Sunday 31 October 2021

 Blowing In The Wind

It was a windy day

in a windy city

a long time ago,

about fifty years, I think,

I forget exactly when.

A sudden flurry made me 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.

 Where The Lost Children Go

My mother told me that 

my sister has gone to Never Never Land.

It’s where the lost children go,

those who don’t find their way home

and those who fade away and die

like the wild flowers I pick for the house.

My mother told me that

they stay children for ever

and can play all day long.

It sounds like fun there

but my mother says

she will never let me go.

She told me the children there will grow wings 

and become angels.

I think that when my sister gets her wings

she will fly back home.

My mother says no

but I shall wait.

 The Haunted Saucepan

 “You’ll be in the soup 

if you go out in this”

she said,

“it’s a real pea-souper.”

I carried on stirring,

I wasn’t thinking of going out anyway.

I have to keep stirring

or I’ll be in the soup,

that’s what my saucepan says.

And I listen to her

as I peer through the fog


I know 

what a sticky mess she can make

if I don’t obey her.

So I keep on stirring,

hoping that soon 

she’ll let me eat.

I keep on stirring,

hoping that sometime

she’ll let me eat.

Friday 29 October 2021

 Spanish Room

We were pleased when the smiling nun

shook her head.

They were full, the lorry driver told us.

He was disappointed.

He thought we’d be safer 

in the out of town convent than in the city.

He’d grown concerned for our safety

on our long journey through France.

He was nice - ‘doux, comme le sucre’

my friend would often tell him.

But he didn’t understand her accent.

He said his lorry wouldn’t fit

the narrow streets, so

we took a cab to the pension he knew.

Our first Spanish room

and we were happy!

The tiles were cool, if dusty.

We covered the TV.

We didn’t need it.

Two single beds pushed together

with one mattress 

to make a ‘cama matrimonial’,

normality in Spain.

The owner was nice,

‘doux, comme le sucre’

my friend told him.

But he spoke no French.

We shopped in the corner shop with

it’s curved window

and explored the streets

of clubs and cafes and bars and lively people

enjoying the night.

And then we returned home.

Home to a locked door that

no amount of banging or shouting would 

cause to open.

A friendly passer by understood our plight

and clapped his hands loudly.

A man appeared with a bunch of keys,

enough to fit the locks of several streets.

Normality when Franco reigned.

He let us in with a smile.

He was ‘doux, comme le sucre’

my friend told him,

but he didn’t understand.

Forty years later we found the street.

The curved shop window gave it away.

It was all still there, though only in facade,

waiting for reconstruction or demolition.

It was our first Spanish room

and we were happy.

The facade of a memory that

is still there and remains:

‘doux, comme le sucre’.

And we understand.

Thursday 28 October 2021

 Dance Of The Damned

At last the party is over.

Friends and family are gone,

long gone in some cases,

though with us in spirit


Now I’m the only one left

still dancing

all alone


the ravens came to join me

bringing with them more guests,

not only the souls of the dead

but the souls of those

we had taken care to exclude.

They’re with me now,

the souls of the damned

ready to join in the dance.

And they won’t let me leave.

 Sucking It Up

Suck it up I said.


You missed that bit

which means I’ll have to engage

in a struggle to dismantle you

and then put you back together

with all your bits facing 

the right direction.

Suck it up I said.

Oh no!

That was too strong,

there goes the rug

consumed by you again!

What are you trying to prove?

There was really no need 

to exert your full power

in that situation.

I think I’ll turn you off.


it’s me who has the power

when push comes to shove.

Wednesday 27 October 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.

 Odyssey In The Afternoon

I remember that day of the voyage

from the moment the dawn rose

out of the golden globe

and stretched out

pink fingered roses

into the blue

of the morning,

without knowing 

what was to come after,

in the afternoon

when the wind took us

to a strange land.

But I embraced its strangeness

and its indolent contented people

who showed me the lotus

and smiled 

as I bit into the delight 

of its flowers and fruits,


it’s dreamy sensations

with no need to wonder

what would to come after,

there were only afternoons,

forever afternoons.

But the moment 

when I woke,

shook myself awake,

I dragged us all away

out of fear of forgetting, 

forgetting where I’d come from,

forgetting where I should go

and before 

I forgot to leave that place

with it’s sopheristic days 

of perpetual afternoon. 

And in the evening

as night fell

to envelop me

stretching out

its grey blanket

and touching me with black,

I wondered

if I would I even remember

sniffing the fragrance

of the flowers 

and tasting fruit

alive with the sleepy sensations

of the days of afternoons.

I have already forgotten

to wonder

what came after.

 The Power Of Gods

He would have had an easier journey

if he hadn’t harmed Neptune’s son.

He should have beat a hasty retreat

from the sailor-eating giant

leaving him unharmed by anybody

or nobody.

And Aeolus’s gift of winds to speed them homewards

was not a blessing when Neptune heard about it.

So unsurprising that he magicked the sailors

into letting the winds out of their bag 

with a chorus of  “all together now”.

What did he expect!

Gods are powerful, 

some more than others.

The blinding his son was a fairly big offence in Neptune’s eyes

and having control of the seas is a pretty impressive power.

So, Odysseus paid the price.

And then there was Circe.

Not only the goddess daughter of Titan,

Circe was also a witch,

of course she was, 

she was female 

so it went with the territory,

but her magic skills 

were more renowned than most

and thus more feared by men

and rightly so.

I wonder if he ate pork in his year long stay.

I wonder if he counted the swine restored to sailors

or if he preferred not to know if any were missing.

I like to think he knew she bested him

with her roasted pork and crispy bacon.


Many can name the day when

he died.

Each year

a deathday

like a birthday but

an ironic celebration.

On the day he died 

we were making holly wreaths

ready for Christmas.

A petrol stop on the way to work

an overheard conversation

at the local garage.

When he told us 

Lennon was dead

we pricked our fingers 

in shock.

Now each year we remember

his falling

his dying

symbolised for ever

by those fallen empty glasses.

 In Memoriam

She thought her large hands and feet

were due to her hard labour

one summer vacation

on an archaeological dig

in Germany.

It was there she met Max,

an Art student,

a Sculptor

who also had trouble finding shoes

large enough for his big feet.


he cycled to Florence to view ‘David’

in all his marbled flesh

and later

on his return

he slept on the sofa

in our shared student house.

In return

he carved a large number ’14’

in our sandstone gatepost

with a rusty spike 

and a half brick

that he found

lying around.

Where are they now?

I don’t know 

but still

the gatepost stands 

in memoriam

a small footfall

to their passing by

that way

and still

there is no gate.