Wednesday, September 9, 2015

(Thelonious that is...)

Butterflies stop by,
(the man with the funny hats is playing)
dancing, they sashay, shimmy, and soft-shoe-shuffle.

He dances a little himself: puppet jerking to the tenor's syncopation;

then back to dissecting the blues, searching, trawling the deeper dissonant strain  -

plotting the saddest sadness.

Today, he is gone, the man with the funny hats;

...the butterflies dance on

holy roller
this is your story
this is your song

Saturday, September 5, 2015


He was the bully;
pumelling on the new kid day after day,
his sycophants baying for blood  -
(they'd get it soon enough).

It was during training for the school leaving dance
(americanised to 'prom' now I believe);
the teacher had left the hall and the boys were indulging
in some light-hearted horse-play,
in the course of which the new boy bumped into the bully,
who immediately raised his fists, ready for the usual
( sycophants baying).

Suddenly: silence!
for the new boy had raised his fists, and with a lightning jab drew blood  -
one blow and it was all over! apart from an artistic display of back- peddling
from the bully until teacher returned.

The sycophants got their blood  -  did it matter whose, I wonder?

Later I asked him how he managed it  -  he just didn't know;
he knew it had happened  -  the bully carried a black-eye for a week  -
but he had no idea how he did it.

to know that something is working mysteriously in our favour!

school fight
smelling blood from him
next day


Home from Helmand; one hand less; nerves a bag of marbles.

Home to cry and cry:
his dreams smelling of cordite;
the slow-motion frame-by-frame passing of the many souls
through his 'cross hairs'.

The fountains spurting,
the terrible fountains spurting;

heads rolling like tumbleweed through a desolate place.

The kneeling fountains spurting!

Wept out,

he hears again the Fajr Prayer: DAWN  -  a new day,

and, from the nursery, comes life teetering  -  forgiving!

she makes a purple sun
out of playdough
...and mends a broken soldier

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Here, he went under:
the canal swallowing him in one gulp;

wrapped in reeds, the pike nudging him on.

Scots warrior.

...and in Valhalla
the stag Eikthyrnr stands proudly on the hillside waiting;
whilst Valkyries bear flagons of ale  -

never such a home from home!

poet’s funeral
the piper blows a lament
snowdrops’ heads hang

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Tucked into the Tuscan hills:
cradle of the Augustinian movement;
now an enclosed community of nuns.

through the leaves
the sisters'

They greet us with such joyous smiles,
enhancing the encompassing silence, making every movement an insinuation of God’s presence.

her childlike hands
wrapping my rosary
...ten knots

Their infectious happiness (witness Sr. Guerrini's modern-day cartoons).

drenched in laughter:
the flowers
they tend

Eventually, as they return to prayer  (their work in, and for, The World)
they sneak a quick( and perhaps pitying) smile through the latticed screen as we leave.

compline  -
shining stars
in the dark vale/veil

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Scythes sing through the corn;
the sheaves are bound and stooked (reservation of tiny wigwams).
One old clydesdale snorting, trudges through clouds;
pitchforks hoist and glitter in the sun.

I stand mid-photo holding Jack’s bridle, a townie romantic,
never wanting the day to end  -  but it has ended!

The bothy is empty, horsemen gone, with their secret words, their squeeze-boxes and ballads.
No more, the tinkling bells of harness, or sparks lighting the dawn mornings, as jack stamped the cobbled yard, impatient to be away, to drag a plough and a hundred gulls behind him the day long.

The millstone leans a weary shoulder against the old cottage, the plough, gone to rust, stands red amongst the roses gone to briar.

I return the sepia photograph to its rusty nail on the stable wall…and go!

the earth
rising in great waves
gulls’ screaming

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Trudging through dripping pines, and knee high ferns, we arrive:
an old gamekeeper’s hut  -   here the  gralloched deer hung and bled
(a groove cut in the floor letting the blood run back into the earth);
now  a nine foot by five foot crucifix takes up all floor space; the life- size Christ resting on the timbers, head lolling  -  as once the great stag, his blood drained from him, stared out from under the thorns of his tines.
We gather round the cross, the old man holding one nailed hand, and we enter that
silent and timeless space: prayer;

whilst beams of light criss-cross through the slatted windows,
fixing  an eternal hologram.

treading on a chestnut
the shell breaks
...little crown of thorns