Saturday, 30 November 2013

Blazing Fire

Blazing fire
makes sleepy noises,
something like a dry sheet flapping,
as the logs and sticks are snapping,
and the orange flames are licking
up the chimney's black wool throat,
throwing out its heat and sapping
all one's will to stay awake.
Soporific warmth and hissing
sap in ash wood spitting,
sending me to dreamland sitting
by its side, head nodding,
dozing off to sleep while writing,
trying to describe it, fighting
its effect; a spontaneous reaction,
trying to reflect the sense of exultation,
at one's own creation
and something of the great attraction,
of a contained conflagration.
Blazing fire
makes sleepy noises,
something like the water lapping,
bits of gassy coal are cracking,
and the orange flames are licking
round the dry well seasoned timber,
falling like a metaphor
for how I'm drifting into slumber.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


A mist above the water swirls  around;
the air is still, the sky dull grey; the sound
is tiny, lapping ripples, lullabies,
the water's surface taught and mill pond calm.
Then suddenly from  silence an alarm
a cry of shock, or terror or surprise,
as there, from out the muddy bank, arise
a pair of giant kelpies galvanised,
reflecting back the colour of the sky,
at this, the eerie breaking of the day,
and lesser, earthly creatures shrink away,
before the sight of each majestic beast,
the one who lifts her head and loudly cries,
the other who looks down, demure and sweet.
They vanish in the mist, but in the east,
A pair of nymphs, into the dawn, retreat.

BBC News - The Kelpies horse sculpture completed

Friday, 22 November 2013

November Sunset Over Drax

A cloud from Drax is grey now,
where moments ago it was white,
the sky is streaked with peach glow
where moments ago it was light
and a glorious beryl blue,
contrasting the leaves of the beech tree
in tones of an amber hue,
the last in this late autumn,
which now look  dull and few.
And as I watch, the cloud
turns a tint which has no rhyme,
accuracy can't help now,
we are running out of time
as the colours start to fade,
lilac into lavender, back to pigeon grey
and finally a shade of slate
as the last light leaves the day.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


I know that in your thick and cold stone walls,
exists some abstract part of me
and one day when I am no longer here,
I shall return to you again, as in my dreams,
when I glide the old familiar rooms
and see with unbelieving eyes
and wish to rearrange,
the furniture and books of others,
whose taste is strange.
And that flying thing I do in sleep
as I gaze down upon you from the beams,
whose shapes and patterns
I knew intimately once,
will be a real sensation, as the means
by which my spirit moves around.
And I shall marvel at the warmth you now contain,
which rises up to meet me in the hall,
not from the open fire
where, as a child, I sat an inch or two away,
but from radiators,
where I will stay,
hovering above, so in the shimmering
heat my spirit might be seen,
or experienced as sudden shivering
in someone else's spine.
And I shall float about the solar
or inhabit the dark oak,
like death watch beetle,
and meld myself
With the transomed, sandstone mullions,
soaking in the southern sunlight,
as I sift it through my soul,
knowing, once again, that you are mine.

Friday, 15 November 2013

On the Joy of Argument.

You should not feel that argument is wrong,
but welcome it with open arms.
For what is better than to act
with impulse on your instinct and to pitch
your mind against your fellows'?  So go
from here into this world and start a row

with anyone. Demonstrate to them how they could grow,
if only their own thinking were not wrong.
Show them how, not all that long ago,
you thought like them, but loud alarms
kept sounding in your mind, and their shrill pitch
drove you to see the error of your ways. Act

as if upon a mission to persuade.  Question every 'fact'
and champion the cause of change.  Row
against the tide, certainty the pitch
that keeps the vessel of your argument afloat. It's wrong
to keep storms raging all the day, let them go
when you have said all you can say.  For this disarms

and opens up opponents' minds for change, pre-warms
the oven of their heads, to ideas you've put forth.  Have tact
and if, later, they quote your words, which, not so long ago
they had dismissed, relax, for this is how we grow.
Concentrate on finding other ways in which they're wrong
and challenge them on these, for what is better than to pitch

your wits against one you know can change.  Tell them black as pitch
is white as snow; see how far this argument can go. Take up arms
and thrust and tilt at windmills, making out they're wrong.
Demonstrate there's little that is fact.
Ideas which most others hold as good, will not go
easily away, so javelin like,  you must throw

your complex thoughts which undermine.  Show no sorrow,
for rugs are meant for pulling from under feet, to pitch
those standing on them where they choose not to go.
And there is little one can say that really harms
for very long, but the impact
of the fall might smart a while, as your fellows must adjust to being wrong.

Pitch a battle, question fact,
take up arms, don't let go,
start tomorrow, everyone else is wrong.

Monday, 4 November 2013

At The Humanist Funeral Of A Choir Member

The light about the place was beautiful;
This autumn, being late, the leaves were there,
Still clinging, glowing red, as, dutiful
To their position, marking spaces, where
The dust of others was, beneath them, spread
They made a metaphor for memory.

They brought your coffin in, and as we said,
Because you sang, it seemed derisory;
Your huge form and your deep bass voice,
Contained within that dreadful enclosed space.
And those who loved you best, as was your choice,
Made eulogy sans reference to God's grace,
And marked your passing without giving song
But grief expressed in words alone seemed wrong.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

University Surfing Club Guidance for Organ Scholars

Well there are no medals
for knowing the board doesn't have pedals,
there are no manuals and you should try and avoid stops,
pistons, let's not go there, especially in wet suits,
there are no trumpets, no flutes,
16 ft is not a suitable wave for a beginner,
you can play the organ after dinner,
but don't go surfing until you feel thinner.
But the swell,
that is something you have in common,
though you can't exactly control it with your feet,
you have to try, so,
remember it doesn't come in a box.
You might, on the swell, feel a little tremulant, at first,
but what's the worst
that could happen? You could drown,
but don't bother with your vox humana
you might just as well not,
you won't be heard over the roar
of the sea,
(much louder than tutti)
so just pipe down
acoustics aren't important.  But of course the great attraction
is  - it's all about action,
coupling, surely the point of all student activity
though an organist might find her fellow surfers proclivity
to speak of nothing else rather dull, and they make a lot of noise.
Wind of course is necessary to both,
and 'caught inside' means trapped by a wave,
nothing to do with hanky panky in the organ loft with choir boys,
or in the nave.

Friday, 1 November 2013

If Music be the Food of Love

My love, I shall change my pitch to thine,
an octave higher, so our sounds combine,
as in the air our bodies intertwine,
in aerobatic ecstacy divine.
And such sweet music shall we make
as in the wind we deftly procreate,
that human minds shall hear it and mistake
our song for one they hate.
But little will I care, when you are mine,
because we shall achieve the triple pleasure
of making love and music at our leisure,
while simultaneously seeking out such treasure
as human blood is, taken in large measure.
So come my love; let us both whine,

BBC News - Can the buzz of mosquitoes be art?