Thursday, 27 December 2012

New Start

Joseph arrived here a little revived: a new start is what most people long for and as his ship came ashore, a burning, alien hope welled up inside him. From Egypt, he had edged gradually towards these shores, having left his Sudanese homeland several weeks earlier.

Each port had been a stepping-stone towards a new continent where abundance caught his eye, like grapes clustering from every branch in a vineyard. Liverpool to Glasgow had been the final leg. For the first time since the blackest day, his life began to have possibilities again.

But walking down Hillend Street on a cold November morning seemed a million miles from the shores of the Red Sea. Reaching his destination, he was swept, abruptly and unexpectedly, by a surge of emotion for his people and his village. The freezing air seemed to punch his face leaving him breathless and numb...

He walked slowly towards the restaurant, checking his gangly stride as he glanced down at a small piece of paper. Recognising the restaurant’s name in the scrawly handwriting in front of him, he edged through the heavy, silver door into a bright red and yellow room.  Joseph asked the man behind the counter, in his best English, about the waiter’s vacancy. As a prerequisite of his claim for refugee status, the job centre had insisted that Joseph apply, even although he had no previous experience of this kind of work.

"So, when can you start? We're in a bit of a fix with winter flu and that..." said the burly owner, appearing suddenly through the set of beaded curtains that hung to the left of the bar. He rubbed his greying beard with one of his huge furry hands, as he waited for a response.

Joseph was taken aback by the speed of his success, having expected a more thorough interview with questions about his background, or at least a mention of his accent. When he revealed his willingness to begin right away, the owner’s bushy, grey eyebrows curved upwards in half-surprise, but he seized the moment nevertheless, throwing Joseph a notepad and half-size pencil. A short while later he was ready for action.

Feeling conspicuous in his checkered apron, he moved slowly towards the window table to take his first order.
"The chicken curry," ordered a sharp-suited man, even before Joseph could utter a word.
"The chilli," spat out his female companion.
"And a Budweiser."
"Me as well."
Finding the accents difficult to understand, Joseph was forced to ask his first customers to repeat themselves. Slowly and grudgingly, with little eye-contact, they did so.

Bewildered by their lack of empathy, Joseph trudged back towards the kitchen, his hands shaking. As he pushed the red swing doors to deliver the order, what he saw made him feel physically sick.

Back home, his drought-prone climate, like a cosmic roulette-wheel, had chosen to curse with a poor harvest for the past three years. Joseph had witnessed many families struggle to survive: many fathers, once strong and proud, becoming shadows lurking in fields, divining rain, scratching around for the slightest sign of enough grain to ward off total despair. When none appeared, the burden of responsibility often became too much....

Now Joseph’s eyes were fixed on a chubby man of medium height wearing an off-white apron, stained and unkempt, with a shaven head and matching stubble. He was repeatedly turning the half-eaten contents of several plates into a large metal bin. The bin was bulging with enough food to feed the children of his village for a full week.
"What will you be doing with that?" Joseph managed to ask.
"Hungry mate?" grinned the cook. "Don’t worry-you’ll get your meals for free. Only the best for the staff of All Weathers!"

Giving him the order, Joseph left the kitchen.

As he walked between his designated tables and the kitchen, during the sluggish hours of his first day, thoughts crept through Joseph’s mind like unwelcome visitors. This is the land to which he had travelled? The inhospitable wind seemed to whisper the character of its inhabitants-an arrogance and lack of recognition of the wealth and well-being that was pouring out of every shop window.

Yet, Joseph sensed despair, in spite of this; in contrast to the joy-filled community that had been his home for these past twenty-five years. He felt an atmosphere of hopelessness in this refuge. With these thoughts came a sense of guilt, as he thought of those who had helped him greatly since his arrival here only three days ago.

Joseph left his new employment at six thirty, having unburdened himself of apron, notebook and pencil. The day had been an eye-opener, and by the end of his shift Joseph felt tired and was functioning on automatic pilot. Walking almost robotically back out into Hillend Street, he silently manoeuvred out into the black night.

His temporary accommodation was a ground floor flat on the other side of the town. At a steady pace he had made the journey to the town centre that morning in around fifteen minutes. Now, however, as fog began to fall, Joseph realised, for the first time, that he was unsure of the direction in which he should go.

