Thursday 27 November 2014


The scene is desolate: skeletal trees
shiver in icy breezes, their naked branches
clutching at ancient gravestones
as if to gather the dust beneath
and resurrect it once more
into sentient life. The lingering anguish

of men long forgotten leaches
into the blood-red smiles of poppies
dutifully laid at the heads of the fallen.

And your restlessness breaches the frozen earth
to fill my heart with intense, all-absorbing compassion.
I am pulled out of time. Clouds obscure the sun.

In the misty grey gloaming, eyes strain
to trace the faintest outline of a man:
slender, caked in reddened mud. His eyes,
wild with terror, momentarily meet mine.
Oh how you learned historians have erred:
the Battle of the Somme still rages on...

Friday 21 November 2014


Of medieval crumbling stone,
your dreamy tower
rises out of reflections
of another world:
bewitching as an escapade
into childhood's exquisite fairyland.

Dancing on chilly winds
autumn's falling leaves,
yellow-gold: a testimony
to nature's endless cycle
of birth-death-rebirth,
enduring - like you.

Marbled afternoon sky.
Shadows lengthening inch-by-inch,
mirrored in leaded windows
out of which peer
the insubstantial faces of ghosts
of those who lived here once...and never left.

Thursday 13 November 2014


Cernunnus awakening divine discontent:
these winter blues are weighing me down
and I long to leave it all behind -
ticking clocks and concrete prisons.
Even woodland path is no longer enough.
Then gazing up into the sky,
there's a graceful figure flying high
who's calling me...

come join me in my aerobatics:
play hide-and-seek with swirling clouds,
mind-to-mind, wing-to-hand.
Oh such freedom!
The Buzzard and the Astral Traveller
above the treetops, under the sun;
soaring,'s just an intent away...

I'm rushing at speed like a rocket,
now gliding on thermals, my body changing shape.
My home is a dot on a distant map
that means nothing now I've gone.
Heights are no longer shrouded in fear,
and my appetite is turning queer:
chocolate bars have lost appeal, yet
at the sight of a vole I salivate.
But I'm no longer sure this life's for me
and I want to be back with my own kind.
Oh I think it's too late:
my hands are feathered, my toes clawed,
and I don't know how to get down...


Friday 7 November 2014


Dedicated to all those who fought in the Battle of Britain...

August 24th, 1943

Leaving the hangar.
Counting the number of footsteps to my plane,
while buttoning combat jacket and pulling on helmet and gloves
like an actor donning costume,
getting into character.
The mask is always last to go on -
a serious superstition of mine
since my first successful dogfight.
Putting it on now,
I visualise myself surrounded
by heavy, impenetrable armour.

Steel grey clouds gather ominously above.
Swirling, constantly re-forming.
Shafts of sun break through here and there:
golden, full of dancing thistle seeds.
A jet black crow
glides through the moisture-laden air.
Scanning the earth from it's elevated vantage point,
it's wings create a seeded vortex
of displaced sunlight in the up draft.

Each scramble to action begins
with the first glimpse of the Hurricane...
proud eyes trace it's aerodynamic lines
to the end of the tail,
finally coming to rest on the roundel
emblazoned on it's side.
Pause and take deep breaths.
Banish fears and negative thoughts.
Leave lost comrades faces on the grass
when you climb inside
the claustrophobic cockpit
because, then should you be fortunate enough to return,
it's easier. You feel less guilt
for still living - the sky's no place
to keep company with dead men.

Strapping yourself in.
The engine roars to life.
You recite a silent prayer as you gaze
into the eyes of your wife in her silver frame.
Speeding down the runway. Each tree,
each stationary plane disappearing
into the rivers of air rushing by.

Then you're finally airborne.
You slice into the whiteness of the cloud
like a knife into butter,
and you're isolated, momentarily disoriented:
"What am I doing here in this nomansland?" you ask
out loud, in an attempt to quell
the now familiar rush of nerves.

Never relax until your job is done.
Only slipped up once these last three years:
a day of thunder storms,
a strong south-westerly wind.
I'd just taken out a Messerschmidt,
banked to the left -
then caught site of another
hard on my tail, spewing fire like some demented dragon...

and I thought I saw God's hand
reach out of the lightening.
How my plane shook in that Almighty grasp.
It would have been all too easy
to just lie back and allow myself to be spirited away
from the dreadful burden of guilt
I have to live with:
killing my fellow man never did come easy.

A drunken conscientious objector once accused me
of being no better than Adolf - of being
no less the mass murderer than he.
Reminded me of a picture I'd seen
in my father's illustrated Bible - of Armageddon
and the demons that descended from the skies,
bringing down flames and destruction upon mankind.
That bugger was prodding me with a nicotine-stained finger
and shouting in my face, his foul breath sickening me...
until my fist laid him out on the beer stained floor.

I'm quiet as a rule - unless, as you see, I'm provoked.
Like my own company most of the time.
Well, I'm used to it, doing what I do.
At Christmas I like a beer or two
while sprawled out on the back of my silver bird
and singing derogatory songs about the SS;
the stars lighting up the sky and crystals of frost
forming in my moustache.
Oh yes, I'm pretty relaxed and at ease then.

Girls seem to like me,
much more than their squaddie boyfriends
with all their camaraderie and wildly exaggerated tales
of bravery in the field.
Instead, they want the man they see
descending from the watery sun: freedom's fearless avenger
returning to earth, having preserved their future security.
How they clamour to touch this Dare Devil -
as if to absorb his essence through their fingertips
and etch it into ancestral memory for great-grandchildren:
"I knew a fighter pilot once, you know!"

At times, when I'm up here
suspended between Heaven and Earth,
I think of all those opportunities to be unfaithful to my wife.
But I love her like my own Soul,
see her face in the rolling clouds,
hear her voice in the engine's white noise...

just as I hear it now,
when she has somehow managed to materialise into my cockpit
and is pulling my mask off to kiss my lips...

Oh God!
I am suffocating in an explosion
of the blinding red flames of ecstasy...