I'm a keen reader and writer of poetry. I have been published regularly in HQ, an international poetry magazine. Among my favourite poets are Seamus Heaney, Leonard Cohen, Simon Armitage, John Clare and Don Paterson.

Below is a small selection of my published poems. In each case, I am grateful to Kevin Bailey of HQ for their first publication.

Summer's End

As days turn dull and short
and I anticipate the ritual
of digging up the dahlias
and cutting back the flower stems
and clearing off the tubers
and storing them in sand to hibernate,
I think of hibernating too,
slowing down
to just a twilight lullaby
and drifting through the darkness
in an easy winter sleep.

But then I smell the soup, the stew,
hot chocolate, I taste
cheese and wine,
and brandy by a fire
that warms me deeper than the sun,
and thinking of the endless stars
that fall as swirling, silent snow,
I find out my favourite jumper
and woolly hat and fleecy gloves,
While outside on the icy fence,
the robin keeps on singing.

New Normal

Sitting comfy in a crowded coffee shop,
ten years from now,
I reach into this jacket’s inside pocket.
In search of change, perhaps,
or this pen to write a poem.
Fumbling the forgotten,
fingers tangle in elastic,
out comes this neatly folded, light blue mask.
For moments I just stare
and I don’t know if I’m supposed to
cry or clap.

Love Came In

Love came in
took one look
said no
this will not do
brought the scalpel
burned the book
with bracing dew
broke me down
for liberty
but left me
what was true
that in the name
of unity
a man can
start anew

Love Went Out

Love went out
for some air
never quite
came back
tripped on nothing
dropped its crown
a heart attack
whispered something
to the stars
the baffled
once this all
seemed simple
but I must have
lost the knack

The Eternals
Rowen, nr. Conwy, October 2016

Light is falling.
Mountains sharpen
into ancient bones,
as smudging pastel clouds
concede their glowing flesh
in embers of the day.

Chinese whispers
reach the trees.
Their transatlantic cousin,
Populus tremuloides,
may just have taught them
how to quake.

Or maybe they anticipate
the stark and frozen sky,
the poise of waiting, playing dead,
the snow upon their nakedness,
the silence of the morning.

Soon, too soon,
they'll wear their bones
like these Welsh peaks;
their shivering will still.

But now they share their fading
with the sun,
conspiring to be fire.
Not in anger, nor in hate,
but in all the subtle
shades of saying:
this shall carry on.

“For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’opressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
with a bare bodkin?”
—Hamlet 3.1

‘O let us talk of quiet that we know,
that we can know, the deep and lovely quiet
of a strong heart at peace!’
—D.H. Lawrence, The Ship of Death


O is it worth the suffering and pain,
The numbing, draining shuffle to get by,
To make our children do it all again
And con them into thinking they can fly?
If hope’s deluded gamble is to blame,
Or obligation fills the boots with lead,
A player can decide to leave the game
And duty has no purchase on the dead.
But let’s let lie what life is all about
And whence it came and why it wills to stay:
Our minds are full of lies, so let them doubt;
Our hearts compelled to drum, so let them play.
The quiet will come, the shadow will grow,
But love is the light; that’s all that I know.

Black Country Poems

The area of the English midlands where I am from is known as "The Black Country", owing to its historic heavy industry and coal mining. We Black Country folk are also known for our distinctive dialects, which sadly are dying out as each generation drifts further into linguistic ubiquity. I am myself guilty of shifting my accent like a chaemeleon, depending on company, and you will only hear my true native tongue when around "them oo still spake proper".

In pursuit of twin aims of entertainment and cultural preservation, I write Black Country poems in the dialect and about local topics of social or historical interest. Some of these have been published in The Black Country Bugle.

