Friday 31 May 2013



Today’s title comes from one of the poems below. I have been reflecting on the titles of my posts and deciding I can no longer get away with simply calling each one More Poems…

I appeared at the Lechlade Festival last weekend and had a great time. As you can see from the photograph there were a number of pirates about the place. You know I am always amazed at how responsive and creative people are. I was booked to run a poetry workshop on the Saturday and to read on the Sunday.

A Roadhouse Rooster
On the Saturday I set up shop, so to speak, and the quality of the work that was produced was excellent. One woman especially did well; her poem describing how she had arrived at the festival was very original. I am sure that this is what we were meant to do as a species, create and tell one another stories.


I am an inveterate people watcher and I was struck by the number of people wearing knitted hats in the shape of different animals. Partly it reminded me of the Aztec Jaguar warriors, of how their faces appear to be in the mouths of animals. I also wondered if they had unconsciously chosen their specific headwear because the animals they wore were their power animals, their totem.

a plethora of power animals parade
acrylic machinemade
buy which takes your fancy
shamans dance as you walk

The Cadbury Sisters

My attention was drawn to the hats when I noticed a younger man wearing a tiger’s head. He had a desert camouflage jacket on and walked with a stick. I was prompted to write the following:

wounded tiger
woollen helmet
not quite here
lost in the land where
the cammo jacket is de rigueur
the music has stopped
he limps off to watch the next band

I am sure I have said before that poems are all round us. It is the role of the poet to see this and to make something of them. Here is the third poem I started last weekend. It relates to a project I am involved in with my friend Alison Wilson that combines painting and poems about Mexico. She sent me some images of a set of stone carvings and I had been thinking about them as I watched the music on the Friday evening.

The Cadbury Sister's were a musical highlight for me.

It was a combination of Alison's email, the man’s camouflage jacket and headgear that sparked the whole train of thought. No one is sure if the series of rock carvings are dancers or prisoners about to be sacrificed. Procuring prisoners for the altar was for the Aztecs the point of warfare, promotion being by the number of prisoners a warrior accrued.

Imperial, unstoppable,
brave beyond words,
take no prisoners-
but they did,
that was the point.
Does this man dance
or await the ritual butcher?
Choose your archaeologist.

Obligatory photo of the moon.

Have a good week.

Thursday 23 May 2013


Last July I wrote about a trip I made to London to see my friend, Nick Richard’s exhibition. The evening prompted me to write a poem that I want to share this post. It is, I feel, relatively straight forward and was inspired by a conversation I had that night while watching the sky darken over the river.


Corrugated, tidal river returns,
Slaps the muddy bank, again, again,
Imperious, impervious, eternal.
It was down there you tell me
You placed the etching plates,
For the Thames to pattern to its fancy,
Now rectangles of colour hang in galleries,
Messages from the river we cannot read.

Another walks that beach tonight,
Hunts for shards of London’s history,
As the mudlarks have done before him,
For this river tempts,
Hints at treasure twice a day.

You tell me the river’s beauty fades,
We no longer see those thin cranes
That suggested Martian war machines,
Just apartments, anodyne housing.

The sky is no longer the welcome pink,
That drew us out of doors to survey these changes.
Yet the past clings to every fired red brick.
Each mild steel stanchion
Holds the fading energy of other lives,
Echoes of those who moved to the rhythm of tides,
A shrinking colony of ghosts.

Each year more is lost,
Fewer buildings to ground the souls at sunrise.
So more disappear, evaporate at first light,
To go who knows where?
For energy, you say, cannot be lost,
But translates in form to something else.
As we humans erase our history
In the pursuit of the easy riches,
Evermore empty, our souls will have to touch plasterboard,
Less permanent than red brick,
Insubstantial when placed against river etched plate.

I was inspired by the idea that parts of us remain behind when we die, connected to the fabric of the buildings we inhabited or worked in and how the gentrification of the river is leading to a loss of connection to our history. Paul, to whom the poem is dedicated, once placed an etching plate into the Thames and produced a series of prints from the retrieved plate.
his weekend I am reading at the Lechlade Festival and also facilitating a poetry workshop. I wonder how that will etch the writings of the people who participate and what work they will produce?

