Saturday, 14 November 2020

Up On The Moors

 I met a man up on the moors,

In fog and mud and almost night,

In drizzle, dampness and in sight

Of no one else. No heather there, or yellow gorse,

Just barren emptiness and gloom

And yet on waking from this dream

I felt the scene had been my room

The chalky, grey green colour scheme

Through open eyes, while sleeping seen.

Who was the ragged man I met?

I felt, on waking, I had been

To make a pact, yet I forget

The nature of our strange contract.

Yet deep relief flowed through my veins,

I knew that things would be alright,

As if I'd burst my heavy chains,

And was now free and safe, despite

The lonely place I wandered in,

The only place with wonder in,

The place of dreams, which yet are real,

Which do not tell, and yet reveal

Such things we might not dare to know,

Much more than what they seem to show.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Self Deception

 I thought I heard a curlew cry,

Beneath the dull November sky,

Somewhere above the drifts of fog,

Just for a moment, then I knew,

No curved billed bird would come in view,

It was a walker passing by,

Who whistled for his dog,

Instead. And yet it made my heart as glad

To hear that sound, as if I had

In truth experienced the bird

His haunting song, the one I’d heard,

Still filled my soul with pure, immense

Nostalgia from those hidden springs,

The geyser which with power flings

This sentimental substance through

One’s veins and up into one’s head

And so one is complicit in

Such self deceptions as improve

One’s spirits and elicit in

Oneself the comforting, Proustian sense 

‘du temps perdu.’

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Not Silence, But Weeping (rondeau redouble)



When first we stood remembering, in grey November air,

In deep, thick mires, fogs, mists of grief

Despite stiff upper lipped despair,

We heard not stately silence, but in those moments, brief,

Collective weeping, sobbing, communal disbelief.

And generations later, we hear again, today

The sobbing of a people, who think on death, the thief.

When first we stood remembering in grey, November air

Still in our simple innocence, we did our best to bear

The loss, and vast incompetence of little men in chief

Who’d used us ill and with contempt and acted without care.

In deep, thick mires, fogs, mists of grief

Red poppied lampposts almost glow, among each life, each fallen leaf

To be replaced, yet not regrow, and freedom’s gone, we know not where.

Yet still returns a sad motif,

Despite stiff upper lipped despair,

We needs must lay our souls bare

 And weep once more for what we’ve lost and seek some means to find relief.

 For though a hundred years ago, we bowed our heads in silent prayer

We heard not stately silence, but in those moments, brief,

The weeping of a nation. And shall we say those men who fought may just as lief

Have given in, surrendered all? We would not dare,

Yet hypocrites, we will not fight, we merely dab a handkerchief

As liberty lies smashed, destroyed beyond repair,


Tuesday, 27 October 2020


 Bluey Greyey Green

Have you seen 

That bluey-greyey-green?

When was it made?

Is it starting to fade? 

It’s of greyish-bluish mintage

Of course it is, it’s vintage,

It’s Morris Minor, sea foam,

Soft mist above the deep loam,

It’s shapely Denby pottery,

Whose glaze is matt,

Yet snottery

Tending more to greyish green, than blue,

Do tell me the name of this satisfying hue.

It’s Eau de Nil- dull duck egg-sage,

It’s the timelessness of age,

It encapsulates good taste,

Looks rather nice with salmon paste,

It will not date, it’s all the rage.

Is it greeny- bluey grey,

Or does it only look that way

In the English light of early dawn?

Is it distant frost across the lawn,

Is it mentioned in a list

Of most ‘quintessential shades’?

Is it mix of moulds all milky,

Genteelly tattered, silky,

Country house curtains,

Shadow dappled glades?

Is it the kindly eyes

Of a friend most dear and wise,

With a cataract lately grown?

Do tell me the name of this satisfying tone. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Insomniac's Prayer

 I am the one who lies awake,

I wish I weren't, I hate the woke.

