from Purple Patch March 2010

Certain Places

It was Widnes
or Wigan North Western
where Paul Simon
or Art Garfunkel
wrote Homeward Bound

He sat on a bench
at one or the other
waiting for a connection
as words pulled in
opening doors to chords
that found a place
further down the line

which is where I was heading
when I saw the name
glimpsed through the window
a rain swept Addlestrop
of LP’s and poetry
an unlikely place for a pilgrim
but I wasn’t going home
and who knows
something might touch me
I grabbed my rucksack
and Moleskin notebook
made famous by Bruce Chatwin
or Paul Theroux.

from Pennine Platform March 2016

Touching the Past

Do not come in August

but I did
Helsinki Airport Midnight
she wasn’t there

what then

buses hostels
lakes trees
bars saunas

Berliners in a cabin
found by chance
whisky and dictionaries
I’m touching a letter from Kristina
20th September 1978
completely forgotten till now
and I’m touched by her words

and the card from Millie
do not come…

two scraps from a box
found in a cupboard
after an email from Julie
about rummaging her attic

I write a reply
in Times New Roman
save to her file
without creases
or smears of jam
down the left hand side
of the second page.

from Acumen Literary Journal Feb 2018

At Conishead Priory

I’ve never been one
for hugging trees

but this was a belter
so old so here

so stopping us in our tracks
that I allowed myself a touch

so it wasn’t so much hugging
as feeling history

I don’t think of this later
as a woman in purple

leads us in a taster
of fifteen minutes of silent meditation

and all I can think of
is how clean the carpet is

and quite how hideous
the idols and offerings are

which is all a bit confusing
as the temple is lovely

which reminds me of that track
through woods to the Bay

and wondering if these people
are always lost in thought

are they allowed the physicality
of enjoying their bodies

is there a Zen of running on beaches.

from The Journal, Sept 2014

More Questions
( for the Curator at Haworth )

I know you’re busy
but these contradictions

hard and concise
leaving with a sigh

and the Parsonage
solid with love
so why does breath
drain through floors

and why the thistle
bottom right
doodled on paper
you said was precious
in eighteen something
why not a flower
were there problems
at the end of the poem

why was a woman standing
absolutely still
in the last room
totally entranced by a corset
that cruel fashion
that kind of leads
to the car park
and tight white lines
you see what I mean

so what do you think,
do you think they’d swap
their solitary life
their writing moors
for the fame of tea shops
and a thousand cars a day
would you?

from Magma issue 77 Summer 2020

Grange-over-Sands Lido

is no more a Lido
than Grange-over-Sands
is Grange-over-Sands
or sun through mist
over Morecambe Bay
is a Turner sketch of
our start to the day
that I don’t want to spoil
by telling her that
it’s Grange-over-Grass

which oddly enough
was the first thing she said
on breaking the spell
of viaduct and station
from where it seemed appropriate
to stroll along the Promenade
in time with tipping our hats
to folk with dogs
and it was all a bit splendid

apart from the fact
I knew it would end
when she peeked through gaps
in the Lido’s wall
at shattered Art Deco
splattered in filth and graffiti

and end it did
she was heartbroken
even before finding
photos from the fifties
pasted on the fence
of kids diving through summer

we needed tea at the nearby café
swapped stories of outdoor pools
that we’d known ourselves
what could be done for gangs
hanging round our streets

it was obvious but we had
a slight disagreement about roll over roofs
for curling and ice skating in winter.

from Envoi issue 174 Oct 2016

from the walls of Chicago Library

she borrowed quotes

Tuesday was Lincoln Park
flight and room good
up early for walk
hope you like the postcards
what do you think of this
Libraries are the evidence
Of hope for the future
I’ve cut it a bit
I’ve cut T S Eliot

Wednesday was the Navy Pier
been walking for hours
just had cocktail
who is David McCullough
What journeys of mind and spirit
Are there for the taking with a library card
or a notebook and pencil

Thursday was the History Museum
I’m late for the ballet
Libraries keep the records
On behalf of all humanity
that was Varton Gregarian
you’ll have to look him up as well

Friday was Willis Tower
back tomorrow
Getting my library card was like citizenship
It was like American citizenship
Oprah Winfrey – a woman at last

Saturday was O’Hare
scribbling in queue
hope I can post this
Libraries share all of our senses
that was me
what do you think
see you Friday
put the kettle on.

from acumen issue 97 May 2020

Taking and Giving

I’m useless at short stories
and as for novels
I wrote a chapter once
even my pencil was bored

which is a shame
when I’ve got so many
slip in my pocket notebooks
quick to the hand for

