For Charlie


Your supersonic cyber savvy art and words

Eyewink light and candid crisp

Soothes my soul and keeps me young and yearning


Just write like Charlie speaks and words will flow

I say to myself racking little brain

Battling fear and loathing


Trying to write a poem that just manages to float

A few inches off the ground for an instant

Before collapsing under its own weight


I vow to lighten tone with tongue firmly held in cheek

Toss “breadth of our domain”

Get up, dry tears and start again

Office Pantoum (for Don)


Answer to the call of duty

With decorum and tact

Bow to your superiors with deference and grace

As corporate law commands


With decorum intact

Refine and shape your act

As corporate law commands

Denigrate yourself in serving protocol


To refine and shape your act

For rise through rank and file

Denigrate yourself in serving protocol

Never dare to disagree with those in power above


There is rise through rank and file

For women who speak in soft and sultry tone

Never daring to disagree with those in power above

Sustaining status quo


Women: Speak in soft and sultry tone

Avert your eyes to apologize

To sustain the status quo

With your mastery of fixed form rules


Averting eyes to apologize

Men must follow suit

With equal mastery of fixed form rules

Of hierarchy and rank


In suit the men must follow their leader

In drunken stupor at bar barely loosening bonds

Of hierarchy and rank

Easier to succeed as man in man’s domain


In drunken stupor at bar, with bonds barely loosened

Frankness forcing fixed forms of intimacy

Making it easier to succeed, but as man in man’s domain spending

Half of life on jam-packed train


A form of intimacy rather avoided, frankly

Sweating in the stifling summer heat

Half of life on jam-packed train

Thinking of other life


A Norman Rockwell Morning


Waved with a smile to the postman

Even got a nod from the brittle woman walking that yappy dog

My little garden bugs basking in sun of bird blue sky, satiated

Reclining on lacy half-eaten leaves, soft breeze caressing

Tiny legs and eggs of littler ones to come

My legs limber too, stretched and warm

Lungs alert champing at bit for early morning mountain air

Happily shared with all in this wondrous world in fall

I Learned a Lot from Larkin


Simply said with light and limpid touch                              

A finely chiseled phrase works wonders                                

Nudged to the left but not too much                                    

When register is right                                                            

Form and content quit the fight                                


Images held for just enough time                                 

To Jog the soul gently midst dull daily grind                              

While riding on the train                                                       

To help us feel with heart and mind                                     

The shape of glass in rain                                                      


Rhyming couplets now might seem a little quaint                

A British thing perhaps, that conservative constraint           

Halcyon and soothing                                                           

Formal play to ponder pain                                                   

How to leave a word alone, alone out in the rain                  


Relinquishing the grandiose allows one to convey                

Such depth in lithe and sylphlike forms                                 

One seldom finds today                                                         

Let the little words hold weight                                            

Cut the fat, truncate, truncate!                                              


My little ode to you now done I’ll pass it on to everyone

And when my friends come round to chat

I’ll tell them Larkin’s where it’s at

Gone for over thirty years and yet

Fresh images, still now beget

The Wind Flies Them So High


We singed a song on bike at dusk

While searching road for toad

Hemelet was left at home, forgot to wash the knee

Jeremy not finish yet so can’t we wait for he?

Kite was flied and toad was see’d

And of that night remains

The untied knots

Of gentle thoughts

That nub of life contains

Roots and Tubers

Yuzu, Mint and fallen apple fill the famished air

Nature claimed cabin still stands on boar wild soil

‘The old man died here’ long lines on her face let on

Roots and tubers trespassing world wearied walls

All he owned on broken floorboard

A game of go – mid game gone



Living Library


Less life than death in

Faint scent of long gone reader left in

My 1948 living library Dickinson


How the dead live through us

Is a mystery


Will the scent of my books

Move my son

Or anyone



I put them on a boat and sent them out to sea

To eradicate from memory

Spouting vitriolic

And bombastic bile embolic

No fathoming these figureheads

We’ve been jib rigged fore and aft


The Russian at the stern

The Brazilian at the wheel

The continental cads roped and hooked about the heel

And as ballast or’ the bulkheads

The American I did furl

No fathoming these figureheads

We’ve been jib rigged fore and aft



Dreadnought we fear their leeward tack

Windward wake and worried

The five will feature knotted true

Scull as lonely seamen do

No fathoming these figureheads

We’ve been jib rigged fore and aft


Salt Breathes Life


Gentle sound of clams purging sand

As ice cracks in early spring registered only by tiny attentive ears

Sensitive to sound with time in life to listen


No need for extraneous ornamentation

With richness of line, pattern, shade of shell together

Forming mosaics rivaling sand mandalas


Salt as balm stirring life

Salt as evil stifling it

Take your pick


But either way, as mandalas are brushed away

Something terrifying about last gentle movement


Before boiled death 

To Hell with the Villanelle


To hell with the villanelle, write your poems in free form

The fixed and structured dampens flair and lively play

Avoid the past to the last and vow to not conform


Trust narrative’s imperative else your poem be lukewarm

The form must not determine what you feel, think or say

To hell with the villanelle, write your poems in free form


Break from the shackles of the past, escape what was the norm

The fixed forms hamper freedom, they’re not relevant today

Avoid the past to the last and vow to not conform


Those derelict and dusty forms today cannot inform

What the young and vibrant have to say and why they won’t obey

To hell with the villanelle, write your poems in free form


Avoid the cold and calculated, opt for open loose and warm

Hold your ground and rage against all you must inveigh

Avoid the past to the last and vow to not conform


The masters of the villanelle you cannot out-perform

Write from your heart and soul what you feel you must convey

To hell with the villanelle, write your poems in free form

Avoid the past to the last and vow to not conform


A Question


O wise one please enlighten me

On art and artifice

‘Artifice is trying to be

Of art, well, art just is’

