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








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.




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.



I’m dressed up as Pinocchio
Having naturally already got myself the false nose.
That one-time little boy whose little white lies
Have turned into whoppers, coloured in by numbers, and quadrupling in size.

Half Dr. Jekyll, half Mr Benn
Out of the costume emporium clothes closet again
Where mischievous Piazza Yenna children, sprayed in foam,
Have become bleating lambs being led home.

At Oristano, horsemen with swords make for a silver star
While frowning, furrow-browed farmers at the bar
Make premature predictions about the forthcoming harvest
Going as peasants to the fancy-dress.

Clairvoyants with tarot cards and witches with black cats.
Grim reapers with masks and Draculas with bats.
What I look like isn’t what I’m like
But it all plays a part in my double life.


Drawing of one of many bronzetti (miniature bronze figures from Sardinian nuragic period). Nuraghe was a tower made of stone where nuragic people lived.

nuraghe people

in round
stone towers
they lived
something like
1600 bc

no videolina
no pecorino sardo
no città mercato
no mirto
no club cagliari
no aics
no marina piccola
no ichnusa
no is malloreddus sardus
no il baratto
no l’unione sarda
no cannonau

a bronze age race
of medicine and magic
shepherds and craftsmen
nobles and soldiers
elders and family
against the outside world.


Beauty Farm

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.
Everybody dies.
Don’t pull the wool over your eyes.


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




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.



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.


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.



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)


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


Noah’s Ark Pizzeria

On the 22nd day of the 3rd of the 13th
The 1st step to the 9th was seen to begin.

True believers and Catholics,
They decided to open up for culinary clients where congregations were amiss.
As mass bells would chime
They got things going with ‘Flood Time’

Where, 2 by 2, if you bought 2 you got 2 free;
When ordering, though, you had to get down on one knee.

Ordering by phone, you were put on the spot
Having to quote a verse from the bible and, if right, a table you got.
Whereas, on the other hand, just turning up, at random
Dog-collared waiters would make you confess before you could fill your tum.

No gays, women, or religious deviants were allowed in on their own;
They could only come with chosen ones or clients from a good home.
Breaking bread, they offered a crust for the needy
Who begged outside, and this menu (and more) would see;

Five fishes (for big groups at last minute).
Pizza Sangue di Dio (for last supper apostles. Stag night special/13 to sit).
Pizza Purgatory* , Pizza Diavolo, Pizza Heretic,
Pizza Ex-Communication (tourist menu for Henry VIII loving English)
Pizza Pope,,God’s House Pizza, (n.a. to those with a death wish).

*Long wait


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.

Song ‘This Donkey’ by me (vocals/bongos) with Chicco Fresu on guitar


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.


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 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”


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.


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.




By Jupiter Fields

She sits on a little chair
outside her little shop
in a little street in a little village.

She has a little arthritis in her little arms
and a little future and a little past
she’d like to big-time pillage.

Going by a name, answering to another there.
Favourite memories get very little mileage.


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.


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.


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…



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.


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.

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