Monday, 3 May 2021

 Marked Out

The marks are fading now

in the old playground.

It’s deserted now,

and since the crisis

no one plays games anymore.

I try to remember the the rules

but my memories are fading 

like the laughter of children 

like the marks on the ground

there are new rules now

but no games to play.

 Today’s News

Once again I’m reading old words

over and over again

in today’s newspaper.

I re-read

and re-view

like an album of old photographs

of people locked in their past

still located there

living there


history in a flash

gone in a flash

brought back

to life



on a treadmill


round and round

on a loop



as today’s news.

 Summer Days

We know they’re coming,

we can see them and hear them

those days of soda and pretzels and beer.

The birds have sung an opening chorus 

for the pollen laden bees to hum

and the flowers show ready for the main event.

On patios the barbecues are lit and smoking 

about to sizzle like skin with no sun screen.


this year’s different,

crazier and crazier

as we stay at home 

carefully distanced

in our hazy miasma

of enforced laziness

waiting and hoping

that soon the cloud

hanging over us

will blow away.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

 From The Beach

Nature is the best of artists, 

able to render down to beauty

the decayed life forms of the past

into a form that can grace my walls and shelves

and remind me of the stories about where I found them,

where they washed up.

Maybe they tell stories to each other.

I strain to hear them,

strain to hear

the trees from Loch Ellen

once blown by the wind 

now rustling silently.

But I think the dragon fish can hear them.

He looks as if he’s speaking, 

telling them all

about his journey 

from a living tree

to driftwood on the shore

and now he’s here on my wall.

The bird soars above them.

Once he lay on the shore beside them

but now he’s heading upwards

searching for the tree he used to be.

And every shell on every beach

can tell a tale of it’s sea journey

and the creatures which called it home.

Time ran out for them

rendered them down to beauty.

The rest lie waiting

for the next wave to break.

And so it goes.

Saturday, 1 May 2021


It takes a giant

to take hold 

of the sun

and wrap it up

like a lantern

and hold it


shining gold.

There were such giants once,

so it is said.

They would light the way of travellers,  

guide them through the darkness

and shine a light

to guide our way.

But we killed them all. 

Even though it is difficult to kill a giant.

We worked out ways to do it.

So now we have only the sun.

Now we have no giants

to capture its light

and wrap it up

like a lantern

to way-mark our path.

It’s hard.

Sometimes we’ve been lost.

But sometimes the sun still shines

as brightly as before,

so perhaps it will be enough

to guide us through

the darkness.

Perhaps we don’t need 

the giants


Wednesday, 28 April 2021

 A Bucketful Of Dreams

I’d always loved rainbows.

I knew that the sunlight made them

so I watched the rain showers eagerly

waiting.for the sun to shine again.

Then I was off 

in search of gold.

I wondered 

what form it would take,

a heap of coins

or golden pebbles

or perhaps bars

like chocolate 

wrapped in golden foil.

I would soon find out.

I took my bucket and followed 

the long and winding roads,

the steep and rocky roads,

I forded streams

and leapt ditches

and always I was too late,

only in time 

to watch, 

the rainbow fade away.

But this time was different.

I was there!

I really was!

I sat down,

and exhausted

with excitement

fell asleep.

When I woke

the rainbow had vanished

and the sun was blindingly bright.

I looked in my bucket

and there it was!


filling my bucket with light.

I carried it home


 In Flight

They’re fleeing like broken butterflies

stalked by their nemesis

from a former life.


It was so beautiful,

gleaming huge and iridescent

gold and green and blue and black.

With wings that should have been clear,

filled with shining rainbows 

not like this, twisted at strange angles 

and dulled with sticky silk.

Not stuck there waiting

to be prepared for some spider’s supper.

I held it gently 

and took it from the web.

I carefully removed the sticky silk

and saw the rainbows sparkle as they should,

saw it’s eyes brighten and gleam 

with the prospect of freedom.

It took a while, this disentanglement,

a delicate task to free this fragile creature.

And when it was ready,

I opened my fingers and

let it fly away.

It bit me then.

No parting kiss,

but a bite that

left a bruise.

Such gratitude!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

 Cotton Fields

Fields of cotton

as far as the eye can see,

row upon row of soft white balls

always thirsty

the plants and people,

always hungry

the plants and people.

