White and Purple Updated

Prompted by reading Dannie Abse

It seemed that the white coats, with the ruthless

rationality of hard facts,

the certainty of knowledge sweeping away

sentimental tears of love,

and the bedrock of data used to grind

soft uncertainties of connection to dust;

these would ruin us, would learn through killing,

would emerge triumphant on barren wastes.

Now experts must bow down to expression

and praise the worth of ignorance.

Truth can become everyone’s common sense

enforced by a roadside bomb.

Love can be confined to the privacy

of secure and comfortable homes.


High Art

It turns out to be a familiar

struggle. Cold purity has its allure.

The single erotic curve across white

virgin surfaces; the disconnected

geometry disappearing into

a borderless infinity, away

from love, loss and muddling contingency.

Perfection of form banishes all thoughts

of the normal flawed sure disappointments

carried by failures of observation,

and rivalries of human endeavour.

Money coats the exclusive white on white,

the plain canvas is tasselled with chatter

and green shoots must crack open the surface.


So new means of escape from this waste land

of connection and need are found. Bestride

the world and turn the gaze on Babel’s babbling,

richness the fetish, shock of difference

becomes the place of worship;

only in the discovery of alien gods,

the crowning of neglected resentments

can stifling domesticity ascend

glittering platforms of celebrity.

Money coats the tapestries of travel

and sits above clouds far beyond the dreams

of designer trainers and digital

thumb prints, powder puffing its cheeks with sneers.


Turn again to the pastoral idylls,

watching the evening sun lift the starlings

to exuberant geometries of flight.

Glory in the leaf”s floating fall, the sea’s

rolling rage, and the herd’s mute acceptance.

Hide in the forests from the predator’s

killing looks, from the barbed teeth of friendship,

from the strutting certainties of defeat.

Money coats the pasture, wood and hedgerow

and drives the young off to urban squalor.

The gates are closed to all but gardeners

and domestics, and 4×4’s roll out.


Abstract purity, the exoticism

of the squabbling world, or the backward glance

to the sunlit vales of locality

have to meet modernity’s tidal wave.

For now, sensation and shock may divert,

set out before us on cash filled platters.


I fear it is ponderous to speak plainly.

It narrows meaning down to banality,

deprives it of those exotic effusions

in which imagination thrives.

It is not playful or fantastic.

It does not travel to strange lands

and lacks the insanity of beauty.

Worse, it leaves no room for the readers

to transform the words to their own magic.

They just say how it is – what we all know

and seek to escape.

The Writer


Thursday. The moving world

below the disregarded grey.

Everything familiar. I stay

for a moment, thoughts curled

aimlessly around the unmarked day.


So there, smothered by light,

stained by the ruins of yesterday

all idea of purpose cast away,

all shape and pattern wiped from my sight,

palely I grope my featureless way.


Having something to say

seems to be the first requirement,

however crudely the words are bent

to form some monument, to the way,

naively, my chance cards I play.


I see no path through these dark woods,

Where I am trapped, blinded by dreams.

Sun, do not shine, and tantalise –

With shafts of light, crowning the trees,

In gold; and views of distant hills

Misty and peopled with poetry.


I wrap myself in darkness, moods

Softened, curtains drawn, so sunbeams

Make no assault on my dry eyes.

Only the mild caressing breeze

For company. My dream world fills

Misty and peopled with poetry.



Yet my spirit needs other foods,

To face the world; with peopled teams

To share the pains and show how wise

And joyful truth can only freeze

When locked within a dream that thrills

Misty and peopled with poetry.


Was the sun shining?

Did the air feel warm?

I might have been working alone

Or distracted, called on the phone,

Trapped by the lure of the e mail

Enjoying the banter, or pale

With defeat, the storm

Spent, the breeze whining.


Life is then composed

Of hidden moments.

It escapes the grasp, passes by

As the trout evading the fly.

I nail it down within the poem

Admire its lustre, gilt and chrome,

But it rots, ferments

Its value transposed.