Following the written instructions had seemed so easy during the hours of sunlight, but as he wandered methodically through the waterfall glow of lampposts, he struggled to find any clue which would tell him where he was going. He walked on, feeling more and more uneasy. Darkness had come quickly, chasing away any signs of life from the streets he walked on. Like a restless ghost treading the same ground over and over, unable to rest in peace, Joseph merged with the mist. He was lost.

You may wish to read more about Joseph. Here is where his story begins: 

Posted for Theme Thursday: Rebirth  

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Haiku from the EK Centre 22/12/12

Busy and buzzing
Mall in a fast forward loop 
Bodies grabbing gifts.
Window wonderland
Victorian heartstrings tugged
Fake heartwarming snow.
Shoppers go shuffling
Monkey arms, wilting flowers
Trying to keep faith.
Keep cool in the queue
Angels may be serving you
Waiting for their wings.
Try to stay civil
If bells, baubles and Buble
Are not quite your thing.

Posted for Haiku Heights-Snow
(I realise I've taken a slight liberty with this theme!)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

18/12/12 from 13.13 @ Strathclyde Park

marching on their own two feet,
an army of mercenary mallards
beseeching me
to be fed
realising that i am ill-prepared,
they are
reproaching me
for lack of foresight
and lack of bread. 

Trudging on empty stomachs
in solitary single file,
waddling into water,
their V-tides rippling from webbed feet,
they are troops
in green camouflaged berets,
reforming their formation
gliding the glassy surface,
swimming on in sadness.

Still wishing to be their general,
i walk into peace time
where stark proud trees
are resolutely waiting:
red-veined shrubs
whisper coming Christmas
as dewy grass is glistening.

At the dam,
crashing its crescendo,
warlike water eddies
towards the quiet truce
of the relentless river,
the magnetic cry of gulls
is turning my head;  
hovering and hollering
a call to arms
that reaches shore.

In the distance
the army of ducks are advancing,
embarking from the loch
towards their own happy ending:
a Dunkirk where
all that's waiting is
a couple bearing food.

Swarming from the water,
giving full allegiance,
standing to attention,
around their feet,
they wait
and eat.

Posted for Poetry Jam: A walk to remember

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The 10pm Sky Guide mash-up

good luck garfield
idiot minds
question bullseye
spooks tonight
celebrity hell swap
psychic eye
europa teen mom
cop squad guy
naked jamie
uk tings
fleetwood jingle
shanghai sings
ghost soillse
dexter fly
rugrats giveaway
wife swap taggart
under siege
bargain scandal
pawn disease
graveyard airplay
mourinho dance
upfront vegas
a league of trance
texas e news
springer mac
cleveland baywatch
ghostquake jack
sex and spartacus
nightly sands
true grit diary
in god's hands

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What if swans..?

What if swans,
Their necks of stretching, swivelling periscopes,
Were well-intentioned,
For a second,
More Lisa Kudrow
Than tetchy Brachiosaurus,
And, forgetting that they had to threaten,
Extended you a kindly glance?

What if swans' mouths,
With rows of tiny gemstone teeth,
Glistening in the sun,
Spoke words of peace,
Without a hiss,
And thanked you for their daily bread?

What if swans' wings,
Beating rhythms across the wind,
Were really wrestlers' arms,
In their mock triumphant show,
Tangled under rising feathers,
Deep below?

What if thirsty swans,
Their orange bills ready and willing,
Though perfectly poised
With downy bottoms in the air,
Suddenly felt despair,
And went
From upended half-submerged corks
To toppling white Titanics,
Sucked and sunken under there?

What if swans were just like us,
Looking out for love,
Trying hard not to curse,
A weekend visit to the pub,
Tired, black-rimmed eyes
From nine to five,
Commuting in their fine white suits,
You'd see them on the bus...

Posted for Poetry Jam.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

la playa

bodies making sand connections
gritty grains grip sunscreened limbs
fresh seawater, skin transluscent
flickering pages gather wind,
facing south,
losing doubt,
tides roll in from Africa.

oriental genies pop up,
hands grant stubborn sinews calm,
shape-shift salesmen trudge to silence
conjure watches down one arm,
on the shore,
breakers roar,
tides roll in from Africa.

rows of blue sombreroed sunbeds
palm trees dance as horses crash
shell collections clear the sea out
tiny feet now make a splash,
all the while
Marbellan style,
tides roll in from Africa.

posted on poetry jam and poets united

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Morning Manifesto

Notice the birds. Recognise their song. And join. Click minimize. Smell the salt water and consider where sea meets shore, sifting order from chaos. Watch a dog scamper for a ball with undivided soul. Make yourself smaller. Be astonished by the repeating waves. Scan a horizon line and some headlands. Try to understand  seagulls. Feel patterns being swept onto sand as swirling clouds step aside to introduce sunlight. Click minimize.

