Poetry – Reflective

“To Robin on his 80th Birthday”

Dear Robin, Doctor Robin, what joy to wish you Happy Birthday You are young, of course, for your age Youthful, energetic, attractive Wise, fun-loving, a good sport Not a bad way to make eighty It is easy for us to forget what you do - still do The life you lead, your mission Not easy for you to remain wholesome, compassionate When all around is sickness Of the body and of the mind You have stayed a human being To your credit more human than most Over time you have claimed and re-claimed your sanity Not walked away as might have been expected A hard life has made you softer Dear Robin, Doctor Robin, what joy to wish you Happy Birthday You are young, of course, for your age Witty, elegant, debonair A showman, joke-loving, sexy Not a bad way to make eighty Yet, beneath that light touch there is Courage, loyalty, devotion Who of us would still answer the early a.m. call? Another murder, another trial A life of contrasts, contradictions What you have learned we shall never know What you know we won’t learn What you have is an unexpected gift Our good fortune, our privilege Luck, [...]


You are mere day For it is night when demons speak Cursed shadows chill the soul and doubts creep in to shut the brightness out I long for you As sleeplessness deprives the mind And unforgiving darkness leaves no space for hope, not knowing what’s to come Or how things will resolve Where are you now? It’s dark and there’s no end in sight lying limp on clinging sweat-damped sheets Stark loneliness compounds the fear A single lamp will not dispel Then you appear The late arrival at the dark-masked ball! Sweet light glints in: you open up the door And humdrum tasks anesthetise the pain Of truths the night reveals February 2011


We’ve seen them go on, long after they should stop Wrestling with twenty-year-old keys Jubilee legends of pop But, summoned by Royal command, Lords, knights - Sir ‘this’ and ‘that’ - Pensioners to a man, they all turn up Lapels sharp. Vocals flat. Thin, wheezy no longer soaring High notes not quite made Sweat glands pouring We’ve seen them, thick below, thin on top Wrinkled, hair-dyed, botoxed up We’ve seen them - why don’t they stop? Retire, while we still love you! Jubilee Legends of pop You’ve made your millions, strutted your stuff Still you carry on cavorting short of puff. But then, a revelation! The joker of the crop The man in black We’ve seen you, ladies, how he caught you on the hop Awakening youthful fantasies This legend of pop Grizzled grey - twinkling eyes A phe-nom-e-non And that voice from the valleys Re-born, sexy as ever, the great Sir Tom The magic’s lasted - no need to question how Once you threw your knickers - who’s to say you wouldn’t now? June 2012

“Where is this England?”

Is it at Westminster? Where politicians talk amongst themselves but not to us? Where people think that red’s the only colour for a bus And metro men and women fence and fuss Chattering about the media, the EEC Whilst news is endlessly distorted by the BBC ...or is it somewhere else? Is it at Chagford? Nestling, moorside, grey-stoned, with its trickling stream? Where no-one watches SKY and people dare to dream Where old and young get on it seems And curtains twitch for all to see Whilst watching Morse repeats on ITV ...or is it somewhere else? Is it at Sandwich? Where sea meets land; you’ll meet all sorts In knotted hanky hats and stumpy shorts At Dover, Hastings, Hythe or Romney Squatting, digging in the sands Guzzling chips with greasy hands ...or is it somewhere else? Is it at Leeds - or Bradford? Birmingham, Croydon, where kids burn shops Get drunk, wear vests and tiny tops Where hope no longer springs eternal And police, too scared to stride the beat Fill in their forms, put up their feet ...or is it somewhere else? Or, is it in our hearts and minds? That good was here - decency, fair [...]

“Last Flight”

The Sopwith turns its thin skin skywards Visored for war Wood and cloth, a mite of steel And helmeted in this flying womb A man, a boy no more Like Pegasus on melting wing - trouncing gravity wears thin The miracle of flight, once tranquil clear Now just a trick With wars to win Once someone’s son, now blithely facing What will come His ascension in the tongs of fate No time to muse on right and wrong Searching left and right and up and down He sees just sky An empty, untold void that harbours - who? Undefined, unseen Eludes his weather eye. Then from above, the dissonance he’s come to fear The screeching of a plunging plane unseen Outsmarted, outmanoeuvred he concedes The end is near Frantically he twists and turns yet fails to find his foe Still out of sight He hears the rattle of the rapid fire The final shots Then day is night. The sea is cold so late in Autumn’s gloom He doesn’t know The Camel floats but he is in oblivion Drowned in a sea of bullets, sunken now Where poppies cannot grow. Remembrance Day, November 10th, 2017

