It's surprisingly easy to let your mind

Begin to wander

While waiting at a supermarket checkout counter only to find

You've no folding money left to squander.

Why, then, is this prim register lady with her deep-lined face

Staring so hard at me, while arching a disapproving eyebrow?

I must extricate myself from this frightfulness with a particle of charm

Since I...

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The Lady in the Sunlight

The Lady in the Sunlight


I see you poised in a pool of sunlight

That offers sanctuary from the darkling forest;

Calm and puzzled by the trees' lordly might

As if their blackness might bleed the white


Of the ticking afternoon. I fear you'll leave here soon,

Resume a journey or two, perhaps,

Or rest after brief sojourns beyond the moon;

My dilemma whether I should i...

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Walk out across a vast abyss

to airs from marching bands;

set your face against the smiling thieves,

take your future in your hands.


Stride fit and strong in eager step,

thick glass beneath your feet

that shows the fate of reprobates

when Mercury was fleet.


On tiny wings of quicksilver

this speedy spirit played

across the skies to clear a pat...

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I'm a little edgy

– you may say not easy –

when everything's changing

so furiously.

I'm going down

slow and sadly,

looking out over the river

to the darker side.

Mud here, mud there

where the bad guys live

and I must be a child

just one more time.


Born an Islander

I'm water-branded

imprisoned by the chaos

of relentless se...

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It's not as though I refused to make amends

For the fault was mine, no intention to offend,

Said I regretted sincerely my sudden laughter,

And certainly I was out of line, and sorry after.

But can't you see how a casually innocent word,

said off the cuff, can cause a furore as you've never heard?


I could see she was wild with anger, her green eyes dart...

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A Paean For Pensive People

A Paean For Pensive People


“Apollo, god of my greatest amore,

Olympic mountaineer I truly adore,

Old protector of my ineffable truths,

I drink deep from the well of your lore.”


Which is to make plain (in the modern way)

That I love to write poems in splendid array;

You might imagine I'm merely addicted, well

Guilty as charged, I compose where I may.


'The m...

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A Small and Simple Song

A Small and Simple Song


I'm of the easy, the gentler kind,

No counter of time as old Earth turns,

No twister of fate for the willfully blind;

My path's clear where the fair light burns.


I sing a small and simple song,

Lifted high by humble meter;

Largo textures, placid and strong:

A steady beat's all the sweeter.


The rhythm of my waking days

Is the song...

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Three a.m. and still awake.


The night carpet suffocates

in distracted indifference

as hillsides beyond

the sky

light up as if under attack,

but hang in air

where faces form and melt,

and form again; all are known,

some are feared.


O, I'm standing, stranded

on decrepit scaffolding

creaking high on the inside

of this immense cathedral


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A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place


The night insinuates its ghosted presence

Through a mocking by crows of the burglar

Now pulling on a black balaclava, adjusted

To accommodate for menace; standing over

A cracked mirror stolen last week, still lying

Prone upon the unswept floor.


Midnight's bells chime suddenly, electronically,

Across the way; no time left to stay,

To contemplate th...

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Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point

I stood motionless on a green-hedged hillside

Near Tetford, deep within the Wolds

That crease and fold old Lincolnshire lands

Where pheasant that escape the hunt call

Each to each.


Here, over the bluestone that runs the top

Flew a black-winged kite, swooping high

Across the scarp to hover like an angel at ease,

Its eyes rapidly scanning the ground on...

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My Brother's Eyes

My Brother's Eyes


I was dumbfounded to find

I had made a glaring blunder;

My brother's eyes

Stared back at me from the wall

With amused reproof, his pencil portrait

Defaced with such a shocking blot:

(Glasses unbalanced and shoddily drawn

Circled around them with his laugh-lines).

My first attempt to capture his essence.


On best cartridge paper I had failed ...

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Paradise Road

Paradise Road

I want for nothing more

Than to be satisfied beyond sight

That this snowy track holds no fears

For prey of mist-breathing, eye piercing

Grey wolves hunting winter elk

And the horses can go no further.


The drifts have moved and piled

Far higher than yesterday

Thick against the silver birch

And the northwind hurtles

South, bouncing end over end


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A Tower

A Tower


Could it be that all life begins

and ends beneath this trim white and red

candy tower, here as crash the endless ranks

of imperial ocean combers that curl,

hurling their foaming, darkling selves

over black tumbles of smashed basalt?


Is it enough to flash bright warning signs

at those that might stray, who may be drawn

to new ways of living; at unconvinc...

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The Listener

The Listener

Lies, lies, listen: lies

are told by truth-tellers

who forget their lines,


Forget sincerity; tell us,

who listen; hope to find

humanity. The cave dwellers


Invented the past - blind -

on stone with oxides,

of prey animals (unsigned).


