Category Archives: poem

Oxford’s Magdalene College Choir Virtual May Day heard from a bedroom

The revelling crowd reduced to one
In bed with his computer on.

The breakfast beer cans strewn around
And egg smeared on his dressing gown.

The facebook video played at six …
Some tweeting birds, a choirboy mix,

Recorded several days before,
Each choirboy stood alone, unsure –

How weird it was to sing alone!
But digitised they found their tone –

The virtual choir sang Latin Prayers –
Protected from the germ purveyors.

‘… Immensum hoc mysterium
Ovante lingua canimus’.

He listened and quite unrehearsed
The tears came naturally at first.

He missed the solidarity,
He missed the man dressed as a tree*,

He missed the champagne on the grass,
He missed the chance to make a pass,

He threw himself into a heap
Began to blubber and to weep:

He missed the Leeds star Norman Hunter
Killed by the virus – six feet under.

He missed the Stranglers Keyboard player
For both of them he said a Prayer

And worst of all he might succumb
Before his old man and his mum.

* (leader of Oxford University Morris Dancers comes dressed as a tree to May Morning)

Theme for Abingdon Share a Poem in May is May and I wrote this after watching

Leeds United 1972 – updated July 11th

Gary Sprake 03.04.1945 † 19.10.2016
Jackie Charlton 08.05.1935 † 10.07.2020 Yesterday
Terry Cooper 12.07.1944
Norman Hunter 29.10.1943 † 17.04.2020.
Paul Madeley 20.09.1944 † 23.07.2018
Paul Reaney 22.10.1944
Billy Bremner 09.12.1942 † 07.12.1997
Johnny Giles 06.11.1940
Eddie Gray 17.01.1948
Mick Jones 24.04.1945
Peter Lorimer 14.12.1946


Late last night mingling with drunks,
amazed at all of the things that they said,
I looked at the ground and the mottled sky
with the moonshine in a puddle of cloud.
I saw again the man in the moon and remembered
how he lost his way going too far south.

And did we sit on a cow that jumped over the moon
or was that a dish and a spoon and not the moon
sitting together on the side of the road to Norwich,
spooning porridge, or were we supping pea’s pottage
in the moonlight that made us into moon prophets?
Moonstruck, moonchildren, mooning moonbeams.

Moony man in the moon his mooneye dark and empty –
dark and cold until a cloud came across and he winked.
He winked! Ha! The man in the moon winked at us.
Clouds clearing away back to the drunks and their blabbering.
Sad eyed figures that call me away to you then when
We were as friends, as one.

(written for Abingdon Share a Poem Group with theme Moon but not read as I was not confident about it)

Helen Keller Romance Backlash

Now that I am quite enfeebled
I fall in love with you again.
You the skilled finger speller –
Our only way of being friends.

I remember you – the charming lover,
And how we soon began a dream
A secret marriage, of three children –
To fill the world in between.

The Boston Press learned our Secret.
My family banned you, except in brail –
A go between brought your letters
But plans to meet would always fail.

Carers did what they thought proper –
I was deaf. I was blind.
To stop us having deaf blind children,
Was I foolish, and were they kind?

Now that I am quite enfeebled
I feel your touch on me so slow –
Lightly spelling, playful, talking –
Touch – the greatest thing I know.

(Helen Keller and a temporary male assistant called Peter)

The gold tooth is still mocking me

I pull out my purse and take out two coins,

One silver, one bronze, put them on the counter.

The Bar Man looks straight through me.
“It’s going to cost you more than that, friend.”

I pull out a gun. Aim at his heart.
The band strikes up a rolling rhythm.
He turns away to serve another customer
As I have the bullet trained on him
At the gold tooth that’s still mocking me.

 He serves the drinks and comes back.

 “How much then?” I ask.

“Look!” he says “Read my thoughts!”

I read his heart and see a garden in a council estate.
He stands with watch in hand, bird feed in the other,
Watching the clouds for a glimpse.

Then a woman with red hair, misty strange,
Otherworldly, could be dead. She haunts him still.

 I put down gold. “Is that OK?”

Written for share a poem at St Ethelwolds.

Reigate Heath Windmill chapel

Inside the roundhouse is a sanctuary.
Bible stories frescoed on whitewashed walls.
Heavy cross beams above – functional not symbolic.

A sacrament table beneath and a half  circle of chairs,
The priest breaking the bread says
‘in this moment past and present become one’.

Now I hear the wind in the trees.
The fan tail steers the sails to face the wind,
Mill stones trundle, flour crushed for bread.

Creation Rhythm

When God first gave a rhythm to the world
it was simple: day and night, night and day –
called it circadian rhythm.

God sent another world a spinning.
Its empty face came and went, came and went –
called it lunar rhythm.

God laid on this a slower beat,
growing hot, growing cold –
called it annual rhythm.

What came at first as the patter of rain
rose again through the stems of plants –
called it precipitation.

Then came creatures small and great
with wings and beaks and songs to sing.
It was God’s creation.

Then came man with stick and drums
counterpointing – changing beat –
a shifting, surging, syncopation.

New Sandpit

I sat and cried.
Mummy wouldn’t play.
She was cooking tea
and the new sandpit
was a desert now
where I cried and cried.

Then from out of the sand
I created a man
and with him three friends.
The damp sand shifting
beneath my bare toes.
I talked with them in turns.

Then I created an elephant
that made great marks.
It took all the men to hold it
with big ropes and that
was not enough really
for the elephant got free.

It trampled one man.
The other men carried him
away with a great gash
where his leg was hanging off
and the sand grew red
as dark clouds came over.

When mummy came out
the elephant and the men
went away again
and we made the surface smooth
and created a pool of water
where I washed my hands and feet


All day like a yogi
sitting on a hospital chair –
for a pat on the head
he slowly uncoils.
From inside his jersey
emerging arms search
the surrounding air
for someone to hold.

Lips touched by a spoon.
He gurgles.
Sucks up the mushed food.
“You like that Freddie?”
He doesn’t hear
or see.
As a fetus no eyes developed
from the rest of his brain.

Because he is here
we assume he is no Helen Kellar,
and don’t take time
trying to get close –
only change him
and feed him
and shave him
and bathe him.
Push him onto the veranda on this sunny day
then push him to bed.