Friday 31 August 2018


You were a diminutive form among the sprawling ferns
between Peggy's house and the tennis courts
that aren't there now, all aglow with puppy love.

The Down has altered drastically: our woods replaced by houses
and Wilson's store is now a private dwelling. Painful nostalgia
yanks me back to '69, with exquisite delusions

of being thirteen again and us being together
and carefree: me choking on a stolen cigarette
while you fumble in vain with the catch on my bra.

Oh how grown-up we felt then, our adventure just beginning.
Hard smack back to earth. Reality check:
a drugs overdose claimed your life in spring nineteen-eighty.

But in my inner Headley, you've never really left me. We
are still together. The old houses and dirt roads
surround us like a comforting blanket

wrapped around us in childhood: that precious,
precious sense of safety and nurture
that prompts joyous laughter on sunny days,

while idling on Ludshott Common and watching
the bees collecting pollen, as we peruse our joint future:
our wedding, a home, four children...

aah, such rapturous pipedreams!

Saturday 25 August 2018

6 a.m. on DINAS EMRYS

Something is moving in the bracken,
it's presence is betrayed by a rustling
in the dew-drenched ferns nearby.

You can see for miles from here,
majestic sunrise and silver river winding through the valley.
The mountains of Snowdonia

reach up into a boundless sky
enshrouded in morning mist, and the magic
of myth and legend emanates

from the very ground beneath your feet.
Half-disbelieving, did you really just see
Merlin emerge from that hawthorn tree?

Saturday 18 August 2018


Oh go on then - be a sacrifice,
throw your life away on your futile cause!
But first, let the hypocrisy go:
burn your Bible...
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill.
Catholic Angels must be covering their eyes.

Following blindly in Father's footsteps:
ah, such bitter contempt for Protestant mores
and flouting the other Commandments nine -
for what are these
if not deliberate concoctions to keep you subdued?
Oh never underestimate enemy tactics.

Disregard the Holy Days next, and kill the Vicars
in cold blood beside the British soldiers
who came here to steal your territory.
You see only red...
the fury, the blood running in rivers
that carve up the heart of your beloved Belfast.

Blow the pubs to smithereens.
Shoot them all in their own homes.
How does it feel to wield such power -
to be able to choose who lives and who dies?
But what do you think you're teaching your children?
Only yesterday, little Johnny lost a hand while making a bomb.

Now graveyards overflow with the innocent dead
who meant you no harm, only got in the way
of your frenzied fanatical doctrine.
And then distorted perceptions of nationalism
became an obsession that turned within
to create a this vengeful Angel of Death.

In the burning wreck of a fire-bombed car
lurk shocking images of the holocaust.
Oh what's it all for -
this hatred, this bloodshed born of intolerance?
You're human, for God's sake.
We all are.
So let's work together to end these troubles.
It's within our power.

Oh please,  please...? 

Lines written in 1974, after I narrowly escaped being blown to bits in the Guildford pub bombings.

Thursday 9 August 2018


Summer oaks dressed in vibrant green.
In their meadow of wild poppies, these trees
could be Van Gogh creations:
beauty composed of Nature's own hues,
a series of exquisite masterpieces.

They have no capacity for greed or hate -
unlike the ego of man,
and they live in harmony with all Creation:
filtering the air and generating oxygen
so we can live and thrive.

These beings are noble, utterly vital,
so where is our reciprocal respect?
What do we do but cut them down
just because they block our view...
the earth's lungs carelessly excised.

we'll all be extinct.

Saturday 4 August 2018


Trespassing beyond the barrier
in a stately home. I'd long been hankering
to touch, to experience the savoir vivre
of life for the privileged few.

A solid oak door before me.
It's four snarling lion head carvings,
with their spiteful-looking elongated fangs,
seemed to issue a dire warning to the uninvited.

So did I take heed? Red rag to proverbial bull!
Sudden rush of childlike audacity. I gripped the handle,
while convincing myself of a clear conscience. Well,
I had parted with a small fortune for the entry ticket, hadn't I?

The door creaked open and I was enveloped in the sweet fragrance of pot-pourri,
while exquisite objets d'art and intricate tapestries delighted the eye.
I argued that these hidden treasures my phone was recording
would be a wondrous revelation for all my fellow commoners.

However, the eyes that stared out of old portraits on the walls
were distinctly hostile at this unauthorized intrusion
into their descendants' lives. Approaching footsteps,
quick and light, from the other side of far door.

Then two girls burst in, engrossed in their hushed conversation.
They half-danced, half-skipped across the room
in their pink and cerise silk dresses, giggling
and discussing a foreign Prince they'd danced with the night before.

Fortunately, they failed to notice the interloper concealed among the marble statues,
where she stood stock-still in sheer terror of discovery.
Rooted to the spot and with pounding heart, I hardly dared breathe.
By the time they left, I practically collapsed with relief.

I honestly can't remember how I escaped from that room.
But I still wince at the memory of how unwelcome and inferior I felt
amid such opulence. It was as if I'd strayed into another world...
a lot like living on Mars.