Friday, 19 January 2018


 Thank you for your patience in waiting for this poem to unfold. I have been prompted to present it over three posts from the feedback I have received when I have read the entire poem.
Vainly I wanted the individual pieces of the poem to be considered for what they are.
This fifth [and final] part concerns the fallout from the event. Some people were, I have read, were committed for their own safety, having had some mental disturbance prompted by the effects of the solar flare.
I read of one young woman who had suffered some sort of breakdown and been committed to the local sanitarium. Apparently a young doctor had managed "to cure" her through conversation. I imagine some form of analysis before Freud.

Perceptive beyond the age in which he lived,
the doctor at the asylum simply talked with her,
and traced the misconceptions that had led to her commitment:
an overly religious childhood,
the phenomena occurring on a Sunday,
an obvious connection.

Her personal weight of guilt took longer to unravel,
but it was a common enough story:
the pressure of the over attentive lodger,
her chronic need to please,
a lonely Saturday before the phenomena.

He talked her back to a place in this world.
Phew! That's it. Hope it makes sense and that you enjoyed it.
Normal service will be resumed next post.
Until then here is the sublime Annabelle Chvostek. Annabelle how about a tour of England? Please?
Until next time.

Friday, 12 January 2018


This post is a continuation of the last post. 
I have been writing about the 1859 solar flare. It is sometimes known as the Carrington Event, after the astronomer who observed the sun flare.
Last post I shared the first two parts of the poem. Here are the next two. The first concerns those people in America [where the effects were experienced most acutely as it was night time]. The event took place on a Sunday and many people interpreted it from a religious perspective thinking it was the end of the world.
The second poem is more fanciful. I had read that the telegraph system was powered by the solar flare. Someone discovered that if the batteries were disconnected from the telegraphic equipment it would still work.
I wondered what if the Sun had wanted to speak to us and its words had been picked up by a telegraph operator and discarded.

Cut to midnight America:
Drawn out of doors
to stare at the false dawn light sky,
to wait for a miracle,
unsure if they really wanted one,
then going back to bed
the morning is Monday.

Apart from the worried ones,
the ones that drank in the park until it didn't matter any more.
The ones who woke at first light baptised in dew.

Beneath the power of the sun,
even the telegraph system went down
but there was this one operator,
having figured out the battery had to be disconnected,
that the solar storm would power the wire,
who listened to the letters chatter
as the key talked unaided.

He was a remorseful man and
the reproving words of love from the sun
amplified the burden he carried.
Halfway through the message he stopped writing,
tore the paper, put it in the waste bin.
No one ever knew.
I shall post the fifth part next time.
Here is more Arthur Lee and Love.

Until next time.

Friday, 5 January 2018


I've been working on a rather long poem for some time now. It came about after I read about The Great Solar Storm of 1859. I'd first heard of it in passing a number of years ago and when I came across a more detailed reference it led me to research the topic more thoroughly, which in turn led me to want to write about it.
There are a number of reasons why the storm is significant. It was the first time a solar flare had been observed and its effects charted. Also because of the telegraph the effects of the storm could be followed across the globe [specifically Europe and America]. It was a global event. Thirdly it was of such a magnitude that if it happened today we would be in trouble as it would knock out satellites and cause havoc with our electronic equipment.
Here are the first two sections of the poem:

The Solar Storm of 1859 in Five Acts

The sun had been alone since creation,
ignored by the local stars,
who outshone it, bigger, brighter, better.
Gotten above ourselves, the sun reflected,
only it never reflected, it blazed, it burned
it turned hydrogen to helium,
shouting its light to an indifferent galaxy.

And its children disappointed.
Some had rings, that was true,
and most had managed to have moons of their own,
but that third one, the almost binary,
seemed intent on throwing away
any advantages the Cinderella zone had bestowed.

So the sun flared and the sun spat,
a ball of plasma tumbling through space
and the earth took it square on the jaw.

At this point I invent an imaginary ancestor
to people a cottage in Cheadle,
to walk out that night and look up
at the shimmering green blanket
of the Northern Lights that far south.
I was after achieving different voices for each part of the poem. This is why the first section is light and I hope humorous. In the second section I wanted to show how far south the Northern Lights came due to the solar flare.
Once I started reading about the event I wanted to convey some of its magnitude to the reader.
The Cinderella Zone is  the distance from a sun that offers the best opportunities for life to evolve. The earth and its large moon could almost be a binary planet.
I leave you with Arthur Lee and the last incarnation of Love.
Superb stuff. Forever changes is one of my all time favourite lps. I think I'm on my third copy, having worn the other two out.
Until next time and the rest of this poem.

