Tags from last 12 months

U (1)

A satire of sorts


As I force myself toward pleasure, 
and I love this November life,
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
through the tunnels,
over the wind-swept bridges,
through the sedentary, school-less,
villages of the retired rich
into the heart of my enemies
where hostile witnesses abound
skilled at shaking fists, digging up dirt
spitting out venom and being richly contemptible.

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A place of recovery

This is Gorffwysfa, a place of rest,
This is where her recovery began
Amharic text reminds us,
As we live beneath the sun,
She was an old Welsh witch,
When sky was black as gold,
She was dragged across a sunless sea
By men without a soul:
Her stories and narrations,
Her lives as yet untold

Lost in the stinking slave ship’s hold.

From the slave ships and from the factories,

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The moon was sad as only the moon can be
Men in tears sought to flee the nightmare of their lives
We dream that with the fingers we can pluck

The calmness of flowers, the depths of moments,
The completeness of a live birth;
While sobs slide into tears
Remembering the smile of a mother,

On the fortunate day of a first kiss.
The past becomes a magnet,
Drunk with the all the hea...

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Suttee, Sanskrit sati (“good woman” or “chaste wife”), a Hindu custom of a wife immolating herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband.


Moths fly high
on this cold delight
of a summer’s night........
their wings sing
but my mind’s not right.......

See the showers spark high
in the flaming air,.........
sizzling on the water
blowing in her hair......


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Lotta Continua.

Let the starving Irish eat their babies.
This modest proposal of Dr Jonathan Swift,
published anonymously in 1729,
displayed considerable prescience
predicting the Great Hunger
the famine, an Drochshaol.
"Black '47" was the worst year
over a million starved to death.
In the south and west - the Gaeltacht - 
where the deaths were at their worse.
this attack was  also on the Irish lang...

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A loving heart is truest wisdom

Opinions can be ignored, mocked,
That’s fair enough – satirists like Swift’d be buggered –
and, of course,
No-one has the right not to be offended
I am offended everyday
By the complacent, middle-class old
Bastards who hang on to every penny
And have the empathy of granite
And so easily condemn
Those poorer or less well-educated
Than them.
I love the novels of Dickens
For ...

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Gérard Manley Hopkins SJ

On this flaming day in June, with such beautiful pagan mountains rising all around, I felt your uncertain presence in this bastion of the Jesuits.
I listened, and you, doubtless, overheard, disquisitions concerning the nuts and bolts of your poetry
As your real presence crept slowly into my heart, I knew your journey of renunciation saw you washed up on many steep and rocky promontories,
Where ...

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Towards the year's midnight

The old gods of the greensward and forests have gone to ground.
Their acolytes burnt, stretched upon the rack, hung, drowned
For century after century until now the druid –in  the knowing of the oak –
Is found only in histories, myths and, tales until you walk in the freezing mist
Of a late November night – don’t get squeamish, don’t take fright –
See the land under the moon’s milky light: th...

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The Unpurged Images of Day

In ancient, Roman Byzantium
The King of the moon came looking for me
With blood dripping from his mouth
& a wide toothy smile, as wide as the Bosphorous.

Aristomenos the daughter of Ancient Man.
Will do everything she can to remain Byzantine
But the Ottomans raped  and laughed and smoked hashish.
She asked herself what the Greeks said about murder
And refrained. Uttering such-and-suc...

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A Victorian Saturday Night


We was paid of a Saturday night,
Tide us over Sunday morning,
Sunday’s dinner still to be bought
this Saturday evening in November.
Scarves pulled tight against the air
Damp pea-soupers everywhere. 
The market was bright, alight
With candles, gas jets, grease lamps,
The fires of the chestnut roasters
Amongst the cacaphony of cries
Traders calling out their wares:
“ Bootiful sea...

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Ghosts are everywhere
pulses of her heart stopped
in a knot
wraiths chattering
mixing and melding
In this invisible air
oddest number is the one
moments linger in the empty chair
talking to a lady no longer there,
odd that even two is only ever odd 1 + 1
associations carry on until the wood
rots and there are no trees and no ice
and no air and nobody there..

Only the hallow...

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Blank slate

Tabula Rasa: blank slate
will take the breath clean out of you,
when you think the implications through
Tabula Rasa: blank slate.

No memory, no desire,
Nothing to bend you in any direction,
Nothing to send you lower or higher
No future envisaged
No prescience required
No past to regret
Nothing for sale and nothing to let.
No genetic predisposition
No-need to speak and no-one to l...

