Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Another poem in progress . . .

Everywhere is dust coloured,
everywhere is dust; swirls and eddies of wind
whirl it about, while shoes, for those who have them,
are outside quickly covered, and half filled inside.
Even the fabric of the rough tents
is more dust than cotton.

There is nothing green here. No tree grows,
no blade of grass, even. This was supposed to be
a transit camp, a pause along the way,
time to take stock, to plan the next step.
It does not feel like that now,
after so many days, so many dusty days.

There are no facilitators,
no manufacturers of passports and promises and hope.
They have gone. It is a common enough mistake:
having been paid up front, they are no doubt
repeating the exercise with a new crop
of wide-eyed and desperate pilgrims.

There is food, at least; not a lot, but enough.
It comes as a bargaining counter, or maybe a subtle threat:
we will feed you so long as you stay here,
and do not cross any further oceans,
or beg at our doors, or sleep in our streets.
This is as far as you get.

If you want to eat, this is as far as you get;
if you want your children to eat.
So the food comes dusted with condescending compassion,
carefully measured out, a ration of grudging kindness.
But we do not want compassion, but just to live,
free from fear, and not left to turn into dust.


(Poem now nearing completion, I think)

This road we’ve walked together,
winding westward to the sea, gulls calling from the cliffs,
and a sky streaked with red and gold,
sign and promise of a fine day to come. We see
this evening's first lights appear in distant windows,
as moths ghost their way along the hedgebanks,
meadowsweet and honeysuckle scent the air,
and bats flitter between the trees. This has been a good day,
a good walk and time together,
for all there’s been a wrong turning or two along the way.

And now we can see the lamps along the harbour wall,
and riding lights flicker on the night boats
as they rise on a new tide. And so it is:
day's end, walk's end, a rest to come,
still together, and there are new things yet to see, new songs to sing,
while the promise nestles safe within our hearts
of a new day's alleluia at our next awakening.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


A road walked together,
westward to the sea, the gulls calling from the cliffs,
sky streaked with red and gold, sign of a good day to come.
This evening's first lights appear,
moths ghost their way along the hedgebanks,
bats fly between the trees. It has been a good day,
a good walk, despite a wrong turning or two.
We can see now the lights along the harbour wall,
the riding lights on the boats, rising on the new tide.
Day's end, walk's end, a rest to come:
still together, still with new things to see, new songs to sing,
a new day's alleluia at our awakening.

(First draft, 6th September)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


I remember: jam jars on strings,
holiday fishing nets, days when time stood still.
Wading through the dusty field of tussock grass
to the splashy brook that meandered through.
And that pool on a bend in the stream,
where the flow of the water slowed: it was ours,
made by us from clods and stones
collected for a dam - and how it crawled
with shrimps and water-fleas,
beetles and boatmen and little snails,
froglets sometimes, and the minnows
and sticklebacks that were our chosen quest.

We were not far from the town: familiar noises linger in my mind:
a rumble of traffic from the main road,
steam whistles from the shunting yards, the steady hum
of the English Electric works.
But this was our bit of country - I remember
the time we saw a kestrel drop down to catch a vole,
the shrew that dashed out in front of my scooter
(I crashed it and lost a wheel);
and always the fine golden sun ruling the sky,
and always the hours and hours we had till tea.

But the sticklebacks were our delight -
we  caught them and brought them home
to stay a night with us, silver fish in silver jars,
protected from cats behind a cardboard screen
in a corner of our back yard.  And I’m sure that next day
we must have taken them back to the brook,
or maybe it was Dad who did it.
For by then we children had a new quest:
hunting for fat hairy caterpillars. In the same jars,
emptied of water and stuffed with miscellaneous leaves,
with kitchen-scissored holes in the black lids,
they would pupate, to emerge as bright tiger moths
before the long days ended of our childhood holidays
under that bright and glorious and forever sun.