Friday 22 February 2019


A poem of exile this post. Not sure where it arrived from but I give thanks it did.
One word of explanation: red biddy is a mixture of cheap red wine and methylated spirits, a drink of the truly desperate. I came across it in a Christy Moore song and had to look it up. The internet is wonderful for access to instant knowledge.

His last great splendid had sailed,
took some time to realise it was so.
He walked the changing shore,
watched the waves,
kidded himself that a life
lived beside the water kept it real.
Eventually it sank in,
through his pores if not his eyes.
His last great splendid had sailed
and here he was,
illusions quenched in brine and red biddy,
discovering he was the wrong side of a sea
too deep to wade, too far to leap.
The sun had set, the night was cold.

The poem arose out of the phrase his last great splendid. I don't have a clear idea of what it means but it seems loaded with significance. This is definitely a work in progress. One to be put away for a couple of months.
Benjamin Folke Thomas is on tour at the moment, he's opening for Beans On Toast, and they are well worth catching if you can.
Here is Rhythm and Blues.
Until next time.

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.