermarket,
in his hands bag and shopping list,
but in his head:
an asteroid is towed towards Metaluna,
the magnetic field glows, bright red and
he’s looking Eli Wallach in the eye:
We deal in lead mister
while the boat burns,
as the black bird disappears.
Then she’s just taken that photograph,
the one of the last supper,
with the camera her mother gave her
and the feathers fall
almost drifting out of the silvered screen,
he’s watching her face,
something has changed...
The impatient world interrupts
and now he must choose a cabbage
as the onions clamour for his attention.

I was attempting to capture the rich internal life that we all [I assume] lead. 
I had been drawn by the list of films which are in order:
This Island Earth
The Magnificent Seven
The Maltese Falcon
What a list of old films! None are less than fifty seven years old. However,  they all made a impact on me in some way.
I would advise you to try out Liz's exercise, you never know what it might provoke.
I just have been looking for some Loch Lomond videos I haven't posted but can't find any sadly. 
Here's Anna Termheim on the radio. It's from 2006.

Until next time.

Friday, 8 February 2019


A friend of mine pointed out that both of the last post's poem concerned clothes: unravelling a woollen jumper and a blue suit respectively. I have to say I had not noticed that connection. Thank you Rex. 
Both poems were written during my Retreat with the Secret Poets the other weekend and I suppose that they both drew on the active vocabulary my subconscious made available.
This week a revision:

The Pearl

The sea runs colder,
longer, deeper.
He dives for a pearl
he does not want but needs,
spies the enigmatic shell,
wrestles it loose,
then rises too cold for hope.

The point of his father’s knife
releases the secret,
opalescent in sunlight,
a rare beauty he will be cheated out of.
Perhaps he will be left just enough.
This sort of thing happens
once in a lifetime.
You can read the previous draft here.
So what is different? The last line has been removed. The grammar has been clarified.
During the feedback discussion I was interested in the talk around the father's knife. It was proposed that the father would rob the diver of the pearl, which, if I am honest was not how I had imagined it. I was thinking that the diver would not receive the pearl's true worth, and that the fact the knife belonged to his father was simply embellishment.
It is so useful to have people you trust read your work. This is best done cold, just let them try and make sense of the poem. It is always illuminating. So thank you, yet again, Secret Poets.

I've been playing The Nits recently. Here is their big hit.
I love the line: and the moon is a coin with the head of the queen, of the Dutch mountains. Superb!
Until next time.

Friday, 1 February 2019


Two poems today, but first some thanks.
Thanks to the Secret Poets for last weekend's Retreat. Very enjoyable, stimulating and thought provoking. I had a great time and was spurred to create some interesting poems.
I took one of the four workshops we ran over the weekend and the theme was buried treasure. I came up with this.

House Clearance

The enormity of it all just stops you
dead in your tracks,
one long life lived
and here you are in the hallway
wondering where to start,
wishing it were simply a woollen jumper
with one loose thread you could unpick.
Of course, it’s not that easy
so you walk through the rooms,
upstairs then down,
make a cup of tea
sit at the kitchen table to drink it,
black, because the milk has gone off.

This next one arose out of another workshop Liz ran. The poem just emerged over a half hour writing period.

Cearulean Blues

I’m painting my life in blues,
pretending it was by accident,
that I can’t control the paintbrush,
but I can and this is how
I express myself today:
topaz shoes; navy socks;
duck egg suit and a shirt I can’t describe
save to tell you that it’s blue.
Am I sad? You ask.
Less than I was yesterday
and more than I will be tomorrow.

A friend sent me a link to an Anne Briggs song this morning. A truly beautiful way to start the day. I leave you with it.
Until next time.

Friday, 25 January 2019


I was unhappy with the final two lines of the previous post. I did not think that they worked as well as they could have and here is a revised draft of the poem.

At The Leechwell

Did we believe less?
Was your faith the greater?
You, who turn away,
make the sign of the cross
at the sound of the bell
as we walk to the well,
burdened as we are
by the double negative
of disease and The Fall.
Cold water,
cold morning.
No cure,
no change,
no blessing from above.
So we turn back towards the lazar house,
moving slowly through the spaces
that our lives once occupied.
I think that it is more effective than before.
Here's Anna Terheim.
Until next time.

Friday, 18 January 2019


For a week or so the line: cold water, cold morning, has been knocking around my head. A friend, Alison Wilson, sent me some photographs of The Leechwell, in Totnes and suggested there could be a poem in it. 
All last week all I had was that line. The rest evolved from reading that from the 1500's it was claimed that the well could cure leprosy. At that time if you contracted leprosy you were said to have died, your partner was officially a widow and could remarry. You were consigned to a leper house or lazar. 
Once I had established the scene the poem fell into place over the usual multiple rewrites.

At The Leechwell

Did we believe less?
Was your faith the greater?
You, who turn away,
make the sign of the cross
at the sound of the bell
as we walk to the well,
burdened as we are
by the double negative
of disease and The Fall.
Cold water,
cold morning.
No cure,
no change,
no blessing from above.
So we turn back towards the lazar house,
moving slowly through the spaces
that used to be our lives.
I wondered how the disease would affect your faith. Would it cause you to doubt? Also the fact that your life had been taken from you, or you have been removed from your life.
Strange how some poems present you with a perspective, a life experience that seems to come from somewhere else.
Thank you Alison.

Another friend, Rex, sent me a link to this song. It's Neil Young and REM playing Ambulance Blues. Fantastic.

Thanks Rex.
Until next time.

Saturday, 12 January 2019


I've been working on this poem for sometime and I fear it could be overworked. This can happen. I wrote it last year and put it away. As I often say: distance grants perspective.
However, here it is.

The Year of Travelling Backwards

Afterwards he called it his year of travelling backwards,
because someone, sometime, told him
sitting with your back to the engine robs the body of its Chi.
That vital energy seeps out.

It wasn't actually a year but nine months of directionlessness,
of being able only to understand events once they had happened.
Unable to make sense of where he was,
until he was somewhere different.

The latest economic slump had dictated
that he reapply for his own job,
which of course, he did not get.

So he was shunted round the organisation,
slotted into every interview,
in front of panels of resentful faces,
who did not want him either.

These scenes were interspersed
with hospital silences, his father,
trapped between starched white sheets,
slowly leaving his life.

Than before he knew he was:
at the church,
burying his father.

From some things you don't bounce back,
perhaps as you age the spring goes,
and once you've seen it all before
fake enthusiasm is never an option.

He had been in a carriage facing backwards,
then he was off the train.

He left the station.
I am not going to say much about it. I still think I am too close. I started from the line: The year of travelling backwards, and it evolved from that.
Here's someone I am sure of - Ryley Walker. He is live with his wondrous band, 38 minutes of sublime music.
Until next time.

Friday, 4 January 2019


A poem about tea to begin with, actually it's a poem of thanks.

the first sip of tea this day
I give thanks
for the time I have to savour
green liquor in a white bowl

no haste

well rested

thank you Lord

This poem began with the line:

classify the day
by the taste of the morning tea

but I realised that if I had the time to ruminate in this way I should simply give thanks.
Next a love poem.

another love poem

that hotel you booked for me
was on a loser from the start
the reception cluttered as it was
by grown men in black and white football strip
who should have known better
who should have out grown that sort of thing by their age
but then look at me
pulled by my heart across europe towards you

I haven't really got anything to say about this poem. It is what it is.
I leave you with a poor quality video of an amazing singer/songwriter. Here is Laura Nyro.
Until next time.