Category Archives: Poems

On the Coleridge way

Bliss was it on that Way to be alive
But to be old was very heaven.
The troublous times of life have slithered past,
The hectic turmoil, diary-driven hours
Have slipped away into the memory,
Not with resentment, yearning nor regret
But reminisced with dignity and pride,
Delight in life’s achievements and with joy.
But that was then and this is gentle now.

And here is time to wander off the track,
To slumber in the heather, watch the clouds’
Fantastic shapes; gather black-juiced berries,
Identify wild flowers and search the moors
For windchats, warblers, kestrels, linnets, snipe.
No competition to exceed the miles,
No pressure to outdo the ETA,
Just time to dawdle, comment and explore,
Just time for ice-cream cones and Devon teas.

And here is time to read again at ease
The once remembered verse of Xanadu,
The Ancient Mariner and Christabel.
Not studied for an essay or exam
But browsed again as fancy pleases
Above Ash Farm, within the pub, stretched out
Beside the river or the reminiscent fields.
To walk the way of those who weave with words
And fall in love with poetry again.

I’m chapel really!

I’m chapel really!
Four timeless walls
Battered by the wind.
A bell, the call to worship,
Cwm Rhondda and Blaenwern.
King James’ version
on the eagle’s wings.
Pews burnished with rumps
of modest worshippers.
A pulpit with a tester,
The font a hollowed stone;
A coffin trestle and
A field for burial,
And through plain glass
God’s handiwork.

Of course I like a choir
Rich purpled glass
and charming kneelers;
‘The Message’ read
in modulated tones
and faith decoded for
the Guardian-reading
But I’m chapel really.


Of course, we found God by accident.
Not in the seas’ eternity
or the omnipresent sand;
Not in the majesty of mountains
or the baptism of streams;
Not even in the wind, though that
is Biblically sound;
and not in the tiniest flower,
Transplanted from the sermon on the mount,
Nor in the Psalmists’ cattle on a thousand hills.
We found God when, going to the loo –
That most crude of human functions,
half-way up ‘The Rivals’,
There it was on the post.
A pilgrim not like us but yet like us,
Travelling with a purpose.
With God.

The Shepherd

It’s hard graft, shepherding,
Solitary like, and often desolate.

You’re always brooding, mulling over
Where to find pasture or refuge;
How to keep the wolf from the fold.
Preoccupied with options, tempted
To play safe; dreaming of clout.

No-one thinks much of you sleeping
With the flock; sordid they say, thirsty,
Hungry – and not just for food;
Only the clothes you stand up in.

And you need courage: the hills are full
Of rogues and bandits – those who don’t think much
Of what you do and what you say and who you are.
Some of them – the ‘powers that be’
They’d kill you without a second thought.

The good sheep, they look to me for the route –
They want a crutch ‘A moral compass’ they cry,
But I have only my integrity – the ‘I am’ of old.

And there are always those who
Blame me when they’re lost;
Argue it’s all my fault when things go wrong,
Assume the world is kind to sheep!

But I do love them – all.
I’d lay down my life for them.
Bit like the other Shepherd I suppose.

Christmas Oak

Oh dear
The muse has flown!
The Christmas verse so kindly meant
has went!
Ma heid just birls and twirls and whirls,
I’ve nothing canny, shrewd or smart
Of Clinton Trumped or Brexit won
to impart;
And (just for now!)
I’m lost for words
and woebegone.

And all I have to send to you –
one crow and Santa owl
Tu-whit tu-whoo;
A goldfince thrice
and robins four
and bluetits too;
with a cat on a bough
in one accord.
A gilded metaphor.

But if you search,
A golden star
above them all shines bright.
So may it shine
this Christmas time
to bring the world aright;
and be the Maker of the tree


Christmas card designed by Jane Crowther 2015
Published by Bug Art Ltd, Nottingham, England
Used with permission

Chasing the acorn


On stiles, stones and signposts hidden unseen in the hedge
On lamp-posts and paving stones, incised along the edge
of inauspicious pavements – the symbol summons me,
As the white acorn dances by the ever-present sea.

The ox-eyed daisies stare at valerian pinks and reds;
And iridescent bugloss by poppied pastures spreads
Across a glowing landscape of mallow, thyme and thrift
As the grassy seeds scatter in the sun-rays’ drift.

Cliff-hanging peregrines and furtive choughs in the corn,
Yellow-billed kittiwakes wedged on weathered granite slabs;
Cormorants on craggy rocks and gannets storm-wind borne,
Turnstones turning stones and wading curlews crunching crabs.

Softly-trodden paths wend through beech and silver-birches;
Fishing boats on sandy shores with upturned rusting keels;
Bollard-stumped harbour walls, coiled chains and lobster creels,
And needlepoint kneelers within bell-towered Saxon churches.

Through kissing gates and wicket gates across a five-barred fence,
Finger-posts and white-washed stones – yet they call me hence;
Enticing ever onwards, the symbol summons me
As the white acorn dances by the ever-present sea.

