Saturday, 10 September 2011

The fossil

From the bottom
of a cliff of soil,
disappearing foot by foot,
year on year,
into the Welsh sea,
I prised a stone.
fist sized.
I cracked it open on a rock
and found a cockle shell,
and on the other side,
it's impression.
I placed it on my shelf
for the blink of an eye.

A bank of garlic

A bank of garlic in the rain
took me aback.

I only came to see
where the path goes,
to look for signs of spring
and anything moving in the trees.

I only came to listen
to unseen birdsong
and a wee stream
dropping a few feet over boulders.

I only came to feel
the deep ridged oak bark
where the ivy climbs aloft,
to feel rocks beneath my feet
and the dampness seeping
in these old boots.

I came to wonder
and look for signs of spring,
when a bank of garlic in the rain
took me aback.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Leaving the path,
with individual steps into the undergrowth
and the unsteady ground below.
Behind us, the darkening woods.
Behind that, the forgotten city.
Ahead, the unseen sea.
But now,
at the fields edge,
there are poppies in the twilight.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Pebbles I - III


Evening sunlight
through my cabin window
lights a square of my bunk.
Distant voices wander in the open door,
footsteps in the corridors,
as I turn another page.


A light breeze,
cold for July,
blows off the sea.
Altered little,
it goes on it's way.


Morning sunshine,
in the absence of branches,
throws the shadows of pipework
upon the grating.
Somewhere above, an alarm rings
and valve tags rustle in the breeze.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Early pebbles 2nd-4th


The fulmar catches the wind,
banks right
and etches a line
on the ocean top.
Three flaps
clear it of the wave crest
before it disappears out of sight
into the trough.


standing by the starboard railings,
watching the supply boat
plunge and rise,
watching two men
struggling to connect the hose
while the water
rushes past their feet
to return to the sea.


The sun rises aft today
an highlights foamy wavecrests.
Cool, a gentle breeze
and on the horizon
the tanker.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

First of June's pebbles

After the success of the last river of stones in January (see my first January post for details here) there's another happening this month. Actually, I've just noticed I'm a month early - perhaps I'll just keep going anyway.

Three levels above the deck,
a tarpauline flaps in the wind,
keeping the rain off instruments,
a shifting spanner, an oily rag,
and a chair pushed under
a scaffolding bench.


Stepping naked from the water,
Renoir's bathers
dry themselves in the Paris sun.
Set in brushstrokes,
Bohemian days,
surviving motherhood
and old age.

Monday, 21 March 2011


Two score and six
of my three score and ten,
sat on a rock outcrop
in an empty field,
a finger round
and round the markings.
Below they bury people still
in a woodland graveyard,
it's church
has been
and gone,
but the lapwings in the field
don't seem to care
and carry on as if
the dykes were not there.

What was three score years and ten
to those above the empty woods?
when antler and flint
worked round
and round the markings,
and startled lapwings
on the open hill.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Old and new poets

A little Norman MacCaig for you -

Old Poet

The alder tree
shrivelled by the salt wind
has lived so long
it has carried and sheltered
it's own weight
of nests.

There's a curious significance in that piece as the book I snaffled it from has his poems published in chronological order and this is his first poem from 1965. Therefore is was probably written within a few days of my birth in one direction or the other. With that in mind, I have taken the following liberty.

New Poet

The alder sapling,
pushed gently by the breeze.
Soft green leaves,
barely uncurled,
are unaware of the coming years
or the weight
of nests.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Lines on waking

The lines stayed fresh and sharp.
The heavy hand on the counter,
black and white tiles
and the thrown jar
refused to fade
and they coloured my image of you.

In a short step,
we were on the bridge
with it silver paint, rough
over chips and rust.
The tar on the walkway melted in the sun
And an uncharitable stream of the drying river
Carried your memory into my conscience.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Woodchip wallpaper and other delights

A thumbnail
gains a hold in the woodchip.
Pause for a minute and consider
how once you'd have yielded
and dug the nail in.

Consider :-
digging mortar from walls,
amateur archeology,
selected deeds with a penknife.

Consider :-
sitting on the floor,
toes ruffling in the carpet,
as a thumbnail searches the wallpaper.

Soupe de poissons

I heard them talk,
In the salons,
In the salons,
Of Paris.
Haute cuisine and,
Vintage champagne,
Vintage champagne,
But for me.
Mais donnez moi,
Soupe de poissons,
Soupe de poissons,
From the sea,
Oh, Je t'aime le,
Soupe de poissons,
Soupe de poissons,
Just for me.

Once on a boat,
On the ocean,
On the ocean,
Rocking free,
There I felt that,
Rolling Motion,
Rolling Motion,
Ill, made me.

Till J'ai bu le,
Soupe de poissons,
Soupe de poissons,
From the sea,
Oh, Je t'aime le,
Soupe de poissons,
Soupe de poissons,
Just for me.

