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
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
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
England versus Italia
As Geoff Hurst plays a blinder against Germany
The home fans rub their eyes in disbelief.
Italians take their hats off to Paolo Rossi
As scoring a hat-trick, he brings Brazil a bit of quarter-final grief.
In a World Cup of national stereotypes
Only lager louts and greaseballs qualify;
Gazza gets into aggro on the terraces, beating up the wife
As slimy Silvio Berlusconi gets behind Forza Italia in his football scarf and tie.
Mafia bosses with back-handers in their pockets
Grease the palms of players playing on the other side.
A pre-match talk on how they can throw it
Cashing in on slotting the ball wide.
As Sicilian mammas in funeral black
Cry out Avanti! football-stripped to kill,
Elderly English Roses, in baggy pink underwear, go on the attack
Winning the Widows XI, with Stanley Matthews skill.
The Beatles line up against Battisti
Chorusing Hey Jude ; naa-naa-naa, na-n’-na-naa, na-n’-na-naa, Fab Four!
Meantime, Lucio chants, sick as a parrot over the moon with Emozioni,
Liverpool Mop-Tops, non incazzare, l’importante partecipare! i.e. You’re not singing anymore!
Over ninety minutes, pasta and pizza beat traditional eggs and bacon
But a cappuccino doesn’t go down half as well as a good old cup of tea.
Umbrellas in the rain and parasols in the sun
Defend in numbers ‘away from home’ tourists from The English Riviera to Rimini.
Bobby Charlton queues up in the box
As Gigi Riva pushes forward to get in a header.
Union Jack the lads with brewer’s droop have to pull up their red and white socks
As Gli Azzurri as Latin lovers hold a press conference with dressing room tactics on how to bed ’er!
So, with the heroes of ‘66 matched against Beckham and Owen
And gli eroi di ‘82 drawing a comparison with Baggio and Del Piero, It’s Bye Bye and Ciao;
I blow the final whistle on my latest poem;
The readers think it’s all over! It is now!
no pecorino sardo
no città mercato
no club cagliari
no marina piccola
no is malloreddus sardus
no il baratto
no l’unione sarda
a bronze age race
of medicine and magic
shepherds and craftsmen
nobles and soldiers
elders and family
against the outside world.
The flock in their fold
Are getting old;
Beer guts undo belly buttons
And tender meat turns to tough mutton.
Firm, milky breasts, drop by drop,
Drop, as into the dip,
Two-legged sheep, on their last legs, hop.
They bleat and baa
But it won’t get them very far.
Don’t pull the wool over your eyes.
CAGLIARI II 2002
act of supremacy
as defender of the faith
you might lose it
if that great undoer
disillusion with yourself
gets on top of you;
break off all relations
make yourself head
take no shit from no-one
dissolution of the monasteries
JOHNNY MINIMAL 2003
BIRTHDAY RETURNS 2004
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
News at One
People have too much on their mind
To mind, or care about others and their daily grind.
I, for one, am like the many.
Watching people as if on telly.
I go about my business every day.
Flicking channels, restlessly at play.
A little commercial of myself the others ignore
With their remote controls. All a bore.
People wonder who their friends are
And no wonder they have so few, out so far.
The modern world has got so small
It’s hard to see anyone with a soul at all.
I, myself, worry ‘bout me.
Out on a limb, my leg up a tree.
The environmentalists could pull me up.
No roots at all, a sap and a sup.
Couples under umbrellas
Do a three-legged race
As I watch the raindrops
Hurl themselves at photo-finish pace.
Stuck indoors, out of
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.
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
fish ‘n’ chips
bangers ‘n’ mash near Traitors’ Gate
he makes faces into his b ‘n’ b
but as he digs in and egg-yokes
salt ‘n’ vinegars
gravy-pours his plate
Out Eamonns Sir Francis Walsingham; “This is
“This could be
“This would be your life!”
SIDE 2 2012
PANDORA’S MUSICAL LETTER MATCH THEATRE GOGGLE BRAIN BOX OFFICE 2013
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 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.
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
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
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.
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
When someone was saved
The winter sea set the tone.
What you mimed and what I thought.
Those names on a headstone.
When word-snares had our tongues caught.
I miss you. Every now and then.
Mistime an emotion without a cue.
But when we meet again
I wonder why I didn’t miss you.
Nailed clock faces twirl expressionless,
Looking out to sea from cliffs;
Waves of NOs washing up a shipwrecked YES.
Ever seen so many stiffs?
When you have to get somewhere.
When you have to be someone.
When you should have axed a chair.
When you should have lifted a tonne.
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…
CHRISTMAS GOTHIC CRACKER 2019