Thursday, 31 December 2009

Copenhagen 2009


‘Hey Noah, can you feel a flood

engulf your heart and wash your head?’


‘Never! No referee will stop

my forward pass onto another’s lap.’

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Auntie in the Care Home

Although she has a death mask on,

a mask has no appeal to her;

a mask may seem a shelter

but hope lies in reality.

In truth. In any simple truth;

her eyes are lusting for its beauty

‘You do feel guilty don’t you?

Because you never visit me!!’

‘I don’t know what to talk about?’

No strategies, no comfort zones;

faรงades have simply dropped away;

Nothing offered in the void. But me.

Monday, 28 December 2009


Falling snowflakes, frail

individuals, fresh

dancers in a reel

are floating close to death

because a few short ticks

will force a change of form;

crystal filaments connect

and sheets of ice are born

but in any cold

person, system, place,

the sun will wash its face

and amber light unfold

power, cracking warm

so ice can flow back home.

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Fierce, a wind that flies a kite

bright, a sun enflames delight

tie its string to brother wolf

running through his waves of love.

Saturday, 26 December 2009


Here is your present,

well wrapped-up by Ma and Pa.

It’s you! Ho, ho, ho!!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

After school, a Down’s boy

climbs eleven steps to his room, puts on

a DVD, drops himself into magic,

colour, drumming; this is a time to be:

a time of sweet adolescence, childlike wisdom,

in love with attending to buttons, his world’s Aladdin,

asking, wishes, lost in treasure troves.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


When Andrew bursts out singing;

first – a shock – and then delight

like a snow-fox seeking freedom

dots a barren moonscape,

catching pools of light.

He sings without a warning

- other throats join in - my son

donates his heart and voicebox,

irrepressible life-force

croons outlandish songs.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

‘Perfect’ said the Downs’ boy

‘How about marmite toast’ I said.

‘Perfect’ came a quick reply

and, with a push, a magic toast rack

kick-starts time - he nods his head.

No need for clocks, he’s on his way

when chewing starts a perfect day.

‘You’re luckier than most’ he means

‘but miss the move when life’s imperfect.’

A hand is ticking, ever moving,

clocking now with chances perfect.

Perfect every passing minute,

perfect as a melting snowflake.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


We sang a hymn,

‘Silent Night’

praising Him;

sounding great

and then we fell into

wisdom and quiet.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Waving not Standing

For ages I wanted to write a poem;

about a tree – a winter tree outside our bedroom window -

standing black against a blue-grey sky,

its branches reaching out into fine and finer

silky twigs against a leaden cloud behind

with an occasional old leaf clinging

against its wooden lattice; and of a miracle

that sometimes happens on a still December day

when one leaf starts to twitch and move,

by forces unbeknown turns and grows

in amplitude until it waves a vigorous and happy

wave whilst all the rest around stand still. A wave

like that cries out for resonating souls and yes

I wanted to write that poem for ages.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

No Phantom

After all our fun and smiling,
father looks away – so tired
and hugs his chair for feeling,
knowing that more is required.

He turns and his kids are smiling
in a cloak and dagger ring
so he joins in their circle of feeling;
rehearsals are over, now sing.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Loose Change

A couple of coins, bright and cold, lie

on a table in a rushing train - flat.

Outside winter hurtles ashen grass

and bare branches, an occasional hill.

As this carriage sways, an engine hums

(engineers rule when gods stand still). Ultimately

journeys complete and I’ll arrive back home

to the sum of a cold bed, no light in the kitchen,

hungry under a darkening dome, I’ll catch

pan handles, cook and eat without grace to this earth;

dumb to a taste of the Present, forgetting

what it’s worth to close both eyes without recalling

underworld times, my past in darkness (young

and clumsy) a reticent fellow or zoom to the future ,

grabbing for purchase onto this NOW that travels forever.

