Friday 29 December 2023


Seasons greetings to you and yours. I have been ill and so missed my weekly post. Here's a memory from forty plus years ago. It has taken a while to get it on the page.


for this birthday she rented him a VHS video recorder

we all marvelled at the squat black rectangle

she had to set it up because he was rubbish at that sort of thing

it was timed to record Casablanca while we went to the pub

then began to watch this film we’d all seen many times before

feeling free agents now adrift form the tv schedule

but it stopped as they sang La Marseillaise abruptly a screen of white noise

because we’d turned it on before the end of the transmission

I moved to Plymouth so didn’t see them for a year

and when I did they were no longer a couple

she’d met a man had was having a baby

he was drinking with a serious I had never seen before

she told me their life together

could have been summed up by that afternoon

optimistic starts that abruptly stopped

It was nearly a prose poem but I thought the long lines could carry the story. It is mostly true. It revolved around abrupt endings. How things never turn out as you think they will. I think it needs to go away for a while now and when it returns I shall see all the errors.

I've been taken by Naissam Jalal's new album Healing Rituals. It is a work of beauty.

Until next time.

Friday 15 December 2023


I wonder why I return to some poems and not others. Today, a couple of examples of poems that haven't quite worked, revised drafts. This first poem can be read here and here

The Classic Murder Mystery Continues To Disappoint

my book is read once again

I must walk through the head of the reader

and overhear their thoughts

the author may deploy

sleight of hand

far fetched coincidences

then withhold vital information

until the final chapter

so we gather in the library

I know it’s so old hat

positively groans with theatricality

yet here we are again

and once more I am shamed

my weaknesses uncovered

the other characters look away

make their own sordid confessions

while you dear reader sigh

think how trite the ending is

but is your life really any better constructed?

The ending has changed once again and I've tried to tighten up the middle. I think it needs to be put away for some time to allow the flaws to show.

This second poem I just came across and thought that I could make more succinct. You can read the previous version here.

the world needs violins more than ever

bow and bone to dance over the strings

positive vibrations to inspire us all on

change is possible start today

Have I succeeded? I leave that to you to decide.

Here's Sachal Vasandani with No More Tears

Until next time. 

Friday 8 December 2023


Here's a poem that I calculate to be nearly a quarter of a century old. It has its origins in a real event, inspired by an evening spent watching the Leonids, one November. You can read the last draft here.

Waiting For Shooting Stars

all the downstairs lights are on

luminous beams that cover the garden

cause its contours to hide

in pools of thick darkness

you stand at the window

gaze outwards

but all you observe is your own reflection

I wonder if you have ever seen anything else

so in the dips and hollows

I try to find a place


to look at the sky

but the clouds reflect the town

crowd out the few stars

glow the dirty pink of squandered energy

then the clouds thin

and meteors flash

exhausted rock ignites

on contact with unrelenting atmosphere

burns bright then is gone

the night becomes colder


I turn for the house

It was, in my early days of reading, a poem I liked to give voice too. However, I looked at it the other day and thought that the compressed layout let down the essence of the poem. To be honest, I am not sure if I have made this version too obvious, too telling. That I think is up to the reader to decide. 

As the winter seems to be setting in, there was even sleet the other day here in balmy Torquay, here's Eliza Carthy with The Snow It Melts The Soonest

Until next time.  

Friday 1 December 2023


I find the whole tory rhetoric offensive and wish they would have the guts to call an election before they can damage the fabric of this country anymore than they all ready have. I think these thoughts were the prompt for this poem that I've just revised. What exactly is wrong with people moving from one country to another? I don't get it? If they were half decent and honourable they would go, but they cling on to their delusions and fail to aid the majority. Enough!

