poetry diary

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


In black and white and titled –
“Spencer Street, Parish Church & Old Well, Leamington Spa;”
post-marked nineteen twenty-nine
from Amy to Miss Bryant,
Leigh View, Stoke Bishop, Bristol.
Just to say she feels so well –
quite herself again today.

This cannot be but good I feel,
across all time and space,
that even though there’s misery
sometimes, and rain and war and ghosts,
that for at least one gentle day
enjoyment came to Amy,
who felt so well to tell her friend
(albeit just in black and white).

And on the card a fine electric tram;
‘Eureka’ Teas and Dining Rooms;
women in majestic smocks
(and proper hats) chat and relax.
A gentleman with a boating hat
poses, Gatsby-like, with bike,
to draw uncertain stares.

Half a penny postage:
about the cost of my last text.
Yet Amy’s day of happiness,
has travelled for a hundred years
to reach this desk and make me smile
(albeit just in black and white.)


I‘m not sure where I acquired this postcard, but I keep it on my desk, which I’ve just finished reclaiming from my children, now they’ve gone off to college.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link Night

What makes this absence?

What makes this absence in the air?
Is it that empty bathroom shelf
and unmade bed?
Or this abandoned bookcase, still bent
from vanished books?

A placemat less; one fewer pair of shoes
beside the door. No small pink coat
or unexpected cuddly toy;
unopened mail and midnight showers.
Less background noise, less easy warmth;
no arguments about PCs
nor endless distance calls.

A gap in every conversation –
questions unasked and jokes uncracked.
Plans unmade (or worse – unshared,
unknown, unasked).

No singing in the hall; no mock-hurt
stares; no tellings off; no call for lifts –
an excess too of time and space –
now all for what,
without those unassuming smiles and hugs?

A final emptying of need, that
like a summer out of time
faded slowly to this point:
a smiling figure at the gate,
anticipating rites of spring;
half-turning, with her bag,
she waves.


My daughter announced she was leaving home last weekend, and off she went.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night

To the sea

What do you know of me?
Enough, and nothing.
And what will you do with me?
Consume you, whole.
But I can swim, and like it.
I can wait.
How far do you go?
How long have you got?
You are beautiful and strong.
I care not.
I know this of you, and yet I care still.

Outdoor concert

Summer oaks tremble
to music she summons with
delicate fingers.

As Spartacus

You stood longest, yet at last flew too,
and so I scorn you most.
For still we might have won, us two,
just as we did before –
against all odds – when you were true.

But now in chains we sit and wait,
like in the classic film:
the judgements false; the hour too late;
and Romans standing at the gate.

No tents, no chariots, no swords, no hope;
no future but the rope.
For you no Spartacus will stand,
and as I rise, I know.

Romantic idealism and business do not mix. I agreed to leave the business I founded and built yesterday after 14 years, more than 100 people employed and many happy memories. It feels like the ending of ‘Spartacus’, except Tony Curtis is remaining seated, happy to become a slave once more.


Not dead, but fled.

Not as in myths of old we stand
together to the last.
Instead an empty hill, bloodless and with trees
and me.

Not stopped, their armies come
with winds, and leaves, and silence.

Not here, my friends and soldiers.
Not now for you;
just me.

Not glory or romance,
no moments, no suspense.
No hope, no history;
just me.

Just me.

And you – not you, for you are
not dead, but fled.

I am, you see
not dead, nor fled,
but me no more.


I wrote a poem about a last stand some years ago, when I felt my company was about to fail (I was wrong). I feel I understand the reality somewhat better now.

Bathing Strictly Prohibited

Excited that my first book was published today – a collection of my best 80 or so poems since 2011. It’s wonderful to see them on paper instead of just on a screen.

Thank you to everyone who’s provided encouragement and feedback over the years (which seem to have passed quite quickly…). Please let me know what you think (and/or leave a review on Amazon).


BSP Cover Image



From distant woods, leaves
rise like mist. Here, a sparrow
alights with a twig.


Possibly still under the influence of my visit to Japan.

A jelly baby

And what remains of love is this;
a pack of jelly babes.
“Give these to your mum,” he says,
and turns away to shield
his tears.

Fifty four sweets are in that bag;
one for each year of coloured days.
This one tastes of ’65,
that one of ’91 –
all gone.

“She still likes these, sometimes,” he says,
“as far as I can tell.”
She takes one more, unsmiling,
and heads towards the door,

of who she is or who we are,
or why these little bumpy things
still seem to mean so much to us
and feel so warm and moist,

defining something once well known
she feels is lost or yet to come,
but will not find her now.
There must be something new
to do.

Across the room the curtains close,
and in the fading evening light,
a single jelly baby lies
alone; her lover’s furious final wail –
of farewell.


Jelly babies are traditional English sweets. People with dementia seem to like sweets.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night.

The Albemarle Rest Home

Amongst the row of faces waiting death
is one I know; her mirrored eyes my own.
Like ancient sailors held in Siren song –
here sung by soft armchairs and patterned rugs –
they sit with cups of tea and biscuits, brought
by strangely purposed nurses, patiently.

Only their eyes resist that strengthening pull –
call back like whales to days long gone
of youthful lives on tennis courts,
school open days with charts and pens,
parental hopes and grandchildren;
of lovers trysts and last year’s post;
to yesterday and slowly fading vows,
and yesterday again, which seems much like tomorrow now.

Amongst the row of faces waiting death
is one I know. She’ll always be my mum.


This rest home specialises in dementia. We reached the point at which we could no longer cope with caring for my mother in the family home two weeks ago.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night.