Here are a couple of examples:

To a Black Country Kid

Big owd werld airt theya.
Y’am gooin ter mek ya mark,
An onny God knows wheya
Yow’ll end up wi’ yower spark.
Tha fust ter guh tuh uni
An get ter use yer ‘ed;
In mar day tha’ was loony:
I atta graft instead.
I ay ‘avin a cuss ah kid;
It wor bad on the ‘ole.
Yer grandad ‘ad it wuss, ee did—
A pit mon lumpin’ coal.
An ar cor blame ya kidda,
Fer tryin’ ter gerraway:
Y’am afta summat bigger,
So goefferit ar say.
But dow ferget yer roots ah kid—
Ar know we ay got much—
Buh wim ‘onest an wim dairn to airth,
So dow get loosin’ touch.
The Black Country’ll ‘a’ya back,
If y’ever need tah come
An leave the big werld dairn the track:
Doe fret ah kid — y’am wum.

Dairn the Cut

Ar like a wonder dairn the cut
Ter see a birra naircha grow;
Although ya might be in the tairn,
There’s times dairn ‘ere y’ad never know.

Yer leave the crazy concrete skin
Ter meet the ‘idden veins below;
It’s like y’am in another werld
Where ev’rythin’ is gooin slow.

An’ suddenly there’s ‘awthorn ‘edge,
Cow parsley an’ elderflowa;
There’s blackberries an’ sloes ter pick
Ter while away a pleasant ehwa.

Ducks wi’ fluffy babbies treirlin’
Coots an’ moor’ens, geese an’ swans,
An’ if yam lucky yow might catch
A li’ul flash uh blue an’ bronze.

An’ the’s an ‘int a myst’ry in
The darkly windin’ wairterways;
‘Idden depths a tench an’ trollies
Lairk beneath the tranquil glaze.

Pairch an’ roach an’ chubb an’ carp
Alenty fer a fishermon;
When ar was young, dairn Daw End Lane
I’d love it when ar goh one on.

It’s ‘ard ter beat a stretch a towpath:
Mornin’ jogs or Sunday ‘ikes,
Bostin plairce ter walk yer wamel,
Tek the kids airt on tha bikes.

Narraboats in summer colours
Slide on by wi’ graceful ease,
Leave the shadah uh the city
Fer the peppered shaird uh trees

Ar, it’s life a leisure nair,
Bu’ once id ‘ad a diff’rent soul:
Think of all them years of ‘osses
‘Eavin barges fulla coal…

‘Undred ‘ear uh navvies diggin’
All across the Black Country:
Cuttin’ channels, borin’ tunnels;
Musta bin a sight ter see…

Brindley was the engineer,
Back in seventeen-sixty-eight,
Oo ‘ad the vision fer the cuts,
Ter transform ‘ow we carried freight.

Staffordshire an’ Worcestershire:
Great ‘Aywood ter Stouwaport,
Brummajum connected up:
From ‘Ill Top mine the coal was brought.

The Walsall cut was Smeaton’s job,
When Brindley passed the mantle on,
Then Tipton met the limestone quarries—
Dudley cut, branch number one.

Shortcuts, branches spreadin’ airt;
Factories sprung up beside;
Local tairns ‘ud quickly swell
Ter ride the economic tide.

Telford cut a brand new mainline—
Gas Street Bairs’n ter Wolvo tairn.
Wide an’ deep with iron bridges,
It kept the traffic flowin’ dairn.

Lifeblood uh the Black Country,
The Golden Airge uh cuts ad come.
There ay as many miles in Venice
As tha’ve gor in Brummajum.

Bargies leggin’ through the tunnels,
On their backs like dyin’ flies;
Crairns an’ minecarts in the bairsins,
Busy loadin’ up supplies.

Coal an’ coke an’ clay ‘an limestone,
Iron, timber, bricks an’ tiles,
Tar an’ gasoil, fettle ’n’ bezzle,
Carried on the cut fer miles.

An’ so it carried on like tha’
Fer longer than two-undred ‘ear,
Till trairns an’ roads ‘ud tek their plairce
Bu’ thankfully a lot’s still theya.

So ‘ave a wander, when ya can,
Find a nice canalside pub,
Sit airt with a local ale
An’ tek it in while y’ate ya grub.

All this, dug wi’ picks an’ shovels,
All them boats an’ all them lives,
Feats a graft an’ engineerin’,
‘Eritage that still survives.

A birra livin’ ‘istory
Fer all of us ter get ter see,
A birra peace, a birra green,
The cut’s a bostin plaice ter be.