A Man in a Bear Gryll’s Hat – One A Week 2020

This poem was published in South Poetry Magazine in 2015, during my eight years “on the front desk” at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. It’s an example of the many fleeting connections you make with people that somehow end up sticking with you.

A Man in a Bear Grylls hat

with those flaps that hang like beagle’s ears
comes to my reception desk where he hears
a woman ask for someone
called Miranda and he tells me
his mother’s name was Miranda
and she’s buried maybe fifteen plots away
from Diana Dors and Diana Dors’
headstone says “Diana Dors Lake”
because she was married to Alan Lake
He and I remember them and I say so sad
how Alan shot himself – and there was I
thinking he’d be married again within two years
The man in the Bear Grylls hat says
my Dad’s buried with my mum and Diana Dors
was my Dad’s pin-up girl and I tell him his Dad
would have had to get in a very long queue
for Diana’s white-diamond beauty and her pearl lips
and her body like a painting of pretty hills
and her smile that upped the mood like happy pills
The man in the Bear Grylls hat nods and I ask
how I can help. My wife came in last night, he says
I show him where he needs to go

DIANA DORS and ALAN LAKE at their wedding in 1968

diana door alan lake wedding

Without A Song or a Dance What Are We?



Happy Wednesday from the United Kingdom!

Just occurred to me. When somebody snubs you or disappoints you or leaves you out of something you expected to be involved in, when someone hasn’t got the time for you, when someone doesn’t take an interest in what you are about and what you are doing, when someone is selfish or rude or both remember many great words and melodies flowed from the pained pens of writers who were treated that way.

Your own song is always and forever inside you and belongs to you and cannot be stolen by another person. It’s yours, your comfort and your support, no matter how long or short the lyrics, no matter how simple the tune. Just take a look at fine songs written by the best in the business and see how they attacked heartache head-on. Long after personal hurt faded and the river closed over the sadness and flowed on to better times, millions of other people all over the world are still helped and comforted by the sentiments in those songs. We can’t ever control how another person treats us but we can make our own music and sing our own songs and sometimes the words will spread and grow and flourish and take on a life of their own.

When a song reaches the ears and heart of a stranger and comforts that person, a positive, noble wonderful effect wipes out all negativity. It’s good to know that when our words reach people we will never meet or know, nothing will reflect us more accurately and honestly. How wonderful is that?


Image result for abba images


Dance like nobody’s listening, sing like nobody’s watching

and get on with the writing



Two Weeks After the Accident – One a Week 2020

This poem was published in Orbis Magazine 

Two Weeks After the Accident

In A Town Like Alice
Japanese soldiers
crucified Peter Finch
for stealing a chicken
You got hurt for stealing time
Your punishment was off the scale
Love’s alive in my tiny thread of blue silk
from your embroidered coat, in my relief,
in my turning of your gentle hands
palms upwards,
scanning for damage like a camera,
like Virginia McKenna
when she found her man
at Alice Airport
in 1956

Autumn Haunting – One A Week 2020

Where will you be, my love?
My phantom man, my memory?
Will you be leaning on the bar,
red wine waiting for you to touch the glass?
Will you be walking through the square
or up the hill, towards the church?
Or in the car park by The Queen’s Hotel?
Or in the car park by the station?
Or in the car park anywhere?
Will you be carrying your guitar?
Will you be wearing that same hat?
Will I see the red-pink of your coat,
the one that lost a single, treasured thread?
I harden my heart for what’s to come,
for seeing spectres weave and wound,
for you will be everywhere

He Was The Top – One A Week 2020

He was my Michelangelo
He was my big green sign marked GO
He was my priceless penthouse flat
He was my smile like the Cheshire Cat
He was my winning call, my bonus ball
He was my shiny bargain mall
He was the coins found down my sofa,
He was my Bentley and my chauffeur
He was my cue to lose the blues
He was my favourite bright red shoes
He was my very own cool rock star
He was my very own heart doctor
He was hot and sunny weather
When they’d forecast rain forever

I’ve learned to miss him in a measured way,
a teaspoon of him, once a day
People who say the missing ends
don’t know him, my friends

My Sweet Familiar Girl – One A Week 2020

At almost midnight my sweet girl leaves
the house and, as she goes, unzips her softly coat
and drops it somewhere near the door,
and wanders to the wood where she will join
a gathering of her sisters in a pagan dance
and raise poor Pan as all the girls
meet naked, crouching in dead leaves,

their grimly altar piece the fallen trunk
of some great tree which, when strong,
stood on the bark-layered ground
and saw these girls choose dark-night sacrifice,
hustle it in blank-mind torture way
and bring it down with deadly ease
and slaughter it with greedy, shrieking howls

and shrills of pleasure as warm blood ran,
spilling on the trunk of that great tree
which, when strong, stood here above the ground,
and saw that death by bitten jugular was not enough
to satisfy the lust of these great girls
hence some poor fellow resting near was pestered
into consciousness, pushed and forced

to rise and rise from where he curled,
when all he wanted was to sleep and snore.
He was commanded by those great insistent girls
to make unspeakable acts that are beyond
the worst imaginings of human minds
and there will be the same demand tonight.
The moon sits highly in the woods, all cream

and yellow, staring at the party in the dark.
Featureless observing moon, she makes no judgement.
A bird wakes up and trembles in its hidden place,
quite well aware of what is making all the noise.
He knows my sweet girl’s ways and watches
as her dust-grey shadow curves to stroll away,
out of the wood, to leap and land and sigh,

dressed neatly now, back in her softly coat,
entirely clothed, my sweet familiar girl.
Her jewel eyes stare wide a moment,
then small lids meet, defeated by the night
and her meanderings and all her wicked stuff

Owl Canyon Hackathon – When The Ride Ends – and details of 2020 competition coming soon

I am very proud to announce that my story “A Girl Could Fall In Love With A Guy Like Jim” made it into the Owl Canyon Hackathon anthology for 2019.