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Winter of my Heart


We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,
Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I
Squeeze into the thick silences of trees.
Now the dark lights of Christmastide afflict us
Twilight memories drift, flux and flicker
In this breeze of Time,
Penumbra-beginning, hologram-end,
Such pungent affirmations, slip into the past:
Generations of suffering: eyes lifted to a cross,
a c...

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Broken vessel

Photo by Dmitry Ermakov on Unsplash

Fresh water suits my watery nature.
I squint at the ripples of redemption,
Watch the ducks glide beside me
Keeping me on the straight and narrow.

The call of strangers splatters across
The sky and I choke on what I do not  know ,
And so cannot even whisper or sigh.

Mountains and sky reflected in water.
The extraordinary ordinary
Among the gol...

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A permanent loss of happiness

“There are disappointments which wring us, and there are those which inflict a wound whose mark we bear to our graves. Such are so keen that no future gratification of the same desire can ever obliterate them: they become registered as a permanent loss of happiness.” 'A Pair of Blue Eyes' by Thomas Hardy.

Upon this beach of ground sand and shells
Come! See the image of the rolling sea.
This n...

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Another place, another time

I wanted somebody to tell
About the hell that is suicide.
There was a girl with a pearl earring.
Everything fades in time, they say.
Yet, this time and place will never
wither away,
as if nothing ever remains;
after all we shared in early teenage years,
in a particular suburban place.

listlessness discourages me
from composing this time & place. 

The sky affects me greatly....

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Charlie and I walked our post-cancer walks
Down this narrow stretch of green in the city
For a full decade.. We aged together
But not like malt, we blended into each other,
Man and Dog. He recognized the smells, me the sights,
And his life was shorter than mine. That afflicts me like
A sentence. Very few minutes pass
Without me thinking of that. He connected me to the
Pack, little knowin...

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The Swan with two Nicks

We met on the usual terms

Of affectionate endearment

Bred over more than half a century.

Our talk flared into a satisfying silent numbness

Chris talked of what was to be done

Generally nothing, I thought, but I do remember

Chris praising Farage's intervention

On behalf of the persecuted Yezedis of northern Iraq.

You live and learn. Only in this case we didn't. One of us. 


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icons of the sun

To switch climates is not to switch allegiances.                    We drove them out of the temples, the money lenders
The souls of the murdered did not die at all.
The land around the Mediterranean bloomed
With blood remembered by the poets sporadically
The simmering of the sea this November morning
Supposes war in the east will lack the vigor to stain
The hot sea red as the ghosts of ungh...

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Al Andalusia

Arabic spoken in Al-andalus
after 400 years of the inquisition.
Muslim houses in Bosnian villages
with crosses on display 

despite the threat of apostacy.

"And slay them wherever ye find them."

morning fresh as one –
the Buddha knew –
the flowers of the valley
the grasses of the plain
shine with the unbidden light of heaven
and nothing shall remain.

This is still the truth
no ...

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As I rise, so will I burn

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Adolf Hitler, August 22, 1939


I cut the sky, and heaven cries,
I gallop yet can never escape.
Killers drove me off my land
Despatched me onto a death march
One thousand miles of desert.
Pillagers followed our route
Stealing our goats, our women
Our children.
Abused bodies thrown into ditches.
The Turkish infantry...

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DAY OF THE DEAD - November 2, 2022

Wind cuts through this January night
Slices like a knife through my meagre clothes.
Signs on the road hidden by an iron fog
The cry of the wind is all in vain
Nothing is the same.
I kiss you across this black hole in time.
In the old be-jewelled spider-webbed
Way we kissed tender to kiss long,
Frost-filled graveyard-remains
For the happily insane, a song.
Yew trees shadow against the moo...

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A sort of remembrance

No foot marks in the sand
To mark my passage.
No disturbance in the air.
I cry and grieve and cherish
My face immobile, as I stare
Out at stormy autumn.
O! living through November
Demands a certain flair. 
Foggy bafflements afflict me everywhere,
Pea-soupers some might say,
And as I gaze beyond the moon
I swoon into another dismal November  day.

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The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

These long, black evenings fill me with premonitions,

The falling of the leaves remind us of our losses.

Captain Wilfred Owen killed in action

During the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal

One week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice.


Such terrifying bloomings of a malignant fate,

A godless irony, force us back into our centrally heated caves.

We dream...

