Friday 30 December 2022


Recently I have been using the Goat Island book of creative exercises to spark the muse. I have mentioned it before, I was given a copy by a friend, who swears by it as a means of unlocking creativity. It is certainly sending me in different directions to my normal process.


feet off the floor

the spine curves

centre of gravity alters

and here you are

rocking in the breeze

zero ballast

your shirt your sail

tack into the wind

above the pavement

there is now no rule book

all will become clear

I like the idea of being weightless and floating down the road like a sailing ship. There is a dream like feel to the concept. This second poem is about a print I have had for many years.


she had stood in the bathroom

early digital camera over her shoulder

the trick if there was one

minimise the lens

maximise her back her neck

that half of the head she never sees

photoshopped in A-Level art class

etched on a plate

printed on art quality paper

and sold to me over twenty years ago

The direction to watch the back of your head could have involved physicality, mirrors or a periscope, but it reminded me of the print. I am always unsure about poems based on art works as without the illustration it is difficult for the poem to stand alone. 

Here's Iron and Wine with Calexico

Until next time.

Friday 23 December 2022


Thanks to the Secret Poets for yet again making sense of a poem for me, much appreciated. This poem appeared a couple of months ago, you can read it here. Dreams are important to me, I think we gain insight as we sleep. Occasionally I awaken with a poem in my head, though this one materialised one morning as I jotted some other ideas down.

I Still Remember

you’ve been in my dreams again

I can’t blame the times or the season

for this spate of visitations

half remembered conversations

you are always thirty

now I am old enough to be your father

and the last witness to what we had

our memory keeper

I am not going to go into details. I'm just going to leave it here.

Sadly this week Terry Hall died at the young age of 63. He was part of my youth and I have always followed his career with interest. He will be missed.

Until next time.

Thursday 22 December 2022


Since we moved to Torquay nearly five years ago the weather on the shortest day has been cloudy or wet. This year was different and we were able to great the Solstice and celebrate the coming new year.

Sadly it is too far to drive to Avebury to celebrate with the other pantheists, from Taunton it was a good two hours but it would be over three now. So we celebrated at our beach hut. 

May the coming year bring you happiness and peace.

Saturday 17 December 2022


Apologies for the tardy arrival of this week's post. I have not been well. Today another exercise from the Goat Island Book of creativity exercises. The prompt was:


I had a plan

once the sapling took root

I gave my hats away

though that winter was cold

my bare head and thin trunk

shivered in the cutting wind

increasingly doorways become problematic

bow or stoop?

as the branches spread

narrow entrances were impossible

so I have to shout through the window

when I want bread from the baker

I drive with the sunroof open

increased petrol use wind in my branches

I eat for two in autumn

in preparation

my thoughts sluggish this second winter

as the tree on my head slumbers

I'd been thinking the prompt over for a couple of days before I wrote anything down. What struck me was how much space you would require and how difficult entrances and exits would be. The end arrived easily. It is a workshop poem, though a video would be fun...

I leave you with an exciting new group from Catalonya Lola & the Rhinos. This is their latest video My Rules.

Until next time.

Friday 9 December 2022


Another poem that wears its origin on its sleeve. I was in a car driving down the M5 looking at a spider's web. The rest of it took sometime to shape.

you drive down the M5

we talk

the sun sets behind us

across the wing mirror

a web flexes

vibrates in the turbulence

I think of my own anchor points

how little it would take

to send me tumbling in the slipstream

Someone said of Burning Music, my first collection, that it was all rather accessible, as if this was a bad thing, no cryptic verse to worry over long into the night. At the time I was upset by this, thinking the act of producing a book was akin to climbing Mount Everest. Now I wear my accessibility as a badge of pride. 

I wrote this after watching a man cross the road. It is what it is.

he is his own master

the crosses the road

disdainful of the traffic lights

his odd splayed gait

carries him safely to the other side

what need has he for lights that inform

when to step forward    when to wait

he knows best

Here is a song from 1970, The Move, in all their glory.

Until next time.  