Touching coins remind me of love but, in winter, dark

comes early and always from above, cashing in

with bye bye to daylight, goodbye passing train,

goodbye past and future images. Today I have a

better plan - to hit bullseye without circling:

by being me in essence and form, currency

and appearance, until appearance disappears

and my inner man grows warm by being and ‘not being’

both together. Yes there are two coins within this realm,

lying near each other, intimate as a dream,

and certainly not final when they spin

and overturn their weight, because money

equals power, tomorrow or today, making bread

or music or little children grin by a gift

of coins or even making engines hurtle

when a new driver clocks-on and history

repeats coin, coin, iron and true

spent and spent until oblivion melts

with others in a final wealth-pool or

plummets with a crash unpredictably but also

certainly - like trees and Banks. But for now

two coins begin a next phase of transaction;

a turn and spin, then stop, what next? Enough.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Late Middle Age

Author of Autumn sulked

in a corner. Again he had raced

into third place, won bronze,

and so he hid in shadow

camouflaged by leaves,

concealed by longer hair and hanging briars.

He had finally got the idea

- he was not a bonny summer

or glitter of winter.

‘Why me!?’ he shouted into corners,

lugged branches off trees in a strop,

battered gulls into silence.

Later, he filled valleys with misty breath

before an amber sun lifted

him high to air

and with much more room to slow

he perceived how, in limited light,

light is a priceless gift.

After rage he waves and sings,

rattles a hedgerow with magical voice

‘Howl often! Hush!’

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Care Home Garden

They fall slowly, old folks,

on cold days

when holding-on hurts,

hurts their limbs too much.

One is fat, another boney,

all have mottled skin

and some wave as they go

ta-ra, flopping their

bumps on the ground

soon to be buried or burned.

All familiar. All follow

cyclical earth, gravity’s law,

heading for stones.

Some drop in sunlight,

some nighttime

and some fall gracefully; never

in rampage,

anger fear or sadness

because they release,


and leave behind potential;



Thursday, 10 December 2009


In the conservatory, watch plum jam slide

onto breakfast toast as we chatter

private thoughts, take-in rainy woods.

We talk of painting. How sometimes water and paint

run haphazardly and produce a miracle

– call it an image randomly created.

“It’s the Tao.” you say and grab a red

mouthful “Not human. Not water,

More than human and water together:

a form of magic we can’t understand.”

I chew bread and look out into a tangle

of trees that gesture, drip. I turn to you.

Something and nothing wells, wets, softens,

melts our eyes

and runs.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Chess War

Deprived of passion we play chess

intertwining black and white men

not fearing death, the ancient bond,

when wooden statues feel no pain.

Forgetting, when I take a piece,

that hearts are battling, human blood

is pounding for connection here

but, miss the move, misunderstood.

A king falls and our hands embrace

across this board where chessmen stood;

we look each other in the eyes

of childhood, boyhood, brotherhood.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Victor Frankl

Life – joy - suffering:
what’s it mean? Uniquely you!
Uncover your fate.

Monday, 7 December 2009


Inside my brain - planets circle round a star

- words I never said;

caged by electricity

lacking courage, sleeping in a bed.

No leverage, no spluttering

associations in my head;

lonely, aging, damned, archaic;

dormant, Yellowstone, dead.

Detail, detail! Yes, but sound matters

and words are never sterile, hungry, sleepy or unfed:

defy gravity, unlock a feeling force because

at least these lines, I say, are fully said.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

and then until

in autumn, everything darkens,

cuts away from bark and drops


in winter, ice

like glass holds back goods

and then

in spring, to step away and

keep us warm by poking green, busy bee,

and then

in summer, touch

and step through glass and action, cut

to warm flowers and holding hands


Thursday, 3 December 2009

No doubt

how I can be amazed by family

and how we grow apart day by day.

But now we’re together like a pause between breaths, like branches

touching in a breeze and thrilled to meet,

but then again reaching away, longing

for light. And how I carry an old fruitless cargo;

a seed of me wrapped in bark, called ‘experience’.

