Along the Old Sea Wall

The tide was out at midnight,
ropes rattling on the mast,
in the municipal car park
he fell asleep at last,
waking with the tide back in
and jumping in a squall,
as he searched in vain for coffee
along the old sea wall.
He’d gone there out of season,
unlike summers past,
no suitcase, just some luggage
and a crumpled photograph.
The sea was rough by eight o’clock,
no one saw him fall,
as they opened up for coffee
along the old sea wall.

[first posted 25 Nov. 2014]


The Sleepwalker

The sea returned like a sleepwalker,
compelled by forces too powerful to deny.

John had no memory of how he came to be there
or what had summoned him,
only that tomorrow he must return
to the uncertain future that awaited him.

He turned, half-raising one hand to the night,
then turned again:

‘Farewell, O restless cousin.’

It was reported later that he had not been
a strong swimmer.

What he said that night, if anything,
is not known.

[first posted 5 Sept. 2013]


year after year
this oak tree has stood
with the chalk hill behind
and its acres of wood
today I’m as quiet
as an old tree can be
as cold and unmoved
as that chalk hill I see
without looking

just cooking

something deep down
unfashioned unfound
as a spring underground
on that hill I can see
without peeking

just creaking

like an old tree
will in the wind


Shall we wander to the landing’s end,
look from the bannister at ourselves moving in,
ourselves moving out,
like the erosive waters over stony steps
that day we took a trip to see the seals?

Or shall I take a longer walk than that
beyond the last street light in the town,
a solitary walk and mine alone,
where the road hunkers down among the trees
and the pavement gives way to sodden ground?

I said I had not been beyond that point,
you said it led to nowhere but the hospice.

Oh take me back again to see the seals,
careless in our glass bottomed boat.

[first posted 29 July 2013]

that sharp anvil

we all know something about pain
it is hot-wired to our brains
like electrodes applied to tender places
by visitors with cruel faces
who drag us harrowed white
in the screech hours of the night
and on that sharp anvil of a pin’s breadth try
one breath before we die to break us
like they used to break men down
upon a wheel while in our secret heart
love waits to be revealed

pray love comes to all who remain
we all know far too much about pain

[first posted December 2014]

Wish I Was Here

If you were not here,
you would be somewhere else:

sitting in the sun,
walking in the rain,
standing on a London bus
but feeling much the same.

If you’re anything like me,
there’s little to be gained by

sitting in the sun,
walking in the rain,
on a package holiday
but feeling much the same.

May as well save a bob or two.
Stay at home and wonder what to do.


I often wondered where this path might lead
and where it wouldn’t,
and often wondered what I might achieve
and what I couldn’t.

This path leads to the sea of course
and a run-down coastguard’s cottage,
from where it leads up to the cliff
with beads of dew upon it.

A perilous place,
a perilous place indeed,
to think of what has passed and what might be.

A perilous place,
a perilous place to be,
and hear the lamentation of the sea.

Do drop in

My door is always open
– do drop in,
unless of course it’s closed
then don’t be bothering.

Don’t knock, don’t enter
please just stay away.
I’m the only one I’m seeing today.

It’s not that I don’t value
it’s just that I’m the one
that gets on best with me,
unless we have a row,
in which case help!
I need the whisky bottle
off the shelf – and then
I’ll be the one for partying.

My door is always open
– do drop in.

Another Way Of Saying #2

If I have nothing left to say,
forgive me.
I can find a hundred,
or a thousand,
ways to say nothing.

But if I see a peach
and my prose cannot reach,
I must find
another way of saying.

A walk along a lonely beach,
should do it;
just me and the waves,
bound by law to return
again and again.

Just me

and the waves

and a joker’s law.

[first posted 8 Aug. 2013]