My love struggles to speak


Tidal tear-flows paint shells with vibrancy;

Vivid life trembles, shining a brightness

Into my dulled dry old spirit. Flowers

For all their painterly charm and lightness

Of touch, are more straightforward, expected.

Here, on the edge of wildness and passion,

An oil stained carpet becomes connected

Through the play of light as wavelets fashion

Patterns on the sand, with the quickening,

The vital mysterious spark glistening.



The joy and brilliance come as a surprise,

Collected on the seaweed covered rocks

Shiny, fly-blown and industrial. Eyes

Are drawn to the pools of stillness; quiet shocks

Of red and green, shadowy stirrings tease

And tempt me there, whilst the clammed tight carpet

Crackles under foot. Then the sharp sea breeze

Lifts me up to face the drama that’s set

On the world’s edge; spray and spume the seas hurl

Against the tight lipped guardians of a pearl.


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.

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

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.

From the Machair Sands


We walked the sands in silence.

The music came from a beat

outside time as the rolling world

sang through the sea’s fall.

To say the sands were white;

To say the sea was blue;

To say the mountains cased

our view with grandeur;

these words would deceive you.

We were in colours that glowed

through us, through our core

and took away all words

and stretched us across the beach

in dumb enchantment.




Like a silted puddle in a derelict

Scrapyard, I lie undisturbed by striving.

Behind me stands a grave of industry

Scarring the mountainside.

Before, the growl of restlessness

Sweeping by on its concrete stilts.

This town is a cemetery –

Old chapels slump open mouthed

Gaping monuments to lost modesty –

Shops bleed unwanted mail

In their bankruptcy –

No curtains twitch –

No laughter echoes –

The sea rolls against the unkempt shore

Beyond the piss-stained underpass.

God it seems has retreated

To the road to the hills,

To take rest behind walls

Of stone in lovingly tended

Gardens, where birds sing their songs

Where the fox ambles through my dreams.

Rough Island


We look out, facing a distant army

Gathering, glinting white across the bay,

Harvesting the winds and ready to march

Towards us, modernity in their sails.

The sanctuary across the causeway

Leads the defence of our forgotten pasts,

Pointing like a sting ray, alert, ready.

The Rheged citadel in which we stand

Is just a faded memory, a bump

In the rocks and heathers. Modernity

Was its past, preservation its present,

But ill equipped to ward off the powers

The soldiers across the bay are fighting.

Collateral damage in that just war

Is the fate of many places like this.

So while we can, we shall breathe the sea air,

Listen to the oyster catcher’s shrill call,

And smile in the wealth of our heritage.


This is another of a series of poems that were inspired by a book, “Scenes Through Different Eyes”. This was a collaboration between Phil McMenemy, a photographer whose images he has allowed me to post here and Julie Dumbarton, an artist whose work can be seen on her website ( They each brought their own skills and vision to the same landscape to create a beautiful book. Phil’s work can be explored on his Facebook page ( or on his website ( Having bought the book, I didn’t want it to sit ignored on a coffee table and so I wrote a sequence of poems that forced me to look and think about the photographs and paintings. They will be posted here over the next few weeks.