Not all who wander are lost!

We have maps in glorious colours and a compass pointing north;
We have digital equipment and an iPad with the route;
We use satellites and GPS before we sally forth,
And Wiki and the world wide web to help us to compute;
For just because we wander, it doesn’t mean we’re lost!

We meandered down the Calder on a crisp and sunny day
Turning right across the swing-bridge, climbing up the clarty brae;
There were marker posts and arrows and a sign to find our track,
And an information board to tell us where we were on our way back!
For just because we wander, it doesn’t mean we’re lost!

In the summer we had transport for our walk along the Tweed
And as long as it was by our side we could not go astray!
Although we stopped to ponder there was nothing to impede
Our convoluted ramble on the Border Abbeys Way;
For just because we wander, it doesn’t mean we’re lost!

We took the train in Autumn for a walk among the trees,
To a Hermitage and waterfall and Ossian’s old abode;
And we worry not when Arthur carries on along the road
For he’s got a phone to find us  – and everyone agrees
That just because we wander, it doesn’t mean we’re lost!

And for our Christmas saunter when the weather turned out cool
We knew we’d find our footpath because we can read a map!
We knew that ‘Daff ‘did not mean ‘daft’, that ‘Kip’ did not mean ‘nap’
And that Anne would know that Everton is not in Liverpool!
For just because we wander, it doesn’t mean we’re lost!

So down the years we’ve walked God’s earth with friends from every shore,
With Calvinists and Baptists and an atheist or two!
We’ve argued eschatology and politics and more;
And chewed the fat of friendship with companions old and new.
And though through love and duty our path may twist and bend
and by the storms of life we may be buffeted and tossed,
We still have one to guide us, and we know that in the end
That just because we wander, it doesn’t mean we’re lost!

Laudate Si’

Laudate Si’

Hi Friend!
Why, what an unexpected joy
To see you wink audaciously
On this evocative September day.
With dusky eyes and fiery tints
Of hips and haws and teasing hints
Of russet leaves and blackberries
As autumn all abundantly

Thus evermore
You’ll make me think of summer days
Of jaunts and hikes and holidays
Of scones and cream and Devon ways,
Of sea and sand and stony tracks
And cycle rides along the shore.
Of cobbles strewn with bladder wrack
And oh a universe of bliss
To explore.

Until today
You conjured only Christmas snow,
And planting daffodils in faith
That spring will spring and gardens grow.
You pose against a wintry sky
And watch the sweep of garden spade
As from the frosty fragile earth
A loveliness for you and me
I sow.

But then I thought,
What if our children’s children know
Only a cliché on a Christmas card,
An icon of a kinder age.
And emblematic blame.
What if a more than inconvenient loss
Extinguishes your flame?
You see my wastefulness and urge you must….
And I confess, I ought.

The extra mile

Och an extra mile is easy when the sun is riding high,
As we paddle in the burn or sit and laze beside the track;
The fluffy clouds scud prettily across an azure sky,
And with purple dusk descending no-one’s anxious to get back……
Why then, we’ll go an extra mile.

Och an extra mile is easy on an undemanding trail,
With spaced-out contours telling of an easy, gentle climb;
The obligatory distance is complete and yet there’s time
For a detour to the reservoir or down the leafy dale ……
Why then, we’ll go an extra mile.

Och an extra mile is easy when we’re chatting with our friends,
As the path winds round the pastures, through the woods and then descends
Besides the tumbling river, and although it’s getting late, we’ll
Have argument and laughter to beguile us till our meal ……
Why then, we’ll go an extra mile

But when the way is difficult with scary streams and stiles;
And fearful friends need help along the paths above the lochs;
And circumventing cows requires a hand-up over rocks;
And a cheery word is needed to endure the final miles ……
That’s when we’ll go the extra mile!


In Gaza children play beneath a twenty-six foot tower;
There’s civil war in Syria while the Yemen’s on the brink;
The Afghans know the Taliban will soon be back in power,
And the Arab spring is stuttering while Egyptians double-think.
Of all the bloody mess!

In Rwanda troops are meddling in Republican unrest;
Koreans go ballistic so the NATO budgets soar;
The UN fails the Goans, as the Malians protest
That Timbuktoo is next up in the Sahel-Sufi war.
Of all the bloody mess!

With the Euro sliding southwards, the wretched PIGS default;
Though the populace is earning less, the GDP must rise!
The Brussel’s 23 demand another round of cuts
While the Footsie views the Merchel/Hollande union with surprise!
Of all the bloody mess!

And here at home since Amazon and Starbucks cheat on tax,
Austerity’s the byword for the young and old and poor;
The bosses grab their bonus as the workers face the axe,
And the country’s debt will be repaid by people spending more?
Of all the bloody mess!

In a poky little stable with an inner muddy pit,
The rats consume the manger-hay and cattle gently piss;
The cord is cut, the after-birth is dumped on donkey shit,
And God slips through eternity to enter time for this –
To share our bloody mess.