Saturday, 28 December 2019

recondite and red

My poetic year ends with a win in the inaugural free competition from Anglica Tuition Services who, awarding all due respect to the works of Milton and Shakespeare for examples in scansion and wotnot, have sorted out me to the top of their entry heap:  none other mixed precision with delight so well as [my] own Astral Scheme.   A starry meditation.   Ah, sweet! 

I’ll be at charges for a looking glass,
and entertain a score or two of tailors
to study fashions to adorn my body,
since I am crept in favour with myself
I shall maintain it at some small cost. 
Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
that I may see my shadow where I pass.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Who is this Shams of Tubriz?

I have the standard American collection of Rumi (Jalaluddin Rumi 13thC) for the spiritual bedrock that he is.  Translated into the idiom some of these poems are a bit hit or miss.  We take what we like, Isherwood’s Bhagavad Gita for instance is my favourite version so far of that illuminating manuscript. And in all the poems before me Rumi shines.  Poetry is somewhat spiritual, what more can I say, Seek and ye shall find?   
Here’s a good-natured, work-a-day version of a piece included in the Shambhala Classics text:
The Mill, the Stone and the Water

All our desire is a grain of wheat.
Our whole personality is the milling-building.
But this mill grinds without knowing about  it.

The millstone is your heavy body.
What makes the stone turn is your thought-river.
The stone says: I don’t know why we do all this, but the river has knowledge!

If you ask the river, it says,
I don’t know why I flow.
All I know is that a human opened the gate!

And if you ask the person, he says:
All I know, oh gobbler of  bread, is that if this stone
stops going around, there’ll be no bread for your bread-soup!

All this grinding goes on, and no one has any knowledge!
So just be quiet, and one day turn
to God, and say: What is this about bread-making?

(trans Robert Bly)

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Poetry Bus #8

Poetry Bus Magazine No 8
Out this week, or last week, produced printed and sold out.  I'm really pleased to have a poem in this strong and varied collection.  It has all sorts, some are very good and some excellent in part.  I'm happy to have a poem scrape in.  All eyes on Dublin.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Mercury swoops

I anticipate tea will be at 4 today, in these unfriendly times.  I'm happy to have a funny old poem on wretchedness posted up Ekphrastic, that’s two published poems a piece for the boys below.  Good men in their field.

Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso

Saturday, 24 August 2019

How good is this!?!

An unearthed recording, back from the Bardic Days.

(My partners says: Bury it deep).

Thursday, 8 August 2019


I am longlisted for this year’s Canterbury Prize yeh!  So a place in the anthology assured & while I didn’t win with my ekphrastic shot at The Miser Who Lost His Treasure,  I will be in Earyworks next anthology as I was shortlisted for their competition as well.  I’m delighted with both of course, already.  Win or lose it is a pleasure to share print.  

Looking over the misguided register my submissions this year – aye, there are many – I see ‘longlist’ crops up: Erbacce Pamphlet, Firth Magazine.  It is plausible – as I don’t go for the big prizes and prefer the one judge reads all competitions – this is because there are more poems about. Which might be the case for all competitions.   Paddle faster.
L'avare qui a perdu son tresor

Friday, 28 June 2019

Webzine Progress

Bonnie's Crew & Runcible Spoon
I am happy to have two poems enthusiastically accepted by Katt at Runcible Spoon - Baker Street, with /Loves sweet tooth... /its fingertips and lollipops, strawberries and cream/ and another completed after many revisions, Threshold. Also an estuary poem, Sea window accepted this month by the big-hearted Bonnie's Crew. Familiar faces in both: poetry is a good place to be.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


The usual thing: acquire superpowers, write the book, get the girl – all the girls – become Pres.  Young man’s stuff, but it’s all superheroes these days. This verse, with abandoned references to the cautionary tales and films of the past, keeps the recent film in mind, as its anchor point, even if – desperately unexpanded – the sense skates wildly on.    Sonnets, Gosh.

His ersatz candles burn nuit jour nuit jour
smoking ad-man, recollects men haven’t
burnt full credit yet with brainboxes unspent
on pyromanic favours. Running water
from the taps burns chlorine off as we adore
those bygone years of a limitless lament:
These days we've nothing left to quit for Lent,
allowing TV makes the fire’s replacement.

