My first Poetry Collection, Sea Without a Shore, was published by in June 2019 and my second, LifeTimes in March 2022, both by Maytree Press.
Poems of mine have also been published in some 20 anthologies, and the following magazines and webzines:
Acumen, Orbis, Pennine Platform, Writing, The Lake, Pulsar, Kishboo, Focus, Link, The Poetry Village, Amaryllis, Picaroon, Pennine Ink, Whistling Shade, Runcible Spoon, Up!
Here is a selection of poems from LifeTimes:
Degrees of Separation
Brought from the inner womb into the outer,
they are held close like jewels, confined at first
but soon, exploring limbs will push through doorways,
reveal wider but still sheltered worlds
of stone flags flanked by towers of sunflowers,
curious green fingers reaching up like theirs.
Tall posts, grim guardians, hold iron gates
tight shut, protecting precious life within.
But now the gates are creaking open
onto asphalt path and concrete crescent,
ropes will swing and footballs bounce and roll
down, down past other cloistered gardens,
to where the still cocooned and cosy street
will curl and stretch to meet the grown-up road
whose cars don’t stop for little boys and girls
and buses take them on to prefab sheds
and redbrick halls that echo with bright voices.
Slowly the world will be impressed upon them;
they, in their innocence, be shaped to fit:
gently at first, with little games and stories
but as the road creeps on remorseless
through gestating suburb and stagnating town
the task will grow more stern and sober
the highway’s lure be more seductive still.
In time, it will receive them, lights turn green,
bold signs say “freedom” as, no longer bound
or bounded, eyes forever facing forward
they take on the making of themselves.
(First published in Acumen)
The air falls silent; trees stand
motionless above the facing shore.
Their twins that hang below it
are still swaying – ever so gently –
to the quiet singing of the pool.
I throw a stone
and watch it smash those trees
to splinters. Rings of light
flow outwards, disintegrating
softly on the shore.
Each ring is fainter;
in time, the patient trees
becoming whole again
but not quite still: those waves,
no longer visible, have been absorbed
into the music of the pool, its memory
of every stone I ever threw.
(First published in Writing)
two lines inscribed on time and space.
Where yours began, where it was leading
I don’t know. My line was ragged, written
in a drunken hand, lurching from
one chance intersection to another.
one junction. A node, a synapse
of society, a joining place
of journeys, and of two lines: one straight,
serene and unaware; and one propelled
that night by ethanol and gasoline.
Two cries of terror, two lives flash
before four eyes, twin drummers pounding,
a shrill duet of screeches, rushing
to crunching climax: two lines
connecting at a single point.
Nature does not permit two things
to occupy the same location.
Once the tracks have come together
there can be no uncrossing; lines
once unwound cannot be reeled in.
Flashing lights surround a space criss-crossed
by yellow tape; inside and out
the flow of human life congeals.
X marks the spot where your line ended
and mine dived headlong into darkness.
(First published on Poetry Nook)
The Friend of Birds
She was akin to them:
precise and bobbing in her movement
– a broken hip had lent her walk a mallard’s totter –
knitted plumage out-displayed the boldest drake.
They loved her for it
– or was it for the crusts she scattered on their pond?
Too numerous to fight for:
not for them the hiss of battle
but contented quacks and clatterings of beaks.
For ducks – and enterprising doves –
she was the fountain-head of bread;
at home, for tits and finches,
a cornucopia of seeds,
greeted with ecstatic twittering.
They would envelop her in feathers,
grant her, with their perching feet
an honorary bird-ness of her own.
Age made her more birdlike:
bones grew hollow;
sallow skin took on an eggshell mottle.
Deep within, a fatal flutter,
as of tiny wings, took hold:
fulfilling, in a way, her wish
to slip – as her small friends could do so easily –
the irksome bonds that tethered her to earth.
(First published in Pennine Ink)
And here are some of my previously published poems:
In a Tube Train
Forgive me; weight of numbers, not my will
imposed this man upon your private space.
