poetry diary

I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing. (Seamus Heaney, from Personal Helicon)

Month: August, 2011

Cragside Haiku I

Seeing a peacock
butterfly on a buddleia;
momentary peace.


I’m on holiday in Northumberland. Writing poems on an iPhone is difficult so I’ll stick to haiku I think.  

The Feeling Stone

Fallen from my mother’s arms;
shaped by others’ ways,
I lay,
and touched despair.

Briefly among my brothers, 
gathered tall in towers –
chill power,
upheld by pride. 

Holding against men and arms,
we stilled their fights
with might;
frustrating claims. 

Abandoned to lichen and dust;
crumbled and crossed by frosts;
all lost,
the crowd moves on. 

I have become a feeling stone;
this history’s too strong;
I long,
but all have gone. 


At Rievaulx Abbey.

Ode to a Fossil

You could have leapt the other way 
and missed the drop into the mud.
You could have lived another day
and chewed the cud.

You knew this then and as you fell
you turned your face towards the sun
and called forlorn, too weak to tell
your mate to come.

You could have weaned another calf;
you could have seen another flood; 
you could have heard the jackals laugh; 
you might have loved. 

Instead through eighty million years
you call for all who could have leapt
and might have loved, but faced their fears
too late, and wept. 


I’m in North Yorkshire, finding fossils near Whitby.


Purposeful people with singular strides
condensing from crowds; all droplets of life.
For what is each searching, and where do they go?
So much I must ask them, so many to know.


On the concourse at Marylebone Station in London this afternoon.

Sleep easy

I will sleep easy with you in my heart,
whatever tomorrow will bring.
I will rise early and welcome the spring,
to see through your eyes at day’s start.
I miss your soft laughter,
your eyes and your sparkle;
your considered replies
and your little asides;
I miss your soft arms and your warm fireside,
but these waters run deep and flow back to your shores.
I will sleep easy with you in my heart,
whatever tomorrow will bring.


I’m in London, in a little hotel less than a kilometre from the riots. There are some sirens and policemen, but life goes on as normal. People are amazing – none of which has anything to do with my poem!

I am a man

A man, like a ship on an endless sea,
I am, and I watch where the mermaids go;
searching and yearning for a place to be.

Far from a harbour with nowhere to flee,
baggage overboard and few stores below;
a man, like a ship on an endless sea.

If only I’d listened when they spoke to me,
and not, like a boy, played the toy hero,
searching and yearning for a place to be.

I held to illusions, safe beside the quay;
too eager to please, and to wait for the flow:
no man, no ship, and not out at sea.

And now I’ve set sail, but the ship’s in the lee;
It’s hard and it hurts, as I’ll first have to row:
searching and yearning for a place to be.

This world is wide, and her best is free.
I’m glad that at last, at the end I know;
I’m a man, like a ship on an endless sea,
searching and yearning for a place to be.


This is a villanelle – my first attempt at this form, which I have been feeling like trying for a week or two. I like the gentle rhythm the pattern imposes on the poem, like waves and the sea (although apparently villanelle is an Italian sixteenth century pastoral style of poetry). It’s also fun to try proper rhyming structures occasionally!

Submitted to Poets United.

In parting

After we parted,
I was suddenly so lost.
Then you waved to me.