Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Sunbathing beauty,
Bronzed skin glistening with oil:
Poetry in lotion

Saturday, December 09, 2006


The wind at sunset
Brings the scent of far bazaars
Calling me away

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Answers to questions from Poet's Letter

Q. What made you produce your poetry on a blog?
The main reason was my discouragement at the process of trying to get the poems into print. I had been circulating small collections among my friends, but these were by their nature limited by duplication costs and whether people had expressed an interest in receiving them. I thought that if I put them on the Web then maybe more people would find them.

Q. Do you get feedback and does this help with the creative process?
I don't get a lot of feedback, and what there is tends to be praise or dispraise rather than analysis. I do a lot of reworking as part of the initial drafting process, so by the time it's on the blog I consider it near-finished. A more common effect of feedback is to inspire further poems in response to comments suggesting altenative approaches.

Q. Has it opened your poetry up to people across the world?

Well, the world, including Britain! Most of my readers come from the US, I am a member of Moontown Cafe, a US-based poetry forum, and my closest contacts are with some of their poets.

Q. Has it led to you changing the way you write (in terms of frequency) or think about your poetry?
The immediacy of writing online has led to my writing very short poems: a lot of haiku, for example. In an informal context, a poem doesn't have to be big or clever to be worth writing, so I write more often. Although this isn't quite what you asked, reading other poetry on the Internet has taught me to value brevity and clarity above all; there is an awful lot of awful poetry out there! I think that before I was more willing to embrace complexity and obscurity: now that I am writing for real readers I consider this discourteous.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The single life has
Its points, but my bed is
Half empty without you

Friday, August 18, 2006

The end of days

Loss changes the calendar
Transforms it into a minefield
Of broken anniversaries
Missed events
Empty chairs,
A rosary of grief
Rotating with the months.

Forgetting seems like treachery
To the gone,
Yet without it, who can bear
To face the rolling years?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Love's season

We met in a shower of apple blossom
Loosened by winter's final frost

We kissed as daffodils
Peeked warily from the soil

Our love ripened with the berries:
straw, rasp, black

Autumn brought barrenness
Winter, solitude

Modern proverb

Never mind, there's twenty more fish in the sea

Friday, May 05, 2006

Philosophy's task

There is knowledge
And then there is certainty
We can lightly know a fact
It sits in mind, untroubled and untroubling,
Engendering no warmth
No strong emotion, no fear

But reality intrudes
A visceral certitude
Of consequences sure and soon
And wholly negative

Sometimes this shift
Is occasioned by events
Newsflashes from the outside world
Broadcasts from fate

And sometimes by thought
The erosion of plausible denial
The collapse of cant

Ecologists say "Extinct is forever"
Glib, tautological, as a slogan
For their very specific, very urgent cause-
They also speak a general truth

As Socrates said, philosophy's task
Is learning to die

Friday, April 28, 2006

Roanoke, Spring

The wind blows steady from the east
Bringing air tangy with salt

The banks of mist, torn and tattered, clear,
Revealing distant land-masses to north and south

Sand and reeds whistle and rattle
Across the dunes

The storm beach is littered with flotsam,
Tarred timbers and frayed ropes

The Outer Banks have sheltered many,
Ships and sailors, refugees

Seeking haven from Atlantic storms
A pause for thought

Here the horizon is full of choices
Each compass-point a destination

I wrap myself up, staring out to sea
Awaiting an omen to guide me

I have lost my faith in experience
Since it has brought me here

Sunday, April 23, 2006

from Bede's History of the English Church (2006 edition)

One sin at a time

On the conscience of St Augustine
Was much that was simply disgusting
He started to worry
And so he said sorry
For it all, apart from the lusting

Many are called, few are chosen

The thing about St Benedict
Was his Rule was incredibly strict
For each one he monked
Ten novices flunked
And out from the abbey were kicked

Against gluttony

Ascetic Thomas Aquinas
Always avoided large dinners
To others who'd fast
He'd say "You won't last:
You're amateurs, only beginners".


According to Cardinal Newman
God, granting salvation to Man,
Smiled on the godly
And damned those who oddly
Insisted His Son's only human

Defending the faith

Henry called the Papal Nuncio
An idiot and a duncio
Enraged, he said
"I'll chop off your head!
I've done it before, more than once-i-o!"

Gently does it

Inquisitorial Torquemada
Gave advice to his torturing cadre
"If they won't confess
You just have to press
On their conscience a little harder"


Martin Luther's 95 theses
Broke the Christian world in pieces
The question was if
The Roman Pontiff
Oversaw the whole of the species

Soil temperature

To test the soil in Spring
To time the sowing of seed
The farmer used to sit
Bare-buttocked on the ground:
"Warm enough for me", he'd say.

Many seasons later
His bones seed the soil
Under a blanket of earth
Protected from winter's frost:
"Warm enough for me", he'd say.

Turn of the tide

The sea's greedy hand
Finally admits defeat
And loosens its grip

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Ignorance is bliss
But it cannot last for long:
Bad news travels fast

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Two trains to London

Rustling newspapers
Yawns, coffee; much reading of
Letters and reports

Lengthening shadows
Empty seats; crossword puzzles,
Books, quiet chatter.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The last librarian

Keystone of civilisation,
Of all progress-
Is underwritten by paper

Lives in the continual present,
Errors repeating endlessly

Knowing this,
Collected scrolls
In numbered halls

Hearing the word of God
Wished to burn all others

Under flaming skies

Hypatia weeps
Her loss,
Oblivion's gain

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Physics 101

Sleeping in

Motionless bodies
Will remain motionless when
In bed on Sunday


Every action will
Cause an equal opposite

Stress management

Bodies when pressured
Will transmit that pressure to
Everybody else

Argument against filing

A system's total
Entropy over time will
Tend to a limit

Gravitational pull

Small bodies exert
Small forces of attraction:
Large bodies, larger

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Final voyage of the North Ship

"The current rate of shrinkage they calculate at 8% per decade; at this rate there may be no ice at all during the summer of 2060." BBC News, Arctic ice 'disappearing quickly'

"I thought it would last my time"
Philip Larkin, Going, going

"I saw three ships go sailing by
Over the sea, the lifting sea
And the wind rose in the morning sky
And one was rigged for a long journey"
Philip Larkin, The North Ship

One sailed towards a northern place
Over the sea, the rising sea
But of the ice there was no trace
Although they searched most wearily

One sailed to the Antarctic pole
Over the sea, the dying sea
To measure the size of the ozone hole
Growing bigger annually

The third sailed for a western shore
Over the sea, the angry sea
It had gone, like Atlantis before
So it returned unhappily

The ships voyaged to and fro
Over the sea, the landless sea
Watching out for a new rainbow
To signify God's mercy

The skies where no dove or raven flew
Over the sea, the cleansing sea
Were scanned in vain by the crew
The water took them tenderly

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sweet sixteen

Daughter, beware of
The wild animals in the
heavy petting zoo

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First amendment

Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the government
for a redress of grievances -
Unless it feels like it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The benefits of age

Withering leaves are flags,
Signing the march of the seasons:
They are lost in the wind

Youth has gone; stuff fills the void:
A life of shopping, cleaning, and waiting

Unimaginable to the urgent young
Who, breathless, move on:
Next party, next girl, next kiss

Filling their days
With a chaos of pleasure
But unable to luxuriate in it:
No time! No time!

I'm slower now, calmer,
More thoughtful;
A line is drawn: that's done, over.
Now, what's next?

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Winter lingers on
As dirty as week-old snow
Resisting the thaw