Tuesday, 9 April 2019

This April Moon

The following poem was written five years ago, but this evening I was inspired to post it here on looking at the crescent moon above Sowerby Bridge.
The poem appears in my colletion Dove, Deferred, which has just been submitted to a publisher.


This April moon's a dandelion clock
scattering silver seeds;
spilt vial
of lucent mead.

This April moon's an owl's
reflected eye,
chalk circle
peering over frost-flossed moors
hardening in sky like solid ice,
a totem, frozen
with the pain of memory,
a dove, deferred.

This moon, this Ancient rock,
water-woven and through circled thumb
and forefinger,
psalm's size,
tombstone pinned against unravelling skies,
scene-setter for love or loss,
night's flag or morning's
cool refracted vestibule of light,
lunacy no reason can diffuse,
or a newly hatching egg - you choose.

Monday, 8 April 2019


On my recent trip to County Down , I fell asleep most nights to the rather grumpy serenade of rooks, who seemed to camp en-masse among the birches just outside the windows of the bautiful cottage I was staying in.  After a while, one got used to this nightly bantering, it was actually quite therapeutic, and my suggestion in the poem that the sound persisted all through the night is a slight exaggeration, but there was definitely a sense of something going on that was external to the human experience, like the evidence of another world, another community, going about its business while the human world was sleeping.


All through the night
they chuckle and croak,
clogging the birches,
clacking through the black

like pint-sized cows,
their throaty moos
ripple through the silence
as a winter midnight shivers
beneath the sooty hug
of hulking mountains,
outlines etched crow-black
against star-prickled sky.

From time to time
I'll see one,
hanging about in the late afternoon,
perched on a branch
with a twig clamped in its mouth,
straggler, raggedly gatheringcast-offs, scraps,
a sad mountebank,
a  happy goth,
or one of those lost looking, lonely souls
who know that life begins at night.

A poem about Downpatrick, County Down

This poem recalls my initial impressions of the town of Downpatrick, County Down, which I visited on St Patrick's Day this year.  As the burial place of St Patrick, it is a very significant location for the St Patrick's Day parades, and I collected many photographs and videos of the parade and celebrations, but before the parade its self, I walked from Down Cathedral to the town square, and watched musicians and dancers there and in the town's museum.  The poem recounts these experiences.  It is a work-in-progress, and I'm not entirely happy about the "shyly smiling" line, as this is more suggestive of an English than Irish temperament, though it is perhaps a nod to my own presence in the poem, as an Englishman abroad, so to speak.


A town in tiers
like a ladder,
to climb you
is to join the dots
from one church to another.

The long main road,
bracketed by spires,
old industry
and the skeletons of trains
tapers by the square
where we watched the centuries
unravelling in dance,

the town become a stage
music throbbing through its veins,
as the spires of Down Cathedral
pierce the clouds,
we clap, shyly smile,
and slowly sway beneath the rain.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Ships That Pass In the Night


 My recent visit to Northern Ireland, where I sought out material for my upcoming Brontë Beginnings talks at the birthplace of Patrick Brontë  and it surrounding areas, involved an eight-hour overnight crossing from Birkenhead to Belfast.
I spent a lot of time on deck, watching the distant glimmers of other ships, and began writing the following poem inspired by this experience.


Rain sprays, splintering,
hissing off the hull
like shards of ice,
spinning into limitless
black vastness.

Fiery tufts of amber,
sparkly splashes blue
and white, frazzlings
of neony ink,
leaking into black.

These fragile flags
flicker and blink
like electric dot-the-dots,
or else hold solid,
coldly seeping onto sea.

We skim each others' orbits
like the carriages of trains
shunting through tunnels,
windows lit by eyes
as a myriad of lives
nearly connect.

A short poem about taking a shower

Water, like hot sleet,
rinses over me,
its cleansing needles
sharpening like love.

I crouch,
not so much embrace
as am embraced by,
leak my body into,
its liquid sauna,
feel the soughing off
of aches,
stretching through the years.

I fee the need
to thank everyone who has helped me.