Restore yourself down. Consider the cycle of flowers. Reject worry. Look into the blue and watch the daytime moon balance in silhouette. Forget details. Feel small. Breathe deep the sky into your tiny lungs. Concentrate on footsteps: bodies held by gravity, bass drumming lightly against an orbitting planet. Held in space. Sample the growing swell on the shore. Pat that passing dog. Let the sand caress your footsteps as a plane slides past above you. Click minimize.

Accept a sunbeam on your face. Walk slowly. Ask yourself why the air seems so pure today. Watch a dancing robin. Be joined in the movement as birds pirouette through air currents. Accept the joy of their flight. Let a fly land on your hand. Walk beside a golf course and listen to the echo of order. Click minimize.

Life is not a tall order from the ground. Marvel that all you can see is a glimpse. That you are eternal.

Click minimize.

Finally, attempt to grasp that you are small but beautiful...  

Posted for

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Charlie says

I take myself a quick look round to check everything's hunky dory.

Sure enough it's all the way I remember it. The little notepad at the side of the bed; the white plastic biro; the long blue sofa; the bright menu for the room service nosh.

Tonight's window view could be better: the old factory wall ain't what you'd call inspiring, but it'll take more than that to get me down.

They always stick the bathroom right there next to the door don't they? Funny thing, but it's like I'm drawn straight towards the taps. I love the whoosh that surges around the room when you turn them on. It's diamond. It's like they've got a natural spring supply somewhere on the main road or something.

As it happens, this one's got a nice lived-in feel: the bath's gleaming white at the sides, but down the bottom of it, it's lost a bit of its sparkle. Some scratches on the tiles too and the lino's seen better days, but to be honest, I find rooms like this one reassuring.

I love the little rectangle of soap that's always there on the sink. Wrapped up like a personalised gift. Carefully I open it and grab hold like it's a mobile. I let my fingers run across the smooth surface. Then I hold it to my nose-there ain't no great scent to it, but no matter. Just having it left for me makes me feel like I'm at home.

I guess you've noticed how there's always that message stuck to the tiles? The one about putting your towels in the bath if you want em changed? Help us to help our environment it says, but what they really mean is help us to save us some cash. Quite right. You don't want to be wasteful-it's why our country's in the state it's in. Millions of little bits of wastefulness all add up. You've done it yourself. Under Blair we was all letting it slip through our fingers-never thought it would ever matter. Anyway, the towel thing don't affect me. I'm only ever staying one night, but if it were two, I'd always re-use. Just so's you know. 

Once the water's piping hot, I ease myself in. I'm in there like a liner launching off the quayside. The heat surges through me and I settle down, enjoying the quiet. I'm calm. I'm calm. I let my mind wander through an evening to myself. Soon I'll be lying on the bed flicking through the channels. I'll try and find me a football match if I can. Always love the chance to see a live game. I can still remember the thrill of it when I was a youngster. The FA Cup final or an England match. Sitting on the couch with dad, scarves round our necks. Brilliant times they was... 

I dry off then slip under the covers and scan until I find a Spanish 2nd Division game. I always wonder about them geezers in the studio. How they landed firmly on their feet. Nice suits. Flashy teeth-whitened grins. All for being blessed with the ability to kick a ball across a few blades of grass. A few years of running and now all they have to do is talk. Set up for life they are. Can't imagine John Barnes celebrating a night at a Travelodge...

Still, I'm a happy man. I'm warm. Took me a couple of weeks to save for this here night out. I usually book em up in advance at the library computers. It's cosy in there and if you're clever about it you can follow the deals. Got this one for nineteen quid, didn't I. Makes me smile. I'm having the time of my life. It's a far cry from a night dossing I can tell you.

Tomorrow I'll be back round my patch. It's a good one. Meet loads of folk coming out of the Tesco. Most of em just blank me, but just enough of em give eye contact, and one or two'll stop and buy the Issue. Helps when they smile. Makes a difference.

