Sunday, 18 March 2018

Rest in the arms

Here's a recent poem of mine, first published last month in TheWriters'CafeMagazine.

Rest in the arms

the weight we carry
 is love
(from Song, by Allen Ginsberg)

I remember the hard muscles
of your thighs
across mine,
your arm heavy on my breasts.

I am pinned
by you,
a little afraid
of your bulk on me

but as I lie here
hardly able to breathe
I don’t want
you to move.

I am comforted by this load
this holding
that I thought would never be again.

While our warm bodies cool,
                by a dragging duvet

I watch moon patterns
on the wall
                striped shadows of blinds

and I think of Ginsberg –
                the weight of the world
                                is love

and as I know I won’t sleep yet
                I try
to recall more words
                the burden of life
                                is love

I hear the steadiness of your breath
as you sleep on me

                rest in the arms
                                of love

 First published here:

Saturday, 24 February 2018


Listening to one of the black cab rapist's first victims talk on radio about her ordeal and then reading about the latest court case, when the woman we call 'Fiona' came face to face with her attacker at a Judicial Review hearing, prompted this poem.


I saw you in court
tried to imagine how you may be feeling
putting yourself out there
a victim

and then he turned up
a few yards away
you weren’t expecting that

how would that feel?

‘He’s been in my head for 15 years,’  you said
and there he is again
in front of you

he’s behind glass
but there was glass between you before
in that cab

they said you were not
a credible witness
‘A black cab driver
just wouldn’t do that.’

But he did
and you have lived with him in your head
for 15 years

believing that you let all the others down
those hundreds
who went through that
after you

because someone decided
you were not believable

This poem was first published here:

BBC Radio 4 Today programme clip:

Friday, 23 February 2018


I was pleased to have this poem published along with two others in the 'Love & Music' edition of The Writers' Cafe website on February 14th this year. I started writing it when were by the Rio Guadalquivir in Sevilla in October 2015. On the day it was published by The Writers' Cafe we were back there!

(The labyrinths
formed by time
from ‘And After’, Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca)

Sun on the river
lovers sit on the wall

                (boats row by, turn
                and go back again)

waves slap on the wall
lovers laugh together

                (across the river the cafes
                are opening)
songs in the air
lovers kiss on the strand

moon on the river
lovers embrace under the bridge

                (across the river the cafes
                are closing)

boys play guitars under trees
lovers dance beneath stars


First published:

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Statistics of hope

Photo: UNHCR
Sixty-five million people are displaced in the world today. Many of them are in camps, unable to move on.

Every three seconds some one else has to leave their home to flee war, climate change, famine, violence.

This poem was first published on the poetry24 website (link below).  I was prompted to re-post the poem here after seeing Ai WeiWei's stunning film Human Flow, which draws on the same statistics I use, as calculated by UNHCR -

Statistics of hope

Count to three: one   two   three, there’s another

one   two   three, and another    displaced person,

one every three seconds, somewhere in the world.

One   two   three. In Chad a woman travels in a cart

30km to a mobile clinic, collapses 300m short.

A doctor checks Bless, a seven month old girl,

suspected malaria.  One   two   three.

In Tripoli: women are detained, 30 in a small room,

one blanket each, they’ve been there months,

it may become years; no access to law, no medical care.

Fifty-eight refugees adrift in the Med in one small boat.

412 rescued from the water, escaping

Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh.

One  two   three: one little boy sits alone

on a floor in a corridor in a former resort in Greece,

now used for refugees needing mental health care.

In Nairobi 400 people each month arrive at one clinic.

In Nigeria 45,000 refugees pack one camp

for displaced people from Cameroon.

One  two  three. Gloria, aged 11 years,

displaced in Malawi, HIV and TB positive.

8,000 in a camp near Raqqa, Syria,

there for months, years.

Hundreds of thousands from Myanmar

seek shelter from the monsoon  in rice fields in Bangladesh.

They wait for permission to move, drowning in hope.

One in every 113 people on the planet is a refugee.

Someone is displaced every three seconds.

One  two  three. 65million displaced people

in the world, now,

one   two  three

Debora Njala, 18, HIV and TB positive, in Malawi, says:

“I will achieve my dreams and the future is bright.”

One  two  three. A man, a woman, two children

in a camp in Lesvos, not allowed

to leave for mainland Europe.

The father, Karon says:

“It is my true dream that my children will live

in a country without war, without bloodshed.

This is the only thing I wish for.”

All it takes is the will of the developed world …

one  two  three …
In the time it takes to read this poem 100 people in the world will have become displaced.

Here's a recording of me reading this poem:

If you want to read more poetry that is inspired by current news events poetry24 is one of the places to go. Read more here:

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

In the open field

Writing poetry need not be a solitary process. Sure, we all need plenty of quiet time to write and develop ideas, but I also find working with other poets a productive and worthwhile experience.
Poets often get together to help each other progress their work.

The first such group I became involved with locally was PENfro Poets, which started in 2012 and grew out of the PENfro Book Festival, held in the inspiring surroundings of Rhosygilwen.

We are still going as a regular group and as well as working on our poems together, members take it in turns to present a workshop topic.

Some of our poetry can now be seen on a new website, together with work from the Art Group, also held regularly at Rhosygilwen.

Below is the latest work I have had posted on the site, and there’s a link at the bottom where you can find poetry from other members of the group.

This haiku sequence was written in response to a workshop run by PENfro Poet Peter George, which examined the second of the Four Quartets and challenged us to take inspiration from the writing of TS Eliot.

Meditations on the open field

early morning
in the open fields –
clear sky forever

in the emptiness
a robin’s loud song
                and silence falls

in this wide space
you can see your enemy
but you cannot hide


listen to silence
be sure to hear the echo
of the buzzard’s call

beyond the boundary
is the empty plain
                a gate swings open

in the middle of
an open field
the only shadow

November sunset
                pink clouds light the field
                as dark rises


fine mist rests low
in morning valley
winter trees shine through
while black birds make silhouettes
like ghosts on a frosty field

*Several of the above were first published as individual haiku in Blithe Spirit: Journal of the British Haiku Society

For more from the PENfro Poets and to see work of some of the talent local artists, check the link: