in so many words

consider the geography of your utterance
its highlands – valleys – plateaus
its backways tracks and roads
then you will have traveled a good way in a day
and know where the line-breaks go

I was taught poetry by a map-maker
a walker
a man of the lakes and fells

this is what he tried to tell me
in so many words

a poem or two

my days are too dense
like dumplings with no stew
and when this occurs 
I don’t know what to do
but call the doctor
and the ambulance crew

too dense they say 
that’s the trouble with you
go write a poem –
a poem or two

articles of faith

the monastery on the hillside there
was established in the twelfth century
it was used as a detention centre
by the nazis during the occupation
was turned into a casino after the war
and is now a psychiatric institution

actually I made all that up
except for the latter
trust me – I’m a poet
I employ colourful matter
to establish a truth
or at least a particle

indefinite article

a poet must concern himself
with everything and all
from the nature of the soul
to hell’s darkest hole
and he must take risks
soothe troubled minds
and not just his
but all mankind’s
and that is the truth
more than a particle

definite article

shall we talk about the sea now
you and me

or shall we talk about the sky now
you and I

no smoking on the coach please

[first posted 4/6/2015]

only don’t ask me

the unlocatable sorrows of the heart
cannot be mapped
but may be glimpsed through art –
in colours that in striking ways combine
in music or words that mysteriously
lilt or chime

in no sense do these explicitly impart
significance but make you start
feel elevated – touch – jar
the unlocatable sorrows of the heart

else ask the wind the fire the sea
only don’t ask me

The Consolations of Art

On the consolations of art,
I shall not start
but lay me down in meadow grass
to watch the sunlight pass
along a spider thread.

And if the birds fall from the air
just at my stare,
I should not care
but let the world be aware
to treat me warily.

And if the family
at picnic in the field
think ill of me,
let me finally impart
that the consolations of art,
though considerable,
are not enough for love,
not by a half.

the experienced walker

the experienced walker
walks about the town
dressed in waterproof trousers
his face set in a frown
expecting foul weather
when all around is fine
the experienced walker
has one thing on his mind

the experienced walker
always walks alone
weighing vowels and consonants
on his evening stroll
the pavement is his sounding board
between the shops and home
the experienced walker
never walks alone


the child went to the mother
for comfort
and was handed a glass vessel

glass has many qualities
the most obvious being transparency

the sea around the little bay
is translucent and calm this evening

everything in this world deceives
especially love

true love is transparent

like a poem

no joyful music

if there are a thousand ways
to hold back time
one would be to journey
down some unknown railway line
and by the winking
of a cheap hotel sign
slip into the forests
of the night

let the night take you
where there is no need for time
or for anything at all
till comes a dripping dawn
devoid of chorus

no joyful music then
to mark the day –
not that it would be
wanted anyway