How can I affirm to know the seed

of anything? Because no rock is ultimately

stable, no term the right term. But words

and ego bubble out of me, congealed,

not nascent, and un-alive; having no

claim to light this moment by living soft

like butter; not hard like a knife.

How metaphors fail! No words can catch

a fire, hiss of inner anger hours

after my ‘teaching’ occurs. Insensitive,

ignoring a poetry of parenthood,

like trust looking out through running windows

onto self. And now my anger burns

and how a real connection quells, no doubt.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Massive dark and light,

magical rings intertwine;

that is why I write.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Down's morning

His first connection to morning light is all around.

And he sits amongst fluffy pillows, talks

loudly to his knitted toys and friends,

trousers, socks, jumpers before father

mother, brother, or magical other enter

and yet another perfect day begins. No need

to read a newspaper, wear a diamond ring.

His mission now? Look up and sparkle, smile.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Leaves and trees

The leaves are shuttling down today

like plunging into bed at night:

though most are dropping, some hold up

a celebration of their fall.

Is it that trees are facing death

by dropping limbs? No. They re-birth

within a circle’s trick of growth

expanding out a ring each year.

But now a wooden tree stands forth

against a blue November sky.

Time to grow, remember why:

death is birth, is death, is birth.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


It’s time to change so let’s get changed!

Why change? Why change - and into what?’

Any voice can be a butterfly

(fluttering like the tongues of fools)

but, if we could slow time and space,

we’d simply see the world as dream

and feelings, active, butterfly on.

The world’s not lost, the moment’s lost!

Go snail’s-pace with an open mouth

and voices cry a truer song.

Now cock your ear and hear the fun

echo away before we’re lost.

Don’t you dare upset the Big Conductor;

sing and listen; time for change.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Nelson Mandela

Chess is so boring

because one black bishop stands

only on black squares.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

An interval proposal

Precise etiquette of theatre-goers

ensures we ignore each other, disengage,

with eyes ahead avoiding bonds.

It’s all about a man-made stage

and fixing curtains with tunnel vision

so everything’s … predictable.

Until young Andrew eats a crimson lollipop

and with his little mouth all sticky, sees

an ice cream mountain waved by a girl in front.

He fancies a swap and offers, asks with glee

‘How about sharing?’ She stares ahead, licking

too hard. He clocks me with a twinkle, nods.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Down's boy in black

Heavy, he likes to

loll in time

leaving nothing

unsaid unsaid

but from nothing

comes something divine.

He makes

something out of

nothing and that’s sublime.

Monday, 23 November 2009


Black void. A circle

splits the Know from the Unknown:

now a dot, that’s you!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Thanks Mate

If we can say ‘Thanks Mate’ and really mean it,

rain flows rich and long;

splashing words cavort and slowly lengthen,

voices echo song.

When clouds float overhead and spatter laughter,

friendship sits up late

at a dining table drinking lager;

the meaning? Thanks Mate.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

John Steinbeck

Dust! We’ll go pick fruit,

work in Cal aye forn aye ai,

be exploited. Wrath!

Friday, 20 November 2009


it’s great to travel by railway carriage

but when - calamity - a train gets filled

by crying children, gypsies, soldiers,

I long for a little room and pillow

to lay down horizontal and silently watch

a forest of dreams, a cloud of stillness

but down from the roof, a ladder drops

and I simply can’t help myself reaching upwards

at first wearily but then with strength

of hands and feet, defying gravity,

and up I climb through a secret portal

(the same old handle) into a carriage

that rattles loudly with gypsies, soldiers

where I long to lay down horizontal.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Technique

I learnt a trick – my heart got it.

In a dream

when love is pressured, good to go,

a Zeus thunderbolt,

focuses fire on grass and crag,

cracks an iceberg;

opens a heart.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


I paint cube faces

in 3D 2D 3D

and our four lips meet.

Monday, 16 November 2009


Reality woke and stretched his claws one night,
ice was melting under a tippling rain.
Long winter darkness rippled into light.

