Portland: Here be Dragons

An island of flint-in-mud geology, quarries and fossils. Get stuck in!


Glacé cherry

We used to play a game as young teenagers
A pudding basin of flour, inverted, glacé cherry on top
Take turns to pare a slice of white powder onto the plate
The facets angled and cracked like rock

Obviously, as and when the cherry fell
You had to pick it up with your mouth. Grainy photos
Of each of us, white-faced, flour in our
Hair, eyelashes, nostrils, collars, sleeves, teeth

Portland has this quality. Landslips cutting slivers
From the cliffs leaving pillars, towers, drapes of limestone
Ready to collapse. It’s your go
Hold steady. Don’t dislodge the cherry

Costa Blanca: A Book of Wonders

My happy place! A generous, safe, welcoming region of cafés and sea and flavoursome tomatoes:


Book of Wonders (Peñón de Ifach)

Days on the balcony leafing through novels
or cycling to the Masymas on an overcast afternoon
to buy peaches, pimentos and mosquito coils
Lengths in the pool with marine blue tiles
Strolling through terraces of fruiting trees
gathering sweet almonds. None of these bother me
As long as, each trip, I get to climb on the Peñón

Just once. A big day out. For the sea and sun
and epic yarns. A treasury of chapters from
Diedro UBSA, Vía Valenciano, Polvos mágicos
put together to satisfy shade and teams and looseness
kicking off with a stomach-churning walk, fully racked
past cafés, marina, holidaymakers, debris
of shattered rock on the promenade. Look up! and gasp

A book of wonders. Hardback. Grey frontispiece and inside
red, rip-roaring tales – pockets and pillars, features and scoops
Unbelievable stories which turn into truth. Bolts
which seem fine, then fade into myth. The sum
of everything you’ve ever learned. An essential
like the Bible or Complete Works Of Shakespeare
A cliffhanger where your body reads every line

Team on the classic Costa Blanca (6c+) on the Peñón

Highland Sheep 

A couple of poems from the Winter 2019/20 edition of Sheep Breeder magazine. Inspired by a trip to the Western Isles, Scotland.


The déshabillé of highland sheep
In June
Off-the-shoulder numbers
Fur coat casually tossed in the dirt


Winter fleece sloughing off in messy
Clots and clumps
A bun fight. Custard pie in the face
Lambs tidy as iced cakes


The Western Isles: Checkmate

Passionate as a chess game. A place of reckoning and memory and beauty and bogs.


Jelly and Ice Cream (Neist, Skye)

1999, took the ferry across to Armadale on Skye
Was astounded by the fairytale, dreams-come-true beauty
Disembarked. By the time we’d driven to Portree
Clouds had pressed down as if smothering an infant
Throwing us in a Mr Whippy machine. Didn’t see
A view again, failed to climb a single route
It was my birthday that week. Made the trip with a guy
On spec. Kind of liked each other. Nothing came of it

All those years I swore never to return to Scotland
Unless Met Office guaranteed wall-to-wall sunshine
How is it, in 2019, I’m parked at Neist Point, the van
Lurching in northerlies, raindrops wobbling like jellies?
Scottish Rock Volume Two and Skye Sea-cliffs and Outcrops
Closed on the bench seat. Set off north on impulse
When the guy I kind of liked went back to his wife
It’s my birthday. Still making the same wishes


Gogarth: A Gala Performance

The Hollywood of Wales! Poems from a glorious long weekend in May:



It was a gala extravaganza
Head and shoulders out of the water
Appraised me directly

Then double checked
Left eye, right eye, made certain
I was paying attention

Before backflipping
An exit. Displaying his whole stomach
What a performance!

I’ve not seen seals in
Pembroke or Cornwall flaunt themselves
So gaily. Ta-da! Lights! Action!

Then he popped up to assess
The reception. I applauded, of course
And he went. What a show-off!


Kalymnos: The Smooth and the Rough

Two weeks on Kalymnos – A curate’s egg:



For all its apparent barrenness
The Kalymnian landscape is in fact
Mainly edible

The stones, you would spit out
But oregano, thyme, fennel, sage
Grow all over these hills

Figs and olives, the trees
Goats and sheep, free-range
And sharing the feast whilst making honey, bees

The island provides food with the least
Intrusive farming mechanisms. It all seems wild
Except the sheep and goats have bells


The Song of Bare Blåbær

Full collection from Lofoten up here: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/poetry_-_song_of_bare_blabaer-11834

Song of Bare Blåbær

Granite is fashioned for symphonic performance
Here in ice-cut Djupfjord
Cracks and slabs keep time
Across millennia

At this moment
In high summer
Human feet and hands clap along
To the Song of Bare Blåbær

Kick-drum of toe jams with extra reverb
A melody of finger locks
And always the deep chanting hum
Of the mountain

On the narrow valley floor
A saltwater fjord and
Freshwater lake
Recline amongst the bilberries and applaud


My new year’s resolution

was to get some poetry in print. Today beanbag went up on the Algebra of Owls site:


the other night at band practice we
had a whole discussion about the exclusivity of
velvet and how corduroy was the
string of the king

the beanbag was my throne
wide velour stripes off-white king of the desert like
ozymandias on the beige
carpet of my loft

brand new just carved i filled it myself with
a helper its not easy two vast bags of
polystyrene balls getting everywhere going everywhere
like sand

the cat sleeps here it took her a while to get used to
the way the sides shift she experimented with
steady backsliding progress and
huge astonished leaps

two days after i locked the catflap exit by mistake
she came all the way to the top of the house to
do a giant shit on my beanbag. The king is dead!
long live the queen

Star and Garter

The “Star and Garter” poem is presently on display on the Speaker’s Corner section of the community notice board right outside the Star and Garter pub.

“…residential streets / asleep while the Star and Garter stretches and / dims…”

A Small Blue Plaque

Buy “A Small Blue Plaque” for £3 in the UK (or trade with your zine)


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