Isle of the Dead

Sitting, muttering as life hurries by,

My hope is to catch the pulse of the sea

Rolling in the deep ocean where the wind’s

Whip calls to the lone horizon’s searching.


The pull of the tide draws me to new lands.

New lands where puffins burrow to safety,

Where shade cools my eyes and herbs fill the air,

Where peace gathers me in beauty to rest.


I dream and the swell takes hold. It carries

Me down to the cold currents in the depths.

Here all of the world is dark. A living

Soup moving to some alien rhythm.

The teeth of the isle, flossed black by the salt

Lie low. Innocence, unseen in the deep

Holds hands with the moon’s cold force to reveal

Nightmare’s appetite, the rock’s gape, grinning.


Spare me from the wreck; bear me to the sands;

Set me on the shore to pass from the world

With waves as my dirge, the wind as my song,

All grief set aside in the cool morning

The Poetry Reading

Thought I’d drop down,

where the drizzle was

pouring cold water over Spring,

to look through the school window.

Turned out the children were long gone.

There were the old folk,

drained grey like the day,

sitting in their old places,

their old smiles like candle light.

The innocence of discovery

had vanished, and in its place

a resigned detachment,

refined observation

and a wry retreat.

No playground fighting here,

No desperate passion.

Just once, the bloody talons

of cold fury were declaimed.

Just once, I saw a world I knew,

But it fell on straining ears

like a sad Victoria sponge

On passing Tryvan

imageThe old man slept in the clouds

Nose turned to find the scent of heaven

Beyond the reach of my footsteps.

Spurned, I sped past, intent

On the same search by a different route.

Not that the raw simplicity,

The bare rock and the wind,

The strain of muscle and sinew,

The idea of completion,

Did not tug at me.

But I sped past, intent

On finding the still voice

In the interplay

Of melodic lines, rooted

In human endeavour

Appearances from a passing train

He stood there casually

One of those moments when we just are –

Unmemorably, looking the other way

Whilst forming a phrase in another

Life story – an interval in a seemingly

Unconnected tune.



It was a waiting moment,

The train had not come to take him

Home from work, or for an errand

Suitable for an uncommitted moment.

Bright orange earphone wires shone

In the evening sun.



His thoughts were idle

He was not even deciding what

Or even whether to listen to his ipod,

For now it was enough to let

The wires hang and entwine, spinning

In his work stained fingers.



The orange was shocking

This it was that drew my sleepy eye

As I sat on the train heading the other way.

Then I saw that this was not an absence –

Beige shoes and matched lines on his collar showed style –

A thoughtful presentation to the world.

A Life of Freedom

In the rhythm of the sea

With its moon fettered roll,

The old sailor can lose

The dead weight of his soul.

He can carry the beat

To the heat of his bed

To be borne through the night

Past the deadening hours

To the comfort of dawn.

In the roll of his gait

He can move with the tide

As it flows in full spate

With no purpose in view.

It just beats against time’s

Tireless ticking.



In the swell of his days

The indifferent flow

Of hot currents despatched

Lurking doubt to the wake

That his youth left behind.

He could fight the cold winds

And defy the hot sun

In the call of the waves

And the screech of the gulls.

He could feel the strong beat

Of the blood in his head

And the boat in its surge.

He could head to the dreams

Whilst he drowned sounds of time’s

Tireless ticking.


I recall her

Swimming in some feverish dream in some forgotten sea,

Swept away by a rip tide of my choices

To anonymity.


She has a home,

Not real of course – a desert island rich in food supply?

Or somewhere warm, ordinary and unseen

Where she can fade away.


Her job is done

If she can forge a life for herself well out of my sight,

If she joins in the fiction of forgetting,

If she leaves me alone.


But she returns,

Unrecognisable not merely from the wounds of time

But because I had always invented her,

Filled her ghost with my life.