Saturday, December 20, 2008

All We Do at Christmas

All we do at Christmas
Is sit and watch TV
Mum and Dad and Sis and Gran
And Grandpapa and me

My best mate Bill, and all his lot
Play Christmas games and cards
Have quizzes and win prizes
Dress up and play charades

And Jenny’s family go to church
They’re Christians and they Believe
She stays up late and goes to church
At midnight, Christmas Eve

And Ali, who’s a Muslim
And Rachel, who’s a Jew
Still think about what Christmas means
But take a wider view

But we don’t do much thinking
We just sit and watch TV
There’s Mum and Dad and Sis and Gran
And Grandpapa and me

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

School Staffrooms 3

You have to question
the dedication
of the teaching assistant
in the high-heeled boots,
short skirt,
low-cut blouse
and generous cleavage.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Note to Schools from Powers That Be

“Brainstorm” is no longer to be used.
For brainstorm substitute “thought shower.”
And, no doubt, ideas drizzle,
inclement inklings
and cat and dog notions
leading to a creative downpour.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Short Love Poem

If I were a limerick
And you were a cinquain
Would you rhyme
With my last line
And could we make a couplet?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Oddments 5

In the Woodland Café squirrels chat
Over a nut cutlet
And a cup of bramble tea.
A badger sits on his own
In the corner
Reading the Woodland News.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oddments 4.

The violence of nature
Isn’t random.
It’s just that it doesn’t provide
Programme notes or advance times.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Circle Line 3

We were passing under Regents Park
And the train stopped again
The driver said,
We are sorry for the delay
But an antelope escaped the zoo
Came down the escalator
And ran into the tunnel

We waited, not moving,
for about ten minutes.
Then the driver said,
We should be moving soon.
The antelope still hasn’t been found
But we’ve sent a lion
Down after it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Circle Line 2

The driver said,
The yellow line is there for a reason!
Which was news to me
Because I thought
They painted the yellow lines
To cheer the platform up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Circle Line 1

The train stopped in the tunnel
And the driver said
I’m sorry for the delay
But someone stood in front
Of the yellow line
And hit a train.

And I thought
How unusual.
Usually the train
Hits the person
Not the other way round.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oddments 3

As I followed
The path less travelled
I wondered
Who had dropped the sweet wrappers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

School Staffrooms 2

How long is Thursday?
I’m not sure.
I thought it had been swapped for Wednesday.
No, it’s still Thursday.
All day?
Yes, all day.
I thought Thursday was just the morning
and finished in time for lunch.
No, Thursday goes on until 3 o’clock as usual.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Train Worry

I woke in the night
Worrying about the phone call
We overheard
On the train this morning

Will her elderly and incapacitated
Get the washing machine delivery okay
And will they deliver it
Up all those steps?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oddments 2

I love the period between the covers
When our bodies
Are neither too cold
Nor too hot and sweaty.

Friday, October 31, 2008


A wannabe singer called Trevor
Entered a contest to sing, yeah?
But, like, he didn’t win it
It was rigged, innit
It was crap, he came last, whatever!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

School Staffrooms 1

On Dressing Up As A Nursery Rhyme Character day
When you wrote
cot cit on your cheeks -
didn’t you realise
that when writing in the mirror
you had to reverse the letters?

!yllis tiwt

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oddments 1

I worry about getting thin.
I think it’s my age.
My friends are very portly
And some are slowing down.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Couple of Poems Written in Forest Hill


Five sleek black limousines
Sweep around the corner
Balloons bobble
On the roof of the first car
Spelt in flowers
On the casket


She came out of the house
Holding her broken jaw
Her husband
Helped her to the car
Arm around her
Protecting her from the prying neighbours
Who bang on the walls
In the early hours
When the whisky
Takes over

