Wednesday, February 27, 2019


S.W. France, 27 February 2019

I rescued a butterfly
trapped behind glass
cupped hands unfurling
he climbed to the sky:
freedom unsurpassed
for me and for him.

Big things empirically
at the last
in small things are hid.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Winter Roses (Sonnet)

East Kent, 17 February 2019

See the timid winter roses
Buffeted by snow and wind
Shy debutantes, geisha faces
Imperilled but undimmed.
On each tiny threadlike tendril
Forever buds show rub of rain
Daubs of pink are pricked at bridal
White with cruel stain.
What can it mean, I question?
Forbearance, to be sure
Modelled prettily in my garden
Why then look for more?
Caprice of beauty, this quiet refrain
Lodged implacably in my brain.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Go Home X

East Kent, 9 January 2019

At hospital corridor’s cluttered end
Your bed was veiled like a Muhammadan
Tubes not talk ushered from your mouth
My soliloquy in time ran out
A murmuration of medics began to close
You spelled a message with your toes:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Summer Rain

Cornflower skies of
truculent blue
give way reluctant
to po-faced grey
inkspots splashing
on hot stone flags
above our heads
sunshine and behemoths
in open warfare
holiday-wrecking rain
parched earth craving
pinch-penny cloud spill
calling out for more
this great pantomime
delicately lifting
my mood - the sea
suddenly swept
by sheets of rain
black clouds angry
gathering over
unknown places
then as quickly pass
like spurned strangers
showing their backs
till conquering sun
triumphant returns
in air scrubbed clean
steaming ground
once more gives up
its ghosts - tramping
children on pavements
in swimmers and flip-flops
clutching bodyboards
big as themselves
beach towels draped
like bright-coloured
medieval banners
on balcony railings.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


East Kent, 24 July 2018

Blackbird carolling
on chimney pot.
Summer set to pass.
Daylight draining
like this yellow-green wine
in my glass.

This is Nature’s bidding
I well know that.
He sings for a mate.
Or is this trilling
some mark of joy
at our shared fate?

The season that is ending
with memory coils back.
Scruffy seaside rentals.
No more lounging
on the old cane chair
skyborne recitals.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

We Always

East Kent, April 1 2018

We always hate
the ones we wrong
and never will
forgive them.

We always love
the ones who wound
and pray that they
forgive us.

If we could just
stop doing wrong
and they could just
stop wounding,
then all the pain
and hurt
and wrong
would vanish
like this verse does.

The Swimmer

East Kent, Sunday 1 April 2018

Out of East Cliff’s
tired and tangled streets
with sea-locked central parting
Plains of Waterloo
the swimmer strides
as from the Acropolis
Doric columns
slipping fast from view.

With heavy, tumbling plait
wound up into proffered cap
pale blouse and saree
washed-out pallid blue
feet brown and bare
picking past the town-wrack
she pads down Jacob’s ladder
like other swimmers do.

Little sculling strokes
propel her quick and cleanly
into deeper water and
light too bright for seeing.
Geometric arcs and lines
on painter's perfect sea;
homage paid to nature and
the mystery of being.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Gull Chicks

East Kent, 4 July 2017

Fluffy, speckled, gull chicks
Hide shyly under ledges
On my neighbours’ roofs
Each year in this season.

Their dapper nesting parents
In waistcoats white as surf foam
Break off jocose chattering
To harry meddling humans.

Not for them chalk cliffs
With wind-ruffled sea views
It’s the Georgian aesthetic
That, and distant steeples.

We too make nests of houses
And raise our wide-eyed chicks
They take their due and leave us
Like unfledged, flightless birds.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Planets

East Kent. 4 June 2017

“NASA telescope reveals largest batch of Earth-size,  habitable-zone planets around single star…”

Like oleaginous husband not cheating exactly
But libidinous, in the abstract case
Whose restless, ever-wandering eye
Alights on every pretty passing face
We scour the heavens for a (literal) new earth
In far-off, desolate, godforsaken space
Or sulphurous sphere modelled on hell
Looking for what exactly? Microbial trace?
Some sign I guess, that we are not alone
Intelligent life, to put us in our place
To demonstrate that human consciousness
Is a random act, not the accordance of grace.
Are there not wonders, and portents with it
In this old plot? Treasure without limit.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Might we have been happier, dear
if we had just been, well,
a little bit more normal
with, you know, car in the drive
pebbledash semi furnished in g-plan
rooms knocked fashionably through
and ice water that magically flows
from a peremptory fridge door?

Instead our haunts were all Bohemian
our houses singular decorous ruins
with leaky roofs, bad plumbing
(never mind that elegant line
of brick stringcourse and cornice)
and all our friends and neighbours
pressing their attentions on us
like a casting and audition list.

Let’s fall in love all over again
with plain and simple things:
morning walks in suburban streets
(sun hot, town still slumbering)
currawongs call out each to each
rosellas in dawn-hue flocks on lawns
milk bottles pecked on verandah steps
cream-flecked silver foil tops.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Paper Aeroplanes

East Kent, 12 March 2017

Do children still make
paper aeroplanes
like we did,
fling them out of
attic windows
with paws and chins
propped on elbows
and wooden sills
to watch them sail
past sun-rubbed roofs
feathery tree branches
hankering glances
till at last they flutter
to the ground?

Or do they only
look at
their smartphones?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Auto Electrician

East Kent, 22 January 2017

“Very rare, that is”
declared the auto electrician
savant and physician
of ailing alternators
and lazy starters
as we stood and pondered
this wayward lump
of metal excised
from my old Ford.

“Nothing like it on the shelf.
I’ll recondition your’s”
he grunted, then asked
for my mobile.
“You write it down for me
in case I get it wrong”
(it seemed like we
were not getting along)
“Can’t blame me then.”
I said okay.
“I should have it done
for later on today.”

Greasy, floor-to-ceiling racks
laden with old car parts
teetered from above.
The heavy bench
like druid’s stump
was a palimpsest
of sorts. At my back
the door, glossed black,
with many-stickered
wired glass pane,
let out unceremonious
onto the road.

“You found him then,”
said the garage boys
in oil-stained tracks
“the bad-tempered old arse.”
“Owns that land behind,”
the boss chipped in
slumped against his SUV
“Worth a bloody fortune
I should say.”
I liked him I said
works with his hands
not so many
do that these days.

I took his call
let myself in
afternoon light poured
unmuffled through
dusty windows.
I counted out cash
then he pushed forward
my recon starter.
He held back, didn’t turn
seemed to want
to talk this time.

“Everyone buys new these days.
No-one repairs. See that?”
With great gnarled fingers
he held out an armature
with shaft snapped clean off.
“Chinese,” he said
in level tone
like he was announcing
someone’s passing
it could have been
his own.

“Very rare, that is”
he told me again
of my starter
as if for the first time.
“Might be tricky -
your alternator,”
he said.
“We’ll cross that bridge”
I told him as I stepped out
into dazzling sunshine.
We’d parted
he and I
like friends.