Thursday, 30 June 2022

 An Alphabetical Error

We had a map, 

of course we did!

And the names of the streets 

were clearly written

in English.

The names on the streets

were also clearly written

but in Cyrillic Greek,

of course they were!

This was Athens in 1966

and we were struggling 

to find the Folk Museum.

Then we had a stroke of luck!

We spied a grand building 

with sentries in national dress

standing outside

and we knew we’d found it!

So we went inside

and wandered around for a bit.

It was unusually empty,

the rooms and corridors devoid

of the expected folk exhibits.

A smartly dressed woman 

descended the stairs

carrying a file of paper.

We asked her if she had a Guide.

She threw us out! 

Of course she did!

The Royal Palace was not open to tourists!

It was to be an unrepeatable incursion.

A few months later the colonels took power

and everything changed

except the alphabet.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

 Sister Millicent

The teapot was full catering size

perfect for the church function

where I first met Sister Millicent.

She was balancing it on her head.

Her eyes were uplifted

so were her lips.

It was her party trick.

I didn’t know nuns did such things.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

 Voice Of An Angel

Once I thought love

would be enough

to fly us away


past planets and stars

reaching up to them

breaking through 

the atmosphere

to grasp that moment

and put it in a glass,

our own shining orb

that would stay forever

gleaming and shimmering

and singing at my touch

with the pure notes of

the voice of an angel

breaking through 

the atmosphere,

your voice

a voice so pure

it will never shatter

the glass.

It’s lustre has faded now

but it will stay forever

a still shining sphere

in my memories 

and dreams.

 Dead Poets

Outside the night was filled with stars,

a sky full of dead poets

if van Gogh is to be believed.

But he was inside now 

and all he remembered

was the red curtain

coming down over his eyes.

Red first and then black.

So black it turned everything black.

They told him that 

he had died

for a few seconds,

or was it a few minutes.

Then he was back 

looking out 

on the starry night.

He wondered how long it took

for a dead poet to become a star.

Was a few seconds,

or even a few minutes,


And now, 

now that he was back,

was he still shining

undead, living

up there with all the dead poets.

Unless the raising of the curtain

put out his light.

 Joining The Dots

She saw the night sky as a join the dots puzzle.

She was an expert

far better than the adults

who could never work them out.

They told her that these formed a plough

and those a bear, well two bears,

Great and Little.

She couldn’t see it.

They were quite wrong

she knew

the stars 

were glittering cairns

pin point sharp

marking the pathway to the moon,

to Venus,

to the sun

and beyond.

You just had to join the dots

and follow the paths

to find your way

to paradise.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

 What Is To Be Done

History is littered with stories of imaginary futures


Bread, land and peace were Lenin’s promises

and the Bolsheviks believed them

and, like others before and since,

believed in themselves,

believed they could achieve them


But, they weren’t uncontested. 

Power intervened

power and conflict

external and internal

and internal contradictions

all in the mix

and look where it took them.

What was there to be done


Education, re-education, terror,

year zero nostalgia for primitive simplicity,

they’ve all been tried.

Such promises,

such imagined futures,

have a long history

and even longer future

similarly re-imagined every time.

So, what is to be done


Once my generation thought we’d done it,

achieved the imagined hopes of Lennon’s song

and created the basis for a future

based on peace and love and civil rights.

Even a pandemic couldn’t stop us at Woodstock.

We were unstoppable!



In diverse countries

we saw the rebels become statesmen.

We thought the struggle was over.

We’d done it!

We’d buried the monster 

with a stake through it’s heart

so it could never rise again,

created something better

with our demonstrations,

with our blood and sweat and tears.

We’d seen the rain wash away all the traces.

We’d seen the sun come out.

We’d seen the colours of laughter in the streets.

We’d thought it would stay there for ever

but now it’s raining again

washing it all away.

The Corbyns and Sanders of the pasts and futures,

are standing there in the rain over and over again.

But as the polar bears know well,

nothing lasts for ever.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

 Nothing Is Impossible

Even when the window is obscured

entirely draped in white fabric

it can’t hide the outside,

not completely.

In the filtered light

I can still see shapes shift outside

and even a sliver left open

lets me feel the draught

of a breeze,

and inhale

the scent or stink

carried on it 

from the outside.

Even when I bury myself

in the cool white sheets,

even then

I can sense it.

And I know


what it’s like out there.

Nothing is impossible.

 Sitting Squarely

Beach chairs are so uncomfortable.

I was sitting squarely for a while

now I’m squirming around

trying out new positions

without success.

I look down at you with envy

lying there.

“Let’s have a change,”

I say, “you try the chair”.

But there’s no budging you

from your comfort zone

and really,

I don’t blame you.

You were right,

we should have bought two beach mats.

Monday, 20 June 2022

 Move On

It may not look that way

but I've done more than survive

my time in this city.

It may not look that way

but I’ve done more than survive

in the time since I left.

Now I'm ready

for whatever comes next.

I'm ready to come back.

And I will

come back.

And then

I'll be ready

to move on

to find a new way

through the old streets

make my way afresh.

And I will.