A selection of poems written over the past few years – with a few notes, here and there, about how they came to be written, what I was struggling to convey …


Signs of spring
     like a sailor
     over grass

old grey fox
     cocking his leg
     sodden leaves

     orange against
dark earth

dull grey mantle
     of cloud
hardly moving

even now     on this
     cold morning
buds on the old English
     rose     fat
          as yeomen
stretch and poke
     first green fingers
          of Spring
on its way

Summer afternoon

     under oaks
damp grass lolling

baked clay pans
     where cattle
          stamped and flicked
- flies worrying eyes
     and ears

buttercups shiver
- a pauper’s breath
     tipping yellow to
          silver cold

at river’s skin
     a heron prods
as if to nudge
     a fish to life

There is a rhythm to walking that gives muscle to the words as they come to mind and images just emerge like beads threaded on to the line of the walk. The small white church of San Rocco stands high on a rocky bluff beside the sea – it is a popular place, magical, even with lots of people coming and going ….

Pembroke walk

          on burnt scrub
leaning          leaning
scuffed by heel
     on pocked trail

stonechat calls 
     from granite nob
          as if lowering sky
pulls it out of him

crusted gate
     scabbed latch
finger-lift to open

twist of boot
     on glistening

look back at dark hill

wonder at such wonders

song of stone
     elegy of burning
drift of eyes
     to silver cloud

Pilgrims at Camogli

even now they ascend
     hundreds of steps
          like sparrows chirping
until at San Rocco
     they stand outside
by a stone wall
     gazing out to sea
where infinity holds them
silent     for just
     a moment

Two poems, two of many, written while travelling by train:

businessman with shiny
     slow-polished shoes
reaches up to take down
     his jacket
unfolds it with care
strokes the soft lapels
smiles as if he is
     the richest man


flat river     sun flashing
silver-grey corrugated roof
bungalows pirouetting
     from side-to-side
birches high on a bank
golden willows tracing waterways
     through fresh-green meadows
five geese heading east
us on a train
heading the same way


Just so

everything is just so:

room, bed, scarf draped
over a cupboard door,
breeze pushing curtain
with poppies in rows,
cars and a football crowd, 
sliver of dark night, 
cup of water
on the table

each thing has its
penumbra of uncertainty
quivering signature of
what it

Around February time, our small pond is filled, overnight, with a horde of frogs. It is mating time and for just a few days they are busy …..

Frog bacchanal

chirruping in dark pond
carnival of legs, pale throats
oodles of spawn     water churned
paddling of sinuous oars

a week ago 
     they were breathing skins
          deep under ice
now they cavort
     like sumo nymphs
          stirring water to 
     a gruel of silt and 
murky waltzes

Owain, son of Urien, appears in an old Welsh tale, The Mabinogion. Having heard a story told by his friend, Cynon, in which Cynon follows a mysterious black-haired man to a magical well, Owain heads off for 'the remote regions of the world' in search of the well. After many fantastic adventures he finds not only the well but the Lady of the Well - needless to say, he falls in love with her. The image of Owain setting off for 'remote regions' stayed with me .... 

Owain’s exile

a long road
palms, sunflowers,
gardens of tombs,
carnations and violets

a night of longing

tomorrow I will walk and
walk until I meet the sea
and I will quench this thirst
on the flat horizon where
sun meets water and
another day drowns


I’ve been writing poems or poetic texts since my late teens. I grew up in Whitwick - a small mining and quarrying village in the Charnwood Forest area of Leicestershire. Middle England. Coal and granite country. Most of my spare time – and I had lots of it – was spent wandering in the woods and common land around our solid square stone house with its jackdaws and breeze-whispering Scots pines. As far as I remember I started writing to try to evoke moments of observation, insight and ecstasy in those long hours of meandering through bracken, bilberry bushes and gorse. My friends and I spent days looking for bird’s nests, watching lizards skittering across the granite outcrops or spying on rock doves rising and falling in the quiet air that hung in the abandoned quarry behind our house. We made dens in rock-groves lined with bracken. I helped my uncle with harvesting on his nearby farm. Days of walking, climbing, watching, pondering. My scribblings were usually short – reminders and summonings-up of moments of intense experiences of connection and being-in a particular place. Moments when I dissolved into the landscape and felt the flood of life.

Here are a few of those early texts:

Cardiff reverie 

from here     first floor window
I can see right along
Splott Road     a name like rainfall
scooters turn off it all ways
cars and trucks go all the length
of it, only the odd one whipping
suddenly left or right

two kids with fishing rods
in leather and canvas cases
stalk along the pavement
and make trees and hills
of houses     a gorge 
of the street     dog becomes
coyote     and neighbours
grow feathers     Apaches
howling and dancing
around the belisha beacon

what nerve it takes to cross
the bouldered road – swirling
high water of the Merrimac

Thoreau, watch out, these kids
have their Walden in the gutter

[I studied at Cardiff College of Art]

Two poems from October 1967

the years rotate….

lopped-off stumps
naked round ends of fir branches
                                 radiating out
                            at the horizontal
tall fir body
with crinkly bark
furrowed old skin

on the eaves
looks under
the rippled roof thrust down
lurches into the greenery
thick needles close around him
he clacks away

low cloud gropes along
small whisp of fire-smoke
drifts & rolls
fades into grey tree-tops

drags a branch of birch
still silver in parts
scrapes the gravel makes
tracks in the driveway
turns it over
& over
until it pivots
on the bramble bushes

curves of spruce
hang down
comb the air just
above his head

bundles of brown leaves
around the wheels
of the Vauxhall

ivy in the distance
darkens the first six feet
of a dead but standing
straight unbranched
birch again

There is no sign 

there is no sign
of me anywhere
where I stand
I am not there

and everywhere I turn
I find no part 
of myself
no spores in the air

I cannot see the flat 
evidence of grass
and no arms to hold
the non-existent heart
the bewildered eye 
that cannot 
see itself

things and events
roam through
my head
and there is no sign
of my not