A Stroke of Fate

In memory of a dear friend cut down by a stroke 3 years ago.


Cold blows the wind,

Cutting the warm flow of life

Careless of surgical exactitude;

Callous companion to calamity

Content to dig deep crevasses

Across carefully nurtured lives.



The shattered face is on its own,

Left to smile or yawn unsheltered;

It can only watch helpless or sleep,

At the mercy of kindness or neglect.



It is hard to know

Whether dazed confusion,

Bemused distraction or some

Secret acuteness of observation

Is more to be desired. Her crooked smile

Spoke to the innocent charity that

Was the hallmark of her health, but perhaps

She was just waiting for us to go,

Waiting to rest from the griefs of her life?



It’s how the wind strikes the face.

like being lifted in a dancer’s arms

to the sound of a music

that is filled with memories and promise.

And there you were, face alight

silent laughter filling your body

with a bounce and a restless

kinetic urgency drawn from the waves.

You’re like a child, free at last

from the burden of a daily care

and allowed to run wildly

and to daub your paint on your canvas.

A setting out, froth and spray

a salt cleaning of all those mistakes

that have crushed and silted you,

weighed you down and turned your shoulders inward.

There ahead, blown towards us,

heralded by the cries of seagulls

find a climb to the wildness

of mountain ridges and simplicity.

It’s only now on this quay

that the struggle out of a darkness

of a misapprehension

can be seen in the glinting of your eyes.


Somewhat dated poem from my commuting days….


Triangular emergences

Hosed into the city

Pushed by the new disgorgings

From Rowley or Tile Hill Lapworth,

Bescott or Four Oaks.



The life of the whole city

Is squeezed through these doorways.

The faces are still, solemn,

Minds already at work

Anxiously preoccupied.



In different directions

The workforce makes its way,

Vanishing and transforming

Into new public selves

By which they can be defined.



This morning, bathed in sunlight

I can almost forget

That my own urgent strained path

Looks much the same to those

Who can lift their eyes to see.



This outpouring seems today

A creative energy;

A marv’llous diversity

Of talent and service,

A mute cooperation.



The individual drive

That turns mass production

Into innumerable

Variations of dress

Cosmetics, colour and style



Speaks to me through the faces

As they pass silently

Towards shops, offices

Building sites and workshops

The engine rooms of living.



And yet I do not see them

Other than as this shape

Or individuated

Sources of energy,

Positive or negative.
The length or curl of their hair

The texture of their skin

Twinkling eyes and smiling lips

The rings, the scarves, the hats –

I miss personal colours.



It seems that I cannot look

Eye to eye, at quiet

Places, uncompetitive

Physical presences

At playful decorations.


My view is more Methodist;

No candles, plain essence

Of the flesh made Word, safely

Protected in the mind,

Brownly or greyly watching

By the Sea Shore

I throw off coverings of convention

And stand in the teeth of the gale

The salt spray sweeps away fears and troubles

And leaves me to be as I am.

Here the toll of bells can summon up no ghosts.

Time is ended by the waves rhythm

The shape of the sea bed and the moon’s pull,

Being breathes beneath Nature’s roar.

Afar, moonlight’s pale wash pits a walker

Against the flat expanse of sand,

One against the innumerable grains

Packed beneath the sea’s constant breath.

One man, a retort to the limitless,

A song in the endless silence,

Sung for the song’ s sake, for love and for hope

A launched message in a bottle.

The Railway Station

Stations had their own smells-

Steam bursts hissed the cocktail

Of oil, soot and hot grease

Across the open toed sandals

Of waiting boys thrilled

By the piston power,

The drive of skidding wheels

The explosion of smoke

Into victory’s disappointed fifties.


We were leaving

This heaving churn of mechanics,

This golden age of decline

And stepping across to a new platform.

No steam clouding here, no fire

Dragons, no soot, no scents.

We were stepping thoughtlessly

Into modernity, clean

Electric, speedy, taking

Us to a new world

Of specialist secrets, hidden

Powers and practicality.

The old romantics see this

As a step to sterility –

The scraping away of slums

For the clean lines of loneliness,

Of craft skills for the industries

Of service and alienation,

Of time for the local

For the stress of celebrity.


I however felt the pull of the future,

The elusive perfume of possibility.