my grandfather walked out of Eden

just as the trouble kicked off

and they were all cast out of paradise

by that angel with the flaming sword

grandfather said it looked the business

impressive in a peevish kind of way

the trouble with that sort of history

he told us was the tendency to focus on

those with their names in the book

and not the likes of him

offspring of Lilith the first wife

the one who is never spoken of

nor of all the others lost to time now

who were quietly getting on with their lives

while this angry god psychodrama

was acted out around them

my grandfather walked out of Eden

the world is large as he discovered

with enough room for everyone

So what has changed since the last post? Essentially I've tied it up and hopefully made it easier to understand. I think at times my dyslexia means I see differently and I hope this version is more understandable. Now for a little psychedelic poem.

just like that the champagne went flat

we were in the presence of a bigger mystery

that would carry us to a place of metaphor

and would swallow a whole twelve hours

we had been here before and would visit again

as I watched the bubbles fled from the pale liquid

sometimes that’s exactly what you must do

trust in the seconds to reap the unexpected

This poem is what it is, a simple tale of an experience, and yes, the champagne did go flat.

The news is not all bad, this morning I received through the post the new Tim Smith album. Yes, after ten years, the wait is over Harp is with us. Go and do yourself a favour and buy it today. Sadly there are no new videos so here is the wondrous Annabelle Chvostek.

Until next time.

Friday 24 November 2023


 I seem drawn to Old Testament stories, so here's another one.

my grandfather walked out of Eden

just as it kicked off

all that casting out of paradise

that angel with a flaming sword

grandfather said it looked impressive

in a peevish kind of way

he always claimed

the trouble with that sort of history

was the tendency to focus on the famous

those they had the skinny on

and not him offspring of Lilith

the first wife

the one no one speaks of

or all the others

lost to time now

who were quietly getting on with their lives

while this angry god psychodrama

played out around them

my grandfather walked out of Eden

we are still walking

the world is large

there is room for all 

It came from the first line which bounced about my head for a couple of days before it wrote the poem. Lilith is, according to some sources, the first wife of Adam. When I was at school I could never get my head around the idea that we all came from Eve and Adam. Later I realised that myths, like metaphor, wilt under close scrutiny. I still don't like the idea of casting people out. There's too much of it going on today.

I leave you with Jezebel by Iron and Wine. Another much maligned woman.

Until next time.

Friday 17 November 2023


A poem that came to me in a dream this post. It was the kind of avalanche of words that makes you get out of bed and write them all down. It doesn't happen that often but when it does I obey. 


false flagged

the car moved through the ranks of the oppressors

and not one of them thought to check the identities

of the smiling people who waved at their enemies

and so did not discover the wounded man in the back

night would fall in an hour

sanctuary lay in the hills

the demonstration had failed this time

but nothing lasts forever

some day one day they would win 

So what's it all about? I'm not sure. The term false flag I suspect comes from Patrick O'Brien's series of novels. The poem seems to be about hiding in plain sight as the title states  and escaping to fight again. Seems a positive poem. Your thoughts on this one are more than welcomed. 

I always feel blessed when a poem arrives as I sleep, though I have no idea why one should turn up this night and not another. The muse must be acknowledged. Thinking back to that specific night I cannot remember anything but holding the words in my head while I searched for pen and paper. 

Hurray For The Riff Raff has a new album out soon. Here's the first track, apparently it's about her father. You can order the new LP here.   

Until next time. 

Friday 10 November 2023


I am revisiting a poem I have never been satified with this post. You can read the other versions here and here. I have never been happy with the third stanza. The Secret Poets felt I had not got the tone consistent and this led me to put the poem away for five years. It occasionally came to mind and I worried at that stanza. Recently I decided to overhaul the whole poem.


when I lay on my back not one day dead

having my brain extracted through my nose

while my guts were pulled out by the handful

and dumped into the jars at my feet

I did not foresee that my sleep would be disturbed

by anyone less than a God

I could even put up with the French interrupting my twilight

but to be labelled a minor figure

in the political structure of the Lower Kingdom

while accurate could have been phrased with more respect

this social event at which I am the reluctant centre piece

makes no pretence at science that has come to replace religion

for these shallow individuals who do not know their own place in the cosmos

I am simply a sideshow that allows the good matrons of Paris to gasp in awe

as their high priest professor holds aloft each wrapping

as if he was revealing a universal truth

such enlightenment is beyond the banality of his words

which reveal more the short comings of this time than my life

afterwards I will be consigned lie under glass naked

having seen too much and in my second cycle of waiting

be ignored by the passers-by making their way to the gift shop

The first stanza, I felt, was arresting enough but the others I have worked on. I think it could nearly be there. All that remains is to discuss it with the Secrets at our next meeting, having trusted collaborators is a priceless gift.

