Tuesday 9 January 2024

To the New Year

To the New Year

You came in full of hope,

you’d been gathering it over the last few days,

chunks of optimism like sunshine

finding gaps between clouds.


You are an unexpected release from strapping

like a compressed bag of compost,

a tight plastic sack slit with a knife,

at first it holds its constrained shape


then it subsides, crumbles, unfurls itself,

hear it breathe as it expands

I put my hands in, feel new softness in the heart of it

its whispered promises.


What will we grow in this?

Everything is possible.




Clinging on

 Clinging on

I hadn’t even seen him

as I leaned into the shed,


put my hand on the lintel.

Then, a scratch on my hand


so feint I almost didn’t feel it

but I looked up.


A tiny fledgling swallow

a few weeks old


so light

but already slicked with indigo


a red smudge on his chin,

perched there


tiny claws like fine wires

cleaved to my finger.


He looked at me

I looked back at him.


A small silent moment

that early morning

in this big noisy bloody world.

Tuesday 12 December 2023


Someone was asking the other day if I'd written any pantoums, so here's one. I think the form, with useful repetition of lines, works well with the subject. The poem is a response to Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych, right.


On display like cans of soup

stacked on shelves in a shop

her identical faces screened in silk

fifty images lined up in neat rows


stacked as if on shelves in a shop

a branded icon of the movies

fifty images lined up in neat rows

a perfect product of her time


a branded icon of the movies

in bright yellow, pink and blue

a perfect product of her time

until her shining star blurs


from bright yellow, pink and blue

to slated monotones

until her shining star blurs

as ink smudges over her image


to slated monotones

and she is blacked out

as ink smudges over her image

and she fades almost to nothing.


She is blacked out

fifty stills of her on the wall

but she fades to almost nothing

a ghosted outline of a movie star.


Fifty stills of her fill the wall

but she becomes invisible to us

a ghostly outline of herself.

And she died, just one, alone.



Thursday 27 July 2023

Making chocolate brownies in 1964

Made some yesterday too ... 

Making chocolate brownies in 1964

Her kitchen smells of chocolate

all afternoon,

warm, intense and welcoming


it wraps her in comfort

like a cosy quilt

on a winter night.


She smiles as the radio plays

top ten tunes and

sings along to


‘You were made for me’

from Freddie and the Dreamers

as she melts chocolate


and butter to make a creamy mass,

adds muscovado,

eggs and pecans.


She stirs in flour gently and bakes

while ‘Sweets for my sweet’

plays on the chart show.


The scent of chocolate has travelled

all the way from Peru to fill her home

with notes of vanilla, red fruit and honey.


She will turn out this decadence

for her ‘Brown eyed handsome man’

and add the sharp of raspberries on the side.


She dreams of the moment

he will come home

to fill his mouth with her sweetness;


and while she waits she listens

to the week’s hit songs ...

‘Secret love’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’,


as she breathes the scent of chocolate

she wonders when he will come home to her ...

 ‘I only wanna be with you’ ...


‘Anyone who had a heart’...

If he will come home to her...

‘Not fade away’ ... ‘not fade away’...

Thursday 11 May 2023

Bouquet by the beach

When I walked up from the beach through the woods at Penbryn yesterday I was reminded of this poem, written in May 2016. It's also in my latest collection, 'Before we Breathe'

Bouquet by the beach

Wet wool hangs raw from barbs on a fence

where the smell of sheep had gathered,


ferns uncurl in woods to hide bluebells,

their fragrance sketched all over the air.


A thousand flowers of hawthorn open,

tiny stamens like dots of dust

Photo by Dave Urwin

on a perfect white cloth.

On cliffs where water falls sea pinks hug slate,


make thrift in abundance, overlaying

seaweed traces on a breeze.


Salt stings your lips, ties knots in your hair,

tickles your nose, fills your head.


In the café a caramel cookie rests

wide and flat, sweet and delicate in its thinness,


on a bone china plate; fragments of chocolate

soften in the sun,


and there is coffee. I breathe through the steam,

catch scents of chocolate, of bluebells, and the sea.







Tuesday 11 April 2023



It's World Parkinson's Day.

Here's a short thought....


Bits of brain fall off;

the broken parts of him,

things forgotten

memories never to be recalled.

But what is left finds other ways to work,

new thoughts appear –

not conditioned, influenced, or even informed

by what has gone before --

These are the wonderful wild ideas of him.

From the Parkinson's UK website:

World Parkinson’s Day takes place on 11 April every year to raise awareness of Parkinson's.

Living with Parkinson's is tougher than people think. But it doesn’t define you. You are still you. You can still do amazing things in spite of Parkinson’s. 

Parkinson’s is different for everyone. Different symptoms, different experiences. Diagnosis is scary and there’s currently no cure. Living with Parkinson’s can be challenging but one thing stands out. The Parkinson’s community is bright and brilliant.



Saturday 28 January 2023


Just doing the Big Garden Birdwatch,which in my small garden involves many sparrows, certainly more of them than any other species here.

I wrote this poem in the last couple of weeks after reading Edna St Vincent Millay's 'Wild Swans'.

For the sparrows...


(after Edna St Vincent Millay)

As the sparrows chattered

their quarrel in the hedge

their frenzy seemed to shout over me

and draw me into their gangland morning.


How loud! I could not hear what my heart

would say, and forgot my heart’s beating,

its own waking and sleeping ...


So I left it for a moment

and lived in the heart of a host

of small brown birds.