in the blue dusk


  • In your trelliced back yard
    polishing old brass lights,
    with Brillo pads we rub hard,
    talking long into the night.

    then down your garden we go,
    bare feet imprint damp lawn,
    why walk fast, let’s amble slow
    – and there’s no need to yawn…!

    Apple clusters close at hand
    slowly turn succulent sweet;
    closely we tentatively stand,
    our eyes brighten, our lips meet.

    Two shadows outside the shed,
    (your mother better not call us)
    so sweetly you bow your head;
    disapproval certainly won’t stall us.

    In the blue dusk fog-horns blare,
    In the blue dusk we hug & kiss,
    In the blue dusk an aromatic air,
    but behind bushes let there be bliss.

he reads old diaries


  • reminiscing now my father’s work,
    he reads old diaries like a clerk:
    personal archives dusted down:
    smiles, scowls, sometime-frowns.

    do his diary accounts still sing true?
    jazz songs still sing but tinted blue.
    where one-time colleagues now?
    the longing heart follows the plough.

    his life an unfinished jigsaw puzzle,
    memories now get slightly muddled,
    searching out some misssing pieces;
    creased fingers recall fondled  fleeces.

    oratorios blare, daylight grows dim,
    time has been patient with him,
    sacred songs make old heart gladden
    heavenly choirs still poignantly sadden.

    for final pilgrimage heart preparing,
    accounts near settled, soberly unsparing,
    generous laughter, happy arms hugged
    hesitant prayer, most gaps plugged…


    image credit: Guy Hemmings

wind-filled fabric


  • father and son in windy weather,
    kite flying fun in park together;
    wind battered the leafless branches,
    warm caps and scarves get second chances.

    bright red boots on boy’s small feet,
    an oversized coat, photogenic sweet;
    endless spool unravels from little hands,
    kite frame released, father shouts commands.

    gust-lifted up primary coloured kite,
    wind-filled fabric dizzy with delight,
    flying up fast, racing cloud-ward rose,
    north wind blustered, puff-cheeks blowed.

    string pulled hard, aeriel-hovered,
    kites crashed down, suddenly recovered,
    riding majestic, under clouds tinted grey,
    this textile kestrel, unfocussed on prey.

    tail toss-turned, wild crazily waved
    suddenly branch trapped, couldn’t be saved;
    up looked, wondering, quite forlorn:
    if winder tugged hard, fabric easily torn.

    beyond reach, twine terribly tangled,
    persistently pulled at every known angle.
    not to abandon this trapped sky-toy:
    break not the heart of daddy’s little boy.

    tentative tugs, kite abruptly released,
    shout-celebration, back in one piece,
    storm clouds then decided end of play,
    they will return on another windy day.

great expectations dismayed


bookish public, your primary attention,

hopeful writers sought special mention;

ignored children craved your affection.


family theatricals, picnics arranged,

numerous frolics, walks long-ranged;

your sly heart hardened, changed.


kind wife catered, insatiable needs:

total control, imperious greed;

a woman waited: marriage misdeeds.


where now solid Victorian virtue?

moral compass wrong, ethics askew;

exiled wife, mistress out of view.


happy families, publicly portrayed;

privately, great expectations dismayed,

exacting home rules, family afraid.


why publicly repudiated, unloved wife?

why shame family with acidic strife?

elephantine ego destroyed family life…


newspaper obituaries rushed to bless,

celebrated author of much distress;

fallible father – rarely said ‘yes’.



  • image: Robert William Buss (4 August 1804 – 26 February 1875) Victorian artist, etcher and illustrator, perhaps best known for his painting Dickens’ Dream.

    written after watching the movie: The Invisible Woman

    see also: Daddy Issues: On the Worthless Brood of Charles Dickens By Emily Witt
    Daddy Issues: On the Worthless Brood of Charles Dickens

eternal pilgrim


Black bread begged, traded for prayers,

icons beseeched, plain peasant cares,

kind their cottage wayside shelters,

shade from sun, wild winter welter.


Prophetic visionary, hope-tramp,

Jerusalem bound with holy lamp,

pilgrim wanderer through birch taigas,

prayers whispered, alpha and omega.


Rugged heart warmed, eternal gaze,

dark wide skies, comet trails blaze,

candle-lit icons, Orthodox churches

bulging with believers, spirit searchers.


