North Sea

Grey green in the gathering dusk
and rising,
push and pull
push and suck,
push and suck.

We turn for home.

In the night
the CRASH, the SMASH and ROAR of distant waves
wakes us.

At dawn
I walk the sunlit sand:
the push,
push and pull,
push and suck
of breaking waves and churning stones
gentle now.

It is “Banned Books Week”

“Censorship, once condemned by all ethical people, has now become almost universally popular.”

This is true and it is shocking, at least to an old man like me who remembers the days when freedom of speech was sacred and censorship was, as Maggie McNeill says, “condemned by all ethical people”.

You can find the post I am quoting from by clicking on the image below.

WENDY COPE: Kindness to Animals

This poem was apparently commissioned by the editor of The Orange Dove of Fiji, an anthology for the benefit of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. It was rejected as unsuitable.

If I went vegetarian
And didn’t eat lambs for dinner,
I think I’d be a better person
And also thinner.

But the lamb is not endangered
And at least I can truthfully say
I’ve never, ever eaten a barn owl,
So perhaps I’m OK.

Me, I’m on Wendy Cope’s side. From the moment of its birth, a lamb is far more “endangered” than any barn owl. (But see also my poem Deep Down.)

V of Cups

All is not lost.
Two cups still stand.
Maybe – like the Two of Cups –
they are the two of you,
and all the others foolishness
like last night’s drinks,
like when you find yourself the following morning
in bed beside an unknown face, unknown hair.

All is not lost.
For the two of you,
hand in hand,
or for you alone if need be,
there remains the bridge that leads
across the river to another chance
somewhere, in some other land.

DOROTHY NIMMO: A Birthday Present for Roger John

I would like to send you something very small
that you could carry with you always, no trouble at all.

I would like to write something you could learn by heart
without even trying and never forget.

I would give you something you already have
that you would keep for the rest of your life, that isn’t mine to give.

I would wish you enough time, enough space,
a strong heart, good spirits, a safe place.

But if you turn out to be left-handed, if you suspect your name
may not be your real name,

If you can hear the cry of bats, if you can dowse
for water, if your dreams belong to somebody else,

If when you stand at the tide’s edge looking out to sea
you hear them calling to you, then you must come to me.

Put your hand in mine. I’ll say,
It’s all right. It’s possible. We go this way.

As I Rode Out One Morning

As I rode out one morning
I saw a white rose in bloom.
I leant down and stole that white, white rose
From its place by an ancient tomb.

I gave the rose to a lady fair
Where she sat in the Garden of Love
With at her side a unicorn
And a golden hawk on her glove.

As I rode back that evening
I saw a rose red as blood.
I left that rose to bloom and die
Where it grew in the garden of God.


He arrives too late to tell him how it will be.
Oscar is gone. Alone, he orders hock,
sips in the style of an earlier century
in glamorous mirrors under the clocks.

He would like to live then now, suddenly find
himself early, nod to Harris and Shaw;
then sit alone at his table, biding his time
till the Lord of Language stands at the door.

So tall. Breathing. He is the boy who fades away
as Oscar laughingly draws up a chair.
A hundred years on he longs at the bar to say
Dear, I know where you’re going. Don’t go there.

But pays for his drink, still tasting the wine’s sweet fruit,
and leaves. It matters how everyone dies,
he thinks, half-smiles at an older man in a suit
who stares at his terrible, wonderful eyes.

XIX – The Sun

When the dot popped, we are told,
that marked the beginning of Time.

I can’t say I hold with
beginnings of Time,
but one thing seems clear:
if the dot hadn’t popped
or had popped and then stopped,
or if things had unrolled
just that tiny bit faster – or slower –
we wouldn’t be here;

and that now
if our blessings didn’t outnumber
our trouble and pain,
there’d be no one and nothing
here on this earth
but heaving slime and barren dunes
and sticky, burning rain.