God, let me sleep, for pity"s sake,

My hand, don't reach and with one stroke

Turn on the screen before dawn’s break

To lie and read and scroll and poke

And click and sigh and tutt and make

My mind more active.  Slam the brake,

Stall the engine, don"t provoke

With Mail Online and Breitbart News,

Confirming all my bleakest views,

Attempt not humour, don't amuse,

Respond to aspirin downed with booze,

Leave me to drift, dream, doze, snore, snooze.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Liverpool Pathway

You gave your name to cruelty,

To slow and painful end of life,

No, not starvation, dehydration,

Call it anything instead.

And now you’re going to die yourself,

And death for you shall also be

A euphemistic type affair,

You’ll think of it as number three,

And being red, not being dead.

How fitting such an end might seem

To those who’d teach you not to dream

Of Socialism’s saving grace

But have you look square in the face

At honest trade or dodgy scheme,

Which lies and twists, and which pretends

It needs no magic money tree,

Yet milks its sap, for special friends. 

You loved authoritarian ways,

You sang the Red Flag, gave high praise

To those who wished to end the days

Of freedom lovers grown irate

At freedom squashing, crushing state.

So here’s a chance to bow before

Officialdom, which you adore.


Sunday, 11 October 2020

I’m a Liberal (Not)


I’m a ‘liberal’ l.o.l. (not)

But I haven’t been found out yet

Well, actually I’m a bit of a Trot,

I’m liderally , a Communist, always upset.

I make lovely statements, but I forget

Policy which I espouse often hits the opposite spot

To that which was intended. But don’t fret,

I’m a ‘liberal l.o.l. (not)

My ideas are warm and damp, ideal for causing rot,

But I mean well, that’s what counts. You can bet

On some harm resulting from my politics, mostly quite a lot,

But I haven’t been found out yet.

Consequences don’t count, if your statements are wet,

Well intentioned, framed so they will slot

Easily in place within unthinking minds, and on the internet.

Well, actually I’m a bit of a Trot,

I’m young, rich, well connected, hot.

I don’t care for prudence, bring on the debt!

Those who’ll pay the price just haven’t got what I’ve got.

I’m liderally a Communist, always upset,

Wanting equality, never having met

A working class person, I just like to plot

And scheme and dream with a cigarette 

Paper close at hand. You’re probably a bigot

I’m (not)

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Two Herons


A heron flew up northwards with the tide,

We watched his pterodactyl, slow beat strength,

Until, upon a whim, he turned, retraced the length.

Another, larger, came up on the left hand side,

And both birds passed each other in an arc,

And dropped their long legs downwards like two cranes,

Depicted on a screen, against a dark

And glossy ebonised sheen. Now what trace remains

Of this strange dance, a captured image in my mind

Described in words, which fail to tell of how it seemed

A token of some truth vouchsafed, but unredeemed

And irredeemable. For birds do not leave keys or codes behind.

And all the stories of the souls of human dead

Or end of plague, are fictions from some human head.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Oppression (or unconscious bias training, taken to its logical conclusion)

I’ll write about my privilege, I’m white

And therefore privileged, despite

My poverty and homelessness and failing sight,

And sleeping on the cold, hard street at night.

I have unconscious bias, I’m not brown

And therefore am not really out and down,

I chose my life, and all my seeming lack

Of worldly goods is riches, still,

For I have everything, if I’m not black.

The richest, blackest King, has not my wealth,

The fittest, strongest black has not my health,

I may be broken, drunken, in the gutter, on my back,

But I have privilege you see,

Which means a vast great deal to me,

I say hooray for being a tramp

In my little cardboard camp

I’m free:

At least I’m not black! 

