Friday 31 August 2018


Another poem about space this post.
I think it came from watching too many cheap science fiction tv series. You know the kind, where every planet looks like earth. 

They land on a new planet,
step out into a forest reminiscent of Canada,
because that’s the cheapest location
for American television series,
those epics shot on a budget.
Space travellers never offer
an explanation for this carbon copy of earth.
No vague reference to some pan-galactic seeding
by a god-like forerunner species,
that accounts for the parallel evolution
and absence of anaphylactic shock inducing
nasty little microbes,
that you would probably encounter on a world
teaming with its own take on life.
No, it’s just a convenient other planet,
ready to be plundered. 
I read at Torquay's Stanza Extravaganza on Tuesday evening. It was a lovely venue and standing room only. 
I read some poems I had not tried out in public before and one needed re-jigging. You can read the original here

Poem for C

Given the economies
of supermarket squash
and the cheapest of vodkas,
it had always been
how much could he drink,
in the shortest amount of time,
to keep ahead of blacking out,
to avoid the grey dawns
when monochromatic
migraine imitating aftermaths
immobilised him in a space
where he could do nothing
but relive it all over again.

I met him in the fragile truce of sobriety
he called it his jigsaw days.
He placed his pieces
into shapes that just might work,
into patterns that had eluded him on the drink.
Some events, he confided, never end,
so you have to find different ways of getting on with it.

It was difficult to read in its previous form. Sometimes you only discover this when you are performing.
I've been listening to Corrina Repp a lot recently, but I've already posted her superb album here.
Anne Briggs has also been on the turntable this week. I've just found this snippet of a BBC4 series Folk Britannia.
English folk music doesn't get much better.
You can watch the series on Youtube. Here's part one.
Until next time.

Friday 24 August 2018


A poem about potential this post.
I have asserted many times that poems are all around us and that the job of the poet is to spot them. This poem is about how at times we are more susceptible to their allure than we are at other times.

The Possibilities of Poetry

The night creaked with potential,
even the rotary washing line hinted at a masterpiece,
as it sprouted from the weed flecked gravel,
each green shoot a hymn to the tenacity of life
and the sky’s subtle shift towards darkness
spoke of relationships rebalanced,
distances altered and subsequent enlightenments.
The stars, when visible, whispered age old stories
in languages almost within my comprehension,
for my head lacked a trip switch and reality poured in.

We need to cherish those peak moments of awareness when they occur.
Needless to say I did not write any of the poems that presented themselves. I chose, instead, to write about the process.
I think I should end with a masterpiece.

Until next time.

Friday 17 August 2018


Another apocalyptic poem.
It is springs from real life. I recently moved and when it rained on Saturday night I awoke to find a pool of water by my back door. The moss that grows on the roof has been washed down the guttering and had blocked the drain.
I shall know for the future...
However it led to this.

the foretelling

every time it rains moss from off the roof
tumbles down the gutter to block the drain
and faced with a pool of still water
am required to plunge my hand
into its rippling surface
and pull wet velvet from the cast iron grid

if humans disappeared tomorrow
this house would flood in a single solar cycle
then slowly fall in on itself
and no one would remain to witness
the world becoming something else
our brief aberration ceased
I actually think it is about there. Which is unusual for me at the moment as most of the poems I write are definitely works in progress.
I was listening to Anthem In Eden last night. What an enduring achievement of English folk music. Some kind person has posted the whole song suite-happy listening.
And if that is not enough here is Polly On The Shore.
Until next time.

Friday 10 August 2018


A more personal poem than usual this post.
I have been working on it for some time now and I owe thanks to the Secret Poets for their constructive feedback. 


Running moorland streams,
the rush of water from wherever
to this precise point, now,
the moment we reach the edge,
five different lives down by the river,
watching migrant molecules conjoin.

We arrive on this planet
to arise from the plainest of carbon.
Life makes unique combinations
from the simplest of atoms,
just like your life,
whose ending we mark this night.

It is my turn,
I tip your ashes,
the water clouds
then clears.
I am not sure that the middle stanza works as clearly as I want it to. Essentially what I am trying to convey is the wonder of life, how the disparate atoms and elements transform for an all too brief time and enable our individual consciousnesses to experience this world.
But I also want to keep the whole poem low key and simple, straightforward and descriptive.
Phew! Not trying to do much then eh?
I feel this poem requires another rewrite.
I have been listening to lots of Manu Chao lately, it could be because Clandestino is next to the CD player in the kitchen or it could just be because it's a great album.
Until next time.

Friday 3 August 2018


I feel I need to offer some explanation about this week's post.
James Kay-Shuttleworth founded Marjons in 1840. He was part of a political/religious movement that wanted to offer the working classes education. I am one of the many people who benefited from his vision.
Recently a friend sent me a BBC News page about Gawthorpe Hall. The following poem grew out of these events.

A Poem of Two Summers

i Then

At least, for now, the rain has stopped
the room remains cluttered with words
to describe this wet summer,
and prayers of thanks it is not as bad as 1816.
It is damp enough to keep them penned inside,
so he reads the letter once more.

Mr Kay-Shuttleworth realises he has had enough of the cage,
perceives the time has come, steps out into the garden.

The burdened leaves impart more water
than is healthy on his black broadcloth coat,
he does not care, for things come together,
such liberating circumstances as will free men
to build God’s Kingdom on this earth,
equality through education.

ii Now

Now the summer has wrung every
drop of moisture from the soil
I see the shadow of that Victorian garden.
Its ghost outline vividly demarcated
on the screen of my mobile phone,
over two hundred miles away
and nearly two hundred years later,
informed of its significance
for the hundreds of thousands, like me,
who have benefited from that vision,
I give thanks and praises that people
once cared enough to give others the opportunities
that these days we are more intent on removing.

I should also explain that the summer of 1816 was the worst on record due to a volcanic explosion. 
I know this poem is not complete and I am wondering if the end is not too much tell and not enough show.
The difference between the Victorian sense of social duty and now is tremendous. In those days it was commonly agreed that it was everyone's duty to improve the lot of the less fortunate. How times have changed.
Here's Brooke Sharkey earlier this year in Manchester.
Until next time.