As soon as I get back there, I'll start saving for another night like this. Tell you what-meet you back here two weeks from now? Maybe speak to you then...

Posted on imperfect prose

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A day in Alnmouth

The pearl of a recent "family and friends" holiday is finally found after a series of rather damp, rainy "stay indoors" sort of days. When the dry weather arrives, with the sun even threatening to pop through the clouds, we head for the village of Alnmouth, situated on the beautiful, unspoilt Northumberland coastline. Ours is not the first visit by Northerners. Previously named a new town under Norman rule in 1150, it was apparently destroyed by Scottish invaders in 1336. Hopefully our brief sojourn will not do too much damage...

There are few signs of destruction as we take up position on the golden shoreline, stretching for miles as far as the eye can see, with the postcard-friendly Coquet Island standing stage right of the horizon. A cool breeze pulls the children into the fast approaching waves: over and over as if being rewound, then fast-forwarded, their brightly coloured wetsuits hop in and out of the lolloping white breakers.

I am holding a "Thomas the tank engine" kite and the strength of the wind provides a constant tug on my hand. The pull is reassuring, as if I'm somehow plugging into nature via the kite's string. I imagine a surge of natural energy, as the wind's current pulses through my body and transfers back to earth via the icy, lapping waves that I'm kicking through. The buffeting sound pounds relentlessly on the kite's plastic. Waves trip to shore and the refreshing smell of seawater is somehow reassuring.

Away from the water's edge, one man is having trouble breaking in a black pony. Like a bronco in a rodeo, she fusses and swishes her tail, unwilling to let nature take its course.

After more paddling, some stone collecting and the important discovery of a snail, we are ready for a simple beach lunch. Sharing sandwiches, we pin down our travel rugs in the face of an increasingly blustery wind as clouds are sent spinning across a clearing blue sky.

Soon the sun is shining as we indulge in a spot of  beach cricket, where the main challenge, at first, is to ensure that the stumps remain upright. We wedge a red boulder against them to keep them intact and soon the ball is free-wheeling away from the bat as a youngster hits a crisp cover-drive across the flattened sand.

A short stroll around town is next on the agenda. We head down Pease's Lane towards Dandelion Cafe, whose bright yellow logo has lured us magnetically away from a more traditional coffee shop. Straight ahead of us as we walk is Alnmouth Village Golf Club. A golfer professionally sizes up, then sinks a long putt on the beautifully manicured green. As if he's just won the Ryder Cup, he collects multiple high-fives from his playing partners.

Sitting in the bright conservatory of Dandelion Cafe, we sip lattes and munch through some large slices of cake, comparing notes on how relaxed we feel. The children are happy to mix cake, ice-cream, water and sachets of sugar into one stupendous, scientific experiment, whilst the "grown-ups" reminisce and mull over  bygone days.

In the bar, local artwork, all vibrant blue skies, remind us of the present and we head back outdoors to catch the rest of the day. As we walk back along the gravel track, dissecting beach and golf course, the swell of the breakers provides a perfect soundtrack.

Soon our cars are swallowing us back into the pace of modern life and we are heading back to complete the last part of the holiday, but the day spent in Alnmouth has been one to remember.

posted on theme thursday- recollections.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

practically magic

can't write a script
for the magic man
all smoke and mirrors
stilettoed hands
tight-ropes water
ripped up palms
wakens talitha
puts your head in the sand
sips wine from water
has no fixed abode
feeds a god delusion
on a lonely road
pulls bread from a hat
with a sat-nav for fish
a sixth-sense near sycamores
a real death-wish
wakes up acting
like he never got hit
puts your fist in his side
makes you think he's legit
when he walks through walls
there's nowhere to hide
as he goes up in smoke
leaves for you to decide.

posted for poetry jam
prompt: do you believe in magic?

Saturday, 21 July 2012


cup of tea at twelve
planets turn around the sun
small boy smiles and waves

for: haiku heights 154 meaning

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

mobile immobile

a world on your fingerprints
clenched like a hand grenade
cyberspace messages
creasing your lips
you're causing diversions
unfazed while a passer-by
trip-wires away from
a virtual time-bomb
you're: surfing haphazardly
liking distractedly
blacking reality
out for a bit
controlled by a microchip
hypno-robotic charged
rendered immobile
when a lamp-post is hit...

Click to see mobile distraction in action here.

