The cold spine of darkness
Hides in the freshness of Spring.
It heeds not the wild fling
Of beauty’s sunlit caress.
The backbone of living
Soft in the heat of the year
It drains out the green cheer
Of Summer’s playful striving.
So it seems the ramrod
Will must suffuse the hot blood
Of youth’s erotic flood
To hold the permanence of God.




Drive me sure to the deep fields

Of oblivion, to where the mushrooms

Creep from the darkness to tempt

The wind-swept peewit cry of morning;

To where the bee blazes its task

Through the dust drenched hedgerows.

Wield the whip across hot flanks,

Press the flesh, keep on.



Sail me straight through the sea spray

To the featureless oceans, grey in their gore,

To where I spit in the spray

With the storm bound petrels,

To where we join the map of the stars

Beyond the merged horizon.

Raise the sails before the gale,

Pull the ropes, keep on.



Step me cold through the dead men,

The limbless and the power crazed

To where the percussive rhythms

Drown out the melodic lines,

To where the pigments made from the dust

Of bone and blood paint for the blind.

Hard hats over bloodshot eyes,

Rifles cocked, keep on.



Fly me faint in the damp air

Of farewell, to where nagging fears

Rest on their spades to watch the moon;

To where the lone cries in the night

Catch the sweet cadences of distance

And float away on the swell of sobs.

Stretch the wings into the clouds,

Glide away, keep on.

The Wrekin


For all its prominence

The Wrekin exists as the hidden heart

Of an irrelevance, a diversion.

Life here is on hold, overseen

By the buzzard and jay

Lurking in the shades of the dark trees

That crawl up the hillside.

For a while it seemed we would wander

In a full circle, missing the path

To the summit – the turning

Into the form of the hill was always

Around the corner ahead.

On Being a Probation Officer

The term ‘probation officer’ will I imagine mean different things in different countries. This is an attempt to capture something of my experience as a British probation officer, someone trained in social work (how that dates me!) to supervise people who had broken the law, to advise Courts and in my day, to work with Family Courts with divorcing couples in disputes about their children. It was written after retirement, looking back at work whose impact you could never really know. And it was work that left its mark on me….


I am a mirror –

A reflecting glass whose best hope

Is to shine light back into the world,

Light that bombards me

As I sit here with my eyes open.


Dreams of creation

Haunt me as I look out blankly,

Showing the passing moods of others

In my passive frame,

Searching for an expressive language.


Yet not so passive;

Not with the magic of fairy tales,

But turning to direct my still gaze

Where private griefs hide

Where the lost can know their reflection.


I burnish my glass

To collect light from the darkest mists

And hold it up against a background

Of possible paths

Heading out to undiscovered lands.


The image is framed,

Given proportion of my choosing,

Colour enhanced and celebrated,

Detail highlighted

To confront the inescapable.


The light I reflect

Leaves its mark behind the screen, scoring

The wrinkles of age on my being,

The fresh hope of youth

Scratched away in my looking glass world.


Alone in the dark

Only the faint glimmer of the past

Hides in the blankness to reassure-

Glow worms hovering

In the windless gloaming in silence.

The Call

If you saw the Truth standing before you

Its steady gaze snagging your cheeks

As you pass, what would you do?


Maybe you’d not notice –

You’d ascribe your red

Cheeks to the Winter frosts?


Maybe you’d smile politely

As if to say, “I know you, Truth,

And we could be friends, another day.”


Maybe you’d scowl at the intrusion,

Smothering unanswered questions

Shivering in the spotlight.


Or else you’d shed hot tears,

As if the gaze could be turned

Aside by proof of a soft heart.


Or you might look back in denial,

Convinced that the ground you stand on

Is proof against all attack.


Or could you turn aside,

Take Truth by the hand

And be led in a new direction?


But Truth would see us clothed in our mem’ries,

Would see our heads turn to look back

At the past for which we grieve.


Truth would see in our eyes

That we do not know,

We do not know,

Do not know,

Not know………

Where is the silver thread that catches the sun?

Where is the silver thread that catches the sun?

Lost for now in the flat light that covers

Forgotten days? Light and shade clutch each other

In the cold clammy embrace of Winter;

Only their trembling in the mist filled winds

Hints at larger movements of events

Outside our reach. Before the dank mould

Of oblivion, do we choose madness

To give colour, to imagine purpose?

Do we guard our privacy to let hatred

Flow freely down anonimity’s slopes?

Do we turn on easy targets to hide

Our impotence before complexity?

Oh for the first sliver of new mornings.

The rose shaft that lifts the grey filter,

That lifts the covers to display the sharp

Edges; the infinite varieties

Of ochre, green, grey; the dance of Nature

Through the veins of the year’s corpsed memories.

But we must die, must give ourselves over

To the stale midden of our old strivings,

To evaporate in the blank mindless mists.