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
Watches The Britpop Awards
With his prize Britpop family.
Doesn’t give a thirty-three and a third about music abroad.
The Queen owes him an OBE.
Bedtime lyrics read at night.
Pop Art posters on bedroom walls.
The kids could hum The Kids are Alright
In Townshend clobber before they could crawl.
With his all-time British record collection
Wears his heart on an album sleeve.
A variety bill of not living legends;
Lennon and Jones, Ronnie and Steve.
Marries his Twiggy lookalike wife
Hot on the heels of the ’66 victory.
Cuts the cake with Bobby Moore souvenir knife.
Goes on honeymoon to his beloved Wembley.
In a Mystery ‘open-top’ Tour double-decker
He bus drives his way round day-trippy Devon.
Up the M6 to his Madchester mecca
Record industry Liverpool heaven.
With his Wilson pipe smoking down Carnaby Street
He’s behind the wheel of his beat up psychedelic Rolls.
Walks along to whatever the beat
As long as it’s written by someone like Noel.
Not stuck in the Sixties, he follows the fad;
Costello or Squeeze, Pulp, Weller or Verve.
Gets out and about; he’s no armchair dad.
Everything follows a Kink in the curve.
Apart from Blur, he’s into Blair
And the new swinging Labour Let’s Party Britain.
Celebrates at Trafalgar Square.
Goes to the do at Number 11.
His teenage daughters always look fab
Dressed up in Mary Quant miniskirt tights.
Homeward bound in a London cab
Just as Big Ben midnight strikes.
On Father’s Day, everyone’s round
For a McCartney singalong-all-in-together.
You don’t get many like him to the pound;
The best Britpop pop that’s ever been ever!
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
What do I know about what you are thinking?
Of course I know but I’m not going to say.
I can’t even find the words to explain why the whole thing is going to sink.
It’s rather disarming when you know war is at hand but war ships are being kept at bay.
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
If you were me, what would you be? Would you be recounting?
Lying on the carpet with my box of scrap-metal matchbox cars,
Counting blocks and abacus beads for counting
That never did me much good later on in bars.
Today, I thought to myself as I was happily driving along
How great life is and how thinking otherwise is, well, wrong.
The weather hadn’t made up its mind, a little sun, a little grey.
Just like when I’ve not been able to make up mine, with forecasts for the day.
So, back home and ranking favourite songs
while listening to the radio,
I’m scribbling down something as a mental note to not forget;
Try not to get wound up and try not to get low.
This is an out-of-the-blue diary entry (when keeping one does its bit).
If you’re not guilty of reading it, I shouldn’t be strung up for writing it.
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
TALES OF ISOLATION 2020
Film Set Extras/The New Normal
The streets are empty when a blink ago were full.
The buses running with no passengers are just the ticket for wasting fuel.
The beggars have nobody to beg to
or have a two-metre vaudevillian wooden arm out if they do.
The local drunk shouts out to walled-in deaf ears
You’ll die of the virus! I’ll die of alcoholism! as he holds his bottle of beer.
Supermarkets are still open to shoppers in their cellophane masks
who weigh themselves on the scales and stick the prices on their arse.
Dogs are a new leash of life to get out the house for a stroll
as owners, tongues hanging out, jump with excitement as police patrol.
You can’t go out unless absolutely necessary or you might be in the doghouse
as helicopters above make sure anyone below looks like a mouse.
Statistics is the new board game and quiz show everyone’s glued to on their sets
As hospitals have stress shooting off the graphs in their attempts to offset
the sad, inevitable truth that people, cut off from their loved ones, are dying
and funerals can’t even be had for any god’s want of trying.
BLINKING WHAT? (2020)
Photo Finish First Kiss
It was a photo finish
for who had started the kiss first.
She claimed her lips had moved in
before his had even got going.
He said it had all been too fast
but thought he’d played a decisive part.
The stewards were called in
and came to their conclusion:
She’d nicked it by a split second
but that both had been in full collusion.
LITMUS TEST (2021)
John the Dodge
Ducking, diving, bobbing, weaving
every day is a slalom course.
Wakes up and jumps out the window without leaving
as his alarm clock goes off in secret morse.
There’s no flies on him as he rots.
He peers out in fear from flower pots.
Picks a few positive no’s from his nose
and plants them wearing bogie green clothes.
Love, love, love, hate, hate, hate.
He sits on the fence and crashes though a gate.
Crawls though the garden in camouflage.
Keeps his head down while at large.
Injects himself with his latest meds.
Zigzags around ambulances and hospital beds.
Has a giant car exhaust pipe breathing down his neck.
Dreams of killing it with a massive woodpecker peck.
POP CATCHY (2022)
If children ruled the country
there’d be a crowned head
and a crayoned in face all smiley
blue, yellow and red.
Chocolate dripping down its mouth.
Neck as fat as a rhino’s as long as a giraffe’s.
Superhero and heroine health
would burst out of its breastplate with a felt tip logo of choice for a laugh.
They’d be twenty starfish arms long and short
and ten octopus legs hanging down
to a brown seabed in a sea as dense as yoghurt
and a purple sky above with orange stars all around.
If children ruled the country
the body politic would swing
from ecstatic happiness to sudden moody
and its little out-of-tune people would nursery rhyme national anthem sing.
THAT MAGIC CALL? (2022)
That Magic Call?
Once out of childhood in one piece
put your seaside face in a 1D cut out body
with a seagull-sand-donkey-ride memory
to give adult life a new lease.
Be hopeful, cross your fingers.
Tie them in knots trying too hard.
Turn over a new leaf. Turn over a card.
The game of lightweight luck always lingers.
You’re gonna make it, just behind the door,
just round the corner, just a matter of time.
Meanwhile believe in yourself especially on wine.
The phone rings. That magic call?
END OF AN ERA II (2022)
Bangers’n’mash with gravitas, please
Ever since the little black n white TV set
was flickering in the corner of my carpeted playground
and through all the people I have and haven’t met
things have been going round and round and round.
Some people go on about what their life isn’t or is
some don’t go on about anything, some about what it could be,
some actually live it with or without showbiz
and some find the lives of others more interesting and ‘nothing like me.’
Whatever may be the secret to finding out what’s for you
it should come as no surprise it only drops with eaves
and you’re lucky if it comes with ease.
So have a few pints, point at the menu
and slur ‘Bangers’n’mash with gravitas, please.’