Offer to me,
From all China,
From all China,
All the tea,
I'll reject it,
Blowing frambois,
Blowing frambois,
Just give me.

S'il vous plait, Just,
Soupe de poissons,
Soupe de poissons,
From the sea,
Oh, Je t'aime le,
Soupe de poissons,
Soupe de poissons,
Just for me.

Monday, 31 January 2011

31st pebble

Over the M6,
past some hens in a field,
the sun shines on the 13:09 from Carlisle.
Sheep in a field
cast long shadows,
and pay no attention to the man in coach D
going South again.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Catching up on pebbles.

One day left in the month, so today I'm going to bring these up to date with the last few days. Tomorrow, I'm on the move, so there may be a battle with the technology to try and post the last pebble on time.


Filling the pen --
the ink bottle needs tilting now.


The CD's finished
but still the machine hums.
a bell strikes twelve.


On a frosty morning,
a VW camper sits parked,
opened doored. --
a cup of tea,
steaming on its table.


A year on my dressing table,
three pine cones.
"Look after these Dad." --
will she remember?


Sunday morning
 in the church car park,
laughs and back patting over,
they wave at each other,
as they drive off.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Back again pebbles


Passing Stirling,
fog rises from the snow,
engulfing hedgerows and trees


Paper cup of tea in hand,
standing in the pebbles
 at the seas edge,
a couple and a dog
take shape
in the mist.


Against the kirks side wall
lies a boss of John Knox,
broken nosed.


The spade scrapes on the concrete,
turning two handfuls of lime
into the black loam.


Tuesday night,
the stained glass in the church
is lit up.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

More offshore pebbles


The ebb and flow
of water in the scuppers - -
looking out on waves.


the tanker lurches high in the air
as we dive,
but the hose remains connected
and the oil flows.


Past the blast wall,
volumes rise.
Shouted conversations,
into faces.


Met Office graphs,
over cups of tea.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Offshore pebbles


Deep within the pipework
a shout,
another yard of cable.


Passing on the walkway
a nod,
a noiseless greeting
into the wind.


A crane screams
and six tones
of chemical tank
are hoisted into the air.


An oil can,
crude oil,
running the world.


Yesterday's work,
done today --
memories of a moment's silence.


Somewhere in the dark
the horizon lies,
between these waves
and the moon.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Six pebbles


The girl in Cafe Nero
stopped to make a note in a notebook - -
Two consecutive pebbles?


Flight delay -
Walking a carpeted mile
of hotel corridor,
repeated pictures,
and finished room service trays.


The engine noise drops a few tones
and we're still for a moment
before the helideck comes into view.


Snow on the portside
muffles the mechanical hum.
Somewhere above, a steam line,
below, the sea.


just beyond the orange pipework
and girders,
beyond the halogen glare,
it's nighttime - -
a hundred miles
from the nearest streetlight.


The sun sinks early tonight
behind some distant cloud.
The coppered waves rush west,
leaving us with ordinary birds.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A pebble for the 4th

Five afternoon sounds

The uneven beat of the electric fire fan
and the occasional leafing of a new page.
Outside a reversing van drowns out a distant gull,
then silence.

Monday, 3 January 2011

A river of stone 1st, 2nd & 3rd

There's an interesting site that I found via The Crafty Green Poet . The River of Stones is asking us to take a little moment of every day in January and write a few words about it - A little pebble poem. Naturally, being me, I'm leaving this till the last moment i.e. late. But in the early hours of last night, which I'm going to technically designate still the 2nd, I wrote

Lying in the darkness
listening to my breath
as the day fades out.

Today, though slightly outside the rules, looking back on the 1st I wrote.

New years morning -
The sky and birdtable birds
are just like yesterday.

And for today

Over the rooftops
pigeons on an ancient chimney
jostle for position.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

I took a walk in Scotland

I took a walk in Scotland,
in a glen with a ruined croft,
where high on the wind a curlew’s song
cried, "now how are your brothers?
where have they gone?"

I took a walk in Scotland,
out in the shadows on a rainy beach,
out to where the cutter stranded,
and the dark Atlantic rolled
a weary wave upon the sand.

I took a walk to escape
images of death and tears on the radio,
but what was behind was also in front.
What should have been buildings,
are not even boulders,
but dust.
What should have been lives,
are not even bodies,
but parts.
What should have?
What might have?
What will?
I took a walk in Scotland,
And found myself out in the world.

The old water cat

There’s life in the old water cat yet,
dew laden in the morning
and the milky dog
lies in a shaft of sunlight
waiting for the dust to settle.

In front of the begonia window,
on ancient leather and horsehair
we sink and dream of an age of steam,
hellos in the street,
simplicity and the freshly turned earth,
before the mist sets in.

Where is the old water cat now,
dew laden in the morning
and still and the milky dog
lies in a shaft of sunlight
waiting for the dust to settle.