I must say I found Gatsby very disappointing, over long and unsubtle. I thought Toby Maguire was miscast and the whole thing had the look of a tableau rather than a moving film.
Have a good weekend.

Friday 17 May 2013


I mentioned last post that we had been in Cornwall for the weekend, here are a couple of haikus I wrote during the time we were there.

Cold, thin, wind-blown day,
a tent pole buckling tempest
that does not let up.

The wind was rather brisk as we attempted to put up the camper van awning.

Cornwall camping field,
still Sunday morning, silence,
then the sky lark sings.

the purple sunset
coats the underneath of clouds
painting them solid

Solder sea, waves in flux,
dull reflections of mercury,
sea like molten tin.

Next Saturday and Sunday I am appearing at the Lechlade Festival. I am running a poetry workshop on Saturday and doing a reading the next day. If you are free why not come along? It will be a fun weekend with lots of good music.

I have also arranged a reading at the Taunton branch of Lush for the poetry group I facilitate, Juncture 25. This is a new initiative that Lush are running, they are offering to host local artists, mainly musicians on a Friday evening between 7 and 9pm. We are reading on the 7th June. Tickets are £3.00 and have to be bought before the event. Proceeds go to a local charity.

The magpies own the quad.
On the odd hot day, we may have use of it,
then they watch, half amused by our white flesh.
They will still be here when rain-lashed in winter,
we run for the shelter of the concrete cloister.

Have a good weekend. I am going to see the new version of The Great Gatsby this evening. I am not expecting much as it is one of my all-time favourite novels and the beauty is in the writing.

Friday 10 May 2013


This week’s title is nicked from a song by BridgetSt John, and comes from the album Songs For the Gentleman. I have been listening to a lot of music this week-most of it live. We spent last weekend in Cornwall at a campsite that prides itself on presenting good music.

We also saw John Grant’s tour on Tuesday in Bath. And to round off a week of quality music, Brooke Sharkey played a stunning house gig on Wednesday evening. What a voice and what a band. I was blown away. She is touring at this month and you owe it to yourself to go and see her live.

First poem-two versions. The first spaced out, the second more compressed.

observations on a late lecture


the group arrive in gobbets
spat from warm beds
across the frozen grass
 they fill the spaces as
computer refuses to talk to projector

today begins late

observations on a late lecture

9.03am grey Tuesday morning
the group arrive in gobbets
spat from warm beds, across the frozen grass
they fill the seats as
computer refuses to talk to projector
today begins late

Let me know what you think.

This second one is more of a reflection.

An accretion of zero and one
translates to words on a screen
as ephemeral, almost, as the thoughts
that lead you to stand in front of this class.
Lungs concertina, provide a plastic stream of air
that is malleable in the mouth.
The fleeting sounds bounce off the walls
prompt the students to write,
provokes further atolls of ones and zeros.

I wanted to focus on a cycle-we store our ideas and information as a sequence of ones and zeros, we read them out by manipulating a flow of air with our mouth and tongue, the sounds we make move the molecules of air. Then others hear what we say and store them as a sequence of ones and zeros on a computer.

This last one is an old poem.

the metaphor for our relationship would have to be a cheap transistor radio all brittle plastic bad wiring and an inability to stay on station you could hear the encroaching static crackle robbing either of us of any real rest in the end I got earache and switched the damn thing off only to discover that with the right poisoned atmospheric conditions I can still pick up your contempt like tinnitus or a bad tooth

Have a good weekend.

Friday 3 May 2013


One poem this week. One I wrote at the last Juncture 25 workshop.

Life has a habit if coming out of left field and telling you things you could never put into words. I had organised an exercise and as I set about the task with the others, out of the depths of my unconscious came this poem. Almost complete. I think I am standing too close to it to be critical. here it is.

For Christine

Moon for night, candle light,
a wooden triple candle stick,
burning fast, gone too quick,
the holder unnoticed smoulders.
Life has a habit of getting in the way.

A butterfly life, my dead dear wife,
that Santorini sunset
might have consumed the world,
what would we have done differently?
Living has a habit of getting in the way.

Can’t hold a candle,
so the wood keeps memories.
Saturday was your fiftieth birthday,
yet you never saw forty.
There is so much more I wanted to say.

I would be interested to know what you think of it.