Category Archives: Poems

What writing and fishing have in common

A foreigner in a foreign world
Unable to return for the last farewell
I drink white wine next to Americans 
And contemplate who the man was

Suddenly
An idea 
Comes to me

Bookworms and fishermen are actually quite similar
We spend hours in silence
Looking in front of us
Waiting for something 
To catch

He probably thought me one of those
Gallivanting Europeans
Whose loose morals and liberal ways
Are the ruin of our Empire 
I remember him once
Telling me about Poles in Lincoln
And all I could think of 
Was Walkers’ Crisps

He and I never chatted much
We at family parties 
Always shook hands
Always maintained polite protocol
Always took the measure of the man

But there was none of that
Knee-slapping
Thigh-smacking
Back-cracking
Kind of conversation I am used to

Oh ‘allo he would say
In that Lincolnshire accent
A working man’s drawl
An accent I regret not hearing more of
But one that sounded almost exotic
In our family of Northerners

“Oh ‘allo” was about as far as we would get
And I would leave him where he was
In a chair with the kids 
A beer in hand
And a smile that showed 
How happy he was

Nobody can be that kind
My cousin said
All those years ago
When she brought him home

He glided into the family
Sometimes clumsy always kind
Strong not stubborn
Thoughtful not shy

And now my aunt has
Lost her DIY king and will
Live in the realm
He put together with bits from B&Q
An outside toilet
A set of shelves
Crisp packets behind the radiator
Hooks that have lost their meaning
A row of twenty or more fishing rods
A rustic sword of Damocles
A box of maggots in the fridge
And a full bag of soil
That was meant for the tomato plants

I’m sorry 
He didn’t get 
To plant 
His tomatoes.
I really am.

And now he finds himself
In a poem that paraphrases Horace
Live each day as fully as you can
Put nothing off
Plant your tomatoes catch your fish
Even as you read this
Your time has shrunk a little

Anglers and writers
Heart-broken wanting to help
Know deep down 
The biggest fish
Will always get away

A curious phrase

I love my past
Like a brother
And set a date 
To meet talk
And while
Our time away
Here and now
Engagement with
Each absence
Missed without
Or on purpose
Then and there
To fill in the gaps
What a brother
Might have said
What that memory 
Might have been
Or is it I pause
The reverse
A backwards logic
The curious phrase
I love my brother
Like the past
United miserable
Forgotten separation
Presently future

Giants of an Electronic Age

We are surrealists, carrying the sacred box of literature to those who will never read it.  What are we doing with those words, no… those sentiments that we dig up from those who went before us.  You are the torn up letters of books I have read before and scream out loud to hear the ghost that you were.

You stole my time and so I’ll steal from you.  I’m sorry.

I have looked in all those reference books and dictionaries that once took our ears by surprise and made us cry by the full moon.  I kick my heels while you finish your lines and our friend sleeps on the bed lost.

But I will not be the first to point at him, and nor can you be – we have been there before.

And I am so happy to be here, writing with genius, listening to giants of an electronic age.

The Kingdom of No More

I have taken a voyage into the past,
And felt the golden kingdom of No More
Fill my body with cheap delight.

I walk by the Seine and remember reading Flaubert
Sitting in cafés, pretending to be an Existentialist.

My youth, the warm days of memory,
I have jumped dangerously into this pool, not realising,
Or not wanting to realise,
The dangerous game I am playing.

Is it cheap, now, cliché, to call them
Madeleine moments,
To smell Paris as it was before,
When summer musk rose from the trees?

Apart from those blue-capped mountains,
What am I looking for?
I tunnel, further and deeper,
Into my mind and try to
Pluck some lost root from a tree
I forgot to plant.

Shut the gate, young man, if you have any sense:
A deal with the past is worse
Than a pact with Satan.
Have you learnt nothing from books?
Have you learnt nothing from Nature?

But the past, the past – it calls
My name and sings a pretty song
To bid me stay a while longer.

Suddenly, I am aware, awake, alone
Inside my room,
Where I see nothing but the frenzied movement
of a fly that was born in earth,
Once more, a flower I did not plant,
But only inherited.

The wave returns, I try to cling to the shore of now, but feel the pull,
I feel the sand rushing behind me,
I hear the rush of a million shells sweep past me,
Giving into that powerful will –
The joy of the past,
The heady world that each creates,
The sickly simplicity of a time that is no more.

When you die, you cannot tell your story and so others will.
You, you as you, will be forgotten.

On the shore, further up, on the cliff,
I hear someone shout “Hector”.
Is this Achilles?
Or is this Homer?