“The Ageing Oak“

Waning like an ageing oak Without its strength or dignity It's knurled joints and branches bent Yet decked all bright and luminous Fit, indomitable, content to live Amidst a field of newer shoots And brighter sparks Consider me at half its age bent low and hindered Knees akimbo ankles sore A fluttering heart, a slowing mind Remembering less, regretting more Feeling young, but only too aware Of growing old when offspring Run me ragged Does Nature favour static souls Do movers lose their way? Unsure of where we are or why we're here Frantic, spreading wings too far Taxing aching brains too hard Supported by a straight-backed frame Not fit for task Nature will decide in time Though sadly not in mine Our body clock is set it seems To suit our crass desire Unlike the oak to live at speed What price we pay, who knows? I like the oak, it’s majesty Rooted and defined in place and time It’s self-set task to stay, survive Whilst highly mobile species flit and fly amongst its stately tower It’s web of roots anchored beneath the Shifting sands of time June 2020

“Perfect Beach”

The fluttering palms against a blue-drenched sky compete with gulls that dart between the wispy clouds then swoop again to catch their prey against the azure of the bay The sea expands horizon-wards, it's motion stilled by dulled perspective, ivory sand and lazy-lidded eyes As lulled by angels’ breeze We drown in drowsy dreams Too soon the final twist, one lingering turn throws up those far flung russet hues of red and gold As Gaia turns her face another way And night usurps the day With leaden steps our feet must trudge their path through crushed long-siphoned shells and silica Regressing to a lesser plain with wits restored again Lazy day drifts into balmy night When gentle half-heard music calms the soul Suspending our impatience barely bourn As we hunger for the dawn May 2018

“Nature’s Battle…”

First our lookout spies a single flower amidst a sea of green heralding the campaign yet to come. And then in wild unserried ranks legions more assault the soil to greet the sun Regiments of red and indigo, yellow mauve and pink overcome the cowering, wilting weeds. We are surrounded! The war is won and vibrant colours rule our summer peace. September 2013

“The Northern Star”

The Star sailed on... a giant manatee surfacing for breath, carving its icy path on a course of 30 degrees, north, north west. Pointy-nosed, flat-bottomed. 150,000 tons of steel, crude and cargo in the middle of the Northern Passage, unstoppable two weeks out of the sepulchral city. Mykola Los stared through the cold darkness barely making out the rise and fall of the bow light riding the gentle swell. He smiled as he thought of Mei, her pride in him, born and bred in the Shanghai slums, now raising his own family in a cement house in the new suburb of Song Jiang. He’d done well to become the first Captain of the Star The company had sent him to the yard in Korea to help build her. She was his ship, the largest in the world. The Star sailed on... ... hardly shuddering as the massive, sharp-steeled bow pierced its way through three-foot thick ice scattering ton-weight shards like flotsam. His cargo, entrusted to him for safe delivery: one hundred and fifty containers, four miles of them when laid end to end, bound for Hamburg, Rotterdam and Felixtowe. Huge ports competing for his custom Each had turned [...]

“At Break of Dawn”

There was a time when in the early hours I lay awake with thoughts that made me weep Then heard the sounds of singing birds To serenade me back to sleep An orchestra of sound so innocent and light The overture to hope that morning brings As melancholy turns to joy Through music born across the sky on wings Where has it gone this blessing once bestowed Upon us all by Nature’s kind concern? This perfect blend of imperfections Or is it lost destined to not return? The songsters sing no more in vale and hill Reduced in numbers and in spread Where once a hundred thrushes sung We hear the crow or raven’s squawk instead And so I wake before the dawn has come to miss the notes that soothed me instantly That random chorus no-one could compose More beautiful than any symphony

“A Child Once Asked”

A child once asked what Christmas was Why everybody changed Caring for each other, Unreserved and less constrained? Why houses decked with sprigs of holly glowed with coloured light And children went out singing, wrapped up against the night? A child once asked what Christmas was Why people went about Gathering cones and mistletoe Happy, to go out Dropping in on neighbours they hadn’t seen all year Smiling, laughing, snuggling, glutted with good cheer? A child once asked what Christmas was And why the old man thought that people were so altered this change that yuletide brought? Recalling those departed - making new friends, too And why this milk of kindness doesn’t flow the whole year through? The old man had no simple quip No quick answer sprang to mind As to how this festive spirit affected all mankind He thought of the Nativity, the early Christian rhymes But knew that what he searched for had its roots in earlier times For how can we state honestly or possibly explain That such traits of human goodness, concern for other’s pain, generosity, good humour - how could one ever say can happen only once a year when we crave that [...]

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