Garden Poem for Children


Come dear children enter in

Through copse and boscage paper thin


Traipse till dusk grafts life in snow

Trapping moonlight afterglow


Only in this limpid light

Will they approach you free of fright


Softly stroke their brittle beaks

To find the lonely ones who speak


Of past regrets and future fears

And listen till they’ve shed their tears


Life is rendered richer now

Newly colored and spun


Through quivering words

Of tales from birds


So consider your journey as done



As vehicle of God’s good grace

Vested in surplice and stole did arouse

In solemn mood in bride and groom a trace

Of gentle love as lei of wedding vows

With little left of former power to flaunt 

In memory of youthful primal play

As daring can, and indeed will do when filled with want

Faced the pair in loving pose to pray

With soft and sultry voice of earth and sea

As net to fish his wanton words enmesh

With heated lips to open ears he whispered earnestly

To join as three in free and final dance of flesh

Passions stirred awaiting what they lacked

Alas they mingled not, for he was sacked

The Fall


From that impossible height

Taught ropes

Allowing tranquil sweep

Through ancient terraced canyon walls

Eons deep

Youth and yearning soft as liquid light



You can see the leopard’s happy

In its fabricated pen

With space to run and stretch its legs

Left to right between the pegs

But he’s a little tired now


Let’s go see a different one

That moves and looks alive

Of course they do, just like us dear

Listen carefully and you can hear

Their soft and tiny voices crying


Bang the glass - it runs away

Jumps from the wire and on to the tray

I looked into its eyes before it moved its head

The one beside him's sleeping

Or is he maybe dead?


Soft and tiny hands are held

Wonder wandering restlessly from cage to cage

Do they sense the numb and listless gaze

Is of a different order

How easy to ignore the horror behind the door


They are there and we are here

Borders hardened over years

Learned so thoroughly

Subtle preparation for

The greater discountings in store



I slowly traced the great network of interlacing trails

You made with your hands through the sand

On your knees in the park


Your last kingdom

This raw play of imagination

Moving your body through endless space


Now that the screens have claimed your attention

I miss cleaning the dirt from your knees

Smelling the fresh grass stains


And wonder what is lost in this forging of new trails

Through vast electronic fields

With you, immobile, staring into flat space


I've heard the cyber prophets say

Bodily play is falling away

With ever more to explore apart from where we are


I'll remember your face, utterly absorbed

Fulfilling innate earthly desire


Grand Gran


A visit with you then

Was like lunch with the queen

British and lavender clean

A twinkle in your eye, cig in hand

Everything regal and grand


I’d listen to your stories

Of Shanghai shops and of the war

Of British ships and glories

Of the colonies and all that fell before 

The lovely liners brought you


To this gentle western shore

Where you could scan the sea

Driving scooter on the quay

Through sand salt woven windswept land

Shopping list in wrinkled hand


To buy the dainty doilies

For Royal Albert cups of tea

We’d drink with scones and butter tarts

Or Yorkshire puds and pie

Before I’d say goodbye


And kiss you on the cheek

In reddening room of crimson sky

At end of dying day

And wave to you from the road outside

Where they say you passed away

In Kyoto


The moon reserves its finest light

For crisp and cloudless autumn night


It falls on viscid well walls

And dances in the eyes

Of children who devise

Ingenious evening games


Like following the sound 

Of moonlight’s movement round

Castle moats and sleeves

Of schoolgirls toddling in the leaves


Their prim and fragile footfalls

Breaking bone white bracken

On glistening ground

In sand as soft as milk


And softer still the light inside

With every shadow amplified

Spawning goblins out of gauze

Weaving weirdly in the wind


That leave a trace of wonder in

The lives of those that live within


The Star Gage


The tiny inkblot paper thin

Impossibly lets light within


Renders real within the brain

All that’s seen in light's domain


As mirrors play their tricks on light

Inverting letters left to right


Here the world divides


Inverting letters left to right

As mirrors play their tricks on light


All that’s seen in light's domain

Renders real within the brain


Impossibly lets light within

The tiny inkblot paper thin

Poem Dates

The Wind Flies Them So High (April, 2018)

A Normal Rockwell Morning (October, 2018)

Roots and Tubers (January, 2019)

Living Library (January, 2019)

Aloft (March, 2019)

Salt Breathes Life (March, 2019)

To Hell with the Villanelle (April, 2019)

Office Pantoum (April, 2019)

Frisson (April, 2019)

Fall (April, 2019)

I Learned a Lot from Larkin (May, 2019)

For Charlie (May, 2019)

Cages (May, 2019)

A Question (June, 2019)

Trails (June, 2019)

Grand Gran (September, 2019)

Garden Poem for Children (September 2019)

In Kyoto (October, 2019)

The Star Gage (October, 2019)

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