Saturday 20 June 2015


I have found myself asking lots of questions in my poetry recently. I think they are the questions I should be asking in my head before the poem gets to the page actually. Nothing is really working. 
It will pass. 
These moments when there is no clarity do not last.
Here is the only thing I am half happy with at the moment.
In the National Gallery is a hurrying man.
He spends six seconds photographing each painting in turn,
low light compositions with fourteen mega-pixel clarity.
The artists whisper through his white plastic earplugs,
bigging themselves up, revealing, giving the low down.
He's half way through the building and he's heard it all before.
As he leaves for the next room,
I ponder his actions, they speak in a foreign tongue,
I ask myself is this art?
It was inspired by a man who I saw in the National Gallery doing the exact same thing this week.
I leave you with Tanita Tikaram playing Make the Day.

Friday 12 June 2015


The results of the second workshop  for the reading at the University of St. Mark and St. John
The second photograph is entitled Benjamin Moody, St. Johns, 1912-13
The man in the middle of the seated row is holding a hand written sign that says Smiler's Brigade.
The first thing that struck me about this was the date and how close to the start of the First World War it was. 

They are fourteen months from the edge,
the abrupt end to that particular day,
of course none of them have an inkling
of how their world will crumble into mud.
All that is to come.
At this moment,
a Saturday in June, 1913,
they have it all.
This pride of privileged white men,
top of the heap,
the In-Crowd.
Smiler's Brigade of what?
You don't need to know to appreciate
just what an exclusive bunch they are.
Cock of the walk of St. Johns.
The bird will crow three times,
how many of them will be left in 1918?
At the workshop we were all intrigued by seated man fourth from the right, the one who appears to have a dog collar and square sun glasses on. 
I wrote this light hearted verse about him:

that argument
you know the one
if Mr. Wells' time machine was real
why haven't we met men from the future
is a load of crap
history is snigh with time travelling thrill seekers
we just chose not to reveal ourselves
this century I'm playing a vicar
Smiler's right hand man
and today
fifty or so years too early
it's the electric cool aid acid test
Snigh is an old English word which, when I looked it up, means to pour. I know it as a dialect word in the north west of England from when I was growing up. For me snigh means crowded, tight packed.
If you want to know about the electric cool aid acid test, you can follow this link.
Here are the Mountain Goats with Amy/Spent Gladiator pt1.
And here's some more:

Friday 5 June 2015


At times you have to remove your favourite line from a poem for it to work. This is difficult as you are in love with it. You must be ruthless. I have a collection of such lines that I hope will come in useful at some unspecified point in the future.
This first poem came out of a conversation about cuts to the Disabled Students Allowance that our wonderful new government is bringing in this year. They refuse to see dyslexia as a disability.

She trots out all the famous examples,
the people who got on regardless.
Pluck and determination, that's the ticket.
Implicit in her philosophy
is that the ones who struggle, those who fail,
are lazy, shirkers, wanting something for nothing.
I reply people are all different.
Some need more help.
It could have been me,
it could have been you.
She counters with:
I had no support at university!
I had to get on with it!
Then urges me to think of the cost
that supporting dyslexic students adds to our tax bills.
I talk of level playing fields,
equality of access.
She tuts and shakes her head,
regards me as a museum piece.
She knows she is right.
Thatcher's child only concerned with me, me, me.
There was a further [short] stanza that began with my favourite line but it would have weakened the poem.

earthquakes in his head
seismographs show the damage
those blue eyes see elsewhere

here he whispers
something about sugar
and horses brought by his brother

certain music sparks neural pathways
sets him singing
a fine tenor

only forty four with all his life behind him
I am not going to talk about this poem. I think it explains itself.
Here are the Mountain Goats with The Legend of Chavo Guerrero off their latest album Beat The Champ.