Saturday, 30 December 2017


A revised poem this post. thanks to Paul Mortimer for his observations on how the poem should look on the page. You can read the first draft here.


At first I thought you slept,
lost in the self-profiling bed,
amid the necessary machinery
that crowds your room these days.
Can't say how I knew,
something kinetic had gone,
slipped away in that last sigh,
the one I missed, stuck in traffic.

We wait for the duty nurse to sign you off.

Mourning begins,
as if everyday we had not wished you
to be at peace.
And now you are gone,
leaving the four of us
with our individual beliefs of what comes after.
I don't want to talk about the origins of this poem.
I do however want to thank all of you for visiting this blog since it began in May 2011. 
I looked at the stats the other day and was delighted to discover that over 500,000 people have visited the site since then.
Thank you all.
I leave you this week with Laura Marling singing Wild Fire.
Until next time.

Saturday, 23 December 2017


 A poem from my imagination this post. I was writing without reflecting. The aim being to fill two sides of paper with a stream of consciousness. The poem arose from this exercise.

Fast car, full stop,
rubber on the road.
Too late hands shake
as adrenalin kicks in,
and you are left with thoughts
of what might have been.

Elsewhere it happened.
There you are dealing with the consequences.
Further along the other way
there was no emergency stop,
no man in a red care telling you
to get your eyes tested and more besides.

You sense all of this,
just as fleetingly it is gone.
Slowly the chemicals in your bloodstream disperse.
If every poem is a unique work then this particular poem mines a familiar seam for me. I have been fascinated by the concept of a multiverse since I read about it in science fiction back in the 1960s.
I have been listening to Kathryn Williams this week. Her last record Greatest Hits, Songs From The Novel. Some friends had sent me a copy of Crown Electric and that had prompted me to buy the new lp when I was in Totnes recently.
Here she is with Laura Barnett taking about their collaboration.
Here she is singing Heart Shaped Stone.
Until next time.

Saturday, 16 December 2017


Today's poem arose out of a couple of lines in a Mountain Goats song:

Like someone who's found a small town to escape to
Keeps one eye on his abandoned, former self.

The song is Spent Gladiator 2.
I was thinking what it must be like to be that person. I immediately thought witness protection and it grew from that.

he walks around his car
eyes search for small changes
find none
he drives the dawn streets
to black coffee in a white mug
comforting warmth in chilled hands

this is the only habit he salvaged
from the car crash of his first life
when faced with that choice
he traded loyalty for freedom
and ponders the decision
every waking day and into each night
This is a work in progress. I was imagining you would have to change your habits completely to reduce the possibility of detection. I wondered if you would either be haunted by the deal you had to make or never think of it.
It seems appropriate to leave you with The Mountain Goats.
Until next time.

Friday, 8 December 2017


Strangely the "thousands of pounds", by which my MP claims her constituents are better off under the draconian austerity of the Conservative government, has to arrive at my house...
Keen readers will know of my love for Catalunya and the Iberian Peninsula in general. Here are some other Barcelona inspired poems
Today's poem [title-less yet again] mentions The Cafe Zurich, a well known meeting spot and place to watch the world go by.

I'm in the Café Zurich, under the famous clock,
through the windows Barcelona is a festival of brollies
beneath in the February sleet.
The constant rush hour of Plaça de Catalunya
is hardly dented by the fleeting winter weather.

In liminal spaces, the unacknowledged
sell cheap umbrellas to people racing time.
When I was last here in June
the trade was in fake handbags and sunglasses,
laid on a cloth that could be bundled up
if the Guarda Civil walked by.
Each season has its own crop.

You arrive, we kiss, and step outside,
just two stories among many.
As I am writing about Catalunya I have to comment on the high handed manner in which Madrid has dealt with the Catalans. I fear that if Catalunya gained independence they would be in the same limbo as the UK is over Brexit. But come on Madrid! You can't just lock up the whole of the elected government!
Here is Ana Brun from her new LP of covers.
Until next time.