Friday 29 October 2021



Another couple of poems that I began on my poetry retreat. The first arose from an exercise that required me to describe my earliest memory. Camp Coffee, which is mentioned in the poem, was an instant coffee and chicory mixture that was popular in my childhood. 

earliest memory

when me and my mum

came out of Berry’s corner shop

that overcast autumn morning

my three year old hand in her calloused palm

she said to me

as we walked along Wallace Street

let’s go home and have a nice hot drink

in my head I could see

the Camp Coffee steaming

in my little white cup

milky, mud brown, sweet as the hive

It is what it is really. I think I have managed to do the memory justice.

This second poem is another inspired by my visit to Charles Causely's  house/museum. In one bedroom a perspex case was fastened to the wall and it contained a number of items that I suppose had belonged to the poet. The collection seemed to lend itself to being a poem.


china bull

stained glass star

amber eyed angora

adorned matchbox cover

library card

signature fading fast

time stopped alarm clock

forever 12:05


and you can almost hear

the silver peeling off the mirror

I suppose my initial impression was sadness that his signature on his library card was fading. One day soon it will vanish and that seems a shame.

I leave you with a new video from Annabelle Chvostek.

Until next time.

Friday 22 October 2021



As part of my poetry retreat last weekend I was fortunate enough to spend Saturday morning looking round Charles Causeley's house, which is now a museum and pretty much preserved as it was at the time when he died. 

Charles Causeley spent most of his life in Launceston, Cornwall. He was a school teacher at the same school he had been a pupil. He was quite simply an excellent poet. 

Though I was conscious when I was looking round that I was in his personal space I did write this poem.

Rummaging Through Charles Causeley’s Record Collection

nothing grabs me

too classical by far

save for a solitary

Oscar Peterson plays Cole Porter

I could grove to that

but the atom powered Dansette

monophonic record player is missing its needle

and I feel too much the tomb robber

I never have been able to resist looking through someone's music collection, but I'm not sure what that says about me. By the way Dansette was an old record player from the 1950/60s. 

on exploring Charles Causeley’s house

we might be buyers with money to burn

this could be a viewing

house all shipshape

bristol fashion

I am in the footsteps of a poet I don’t know

a most modest master

so I search for clues

open drawers look in wardrobes

but you cannot wear another’s words

purloin their inspiration

it doesn’t work like that

I think tomb robber is about right for how I felt. I was conscious of the fact that I was looking for inspiration in the very place where most of his ideas coalesced. It was unique experience and thanks to Annie for organising the weekend. 

I have to end with Natalie Merchant's version of Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience, a poem by Charles Causeley.

Until next time. 

Friday 15 October 2021



I have been looking at some old poems, lines I wrote over ten years ago and thinking that had I wrote them today they would have been laid out differently. This is a poem I have always liked.

I keep watch

sometimes I am invisible

pass through the crowd unseen

walked into

not noticed


in another life I would have tailed you

noted down your conversation

those you stopped to talk with

reported you for some meaningless infraction

here you bump into me

I am happy not to be seen

out of phase

you do not follow me

I keep watch

You can read the original version here. All I have done is let the poem breathe and removed the rather staid punctuation.

Similarly with this one.

Stripping Woodchip

Even with an industrial strength steamer

the paper will blister and bubble

before flensing under scraper blade.

It will take longer to remove than to fit.

Heavy paste

no worries if the paper stretched

it will cover many things.

In this case institutional green walls

the shade of urinals and forgotten wards.

It seems the whole house was this colour.

Did it comfort the painter

knowing every room was identical?

Was the woodchip a stop gap?

Or an illustration of limited thinking?

There are no pencilled signatures under the coarse paper

no record of identity or belonging.

The job expands and takes forever.

I've changed the odd word. A flensing tool is what was used to peel the fat off dead whales [I know it's disgusting but the image works]. You can read the original here.

I am on a poetry retreat this weekend with the Secret Poets, hopefully I shall have some new poems for you next week. I leave you with Loch Lomond who are recording a new album as I write.

Until next time.

Friday 8 October 2021



Here's a poem I have been working on for a long time. There's not many lines to it but getting it exactly the way it should be took patience. It was based on a memory, an image of standing in the foyer of the Taunton cinema and looking at the rain soaked car park shining in the afternoon light. I made up the rest. 

unexpectedly half way through the film

the plot twisted to mirror

certain events from his history

he sat in the darkness

once more

tasting his own indecision

looking out of the glass doors of the foyer

he thought the afternoon light had taken on the cast of the sea

the car park a washed out watercolour

he was silent all the way home

Does knowing it is mostly fiction detract from the poem?
I do not think so. 

Sometimes the simple poems are the most difficult to write. This one wrote itself when I heard someone say that they were the opposite of a dancer.

today he feels

the opposite of a dancer


splay footed

off the beat

as if the alarm clock

had woken him

a fraction too late

Again this is a simple poem and it wrote itself in no time. I have no idea why some take longer than others. Perhaps it is to do with clarity of vision. The clearer you see the poem, the easier it is to write?

Brooke Sharkey has a new single out. It is superb, haunting, beautiful.

Until next time.

Friday 1 October 2021



Have you ever played a trust game? Those exercises that depend upon you trusting the other participants? I did recently for the first time in ages. We had to run across an empty room into the arms of the other people, simple you might think, but you had to wear a blindfold. 

I think I took about a hundred years to cross, slowly, four metres. Hence this poem.


twenty of us wait in a ragged line

to catch the blindfold runner

who slows to a tentative halt

two-thirds of the way across

the rehearsal room floor

though the next paces out the twelve steps

he forgets to count before he stops

an arms length from salvation

and so it goes each person quick or slow

then it’s my turn to wear the sleep mask

I totter many miles

before welcoming arms hold me

I am not sure it is complete yet, I only wrote it this week, so am far too close to see the flaws. I was going to call it The Blindfold Runner but I think Trust is a better title. Watch this space on that one.

Here's Aterciopelados

Until next time.