Posted  for Theme Thursday-Distraction

Sunday, 15 July 2012

first cycle

pedals turn small feet
mother frees and grips air as
he rides off her hands

Posted for Haiku Heights #153 "First"

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Ups and Downs: A Day in Western Lake District.

A casual squint at the map was my first mistake of the day.

Choosing the nearest direct route from our cosy holiday cottage in Ambleside to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in the Western Lake District was my second.

I'd visited the railway as a teenager and my memories of it had become enshrined as something magical that must be revisited. Have you ever noticed how time can make an occasion seem much more perfect than it probably was?  I visualised the railway as the perfect day out. I'd tried to take the family there on previous Lake District holidays, but had always been talked out of it. This time there was to be no escape...

What I've learned about the world
What looks like the quickest route on a map is not necessarily the best one to take.

Maybe the signs should have warned me, but I suppose I must have just ignored them. The Wrynose and Hardnott Passes sounded like something from an afternoon's adventure with Frodo and Sam in "Lord of the Rings". This could be nothing worse than stumbling over a few rocks as heroic music by the London Philarmonic sprinkled onto a magnificent vista.

Unfortunately I had no staff to lean on. Instead my trusty companion was the Citreon Xsara which, it soon transpired, was completely unfit for the task in hand. Maybe in the Shire below, the Citreon might have looked ready for an adventure, but up here in the clouds, it was trembling like a spooked hobbit waiting for some black riders to pass.

Some advice. When you're driving up a mountain in first gear and you have to stop precariously at the edge every few hundred metres or so to let a massive 4x4 go by, always make sure you put the car back in gear. I only forgot this once but it prompted tears from both of my children and a cry of another kind from my wife. You do travel faster sliding back down a steep incline, than you do crunching upwards, it must be said.

What I've learned about the world:
When negotiating a hairy hair-pin bend whilst driving down the side of a mountain and trying to see the way forward, the triangular side/front window of a Citreon Xsara looks less like a mistake and more like a liability.

Oh, and what I've learned about the world
The Lake District is a very misleading name. Why not the Mountain District?
Never ever drive over anything called a Pass again.
(Hopefully the driver above learned this too...)

Finally we reach Dalegarth Station: the rain comes on and we wander into the gift shop. They are selling certificates for having survived the Passes and my daughter, as if to mock me, asks to buy one.

We've missed the train. It will be an hour until the next one, so we jump back into the Citreon and race another seven miles to Ravenglass. I'm glad that it's flat all the way. 

When we reach Ravenglass, it's not as I remember it. In the adult world, you have to pay to park the car before you can rush to catch the steam engine, but we make it and even have time to grab a cup of tea for the ride.

Steam pours past our open windows and a fantastic little journey through a beautiful landscape of fields, forests and hillsides begins. At last I begin to remember why I've wanted to come back for over twenty years...

When we reach Dalegarth Station for the second time, we notice, this time, the coloured bunting that welcomes us. It coincides with a less stressful feeling now that we have no car to worry about.

We decide to take a saunter along the narrow road and head out into the countryside. Turning right at the Brook House Inn, we find a path that leads us past a little church called St Catherine's and on towards a riverside walk. We sneak under a small bridge (which seems to have been built solely to re-enact the story of "The Billy Goats Gruff") and onto a pebbly riverside.  Throwing stones into the water becomes our focus for the next half hour. We move across stepping stones to the middle of the river, hopping from stone to stone until we reach a perfect little island, full of flat pebbles with which to skim the surface of the river. Almost without realising it, we are having a "this is the life" moment...

Heading back up the path, we are magnetised by the quiet little churchyard. As we wander around, I'm looking for some kind of inspiration and find it in an inscription on slate positioned to the right of the church entrance.

Displayed are the words of a young signalman. They are a moving tribute to the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country as well as his undaunted, unquenchable faith. In this setting, surrounded by hillside, trees and sky, the words seem to resonate profoundly over the decades since they were uttered. 

Back at Dalegarth, crowds are gathering to catch the return train. So much so, that we miss it and are forced to wait for the next one. It becomes warmer for a while and all around us ice creams are beginning to be consumed. A lad bounds over the single narrow gauge line, shouting "Harry, watch this!" to his, at first, non-plussed twin brother.  Soon though, Harry is also long-jumping the line with gusto. As the next train arrives there is a jostling for position. I turn to see one mother left alone, with her baby on the platform as we squeeze into our tiny, wooden carriage.

The journey home starts well and goes a little like this:   

A hawk is hovering on a hillside when I turn to look away. Turning back, the empty sky leaves me wondering what prey has been swooped upon in that instant.

Suddenly out of nowhere, there is panic as a dog in the carriage next to ours suddenly leaps off the train. I am sure he will be crushed under the carriage but he somehow manages to twist right and avoid going under. After, what seems an age, the train grinds to a stand-still and the owner is forced to complete a "walk of shame" past the entire train to retrieve his dog. On his return, he reports the reason for the abrupt departure. His dog, it seems, had simply spotted another dog; love at first bark, puppy love etc.

We chug back into Ravenglass station, thoroughly recharged by our day in the country. The in-between part of the day has been a triumph.

However, it will end, for me at least, in much the same level of confusion as it started. When my daughter jumps up to leave the carriage whilst the train is in motion,  I move too fast to stop her, and bang my head on the metal topped carriage. It hits the sweet spot. Another dose of concussion will follow.

I will go on to enjoy my Lake District holiday, but not until the next couple of days have passed...

Heading back for some food at Broughton-in-Furness, I can't even raise a smile at the pub's name, and don't manage to eat much of my lasagne...

I do manage to get some new directions from the pub's owner, however. We avoid the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes on our return journey to Ambleside, but it's my wife who does the driving this time.

(*It was April 14, 2012 that we visited Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Before the firmament
All colides,
An azure confusion
Of chaos subsiding.

Spawned out of darkness into time.

Colour from vapour,
Blurring and charging,
Echo and turbulent,
Celestial and marine,
Mixing and forming,
Searching to be

The work of your hands.

Out of the blue
The storm is still,
A sight of inverted anarchy
Is good
They say.

The storm is still
Writhing under a surgeon's knife.

Millennia have not untangled
This lingering Siamese collaboration
Of sea and sea.

Under whispering dusk
You are
Transfusing creation,
Making new
And though my sail is set
To glide your ocean,
I am blue.

Posted for Poetry Jam

Saturday, 23 June 2012


Ice dystopia
Next in line for leaving home
Thawed heart if you speak.
Exhale winter through
Raindrop drumming on your mind
Carry on, dig deep.
One life left to leave
No one misses seeds you sow
Never for nothing.
Estimate your worth
Chasms cannot close themselves
Take your time my friend.


Posted at Haiku Heights prompt: support
and on Poets United.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lunchtime Down the Strathy.

Frenzied gulls, their wings windmilling, circle over stubby, marooned, foraging ducks. They  scrabble and scramble for discarded tokens of bread from the lush dandelion-speckled grass. Swans extend prehistoric necks and, like mechanical diggers, thrust their orange black beaks into the ground. A constant chirrup cracks across the rippling loch. A toddler, in a military run, makes his break for it, thighs pumping high across the tarmac. His quest for freedom is stopped by a vigilant mother, although it is his trailing father who finally scoops him back into the family car. Flapping in the breeze, a saltire flag protrudes from a brick tower, garrisoned in the water. A pigeon comes up close, begging for a bite to eat. When a man and woman get out of their cars to have a chat, it is time for me to get back into mine. A new afternoon is beginning...
Strathclyde Country Park, Scotland
copyright Alan Knox

For: Theme Thursday

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

(It's) All Good

This late May,
Summer left a calling card
Sitting on our patio
Newly born.
Seed cake pecked away,
Shadows share an aviary,
Cappuccino frothing
On Saturday at dawn.

Early June rainfall,
Floodgates open us,
Current swell swirls back
A letter from St John.
Building a reading list
Pianoing the dusk back
Tapping two golf balls
Across this lawn.

All good things
Beginning to begin again:
Spiriting us skylines,
Freshly unknown,
Excavating soil
For the smile of an alien,
All good things
Are yet to be shown.

Written for Theme Thursday

Light Celebrations

See buffalo herding                                
From every station
Trains can breathe now
Streets are heaving
Red white blue on
Coloured bunting
No one's leaving
Flags unfurling
Roadway clearing
Children hopping
Parents cheering
Collected fears
Have lost their meaning
A flame is fanning
A torch is nearing
Our arms extending:
A celebration
All for one
Olympic nation.