More details on:  Owl Hackathon website

Autumn 2019 Owl Canyon Press Hackathon Award Winners/ ISBN: 978-1-952085-99-4
Pages: 442

Owl Canyon Press is pleased to announce the winners of the Autumn 2019 Owl Canyon Press Hackathon:

FIRST PLACE ($3,000)
“Among These Winters There Is One So Endlessly Winter” by Desirae Matherly

“So Many Infinitely Precious Things” by Michelle Denham

THIRD PLACE ($1,000)
“How We Watch What Is Burning” by Emily Polk

The Reign in Spain” by E. Michael Brehm
“Made of Light” by India Choquette
“Rainbow’s End” by Curtis Clarke
“We Manifest How & When We Can” by Stu Croskell
“Rejoice” by Elsa Cruz
“The New Adventures of Rainbow and Friends” by Phil Dyer
“The best most excellent farm” by Carnegie Euclid
“Pack” by M.J. Fahy

“A Girl Could Fall In Love With A Guy Like Jim” by Jilly Funnell

“Everything Else” by Ella Kerr
“922 Fessler Ln” by Alex Lee
“Alms for Jasmine” by Arthur Liu
“Impossible Death” by Rebecca Loevy
“Jasaun and the Apple Flooshe” by Jeffrey Montanye
“The Cat Girls” by Aaron Muller
“Letters from Bahati” by Tyler Nelson
“Time’s Up” by Kate Osment
“Signs and Wonders” by Alex Pickens
“The Trans-Europa” by Henry Silvia
“A Plague of Angels” by Christian Smith
“The Pizza Boy” by Mary Spence
“How To Fake Your Own Death” by Emily Sperber
“Some Time Had Passed Since The Animation” by Thos. West
“SMILE!” by Elizabeth Wilder

When the Ride Ends: Autumn 2019 Owl Canyon Press Hackathon Award Winners

In the Room Below the Clock Tower – One A Week 2020

I knew that you were properly in love with me
when you asked me to edit that draft of yours.
My nervous pen spidered across the page.

Student doing it to teacher did seem very wrong
but I lectured myself. Instructed me to cool my boots,
suggested, hey, maybe they’re right when they say

a teacher is taught by his pupil. I have to admit
I wanted to believe all that from the back
of my smoke-damaged throat and from the dry core

of my over-wined liver. I stroked the pages. I noticed
your appendices included a mass of explanations
and at least one elementary omission.

I crossed through fifty-three words. I amended fourteen
inaccuracies that would have had the world reaching for her pen.
I gave the manuscript back to you. My skin damped with need

like when I kissed you on the Oxford train.
I watched you read. The tower clock began to chime.
Three millions years went by. Then you said,

How about you, huh? My new editor. Thank you. Yes.
I said I love you so much, darling, and you said, Yes. Yeah.
You turned your silver head in the direction of another woman.

I struggled to pull your eyes back into mine.
Your new gaze was iced by shards of impatience.
One last chime. Then the tower clock was silent.

When Death Comes I Will Not Be Here – One a Week 2020

Death came to collect me in 2008 and I was most put out
Antisocial git, I told him, you get lost

I decided there and then,
when death comes back, I will not be here

I plan to be in Menorca
Soaking sun, sea and sangria
So he’ll just have to wait

I may be home for Christmas
when I may save him a house call
by contracting salmonella

However, there is a possibility
my homeward flight will be delayed
and diverted to Seattle

Death has no imagination
He will wait and search for me
He’ll hang around the Space Needle

By then I’ll be in California,
boarding a flight for home
He will board with me, of course

like an unwelcome date
but really quite stunning
in that sexy hooded cloak of his

He’ll think he’s on my time, silly reaperman
but I will make his job impossible
I will simply fly away

A young woman reflects on poets – One A Week 2020

A young woman reflects on poets

I hate poets
Always going on about stuff
and looking for rhymes
that illustrate man’s condition and tap into the zeitgeist and hit the spot –
yeah, well, they don’t do a lot. They write poems that are new while they queue, while they sue,
poems that are true and blue and goo and moo and shoe and loo oh and woo
I’m running out of rhymes now. Ooooh

You won’t woo me with poetry, mate
Peel me an olive, stuff me a grape
and lose your strange metaphorical shape
and get your hair cut, you look a right state
Don’t be believing and thinking I’m teasing
Most poets are starving for a very good reason
And yes this may sound like I’m biting your hand
but it wrote itself, yeah, this thing wasn’t planned

I don’t get soppy poets, their moons and their junes
Their sun, sea and similies, bells hells and runes
and endless reflections on life’s tiny blips
and shedloads of dictionaries from their sweet lips
If this is depressing, if it’s making you blue,
wind an ear round and listen to what we could do …

Write me on to a sheepskin and pour me a wine
Things will be fine without one more line
Close your eyes, close the door, I’ll get two bottles more
and we’ll make some poetry
on the floor