Friday 25 December 2015


A revised poem to start this post.
Thanks must go to Juncture 25 for helping me to make sense of what I had written. I knew that something in the poem wasn't right but could not put my finger on it.

In his head it is always summer,
he refuses autumn permission
to taint even a single leaf.
Across impossibly green lawns,
in high ceilinged rooms,
where fans churn stale words,
he replays his life:
driving that new red car;
dancing at his wedding;
pausing in the departure hall
surrounded by all those people.
Where are they now?

Outside his head rain tattoos the tin roof.
Summer has gone missing,
spring is eighteen months late
and freak weather has reduced his world.
All across the English Archipelago
survivors fear their neighbours,
eat up seed stocks,
worry about the sea level,
or that the water will rise in a moving wall
and sweep them away, once and for all.
There was that night some discussion as to whether you can have a two stanza poem or if it needs three stanzas to work. Not bound to the Hegelian Dialectic I am happy with two.
 A little poem that I've been working on for some time.


An improvised library lesson.
Old books, a random collection,
grown over more time than my life.
Yellow postcard, typed questions,
the e lower then the other letters.
All the facts we were told are in this room.

I couldn't find the answer I was looking for,
it was the books that were dumb,
I knew what it was as soon as I saw the question.
I walked up to Mr. Farr, all tweed and fag ash,
pointed in the direction of the nature books
and told him a bee dies when it stings.

I gambled on his laziness,
but not him stopping the class,
and announcing no one had ever found
that fact in these books before.
It was fair, he said, to give credit
where credit was due.

This was the start of my career as a liar.
It happened like it is written back when I was 11. Though I cannot remember why I wanted to answer the question in the first place.
Here's Anne Briggs and Bert Jansch with Blackwaterside.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

STONEHENGE: 22.12.2015

I am just back from watching the sunrise on the shortest day at Stonehenge.
I like to celebrate the Winter Solstice, but this was the first time I had been to Stonehenge to do so.
 As you can see it was rammed, though not, I was reliably informed, as rammed as the Midsummer Solstice. It was crowded enough for me.
What I like to take from the Midwinter Solstice is a sense of the earth renewing itself, of us swinging toward the long, light nights of May and June.
I can't honestly say that was what I got. 
I had never been so close to the stones and they do have a power to them and I was glad that I had left the house at 5am to experience it.
Next year I shall be somewhere quieter.
Happy New Year to you and yours.
May it be everything you could wish for.

Friday 18 December 2015


Last post I mentioned that I'd been working on some poems, well here is one, it's about ready for sharing. It is not finished by any means but the bones are there. 

Here we are in the fabled Wild West,
you know the one,
peopled exclusively by white men.
A land that was only new to these invaders,
whose idea of civilisation had no room for others.
So lets play along with the myth
and the story arc of the over the hill gunslinger,
whose lost his nerve and is on one last job,
that leads him to stand outside a door,
wondering if his death waits inside.

Taste his fear, see his hands shake.
He gathers himself, and kicks that door open,
outdraws the bad men
[though he is the one dressed in black]
and frees the farmers, as he was supposed to.
Absorbed in his own legend, he pauses,
watches the farmers fighting back,
is shot in the stomach and dies holding on to wall.

Then there's me, sat in the dark,
right side of the white line,
Saturday afternoon films, 1961.
That scene has stayed with me since,
the film one of my favourites,
perhaps I was just the right age to be impressed,
to buy into their world vision
- this was pre-internet,
before the communication revolution.
I had yet to watch Vietnam unfold
nightly on the tv news,
or to see the American Empire begin to crumble.
The Magnificent Seven is one of my favourite films and recently I had been talking about that scene, the one the poem describes and it led me to write the poem. Robert Vaughan plays the gunfighter but I can't find the clip of his death on line- apologies.
I did however find Annabelle Chvostek singing Racing With The Sun.

Saturday 12 December 2015


I have been writing and amending poems this week, none of them though are of a state to share.
Here is a poem  I have been refining for the past month or so.
I read a review of a book that allegedly wanted to prepare us for life after this civilisation collapses, it claimed that it would take one human 53 years to eat the contents of an average supermarket. Facts like that lodge easily in my head.


I once read in some book that claimed to chart our failed future
that, theoretically, it would take a single human
53 years to eat the contents of a supermarket,
given electricity, I supposed, and a can opener
and a stove that worked for that long.
I'm on the third floor reading poetry,
when it occurs to me that it would take several lifetimes
to read every book in this library.
When this world is gone, if I am left,
would I be tempted to burn books to keep warm?
I suppose the answer to the question is yes, I would burn a book. Perhaps if we did survive we would turn our backs on the knowledge that the civilisation had been built on. What do you think?
Here's Anna Turnheim singing Goodbye.
And here's another new song.

Monday 7 December 2015


Regular readers of this blog will know of Brooke Sharkey.
She is wondrously talented, an amazing songwriter and stupendous singer.
Brooke is currently crowd funding for her new album. You could be part of this exciting movement.
If you click here you can pre order the new CD, donate money or get one of the many unique offers available. You could arrange to have Brooke and her superb band play a concert in your house. This would be an unforgettable experience. I know, she recently did a set in my house and it was unbelievably good.
Brooke is an independent artist, please support her fundraising. 
Why not give someone a unique gift this Christmas?

Saturday 5 December 2015


I don't watch or listen to the news. I stopped do so about 8 years ago, it was making me too anxious and depressed. I used to listen to Radio4 while I ate breakfast, in the car on the way to work, then listen to the midday news and the evening broadcast as I cooked. It was too much. 
I think we are all consumed with rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. We are failing to do what we need to do to save this planet.
I feel better in my state of ignorance.
Thursday evening, for a number of different reasons, I found myself in a place with no internet connection, without my reading glass and with only 2 stations accessible on the television.
I watched the 6pm news broadcast on BBC1.
I wrote this poem yesterday.


In the blink of an eye
kinetic, aggressively named war planes,
take off then land.
We are shown, we are told,
the jets empty bomb racks.
Cut to Mr. Insincere being almost serious,
he is telling us,
the pilots won't be home for Christmas,
as if he'd let them be anyway.
Listen to his banal words
preparing us for the long haul.
Next we see the newsreaders reassuring face.
Cut to the Parliamentary vote
that has made all this legal.
Note how much airtime is given to the hawks for war,
and try to remember that since 1945,
the majority of people killed in conflicts
have been civilians.

In World War 2 two thirds of the dead were civilian. In the conflicts since 1945 the percentage of non-combatants killed has risen to 90% of the total dead.
We have to do something but I am not sure that bombing is the answer.
We, as a society, ask much of our armed forces. I do not think we offer them enough support when they return from the battle.