Wednesday 30 June 2021

 No Swimming Here

I don’t even miss it anymore.

Well, I was never good at it,

could never manage a crawl, 

just a slow breaststroke,

or backstroke

before my hair grew long

and needed protection

from the chlorine.

But I did go twice a week


as regular as clockwork,

as regularly as religious people

went to church on Sundays.

So it left a gap,

an absence

at first.

Then there were the friends,

seen now only in passing 

in the street

or at the Co-op

or in writing,

heard only on the telephone

not in the echoey pool

or drowned out in the showers.

So there was an absence.

There is an absence.

All is quiet there now

and so I am still waiting.

We are all waiting



Friday 18 June 2021

 Dreams And Plastic Smiles

The accordion player was from Eastern Europe.

He was there each morning

on the promenade in the south of Spain,

He plays popular songs

with an unremitting plastic smile.

A little further along

sits the beggar with no legs.

He is also from Eastern Europe.

He sits there every day

with an unremitting plastic smile

and a cardboard sign

written in English and Spanish.

I wonder what lit the fuse

to set them off on their incredible journey

into the unknown.

I wonder if the smiles fade on the way back

to their new homes.

I wonder if the dreams have faded

or whether they scrape along 

as the men scrape along.

Or perhaps they’re as vibrant as ever,

full of hope,

surviving in the mild winters,

ready to blossom like the cherry trees 

in the spring.

 Photo Opportunity

I watched the man crossing the path

underneath the cascade of the waterfall.

It had been part of the route wine was carried

from the high lands, to be sold on the coast.

Back in the old days, that was.

But the old days weren’t very long ago.

He seemed confident

as he placed a foot carefully

in each of the footholds

hacked into the precipitous rock face.

He gripped the thick metal hawser

attached to the rock with strong

metal rings.

Gripped it firmly

and proceeded slowly

one step at a time.

I had a camera

and I thought

that it was a picture he would like to have

when he was dry and safe back on terra firma.

Then I thought,

suppose he falls,

falls into the waves,

to be smashed against the rocks

far below.

I didn’t want to have such a picture,

a picture of someone’s last moments

and I thought,

to take it

may jinx his journey

and even cause him to fall.

So I never took the picture.

But it made no difference.

The man fell anyway.


It was a beautiful village,

the sun was shining,

the mountain air pure,

a perfect place for a coffee.

We could see two cafes,

but the first we tried was closed,

closed for a while by the looks.

The second looked hopeful

with tables and chairs outside

but the door was locked.

An elderly man came over and explained.

that it only opened at weekends.

The other had closed because

the people had left the village.

They all want to live in the town,

he told us

and now the houses are empty

and there are just a few tourists

who come at weekends to drink a coffee

or a beer.

He told us to sit at a table

and went into a house

across the street

and returned with a tray

and three good French coffees

made in his own kitchen.

So we sat in the sunshine

breathing in the pure mountain air,

a perfect place for a coffee

with our new friend.

Wednesday 16 June 2021


Imagine a sitting room peopled with dolls

an attic space filled with toy trains and cars

adult places filled with children’s playthings

passive playthings

out of their time

and moved on

into a time

when even the box

with it’s wrappings

and writings

fails to excite us


no spark,

no glamour,

only needy memories

in passing

as time



Tuesday 15 June 2021


Always on the move,

darting here, dipping there,

blowing hot, blowing cold,

mercurial as quicksilver

dispensing woe or joy

in clouds of dust,

fairy dust,

falling like starlight

and landing


I’m just the messenger,

she said,

I don’t get to choose,

gold or silver,

coal or shale,

it’s just dust

blowing in the wind

and landing


I don’t get to choose,

she said.

But I wonder.

 Leaded Lights

The glass is cut,

so carefully cut,

so carefully arranged

to break up the light

as it reflects it

in a kaleidoscope of colour.

Light cracked by lead,

bright white 

or gilded by sunshine

or bent into rainbows


to paint colours in reflected shadows

to be carried by a quixotic messenger

and reflected into grey lives.

The reflection is fragmenting

as it falls

breaking up the grey,

so that even the shafts 

of multi-coloured illumination

can make no sense of it.


