poetry diary

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

Month: January, 2013

The Old Manor Hotel, Leven

Within that darkness lies the sea,
curling above into the sky,
and neither cares for me.

Inside this room, two flowers
above each white tablecloth are pink
and candlelit, like stars.

And someone cares for them, and me
by vague association too:
this is humanity.


I stayed in the Old Manor Hotel in Leven, Scotland, last night as a guest of Fife Council. The restaurant is a conservatory looking out over the Firth of Forth (which I couldn’t see in the dark). It was empty, apart from me and a group of businessmen at a far table. (An excellent hotel though!).

Posted on dVerse.

Viña Pomal 1994

Tasting smoke curling
around my tongue – wild cherries;
I must linger here.


I enjoy wine, but despite drinking it (in moderation, more or less) for 30 years, I can never remember the names of wines I’ve enjoyed. Last night I enjoyed a glass or two of this Rioja, bought at random, and now I have another glass beside me: I may also have found a solution to my memory problem.

Posted on Poets United.

I saw a fern leaf in a raindrop

I saw a fern leaf in a raindrop,
that quivered as it touched the sun,
and threw its sphere around the sky,
then sighed, and fell.

I saw the weather in a river,
flowing eastwards with the evening;
and draining moonlight from the air
leaving murmurs.

I recall bright starlight in your eyes,
which spoke softly and from your heart,
and made my thoughts condense to be
only of you.


I saw a fern leaf reflected in a raindrop last Wednesday. Since then I have wanted to write a poem about it. This poem is for htv, with thanks for 2011 and much more.

Posted on dVerse.

Three women singing

Three women, singing –
snow swirling in the darkness
– now the car is warm.


Collecting my daughter and two friends from a party in a snowstorm. We had been to see Les Misérables the day before, and I was given a reprise. (Much better than singing in the shower at midnight – see Jan 3!)

At night

                                           At night
candle-flamed dreams tossed,
like pebbles by spring tides:
climbing the beach, they

                                           and fight –
realities drowned,
like the wind, by clashing
contradictions, dark

                                           which bite,
until forced to flee;
wide-eyed sun exposing
smooth white sands, ready
for dawn.


I’ve had a few long nights recently, and this brought to mind one of my favourite poems from more than 20 years ago, by Louis MacNeice: London Rain. It’s one of the few poems I know by memory (at least the first few verses):

The rain of London pimples
The ebony street with white
And the neon-lamps of London
Stain the canals of night
And the park becomes a jungle
In the alchemy of night.

My wishes turn to violent
Horses black as coal –
The randy mares of fancy,
The stallions of the soul –
Eager to take the fences
That fence about my soul.


My wishes now come homeward,
Their gallopings in vain,
Logic and lust are quiet
And again it starts to rain;
Falling asleep I listen
To the falling London rain.

I have skipped nine verses here, but hopefully you get the idea. I think the first verse in particular is fantastic.  This poem is the inspiration for my much less rhythmic attempt at the same topic.

Memorial service

They call death a shadow,
but I saw only light:
in faces at your wedding,
and a picnic by a lake.
In the eyes of your family;
moments of your life glistening
like starlight in their tears
and mine, who hardly knew you,
yet cannot be untouched
by your life and loves,
and the soulprints you left behind
forever lightening opened hearts.

They call death a shadow,
but I saw only light.


I attended a memorial service for my wife’s uncle, who died aged 84, last week.

Posted on Poets United.

Who’s in the shower?

Singing at midnight –
sleeping winter household sighs:
my teenage daughter.


I don’t remember parents being quite so understanding when I was 16…!

To the New Year

I will allow

            the slow spiral

of my life

            to take one more turn,

as if unscrewing

            the cap on a bottle

of New World wine

            of uncertain maturity

and depth;

            or perhaps like the more brutal bite

of steel thread

            into the yielding, cautious cork

of an aging claret,

            not knowing when,

without warning,

            it might give,

and pop.


And then I will drink,

heartily, and with other people’s wine, 

to this year to come.


May you all have a very good 2013. Salut!