Saturday, 25 July 2020

At The Intersection of Me Myself and I

I am your ally, with the emphasis on I,
I know that I am perfect, therefore priveliged, and try
To overcome my perfection by feigning empathy, sans shame,
With those less fortunate than myself, so I feel free
To say:
 'I love you, as you're BAME',
With the emphasis on ME,
For I piggyback on victimhood
Ride it back, where it should be,
By supporting with shared memes, with the emphasis on me,
Shared on my iPhone every day,
With the emphasis on I.
The ninth letter does just satisfy
(With the emphasis on I)
In an onanistic, narcissistic sort of way
That just can't be achieved with LGB
Or T or Q,
The I outdoes the eye
For informing my world view,
Me myself and I are the things that I see,
Sympathy as artifice my game,
With the emphasis on me.
Criticising, screeching, apportioning blame,
Tweeting to bismirch you,
Denoting virtual virtue,
My modus operandi
With the emphasis on virtual and I:
Please note pronouns, Me, Mine, My.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

A Walk in the Yorkshire Dales

I woke and felt a strong desire
To walk through England’s pastures green,
Not the daily pastures where the dog
And I spend every morn, 
I wanted some great change of scene
And thought of how I might retire
To somewhere in the hills and bog
Of further north, where I was born. 
And so we drove o’er Blubberhouses
Past the barns and gloomy houses
Crouching in the pouring rain,
Beneath the lowering slate grey skies,
Where kestrel and the red kite flies,
And icecream vans do little trade
Beside the road, at Stump Cross Caverns
Despite the product being made
Close by. And places open once again
After the plague, the cafés, taverns,
Hunkered down and out of sorts
And ill at ease with hospitality,
Of millstone grit, well drenched to black,
Seemed made for local ‘Carters’, ‘Uncle Morts’,
To ponder on the nature of mortality,
Not servicing the holiday resorts.
And there were blokes in lycra out on bikes,
Escaping from their wives, their weekend ride
Into the hills and down at breakneck speed,
A jolly way of keeping on the safe side.
And there were serious folk in neoprene, 
On hikes,
But not as many as there might have been,
Beneath the germ filled, North Yorks. sky.
And we walked from Kettlewell to Whernside
Along a well made stoney track,
And we saw and heard a curlew, 
Not bubbling, but making some sad cry,
That both stirs the soul and stills,
Brings back
Some sense of why
I sometimes feel the need,
To return to bleak and dreary, Northern hills.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The Best Article I Read During Lockdown.

By far the best article I read,
Over the last few months, was the one
Which confirmed all that I already thought.
It neatly put to bed
All counter arguments, so when it had done
Explaining all these things with which I agreed,
I felt it had taught
Me really how to appreciate myself and value
My own ability to think things through,
And come to the same conclusion many others had come to. 
This is the great thing about being on one’s own,
One is alone sufficiently
To stew in one’s point of view
And to seek out, only those who think like you.
One can look through the Hubble,
To another bubble
But the people there may as well be in a different universe
From the one I’m in.
In some ways it makes things worse,
Knowing there’s nothing to be done 
To make such people conform
To my ideas about the way the world is and should be,
But such people will be dead soon,
You see, 
And my ideas will be the norm;
Won’t it be lovely! 

Monday, 22 June 2020


People used to say,
That just because there is no equivalent word in English for Schadenfreude,
It didn’t mean that nobody in England understood
The concept of laughing at the misfortune of another,
So of course, the same must be true of sophrosyne.
The word is not in common parlance,
But that does not mean we have no modern desire, for prudence,
Self-control, decorum, purity, moderation.
Or at least that was what I thought, until I got really annoyed
And started swearing at people on the internet, venting my frustration,
And downed three vodka tonics in quick succession,
Because the rule of three, always helps with oratory,
And I wanted to get my point across.
Tweeting profundity
Sometimes has to be combined with tweeting profanity,
If one wishes to be clear,
When confronted by others’ inanity.

On The Nature Of Our Flesh

I love the notion of our fleshly resurrection,
And do not wish to hurt it, by rejection,
And yet, my soul has left my body, on occasion,
And so I am quite open to persuasion,
As to the need to pay too much attention,
To the nature of my flesh, or that of others.
The nature of my flesh or of my brother's,
Is weak and paltry, limited and frail,
And this is true of all men living in this nation,
Or in this world, all men, both dark and pale.
I see that I am like my near relation
And different in specific ways, so am unique,
And yet as part of God's creation
An individual and member of some clique.
And yet such membership does not denote acceptance
Of specific acts that others might describe
As being ones committed by my fellows,
As members, now long dead, but of my tribe.
Because my soul has left my body on occasion,
I know my soul is free to some extent,
I do not seek to find excuse in this evasion,
But try to look instead to what Christ taught, and meant,
And as far as I'm aware he did not mention,
An extra, deep original sin,
Pertaining to the circumstance I'm in
Of being born of earthly parents,
Who happened to have pale pink skin.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Mummy, Can You Give Me A Lift?

