So, damned by the confident assurance that stamped maps, ironically, with blushes, England blunders into back streets, entranced by its own cross-gartered elegance, flushed with self-regard, and blind to the need for giving on which renewal depends.
So, clutching our ruins as light recedes, we fall unnoticed and bereft of friends


The Glint

She seemed to be all comfort,
all kindness and quiet attention
to pain’s universality.
There was no triumph in her smile;
the eyes held steadiness hidden
in unnoticed watchful corners.
Her dress was a habit
designed for camouflage
against a background of healing.
But that day, a bloom birthed, blushing
under a gaze, and set her blood
dancing. Suddenly, she was there,
a glint, a searching of lip,
a wholeness warmed from toe to hip,
gashed gold-vermillion,
thirsty, hungry, dangerous.
Can that glint be fanned
to blaze with a passion for love,
as a beacon to compassion
and to glow beyond failure
and celebrate the sad glory of the heart?

The Father’s Speech

The sun shone that summer day.

I had walked her up the aisle

in the foot steps of kings.

Everything glistened.

I had left her at the altar.

The vaulted ceiling,

the richly carved reredos,

the shimmering coloured light,

the soft-focus echoes,

these she met halfway

in her enchantment.

I had given her away.

I knew it was not so

as I spoke later

under the timeless gaze

of the cathedral tower.

What I gave away was part of me.

I had to let the magic of her childhood

fly into a vaulted ceiling

I could not know.

She would carve her own

altar screen in her own shrine.

She would shine where I could not see,

and sing her own songs.

Her magic had seeped

deep in my gut

breaking down the dry stones

in barren lands.

Her magic became a well,

filled with waters

gathered from strains and storms,

condensed from times in the sun,

flowing from the miracle

of her otherness.

The listeners saw the magic

They saw it in my daughter.

as they smiled and laughed with me.

But by my elbow

the bishop saw

the giving away,

the cost.

And the well welled up

The Portrait Gallery Cafe

No messing – we went straight past
the first line of defence
to the gallery’s unconscious –
its basement bowels? No,
not even to the anal floor
but directly to the good breast
where the suck of a five pound note
releases a flood of sweetness.
And there we stayed,
the social worker within us
happy as pigs in muck,
seemingly with no regard
for the painterly struggles
with appearance in the rooms
above. Perhaps it was this
subterranean womb-like warmth
that liberated us?
Anyway the ideas flowed;
tact was left giggling;
and we danced lightly
around the solemn medley of living

Look to the Cold Months

The pale bloodless mists

flowed from the north

and cut through the lingering

lethargy of the warm days.

Now the fruit shrivels

and the woodland spreads

a carpet of sweet chestnuts,


This is no time for silent

attention, luxuriating

in the shimmering haze

of burning afternoons.

The cold must be fought,

shoulders tight in their defence;

action is required,

the arms must swing.

Now is the time for tasks,

for the saving grace of duty,

for the strain of muscle

against a resistant land

Digital Album

Ten thousand, four hundred and twenty three –
at the moment;
a log jam of images piling up
against the rocks of my continued existence.
Rocks that one day will be swept
away by some unforeseen inevitable flood.
They will crash over my children
in their encampments
down stream in a jumble of incomprehension.

I recall the days,
full of youth’s idiotic righteousness,
when I scorned the image
and stood for experience in the raw,
in all its evanescence,
sure that truth would lodge itself
like blood cells crowding through my veins.
No need to deny time,
to resist mortality…….

But now
ten thousand, two hundred and twenty three……

Son of the Manse

I had an allocated room
in a borrowed house. Nothing mine
exactly. Each year, they would come
to inspect and judge, and would find
cause to paint, paper, or repair.
Only silence and empty walls
sheltered me from the watchful stare
of anxious judgment and the calls
of obligation and duty.
Is this still the case, all these years
later as I search for beauty
through my protective veil of fear?

Not too keen on this self-pitying little piece but there is something in it that springs from experience. When I was a boy, Methodist Ministers were provided with a house to live in during their ministry in each place to which they were invited. The house belonged to the church and was subject to regular inspection to see if decoration or maintenance were needed. This was often conducted with tact though my mother sometimes used to feel that rather more limiting standards were applied to our home than the inspectors would expect for their own. Parsons were not supposed to be interested in their own comfort but were to follow their calling to meet the needs of others…..