Friday 2 December 2022


The weather has been unseasonably warm recently which has allowed us to have Sunday brunch at the beach hut. Usually it's too cold by the middle of November. This post's poem is reportage. I watched a man scatter ashes on to the sea.

the tide is just on the turn

not that he could tell

but it needs it going out

all the way down the worn salt steps

holds the handrail

he fears he might fall

stands on the thin rib of the shore

sea smoothed gravel

footfalls counterpoint the sea

the urn is light but heavy

weight upon his shoulders

unscrews the lid

grey ash onto white water

tips three times

on three outgoing waves

shakes the canister

grey motes on the air

retraces his footprints

I wanted the poem to be spare, economical in its description and with no back story. The focus on the action not the thought.

Here's Toumani and Sidiki Djabati. Such wonderful music.

Until next time.

Friday 25 November 2022


On Friday last I spent the day with the Secret Poets. What joy! Thank you Secrets for such a splendid and productive day. This is a poem revised with their help. You can read the previous version here.

Crossing The Teign With The Window Down

it was love at first note

the wind and the bass solo eloped

straight out of my car

[I was crossing the bridge at the time

but this is their story not mine]

seven miles out bopping on the sea

the notes rearrange as they please

delighting the dolphins with their atonality

It's always interesting listening to what other people make of your work. There was some confusion as to the identity of those eloping. I hope this version makes it clearer. Here is another revision. You can read the earlier draft here.

the well at the world’s end

she had walked to the edge of her world

it took as long as you’d expect

and was as difficult as it sounds

at the world’s edge

she found her holy well

truth be told

the people who drew their water

from it everyday

saw it in a different way

but kept their own counsel

grant each of us the eyes we need in this life

Again the changes hopefully improve clarity. Plus the layout is tidier. Thank you Secrets.

Here's some reggae. I was listening to Merger's one and only album yesterday. Wondrous stuff. Here's them live on the BBC.

And this is the full LP.

Until next time.

Friday 18 November 2022


An interesting week. The tory clowns have come up with a forecast of a £60 billion black hole in the national finances. It's their latest wheeze to make the poor pay more than the rich. JK Galbraith once said that "economic forecasting is there to make astrology look good."  But this has not stopped them from delivering one punitive budget after another. They have screwed up the economy and deprived public services of money for the last twelve years, it is a disgrace. Honestly, they must think we are stupid, hell, we probably are Brexit happened. 

I've been working my way through a copy of The Goat Island Workbook [thanks Sharon]. It was produced in 1996 for a theatre company as a springboard for developing performances. I am using each exercise as a writing prompt. This poem is in response to an Impossible Task: Tie a knot in a rope of water.

How to Tie a Knot in a Rope of Water

there is a second

when the mop bucket's contents

after being slung into the air

seems to just hang ignorant of gravity

in that moment you could mould the water

into any fantastic shape you pleased

if only you were quick enough

were it not for the belly flop

slap! on the crazy paving

did you know that every time this happens

the molecules sigh

dreaming of when they are clouds

and this sort of thing is effortless

You may have noticed that my poetry often deals with water, as a topic, a metaphor, or a location. I suspect it is because I live by the sea these days. 

There was also an invitation to: lick a church steeple, which, thanks to my dyslexia I read as like a church steeple. I came up with this.

like a steeple in autumn

as the trees begin to shed

or the billowed lanteen sail

of the ship that’s in your head

I think it works as an opening stanza, but at the moment, the rest of the poem eludes me. 

Womack & Womack have been in my head all week. Here's an ace old tune.

And this is 65 minutes of them live.

Until next time.

Friday 11 November 2022


The world is getting hotter and we just sit and talk about it, if we don't actively ignore the facts and carry on as if nothing is happening. We are living in a bad 1960s science fiction story. I have no answers just anxiety and a feeling of helplessness. I do what I can but it does not feel enough...

A poem about those thoughts circling in the night.

flat on my back

in the marrow of the night

the day replays with malice

with each breath

a catechism of failure

creeps closer

I refuse to accept any of it

slowly sleep rescues me

I wrote it as an exercise. I had the second line and decided to see where it would take me. Sometimes you can end up in unexpected places. As in the bleak poem. 

On a lighter note. Here's another tune by Mariana Dalot. I have been enjoying her album. 

Until next time.

