Friday, 18 May 2018


A  couple of poems about the past. 
The first concerns a book I read in the early 1970's, that promised to be a guide to astral projection. Now you can find out the technique on Wiki How

Astral Projection

We pooled our resources,
bought the book together,
a common strategy in those days.
Whoever read it first,
tight lipped until the other
slowly reached the final page.
I want to say it was a primer,
that it opened my life fantastically,
but it did not.
Active dreaming could not be learnt from that book.

In Bali, several lifetimes later,
every night while I slept
I soared over Somerset fields.
That was the nearest ever I came.
This next poem was sparked while painting. An image of the white bands of paint that used to be painted on the main road in the factory where I used to work just popped into my head. 

Castner-Kelner Poem 2

There were these white lines of paint
on the main road inside the factory gates
where the company tested
its domestic paint range.
Every week, it was someone from the Labs job
to check how they fared
under the industrial traffic and tainted air.
That’s how it was back then,
a huge complex system that gave lives meaning.
Employment has coarsened over the years,
now zero-houred, I do not have that security.
We let it go too easy.
I do think we have lost job security since the 2008 Crisis. The gap between rich and poor is growing and social mobility is a thing of the past.
I leave you with Anna Ternheim Keep Me in the Dark.

Until next time.

Friday, 11 May 2018


I haven't got much to say about this post's poem save I began it at the start of this academic year and only managed to complete it last week. 
I had been thinking how when we are new to a job, house, city, everything looks new to us. We do not yet have the connections, the history of the place.

Of course the room had been sanitised:
floor swept; windows washed;
shelves dusted; desk polished bright.
It's all so shiny and new
to the man who,
one day each week
sits behind it.
Which just leaves the dust in my head,
the taste in my mouth
and the sequence of unoccupied spaces
that litter the university.
The new broom has swept so clean
that the students don't know what they have lost.

I am going through something of a Katherine Williams phase at the moment. here is Monday Morning.
Until next time.

Monday, 7 May 2018


Adrian Henri was one of those rare individuals who are gifted as a poet, painter and a visionary. He is forever entwined with Liverpool. Alongside Brian Patten and Roger McGough, he was featured in the best selling anthology The Mersey Sound. A collection that influenced me greatly when first published.
Here is Henri's group The Liverpool Scene with Winter Poem.
The good news is that the sublimely talented Lizzie Nunnery and Vidar Norheim have joined forces with Martin Smith and Martin Heslop to produce a diamond of a production Horny Handed Tons of Soil
Combining poetry, live music and story telling with film by Tony Brunsden, Horny Handed Tons of Soil is inspired by Henri's poetic response to the urban geography of Liverpool. It explores themes of destruction, construction and memory within stories of what has been lost and found, in the re-sculpting of the Liverpool landscape over the past fifty years.
If you are able to get to the Theatre Royal on the 7th June then go for it! This promises to be a wondrous evening.
Lizzie and Vidar are no strangers to this blog. I have seen most of their shows over the past ten years and they are always thought provoking, offering an intensely humanistic perspective that celebrates the everyday and some cracking songs!
What are you waiting for?
Here is Lizzie singing Ellan Vannin.
Until next time.

Friday, 4 May 2018


Vigilant readers of this blog will know that I recently moved house. This first poem is a found poem. When we were house hunting I made notes on my phone about each of the properties we looked at. I was trawling through the rough drafts of poems I occasionally scrawl on my phone, when I found the notes. Looked at in the cold light, many days later, I could see the outline of a poem.

Stone Parrot Close

a ten minute brisk walk from the shops.

combined kitchen and living area

two compact bedrooms.

on street parking

and the cars on the A-road sound like surf 

I have a habit of looking through the vinyl in charity [thrift/oppo] shops. The gleanings these days are not what they were. The growth in the popularity of vinyl, while welcomed, has reduced the number of finds and generally raised the prices to silly levels.
I always encounter at least one Johnny Mathis lp and usually another by the band leader James Last. There are always copies of Andrew Lloyd Webber's efforts, which speaks for itself...

Soundtrack for a Charity Shop

Johnny Mathis of course,
James Last is second,
as capitalism masquerading as culture manifests
in endless rows of cheap popular classics,
and more copies than you would want to imagine
of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem,
that I assume were only played the once.
Next an invitation somewhere I never want to go,
Fifty Top Tune Banjo Party!
It is raining outside,
I have no coat
but sodden clothing seems
somehow strangely appealing.

I can only shift through old vinyl for a short time these days, I think I must be getting old.
On the new vinyl front Anna Ternheim has a live recording out, The Winter Tapes that is splendid. It is beautifully recorded.
But as we brought in the May on Tuesday morning I shall end with the Watersons singing Hal-An-Tow.
Music doesn't get much better than this.
Until next time.