Soon the light will be fading

and the crows are circling

like winged messengers,

a cawing cacophony, 

harbingers of death 

and confusion.

We try to make sense 

of our once familiar place

searching in vain for the water

which we know we must find

and cross.


for something, 


to give us a bearing,

to help us find the river

in this dreamscape

of another world.

But perhaps 

we have already crossed over.

Monday 14 June 2021

 Blowing In The Wind

It was a windy day

in a windy city

a long time ago.

A sudden flurry made me into the vortex

and I was surrounded by sheets of paper

caught up and blown from a doorway.

When it had settled, 

I collected a few.

They were letters

applying for jobs

dated about fifty years ago,

I forget exactly when.

All were hand written 

in the most beautiful cursive scripts.

I could visualise the care with which

nibs had been dipped in ink,

the concentration in the touch of pen to paper.

These were the stuff of unknown dreams.

The names are long forgotten now

but I wonder what became of them,

those ghosts of a past

who touched my life

in a flurry of wind

only to be blown away.

Saturday 12 June 2021


Last night at the theatre I saw you again,

Your smile in a face so much younger.

My confusion, my thoughts, my stares made him turn

and your warm smile chilled me

with ice melting now from the long frozen lock,

the key turning freely to let out our past.

And my past, and it’s future all came flooding back,

the shock of sensations long gone.

The dance and the music, the books that we read,

the memories that we must both have

of the pain and the pleasures, 

that were part of our love

such a long time ago.

So I ask myself now, can anything stay

to give pleasure to us in remembering those days?

For my remnants now seem to be only pain,

and their sadness engulfs me 

and halts my return.

So I left, in the end, as I left you, my love,

Saying nothing, taking nothing,

leaving nothing behind.

Without saying goodbye.


It’s said that you should remember your roots,

remember where you came from,

remember where you belong,

anchored by your long tap root.

But I have fibrous roots too,

growing out strongly from the main tap.

I have spread them out and

put them down in many places,

taken sustenance from them.

They’ve been part of my growth,

fed my main stem and its splits and branches.

I’ve branched out from them and belonged in them all,

all those places.

And some rootlets have broken free

and I’ve left them behind there

no longer belonging to me.

And I’ve left something of myself behind.

Would I find it if I returned?

I don’t think so.

But others may 


Thursday 10 June 2021

 Maybe Tonight

As I close my eyes

and meditate

to free my mind.

I think of 

calm blue water,

flowers and trees.

Maybe tonight

I’ll sleep

and my head will fill

with sweet dreams

of still water.

Maybe tonight



I’ll dream

of bathers

in a calm blue pool.

Maybe tonight I’ll sleep.

Sunday 6 June 2021

 Paradise Lost

It was paradise,

a perfect life in the sunshine

for the two of them.

Eating the luscious fruits,

drinking the succulent juices.

Wanting for nothing.




to know the reason for it all.

To know

where they came from,

where they were going,

what point there was to it all.

To understand it all

would take some thought,

some working out,

some researching

of their paradise.

They would need to exercise

their intelligence

to find the answers

to all these questions.

Then they could  be content again

in their paradise

with their new found knowledge.

It came to them suddenly,

the penny dropped

not the apple.

In a flash of understanding 

they saw that

tomorrow could be different 

That one tomorrow 

would certainly

be different.

That human life doesn't go on

and on without an end.

It will end

and it's ending is unpredictable,

the where and how and when


How could they live with this knowledge

and remain in paradise.

This was a new question to ponder.

No research could tell them the answer.

No exercise of their intelligence

could tell them


or how,

their lives would end

however much they tried

to work it out.

What hell 

to live with this knowledge,

the knowledge that they couldn't know,

the end.

So they were lost,

driven from paradise.

Knowing that death 

would come 

to them, 

someway, sometime.

That it was unpredictable

and unalterable

however much they knew.

What hell 

to live with such knowledge

for the rest of their lives.

Waiting for death to surprise them,

jump out on them.

And knowing

that for them,

there would be

no re-awakening,

no spring.