My eyes have little choice but rest upon
this woman’s face that fills my whole perception.
I feel I know you: hollow cheeks and lines
too deep for one your age all speak to me
of sleepless nights and proud hopes long eroded
into sand. Upon the breath we share
I taste the sad perfume of love decaying.
I am a part of you; imprisoned, thumbnail
size, I stare back from your fishbowl eyes
that hold without possessing.
At last the train
sets free its captives, flesh recoils and lungs
receive the air denied them for so long.
You leave in haste, but at the door you stop
look back, you realise. We were more close
than lovers. I was in your eyes ..
... and you in mine.
[ First published in Orbis ]
This is the place.
The gentle mound beside the reservoir,
the wall of ivy-eaten stone
that separates nothing from no one,
the tower on which no soldier ever stood.
Once, there were dragons here;
with my plastic sword I stormed the castle,
saving princesses from evil kings.
I was a fool to think
these walls would sing to me
the magic of that distant time.
There is no place for chivalry
among the condoms and the empty cans.
I trudge back from the silent stones,
stubbing my toes
upon the bones of dragons.
[ First published in Pulsar ]
He carried a cloud with him, so thick
that if we tried to pierce it
with little spears of laughter
they came back blunted, broken.
There was no evading it.
Inside that house
the cloud pervaded everything:
made raindrops on my mother’s cheeks,
brought shadows into sunlit space.
We crept around as if through fog,
afraid of what we might stumble into,
or hid from it in upstairs rooms
that slowly filled with cloudlets of our own.
If he went out, the cloud and I would follow.
There was a hill on which, after a while
you might just see a little sun upon his face.
There is nothing like the wind, for shifting clouds.
[ First published in The Lake ]
You question me with patient tenderness.
“I’m fine”, I lie: my leaden undertones
reveal what language struggles to express.
This sullen murk that seeps into my bones:
I have no name for it, nor has it shape
or substance. Stagnant, undefined, it sits
in hidden pools from which there’s no escape.
It is my prisoner, as I am its.
But do not cease to ask: for you, each day
I try once more to picture it in words.
If I could make it concrete, find some way
to form it in the semblance of a bird
and, through the gift of wings, to set it free
then it would lift its cold embrace from me.
[ First published in Pulsar ]
The Ballad of Bilberry Reservoir
Stranger, as you walk my shore
and think my home a tranquil place,
look closer: do you see a frown
within the ripples of my face?
These were not always quiet waters.
When first the moor gave birth to me
this valley echoed with my laughter,
unfettered, I ran wild and free.
Men looked in envy and desired
to bend my labour to their wills.
They made an earthen dam to bind me,
pipes to bleed me for their mills.
But I was strong, and with a storm
conspired to burst my prison walls
and through the breach my righteous anger
surged in furious waterfalls.
That happy night! How I did dance
among the streets and houses, free
to vent my power and forge anew
my ancient pathway to the sea.
That time is gone: men learned to fear
and built for me a stronger cage
in which I languish, left to brood
on memories of a better age.
What else to do but plot revenge
with my old friends, the wind and rain.
You who think me tamed, beware:
I sleep, but I shall wake again.
Inspired by the great Holmfirth flood of 1852, caused when Bilberry reservoir burst its dam.
[ First published in Pennine Reflections ]
We are enmeshed together, you and I,
our roots and branches coil and intertwine.
So do not say that futile word, goodbye
as if these knots were easy to untie.
Your threads cannot be unpicked from mine:
we are enmeshed together, you and I.
Do you forget, or worse, do you defy
the vow we made that binds us for all time?
Do not say that faithless word, goodbye.
This tapestry of love we crafted, why
would you destroy what touched on the sublime?
We are enmeshed together, you and I:
two such as us, if torn apart, must die
or shamble on in pitiful decline.
Do not pronounce that fatal word, goodbye.
All this has been for nothing: in your eye
I see the web beginning to unwind.
We were enmeshed together, you and I;
go now, spare me that final word, goodbye.
[ First published in In the Company of Poets ]