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


When I accidentally toss a can
Into the rubbish bin
Rather than the recycling bin
And I wrestle with the big question
Shall I retrieve it?
Or not bother?
I find myself pondering
The heat death of the solar system
When one day we and it
Will be vaporised and
Engulfed into an expanding sun
And if we’ve left the Earth by then
And are living elsewhere
I think about the stars
Moving away from one another
At breakneck speed
And the night sky empty, but for a tired moon
No stars
Just total loneliness
Though some say
The Universe will the breath in
And the stars will rush towards a common centre
And the universe will implode
Leaving nothing
Just a tiny dot
That is the weight of everything there has ever been

And I shrug
And leave the can in the wrong bin
Or sometimes I shrug
Retrieve the can
And throw it into the right bin
And sigh

I shrug and sigh
Like the two collared doves
Sitting on the telephone wires
In the lane

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How Long Does It Take To Write a Poem?

I’m not yet sure
Let me check the time
Seven minutes to ten
The second hand passing the half-way mark
It’s Sunday morning
The sky’s a grey flannel
Cars rush along the Vauxhall Bridge Road
Heading for the plug hole
Two minutes thirty five seconds so far
Inevitably there will be a redrafting, maybe two
And there’s the possibility that this may never become a poem at all
Just a few scribbled lines in my notebook
And when the notebook is full
Be consigned to the old notebook shelf
Waiting for an epiphany
For the day that never comes
When Indiana Jones finds the room’s hidden entrance
In the rubble and the rocks
Lifts it carefully
Blows the dust from the book’s cover
Opens and begins to read
Eight minutes, twenty three seconds

Friday, June 20, 2008

First Light

It’s been going on all night
Make no mistake
Don’t be beguiled by the innocent look
Of those trees hanging about,
Hands in pockets, in the fields
Still pooled with darkness
Don’t be misled by the silver light,
The anarchic flight of sparrows
Or the crows practising tai chi

Don’t be fooled by the rising safety curtain
On the moon-clean stage
After the first act’s carnage has been cleared
Or the warming up of the orchestra
Now missing its woodwind section

This is not a fresh start
This is no new dawn

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Death on the level crossing
Not hit by a train
But crushed beneath the gate

Death by poisoning
Not rat killer or agent orange
Ate a lozenge past its sell-by date

Death by chocolate
Not the cocoa content or overeating
Slipped on a choc-ice at the match
And landed badly on some metal seating

Death by drowning
Not in the oceans mighty swell
But in the tears I wept
When you said farewell

Monday, April 14, 2008


A roaring log fire
In the kitchen corner
A large old oak table
Where the family gather
Loud and hungry
For lusty sausages
And salted pork
Cooked on the embers
Home-made tagliatelle
Pasta cooked in cheese
Melted on the stove
Wild asparagus
Flavoured with truffle
Tobacco and woodsmoke
Hustle and bustle
A game show on TV
Leggy brunettes
Keep the men happy
Wine and Limoncello
Coffee as thick as a Sicilian hug

And we are turned out into the cool night
Above the villages of tiny lights
Where we wander amongst
The burning white stars

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


How physical is that?
It’s a flying paintbrush
Aimed at you
That paints a hole
In your head
That daubs a smiling face
That smears a purple sky
With grey

It’s an eraser
Found in an old address book
A magnet
And your favourite cassette
A pencil stub
Too short to use
A missing score
A landscape, wild and untamed
No frame will fit

And when you finally
Hang the portrait on the wall
No one comes to look
And who can blame them?
There’s another, and much better one,

At the exhibition next door

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Newcastle Serenade

On the train to Newcastle
I can hear music
A five-piece band
Guitar, sax, bass, drums
And a silky female vocal

I look around
Ah! There –
In the luggage racks -
Giving the train
A syncopated swing

The conductor
Sways down the aisle
With the microphone
She sings
Money makes the world go round…
I am tempted to join in
But instead
I point out to him
That we are in
A dedicated quiet carriage
And suggest that he takes his band
To the buffet car
Where customers might enjoy a little cabaret

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bob Wolf - The Quest Begins

by Roger Stevens and Michael Leigh

The sky was as blue as a blueberry fool
The fields were as green as peas
The smells of Autumn drifted through
The decayed traffic lights and trees
Reminding Bob of cheese

Bob closed the gate and walked away
With scarce a backward look
His mother watched and bit her lip
And as she hung the beetroot on the hook
A tear splashed on her library book

Oh, Surrey wastelands -
Once green belt
That held life's trousers on
The empty houses, broken dreams
Once so alive with children's song,
And the merry click of Playstations, all long gone.