Superman transfixed by dreams of celluloid.
Being too greedy, love, he’s blue-eyed, GM
hints at likenesses to Dorian Gee,
in his wainscot he's heard termites chomping,
his senses dislocate: that’s hell. Avoid
extremes, our minds intact the best to be.


Monday, 25 March 2019



The dolphins seemed unfriendly
No sooner had we landed when, at a loss,
we struck out for the islands, not by airplane –
wheels on the shallows – but in the drink, again
cast off into the Med, each of us a Pangloss –
ebullience deranged –sailing for Paxos,
island of the  shotgun, Easter rain
whose white chalk gullies and a firefly lane
lit us home through the olive alleys, moss.
O’Hara was right to remind us of Pan,
the great god Pan, last seen somewhere near
the isthmus maybe down from Ithaca,
in the sparseness of the Archipelago:
I have to go there, but the boat’s tossed so, I can
not swim a stroke: the dolphins, oh! the medusae approach.

O’Hara was right to remind us of Pan
I am happy to have Poem of the Week on writeoutloud this week The dolphins seemed unfriendly, with accompanying picture of Pan. This is my second POTW and by coincidence both conjure boat trips and Greek islands.  My deep thanks for a terrific clout on the back from this week’s choosing editor, and I quote:  

“… master-class that drops us in the Med, talks of Paxos and Pan, and is delivered with the unfettered imagination and skill of a true poet. A beautiful piece of writing sure to transport you the way only poetry can…” 

The great grin of cheese.  I also have a poem in The Journal this summer, The videographer’s picnic.  (-:

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Tetbury Goods Shed

What had been the Writers in the (Cirencester) Brewery, I understand, is reincarnated at the Tetbury Goods Shed,  same sociable, questioning and supportive ambience, moved from a café proper to this Finnish Railway carriage.  There’s a wider gauge in the cold countries.  Last Wednesday evening was very amiably hosted by Phil Kirby with guest poet, Mike Bartholomew-Briggs.  A really good poetic night out, lightly peppered with prose.  A couple of photos spliced below, taken by Nancy Mattson who has spent some time in Finland and vouched for the authenticity of the carriage maps, and, given the setting, was prompted to read her poem on finding 7 nuns at Platform One of Seven Sisters.  This is what we want.

Sunday, 13 January 2019


Searching anthologies for new blood, I have again unearthed DH Lawrence’s animal poems,  always so light and memorable.  Lizard, below, a good example, makes the point man has long  been a dull thing, often viewed as a disappointment really.  Hey ho!  I have enough of Lawrence’s bats, snakes and and wild things in Heaney and Hughes’ Rattlebag to meet my appetite there, I’ll give Frank O’Hara a go.
A lizard ran out on a rock and looked up, listening
no doubt to the sounding of the spheres.
And what a dandy fellow! The right toss of a chin for you
And swirl of a tail!
If men were so much men as lizards are lizards
they’d be worth looking at.


Saturday, 5 January 2019

Lone Stars #90

Milo Rosebud of San Antonio has allowed a shortfall on postage to send me the latest edition of Lone Stars Magazine, which has that great, wild look of a pamphlet with no print design exonerated by stars and border cartoons.  My entry, on the prompt of  "In another life" glosses an extraordinary, terrible episode in Dostoyevsky's younger years. It keeps bringing me back to the lyrics of Heroes, but Bowie's kisses were for Visconti's girlfriend, and that is fine too.  My poem repeated below, slightly corrected, I believe, for rhythm.

Another death

Taken from a dasha in the heart
of Mother Russia, put on the ruined path
to death, worked over every step,
to every melancholy Gulag

on the eve of execution the bell
tolls One. We pass around the loving cup
with a genie in the bottle,
tomorrow’s close at hand. Is come.

Kisses then, thoughts squawk, white shirttails
at our muddy knees, like Peter Pans
in hen houses except we fly around
all tears, embraces, our dear companions’ faces.

Smoke cigarettes. Prepare, my friends,
for blindfolds and the itchy trigger finger
of the one who fires first
and then the coup de grâce.

Political prisoners in our night shirts,
trussed in groups of three,
they line us up, shoot overhead.
On our knees, some would sooner die.