Friday 29 May 2020


Another revised poem this post. Thanks again to the Secret Poets [and Zoom] for their invaluable input.
The poem has also gained a title [thanks to Chrissy Banks]. You can read previous draft here.


He sat down at the next table,
began editing papers
written in neat long hand.

We were holiday lax,
lippy with the wine.
The freedom of being in another country
had set us talking ten to the dozen.

Suddenly it occurs to me
he could be writing down our every word,
for he’s turned the paper over
and is scribbling hell for leather.
I wonder if we’re worth such an effort.

As we stand to go for the bus,
he packs up and shoulders past,
into the rain and the twilight.

I removed two words and it reads better.
Removing a word and seeing if the poem still reads well without it indicates that the word may be superfluous to understanding of the poem, though sometimes they remain because of metre [though not much in my work].

I've been listening to lots of jazz [no change there] but here are Tinariwen.

Until next time.

Friday 22 May 2020


A poem about social distancing, or as Billy Bragg was advocating the other evening, spatial distancing. It was inspired by how the pandemic has changed my wife's behaviour. Usually she would pick up cans and other rubbish lazier people had dropped in the street. She does not do this now. Though thankfully there is less about. 
Anyway her behaviour led me to write this.

not so long ago
she would have picked up that bottle
the morning after merry makers had dropped it
along with all the other litter
scattered by the thoughtless
now she leaves it be
keeps to herself

he concentrates on keeping his distance
no jane austin character
was ever more precise

they pass
he raises his hat
they do not speak

he double checks the space between them

If I am honest I do not understand the mindset of people who simply drop what they no longer need in the street. Seems alien to me. Lazy. 

Here's a video of Anna Ternheim.

Until next time.

Friday 15 May 2020


Another revised poem this post. Thanks to the Secret Poets via Zoom for their thoughts and feedback- a joy as ever.
You can read the first draft here.

my life in letters

for me bs and ds were interchangeable
one letter and its reflection I could fit wherever
this practice marked me a slow learner
word blind and spelling remained a mystery

my mothers advice to break
down difficult words baffled me
for I never said them
like they were spelled

the thesaurus became my life preserver
as I looked up words of similar meaning
and hoped what I required was waiting patiently
amid the ranks and columns with its friends

the spell check facility of middle age
enabled spellings to be puzzled out
different combinations chanced
until the red underlining went away

secretly I still suspect those people
who demand rigid spellings
who fear the world of bespoke words
tailored to suit that unique moment

The second stanza has changed and there are changes to the second line of the last stanza. Now I think that line reads [and speaks] better.
The second stanza may not quite be there, watch this space.

Here's Shelagh McDonald.

Util next time.

Friday 8 May 2020


I have been revising more than writing this week. I believe that we have to experience before we can write and we all need time to charge up the memory banks. 
Here are a couple of interlinked [by virtue of being started on the same day] poems from a brief trip to France last December. You can read the originals here.
I was not happy with the second poem because when I came to look at it again I did not think it told its story clearly.

Île de Batz

the sea has removed itself
in the dirty bay the upright boats are patient

the sea wall
built by hand in my grandfather’s day
speaks of a winter tide
gestated mid-Atlantic
angry impatient
no laughing matter

they have to have a second go
surprised the door did not shut itself
disbelieving that the mere act
of pulling it towards them was insufficient 

The first has lost a line that described the sea wall and is the better for it. I have also changed the spacing to try and set the scene with the first two lines before moving on to focus on the subject of the poem.

Here's the Mountain Goats, you can order their new album from Bandcamp

Until next time.

Friday 1 May 2020



 Another poem about those special moments of insight this post.
If you have not seen William Blake's etching then you are in for a rare treat.
Spit bite is another term for etching, you can read about it here.

an hour out of time

I could almost taste the past
with those colours on my tongue
that music on my skin
I was infinity, the shortest line
on William Blake’s copper plate,
an acid burned, spit bite etching,
at liberty to walk between the spaces of the world.

I have talked before about how much I value those times, however brief, when you can see the world anew. 
Here's Laura Marling.

Until next time.