Bob walked along the dusty streets
And whistled as he strode
A favourite song from years gone by
About the Highway Code.
From a drain, a robin crowed.

But what was that?
Bob's heart stopped.
A ghostly sound. A soul in pain.
Like hogs loosed on a frozen heath
Like rats run-over by a train
(Bob's heart began to beat again
And he sighed with great relief)

On the road there lay an upturned van
That bore the legend V
Cautiously Bob tip-toed past
But then, a breath, an icy blast
A monster was upon him fast
Its mouth a hole of blackest black
Its head two hippos in a sack
Its claws as sharp as brie

Bob drew his trusty sword and then
He threw his pencil down
For art would not discourage it
Our Bob thought with a frown

The ghastly thing towered over him
Like a tower towering high
It's shadow whiffed of sulphur
And its feet of dead-dog pie
What do you want, vile creature?
Cried Bob, fearing the end.
When all at once the monster hushed
And said, its voice a silky sigh,
I only want... a friend

So, Bob felt sorry for the beast
He asked, What is your name?
Some call me Ice-cream-of-the-soul
Others call me Shame
To many I'm Death-upon-a-stick
My mother calls me Slim
In legend I am Discouragement
But you can call me Jim.

For many years I've been alone
Like a watch without a strap
Lying forgotten in a drawer
As Time drips like a broken tap

That drips all of the time
Upon some long neglected, faded map
The creature sniffed
The creature sighed
And then committed suicide.

But Bob took pity on the beast,
Reviving him with mouth to mouth
I'll call you Fred, he said. And we
Will do the thing that we do best
Have adventures on our quest
But first we'll have a little rest
And a cup of tea

And thus it was
Bob found a friend
Some one to talk to as they strode
A companion for his journey
Along the Surrey Road
And as they walked they talked of spots
And why giraffes explode

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Suspense Haiku

It's unexpected.
Midnight. A knock on the door.
You open it.


Big Questions

I’m in Hereford tonight. There’s a festival going on and I’m visiting schools over the next couple of days. Taking the time to sort through my notebook. Here’s a not-yet-finished poem.

About to eat a pizza in a Pizza Express
A Sloppy Joe, classic base

Remembering gazing through the train window
The rich dark greens of waterlogged fields
Water sitting and sparkling like grey ice

And red-brown rushing water

Thinking, it’s only pointless in the long term -
Life, its brevity
The final un-witnessed
Blinking out of time

But plenty to do in the short term
Excitements to plan or capture
Or turn loose from their iron cages

It creeps up behind you when you’re away from home
And you realise that human connectivity
Is invisible at best
Running along fine wires
Tiny explosive electrical charges

And you ache for the illusion of human contact
As you move in so many directions
All at the same moment
To get precisely nowhere

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Getting There

Some say it's better to travel than to arrive. But actually I'll be glad when I get to the finishing line of this new-look blog. I've decided to go with for the music section. If you click on the strange Wonky Finger thing down the left-hand side you should be able to hear some of the tracks. I'll be adding more...

When it's all done I'll be visiting everyone. It'll be interesting to see who's still around and how my friends and acquaintances in blogland are getting on.

I'll be getting some more poems up too. I'm slowly getting another book of "grown-up" poems together.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Blog Look

Look! A new blog look. See the new blog look. Look, what does it look like? Do you like the look? I'm not sure really. What do you think?