He’s the type to go as a banana

chatter in the streets

He has a strained relationship with reality

that have come to the rescue
when I needed lines

I dabble in Brazilian jujitsu

but there are so many
to use for poetry

You can’t fall out with John
he never says anything

so I’m spring cleaning
flinging a few out
to see if they’d be useful

She was like a radioactive cucumber

please take them
especially if it’s for a mystery

But why does John
keep a corpse in his flat

as in two women passing us
on the Bristol Road.

from 50th issue of Dawntreader

On January 5th

The tree came down
blown by sighs of relief
that whatever it was
I was celebrating
can be left at the tip

Time to get out the boots
and stroll to the woodland

To sit on my well worn log
smooth as pews
wait for the service

of stalks finding light
petals opening
doors I wander through
following wood chip aisles
as white cotta’d snowdrops
lead a rustling of hymns
that I know by heart.

from the North Issue 63, January 2020

How Thomas Paine avoided the Guillotine

It wasn’t my fault
someone else
had his door open
it was dark down there
someone else giving him medicine

I’d put crosses on the doors
that was my job
I had a list
but it wasn’t my job
to check the damn things were shut

and I’d finished my shift
when the carts arrived
they came for a hundred and sixty eight
but a hundred and sixty seven went
what with my cross being on the inside
because someone else
had shut the door when the doctor left
if you see what I mean

and I said to the wife
( but after Robespierre went
I’m not that daft )
that I was pleased
the sick fellow got left behind
he’d read his book to us
the one about Rights
and we’d agreed with it

the wife said the night sounded like Passover
and I was the spirit of the Lord
I said I am in this house
avoiding the soft cushion.

from The Result You See Today ( Running Anth from smith/doorstop )

to my red tracksuit top

my old faithful friend
rescued from a pile
of worn out kit
in the corner
of a college gymnasium
just for the day
but you suited me
with your rough cotton
and pocket for keys

keys that I left with Martti
my first girlfriend
so I could run for hours
along the Grand Union
expecting her to be home
not flying back to Finland

but you stayed even after
I spewed down your front
deliciously pushing it too far
over dunes at Great Yarmouth
though nowhere near as sick
as when I ran out on Sarah
just a few weeks later

you’ve never stopped giving me space
finding room for my inhaler
desperately needed in Putney
that run by the river
bench by bench back to Anna
struggling for breath
I still do when I think of her

I’ve changed the names
like they didn’t change theirs
which just leaves me and you
with your broken zip
and me with my prolapsed discs
but all things considered
we’ve had a fine run
don’t you think.

from Live Canon Anth Autumn 19

View from Llandudno

Two students
would I take their photo
skimming stones
I’m delighted to be asked
but reluctant to take it here

trying to find a reason
to ask total strangers
to walk across town
to western sands
with mountain backgrounds
and seas stretching wherever

unlike this place
with its memories
stuck in an album
and horizons fenced
by offshore blades

which wasn’t what I’d pictured
when we did that course
build our own wind turbine
from bits of bicycles
in our own back garden

which may have worked
if we hadn’t had those arguments
about painting it green
or calling it Jenny
or warning birds
on the way to Russia

it was never going to work
but I’ve got my photos
and now I count down
three two one
reasoning that the Pier
is a safe bet for memories.

from The Curlew Autumn 19

End of a Walk in Bedfordshire

On the far side of the wood
an early evening bonfire
settled for the night,
winter branches hung around
undecided between certain heat
and the soft glow of windows
where football scores
flickered unexpectedly
under a thatched roof.

To the right a friend talked
making solid points with his hands,
brushing to the side brambles
and logical uncertainties,
each fence post we followed
linked by unbroken concentration.

Behind us a friend paused,
lost in thought and half light,
her single note
drawn on barred gates,
turning as logs crashed
sending scales sparking
through choirs of beech and oak

and on other days
I may have gone back,
I really don’t know,
but I stopped him
just short of the road
and we waited in silence
with precise looks of impatience.

from The French Lit Review summer 19


I’d made a cup of tea
during the adverts
and was dunking a digestive
when the peloton returned
regrouped for a tricky turn

where from a thousand feet up
the yellow jersey pinged
liked radar in an old movie

by the third digestive
I had to know
who why when where

and how did Henri Desgrange
find fifteen jerseys
in the same colour
as L’Auto newspaper
for the 11th Stage
from Grenoble to Geneva
on the 18th July 1919

and at 2 am
persuade the leader
to ride in a leader’s colour
to give the race a focus

and it had to be Eugène Christophe
Cri-Cri from Christophe
baby talk for a bird
Cri-Cri to his friends

and then to the crowds
teasing the pretty canary
all along the route
he wasn’t happy

