Star Voyage: 1 and 2


You find me becalmed here
Adrift and alone
My star voyage fated to fail – 
He that I loved was my anchor
He that I lost was my sail.


Now I am the sailor and I am the helm
And the wind’s blowing fierce in my sail;
And I am these timbers both seasoned and salty
And I have no reason to fail.

I cut them adrift and they took their own courses,
I cut through the hawsers that bound them to me;
One went to the westward and one to the eastward;
One lost in the sea-foam behind –

But I never looked back, and from island to island
From here to horizon, through sun-scorch and rain
I sailed on untrammelled and rarely companioned
To barter my wares on each new shining strand.

Poem: Once in a while

I talk to you in the kitchen, no? Wouldn’t you laugh if you knew?

Except of course that you wouldn’t because you didn’t; not ever,

no matter how sunny and bright I tried to be.

These long nights I turn off the TV to read and listen;

various cats come slouching along the wall,

sinking deep into the clefts between the cushions, sleeping instantly.

Peace breaking out between us as it rarely ever did

when both of us were real, and really here.


You never did read, did you? Your eyes would glaze over

at any page lacking diagrams or photos, or a bunch of formulae.

Nonetheless, your hypothetical self sits next to me on this fourth-or-fifth-hand sofa

and when I get to a track you might have relished I pass you the other earphone;

we listen in together, I and the shade of the man-you-might-now-be.

Once in a while you appear to forget that I’m here – I being a ghost to you –

and mumble along to the music, absently. And your singing voice is as soft and

loud, and as slightly-off-key as it always used to be. I loved your voice.


Every so often I go to your funeral, as in reality it is not very likely

that I will be asked to do. Over there – that’s me in fusty black under grey, imagined

sky, trying not to make it too obvious that I’m freezing –

at the brutalist crematorium that swallowed up my Dad.

I rarely cry except a tear or two, hypothetically. Because all said and done

this isn’t really real. And I wonder how the Real Thing would have gone

if you’d happened to go before me, and if we had still been We,

not You and I.


Featured Image: Funeral Procession: Clementine Hunter (1886-1998)


The more my substance thins to fill the world

The more the world fills me.


Sun shining, moon rising,

Stars in their savagery,

The meaningless gaze of the fox

Dead on the road, the broken bird

The bloodied fur, wind-feathered wing

Sing in me


Oh my beauty,

Oh my broken beauty.



A Fairy In A Jar

I had an idea to write a poem about a fairy in a jar so I went in search of pictures of fairies in jam-jars thinking there weren’t likely to be any. I mean, whoever heard of a fairy in a jar?  How wrong I was. It seems there is quite a fashion for the construction / documentation (depending on how you choose to look at it) of dead and dying fairies.

Some of the pictures were beautiful but macabre. Some were amateurish, some were twee, others were hideous and clever beyond belief. A famous one, known as The Derbyshire Mummified Fairy, is a hoax by master prop-maker Dan Baines. I was going to show it here but decided I couldn’t. In a way it’s too good. When I see such things I find it hard to believe there are no such things as fairies. I loathe traps. Hate to see things in bottles.

This is my poem. I was going to call it The Killing Jar but I thought that sounded a bit too Sylvia Plath-esque so I’ve stuck with A Fairy In A Jar. Echoes of school science lessons. Echoes of all sorts of things, really:

We place the fairy in the killing jar

like so. Yes, do gather round –

you can watch

as she throws herself against

the high-curved glass.

Note how the rainbow-coloured dust

storms from her wings, see how it floats

to form this brown dust at the base.

Observe how she gasps for air;

she’s longing for

what we have sealed her from.

You can see her now

embarked on her final flight,

that wild gavotte.

dead fairy 2.jpg

Fairies don’t live for ever –

you thought they did?

Sooner or later

and of their own accord

they enter a killing jar.

It is their choice to die

and yet…

and yet…


Dear Genius

I was inspired by this post at Algebra of Owls poetry magazine, to write a little poem.

Predictably, I suppose, he finds himself inundated with Owl Poems.

So I thought I might write an Algebra Poem… but not submit it since to do so might cause some sort of meltdown or, worse still, set a precedent.

So here is my little Algebra Poem, which I decided to call Dear Genius:

I am the x of you and you the y

You are the y of me and I the z

You the √ of me – as I of you.

I ± you, you ± me

You the ≡ of me and I of you.

 Truth to tell, Dear Genius, we

Are versions of ∞

2 always meant be as 1

Never ÷ meant to be

 But there you are…

 And here am I…


With any luck this post will triple my ‘traffic’ since Mathematicians and Algebraists from all corners of the globe – if a globe can said to be have corners, mathematically speaking – may feel compelled to visit to tell me I got the symbols wrong.


There’s a hole in the sky

There’s a hole in the sky and it seems to be shaped like you.

Someone has punched you out or punched you through,

Or maybe, wielding special sky-cutting shears,

More carefully excised you.


There’s a hole in the sky and it seems to be shaped like you.

I spy you through your shape, dank midnight blue;

And scuttling there, the Thing you saw so clear

That was always at your back, always hurrying near.


Any day now the sun will snuff itself out,

All days will be dust

And the stars will come streaming through.




I picture him in winter, mostly:

A half-forgotten face, uncommon man-shape

In southern cities where he could not be. 

I hear him playing to an empty church,

Notes ricocheting round a birdless sky:

He, who could have made a new religion.

He goes by fields, crossing sour northern ditches,

Clutches the rail, the rust flaking off in his hand:

A stranger in a green, wind-bitten land.

 Why does my Lucifer fold away

His fiery wings? Why does he hide

With the blameless and the earthen?


He, who had such a talent for destruction.