I FEEL THE CONTINENTAL                                                       DRIFT

of                                          shif  ting   geo graphy:
the sun no longer    overhead;
an unfamiliar sea.

A jagged barrier reef surrounds                                                        
                                                                                                                an inaccesible shore
and                    ICE                              –               how thick I do not know
where    water           was        before.


Where is that quiet green valley
where       heron       and         kingfisher        flew?
A ridge of stone as bare as bone


A flat and recent Sahara
covers remembered   h i l l s
and over the top of  my childhood home
the     lurid     lava         s p   i    l   l  s.

NO feral  forces fed those fires
that swept my past away.
NO howling hurricanes spread those flame
that turned night      to      brightest day.

NO           irresistible           seismic           thrust
pushed  up   that mountain range.
Some   weakness   at        the heart      of things
permitted                                        all                   this                            change.

On watching a poet read her poems on video


On watching a poet read her poems on video

I read her poems
and liked them
but listening to her read one of her unscripted poems
quietly, softly, slowly,
with the incessant sea in the background
was like trying to overhear on the bus
the conversation
between the woman from Hongkong
3  seats in front
and her friend across the way
as well as not to hear  the chirpchirping
leaking from  the blokebehindme’s earphones.

The Yellow Umbrella

winter feb 13 13-02-2013 13-26-52

That’s my wife
suitably all in black
at the top of the stairs
in the snow.
We have come from the graveyard
where her mother is buried,
our first visit since the funeral
some twenty years ago.
Time flies, tempus fugit,
no matter how you say it.

However we are happy enough to be here
happy enough to be anywhere in fact
extinct volcanoes maybe,
but still together, survivors,
a winter couple.

winter feb 13 13-02-2013 13-25-27

I go on chatting
although I no longer have
anything I want to say to her
and she nods and smiles
as if she hadn’t stopped listening to me
aeons and aeons ago
but we are still there (here?) for each other,
if required.

I remember taking these pictures,
the silence,
the strange, lurid light,
my wife in black with that yellow umbrella
and the snow  falling gently in large white flakes
faintly falling through the universe,
like the descent of their last end,
upon all the living and the dead.

howff 5


It is a truth universally acknowledged that dogs are simple-minded creatures (some would say ‘masculine’) whereas cats are devious and come in many guises (some would say ‘mmmm’)












This little terrier was the opposite of a guard dog. He was a welcome dog. I was just passing by a house in Blairgowrie and there he was, behind these cruel imprisoning bars, so delighted to see me from the tip of his wagging tail to his little black quivering snout. “Excuse me! Hello there! Notice me! Please! Say something! Anything!” Craving attention, affection. Not a bark in sight. Snarlfree.

This was Kenya with Sean, my labrador, guarding Mark my son.   Taki, my Siamese cat, is in the background. Mark is keeping cool in his play pool, Sean is looking  miserable, Taki is detached from it all. Sean was a great companion, full of life, always on the lookout for something to do. We went on fishing trips together, picnics, walks…
Taki was picky about food, liked to go off by herself but liked to have humans nearby.  I vividly remember one night when I was asleep she came in through the open bedroom window via my bare back…

This is a cat we saw in Turkey. What do you do with/for a cat like this apart from feeling sorry for it? Friends who were more practical and less squeamish than we were cleaned it up and informed the Turkish equivalent of the RSPCA of its condition and whereabouts. Really good Samaritans.

This was some neighbour’s cat which visited us on a regular basis. If we weren’t in the garden, it would get up on its hind legs and peer in all available windows till it located one or both of us. Smoked salmon was all that it would deign to eat. We became very fond of it and had a good friendly playful relationship with it. It liked the usual things, rolling on its back to have its tummy rubbed, sliding round an ankle, stretching in the sun. Then it disappeared. We didn’t even know its name.

In Greece we had breakfast on a terrace overlooking the sea. The only drawback was the presence of very thin cats. One morning one of the breakfasters stooped to stroke one of them and in a flash it had ripped its claws down his wrist and the back of his hand.

Dogs were made to love, however badly they were treated; cats to be loved, in spite of