Millennial time hides

alienation, estrangement

as did the Medieval scribes,


While lying through...

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First Light

First Light


Cold sand sifts the sunrise

as camels stir and snort

beside the caravanserai

travellers greet the dawn


Cicadas start a rasping chirp

in rhythmical polyphony

as zephyrs rustle oasis trees

the tuareg eat and yawn


Blue men sing soft as the wind

of their ancient berber laments

secure fine silks and pillars of salt

with camel leathers tight...

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A Crystal Ball

A Crystal Ball

“Listen Martha! The paper's come, something's happened: 'The Germans glare

At the Andrew, but admit they cannot frighten or defeat it', dear.

That's Kaiser Bill's doing, a warmonger all can see - Queen Vicky's in-law. Spare

Us from the madmen that play people like chess. They'll not cheer.

Yes, and look! 'The Balkans aflame once more – the Turks in flight again,


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Sweet Loneliness and the Solitary Traveller

Sweet Loneliness and the Solitary Traveller


A sigh begins my game's refrain,

Check-In counters are all the same

at the airport Check-In counter.


A certain sense of anticipation,

a frisson, perhaps, of hesitation ...

do I really need to go, do I ?? ?


The answer is of course a “yes,”

notwithstanding timorous distress

at the rapid retreat of my comfort zone.


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Be Yourself

Be Yourself

Silence burns because it keeps us sane

enough to listen with expectation

to the quiet music of a lived life's river

and is banished from the traveler's story

by insistent thoughts that echo and rebound

down hushed, clip-clop streets at sunset.


Each noise - thunderclap or whispered love -

is invaded, shamed by black memories

of what we must say but now ca...

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Vincent Sings the Blues

Vincent Sings the Blues


I'm Nederlander, from the South I'm born

Down Brabant way, my rough Dutch tongue

Betrays my place and home. Oh, I'm torn


Apart by life and love, but memory still is young

And my art strong. I paint and draw each day,

But often enough on the junk pile they're flung.


Father was a preacher, so in the fields I'd play;

An austere parson's s...

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Into the Storm

Into the Storm

The day darkens quickly from the West, sudden

Insult of sky galleons, billowing white cloaks

As Masters become Anger, catch passing Zephyrs

Blowing hot and cold into fire and furnace;

Envy gets the better - a cold Mistral flows


As black cloud gyrates silent spinning,

Remotely fixed to the Maypole of ribbon

Clouds, torn in shards reaching flower


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The Lamplighter's Hamartia

The Lamplighter's Hamartia


I stand before you a broken man without hope or cause,

Bereft as the last forest tree left stranded when its final leaf

Turned brown in decay, its moths wrapped in infants' gauze,

Returning to the chrysalis if only to express their grief.

It's true I am a lighter of lamps that cast beams on shadows;

A dangerous task when called to discipline ignobl...

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A Keeper of Secrets

A Keeper of Secrets


These stones lie silent

as the graven images

upon their infinite repose.


The gods they composed

sanctuary for great Zeus

deity of sky and thunder.


Olympian of the thunderbolt

your temple lies in ruins

marked by scattered remains


in your dry and rocky domain.

Gold and ivory, your effigy

sat eons upon a gilded throne.



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He stands alone, enormous greystone arms across his navel,

Colossal beast of Swift's Brobdingnag, condescending

To righteous Lilliput, flung like a hand of gravel

Around his feet; tiny houses housing tiny people who cradle

The distant organ that plays the first bars of The Lark Ascending.


A rough-hewn monster drips moss from his back, slicked black slate

Displays ...

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Desperation Road


Desperation Road


It's lined with naked branches whipped thin by the howling of gales,

From its mouthing of spittle to unforgettable, unforgivable contempt,

Shouting longing and loud at losing bets, the torn up ticket fails

To subdue the call of next time, the next day; gathering, crowding, rent


By Metropolitan Police on horseback, pale geldings rear in fright,

a ri...

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Desperation Road


Desperation Road


It's lined with naked branches whipped thin by the howling of gales,

From its mouthing of spittle to unforgettable, unforgivable contempt,

Shouting longing and loud at losing bets, the torn up ticket fails

To subdue the call of next time, the next day; gathering, crowding, rent


By Metropolitan Police on horseback, pale geldings rear in fright,

a ri...

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River Stone

River Stone


Sweet as an Arkansas dulcimer

Smooth as a river stone

The satire of Lemuel Gulliver

A twist of seabirds flown


Paints in me a poem

About innocence divine

And the feel of imperfection

Without the need of wine


A likeness in a mystery

Comes clear to both meek and strong

Prisoners of history

The wonder of the song


Taken high by visi...

