from Poems in Exile

The First Rook War

Rooks strung out along the power lines

So many crochets and quavers

Angled south-east, north-west, up and down

Flat notes on a music score


There is purpose to their vigil: a reason

To scan the tree-serrated eye-line

Lift the ragged hems of clouds, keep an ear

For whispers on the woodland floor.


Yesterday the wind gave warning; this

Morning the sky was purple-bruise; for the

World they – and we – had known was leaving us

And no way back, not now, nor evermore.


For out there, on the coast, gulls were mapping

Their flight-paths, inland raiders from

A beastly sea; herring gulls

Eyes full of menace, armed with cadences and

Looking for war.


Not where they should be

Not the proffered enemy


It foretells a new zeitgeist

Not the normal state of affairs; as in life

The old ways are distorted, we have to look further, closer


Even the countryside feels broken

Placed on alert; anticipating danger

No longer from the foe you know

But the stranger.


What Lies Ahead.

It hits you, suddenly, the realisation that it will all end one day,

And not so very far into the unreadable future

At some point everything will be compressed

Into a pandemonium of flesh and marrow

And your life, as an accordion with the air suppressed

Will play a wheezing requiem, before you exit, for a final time.


Frustrated that you cannot choose the moment

Utter those last words you always meant to say,

Private declamations, simpering apologies, septic guilt

All that will be left hanging in the context of a careless life.

The Antithesis of Noman Standing

  1. Time and Tide Waits for Noman

When I was young and free and the world was first laid bare

Startled and nude as a skinned peach

I did not bother to chase time for I knew it was always there,

Coming at me, floating into reach

Once, I rode the tides like pumice,

Porous and unsinkable

washed out of the sky, at such times

Death was unthinkable

Now I think of nothing else

Nightmares of bodies dashed on rocks

And someone at home, waiting

dumbstruck by the heartbeat of the clock

I was oblivious to it all,

Conscious only of

The tide abating.

While just around the corner

In a tinpot, tea-cosied world

My old adverseries

Time and Tide

Lay waiting


  1. Noman is an Island

I don’t need the company of men

Or women for that matter not armed with a pen

As I am, which I use brutally

To create my effigy, shadows casting shadows

To suffocate the loneness that

I feel,

Cut off from the main

A loneliness that screams, thy will be done,

For  as I knelt and prayed, not for courage

As once I would have done

But to be afraid

To be cast adrift, a loner, on an island, to be

that island, noman’s island

To be unmade.


3.    Noman is worth crying over

Men are an abomination, that truth was self-evident

Before the geneticist filled in the dots and told us so

Even before the revelation, before the enquiry, before the Judas kiss

Was made public

Before the show trial

Before the story turned up in The Mail

Before the last nail, we all knew this

Before the jury (skirted? et tu, Grayson?) assembled and this poem was

used as proof of an overwhelming deception

we all knew

It was time to go

We had long known it, of course we had

But its fiery alphabetic rhetoric left us stunned

Stupified by the brilliance of a super nova

Leaving only me standing, as ever, an exception

Drink, you bastards, drink, you ugly munchkin bastards

Noman is worth crying over

Whatever you may think.


4.    Greater Love Hath Noman  

She thinks I don’t care

She thinks I don’t know the connection

She thinks too much, methinks, of things

That lack direction; the ceremony, the harelip rings

The flowers; it is all symbols and observances

The giving or the taking and the giving back

She’s on the wrong track, silly girl. Give it a whirl, spin the bottle

check with the chap above


I have the greater love.


Of course, it is all comparative, whose got what and what love means

and what it is that hides behind the screens

it is pure theatre, made for the showman

with grandiose gestures, scrambled sentences

sweet allure; some love the Lord, others love the tyke

Say what you like, Greater love hath Noman.


5. Noman’s Land

I have been lost between shores for as long as I can remember

trapped in a chrysallis, neither one damned thing or another

exiled in my portion of unmanned universe

So damned weary, life’s hardly worth the bother

Days spent waiting for the hearse.


There is a tipping point in people’s lives; would the world

Have noticed had they never been? Now, I despise self pity

Self abrogation, but hey, hot dog in the city, I know the scene

Know the score, the has-been and the might-have-beens; once

was shown the door


Oh years ago; Would that I would go away people will understand

They will say he took too much, expected too much, he had become trite,

An unfortunate accessory after the fact; he showed no tact, no human

qualities, a cripple looking for a crutch, it was all too much

An outcast now at home

In No-man’s Land.

Some thoughts on the short story. . . .

Like Ian McEwan, late of Chesil Beach

I don’t like books that overreach

That pride themselves on pages written

Nor, if I’m truthful, am I smitten

By flowery names and distant places

Leading to a form of stasis

Worth ‘too much detail’, ‘too much story’

I’m a simple chap, a jackadory

And bred to sidestep words en masse

And while the learned think that crass

I think that Ian’s point of view

Is one I’d happily eschew

So spare me all those lengthy tomes

That line the walls of stately homes

They’re not for me, I’m sure of that

The Cat in the Hat is where I’m at

I’m a novella sort of fella

and like a simple story teller.

Wendy Cope

Too many words to scan

In one vowel swoop

An overpowering mien, oh yes, and mean

While carrying the can

For some poor dope; pausing between scenes

losing all hope

O call out the guards, notify the Pope

If anyone can cope then you can

Wendy Cope

Poems about pater; pitter-patter poems

Does it matter poems

Poems without a grievance

Poems from broken homes

Poems in tomes and honeycombs

With couplets strung out

Hanging by a rope, but then

You’re not the sort of poet to mope

If anyone can cope then you can

Wendy Cope

You sit there, flitting from book to book

Reading your words away; who’s to say

A clever chap wearing an Oxbridge look

Might not persuade your poems to lose

The form you dressed them in; then it’s the slippery slope

When words come loose and metaphors elope

When gravitas sets in and kills all hope

But you’re the sort of poet that’s going to cope

Wendy sea-scope, see, you’ll cope.


The Passing of WE52 MJE 

The back story is that in May 2014, I was travelling from the funeral to the wake of my Aunt Margot when my car, a PT Cruiser (it was the initials that did it for me) ground to a crunching halt. The car had run out of oil and on my return to Sherborne (thanks to the AA relay) I was informed it could not be fixed and its value was such, that the offer of £150 for scrap was as good as I could hope for. I couldn’t bring myself to consign my wheels to the scrapheap and held on to it. Then, when I had finally given up on it, an engine was found and in mid-November, the car had its transplant and was deemed roadworthy once again. But its resurrection should not detract from the pathos, the grief that gave voice to the lines printed below.

Between the funeral and the wake

The life oil ran out; it was to signal

another passing; not a patch on Margot

with her 93 years, but to see a car go

without warning, before its time was spent

with nigh a ding and scarcely a dent

Can only end in tears.

She was a mere slip of a chassis

Classy but born out of her time

I loved her gentle lines, her only crime

Not to inhabit Chicago or some other no-go

zone. Oh Al Capone where are you now,

my violin case lies empty, like my heart,

grieving alone in the back window

A black widow

awaiting the bandage of time

for a world ripped apart

clunking out of rhyme.

She was only 12 years old when she went

On the cusp of adolescence,

Twelve measly years old; touch her!

Feel how cold steel is

O God! the horrors of obsolescence

Of body parts, no longer needed

Fittings and gadgets superseded

And warning lights never heeded

Feel her abiding presence

Won’t you

Sense the passing of menace.

I remember her last tax disc whether

Twelve months was a risk – no, I thought

She would always go on and on

I never dreamt she would desert me

That her life could not always be bought

And now she’s gone

And begorrah, it’s hurt me!


It’s taken this long to know my number plate

Too late, I hear it saying to me, it’s your neglect

That means I’m going to end up wrecked

Packaged in a cube, an art installation

when you could have saved me

At the last petrol station.

I’m sorry

Like your tyres

I’ve let you down

I only wish I’d been that lorry

To have carried you back home

To rust, to rest

Beneath a garden gnome

That would have been best

So what of you, my PT cruiser,

Your body work needs work

Your motor’s failing; you’re no longer the bruiser

I married

Sure, you carried me for a while

For many a serendipity mile

But you’re a loser

Insult and flat battery that’s you

Why would anyone choose you

From a car yard? Do the hard yards, buddy and confess

That underneath your bonnet, you’re a mess

You know when I bought you, I was quite emphatic

I didn’t want an automatic; I’m one for changing gears

Travelling the roads for the rest of my years

That was the dream, that was the plan

Not to end up a cruiser abuser

But a travelling man

Wending my way through life

Or at least, Cornwall and Devon

Strapped in with the wife

For my natural span

Sat-naved to heaven