Cast away


Build me a ship; bid it bear me away
Beneath a broad white sail, across the sea
To some far distant island with no name,
Then burn it on the strand, and let the wind
Swirl high the ashes, leave no trace behind.

No grief nor hesitation; I would leave
Soon as the tide allowed and not look back,
But will my vessel onward with all speed;
Or else condemn myself to live confined
By phantom walls weak, frightened men defined.


L’amour du vélo


Can we call
What we feel
For this melange
Of odd-shaped tubes and angles
Machined components
And spider’s webs spun in silver steel


An asymmetric passion:
Always together
But no shared laughter, tedium or pain;
Enduring the same wild weather
Yet it knows no cold or drop of sweat;
And passing through
Those freezing instants
When time slows and life shrinks
To fractured bits of inches
And scattered shards of seconds
It alone is left untouched
By fear, and all that follows.

But still

This bloodless, wordless better half
Makes us greater than ourselves;
Transports us back to lighter, swifter days,
Revives old glories
Banishes our ghosts
And pries time’s grasping fingers
From our limbs and hearts.

And if to be as one
Wanting nothing more
Content and all complete
Is love
Then I have found a form of it
And will go with it
To the end.


Prose poem #2


Midnight Blue for the hours of sleepless melancholy; Black Permanent for days that dawn dark and stubbornly stay that way. Corn Poppy Red for fiery exchanges with the universe, and testy tirades at my own imperfections; Golden Yellow to summon the sunshine back. Oyster Grey for cool reflections and to shape the world in my own way; Irish Green for mystery and mischief. Sober Toffee Brown for study and chewing matters over; sumptuous Lavender Purple for grand, imperious prose. And sometimes I’ll fill up for days or months with my favourite Invisible. Just to keep them guessing.

Prose poem #1


The river is gorged on days of rain; consistency of soup, colour of coffee. Barely contained, boisterous and rowdy, it barrels through town, boiling in froth as it shoots the bridge, snatching up tangles of twigs and branches, bright-coloured plastic, bottles and beer-cans, odd bits of litter, any duck not quite paying attention, and hurling them down its own throat as it roars its wild way to its mouth. But I recall summer, when this noisy delinquent was a starveling shadow, thin as a wand, sticks and stones like ribs and bones staring through its pale, dirty skin. Oh yes, it’s big now, bold and rambunctious, and nothing dares stand in its way. But wait till the sun is back in full fire, the brown fields are gasping and the sky is a bowl of blue steel. It won’t be so full of itself then.


A too-brief day, and now the longest night
Has fallen. Turns the year, and so we stand
Out on the edge, as strangers to the light
That lately warmed our faces, hearts and land.
How carelessly we passed those long, bright days;
Beneficence we took for granted, thought
Would never end. We did not stop to gaze
In wonder on their beauty as we ought.
And now those days are all gone down. The wheel
Has slowly and inexorably rolled –
Implacable, stern, deaf to all appeal –
Down to this place of sunless, shadowed cold.
We must hold fast, though all hope seems forlorn.
The darkest hour descends before the dawn.


I’m told to get behind it,
Lay down my arms, don’t fight:
Behold! The sunlit uplands
Are even now in sight.
Come! Join the great adventure
And shape our destiny;
A grand and glorious vision
For those with eyes to see.

No. I will not stand with you,
Won’t rally to your cause;
Won’t help you light your bonfire
Of long-established laws.
Go on and brand me traitor
Or enemy within:
I won’t abandon reason
For fantasies and spin.

I’ll never take your shilling
I won’t march to your drum;
Don’t call me to your colours,
Or summon me to come
And fall in step beside you
Then follow where you lead;
You’re seeking useful idiots:
I’m not the man you need.

Don’t try to keep on pulling
Your wool over my eyes.
I haven’t drunk your Kool Aid
Or swallowed all your lies.
The road that you have chosen
Leads to ruin for this land.
Get thee behind me, Brexit:
Your end is close at hand.


“It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about passports or people; some of us just don’t think colour matters.” James O’Brien, LBC Radio.



Night watch, 0300

These are strange
And dangerous days:

Threats grow,
Foes gather

And all manner of terrors
Wait beyond our walls.

But sleep on, my loves:
I will take this watch;

The solitary sentry
Standing-to on night’s cold ramparts

Waiting on a distant dawn
And praying for relief.