Friday 4 November 2022


I have a good beginning for a poem but the end is vexatious. It almost feels like I've tacked it on from another poem. Some poem's are slow to reveal themselves. 

a starveling thesaurus

mugged me on dream street

stole my vocabulary


I mimed the night away

in the dawn’s cold light

my whispered words

pebbles in my mouth

I've been playing around with it for the last two weeks. I think it is time for it to go away for a while. This next one attempts to capture those brief moments of insight.

just like that

he finally got it

perceived the interconnections

rolling down the predawn road

he finally got it

near enough words

poured from his mouth

they’d have to do for now

stopped at the lights

he repeats them

merging with the traffic

he speaks every one

so he finally arrives

writes down his litany

the mouth worn words

offer no point of entry

if he had it

it has gone

Actually it is pretty much as it happened. I was driving to Plymouth and for a split second everything fitted together- then as quickly, it was gone.

I am missing meeting with the Secret Poets. I feel I need their perspective on some of my recent work. Watch this space.

Here's Paul Simon with The Obvious Child. I had forgotten what a good song this was. Although lyrically it is not quite as sharp as the Hearts & Bones album.

Until next time.

Friday 28 October 2022


Well, Liz Truss has become a pub quiz question and the tories have avoided letting their members have a vote on the next Crime Minister. The rest of us, the majority, have no say. The death cult staggers on putting its own needs before those of the country...

I was in Portugal while all this was happening. I had a short break in Lisbon, a city I know and love. This first poem is about the weather holding up the plane.

a moderate coastal event over Spain

leaves us static on Bristol runway

the plane doors open

in the interlude three cabin staff

begin the emergency exit dance

to a pre-recorded soundtrack

we all continue to look at our screens

Some poems take on a life of their own, others are favourites because they are fun to read or provoke a reaction. Other poems simply mark an event. This week's post has two of these.

after the event

mangled umbrellas

dot the marble square

steampunk jellyfish

While I was in Lisbon I attended a couple of concerts. This was unexpected, but Lisbon is a city of music. I saw Mariana Dalot, she was excellent. I leave you with a song.

Until next time.


Friday 21 October 2022


Last week I spent an enjoyable afternoon walking around the British Art Show 2022 in Plymouth. I know the majority of readers of this blog live in America but as Liz Truss has managed to tank our economy and bring Sterling to an all time low, you may be able to afford to visit. Let's face it we Brits will all be on our uppers if this insane tory death cult is not replaced...

The Home Secretary has resigned citing her opponents as the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati- hey! She means me! I read said newspaper, I eat tofu and I thoroughly detest this [unelected] government. 

Let's return to saner topics. At the exhibition one installation that caught my attention was by Oliver Beer and explored the relationship between sound and space. The installation was divided into three parts and represented his grandmother, his mother and his sister. He has taken objects that were significant to them and miked them up to reproduce the notes they produce. The effect is rather similar to an orchestra tuning up. My attention was caught by a golden hare. 

in this space for true notes

the ones the everyday world hurries by unheard

we await the golden hare to sing

when it arrives

it is as sonorous as you would expect

and is over before you realise

so you wait again

Once again I am breaking my rule of not showing very new poems. I think it works in relation to the installation, but you really need to know the background for the poem to be understood.

Here's Iron And Wine's first album. It is a haunting work of art.

Until next time.

Friday 14 October 2022


Greetings from a member of anti-growth coalition, we do things differently here, we value people and animals, we want to conserve and respect the environment and we definitely do not think libertarian lunacy will save us. No, we are too old for that, seen it before, didn't like it in the 70s, 80s, or the 90s or even when it was repackaged as Austerity. Honestly you have to laugh at this government or you would cry at how inept they are.

Here's a poem about my own history. Recently I was in a workshop and we had to write about where we were from. I wrote this.

I am from the waters of the Mersey

dried on the black sand of Ferry Hut

gifted an accent both ancient and indelible

I am from Kingsway Secondary Schooled

to be the fodder of the factory

for a mechanical age slipping into history

I stopped at that point because I felt after the second stanza I'd left where I had grown, moved to the other end of the country and did different things. Does it work as a poem? I hope it makes people look up what Ferry Hut is...

A short poem next that was prompted by my watch being fast.

then I realised my watch was fast

and I had ten minutes of my life to spend again 

I was no wiser the second time

It is what it is. Would any of us make better choices? I think the path we take is the path that we need to take, but there again my life has been easy.

Pollyanna has a new single out Man Time.  

Until next time.