He stamped on a myth, spring-cleaned a brain,
talked to ideal policemen on the beat
but turned away unable to explain.

He dodged around billboards on dancing feet
until he heard an old misleading cry
whistle down the wind from an ancient street

echoing ‘I love you’ and (sigh) ‘goodbye’.
He dropped a fallacy from awesome height,
cracked an egg of honesty, let out joy,

announced that truth is beauty, love delight.
Reality woke and stretched his claws one night.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


We danced like drunks around the mat

singing ‘Lazybones’ bass and falsetto

until our voices were tired and flat

long through the night with nowhere else to go.

But we had to leave the song

and start real dialogue – completely lost,

not knowing what to say next. Outside, rain

washed away the rules, washed away our games.

And now there’s only us, with senses clean

and now there’s only me, perceiving in

time and space these less than empty faces

and from each eyeball I add up the cost

of aging, water, skeleton, brains, rust:

together in flesh, connected by rain.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


My son has a word; not a word your mind knows;

the word - ‘izzy’.

Mind you, it does feel like you’re special

when he calls you ‘izzy’.

Mind you, he emphasizes and lengthens


Mind you, he means it when he says ‘izzy’

luxuriously, eye to eye.

My son has a new word;

the word ‘izzy’: it means I Love You.

He means it. He wants you to use it. Mind you use ‘izzy’ well.

He really won’t mind.

Friday, 13 November 2009


When I was 36 … Andrew found me;

he sought me out, tracked me down

I didn’t know why (but now I do)

in summer at the top end of town


by self pity.

Into light he came from tunnel

and darkness, violent convulsions,

yes violence and a face ancient

touching, lolling and I softened;


like a baby.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


I wake all of a sudden in the dark.

Sunday morning. Soon I’ll get

to work and put my hands on wood, saw

and glue. I lie blinking into

dusty black and hear outside

rushes of plummeting rain hammering

windows, tiles, freshening surfaces

like when lying half awake

heavy drops drip and splash

meeting and eventually running

downhill into trickle, river, sea.

Mortise and tenon include, uphold

and I join water roaring forwards

back into a dream of night.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


The trick, it seems, is to sleep like an angel

then ask Mum to go onto Youtube

in the blue dining room where

sun peeps through curtains.

Still in pyjamas, eat brown toast,

surfing for musicals, like Oliver - the boy

who never lied or cheated. On the news

three Down’s children will be terminated today.

Monday, 9 November 2009


One of those things

- the future in a dream.

I sit drinking cappuccino,

dawn rises amber and I

imagine the liquid

all gone.

An hour stretches

from milk to empty cup;

this day, week and year, this life

until my coffee drains

the past into a dream.

One of those things.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Open a blind and see what we find;

no worries on what might be lurking behind.

Windows’ wide open, nothing large

will barge us on down if we stand steady,

arms out ready, feet on the ground.

Peep round this wall, nothing will fall

if we play at wizards, walking tall,

dazzling and laughing, wholesome and bright,

igniting a fire on a skittering cloud

and dancing abroad with balance and poise.

Any true voice sings along with the bass

when a melody melts in its time and its place;

we sing all together, harmony strong,

and out from beyond a phenomenal birth

a sounding of earth will resonate through.

So you?

Stranger, you stranger, with every click of the clock,

will you stay with me, now

now and and now

until my little song of life is sung?

Friday, 6 November 2009

Climate Change

Matt and Martha, holding hands on the seashore, steal

a kiss and walk away, defying universal

law and tides, new moon and cause-effect.

Recalcitrant, a higher tide cuts

them off with a lunging silver hiss.

Matt is there, Martha’s there: reaching

water, running feet, waving hands, their cries

for help come unrestrained, again, again.

Who know the rest; when sea as teacher surges

up at regular folk, like you and me, in love?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Peter Pan

Years don’t count when you’re labeled ‘Down’s’

I’ll always be seen as less than nine

-this year, last year- so be at ease

when two wise eyes begin to crease;

keep your compassion or little frowns

and play for hearts - yours and mine!

