One poem from each collection 1982 onwards

What follows is a whistle-stop tour with a poem from each of my collections since I started writing and illustrating poetry in 1982

MAHOGANY VERSE 1982

STEAMING THROUGH THE RIVER MYTH 1982

WINTER HIBERNATION 1983

JIGSAW WORLDS AND LINKS 1983

A GINFUL OF TONIC 1983

PERSONAL ANTHEMS 1984

TIMEKEEPING 1989

An Evening Out At The Pub


While mermaids pass by

in fish-net stockings and high-hipped skirts

the part-time poets philosophise

Look at the knockers on her!


The church is full tonight

as the barmaid serves,

hourly hoping that one day her knight

in shining Telecom shares will take her


away. Some of these missionaries have just met;

some look bored, like daytime people spin-drying

their tears in the launderette.

Meantime, while Henry the Eighth tries

out another chat-up line on Anne Boleyn,

glass-eyed theologians uncork

the top of their heads; and

drink the remains of their thoughts.


MY BEDSIT 1992

POSTCARD HOME 1996

Genova

Orange marmalade buses
In a traffic jam along the portside street
With Vespas and Fiats
And pedestrians on rush-hour feet.

Local fishmongers, displaying crab, carp
And swordfish, set up stall,
While nearby, waterway mermaids
Wait outside bladderwrackety doors.

Columbus’ city of cats
Cobbled together like cobblestones
Curled up on car bonnets
Or licking on leftover fishbones.

While in Centrostorico
In a riotous rundown taverna,
A haul of seafarers sink pasta and pesto
Vino bianco and Grappa.

Having had a breakfast brioche
And Caffe Americano on Via Garibaldi,
I find myself down by the dock
Looking out over the Ligurian Sea;

A compass spinning out of control
And seagulls circling the crow’s nest.
My Aquarian heart, waterladen
With what to do next.

BRITPOP POETRY 1999

Mods‘n’Rockers

The mods‘n’rockers
go hell for leather versus parka.
A rough‘n’tumble bank holiday beach
and the motorcycle rumble lambretta screech.

You can’t cope keep control
when the tears rattle reel‘n’roll.
Your moods at one another’s throats, black‘n’blue,
bring a lump to yours too.

And the mods‘n’rockers really kick in
when your head starts to bounce bump‘n’spin.
While Elvis the Pelvis sticks in the boot in Marlon Brando gear
Moon the Loon legs it, kitted out in his zoot, along Brighton Pier.

You feel tense under the strain
with your heart’s crash helmet dented again.
Round after round of knuckle sandwich fish‘n’chip fisticuffs
‘cos the mods‘n’rockers don’t ever let up.

CAGLIARI 2000

Bronzetti
Small green bronze figures
dating from about 850bc
the capotribù
chief of the tribe with cap and sword
and sacerdote or holy man
warriors or guerrieri
multi-eyed and armed
with shield and spears
breast plates
and helmets.

Some have a left hand out paying homage
to the divinities
archers or archieri
set to fire
or with bows on their backs
and gondolas called navicelle
with bull or stag figureheads
cattle
dogs and doves.

A miniature green world i’d like to get into
as a bronze reproduction of myself
a modern day museum piece which
sunburnt tourists
and bronzed sardi
could admire
for 5000 lire.

ENCLOSURE 2001

Johnny Phantasmagoria


His photographic memory

Snaps it up, on the blink.

Nothing rings a bell

As he pulls the other one, and thinks;


He’s a pop star in his head

And never down on song.

Anything he wears gets worn-out

Before it catches on.


Everyone he sees gets drawn in.

His first impressions last.

His revolving bookcase cluttered up

With pencil faces rubbed on brass.


So, while the other schoolchildren

Shout out he’s a prat

He zigzags off towards the bike sheds

With a weather-cock on his cap

CAGLIARI II 2002

the plate spinner spins his plates
but he’s let things slip
a little of late
his life in pieces at his feet
that magic touch that filled the seats
a helpless helping of butter fingers now
all washed-up he takes a bow
what a shame what a pity
this inconsequential little ditty.

JOHNNY MINIMAL 2003

BIRTHDAY RETURNS 2004

1964

The year of my birth.
Space-age infancy, I landed on earth.
I weighed in as a lightweight
With, what the father would state,
The hands of a boxer!
Cassius Clay conquering America.
The Beatles, planning their first U.S. tour,
About to meet him for a photo-call.

The parents had tied the knot
Just five months before I lay in my cot.
The everyday story of every-night flings
And what inexperience usually brings.
She was eighteen, he twenty-two.
Neither, I guess, had much of a clue.
The Swinging Sixties had sort of begun.
I want to hold your hand had hit The States No.1.

One of the earliest photographs shows
Me in my pram, not yet in the know,
In an Oxford garden, giggling away.
A rented room they struggled to pay.
She held the baby, as he worked late
In the catering trade, with a lot on their plate.
I doubt if she noticed Ray Davis happy.
Probably too busy changing my nappy.

Every name under the sun
She’d been called (for what she had done).
Her father had flipped at her deflowering at first.
That the man was a foreigner had made it much worse.
They were in love or so they had said
But a shotgun, for sure, had been at their head.
A far cry from The Social Revolution
They were shouting about on Wilson’s election.

As for his family, what they thought when they knew
Their Catholic boy had one coming too,
Must have been a much bigger shock;
The very first grandchild conceived out of wedlock!
But, as often happens, everyone rallied
And, by the time I was born, everything tallied.
So, I got my chance to live in spite
As Lennon was published In his own Write.

On February 1st, a Saturday
At 11pm or so they say
Out I popped for my first night out
Jaundiced, of course, like a lager lout
In a hospital taking its name from Churchill
Where the embattled mother lay feeling quite ill.
Her war had been won, a special occasion
As the pop world awaited The British Invasion.

SEE IF YOU LIKE IT 2004

NEWS POEMS 2006

Home News

Mums have said no
To requests for more sweets.
The denial sent shock waves
As kids cried uncontrollably on the streets.

A spokesperson for the Maternal Party said;
We’re spoiling them too much. It’s going to their head.
Meanwhile, children showed their dissent
By sulking “But it’s not even Lent!”

As Dads tried to mediate
Officials said anger was growing amongst members
That relatives were being too generous
And that things could only get worse come December;

Long faces can only get longer
And if we don’t act now, offspring unions can only get stronger.
Meanwhile, children at the mike
Rallied for a hunger strike.

PSYCHEDELICATE 2006

Sunday Rainday

Couples under umbrellas
Do a three-legged race
As I watch the raindrops
Hurl themselves at photo-finish pace.

Stuck indoors, out of
Self-imposed exile,
I march my prisoners out
From their brain cells, single file.

Lamp-posts are lighthouses
For car navigators, behind the wheel,
As windscreen wipers
Lash out to keep everything on an even keel.

When I finish this fag
I think I’ll get a video out I haven’t seen yet.
A quiet night in, resting my bones
While the rest of the world gets wet.

END OF AN ERA 2006

SOMETIME BETWEEN NOW AND AGAIN 2009

Afterwards and After all

Yet another one on the record player;
All those songs I wrote, by other people, for you.
Between us, nothing shallow, every year another layer.
It comes back, in my back catalogue, as good as new.

If this clock doesn’t stop, I’ll be going to bed late.
All my little selves I’ve wined and dined!
Anyone who’s anyone would say they had a chance to decide their fate
But might admit they missed it and ended up on rewind.

So, that little C90 cassette from 1978 is pulled out.

All those Radio One songs I recorded, cutting off the DJ.

As long as I live, I’ll probably never remember what last night was all about.
But afterwards, and after all, last Tuesday was always a great day.

Song ‘Afterwards and After All’ by Chicco Fresu (guitar) and me (vocals/drums)

BRING IT ON 2009

Weekend Away In Weymouth

Seagulls have always been good friends.
They’ve always been around, that much is clear.
Where the sea starts and the land ends.
From the front to the pier.

Now, it takes too long to explain
unless it’s a punchline or a quip.
Repeat myself again and again
with a swift one or a cheeky sip.

But let’s get back to the point.
Something I’m adverse to or tend to ignore.
I take it upon myself to anoint
Anyone with a beak, or webbed feet, or who happens to soar.

SIDE 1 2011

Blur – London

Ordering his full English breakfast
mixed grill
fish ‘n’ chips
bangers ‘n’ mash near Traitors’ Gate

he makes faces into his b ‘n’ b
greasy spoon
local chippy
ale-house knife

but as he digs in and egg-yokes
H.P. sauces
salt ‘n’ vinegars
gravy-pours his plate

Out Eamonns Sir Francis Walsingham; “This is
“This was
“This could be
“This would be your life!”

