My attempt at writing poetry (inspired by my mother’s example), falls into the category
of free verse, whilst being conscious of the need for some kind of form to express
personal feelings, thoughts, concisely, with the help of similes, metaphors (of course).

Apart from content, my chosen form is based on one or more of the following: occasional
rhyme, internal rhyme, rhythm, repetition, word play; a definite syllable structure
(usually a haiku).


Haiku: Japanese verse form in three lines of five, seven and five syllables. This strict form appeals
to me greatly. Traditional haikus are poems with a nature setting, but they also function at a deeper
level, as a metaphor; i.e. they fuse a real object with an idea; e.g. a floating petal, the sound of
a frog jumping into a pond, can function as a metaphor, such as the need for solitude or loneliness;
fleeting beauty and the transience of existence. Modern, western haikus extend the form to
wider issues. This is an interesting challenge for me.


Nature Haikus

With Thanks to Robert Browning

‘That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,/ Lest you should think he never could recapture/ that first fine careless rapture!’

Thrush, sing your song twice
You don’t know it, but you can
recapture beauty!


Hot lava flows red
Soon slows on the lower slopes
Cold, hard, still and black


Below Uluru’s
long dark shadow creeps across
the vast red desert


Seen from mountain hut:
Golden moon sails on still lake
Indelible scene





(Three Series)

Your’e Wrong Gabriel Garcia Marquez!

Marquez says after
love departs sex can become
‘a consolation’


Without love it’s true
sex is a consolation
Food is also good!


‘Fall in love with love’?
Firstly you have to feel it
to find love at all


Desire you can have
without love. But can you have
love without desire?


Judge me: The kind of
desire to which I aspire
is the same as LOVE!


You love me back in
the same way and the deeper
I’m in love with you


Carnal Love springs from
the heart, not just the body
Well said Lord Nelson!



After Hearing a Nasty Wagner Quote

Same as a cat. Stroke
him, he purrs. Hurt him, he’ ll
scratch. This pain he hates


Can two corrosive
egos exchange burnt offerings
for friendship and love?


This candle almost
extinguished. Smother it now
or give it new life?


If I can’t find love
maybe it is just  because
I am not worthy?



Love and Melancholy

Inside my Russian
doll are more Russian dolls and
words of love for you


I walk alone in
the dark forest. But in my
thoughts you are with me


Melancholy you
survive. It sharpens the mind
Give thanks, I’m alive!


The gods are sick now
But maybe they never were
Love is all there is




To Authenticity

Dear deodorant
Frankly your fragrance smells so

March, 2011



Your Image: First Impression

Of all the legends
Fair hair enfolds shapely breast
Lady Godiva!



Rude Awakening!

Caw! cries wily crow
Awake now. My dream is lost
Stupid pigeon coos!




I’m a baby albatross
waiting to be fed!



‘Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts’

Shift Virgil's adage:
Beware of women bearing
gifts - i.e. themselves



Commodity Fetishism

Makes things seem alive
but turns us into mere things
We’re dehumanised!



Callous cash-nexus
No money, no honey! No!
We aren’t really free

May, 2012



Je t’ adore

Fate smiled this one time
Greta Garbo incarnate
Queen Christina mine?




My well of feelings
suddenly empty. Although
More tears will fill it




Snow Drop by Snail Mail!
[For Angela]

Spring’s return is near
Reason to be cheerful. Here’s
a tangible thing!





Unrequited love
Masochism spells defeat
Retreat required




Written after a wonderful sunday lunch, good conversation, followed by watching the film, ‘Les Amants’ together

To Love!

Oh! Unrequited
love is best - lest spoilt by that
old jester, eros





You Made my Monday

Raised myself, feeling feeble and blue
Ate a cereal breakfast, nothing new
No Alex to feed. Asleep in whose room?

Time rushes by; run to catch the bus
Seconds to wash my face, tie my laces, just
Stumbled downstairs - my heart begins to rush
For there was a card for me from YOU, not True?

