Poetry

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)

Still Waters?      

 

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

reconstitute themselves,

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)

Intersection

 

Two lives:

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.

 

Two roads,

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 seconds:

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. 

 

Two facts:

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.

 

Two images:

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 ]

Folly

 

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 ]

The Cloud

 

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 ]

Release

 

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 ]

No Goodbye

  

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 ]

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