Speed of the sound of self-isolation



angry bad john art black and white emotion

Photo by Jan Prokes on Pexels.com

(dedicated to the everlasting memory of John Prine, lyricist and singer, who died of Covid 19  on the 8th April)


The sky was clear today with streaks of blue

The supermoon with all its lunar perigee

Swirls in the sky reflect sombre horizons;

Behind my back cumulus clouds mass

Over the hills, conspiring in their usual

Ragged silence. In front of me are drear

Trees laid bare, a mist of water in the air.

The streets deserted, driven inside by Covid.

I’m not yet caught cough, cough, coughing

My habit in the cigarette-smoke-peasoupers

Of the past, I pull my coat tighter, focus keenly

On the patterns of infinitude, half-perceived

And half-created, imposed upon these

Far pavilions, by this over-active mind

Of mine. And all the time, the drag of

Discontent whispers in mine inner-ear:

‘Not here, nor there, not any where!’

….just another day, I’m afraid, to say.

Día de Muertos

photo of woman wearing traditional dress

Photo by Genaro Servín on Pexels.com

Moments of vision fade clean away

But a magical moment is with us, today;

Under the Volcano, we shiver and shake

Standoffishness rules, for all hearts’ ache.

And all this will cost you

Is all of your life.

Cast over the sea, cast over the moon

you’ll be reading the stars, after reading the runes.

Green shades of thought

– landscapes of the eye –

See! life’s dappledsunlight

is passing you by:

a primal scream, on the edge of a screen

monitored, modulated, nuanced

much more than it seems.

your dreambody dream

will allow you to flee.

You can’t catch me!

Murmuring voices,

still passing us by

a drift into trance — — a sleeping hypnosis

our silent goodbye

as we remove to the grave.

Can you believe, that Jesus still saves?

the apotheosis of gaze,

the opposite of glance,

a dream-time of slippage,

a macabre romance.


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A satire: of sorts

As I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
through the tunnels,
over the wind-swept bridges,
through the sedentary, school-less
villages of the old and unwise
Into the land of my enemies
where hostile witnesses abound
skilled at shaking fists, digging up dirt
spitting and being contemptible;
wizened faces study bank statements
share certificates, land deeds, untaxed cash,
financial entitlements of all manner and conditions
whilst drooling over the babies of the young,
in blatantly false displays of camaraderie
whilst whistling Deutschlandlied .20180227_183211

Tender is the Night

Photo by Levi Clancy on Unsplash

Tender is the Night

And all her forgotten beauty

People pass out of sight

On this August midnight

When the serpent and the saviour sit


Somewhere in old-England.


No truths are hidden from our lady moon

No disguising her faint silvery tune.

Such wide-open rosy faces, face the blackest of skies,

Gnarled hands shade their frightened eyes,

No, no, this is no time for disguise.


On this day of flowers, the animals follow

The usual path of the sun.

Ripples coagulate like blood,

All manner of things mirror our big brother sun

On this shining Ἀρκαδία of August 1914.


Sweet airs fill the breezes

Forgotten summer scents,

O! The billowing of intent

Reed and oak and beech

This beautiful canopy of the living green,

Shimmering in this all-too bright light

Thunder clouds swarm on the horizon

Then rumble out of sight.


A world of endings

As I climb this vertiginous cliff path,

Which connects the now and the then,

Seen in all its chasmal beauty.

The brightest of stars

On the blackest of nights.

On this Good Friday in Mosul

The gates of heaven are firmly closed

And the gates of hell a crowded place.


Angels alight, a slight, feathery goodnight kiss,

behind her eyes her guardian angel sighs.

Listen! to the whisperer behind the song,

misfortune exorcised by fluttering fugues

that sing a song in a minor key,

a longing to be whole and free.

On this seafront there is a stone,

where, in the creamy moonlight of romance,

men and women pledge and dance,

under our lady moon.

It is a place where ghosts abide

owls screech their ageless, endless cries

to a high, star-cluttered sky.

Yes! it is a place where all our dreams come true,

moonstruck eyes and derring-do,

we flee into the turbulent sea,

echoing that old, old story,

whispered to us soundlessly,

enriched by such and such

wild sprigs of poetry,

we travel to that land of lost content,

before the veil of the temple

was rent in two,

where the holy of holies

was made a-new.


It is not the cruelty of children that angers me,

But that my hesitation to commit the word to air,

And, aye, maybe, to the ear, the heart, was treated as an affliction

By those with the polished shoes and starched aprons which set them apart;

Sometimes, I was not even there when they mocked me but I knew

What they did and ‘never-a-bother-it-was-to-me’. Except it was,

I was brought up to be brave but inside I was bruised and battered,

Young only young.


I tried to pity my accusers: so narrow of soul, so clipped of speech, so incapable of reach.

I had my brother Pete, now so-long dead, and my sisters two,

Us council estate kids, we mocked the rich kids

Knowing how little they knew. If an aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick,

This son-of-an-orphan remembers it:


Granddad Jack who’d been a machine gunner

On the Somme in 1916

He didn’t say much: smoked Woodbines, didn’t read books,

Denied every pitying look, every cutting word, every condescending bending of the neck.