Realisation, what a sensation, I forgot my ‘flu
Your words are beautiful , like a rose in bloom
I miss you darling, yet I feel  calm and sure
No one has loved me like you before



Eight Observations for a Disappointed Love Affair

Love decays, though in just one day
my love can’t be torn away

(with apologies to Byron)

Bad as you are, you can’t help yourself
Anymore than I can. You’re a tease
But  Jeez, it makes me sad all the same3
She speaks: ‘Yes I want to see you
but I’m busy for the next two weeks!’

Bait me like a fish is sick because
you know I’m a sensitive mate

Loathe men too much and
you might just kick yourself into touch

Remember pride before a fall
No exceptions, it happens to us all

Time I stopped this silly power game
and cut your emotional power line
Aim to exchange love for love
says Marx - who’s wiser than Cain




Love Poem for Liz

With you I ascended from hell
to just this side of heaven

We are two kindred souls
But as the playwright said
‘Nature unites men, politics divides them’
May mother Nature win this time!
You:  bereaved, also  starved
of true love
Me: victim of a tormented soul’s
helpless cruelty. Yet
You and I say no regrets. Ce sera sera!
I will remember always
My  own  La Lectrice  reading
The English Patient to me.
Your soft beautiful neck, a pillow
for my rough wrinkled face
Your funny squeaky voice I love, and
of course, your smooth naked  body
under the loose robe
Yield to my gentle caresses; dulce far niente!
You lying snug, with me in a missionary position
Legs languidly parting, though
your heart is beating wildly
You kissing my dry hungry mouth
in the morning
Your wet black hair on your
pure white neck. English girl with
your smiling face and rosy cheeks
Generous to a fault, I hope
Vanquish mourning!
The first step is the hardest

With you I ascended from hell
to just this side of heaven

Heaven is waiting




Apres another chance meeting with RH:

One Year On: Lust Versus Tease

Would you
kindly avoid actions which are risible
(at my expense)
A furtive wave and flickering smile
Setting up telephone calls
is not enough -
especially when I’m feeling rough
Raced home and waited for your call
To no avail, of course

But who knows, you might be feeling
Memory rekindles desire
Keep the flame alive
Just a flicker now. Yet
it could blaze right up again
easily; but don’t  tease
me all over again,
And please, please refrain
from phoning me with that
‘We must meet up’ crap
Then drag your feet again
Sultry beauty, une luxe de volupte
You stimulate the sap
in this old tree  
Yes call me up today
But you must play fair. Is that OK?
Could you?



Two Poems BY Julie:

The Romantic

Between Tsumeb and Etoshapan I met him in London
the romantic
for whom the beauty of death awaits
Was it a lostness of soul that he spelt with K A R L   MA R X
his saviour
or S E L F  M A D E   M A N
wishing he had arrived
(as the blessed Messiah averting Armageddon)
knowing that man in his humanity failed
as he did?
For the world will end
with a whimper
despite the bang


Daisy Chain

a daisy chain we made of it
anklet or wrist would suit
and it suited you just fine
though you never had one before
and maybe  never again would
it was a moment
the train had stopped
platform 3
London to Plymouth
Paddington bear
on the lawn
outside the human sciences library
having a picnic
dining and laughing spreading politics
knowing more than yesterday
and a little of tomorrow
except that trees talk
harbours smell
and daisy chains grow from nowhere

would you keep my daisy chain?
would you find another
at a different stop along the line?

April 2003



Two Poems FOR Julie

On Being Laconic

(After hearing Terence Rattigan’s play, ‘Bequest to the Nation) on the radio)

You see
To be exact
Either it comes naturally or
it’s an ‘attitude’
(as Emma Hamilton would say).
She, of course,
shamelessly ‘whored’ her way into the
realm of the great and the good
(Though she was the opposite of laconic -
She came in the fullness of plenitude
T’was  her way
Embarrassed the great Lord Nelson
That flawed hero of Trafalgar).

You didn’t  labour over your reply
Yet I’m pleased to know that you respect
my ‘interesting email’
(Which, of course, is what I intended)
But is it too much
in terms of pride
(such a delicate thing)
to be more forthcoming?
I would prefer a warm friend to
an intimate stranger
It was pride not God or Godlessness
That made you run
just when we were having fun
(About to begin a journey?)

Today I’m trying to be laconic too
Though I’ll say a few things more
(as is my way)
In answer to your question
How very mundane  -
quite prosaic actually
(Strange that, since you call yourself a poet)
Assuming you aren’t too bored
to hear my answer:
No! I don’t work for an agency and -
Yes! I have a bigger flat
But does it really matter?

Lord Nelson’s view:
When they asked the great man:
‘Why do you love that vulgar woman ?
She has made you the laughing stock of the nation!
He answered softly, sincerely:
‘Carnal love comes from the heart as well as the body!’ She gave me the nectar of love.’
(Not bad for the son of a rector!)
Though he was also vain
Wore those sparkling medals on his chest
in the heat of battle
An easy target for a French sniper
This is how he died
They sent him home in a barrel of rum
That’s no fun either!
(I mean for his crew!)

Take a leaf out of Nelson’s book
You see he could be humble too.
A man of aplomb in life
Not just on dangerous seas
But what about you and me?
I’m still in thrall to you
Why not  say au revoir
Means  there’s more to come
Or is it adieu?
Mon Dieu!





What is heaven?
For you it’s the promise of ‘eternal life’
Why can’t we be good, despite the strife
just for you, me and humanity’s sake
Thought I was taking you to church
(A favour this atheist is happy to make!)
Au revoir  we said or is it Adieu?
Feel like I’ve been left in the proverbial lurch
You didn’t have the courage to say, it’s done
Is this what you really want ‘my’ pretty one?
That would suggest I mean nothing to you
My heart is broken and I feel quite lost
When I die, mark my grave without a cross
Yet you said, ‘I just want to be your friend’
So why not meet again or is this the end?
We’ll discuss your latest sprung rhymes.
Sip your half of lager. Take your time
Smile wantonly with your pale blue eyes
I’ll say ‘You’re beautiful’ and you’ll laugh
Then it’s Au revoir until we  meet again
You know I’ll even pick you up from church
Anywhere, anytime, because I long to see
your sweet smile on my pillow next to mine.
This is heaven!




Weather Report
[For Mira]

How is the weather in Paris?
Has my sun sunk
in your firmament?
for the moment, or for ever?
I am warm sunshine
as well as a gust of wind
especially if the weather
report from Paris is

See and Believe!




Holy Grail

Truly this is
the greatest aphrodisiac
of them all:
A love which transcends sex
without superseding it:
The Holy Grail






I cling to the past with
nostalgia and
emotion, because
of whom and what
I leave behind
What will the future
Remind myself
Before I start:
The future’s
mine to be made
(at least in part!)




Judith (Je Regret)

I wanted you for my  muse

the closer
I got to you
the less there was
Heart and soul
gone awol

I thought
that you loved
me just a little

I just ignored the clues!



Outsider (For Mick)

For shame!
You’re hurt when I say
‘Love isn’t part of your vocabulary’
Followed up by
‘She’s an emotional retard
an emotional wrecking ball’
For fear I start accusing you of
the same
I can see it in your eyes
But I say you aren’t
like her
You  suppress it all
But you  have positive
emotions too
They’re buried deep inside of you
How to forget that OTHER woman
She who hurt YOU. Yet
you weep listening to Winterreise
For humanity’s sake - those who
cannot feel. You
Know what lies deep inside of you
No shame

It seems nothing is suppressed
deep inside of J
No heart and soul
Just a withered heart. She cries only
in anger
There’s no contrition
Texted during
the Rothco exhibition
You told me that
Is that a fact? Not you.
Like Schubert, you may say
‘I feel like a stranger
wherever I go’
And so do  I . But
you’re not  Camus’ outsider,
L’ etranger either
as she seems to be
I mean
Outside humanity
No empathy
For shame!

2008 (Revised)



Moving On?

I say
moving on is hard to do
after a while it gets to you
Try to kid myself otherwise
I’ve learnt nothing yet
Even tried  une amour fou
kidded myself: ‘free at last, free at last’
I stand before the gates of paradise
Lies, lies, damned lies!
None of this is any help. Blast!
Fewer hairs on my old grey head
Read about The Lives of Others
Desolation there
No consolation
More isolated than before
‘Make your own life son -
in the new world’. That’s what I said
But I can’t shake off the old one
Memories are made of this.
Yet when all’s said and done
It’s better than being dead
I said

2009 (Revised)



Two Poems about the Senses

Alphabetical Senses

Hear See Smell Taste Touch
Savour Sniff Look  Listen Feel!


Sense and Sensibility

is not sufficient:
Five senses wasted
unless we’re able  to
think and reflect on experience
as well as ‘the best that has ever
been thought and said’,
albeit we have
to make the most of our right
to a full and rounded



To Charlie

Dear Charlie
what a charlie I am
To think I made an offer
To give you  away to a lady
I must be going crazy
You should scratch me - again
Perhaps I should shoot myself?
Hell! Its no alley cat she wants
But a proper AR-ISTO-CAT
with every spot in place
He’s a snow leopard, albeit rather small
After all, she’s a lady of taste
It’s my inconstancy, you see
Says a lot about me - and you
What a lap-cat you are
At home and away
We deserve each other!




Seven Days on Canna

(In memory of Kieron)

Raining again
when we sailed from Mallaig
But on Canna the sun is shining
Riding on a thermal above Compass Hill
Birds of prey and in the distance still
Between the blue and purple heather
The  lambs may safely graze
But come our tramping feet
The bemused creatures stand  and stare
Until one starts to run, its a panic signal
We’ve been seen. So they scatter
Scores of rabbits are also amazed
White tails bobbing away
Like ping-pong balls they scamper
In gullies and under the steepest cliffs
Lie the skeletons of fallen sheep
Eagles pecked their bones clean
Long walks across hilltops between peaks
On Thursday the rain fell like sleet
Anton and I stayed at ‘home’
Beside the open fire to read and sleep
Friday the sun returns and the air is clear
And bright. By the sea we walk. Gulls
Wheel, screech and cry high above
Whilst far below ten fat seals
Basking on a black rock in the cove
From afar we hear their baleful cries
As we  arrive, they move with ungainly gait
One-by-one they splash into the sheltering tide
As we sing ‘Lloyd George knew my father’
Curious they swim and plunge, draw close
These strange sea-dogs with nostrils quivering
Eyes staring like large dark raisons
As they tread water in the cold, translucent sea

Homeward bound, dark Rum dents the blue sky

Two grey herons heave up from the bay
Onwards we stumble towards Tighard
Around the fire we sit and sigh
This good day dissolves gently into night
No booze yet we’re quite all right?
Waiting for the late stragglers:
Mac and Kieron




Poem for Judith
[Apres writing my ‘confessional’ novella!]


Contrary to what you allege
Words do matter
Albeit  hard written ones
Not those easily said

Was it a ‘crime’
when I assigned
all my demons -
and those of others -
to divers words
written on the page?

Exorcise the vile
Leave no trace
One day in the
fullness of time
we’ll all be vapour

No one is exonerated

It was therapy for
the trauma of Fort William,
and, subsequently,
a literary quest,
as in 'Herzog',
That man Bellow
What a fellow!

There’s a difference
between cruel words
written and those uttered:
The latter disappear
into the ether, easier
for YOU to forget?

