Have you ever seen a poppy?

No! - You I mean!

Have – You – Ever - Really - Seen - A Poppy?

Not one of those sissy things that get into French fields

growing in the remains of wars

on earth and dead men as if they didn’t care;

nor the yellow ‘Welsh Poppies’ that aren’t really poppies

- nor are they truly especially Welsh -

that spread anywhere in broken ground ...

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Smoke-stained wood and darts

and pints and stolid cast iron legs.

There’s safety in these, security -

the heavy regiment turns

to train its guns on the other sex.


A knowing landscape is his face,

vulgar as a scarlet cod-piece,

with sniggers of a rolling night -

agreed by these bad teeth

sneering at reputations and leering at hers

and, mocking unknowi...

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Coins in the Trunk

Coins in the Trunk


Who are we?

Why are we here?

How can we prove that we were?


Answering these questions we have nothing

Nothing to give except what we do

This one brays coins in with his heel

into a slab of wood

“This is the trace of me” he says

“I give away what I worked for to save.

I was here, I drove in these pence

and this I leave behind

to show ...

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Watching the Eclipse

Watching the Eclipse

Well it would scald our eyes -
so we hide behind shades
or replications in grimy puddles
or camera screens
and then we don’t really see
the moon creeping over the cold nothing
between us and the stars, 
scaled beyond belief or existence 

and silent

So we make a small trivial hole in a card
as a lens to capture a tiny scene
on another card
and see an illusion...

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When I am Rich

When I am rich


When I am rich I will build a house

in Casals’ country of refuge from Spain.

With a view of the snows on Le Canigou

And a garden fenced with cactusses, which fruits I shall pick to eat

With fennel in the wild garrigue and thyme and rosemary

And the blue Dyers Alkanet in the sand

And the South will blow sunshine to me from the sea.


So yearly the larg...

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BEARD (This old house).


This thing is become part of me.

I took it off once and I vanished -

my daughter wept and it had to grow again –

so I have become part of IT.

if you see what I mean…..


These fifty years I have hid

much of myself in this thicket

though I was once thought foolish

to cultivate on the doorstep

what grows wild around

my friends’ back en...

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Mick Burke (Everest 1980)

Mick Burke (killed on Everest 1980)


In courage and skill I thought

To go beyond this world

And having striven I found

The frontier yet as far away

As the ever distant stars

That care not and know not

Even that they do not care.


So high; so High and for an hour

I smiled and stood out of the shadow

For I alone could cast one.

And between me and the stars


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“Wot you looking at?

I can sit ‘ere if I want -

This ain’t the bleedin’ Champs Elysees

an wot if I did take off me knickers

It’s an hot day innit

An’ anyhow ‘e made me put me knee up

to hide me parts

They’re all talk anyhow these philosophers

they don’t reckon us girls -

(I can paint tooy’know)

’an ’course we’re impressed

anyone who can talk for an hour

and stil...

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To the New Year

Well I’ve lived through quite a lot of these

And all the Christians get it wrong

Twenty-one December if you please –

Don’t choose Jan One to start your song.


It makes good sense you ought to see

The year must finish on the shortest day

As usual the clericals – it seems to me -

get logic wonky in the wildest way.


Snow at Christmas in Jerusalem

Holly berries on t...

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Poor Bloody Infantry


There’s a crack and a crash

And curses and a frantic rush

“Get down! Get DOWN!!”

And the dust blows again and the sun

Is dulled by another flaring flash

And they look for where the shot came from –

We know where it went

And that it will take the one who saw it last

to a small Wiltshire town

and the watchers who mourn someone else’s son.


But then, in muddy Fr...

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Escape velocity

Escape velocity


What more do we need?

We have the full set NOW -

toys, games, lamps, motors,

cards and electronic rooftops

and battery driven ear-pluckers,

navel-dusters and gadgets

to clean the things we need no gadgets for,

unless we have the things and the gadgets

we need for the things that need cleaning

With the other gadgets.


Just in the same way th...

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Graptolite - a Moral Tale

One day while climbing on a crag

my friend’s good fortune was to bag

a piece of prehistoric swag.

Now what a thing to come to light

it really was a graptolite!


Not dreaming that its end was near

It laid in stone without a fear

for several hundred million year

its role in history perverted -

its flesh to slaty rock converted -



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My wife she found this beetle in the pottery washer basket

We never found what kind it was because we couldn’t ask it

It was rather black and shiny with a finely ribbed abdomen

It wasn’t from a circus, had no markings from a showman.


It hadn’t any thing to say, there was no tale around it

was dark rotund and silent and the washer must have drownd it.

It was howeve...

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Gods et.



Gods etc


“What good do they really do at all?”

said the Man in the Grubby Overcoat –

“ ..and how many are there out on call?

All swanning on in the same old boat -

There’s an ‘ology god produced by ‘Science’

as spurious as artistic licence -

There’s a Christian god and a Jewish god

and a Moslem god and god knows what

many more Hindu gods with a gem

in t...

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Saddleworth Moor

Saddleworth Moor

This is the place where time has died
and earth has eaten its past.
Once these lands were forests.
You find their bones -
the trees’ bones,
shrinking into icy brown fingers
with dust and decay of heather 
interred in the peaty black.
There’s grass – shivering grass -
and strange green
stunted cowering vegetable entities
and the silent white trumpets
of the lichen,

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Big Dusty Man

He was got off at the wrong stop

Asking for his brother in the sun.

stunned, and scared, by unknown streets

and asking, searching for someone

Looking, asking, looking, peering

Stumbling as if words were strange

And the neighbour brought him up to us

to ask what we might re-arrange -

- to a small courageous woman

holding his thinking in this place

holding this huge and...

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Glenbrittle – the loch.

(for Homo Sapiens)


Into this wide lap she lays

For the long slow curl of waves

The land receives the sea below,

Liquid alien element aflow

All among her secret caves

Darkly shining kelpy graves

And slipping far beneath she feels

The silken sensualities of seals.


The sea moves in, the scour moves on

The wrack heaves up to fall again

The next bay lays, the ...

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