SIDE 2 2012

Syd Barratt – Arthur I. Tuss.

Struggles off the bus
With his pass and a fuss.
Fought in France and Italy I’ll have you know!

Full of pride and swollen ego,
He widowers down the street.
Every foot a mile with his feet.

Deadly I was, used to knock’em in!
Visited of an afternoon by his next of kin.
Snapshots of better times on the mantelpiece.

Literally seconds having settee-slumped down for a little peace
Does he pull himself back up back to the kitchen for the tea-spoon;
Thank bugger, me ‘ome ‘elp ‘ll be ‘ome soon!

Song ‘Arthur I.Tuss’ by Chicco Fresu (guitar) and me (vocals/drums)

PANDORA’S MUSICAL LETTER MATCH THEATRE GOGGLE BRAIN BOX OFFICE 2013

Alliteration’n’National Anthemology

One of my most military memories I remember is a memorable memorial on Remembrance Day.

There were flags unfurled flaunting fighter-jets frolicking overhead with flowery smoke in the fray.

Previously primed primary school children with chalk chatted and chomped on their rationed chocolate

With high-flying lowlifes leading lowly folk longing to follow a philosophy, or any old cold callous cut.

As three-market thatchers thought about thinking, and thanked their lisping stars they had no thpeech impediment,

Workers were willed to work on their soft ‘R’s but couldn’t help but Really Resent

That their bullying betters believed in butchering them to a bit of beef

To be ground down and brutally bred as groaners in their own grief.

As the years yearned on yearly, not yet to yield a tomorrow but a yesterday

The preach-privileged pried on property with propriety and prosperously preyed on its precarious prey.

FRAME OF MIND/IN MY NATURE 2013

This Donkey

This donkey is laden with good and bad charms.
This donkey is laden with joy and woe.
This donkey is laden with flowers and arms.
This donkey is laden with things to catch and to throw.

This donkey has one heart and one love.
This donkey has books and books of revelation.
This donkey has four hooves and two hands to glove.
This donkey has blank pages and words for citation.

This donkey carries simple stuff and paraphernalia.
This donkey carries light loads and those to keel under to.
This donkey carries personal effects and objects of mass failure.
This donkey carries clouds and those to steal thunder to.

This donkey walks on the sand.
This donkey walks up a hill.
This donkey walks with no brand.
This donkey walks just until.

ABSTRACT 2014

The Point

All fairly pointless now.
Quite rightly in decline with a backwards wow.
Patience has run out so quickly one might even say couldn’t wait.
Friends are the ones who don’t say ‘alright mate?’.
Got to the point a pencil might even draw blood on the page.
Figures walk down the fat cat walk on a book-keeper’s wage.
A lot of music I listen to is by people either dying or dead.
One cant grumble as the manic depressive, in a moment of weakness, said.

THE GRAND NATIONAL 2014

Elizabeth Tayor

Photogenic from the first shot of the starter’s pistol
To the backstretch, this much-fancied filly
Usually breezes in, having won on the bridle.
Even so, there’s always a paparazzi photo-finish frenzy.

Getting the red carpet treatment, her jockey’s silks sport a Hollywood star
As she parades in the paddock with a sure thing SP.
As a homebred frontrunner, she’s the most national velvety by far.
One to watch; she always gets the trip, and is rarely out of the money.

RETRO AHEAD 2014

Retro Intro(spective)

Going to bed thankful today won’t be coming back again,
It’s that bewitching hour when the midnight stars put a spell on your way back when
As cat-owners all over the world owe everything they own to their world of cats
Be they castles, mansions, two-up two-downs with garden, or simple bedsit flats.

Is it me or is there some kind of pause button that keeps things on hold
As the inevitable passing of what you thought you might do makes you feel a little bit cold?
Or is it just I’m going to bed thankful today won’t be coming back again
Cursing that bewitching hour when the midnight stars put a spell on my way back when?

We’ve all heard about the human condition, and collected our own private data,
With some believing a great computer in the sky might be storing it all up to reveal something later
But, in the meantime, it’s that bewitching hour when the midnight stars put a spell on your way back when
when, to not lose patience with yourself, you have to count to ten.