"Mummy, can you give me a lift to London, I’m going to riot?
I’m sick of all this lockdown peace and quiet.
I’ll be ready to go in an hour,
I’m just going to shower
Then straighten my hair,
I simply have to be there
With my friends from Uni and the Ladies College,
Well, Tabitha, Constance and Eleanor are going, to my knowledge.
We’ll probably pretend we don’t know each other,
Since we’re going to support our black American brother,
George Floyd, that innocent, gentle giant with his heart of gold,
Who will not grow old, as we grow old,
Will never see his investments push him in to the top one percent,
Financially, as we will.
Still, I have to go and say I dissent,
I am not part of this privileged group of people with white skin,
I’m one of the good guys, always in
On the in thing, the latest fashionable craze or idea,
I’m going to have bare legs to show my tattoos,
Though they’re a bit last year.
I’ll go without knickers as there won’t be any loos,
I don’t know what I’ll do, I haven’t planned,
But I may well just have to pee where I stand.
I can be there to support other courageous men,
As they throw bricks and bikes at the police, it said on News at Ten
The riots were largely peaceful, so I won’t be in danger,
And I’m actually no stranger
To some of the guys from Antifa, there’s this one guy,
Guy, I met him in his gap year, he’s an old Wykehamist
Now he’s reading Economics at Peterhouse,
But he’s no mouse,
He likes to get out there, beat the shit out of some fascist,
With white privilege, he’s taking a baseball bat
In case he sees this girl from Scunthorpe, defending the cenotaph,
Who started to laugh,
When she heard his accent and called him a posh twat."

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Sex in the ‘Era’ of Covid 19 (or a word in the ear from Nanny) Villanelle

All abstinence is low risk for infection
From nasty bugs like this Covid 19,
But Nanny knows it’s hard with an erection

And says that wanking’s safe (called masturbation.)
But don’t take pictures, that would be obscene.
All abstinence is low risk for infection

And abstinence therefore gives great protection
And Nanny wants her children to keep clean,
But Nanny knows it’s hard with an erection.

So Nanny says be wise, avoid detection
Just do your shagging where you can’t be seen.
All abstinence is low risk for infection

But Nanny’s really gagging, and rejection
Would be really rather hurtful and mean
But Nanny knows it’s hard with an erection

And Nanny knows you lover her and affection
Is prerequisite to sex in quarantine.
All abstinence is low risk for infection
But Nanny knows it’s hard with an erection. 

Monday, 1 June 2020

A Substantial Breakfast of River Bank Cherries

I walked upon the river bank at nine,
And stood beneath your branches spreading low,
Where beside a gravel path you grow,
The last of many in a wavy line.
And I picked and ate and spat and ate and picked,
And didn’t care how greedy I appeared,
And I ate and picked and picked and ate and flicked
And gorged and stuffed you in, because I feared
Others seeing how I stopped to scoff you
Might follow suit and being just as keen
To sample bliss, might strip you, then I’d miss you
So I kept devouring just because I’m mean
And wouldn’t pay the price in any shop,
And anyway I really couldn’t stop. 

Hay Bale Time

There are vaster fields, in Fenland spaces,
In cabbagey and cauliflowery places,
Where, as the drying August days unfold
Appear cylinders of hay in pale gold,
Seeming low against the broad, flat ground,
With nothing but azure blue all around.
But in the vale of York, the fields are less wide,
And thus the hay bales seem packed in more densley,
Each like the other resting at his side,
Pi r squared h created more intensely,
Which makes a rather pleasing summer scene.
As the evening shadows start to creep,
It lends something to the landscape more serene,
Presaging autumn and long winter’s sleep.