True Poetry

There are odd moments as he blunders
through the dark corridors of erudition,
fearing the Minotaur’s savage hunger,
and wrapped in scholarship’s revered fictions,
when he steps into air, sun on his brow.

Blackbird’s bel canto, the smell of mown grass,
the flow of water brown peat turned to gold;
these bedrocks of beauty need no classic
allusions, no dictionary trawling.
What he sees in all his simplicity
is partial, his own creation, soft edged
and commonplace. Here in the light he clings
to the hope for an escape from nature
into a personal vision, and stamps
the full force of his mind on sunlit hills.
He wears his learning like mating plumage,
ermine robed claiming a place next to Kings
before he falls back into darkness,
to where no Latinate exactitudes
or exquisitely refined perceptions can
lift him back to the sun. He must reach out
to companionships of confusion
held by simple memories as the sea
rolls its mundane course in the grey moonlight.


The dream of enterprise

Do we lose our history

To the fruits of discovery?

The tidal wash of in – fluence,

Freed from innumerable homes,

Escaping the stale air of death

Lurking in the familiar,

Sweeps through our nurtured certainties,

Planes the grooves through which we have mapped

Our tribal journeys. Freedom blows

Away the drag of our shared past,

Scatters the dust that had gathered

Unnoticed in our quiet days,

That we now find, connected us

With a world in which we were small

But known. Now we are blown away

Free, alone and amongst strangers.

Dawn chorus

What we do not see stirs the woods to life

The hidden spark of dawn fires a babble

From survivors of the darkness.

Music it is not; just a cold rhythm

Crying out in fear and hope for the light

For safety in enmity.

What if the light came to hushed disregard,

If the first cry was met with indifference

And no bird sang in reply?

So, safe in the crooked branch of the tree,

No one to challenge his supremacy

He must surely die voiceless

On Self Pity

I’m not sure what day it was when I saw

the sun’s indifference, the wind’s neglect

and the cold heart of the morning chorus.

I had tried bargaining for a clear sky.

I had stretched my hand in the night terrors

to feel the cold hard wood at the bedside.

I had obeyed the dictates of magic –

teeth first, pants before socks and shoes in line.

But time tramples its cruel certainties

across all delusions of tenderness.

To one side in the playground, in the shade,

loitering safe from clamour and grazed knees,

time seemed my friend, beckoning me forward.

But the world turns and the shades cover us.


Now I see this gloom is sentimental,

a running away. Love must be a gift,

a deed borne on a cushion of weakness

like a royal crown – one that I can forge

from fading perfumes and strange harmonies,

from momentary laughter in the eyes

of friendship, from the sympathy of pain.


To live in a major key takes courage.

The Shape of Modernity

Blood splatter of Gods
is thrown across the vacancy
on which my hurried footprints
chart their course.
Don't look! Don't ask!
Leave the corpses to the closed fancy
of the convinced
stamping on the facts with the force
of their vision. I bask
in the heat. My head nods.

Dim the lights. Let the stains
sink deep into the grain,
grounded by heedless feet.
Let the scientists meet
bubble-wrapped in SOCO suits,
to test tube the facts,
fold them in statistical glue
and evidence bag them out of public view. 

Bring on the dreamers of dreams,
fools that would be masters not servants. 
Let them flay the earth's skin
with their glorious lies
and the adrenaline rush of the crowd.
Smirking beneath the loud
Discords of the market place, the sighs
of forgotten armies of thin
scavengers, and the chorus of the fervent 
deluded, we sleep through the screams.

Dim the lights. Let the stains
sink deep into the grain,
grounded by heedless feet.
In darkness I can greet
fellow travelers groping
through empty halls, hoping
for a warm hand, a cool breeze
and the songs filtering through the trees.

Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves

Oh yeah! Like that’s going to happen.
Besides, since when did animal
cunning and blind stupidity
cut through injustice’s fat smile?
Graveyards are filled with the corpses
left in the wake of innocence.
The wisdom of serpents stretches
only as far as the next meal.
This marriage though entrances us –
we want to be wise but unspoilt.
But the scars of experience
damage us, gouge out the tender
spots laid bare in our innocence
and make us fit to give and love.

Crack Heads

We live, spliced more or less;

Deep fissures cut carelessly

Through carefully constructed

Fictions; order presented

To the world whilst back kitchens

Crammed with chaos and decay

Reflect a shaming scission

Between ourselves and our display.

Fractured hearts hide in suburbs

Fair faced whilst passions splinter

Long held dreams; desire disturbs

The pale surface of Winter.

The chasms undredged, silt up

With waste waters that fester

In cold darkness as we sup

With some evasive jester.

Beware the peddlers who sell

The holistic; we can dream

Of healed wounds, of salving gel

To smooth the roughly joined seam.

But the best we can hope for

Is an alloy, soldering

Our fractured selves, whole no more,

But in ice and heat bending.

Laughter sits cold on the slab

Crazy cracked as the world curls,

Corrosion pierces the drab

Walled off worlds where anger hurls

It’s insults, drowned by the noise

Of consumption. Consumption

Indeed – hollow eyed choice

With no tear of compassion.

There are bigger fish to fry

Than our lives’ hidden shallows.

Earth cracks, ashes spew to lie

On new lands, spawn embryos

For some strange adaptations;

New creatures feed from our fractures

Forged by agony, stanchions

For a stage with new actors.