Friday 29 November 2019


The photographs don't match the poem. Here is one of the cats I share a house with taking an unhealthy interest in the television.
In a way it compliments the poem. Theseus, who is remembered best for slaying the Minotaur, wasn't by our present day standards a particularly pleasant person. He is described on Wikipedia as: Theseus, a great abductor of women, as if that was something to be proud of. 


He likes that we remember him for that first hit,
the one he whacked for his seat in eternity.
He sleeps inside your memory until
someone mentions labyrinth or Minotaur
and asks what was the name of that bloke?
The one with the thread and sword,
though we tend to forget how keen was the edge
and that it became his primary problem solving strategy.

I wonder if he’d not been better off staying in that cave,
at least he’d have missed out on the mixed reviews
following on from when he abandoned the woman
who’d given him the string and sword,
she was the brains of the outfit,
but he left her, high tailed it back to Athens,
those black sails prompting his father’s suicide
and his swift ascension to the top.

Yes, he’d rather we forgot the messy details
and just remember him for that one wet job.

The mention of the black sails refers to the fact that when sailing from Athens to Crete the ship had black sails. Theseus told his father, the king, he would unfurl white sails on his return, as a message of his success but left in a hurry after deserting Ariadne as she slept. The king seeing black sails jumped from the cliffs to his death. 
It was rather a mess all round. 
Here's a 1967 take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth by The Herd. Psychedelia at its best.

Until next time.

Friday 22 November 2019


I have been trying different layouts for this poem. It essentially is a monologue and I had been thinking of a prose poem but on the page it did not look right. Several attempts later I settled on the present form.

I watch the care staff smoke
they stand in all weathers
what I assume is
the required distance from the front door
as their exhaust whips around them

until this week
each morning
as I make a pot of tea
I used to see
a man in a wheelchair
smoking as if his life depended on it
now I wonder if it did

Again, this poem is just an observation. As I have said many times on this blog, poems are all around us, the knack is to see them and give them space on the page.
The care staff tend to stand near the bus stop rather than the front door of the care home which led me to assume there was a set distance from the premises in which they could not smoke. I think the same must be true for the service users as the man who was a wheelchair user also was usually to be found by the bus stop.

Here's John Martyn in 1978. I think this captures both the chaos and the beauty of his art.

Until next time.

Friday 15 November 2019


A poem inspired by the workshop I ran at Tropical Pressure. The workshop focused on finding treasure in the house of a person who hoarded everything and this poem is another riff on the whole hoarding urge.

She was dozing, half hearing
the man on the television
explain solar system formation.
How eddies in the gravity
started the slow accumulation,
made molecules bind
and in that second she knew
this was the fate of her house,
all the unemptied shopping bags,
the clothes strewn floors,
every piece of everything that
she could never part with,
was due to a wrinkle in space/time
and not to her own actions.
The mound of plastic bags
would become a mountain
then a planet ripping the earth asunder.

She woke on her friends sofa,
soap and replaced science,
she flicked it over to the shopping channel,
there was work to be done.

I like the idea of planet building and to the best of my knowledge the solar system formed around a small wrinkle in gravity. 
I am not sure that this is the finished draft but I think it is nearly there.

Here's Chip Taylor. 

Until next time.

Tuesday 12 November 2019


The Uninvited is Chrissy Banks’ second collection and was recently published by Indigo Dreams. I have to say it is excellent and I have been returning to it again and again, over the past month. There is a quiet beauty to Chrissy's work and I have long been a fan.

The theme of The Uninvited is “what lives in shadow is always seeking a gap.” Chrissy is the cartographer of those liminal spaces that flicker on the edge of vision, a chronicler of the abandoned and ignored:

A house that’s forgotten
bellowing air, the pulse
of music and dance -
too long without children.

There is joy and a quiet humanity in its pages:

Sometimes all you need do
is ask, walk through the door
to the next room. Even now,
they are setting a place for you.

A thread of autobiography runs through The Uninvited, there are tales of Chrissy’s childhood and the strong women of her family.

the leggy girls from Liverpool, long-lashed, lush-lipped
hairtossers, hipswingers, quickwitted teasers and twisters,
minis under maxis, some slant eye boy on their mezzled minds

Even these autobiographical poems echo the temporary, seasonal workers on the Isle of Man were known as comeovers, the mystery of who exactly Uncle Lawrence was, and a New Year’s Eve’s ferry caught in all it’s diverse beauty. Her humanity and compassion are present on every page, this is a wondrous collection.

I urge you to check out this book. It is the work of a true poet. 

Friday 8 November 2019


A poem that just appeared in my head one morning. It was about a week after the clocks had gone back and the idea for the poem arrived fully formed. 

Eventually he found the timepiece,
after ransacking his living space.
A small quartz unit, battery powered,
and as accurate as scientific method,
just the sort of item he’d never choose to own.

It was in the left hand pocket of his woollen overcoat,
the one he had not worn since the cold snap in late spring,
their planning had been long in the making,
so the stakes must be appropriately steep.

He held the cheap thing,
as light in his palm as thoughtless sin,
changed the position of the hands,
felt the rightness that had eluded him
for the seven disturbed days return.

Ever since the clocks went back
that secret wrist watch had rippled his time,
ensured he was out of step.
Other questions now clamoured to be answered.

I think there should be a follow up, who exactly placed the watch that disturbed the narrator? Honestly I have not idea. Though as a story it has legs. Let us wait and see if anything develops.

Here's a treat, Anna Ternheim live with the Kaiser Quartet. Only another twelve days and I shall be seeing her live myself.

Until next time.

Friday 1 November 2019



This post a poem about urban renewal. It is based on an old, large house being demolished to make way for flats near where I live.

 It took five working days to do for the house,
one implacable machine of cold force did it in,
supplied as it was with an endless chain
of hard lorries to disappear the evidence.
The wallpaper sloughed off
all those exposed inner spaces,
at least the rain kept the dust down
if not the sounds of the building’s death.
After that they scraped the naked earth,
removed half the garden, most of the lawn,
demarcating the dimensions of the car park.
The flats rose quickly after that.

For me it was sad to pass by a grand old house being demolished. Perhaps this is the fate that awaits all our endeavours? 
In Torquay there is a move to build on the brownfield sites which must be welcomed. It is just a pity that the big old houses cannot be refurbished.

Here's Jay Farrar with Barstow. 

Until next time.