I won’t get older even when

the classic ages of man appear:

I’m an infant dressed up as a man

loving dancing - loving friends

and although I’m tentative –loud- unclear

and hating darkness - I’ll be a youngster at my very end.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

tiny kindling

I decide to build a fire

and pack a rucksack

with huge, brown logs,

then medium sized twigs

and tiny kindling at its top.

When I tip it out

a little spark gets ready to fly

and could catch-on, ignite

if you and I can meet

if I and you aren’t wet.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Happy Down's boy

This barrel-boy is wearing baggy slacks,
surrounded by dolls and each with a colourful tongue.

Toys are laying parallel in beauty
at nighttime lined upon his bedroom floor - guardians.

Outside, the treetops echo calls of doves
but he is chanting only of food he likes.

Food is love, food is life, breath leads to food!
Pillows are friendly and he lays him down a smiling head.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Down's for life

Everything’s brightly coloured for children:

plums taste of purple and language is light.

Recall how we played and laid on the grass,

all sappy with newness bursting through glass

and what if every day opens as May-day

blossoming buds on an evergreen tree;

child-like-ness fired in your brain, never pruned,

like an unfading flourish, radiant for now

- yes for now - but again and again.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Table Mountain Capetown

Your uphill path isn’t haunted - even

baseball caps on hikers comfort you

until an unusualness

when something warm and bony

gets on my back, reaches and squeezes

my frightened wrist until

I let go,

alarmed, of my chocolate

bar and the skeleton creature whoops and

springs baboon

to the fallen sweet and grinningly turns,

devours in dust,


and there’s horror

isn’t there?

when you panic


gotten onto

from behind

by a grinning




from behind

now isn’t there?

Friday, 30 October 2009


You prefer sameness?

I got news, humanity,

you got difference.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

You and me

Darkness lifts although it’s winter

and we lob sticks into the river.

They’re drifting free encased in bark

and, as we walk, the river quickens.

Off they rush under branches, shoots,

until they slow in pools.

We walk away, extending feet,

bending knees, as these two float

together, trusting Tao, and God and Power,

Lady Luck.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

When my son sings

he’s a drunk, symmetrically wailing,

an Am-Dram soloist missing a note,

he’s lashing it, belting it out for the Tempest

in Prospero’s coat.

Seldom polite but full of himself;

upstaging, rampaging, a gravity pull

and his mouth is more open that any old sorcerer

or Titanic’s hull.

But open your eyes, look out at a dawning;

into soft-belly forces, even a taste

of whale-song, tree-root, hyena laughing,

a heart in a race …

… and embrace.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Bath time

Rattling in his bath, I hear my son chortle.

Squeals and giggles rarely

abound some days … (hear how my mind hurtles

to scarcity, stops me squarely)

but all sounds diminish and even his warm bath

is like a star, a splash,

exuberance, chuckle: he’s certainly having a laugh

before a full stop - then a dash.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Down's boy

He just walked in and down to work

because, today, there’s work to do;

winching-you-in - hug seeker –

far away from normal folk

and you, you’re lucky to get caught

by a shock of hair, swinging gait

and, drawn, you choose to follow on

beckoning hands to crazy fun

until a break point; when he turns

to crack on with his mission,

tack along different breezes,

mischief, toys and glancing eyes.

Oh yes he’s work to do. Ta-ra.


Thursday, 22 October 2009


When he wrote ‘Prayer for my daughter’,

Yeats knew everyone has a curse;

ugliness, youth, old age or beauty

fixation, fear, control, abuse

and curses bash exuberance

- so how come Andrew oozes verve

with every glass of lemonade,

or song and any disco dance?

I ask him straight ‘Who teaches best?’

and he replies ‘It’s me, I do!’

‘What do you teach?’ he glances ‘Colours.’

‘which colours?’ and he answers ‘Blue!’

Known as the colour of humility – Blue -

a fractal of love and such a magnificent curse.