Sought, the heavenly homeland,

ancient route, not by map planned,

Slavic Steppes to Holy Land streets,

birchbark shoes shod his weary feet.


Tattered wayfarers, orphan-children,

you shuffled among hostel pilgrims,

foot-blistered believers, adored mystic,

weathered, his staff rapped rhythmic.


Slavic Psalms sung, Saviour adored,

incense wafted, cleansed all before,

rapturous peasant faces received

saint-spat holy water, fully believed.

  • This poem came from a true-life character featured
    in Stephen Graham’s book “With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem”, published in 1915

    Painting: Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky

win or lose bet


  • smoke above the Slavic city square,
    tyre towers burn, breathe in acrid air,
    flags flutter over many ramshackle tents,
    all-age protestors, a rag-tag defence.

    how many times Ukraine betrayed?
    false promises so frequently made –
    now stripped of meaningful defence:
    puppet strings pulled, everyone tense.

    hellish historical famine and terror,
    ethnic cleansing planned, no error:
    Holomodor agony, murdered millions,
    raped by godless, Russian reptilians.

    fragile democracy: a win or lose bet,
    wooden shields, hand-painted helmets;
    jackboots kick, masked mobs rule,
    mindless the mayhem: Satan drools.

    who believes Stalins hatred and lies,
    slyly spoken by man with soul-less eyes;
    so few against imperium evil might –
    David, not Goliath, won unequal fight.

new year tram ride


  • In city nightfall, trundling unsteadily,
    the boxy-shaped tram sways readily:
    such unsympathetic suspension;
    commuter crush adds tension,
    few talk, most over-tired –
    even alter-egos unispired…

    You look gloomily through dark,
    grime-smeared windows, marked
    eyeshadow returns impassive gaze,
    “black dogs” haunt your days;
    lost in gloom-goth escape,
    desired dypstopian landscape;
    midnight moon declines to intensify
    aching emotions, instead petrifies.

    Ignoring Cryllic news headlines,
    oblivious to others, sonically inclined,
    goth-music, demanding-decibel
    leeches, sad songs your sentinels,
    sound-tracking unhappy Slavic life,
    wrist scars speak of sharp knife,
    so deep that death-like despair,
    definant scowl signalled: beware.

    Brakes squeal-siren your street,
    snow crunches under booted feet;
    midnight now, trench-coat flapping,
    snowy footsteps leave pilgrim tracking.
    Byzantine bass church-bells boom,
    treble tinkle joins-in, fireworks zoom
    through New Year night skies,
    star-twinkle lightens up your eyes….

old stones


  • do we really need to pray in special spaces?
    must we kneel down, hide heads and faces?
    is such outward show parading of piety?
    does God of pathos care about propriety?

    old stones store scraps of prayers on paper*
    will wailing change sentiment’s vain vapor?
    who understands God’s deep concern,
    beyond tolling bells and incense burn?

    Stones are ancient but temple curtain torn;
    is belief random, whispered prayers stillborn?
    Fear God but don’t dictate to females
    about whispered prayer and wearing of veils!

    Tradition’s against God’s true intention,
    biblical women defy faith’s convention;
    pronouncement and  erudition
    miss the mark of God’s mercy mission…


    * Over a million notes are placed each year… the notes are collected twice a year and buried on the nearby Mount of Olives.

    The Wailing Wall, by Carl Werner (1808-1894)

rhyming dictator


  • couplets keep coming in my overactive head,
    awake after midnight, sleep seldom comes to bed

    so many sentences, whether read or spoken
    end up chime rhyming – can of worms wide open

    five poems composed, completed in a day
    – will the given gift be soon taken away?

    the rhyming dictator has colonised my brain,
    prompting promiscuously, driving me insane…

    Hemmings name your hazard, breakdown
    or heart halt – you plain crazy rhyming clown?


happiest in rubber boots


  • happiest when in rubber boots,
    stumbling over pine tree roots,
    awed by river flood awash,
    muddy water, speed and slosh;
    wading through pathway pools,
    gently touching brown toadstools.

    showers surrender to the sun,
    Jack strains leash, let him run,
    invisible quarry-scented trail,
    motor-driven happy tail:
    eyes shine bright, ears alert,
    wiry dog hair damp with dirt.

    country haven for your heart,
    suburban life plays smaller part,
    nature best, your farmer genes
    drawn to these rugged rural scenes
    – and most times I accompany you,
    even if only for an hour or two….