Natalie Merchant was superb when I saw her last week. It was good to see her after all these years. She was in fine voice and the supporting musicians were excellent. I leave you with a recent live recording.

Until next time.

Friday 3 November 2023


I went to a 21st birthday last weekend, it was held in a pub and the rugby was on, needless to say the majority of the people present were transfixed by the match. I wasn't, sadly I know nothing about rugby and am happy to be ignorant. It did, however, inspire this week's poem.

for whatever reason I am in a pub

the rugby is on

its a mystery to me

who doesn’t know what off side means

and has little interest in finding out

so I watch the men

watch the ball move

who sigh shake their heads

or punch the air in triumph

high five their neighbours

its all dynamic kinetic

so so serious

and I am am imposter

back in the schoolyard

the last to be picked

As you can see the outcome is me being rubber banded back to school days and that feeling of exclusion, when you're the last to be chosen for a football game. I wrote the first draft at the time. When the muse whispers, you listen and write.
Here's an old song by A. C. Marias that I'd almost forgotten about. There's a timelessness about it, even though the images are early 80's, One of Our Girls Is Missing.
Until next time.

Friday 27 October 2023


I am writing this post eight days in advance, though I'll just be back from France when it is published. I've nothing new to show but I have been looking at old poems, partly with a view to reprinting a selection of them. I've been asked a number of times recently about the availability of my books and all I have been able to say is that I have a new collection out in January. Next year will also see the publication of a greatest hits selection. Now a revised poem, you can read the original here


I can still see that steaming water

murky with suspended goodness

carefully my mother divided it

between me and my brother

The unique aroma

the comforting warmth

the long finish

Drink it all up

it will keep you well

I thought the first two lines could go as they were frame, more tell than show. I think it breathes easier now. This second one is also from Burning Music, my first collection. You can read the original here.


Even with an industrial strength steamer

the paper will bubble and blister

before stretching 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?

No pencilled signatures are revealed

no records of identity or belonging

the job expands and takes forever

Again I've changed the spacing and the punctuation. I was far more formal in those days. I don't know why I've chosen these two poems. They were favourites to read and they seem to have withstood the passage of time.

Talking of old favourites, here's The Nits, or just Nits, I'm never sure when they adopted/dropped the The. Anyway this is The Train.

Until next time.

Friday 20 October 2023


Sometimes memories surface and who knows why? Events that I have given no thought to for decades pop up and sometimes I think that might make a poem. This is the story of a crime I committed over forty years ago.


my camouflage that year was

a marjons football club jumper

I stole from the Student Union shop

the time I volunteered to accompany

Heather who was intermitting to

join Operation Raleigh for six moths

the Deputy President was anxious that

everyone should know exactly where

she had just come from

I simply picked up my prize

and failed to add it to the list

of clothing she had chosen

in the outside world

I wore it sparingly and only

when I needed fabric credibility

not that anyone ever commented

or bothered to admit they had

taken in the embroidery on my left breast

but it gave me comfort

as I navigated my new reality

The lines wrote themselves and the breaks seemed to fit. I've polished it up a little but essentially this is how the poem arrived. Operation Raleigh was a opportunity for young people to participate in a scientific adventure. I had the jumper for a number of years, it was quite well made I seem to remember. Marjons still has a football club and I still have never played football. Though I am happy to pay for my jumper should anyone wish me to.

The photographs this post are all from Wednesday. The sea at Meadfoot was choppy. Here's Spirogyra with Captain's Log

Until next time.