The centuries of insincerity that have delineated class relations

In this fucked-up country: John Clare, William Blake and Charlie Dickens

I write it out in a verse

Differently-abled stutterers, terse.


We poets arise from the dirt

From the same class that I feel an unending commitment to

The dispossessed, the prisoners, all the spice-island-rough-traders:

This vast, inglorious shipwreck of life’s esteems.

The Truth About Stutterers: Can Everyone Who Stammers Overcome The ...

A lamentation



None of us will survive, we know,

But we must try again,

To seed some fallow earth, with the mysteries of the Byzantines.

Even, with their mirth, amidst the agonies of birth, and death,

The accidental revelations, our passing on the wing,

Given expression in voices that will always sing

Of the fall of Constantinople on the 29 May 1453.

Celebrated by the Muslim Turks every year

Since then in Istanbul, infidel name for holy Constantinople.

Of the mysteries of birth and death,

And of all the unalloyed impermanence of breath

Of every passing note containing the holy trinity of faith, hope and charity.

It is love that sustains us against the screaming pain of desecrated Aleppo.

Aleppo the beautiful, with churches known to all.

Aleppo where Othello’s murder of a malignant, turbaned Turk

Foreshadowed the unholy trinity of Sunni, Alawite and Shia.

A veil of hurt in a land of tears, the self-slaying murders of

This infidel horror-show ripped up a thousand years

Of the Greek Byzantines — the Christian Eastern Romans —

And continues to appall, this terrible blasphemy,

Made manifest again in the attacks on New York and Washington.

We need another rending of the veil,

Holy war writ in blood down bankers’ walls,

Found again in music, the profoundest of the arts,

Which takes our emotions up to explore the depths

Of mans’ abominations, miseries and regrets

Then lifts us up to heaven with the skylark.

Music that soars upon each note apart

Then fuses them together

Into the delicious harmonies of art

Note succeeding note,

Showing us the whole,

Then tearing us apart.


A northern sky

Crack! thunder over head

Flash crackle of lightning

The gods unsaid:

Stretch your words across the sky

Illuminate the stark, skeletal, high

Trees of another northern winter.

Some poor sod’s undoubtedly dead

Covid 19? No, ithey’d have said.

He has always been subject to the recurring roar-of-something-not-quite-said

Which echoes, nevertheless, reverberates, disturbing the dead,

All around my desperately thinking head,

Hidden clouds drop hail-rain

Like sharp-soft stones pelting me down

into a world turning wet and lonely, for me.

I sit by the window wearing a clown’s frown

On a world turning out to be different than even I expected

A sharp decline in the chances, offered by the gods,

A rise in the night sky’s slnking-frown,

A clown’s painted-on smile,

A curve of white grease, lips pointing down,

A mile wide tease, an eight mile high light relief,

Definitely not heaven-sent, he said,

But splashed all over my northernsky,

The moon offers me limited respite

From interminable night:

Light suffuses

To the tightness of my still-beating heart

Saturated, now, as the storm subsides,

Satiated with all the blood and thunder of no disguise

Infectiing lonesome, covid 19 English eyes

I lack that mandatory air of  fooling-about

Which hides what is really always there

A man trapped in this thinnest of air.




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Can’t begin to say

Photo by Antoine Petitteville on Unsplash

In the beginning my brother and son
Walked off to the edge of the cliff
Walking and talking, they looked out to sea
I shout and I shout, but they don’t hear me.
They’re fading, they’re falling, off the cliff side.
The sky is as huge, and the sea is so wide
As the moving of the moon or the rising of the tide.
This Calvary moment, when Satan speaks well
Of how he’ll adjust things and make it all swell
If only I’ll sell him the right to the light. Darkness
Arrives in the middle of night,:dripping blood,
His shadow is mighty and arrives at the flood
Darkness still holds sway, as the man on the cross
Looks over my way. I know he is taking aeons to die,
But all I remember, is his son’s last, despairing cry.

Lough Gur, Co Limerick

Photo by Steije Hillewaert on Unsplash

A poem’s appearance is of little consequence
But the moon was sad as only the moon can be.
Men in tears seek to flee the nightmare of their lives
We dream that with fingers we can pluck guitars
The calmness of flowers, the depths of moments,
The completeness of a live birth;
White sobs slide into our eyes
Remembering the smile of a mother, a lover,
On the fortunate day of our first kiss.
The past is a magnet, for me,
Drunk, with all the heady scents of sadness,
ingrained into the DNA of the everyday
Gathering dreams is the heart of the matter.
Eyes riveted on a stranger’s eyes
The mouth moves but I hear nothing
I see her eyes blazing, her hair just-so.
In the street, neat, complete,
She remains the mistress of horology
And in the evening, she skips the light fantastic
On the lawn where I once saw a fairy cry bitter-bitter tears
For the beautiful sleep-spoiled child she had once been.
She kept her eyes tightly closed and saw only
Snow white bunches of fragrant stars.
Afar, they sing. alone and in faery rings