Category Archives: Aren’t words curious?


We travel in our dreams, a
sensation of having to
be somewhere with no idea of
where or why or how.

Last night I found myself in a
concordance of
London rail termini, dragging
mismatched luggage,
uncertain, impelled, in a
queue for something I was
unsure about.

The bored ticket-office clerk
brightened when I asked for a train from
Los Angeles to Las Vegas–“Now
that’s more like it!” The ticket was long
like a letter and
flopped about as I wandered and
wondered what to do with it.

Friends I didn’t know
persuaded me to
sort my suitcases which were
full of someone else’s life:
unwashed, unfolded clothes,
bric-a-brac, old books,
one of which looked like it
should be meaningful.

Each case was barely
half-full, the contents must have
rattled round as I
rattled round empty stations
looking for something to
do with my ticket
looking for somewhere to leave
someone else’s luggage
looking for somewhere to leave

19th. November 2020

There was this tight triangle in the
sky tonight: Saturn for old age,
Jupiter for jollity, and a
new sharp Moon for
poets to hang their
shreds of love and longing.

Did we just yearn for sadness
all those hormonal years?
Did it teach us anything?
How to behave perhaps when the
great waves finally
overshadow us?


Even photos taken yesterday look

aged, remembrances sinking

swiftly into the past, where my

children seem sweetly distant, my

parents slowly fading from

full colour to sepia, their parents already

ghosts in the sepulchral world of

black and white, revenants from the

world before images, before we had to

worry about how we looked, about

how we would be remembered.

Extract Digit

Must, in its many meanings,

Monophysites, Myrmidons—words that

mumble my desperation for

inspiration, that moment when the

ocean overtops the dyke and the

boy can pull his finger out

letting the man take his

chance on the flood.


Most outside the Media think what a

mimsy world it must be, full of

hugs and kisses and cries of

“Darling!”, when in fact it is

brutal, our mouths full of

blood from biting our tongues,

fearful of being forever banished for the

wrong word, an inappropriate

image or just not suiting the

current corporate climate.

Dark Tourist

I rarely visit the

Slough of Despond:

I’ve toured some of its

suburbs but only once

strayed downtown, oh

many years ago.

The strange thing is it’s

never changed: the

shops and billboards stuck in some

parody of the past where my

boyhood self will come

whistling round the corner,

asking if I’m lost and if I

need directions.

Modern Ghosts

This modern high-rise moans, a

House of the Dead, their

gusty shades spiralling like

dust-sprites up lift-shafts, through

cracked-open windows and

ill-fitted doors

slamming them shut just when you

least expect it while the

lift-brakes quietly cough like someone

hidden behind your back.

“It’s You” Talk Talk

In our elder days I
listen to you talk in your
sleep: your worries,
frustrations, love,
muttered or out loud in
both your languages and I
hold you, let you
speak in tongues, my
mind full of images
of all that life since
I first saw you.

I’ve seen you wracked in pain and
writhing in ecstasy, in the
sough-trough of
housework, blowing
hair from your forehead.

I’ve seen you erotic and
neurotic and sclerotic (when those
lovely legs won’t
bend back so far).

I’ve seen you as a
Nereid watching
ready to wrench out
sea-sodden sailors
unable to cope with your
liquid love.

I’ve seen you see life as a
patchwork quilt
forever frayed and
desperately needing repair
each thread a child
knitting their own known
needles wrenched from your
hands flapping

I’ve seen the flapping fade as the
wings of our children are
accepted, though you still
clutch some feathers as you
nestle into my warmth
speaking in tongues
hearth mother with
no hearth.

Anonymous and a Gloss

(Anonymous, 15th/16thC, English)

The maidens came
 When I was in my mother’s bower;
I had all that I would.
 The bailey beareth the bell away;
 The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.
The silver is white, red is the gold:
The robes they lay in fold.
 The bailey beareth the bell away;
 The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.
And through the glass window shines the sun.
How should I love, and I so young?
 The bailey beareth the bell away;
 The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.

(My gloss, though I may be mistaken)

The bell bespoke general joy and my

twittering sisters ran to find me

scenting my mother’s flowers and

plucked me to the house to see

such riches sent to

buy my maidenhead.

The bell still rang but

further off and fading while the

sun burnt through the window

flushing my face with dread.

On Your Shore

Strange that I’d never seen this poem by my long-dead father, nor knew he had written any poetry, until it was posted online by a relative tonight. It’s on a much-folded piece of paper, with holes in the side suggesting some official use misused. He was born in 1911 and went to sea when he was 15, sailed round the world several times, saw many good and awful things. He came home and married my mother in 1937, left the sea, but found himself back there during World War 2. I have no way to date this poem: whether it refers to 1937, 1945 or to no date in particular I have no idea. I have transcribed it not out of filial duty but because it has some beautiful images and because it brought a lump to my throat. (I have kept the punctuation I could see, left the rest as is)


On Your Shore

By Harry Finn


Strange how my heart beats

To find myself upon your shore

Strange how I still feel

My loss of comfort gone before.


Cool waves wash over

And drift away with dreams of youth

So time is stolen

I cannot hold you long enough.


And so this is where I should be now

Days and nights, falling by

Days and nights falling by me

I know of a dream I should be holding

Days and nights falling by

Days and nights falling by me


Soft blue horizons

Reach far into my childhood days

As you are rising

To bring me to my forgotten ways


Strange how I falter

To find I am standing in deep water

Strange how my heart beats

To find I am standing on your shore

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