I put down the ipad
and got back to the race
cursing that my tea was cold
and the riders too fast
to find the one truth
I wanted to be true
in Desgrange’s signature
completely free
somewhere on that maillot jaune.

from League Against Cruel Sports Anth ( IDP )

lines following a hunter’s poem

turning days on a flat white page
telling tales of the hunt
using the hills and valleys of words
to mist what is really a front

this has nothing to do with the country
it’s about the heart of mankind
how the ripping apart of foxes
leads on to a man who is blind

and yes I’ve been at the killing
felt that call of November rain
but I’ve seen the terror of hunting
as dogs snap into a vein

now England knows of the cruelty
that linked the call of your wild

from The WoLF Anth feb 19

Sending a Message

You tick all the boxes
four photos
tall slim attractive
words tumble from the screen

loves dogs detective fiction
Sibelius Billy Collins sport
vegetarian agnostic Green
no baggage and free

to travel
across the Simpson Desert
down Inca trails
Prague for a weekend break

with a GSOH
which you don’t need
to spell out
not when you make me smile

at your smart move
to sift out idiots
who’d actually believe
that bit about travelling the world

or even worse
dream of meeting you at an airport
already high on thoughts
of adventures you’d have together

and I start to chortle
at how they’d turn up
passports and visas
early eager waiting

while you’re waiting as well
behind a fence
at the end of the runway
ready to text
telling them to take off
to look out their window
see you pointing at contrails

and then you’d stroll to the station
needing to get away
to meet someone who understands
someone who’s sending you a message.

1 poem in Envoi ( autumn 2019 )

10th Law of Physics

‘The equilibrium of a body remains stable unless acted upon by a force’

To examine this law
let us define Equilibrium as
the state of a body when it is at rest
because all forces
acting upon it are in balance

This applies solely to rigid bodies
a simple example is
a ladder leaning against a wall

However when we introduce
factors such as temperature (t)
into large scale systems
more complex results are created

We are all familiar
with the Goldilocks theory
of planetary equilibrium ( E )
whereby conditions are just right
but what happens if
after the perfect porridge
she wants another bowl
and cools the hot one
by ordering a fridge
and heats the cold bowl
by buying matches
to burn down the cottage

Well this is a solution
that Economists call growth (g)
and Scientists call insane
but is such a constant (k)
that it has to be introduced
into any equation related
to climate change theory thus:

E = gk(1- t²)

2 Poems in The Journal ( autumn 2019 )

Science Fiction

Once upon a time
density span and speed
L = (1/2) ρ v2 s CL

as beautiful as a 747
departing the fact
of Terminal 3

guided past Control Towers
into that crumpled paperback
Asimov or Clarke
where this is a game
played in a maze
by something beyond
Tuesday Manchester

only rain makes sense
blurring binoculars
on the airport car park
spotters casually scribbling
the number of Flight 6122
reaching for coffee
as wheels leave the ground

to a single gasp
lost in the roar

of elegant lines
where L is the force
that lifted wings
in text book problems
that now and then
came to the same conclusion
as answers in the back
where total disbelief
that I’d got it right
equals eight thousand hundredweight
turning south over Wilmslow.

Probably a Poem about Quantum Mechanics

In Classical Mechanics
a reader is presented
with words forming a pattern
on a single page
and by following the lines
formed by these words
will confidently expect
that at the end of the last line
there will be a verse

In Quantum Mechanics
a reader is invited
to close their eyes
as words are printed
on a single page
then when told to look
will see a familiar pattern
and by following the lines
will confidently expect
that at the end of the last line
there will be a verse

In Quantum Mechanics
a reader is encouraged
to keep their eyes open
and observe a word
while it is being printed
such encouragement may be needed
as the act of interacting
with any word in any way
will lead to the collapse
of the verse pattern
and thus a poem may
or may not occur
we just don’t know

The very first poem published, years ago.

Swanage Song

A different goodbye
New Year’s Eve
sitting on a bench
on the front
at winter’s last resort
stars hinting at summer excesses
red pier light slipping out
even the moon is quartered
and hung to dry in the sky
casual seaweed not bothering
and farther out
broken waves litter the edge
my breath has a zero sound.
Where I was is as it was before.
Where I am is as it is now.