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Baffling how I came to be a pauper, I thought,
An ex-serviceman, me, still with an upright back.
Thing is: I never really arrived home. Did I?.
Not real home. Everything changed.
Belfast, The Falklands, Belize, Operation Desert Storm
See a doctor some said,
“I’ll be reet” I say, “after a bit.”
Even here: No-go, No-Irish, No-squaddies 
The Falls, Free Derry, Shankhill, South Armagh, New...

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Snow... lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

The Dead, Dubliners, James Joyce


Paralysis of the heart
Involves a continuing lack of empath...

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The sullen dead

In England’s fields no poppies grow,
Chemical fertilisers have seen to that,
The land is still owned by the feudal rich
And the larks, still, sometimes, bravely, sing
Scarce heard amid empty political posturings..

No-one listens to the 'glorious" dead. Lip service instead.
When the ‘great and good’ pretend to remember
They dont recall the ordinary Tommy Atkins like my granddad, Jack Princ...

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soft and steady rhythm of a baby


her gaze  tells us all we need to know

her footsteps tender in the snow;

the pitter-patter blast of rain upon a window

considering all we do not know

or understand, we stand hand-in-hand

under this beautiful harvest moon


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The Armenian genocide 1913 - 1923

all over Anatolia children's graves marked with crosses often defaced by the descendants of those Young Turk murderers. Yes. We are dead: throats slit, buried alive, no longer a threat no longer a millet, no longer haram. We were thrown into the dark beneath the beech trees, besides the judas tree. Sometimes small gatherings of stones mark our graves the moon and the stars ...

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Late November


Damp air, sticky, misty horizon,
stiff mud under foot, scarves
pulled tight, gloved
in the greenwood
stripped with leaves
of snow. 

All I remember
are the neutral tones
of a beery afternoon,
long ago. Chris knew
all the names, Latin &
vernacular, of the plants
& birds of the Cheshire 
plain. Nobody came &
nobody went as we 
marched into the 1970s
with such thoughtless tr...

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Early on in Dostoevsky’s great work Crime and Punishment.

Published in 1866 when Dostoevsky was 44 years old,

Raskolnikov, an ex-student in St Petersburg, sees himself as a young boy,

Walking through a provincial town with his father.

Outside a pub, a drunken rabble surrounds a weary old horse,

Hitched to a weighty cartload that it cannot possibly pull.

To the delight of...

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In the apple market
your south London twang
accompanied the many undulations
of time.

Your wild androgyny
mirrored the mirror
of yourself
skimming off the water
of childhood,
like a shaking dog.

You lit up, spot-lighted,
an iridescence of sound

Your songs were the water
I needed;
Your terse verse
spread underground
watering imaginations
breeding rainbows

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My room was in a poor house
The night was gilded, obscure
hidden above the suspicious gleams
of space, light, space, infinite space.
Shadows I see from my window,
unclean, unclear, in straightened circumstances.
From the road came the drunken shouts
of those who hung about not knowing
the family in the house were grieving.
The voices in the house were hushed
rendering the mour...

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Feed your head

Amidst this waste of time
I live under this mountain
That might crush the life out of me
Any time, any day
So, I drink anyway.

 Lucifer, Brightest of Bright Angels, stutters out
" Non serviam! 'I will not serve!'”
And that is enough, and more than enough, 
for me to condemn all those big words like ‘humanity’.
and 'insanity.'
I will not serve that in which I no longer believe
Whether ...

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The summer of love

Somewhere between these avenues of dereliction  straddling the moon and new york city, avoiding the fairground detritus of half-remembered dreams. I awoke, sleeping with her together in her dad's caravan, at the bottom of the garden, amidst the rhubarb where I fell in love.

Smoking joints with red leb scored from placid dealers, drinking orange juice in pubs, astounding the upstanding patrons w...

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Uneasy words

We grab our words from thin air
Drag words up from the wriggling earth
Such unearthly digressions infect even 
The connotations of our words, like ripples d
ripping from a stone,
We veer further from home than we ever thought
Possible. We grow to loathe ourself and 
Our empty suggestibility. Something must last.
We stumble back to denotation, to shared
Meanings we so blithely deny: the eart...

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......early onset

The blue is missing from the sky today
the trees have no leaves
outside it is very cold
the wind is cruel.
there is a person
in front of me
i don’t know who it is.
I remember playing out
with my sisters 
on a skipping rope,
playing hop-scotch
on the pavement.
It is cold inside too,
that lady told me it is morning,
maybe that is why I stretch and yawn
like a cat, I like cats.

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Low hung ample apples of the sun

On the tree of knowledge. Right next to me.

Enough for you, enough for me. 

Extends my irresolution.

I need to hear the crashing of the sea

to believe in me

to mercilessly set me free from these unghosted unknown

unknowns that hover on this edge

of consciousness, always out of reach,

the sublime sublimity,

of that extra sensory pe...

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A wise fool


Bewildered, by all the things he left unsaid

Serendipity, chances cut dead:

I am wise enough to play the fool.

This vicious wind of a deep set night

Put out the light and then put out the light

Memory cuts through this taut, damp cold

Slices through me like a knife

Signs hidden by an iron fog suddenly beckon:

A life lived in vain....nothing the same

Across a bla...

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Bonfire Night

i.m. of Guido Fawkes, (born 1570, York, England—died January 31, 1606, London - Hanged, drawn and quartered.

Red-hot fire engines fly by like hot whirlwinds,
Squawking burning red machines
The brilliance of a sheen made not to burn,
Hot dragon breath in the fog
A red fire has engulfed the country
Gunpowder, treason & plot
Take care of my money! Take care of my family!
Red horses once set...

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Mocking Bird

 “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. . That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Harper Lee, 'To kill a mocking bird.'


How jealousy and envy
Remain a deadly threat
Generation after generation
Beget after beget.

He had the  ease and simple grace
Of a man who's never out of place
I loved this man who’s died
That cannot be lied about
That cannot be d...

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Music to eat by


Flavours of sweetness
spices of life,
another place, another time
innocent tastes of love-on-the-vine
tangle on my palate,
mingle in the air,
no longer alone, no longer there
abiding in the cynic’s lair? No, she’s not there
cross seas, forks, knives, stay alive,
thrive with your three eyes,
a pasty present for the future
we done us best when we wus let,
thinking sent me all to...

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All Souls' day

It is a time of wind and rain.
And in the green wood
The voices of the dead
Coagulate and skim
This edge of consciousness.
It is a time of heavy-hearted dread.
It is the day of the dead.
And what have we done
Since the last, lingering death?
Nothing, nada, no.
The wicked still prosper,
And the rich come and go
And the world spins the same
As ever it did before
And the poor are as the...

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King Charles I prior to his beheading. 

Your vernacular usage is privileged as the only discourse
Suited to the now compulsory affirmation of mediocrity.
Democracy. That’s fair enough I suppose. S’far as it goes.
Gather to a greatness: the ooze, ooze of oil. Toil. Toil.
Endless gold and land form the sinews of war you say
Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law you say
No one is...

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De Profundis

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there
. Gerard Manley-Hopkins, 'The Terrible Sonnets'


Out of the depths it came
I didn't just lose my friend once
I lose him many times still:
at every waking
at every pause in the day
every time I look at the sky - 
with you no longer beneath it - 
Or, I look do...

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The Fall


The day has eyes. The night has ears;
the monster within, unbidden tears.
Think you’re escaping,
run into yourself, bang;
longest way round, shortest way home.

T’was the night before All Souls
dark and cold and dreary.
Full, dark, black, night.
For lettered and for unlettered alike.

Fear the roaring of the skies,
tremble at the dying of the light;
fear seeps from  miasmic g...

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The way of the cloud

                                                      (For Tom)

But please, remember me fondly
I heard from someone you're still pretty
And then they went on to say that the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti. Sam Beam

In every mouthful of food
In every look of love
In every chiding and every making up:
This sometimes bay of tranquillity,
This harbour to which we return,

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A recreation

The majesty of dogs impresses us –

Their solitary solidarity –

Yet above their grey horizons

There is always the promise, lingering…

Of continuing.

These days an ending is assumed

That glorifies the story of our lives:

Making children, seeing things,

Listening to the waves wash the pebbles,

Overhearing our hearts’ desires.

Yesterday the sky darkened at noon

Seas sp...

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A splinter from Armenia

The Christian Armenian story was the Polish Jewish story. The efforts of the Armenians to stay alive in Musa Dagh chimed with those struggling to survive the ghetto. Howard Jacobson
We sold everything, everything, or had it stolen
By the Turks who roamed into another killing season
Hungry for blood. The Turk kicked his stirrup,
As our mud baked walls crumbled.
I wanted to rub the horse i...

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An opal luminosity

 Evening dark, damp, cold
 Retreat into electric caves
 Try not to think about you
 In your grave. Your soul 
 Meandering. Suicides in GB
 Buried in unconsecrated 
 Ground, until a MP topped
 Himself and was buried
 In Westminster Abbey 1822:
 Viscount Castlereagh. I think.
 Easier to digress than to confess
 How flummoxed am I 
 With the whole unholy business
 Of not saying goodb...

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