So, not much more to add; no place for quick quips or jovial banter here.
Words on their wheels skid and screech as verses on the page veer,
With me going to bed thankful today won’t be coming back again.
“There once was a chap who turned on the tap to brush his paper teeth with a quill pen”

SEASONS AND SEADAUGHTERS 2015

Rainy Old English Way

Waving off grandpa and grandma
from the back of our car
painted pub signs swing
like a wood-creaking wind-wing
as autumnal photos fall-float nostalgia.

Now I’m an adult at the airport
too lazy to get too deep in thought.
Twiggy whistling trees referee
playing-field football posts growing on stilts for rugby
While outside a coach kaleidoscopic window flutter raffle tickets no-one bought.

Back then, the rain was lashing down
on the streets of a splashing town.
Being who you were when you were at home
Gazing at a big cloud in monochrome
Where watery shillings drip-dropped on puddles of half a crown.

MOONSVILLE 2016

Pioneer 10

Far out and far off
Messengers send out messages for others far away.
Above a head shouldering that flaming blame
A heart bursts below on a planet of anonymous fame.

After your death, going back home isn’t quite the same.
I count down blast off to your return.
All of the papers mentioned you ‘cause you were headline news.
All the night stars tonight have the sky blues.

A NONSENSE UNIVERSE 2016

ELECTRIC ECLECTIC 2016

SEASONS AND SEADAUGHTERS II 2018

Not for Nothing

I’m unpacking the bags from under my eyes
And had a good night’s sleep, thank you.
I hardly ever used to remember my dreams
But, now and again, now I do.

I’ve not always had my best interests at heart.
I often wonder whether I ever knew.
Not learnt lessons by saying sorry quite a few times
Even though I was told early on not to.

I can be a bit harsh on myself
But then let myself off the hook.
Throw myself back into my moon river
Dipping into an Audrey Hepburn photo book.

Just bought a couple of books actually.
One by a photographer with my same birthday.
And the other with pictures of species near extinction.
Not for nothing do I have nothing to say.

NOT SO MUCH AS AN INKLING 2018

Turning the Tiny Tables

I got an effigy of you
Tied to a doll’s house chair.
I put in big wide eyes
To give you a fearful stare.

I stuck duct tape to your mouth
So you can’t lie through your teeth.
No-one could hear you anyway
In this miniature farmhouse on my toy velvet green heath.

There’s just a dim gaslight
Flickering on the plywood walls to cast your silhouette and shadow.
You can only nod or shake
As I spend hours explaining what’s what and what you owe.

The game will soon end
And will it have been worth it?
I’ll be taken away by blue acrylic-painted policemen
In their silly siren cars to be tried by a judge made of plastic.

MINUTES FROM A MIND-READERS’ ANNUAL MEETING/FALLING ASLEEP AT A SEANCE 2019

World is getting flatter by the minute

People arguing and breaking windows
being carried off in a big balloon and coming to blows.
The world is getting flatter by the minute
with politicians in black capes winging it
up to the top of their ivory towers
hot-air propelled by their motions and powers.
The world is getting flatter by the minute.
Taking sides, falling off the edge opposite.

Sleepers-on-the-streets cardboard curled
passers-by watching their money hurled
into the bins of the alright jacks.
Retired disciplinarians getting kept back for smacks.
The world is getting flatter by the minute
and everyone’s losing control and having a fit
being led a merry dance in queues
stepping in unison to blow a fuse.
The world is getting flatter by the minute
As the bombs rain down on the candles they lit
To put them down and out of their misery
Before their eyes have seen the Lord they won’t see.

Watching the news with the sound off.
Silent movie piano and captions are enough.
The world is getting flatter by the minute
though polls say it’s round and you can spin it.

SECRET SQUIRRELS 2019

Stratford Upon Avon

Behind the scenes, nothing’s ready yet.

I’m hammering my brain cells into place.

Gathering my thoughts together, putting up the set;

Hoping I might say something intelligent to someone’s face.

Swans and Canada geese act like paparazzi

Vying for their best shot at VIP breadcrumbs.

But don’t let my words take away their beauty.

My bit-part players are the idiots and the playing-dumbs.

Today, I went to Stratford upon Avon. But not for Shakespeare.

Just to be here.

To get on a train. To be sat on the grass at a bandstand listening to a band.

To think about what might come. And…

%d bloggers like this: