Friday, 1 January 2021


Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in

Until the town lie beaten flat


Chekhov was there,

In Mariupol,

Perhaps the now-shredded boulevard trees

Were there then too, new planted,

Now flail-cut with shrapnel

The Steppe-wind

Howling through…..

Chekhov’s level gaze

Under cruise bombardment

Missile fire,

No gay old Chinaman he

But a doctor

Who knew blast injury well enough

And would have written of it with the precision

And compassion of a healer.


March 2022

Note: Chekhov was raised about thirty miles from Mariupol in Taganrog. 

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite


Aphrodite refused Anchises’ wish for immortality because he would first grow old, and only then immortal, like the mortal lover of Eos, the Dawn.


“For soon miserable old age will enshroud you,

Merciless old age that eventually stands beside all men,

Deathly, wearying, loathed even by the gods.”


February 2002


George Seferis.


On the hidden shore

White as a dove

We thirsted at noon

But the water was brackish.


Upon the golden sand

We wrote her name

But a sweet breeze blew

And the writing vanished.


With what heart, with what spirit

What longing and passion

We lived our life. A mistake!

So we changed our life.



February 2022

The Road East


Black Sea harbour

A lock-up in the town wall above the sea

At a few pence only

Just an iron bed, horsehair mattress,

Strobing neon tube,

Paint the blue of nightmares.

Lights out….blind….the door bolted.


In the morning I walked out of town

Into the happiest hour of my life

(An old man’s judgement)….

The road east along the coast,

Unmetalled, sandy…. walking quietly

Through a pine forest that reached to the shore,

Fragrant, cool and silent

In the perfect balance of the self.


January 2022

South East of Albi


South East of Albi

There is a narrow road

That climbs up to the watershed

Of High Languedoc.

You drive up through pine forest

With big blue flowers like Michaelmas Daisies

In the lush grass of the steep road banks….

It gets cooler towards the top.


There you could draw a line in the road.

On one side you are in Northern Europe,

With its dark forest and blue flowers.

On the other a warm landscape

Is open down to the sea beyond Beziers,

With sun-bleached grass and yellow flowers,

A few wild olives among the rocks.

It’s like the world’s on a knife edge there….

And with one step

You are in the Mediterranean.



January 2022 

The Equal of the Gods



He seems to me the equal of the gods

That man who sits opposite you

And listens close to your sweet voice

And the love in your laughter.


It sets my heart beating in my breast,

For when I glance at you I can’t speak

My tongue won’t move,

A fine fire runs under my skin,


I see nothing, my ears roar,

Sweat pours off me, I tremble all over,

And I am paler than grass,

So close I seem to death.


December 2021



No history then

The buildings were of the present

The past a circle


The future

A flash.


We, who are all process,

Cannot imagine Now,

That great, elaborated, ramifying

Celebration of This, as it is,

As we can raise it up.


December 2021



Horizontal sun

Slides through the grass,


Shaking the bents,

Leaving a slick of wet light

Cold as ice.


November 2021

Cypris, Sappho.

My translation.


Come to me,

Down from the mountains of Crete

To this sacred temple

Where your delightful grove of apples stands,

Alters smoking with incense.

Cold water sounds through the branches,

Deep sleep descends from trembling leaves,

There a horse meadow blooms

With Spring flowers, and honey breezes blow.  

Cypris, pour gracefully into golden bowls

Nectar that blends with our festivities.


November 2021

Net Zero


Net zero

Net the wind

Net the ebb-tide

Net the flow

Net the tsunami

Net zero.


November 2021



This quick moment

Leaf-fall wind!

Streaming through on the bike

The leaves spinning like shrapnel…



October 2021



We who have no future

Have no past:

The tyranny of progress

Reduced to a point;

Teleos, purpose,

Shrunk to absence;


Billions of miles into nowhere.


October 2021

Jazz Odyssey


Bird’s impetuous rhapsodic voice

Detonates a Homeric immediacy

Unleashes the Muse

Beginning where she will

Falling pell-mell into now

Into the spinning out of a soul

An epic history, a heart

Driven far and wide

Through sea sorrow, lotus lands.


September 2021



A day among the immortal seasons

In September fifty years ago…..

The corn has been cut,

And over the stubble field

Weaves a shoal of swallows and martins,

The field glistens

The hot air shimmering and vibrating,


Colour is drained from the south

There is a diffuse glare of sunlight,

The hedgerow elms are silver-grey

The backs of the swallows shine like gunmetal.


To the north the line of oak, ash and birch

Is rich in colour.

A party of tits filters through the leaves,

Among them are two willow warblers

A fierce migratory restlessness is in their movements

They flicker like yellow lights in the green spaces.


September fifty years ago

A day among the eternal seasons….

We thought the world would last forever

We were wrong.


September 2021

The House of the Waning Moon


Autumn Equinox,

Full moon,

In the dark house

She turns in profile,


A cheekline  crescent at the north door

Where the winter stars fly in.


Equinox of Spring

She moves in the dark

A brilliant outline

Moves beyond the lamplight

To the south door

Where the  swifts fly in.


August 2021


Note: The waning moon of the Autumn Equinox rises progressively further to the north of east, and the opposite is the case in Spring. 

They Told Me, Heraclites. For CT, after Callimachus.


They told me, Heraclites, you were dying

And it stopped me in my tracks

When I remembered the nights we spent talking,

Drinking wine, smoking pipes, reading our poems,

And how a long time ago,

Up on the mountain near your place,

I walked slap into reality, by accident,

Just a simple twist of fate,

And it made me laugh,

Because it made no difference to anything,

And so I know

That your poems will live on

And that there’s nothing in the nature of mind

That is capable of dying….

Nothing at all.


August 2021

Scent of Limes


Scent of limes,

That time of year,

The time of yarrow

The herb Achilles took to Troy to heal wounds,

The plant the Taoist Masters

Divined the Book of Change with,

That time….

Returned like a strain in music that assembles

St John’s wort, betony,

Flowers of the bramble,

Flowers of the lime

Streaming down the wind,

A dying fall….

“Flower o’ the broom

Take away love and our earth is a tomb!” 1


July 2021


1 Robert Browning, Fra Lippo Lippi.

The Year After


The year after Vasily Arkhipov saved the world,

Summer among the Isles of Greece,

The gift of being nineteen

Writing in a shuttered peasant’s room

In a house under the mountain, on Ikaria,

The island where no foreigners came,

A runaway from post-war England,

Scratching with a pen by day,

Working on the mackerel boats after sunset

“These balmy placid island days.”


Kennedy dead.

A dark day in November nineteen sixty three

Hitching down from Scandinavia in the snow

Ending up in the small hours in a dim café on the Belgian border,

The border closed till morning,

A kip on the tailboard above the slush,

Coffee and dark tobacco at dawn,

Like a benediction.


It was the coldest winter since ‘47

Snow in the streets till March,

Mandy Rice-Davies swigging champagne from the bottle

In the back of a limo. The Beatles

Industrial, insistent, clanging like an advertising jingle….

Back on the road there was silence, space,

The edge of loneliness, fear.


Peyote on the beach in Crete

I tuned Bird in from the static…..“Out of Nowhere,”

A miracle of rare device

Cut adrift while Memphis burned.


July 2021 

Ashes to Ashes


Sitting in a dead man’s dust

Head of the Gully, high summer,

Fragments of bone among the scabious.


These days I walk the world

Like I wasn’t there anymore

A space open and generous

Like a childhood vision.


I pick up a grain

And roll it between my fingers…..

It’s the time of St John’s Wort, Marjoram,

After the Solstice.


June 2021

A Bestiary of Flowers


Hawkweed, hawk-bit, mouse-ear, yellow goat’s-beard,

A bestiary of the Solstice. Flowers… earth-gold as a hawk’s eye,

The fierce, dense yellow of high summer;

Egg-yolk bird’s-foot trefoil,

Dragon’s-teeth, viper’s-grass,

Beasts at the heels of Aphrodite of the Flowers,

Dove’s-foot crane’s-bill, dog-rose,

Wolf’s-bane, toad-flax, sow-thistle….

Conjured by the violet-haired Muses

Their steps visible in the quaking-grass,

Their scent crushed in the thyme,

Eternity in the touch of your fingers.


June 2021



The falling shafts which never fall

Flash across my windows

From bows drawn in Africa….this house,

A memory in the souls of swifts.


Black sparks struck from entropy

The air no element for endurance

But for these warping shapes of gravity

Curves in space and time

Falling across the wind

Falling through all dimensions



May 2021

Look Back


Remember when your waking breath

Was like the air of paradise? When your body

Embraced you like a lover?

Look back…coloured shadows…..

But these violets, this may blossom,

Ash and oak

Are now as then

The same as in Sappho’s time, or in Shakespeare’s

Or in your own eternal season….

Look back with them one last time.


For now the seasons are dying with the summer ice

The spring, always as fresh as youth,

The physical touch of youth,

The spring is dying.

The spring, the eternal season among seasons

Is being wasted away by the trillion dollar plague;

Wasted away by those philosophers of human nature

With their bow ties and dead souls;

Wasted away in corporate boardrooms

By old men with silver hair and perfect teeth

For shareholder value;

Wasted away by Capitalist Modernity,

And the inheritors of the European Enlightenment

That genocide project, a scorched-earth war

Waged against all other cultures.


Look back now

For the past is dying with the future

Look back

Summon the Cretan gaze

Converse with the shades again

Look back

Look death in the face

All you who have been worthy of this world.


April 2021

Hesiod on the Farm


The plough-maker he called “Athene’s servant”

Carpenter to the goddess of technology

Who pegged the plough-tree to the stock

Fixed the shear

Polished the grip;

Or he walked the mountain for a holm limb

Formed in one piece

Stock and tree unbreakable.


He thought himself wealthy to have both

Curing in the smoke of the chimney

Throughout the winter

While he wrote the history of the gods

Sung to him by the Hippocrene Muses

In the roaring of the wind up above.


April 2021

Blinded by the Light


April afterglow

Cold as an oracle

The Pleiades, Orion, the Dogs,

Fall headlong into the sun

Blinded by the light

Oedipus consumed.


This is the road at Colonus

This the gesture of Theseus

This is the void beyond the Labyrinth

The journey through the night

From the end

To the beginning.


April 2021

Dog Days


Agni shines against the dawn

Sirius returns

Fire engulfed in light at sunrise.


When Electra drew water for the farmer

River Inachus in darkness

ὦ νὺξ μέλαινα χρυσέων ἄστρων τροφέ! 1

In the dog days,

In July in the heat,

Sirius, Dog Star, rose at dawn,

Rose earlier each night

Nearing midnight in Autumn

The season farmers cut wood

Cut plough-trees and wagon-timbers

Announced by the seasonal stars.


Since then the stars have drifted,

A long precession of the axes through the centuries,

Drifted deeper into Winter….

A month in two thousand years,

The seasonal star-clock running fast

The dog days in September now

In the cool.


What poets will write

When Sirius returns to the heat again? 2

What farmers?

What world?


1 “O black night. You who nurse the golden stars!”

Euripides, Electra.

2 The precession of the equinoxes is around a 25,000 year cycle.


March 2021

Hare on the Hill


The smale foules then

In Gramarye, in the violet moon,

Puck and the muses

Tangled in the roundshaws.


Hare on the hill

Roe in the high wood

Swans in October starlight,


The river… heron above

Otter tench, pike,

Raven rolling at break of day,


Badger town, fox hollow,

In the greenwood….

Festivals of owls.


March 2021

Eternity Overwhelmed



And when there are no longer seasons

When cyclical time is overwhelmed, as

Tide by tsunami…

When a road has been driven through eternity.


When there is no longer climate

Only weather; unpredictable, chaotic, violent;

When the great forests are cut down

Made monoculture: palm oil, burger-ranch, soy plantation,

Capitalist Modernity…. an ideology made palpable.


When species become so rare

Their evolution is brought to halt

Abundance-driven natural selection

Overwhelmed by selection for profit,

The shape of death: palpable, obscure…


When there are no longer seasons,

Time overwhelmed,

Eternity overwhelmed,

Summer, no more,

Spring, no more.


February 2021



The fear was the best of it

Those fugitive years

Along a glittering world

Under a different sun, another moon,

Somewhere between the days,

Without contact, the void

A second skin.


Lost in orbit

Come back to another time

An alien planet.

Here the birds are not the same

The stoat on the track

The willow herb blowing

The scent of lime blossom…..

They are unreachable

The shouts beyond the horizon.


                      February 2021

The Same Stink


The world smells of death.

Where once there was that high rolled hair

(Called Victory Rolls when it was all over)

The heavy military skirts of the camp guards,

The cigarettes, the laughter, the camaraderie outside the barracks,

We’ve all seen the pictures….

Now, it’s blond hair, falling in regulation spirals,

A style as formal as a salute,

Pink lipstick, the lashes, the slim

Baby-blue dress,

“The Christian girl-next-door”

Almost a porn-star,

The PR Nazi…..

It’s the same stink….

The world smells of death.


January 2021



Old midwinter moon

Walking the old path

With the old gesture

Remote, aloof, way up there.


Summer moon, twice the size

Crouched over the horizon

Rolling a tun of buttermilk

The same old story

Old as the wind.


January 2021