Category Archives: April

A run in the dark

A run in the dark 

Headlong down a narrow entry between
two high brick walls. Claustrophobic.
Black, only a faint strip of light above.
Runaway feet reverberating.
Eeeeaaawww! Something leaps beneath me.
Shy away, thud into one wall,
rebound onto the other, end in a heap.
Oh, just a cat… and I’ve given Paul the slip.

“Boys, please!”
As I pick myself up I remember how she stood
distraught between my warring older brothers.
Mike landed a blow on Paul who pushesd her
into the standard lamp, its light swaying crazily.
“Paul, dear, do stoppit… Oh!”
I was pummelling Paul: “Leave Mum alone!”
Then BANG!
“You little fool! I’ll give you more than a black eye.
I’ll kill you, d’you hear, KILL you
Racing off into the night I was aware of the
startled expression of Mr Green from next door
who I passed at our front gate.

Much later, in case Paul is still lying in wait
out front I clamber over our rear fence
every inch the hero and open the back door.
She looks up from ironing. She’s been crying.
“Where have you been? How could you be so silly?”
“I, I…”
“Why did you run away? Paul didn’t chase you.
We all went round calling for hours.Your father was
so annoyed. If you hadn’t stuck your oar in
it would have blown over by the time he got home.”
A straggly strand of hair has fallen across her brow.
She brushes it back with a jerky movement of her arm.
“Well, don’t stand there like a lost soul.”
Balancing the iron on its stand, she comes towards me.
“Just look at you, you’re filthy.”
Starts dusting down my jeans.
“Such a fuss with Mr Nosey Parker Green watching.”
Runs her fingers through my matted hair.
“Anyway, you’d better bathe that eye of yours.”
Dad looks out of the living room as I burst
through the hall, throwing myself up the stairs.
In the bathroom he prises the flannel from my eye.
“Mm, not too bad. Now, was it Paul who hit you?”
“It was nothing, Dad, honestly. All my fault.
I was silly, really very foolish…”


She, is Sirius under cloud
riding to the field of rushes
in a birch canoe. From time
to time she dips in a finger
and shivers with cold water
shock. Her breath sweeps
in a gust past winter rosehip
lips that mouth fossil kisses.

Her blue eyes are pocked
with dreams of kites, turnstones
and her deep loves. With a heart
as light as a feather she lifts
herself up over rocks and cliffs.
The crowd waves as she flies
to the sun but only the cold bed
is imprinted with her passing.


This is not in response to the brilliant April prompt which I will endeavour to have a go at, but is an attempt at a mirror poem, prompted by the great conversation at Monday’s meeting. (i wasn’t sure where to post it)


We are more present
when we go
revealed now in the same etched way as
more than all the bright days of May could ever show;
the ferny-feathered leaves,
the cups of corolla-cradled blossom,
the buoyancy of branch.
So I come to know my neighbour’s laburnum tree
shadowed against white-washed walls
caught in the orange-street lamp
when dusk falls in the alley.

When dusk falls in the alley,
caught in the orange street-lamp,
shadowed against white-washed walls
so i come to know my neighbours laburnum tree.
The buoyancy of branch,
The cups of corolla-cradled blossom,
the ferny-feathered leaves,
more than all the bright days of May could ever show
revealed now in the same etched way as
when we go
we are more present.


okay – perhaps doesn’t quite fit the prompt although it started off simple + I have played around with that mirror idea thingy we were talking about on Monday night at the stanza which is a lot of fun and I haven’t done 40 odd drafts and it hasn’t taken me 5 years – although the potholing was over 25 years ago so hope that counts for something!

he shouted
our guide at the front
moling through the dark
been here before and loving every step

“Water” muttered the line of followers
like an echo from a full steam ahead
to a whisper shaded in suspicion

from a shade of suspicion to a whisper
to a full steam ahead
the line of followers echoed
our guide at the front
every step
moling through the puddles of darkness



Nothing to be seen
but morning mist,
disembodied bell
tolling somewhere.

Then chug of engines,
wash of bow wave.
The ferry materialises,
gliding across the lake.
Engines into reverse,
churning, edging
towards the jetty.

We walk the gangplank,
lean together on the rail.
Cast off, under way,
the shoreline evaporates.
Absorbed into mist,
both of us lost in thought.

Suddenly, a shaft of sunlight.
Mist clears to reveal
the mountain with, high above,
a gleam of snow upon its peak.

April 2015 prompt

Maitreyabandhu is a master of simple language and conversational tone. It would be easy to think that not much happens in his poems but, for me, every significant aspect of life happens.  This month’s  challenge is to write a poem where simplicity is the key. For inspiration, here’s Maitreyabandhu’s The Man:

The Man

The man was sitting by the kitchen window.
Outside, the trees were full of nervous birds,
nodding their heads or flicking up their tails
in gestures of defiance. A pheasant walked
along a hedge, his copper coat restrained,
even the sun held back behind the trees.
The man was watching ladybirds climb up
the windowpane: so many on the walls,
so many huddled near the lights! They fell
down on their backs as if they’d taken ether.

The house stood in the corner of a field
with woodpigeons, always woodpigeons, in twos
or squadrons in the trees; and a robin singing
from a post, his song as bright as teaspoons.
The sun rose in pale and broken stripes,
then set in a perfect orange ball. Nothing
happened inside the house. The man took off
his glasses when he slept, drank two strong cups
of coffee every day, and walked around
the garden with his scarf around his neck.

He wanted signs of life: the sound of someone
closing a drawer or slipping on a jacket;
but no-one pressed the gravel drive or opened
the kitchen door. A patch of sunlight swivelled
round the room, brightening the kettle’s spout.
The man lay down and wrote inspiring things
on little scraps of card. He thought he heard
a hare snuffling in the grass, an owl
hooting in the night. But then the taps
ran dry and the blue pilot light went out.




A tornado

This poem was inspired by a modern performance of the Rite of Spring at the Lowry.

A tornado

stole you from the grasping sky,
unleashed an unkindness of ravens,
a pack of coyotes, a tribe of monkeys
from deep in the earth’s navel:
tricksters to lurk on the fringes,
steal food from the gods,
angle runes onto fresh gravestones,
to chase you to the dancing fields
deep in the greenwood
where hope of love, of passion
lies in the gift of the dark lady
whose off-beat rituals of rival tribes
invoke ancestral memories
and the benefactions of wise men.

You are the chosen one in this mystic circle.
Yours is the glorification with drum and dance.
Yours the full voice of sacrifice.

Drink To Me


Boys and girls come out to play

suffused with fruity Chardonnay.

Miniskirted girls fall down,

spew up their innards, paint the town

while boys throw punches, hit the floor,

drink ten pints and wretch for more.

They’re probably too drunk to hear

time’s winged chariot hurrying near.