A crop so thirsty it can dry up a sea

in socialism.

A crop so hungry it can starve a people

in capitalism.

A crop so needy it can render sterile the land

forced to grow it.

A crop so demanding it can destroy,


and exploit

wherever it goes.

Its softness hides a heart of steel.

But still it’s natural.

Always natural.

Only natural.

Sunday, 25 April 2021


He picked us up near Torino,

a dapper Frenchman 

with an impressive moustache.

He was going to Nice.

So were we!

Such luck.

One lift

all the way from Torino to Nice.

We settled back to enjoy the ride.

We came to a roundabout.

With gesticulations of frustration

and twitches of his moustache,

he missed the turning.

We went round again

and the next time,

he missed it again.

The third time we were ready

to call out and point it out

in good time.

But with more expansive gesticulating

and moustache twitching

he still missed it.

There were many roundabouts 

between Torino and Nice.

We came to know them intimately.

On arrival we were hugged and kissed

in thanks for our help.

Without us, who could say where he’d be.

Not us, for sure!

He invited us to accompany him

to Monte Carlo the next day,

if we would like to.

Yes! We would like to!

We turned up at the allotted time and place,

but he never came.

So, we never went to Monte Carlo.

Possibly he never went there either.

We imagine him still,

going round and round a roundabout

somewhere in Nice,

his moustache twitching in frustration.

He’ll be a very old man by now.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

 A Familiar Story

It’s a familiar story

well told

and many of us can identify

with some part of him -

Odysseus the escapee,

Odysseus the wanderer,

the adventurer,

the explorer

the leaver of a past life

and embracer of the new.

We’ve all desired

to sail away 

in boats that fly

as quick as thoughts

and at some point we’ve all 

ate the sun god’s cattle

and paid the price.

We’ve all described our relationships

as “complicated,”

or wanted to.

It’s a familiar story

well told.

Each landing was a new challenge

in a newly discovered land

inhabited by Other people,

Other creatures

monstrous beings

to be vanquished by superior swords

or stolen to serve 

as housekeepers or herders,

to be made into fish food if they resist. 

It’s a familiar story

well told.

Then there’s the women

the temptresses

with their beautiful voices

weaving with shuttles made of gold.

Beautiful voices 

but dangerous mouths

enticing us with their cupid lips.

And there’s always others,

the ones who seem all mouth

or have many mouths. 

We can quieten them.

We can steal them away to become our maids,

our handmaids

as Atwood might describe them.

It’s a familiar story 

well told.

And we’ll load up our ship with lotus fruit,

or lounge about while they do it,

and then we’ll forget the long swords

and how we fed the fish

with the heroes of the Resistance.

We’ll be the heroes when we get home.

It’s a familiar story

well told.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

 Holding My Breath

It looks as though the historians of today

have finally caught up 

with their nineteenth century colleagues

and discovered

that fresh air is rather good

for treating 

and preventing

infectious diseases..

Even politicians have noticed

and now have a new slogan

to promote

the discovery

in Britain.

Britannia rules


Not long now before they ‘discover’

that the isolation hospitals of history

were pretty cool in preventing cross infection

and might have saved one in five people

from Covid infections in England. 

That’s the number acquired by hospital in-patients,

the number acquired by out-patients being unknown.

It seems that hospitals can be very dangerous places.

More dangerous

maybe than bars,

or cafes,

or schools,

or even crowded metros.

So I don’t expect to have to wait long

for this discovery.

Shall I hold my breath?

Maybe not,

no matter

how fresh

the air


Saturday, 10 April 2021


I didn’t silence easily,

not even as a child

I spoke first

and listened later

to the embarrassed laughter

or pourings of outrage

from adult mouths.

I resisted my mother’s attempts

to quieten me,
I knew it would ruin me,

arrest my development,

curtail my growth,

my flowering.

So I was ready for you 

when you tried.

Yes, you tried.

But by then

I was ready,

I knew who I was,

knew too much altogether

and there was nothing we could do 

about it.

I had already spoken out.

Friday, 9 April 2021


The king is dead!

Long live the king!

The crown of thorns,

the cut to the heart

in the end

there was no end,

so it's said.