A few previously published poems

Apart from the final one below, “Improbabilities”, the poems shown here are all now included in Fault Lines – my “collected short poems, 1962-2019”.

“The hands are useful objects..”

The hands are useful objects – prime evolutionary tools.
The fingertips encourage people to convict burglars;
The nails, painted, may excite lust or love;
Knuckles can be broken with excruciating agony
And fingers explore private parts while wearing tokens of identification;
Also palm-lines make a practical alternative to tea leaves,
While the heels of the hands conveniently cover the eyes
Without obstructing the tear ducts.

(1972, published Ambit magazine 1992.)

(Posted 30 May, 2018.)


“The land stands silent..”

The land stands silent in the sun:
Solid; green; encompassed; known;
Till a crow's caw sounds, like a great door opening,
And makes of the dark wood an inhabited thing.

(1975, published Agenda magazine 1988;
Agenda anthology, 1994.)

Debts of gratitude here far longer than the poem. First, to Diagram (Visual Information) Ltd., then of Goswell Road in London, for allowing for a time a work arrangement that triggered an intense period of creativity. Second, to a former fellow graduate student at Essex, Chris Game, for inviting me on a day’s visit to Cliveden House (then an overseas campus of Stanford University), where this was unexpectedly written. But mostly to William Cookson of Agenda, for being the first to think there might be something publishable in my versifying. William, who’d founded Agenda as a young man under the encouragement of Ezra Pound, tried very hard to find anything else in my poetry that he could like – but never succeeded!

(Posted 23 June, 2018.)


“By the black serpent..”

By the black serpent
Of the black tongue
In the black garden
This song sung:
My grace is power
My hope is fear
My love is evil
My home, everywhere.

(1975, published Blue Unicorn magazine 2020.)

Another, quite different, poem from the same period of part-time work (my first venture into offices). Most were written in the afternoons on, or on the journey to and from, Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath. Where I’d once worked as a park-keeper – scribbling down hitch-hiking memories in any breaks… – and which is referenced twice, anonymously, in Tales for my dog. My thanks to Blue Unicorn, of San Francisco, for recently picking up on this and a couple of other short poems that have never appealed to the prevailing aesthetic.

(Posted 26 September, 2020)



Trying to cope with a trivial pain
I lie in bed, thinking of unlikely things.
The giraffe that’s a carnivore, crunching squirrels.
The camel whose novel won the Booker prize.
(He’d kept in in his hump for years, unfinished.)
The land somewhere were everyone is happy
And only infants swear – their first words – in delight.
The colour that’s both ultra violet and darkest red.
The spectrum that reveals the state of souls,
Though the radiation levels are unacceptable.
The washing machine that washes, dries, and folds,
And tells you when your hopes are out of date.
The storms that uncover forgotten heroes,
All women, and unwilling to be called ‘heroines’.
The peak-time TV slot for failed poets.
The day that Accident & Emergency phoned,
Saying they wanted to put the tonsils back.
The year the club won everything:
Cup, league, UNESCO heritage, and two Nobels.
The children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.
The worldwide fame for anything.
The hour that beauty smiled in the street.
The time Jesus came back; or even you perhaps.

(2019, published Orbis magazine #190, 2019.)

A bit of light verse, written in Gt Yarmouth in 2019. Published in Orbis, and voted by readers joint-first of the poems in that issue – which was probably a bit unfair to those who’d contributed rather more serious stuff…

(Posted 14 August, 2021)