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The Orchestra Isn't Here Yet

The Orchestra Isn't Here Yet


Hush, be still, lay quiet for a time,

listen with attention to the cadence

of silence: its metre, pulse and rhyme,

the beating heart of aloneness. Latent


fire crackling as damp sticks thrown

on its guttering shocks mourners

with its desire simply to burn alone,

and snuggle into the furthest corners


of a used-up shabby furnace,


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“Don't look at me, voyeur!

she demanded, no, pleaded:

Did you really believe my mind

insufficiently kind to qualify

for admission to Dante's unholy


C'mon then! Start the car and

let's go. Let's fire it across Italy,

that ready-made nest of vipers,

and of lambs.

Let's seek out the majesty

of lofty cathedrals, hollowed out


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Clerihew By Starlight




Boris Johnson stood transfixed at dusk

In a garden where the breeze was brusque;

His head thrown back to see the stars,

Avoiding a sentence he had to parse.


For the evening held a sharp surprise,

Luckily, with no Moon's rise.

He thus beheld celestial sparkle,

A speedy diamond with which to startle


The astronomically uninformed


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You Drive Your Car


You drive your car

and you see your life retold

in the smears arced on the windscreen

from the slow rain.

Here and gone. Here and gone.

But never really gone;

the smears are left behind.


You take the river ferry

on a windy day.

And the wavelets that appear, breaking

white on the water's surface,

stain the sky's reflection for a moment


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Dreams are a simple way to make sense

of the past, often used as a mental grip

on the bafflement we feel

when choice engulfs us, not just hems us in.


Shall I become that which I know I am not?

Perhaps, an empty shell, I will be found out:

a shameful gambler like many,

and primed to receive his just deserts.


Or, better, to receive the same without regre...

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Memoirs and Reflections

Memoirs and Reflections


Music sustains and surrounds us; colour

in memories dropped on street corners

as swift blanking years suffer ruinous palour,

sloughed gentle and silent as graveside mourners.


How can I, with clarity, recall without anguish

early times so demanding attention?

Can a Rachmaninoff' rhapsody grant a wish

that may lead me towards my redemption?


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The Night


The night, that dark and rancid cloak,

contains within its half-drawn claws

a certainty I cannot match,

nor merely approach; my fear prevents

such posturing.


Darkness wants for nothing,

save my peerless pride

that so often burns down to hubris

and faithless self-promises

written distractedly in flowing water.


Now I rarely leave my house

(the ...

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Ludford Churchyard

The Ludford in question is the one on the Lincolnshire Wolds, not the one close by Ludlow in Shropshire.


Ludford Churchyard


Bellowing past the close mown grass,

big wagons thunder at ancient stone

to drown a chorale's seeping. Prone,

the organ's praiseful chords sublime

are couched within its sanctuary; crass

conceiver of everlasting life: His, not mine.


The ...

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The Truth


The Truth


“Where's the truth, then?”

coughed a scabrous beggar,

eyeing me from a Portuguese pavement,

“where is it, you faker, where?”


“Really want to know?”

I smiled back: “Try this:


“Truth lies, really lies,

through its teeth

lies like a clumsy dentist

who never hurt anyone,

pretending cleansing truth

lying underneath the pain.



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Things Seen Less Clearly

I'm not sure that Michael Portillo and Griff Rhys Jones would agree with these sentiments.


Things Seen Less Clearly


In this world, at this time,

Young ambitious neophytes

Are condemned as

Mere passengers, trapped

On white-pointed trains

That do not stop.

Carried to oblivion

Without their permission

They study their own

Shadowed, flickering faces


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Arc of Silence

A recent visit to majestic Saint Petersburg was the catalyst for this rumination.


Arc of Silence

Please hold my hand

Until you're completely sure

That you understand; I am

Not as I was (quoting Hitchen

As his death drew near).


Please hear my pleas, comprehension

Being the triumph of years

Expended or forlorn. Draw

Down the blinds that obscure

A countenanc...

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Outside Painters

Outside Painters

I will admit, if pressed for time,

That Graffiti Artists make telling points,

Expressing their fragile selves sublime

While pulling on apocryphal joints.


It's hard work peering round threat-laden corners,

Snatching moments that fashion the ego;

Time's their enemy, these spraycan performers,

Not the dying curse of autumnal Dido.


The self's domin...

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Poets tire of endless impositions

which, though not enforced upon us,

remind us yet of lifelong treks

outside ourselves, while digging thus

a graven willingness to tolerate

the possibility of writing something on the minds

of younger people, so soon grown to tend bitter,

sardonic if essentially kindly

human egos. Trodden down by fear

of painful endings in fore...

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