Wednesday, 24 December 2014


I'm delighted that my poem, 'Spurn', was a finalist in the Aesthetica Poetry Awards and is published with the others in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual. This poem was written before the immense storm surge of December 2013, which washed away large sections of the road down to Spurn Point and made it inaccessible except on foot, and now seems somewhat apocryphal.

Thursday, 25 September 2014


A Dead Dragonfly

My heart was moved to see you lying there,
your wings a silken tapestry
spread gracefully
in contrast to the roughness of the concrete path.
At first I thought that you were only resting
from the blissful rigours of a warm late-summer day,
but as I looked, and you remained as still as death,
I saw that, like the first leaf of the autumn fall,
you’d drifted gently down to earth
before the fierce battering of winter
had caught you in its morbid grip.
It seemed as if, perhaps,
you’d chosen your own time and place to die,
not hidden in the gloomy shadows,
but where the sympathetic sun
could still sparkle on your wings
and catch the living fire,
as when your agile body had first danced above the water
or flitted with the joyfulness of life
across the skyscape of a careless summer day.
So, death had not robbed you of your beauty
but just released you early to escape
a harder, crueller end.

Monday, 15 September 2014


Down the solemn days

Down the solemn days of all my wanderings,
through basking, golden afternoons
or echoing across the vaulted stillness
and in the vast, black rages of the night,
I have come home,
to look once more upon the dreams I left
and see that they are good.
And to look once more upon old faces,
now etched with painful lines of mouldering memories,
and see that they are good.
By this brave fire I am bidden to sit down
and given autumn’s jam on new-baked bread,
and never asked about the things that I have done
or about the strangeness of the worlds that I have seen.
Here in this once-familiarity,
I can, at last, discover who I am
and am content with what I know.

Monday, 9 June 2014


I couldn't get a photo of the curlew as I didn't have my camera with me, so I 'borrowed' this one.

The curlew.

Carefree the curlew, to my thinking
looking upwards from beneath
into a cloudwashed sky
replete with rain not falling.

And the circling and the diving
with curving beak
wings spread gliding
or beating up against the windless air,
eyes scanning needle-sharp
to pin-point whatever food is there
inland from the richness,
of the salt-marsh estuary bed,
if only for an earthy feast
of worms
from rain-washed ground released. 

And the strident crying
with unique, persistent,
triple-calling notes fast-dying,
addressed to nothing,
or perhaps a distant mate far-flying,
above the silver sweetness
of the blackbird’s jealous vying
and the mocking cuckoo newly fledged
and the cheeseless** yellowhammer,
silly on the hedge. 

Carefree the curlew, to my unthinking
not driven by instinct’s insistence
unknown to my own fey existence,
not realising that this morning’s early breaking
of the night-starved fast
to daily feed the famished wide-mouthed gaping
is a task not lightly asked.

*An 'eagre' is a tidal river bore found especially on the Humber.

** Refers to the yellowhammer's call of "just-a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese".

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


The Oaks’ Graveyard.

The oaks are dead.
Straying from the road,
I stumbled on their secret graveyard,
enclosed within a stand of living trees
where their remains now rest –
eighteen in all and once of mighty size,
but now just severed and uprooted stumps,
hidden from the common sight within a roadside copse.
This stand of trees was once a greater wood,
where, no doubt, oaks grew strong and tall.
(Not far away, the last of these still lives –
its massive, hollow shell
now standing like a spectre
beside the old lane’s edge.)
I’ve passed here many times before
but never guessed that in this shady place
these precious relics,
each like a wooden Ozymandias, lay:
cut down, uprooted, left to rot,
and overshadowed by tall-growing ash and birch.
Some upright, others on their sides,
each forms its own memorial
but all without a name or date recording their demise.
And overhead, the reverend rooks
in well-worn Sunday black
preach from sky-roofed pulpits,
chanting never-ending funeral rites
or delivering grim sermons
on death’s inevitable grip,
while a woodpecker
is hammering in coffin nails.

Across the sky, a red kite haunts the fields,
uttering its strident, plaintive cries,
not mithering for the oaks  
but in mocking tones bemoaning
the death inflicted
by its own beak and claws.


Friday, 11 April 2014


The man who knew trees.

He moved like a man who knew trees -
not as objects, or even equals -
but, certain in his mind
that here were the greatest of all living creatures,
he stepped comfortably and quietly through the wood
and, without presumption or design,
acknowledged every one as if it were a friend.

he said, speaking as a believer would when entering a church,
“are the oldest living beings on the earth,
and make our span seem like a second’s passing.
If, out of necessity, we have to cut one down,
we should first beg its forgiveness,
as do hunters, living off the land,
when they must kill an animal for food,
out of respect
because they know the prey control the hunt;
or like a reluctant executioner
whose duty is to make a martyr of a saint.
For whenever an old tree dies or is destroyed,
we lose a library
where birds and animals have always come
to gain the knowledge of all of nature’s ways
and even we can, if we have a mind,
study how the world is made.”

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


From Whinny Hill

A potent pathway runs along the rim,
trodden since unlettered times
beyond the consciousness of man
by feet that understood the power of paths.
But now the roads on lower land prevail
and these high places no longer stimulate
the stagnant soul and stultified imagination. 

Still, we whose heads have always been in clouds
can gaze on sights unknown to those
whose tiny minds are there below,
amongst the tiny works of men:
the houses, villages and fields,
where their inconsequential voices
could never pierce the wildness of the wind. 

Only in high places do we truly know
the sacredness of space.
Only here, above the daily clamour,
can we stand and listen
to the turning of the earth,
hear the wisdom that the birds impart
and feel the pull of ageless intimacies
from beneath the barrow’s mound
that speak in voices sorrowful but proud: 

“When we had life, the world was quieter.
We had the time and space to stop
and stand here on this winsome ridge
to view a world that we had not created.
Here the wolf could roam
and find a peaceful sanctuary
amongst the shadows of the trees.
Then we shared with wolves,
and all the creatures of the woods,
the bounty that renewed with every year.
In those days giants walked the earth
and though we did not know them,
we felt their presence
and could see their works,
for our eyes were open then,
instead of filled with dirt,
or closed, as yours are now,
to all the wonders of the world.”

The path is little-trodden now,
except by those who need to seek
the solace of an open mind,
clear of all the affectations
that crowd our every waking hour
and chase us even
into the haunted depths of sleep.
Perhaps I’ll meet you on the pathway,
coming either from the rising sun
or from the shadow regions of the moon,
and we will stop and gaze at one another,
as if the two of us
each had met a ghost.