Friday, 27 April 2018


I  don't know why this poem has lingered in the shadows for as long as it has. I wrote it after going to Lisbon last year and it lay in the pages of a notebook for far too long. Always a good idea to check through notebooks on a weekly basis.


Once more
the water called to him
to renew their pact;
a life on the ocean,
beyond the horizon,
past the smudge of land and dust.

It was a repeating dream:
The Lisbon waterfront,
early in the dawn,
he walks to the cathedral,
gives thanks for his son’s birth
after the great earthquake.

If he does not heed the salt water’s song
he will not visit that city
until he is past thirty.
Catching first sight of the cathedral,
an echo, nothing more,
soon replaced by stone and mortar.

Few of us make the right choice.
I make reference to the Great Earthquake of 1755. At this moment in time I am not sure the poem needs it but I wanted to emphasise the idea of reincarnation. Though this may be served well enough in the first stanza.
The idea for the poem came from the notion that perhaps some contracts/relationships stretch over several life times.
Sadly I missed Brooke Sharkey on Saturday when she played Exeter. Here's a video as recompense.
Until next time.

Friday, 20 April 2018


A couple of poems I wrote in Australia while sitting on trams. 
I am an habitual people watcher and the discipline of writing what you see can lead to some interesting results. I tend to use reality as a starting point and let the words take me where they will.

Two Tram Poems

Surrounded by the familiar,
dashboard, rear view mirror,
a steering wheel to add percussion,
she waits to turn left in her little silver car.

She sings along to the sound system,
full volume,
full expression,
and with hand movements.

I’m on the tram, watching,
sat next to a man with a beard.
We are as far apart
as the limited space permits.

There is little chance we shall follow her example
and burst forth in two part harmony.

In a grip like a hydraulic car crusher
she breaks the book’s spine.
I can almost hear the words plead for mercy,
then count the seconds between
her hand slapping the pages over,
each devoured in seconds.
Does she speed read?
Is this how she approaches life
as a thing to be subdued?
She dog ears the page,
exits the tram,
to take her place in the arena.
I don't have much to say about either poem. They are flights of fancy whilst sitting on the tram. 
Since my return I have been working on a number of ideas that I jotted down when away. Watch this space.
Here's some more Anna Ternheim.
And here's Holding On. The video is notable for the gawking, laughing people in the background.
Until next time.

Friday, 13 April 2018


I  have been travelling for the past month in Australia. More on that in later posts. Here is a poem about cosmology and dysfunctional people. 

Split seconds after that Big Bang,
it all flew apart,
glad to be free from the nose to toe compression,
in that constricting cosmic egg of everything,
pushing the envelope ever outwards,
Red Shift in its wake.

This my radio tells me, explaining the science of creation
so that even the likes of me can grasp the magnitude of the event.

Then we are on to possible parallel universes.
Either the infinite yo-yoing of matter,
that creates one universe after another,
or fast/slow bubbles,
each a meta-galaxy replete with its own physical laws.

Some people live their whole lives in such places.
I know this for a fact as I was once a tourist,
spent four years in such a reality.
It was easy enough to cross over,
even though there were no guide books.
I had more difficulty getting back
but managed it in the end.

In my ear the cosmologists
continue to debate,
who’s right and why,
it doesn’t matter to you,
burdened, as you are,
by things you can never let go of.
I only discovered on my return that Tom Rapp had died. Tom who? You might not know the name but for me in the middle to late 70's he was a life saver. 
I have talked before about Pearls Before Swine and their 60's masterpiece Balaclava, but there was more to Tom Rapp than this lp. 
Tom had founded PBS back in 1966 and made 2 lps for the ESP label. He received no financial remuneration for either record. He went on to produce a further 4 for Reprise. Among these gems was The Use of Ashes, one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear. The City of Gold lp was a revelation to me, so beautiful, fragile and offering another worldly view of life. Needless to say I acquired my copies of these lps from bargain bins in the mid 70's. 
The first music I heard by Tom was from his first solo album Stardancer, I think it is still one of my favourite lps. 
I do not want to recite the facts of his life, you can read those anywhere, all of the links in this blog will take you to better written articles than this.
I however want to thank Tom Rapp for his songs and recordings. He brought illumination into my life and I give thanks for that.
This is Another Time, a song about reincarnation.
This is The Jeweller.
For The Dead In Space.
Prayers of Action. OK, this might be a tad over produced but it's still an amazing song.
Oh children don't you weep if the road is long, all of us are prayers of action, on our way to God...