Bon voyage

We saw three ships come sailing by
Full sail on sea-fields of early summer’s blue
They clipped at pace the foam-flecked swells
In thrall to squall’s whim, and all was well

But not before the two we saw
With keels hauled twixt hedge and hard shoulder 
Tight-lashed against road’s roll, pitch and yaw
Unrigged through fields decked with bells of blue

Needless of tack and jibe and heedless of winds prevailing
Sails instead stowed away on a voyage prescribed
These yearning tide-lovers lugged their solace 
Along tributaries tugging their souls to the shore

Neither sightings nor soundings were summoned to steer
Nor heave or ho for such a predestined to and fro
Til crows gifted their watch to cormorant and gull
The sea wet its welcome, and all was well.

Devised for ‘Poetry Illustrated, a Teenager’s View’, an exhibition of art by Sutton High School students in response to the work of local poets, at Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton February–July 2020

Is it time?

Is it yet time for all we have awaited – have we quite finished?
So colonised is culture we scant sense where to draw the line.
Perhaps now less between, to toe, than around, to show
that for far too long there’s been more to than fro’.

So, away! hegemon’s scant heroics.
It was for Freedom’s fight and Honourable death, so they say.
Do they really love no greater than this,
playing a theatre’s farce to take shillings for a penny’s return?
High stakes indeed to relegate prudent maid, mother and the other,
as medals, once beribboned to style,
come now purpled for suffering and suffrage.

Be-times men sailed blue to claim a King’s stake in states
that irony named Columbia for a naming’s sake.
But a fleet-launching face sent a thousand toys for Troy’s boys,
and our fey maiden ventured she-names, to singe bearded men-o-war.

O! how we drew, but they never withdrew.
So where, how, and now for the reddest of line?
Barricades, then balustrades, once saw us redline equality’s frontline.
But who sees proof in the darkness?

Criss-crossing the lines made habit of hobby,
so now we must fight the frontier again,
in no longer vain hope that faith and love can prevail.

We tiptoed tight-lipped for too long the tightrope.
A fine line that might matter not,
were it not for un-stately knavish tinnitus
that long made no distance from virtue to vicious.

Quizzing beast, bird and brother ahead of our counsel,
perpetual patrons patronised, for politic brooked no corrective.
Now, no longer foot-lighting this patriarch’s panto,
we shall chime three-by-three, advance and be recognised.

But who can tell from time to time,
to wit what men made, say, of our magic Morgana?
Cynics’ chill calculus conjured a telling device,
that twisted a tale to deny trauma’s hand,
and how passion’s plenty would have bested the rest.
And still to Apples’ Isle they sail her at night, with a knight.

Perhaps then like Godiva, ride out to redress manly levy,
or, as Marianne, stride out and meet man’s mean mastery.
Or, perhaps, go with Boudicca, and chariot virtues to civilise.
But, like all, bear breast to build empires of sense,
for we are now needless of Amazon’s slice to volley our victory.

In enlightening times, clothed like no vain dandy,
mourning maids knew and drew red threads a-neck,
weighing the just ingredients of Liberty, in dread for the headless dead.

Now weighing full measures, we are more Manichea’ than Machiavel’.
No need to un-sex to un-seat,
just call out the damned spots that tarnish just judgement’s blade,
and those that bellow to blunt our keenest edge.
Cruel cuts enough should fell the capital fellows,
the smallest of minds, mincing and mutilating a bonsai orchard,
and crying the ‘best of all possibles’;
confederate dunces still telling tales from the money myth.

What sounds well in the head, sings from a lightened heart
and ‘tis time, plenty-ripened, to banish fear to flourish,
condensation-watered, beneath that glaze a careful stone’s-throw away,
and to vibe for an Aquarian age, understanding peace and love.

A virtuous pledge proclaimed throughout unto all,
from cracked links to no shackle, and un-girdled by Eiffel’s gown,
we toll no promissory note for a Prince’s virtù.
This peal rings proper change, so look what’s ahead –
we can calm the tumult with swift-judging sword, duel Janus for sensibility,
and, on evidence alone, hold the balance of Dike to raft sublime.

Know yourself, prudent world-wise ones, and hurry the crone days,
for these roiling waters bear up the Feminine Divine.
With a bellyful of calming my dear hysterical bitch bird,
we break crest and ask: are we nearly there?
I’d say: long-since, belovèd Sis’.

International Women’s Day 2019

At six on seven

A life-guild’s gleeful journeyman
Greets his sixth from the seventh on the twenty-fifth
As certain apprentice he ponders at parapet
Aflame with a future-forged fortune
A fair fledgling’s gaze of no cynic’s glazing

Filled by no simple fantasy
But brimming in Grace, nested in heart and art
And beaming ‘twixt middle-land’s suns to Albion’s mist

Easy leagues for the horizon-summoned son of Antiquity’s mentoring
Flying Spirit fleet and bold-burning Light

To yet-untold futures truly bright

For the A, A and a that are ever in mind and heart


Step-stone strides to dry-bone the midstream
with a primate’s plan from upstream source to downriver destiny

Serving at my own pleasure,
flowing true, essential, urgent
and upright in the Light to countervail any counter-bore,
with a raven’s insight to spite eddying doubt

There’s room en route for a good few folk
living well, kindly and vividly-caulked
We sagacious waders meander rapidly
past bank-to-bank pedestrians,
and paddlers sodden and shallows-dragged

Until a marine moraine seasons our reach,
to foil the spectators silted in a temporal becalm
or parched, embanked and bleached to beach






These are exchanges in no kind
But a battering barter to order, the pyrrhic petition of a bitter green boast
Justice needs no parity of pain to justify a solo gain
As venality makes vain of a banal catastrophe
Never minding when it really mattered

No Wonder

Some arsenic waltz requiems a love monocarpic
Blooming ornamental and disinclined to entwine
With twine-strangled support at stake, and leaning just the one way
Scant nurture from that day forth ‘til that day gifted by fondest folks
Rarely remarked, just perennially card-marked
A stork’s brutal fly-past, as two scores ceremony no celebration
For a living, not a loving, sought
That sparse-nourished symbiont is blighted, dead-headed and hard-pruned to a vestige
Those paper pledges mocked to mulch the soil of a salt-watered bed
Where there was little hardy about those hearts’ bonds
Suppressed and un-weeded ‘til nothing much rosy remained


Legend’s tale told 5 bushels
through copse to maze
in Summer’s haze
my Fool in motley mind prances
to scatter distraction ‘neath trunk to root
and dig a diamond’s glimmer
to pierce clouds
with love-a-leaping