Written for Poetry Jam prompt: Celebration.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Full Circle: the Transit of Venus and a Diamond Jubilee...

The SDO satellite captures an 
ultra high-definition image of the transit of Venus
 across the face of the sun from space
 According to the Guardian UK online, it's "a rare astronomical event that happens when Venus travels across the face of the sun and appears as a small black dot on its surface". Transits happen in pairs, 8 years apart, followed by gaps of  121.5 and 105.5 years.  It's therefore been a privilege to live through two of these, in June 2004 and this week, on Tuesday 5th June 2012. The next one is due in December 2117, so in case you can't stick around to see it, here (on the right) is one memorable image from Tuesday night.
The idea that our sister planet Venus should be circling the sun, should of course, remind us of the orbitting that our own planet is currently doing. As you read this, you are precariously balanced on a ball of rock that's apparently moving around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. If you suffer from motion sickness, then please take a moment to recover...

We rotate into night after around 24 hours. We orbit the sun in one of our Earth years. In that time we move 940 million kilometres through our galaxy. To borrow a metaphor from Owl City, it seems to me that we're riding "a disco ball just hanging by a thread."

...Meanwhile, on planet Earth, on the same day that the transit of Venus was due to be seen, on some tiny islands called the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. It's only the second time a British monarch  has reigned for sixty years. As I watched some grainy footage of Queen Victoria's 1897 Diamond Jubilee, I marvelled at the massive display of patriotism that accompanied that event. And, after some years of apparently losing popularity, it seems that affection for royalty has come back into vogue in 2012.

It's true that in life, sometimes things come full circle. The Diamond Jubilee Regatta on the River Thames was the largest of its kind for centuries, reminding us of a bygone era. The Diamond Jubilee concert combined some fresh faces with others who have not been seen for a while, returning them to our consciousness and reminding us that their music has accompanied the evolution of life in the UK over the past sixty years.

The 2004 transit of Venus from
the Flagler Beach Pier in Florida

Then, in the Diamond Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving from St Paul's Cathedral, London, the words of a timeless poem, Psalm 19, were revisited in song. Transmitted live across the islands that my feet are fixed to, the sentiment brought me back to the transit of Venus and the Earth's almost invisible rotation and orbit of the sun. "...The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge... In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun...The sun rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat."

In the eight years since we last witnessed a transit of the sun by Venus, all of us, like the planet itself, have been making our way through space at an astonishing speed. Yet, when things come full circle, it's good to stop, take a breath, and reflect awhile about where we're going next...

(This post was written for Theme Thursday 7th June, 2012 on the theme of "Full Circle".)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Scene from a passing car (East Kilbride 8.12 am).

Already up to cause a fuss, 
When spooked by the horn of a passing bus,
(Gone, past Micky Ds),
An angry boy trying grown-up clothes,
Finger salutes invisible foes.

Cap is lifted forty-five degrees
To let off steam;
In an instant, all ashout:
"You know what? I'm mean."

Vengeance dribbling from his lips,
With gallus, rehearsed, swaggering hips,
And a single nod to his young team,
He's off again,
To live the dream.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Another Swimming Lesson

Waiting at the edge,
Backing off,
Searching for the zone.

In a movement,
In one moment,
He is leaving fear
On the sidelines,
Dipping his toe in,
Splashing right under.

A boy in blue goggles,
Hugged by a woggle,
Lapping attention,
As water pulls him down,
Paddling and proud,
Head up, catching eyes,
Straining with all his tiny might.

The smallest in the class,
Bustling across the surface,
Sucked in the slipstream
Of a cavalry charge
Bringing him home.

Riding a red horse to shore,
In the slow cantering spray of
Enjoying himself.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Swimming Lesson

An intent listener
As the chatter of children
Splashes through your ears.

Pretty in pink
At home near H20
You giggle in goggles
When you notice me.

Diving right in
You cut through chlorine
Kicking in scissors
Scything the surface
A frog-legged torpedo
Destination locked in
Seconds until arrival
A few breaths per breadth.

Then bobbing, like a buoy,
You wait in synchronicity
With the water.

Today you are
A butterfly ballerina
Spreading your wings
Across the deep end.

And I am watching
With pride
A new swimming sensation.

Also posted on Poetry Jam


White trash-lovers, Freaks for all they’re worth, Anarchy in beady, brazen faces, Seizing stares, Standing ground...