Yet they were said all the same

Are we not
our brother’s keeper
(and sister’s too)
One way or another
The Truth works
in mysterious ways
Ours to ponder -
a better way to ‘see ourselves
as others see us’,
words in black and white
with a life of their own
for you, he, me

Words do matter
Albeit  hard written ones
Not those  easily said
Contrary to what you allege

(Precedents:  Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road', 1957; Pinter’s 1978 play, ‘Betrayal’, based on his affair with Joan Bakewell; Woody Allen’s  movie, ‘Manhatten’ ,1979.)




(A poem based on a line of just four syllables)

No one says or does anything from one pure motive:

Apropos me
Just where does the
divide between
Doctor Jekyll/
Mr Hyde lie?
Finds expression
as love and hate
Slip from one
to the other
blink of an eye
Triggered by the
twixt the ideal
and the real world
My hopes dashed now
Old friend, lover -
All’s  said and done
You don’t have the
Empathy too
Can’t say ‘sorry’
No forgiveness
when it is due
or compassion

The opposite
in every case!
You lack this grace
There is only
cold emptiness:
I feel deep hurt
This pain I hate!
It just brings out
the worst in me
blink of the eye
the good Doctor
Jekyll becomes
bad Mr Hyde

Yet in the best
of worlds the
good doctor is
my real default
position. Yes!

(Revised) 2014



Sexual Chemistry (Remembered still!)

When I met Isabel
for the first time
all those years ago
I thought: She’s like
a little old lady
My ardour banished
before we begin
Don’t get caught -
Then she kissed me
It was - well - sublime!
The moral herein:
You never can tell



For  Online Angela

Remember nothing is what it seems
unless we experience it directly
Body and soul
Though the spirit requires more time:
To discover. Is it dead or alive?
Withered or frozen?
Try some human warmth just in case
But first we must meet in the flesh
Don’t hide behind your computer screen





(Written whilst unpacking my stuff

Remembrance of
lost happiness
Always fleeting, fleeing
To love - knowing you’re loved back
Being worthy of this
Is the only true happiness
The illusiveness of love
There’s also the knowledge
0f the irretrievable past
'The sadness of time passing'


First thoughts for 2013:

Those who have egos
instead of souls
can’t say ‘sorry’
or forgive

Up against
the dead souls
I’m a man
who’s struggling
to be human


The Stoic

Inspired by Fowler in  Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American’: ‘I left her too.’ ‘Why?’
‘I couldn’t bear uncertainty....I ran towards the finish....I wanted to get death over.’  He reminds me of my old friend, Mick.

No longer the
‘cocky stoic’
he once was
Younger then.
Dumps his friends
(Not one but two!)
Loved ones too?
Before they do.
Sedate the heart
Get a head start
'Une petite mort’
Dress rehearsal
for the real thing
Nice new shoes
Tailor-made suit
‘They’ll see me out’
he said



For S.

Apres the ‘Critique’ Conference

Out of respect comrade.

You’re sure to be shocked
by an intimate card
from a man crocked
by age. (Not quite yet,
so that’s all right!)
He’s a sage, inured by
your gaze:
You even looked behind
to see if I was looking!
Beautiful dark eyes
Desire doesn’t die.
The question is: What next?
Would you send me a text?
What would it contain?
Disdain or acclaim?
If you answer,
appalled or enthralled.
Oh yes, that’s nice or
Thanks but no thanks’
for your kind offer.
Best to say something
than not answer at all.

Out of respect comrade.

Humiliation is a small price to pay for a chance of happiness! But silence? In that case comrade, you’re like the schoolgirl who flirts just for fun.



Since there is no hereafter and most of us will be forgotten soon enough, the only way to die happy is to know that someone loves you and that you deserved their love. (Apres seeing Jane Campion’s film, ‘Portrait of a Lady’, based on the novel by Henry James.)