For years nothing much had happened in our lives but  we were quite content  with our little lot. Then we found this strange plant in the garden with red berries and vivid green heart-shaped leaves. Let’s dry the leaves, Dorothy said.

In a week the leaves were so brittle that they turned to powder at a touch. Let’s put them in a pipe, Dorothy said.

I went out to the tobacconist and bought a meerschaum which the tobacconist said would ensure a cool smoke. You first, Dorothy said.

No after you, I said. Age before beauty.

Dorothy took a puff then passed the pipe to me. I took a puff. Nothing much happened.

The effect wont be immediate, Dorothy said. It takes time for it to get round all your whatdyamacallits and  reach the brain.

Then after a while she asked, Can you feel anything yet?

I began to panic. How do we know what effect it – whatever it is – will have on our brains?

That’s the beauty of it, Dorothy said with a smirk. We don’t.

Tomorrow we’re going to do something with the berries once we get back the use of our limbs.




early one morning

 I saw this horse

standing like horses do

because lying down would entail  getting up –

all those long slender legs to organize

to raise its  heavy   barrel of a body

(not to mention the long neck

…..and that big head)

against the fearsome force of gravity.

Meanwhile the sun was lighting up the autumn leaves,

whitening and brightening the pale and acrid smoke,

casting long, long shadows

across the yellowing grass.

and later on I saw this hare

couched in the grass

(no, I didn’t mean ‘crouched’,

though ‘crouched’ would have done  just as well)

huddled in the long green grass,

thinking either it was invisible

or I was blind

or both

so I was able to sneak up quite close.


The whirr of the shutter

and it was off like a shot.


then in the sunny afternoon,

strange for our northern autumn,

two families wandered barefoot

onto the sunlit beach,

doing what people on beaches do:

drawing with  heel and toe,

geometric shapes in the sand


using  inadequate   buckets

and bendy  plastic spades

to build Canute castles and moats

against the incoming tide


rescuing odd things –

dolls’ heads, old ropes, tyres;

sea-sculpted pebbles

so good to handle;

sea-smoothed driftwood

sculpted by Giacometti;

ancient bottles with messages  for help

signed by Robinson Crusoe….

stuff like that…..


just gazing,

gazing out to sea

but not really looking at or for anything,

letting the mind  free-wheel

like a bicycle

on a gentle downhill slope,


like Sisyphus,

standing, hands on hips,

watching his  great lump of a stone

go rumpetytumpetytumpetytump

all the way


to the bottom




Then out of  Tay’s curacao-blue

I saw this weathered mooring stick

rise from its own reflection and –

Excaliber  minus holding hand –

impressively priapic



And now

when on my couch I lie

in vacant or in pensive mood

and  find

only these pictures

flashing  through my mind,

and  sip my drink and  reminisce……

while I grant that this,

remembered images, the stuff

of poetry, the bliss

of solitude,

may be for some reward enough

it’s  not for me

so, like the man from Porlock,

please  intrude.