ross wallis - artist and artisan

art + music + poetry + photography + craft


A Winter Walk

Ram shackle tin sheet shed shack
Distemper white on stone walls
Rain green lead grey slate roofs
Discarded farm machinery in rusty confusion
Landrover panels and tractor wheels
Chain and spring cast iron
Ram hoof barb wire wool tangle
Moss mass fern bank dry stone wall and oak
Fallen tree trunk wood walk
Rain gorged stream rapid rush
Boulder smooth grey cloud sky
Fleece on thorn barb and bramble
Leaf mulch rusty red dead branch bog
Bone white skull and horns
Age old drove and dew pond
Willow ash birch hazel oak and elder
Fresh dug mole hill


The humans are murmarating again around Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall NNR a post festive what shall we do now outing - I know, the Avalon marshes - too fast along the bumpy tarmac road across peat moor cars like ants to birds strung end to end on the single track lane a string of festive lights all eager to arrive in time dancing to find a space in the already full parkery and out they tumble the families mingled with the elderly and the serious twitchers in multi pocketed camouflage jackets with expensive optical kit strung from neck and hip and dogs on leads and push chair couples dodging newly scootered boys and girls whose mums bring out bags of left over Christmas cake and mince pies all dressed in their best outdoor gear bright puffer jackets and woolly beanies festive scarves and wellies

The starlings start to appear at first just a few, but then the numbers swell and the human murmuring is hushed as well as all senses focus on the peppered sunset sky a train of expensive lenses attempt in vain to track and capture these transitory moments thousands upon thousands of pixilated dusk dull images of blurry blips in flight not capturing at all the majesty of this awesome sight

The birds all dance an age old dance making patterns in the sky flowing wreaths and flumes mirrored in the mill pond rhyne and the exhaled smoke of a roll up man tugging on a fag maybe dragged along by an over zealous birdie kind hanging in the air mimicking the spectacle out there across the marshes

For me a little knot of knowing as we learn that each season there are more of us and less of them return, still they do their thing, us in anticipation of where the flock might choose to roost this dusk then the milling disappointment as they settle far away and the trickle then flow back to the car and pub or an evening meal and telly in an electrically lit centrally heated nest leaving the starlings to their reeds and rest

Love the skin you’re in

Some women have huge hips and small tits
They are shaped like a pear

Others have huge tits and tiny hips
It isn’t that rare

The secret is to be to happy
In your individuality

You are different, unique
Like a priceless antique
The way you are supposed to be

Some men have huge dicks
Are very well hung
Others like a rosebud, hardly begun

Some are long and thin, some short and fat
With bits that dangle more or less
And that is simply that

It is indeed the way it is
A reflection of our genes
Be they hers or be they his or somewhere in-between

It matters more where your skin has been
How you take it for a spin
Ignore what others might think of you
Just bare it all and grin
You’re wonderful just the way you are
So love the skin you’re in
There should be no more not less of you
You’re a perfect specimen

Stacks Image 11


The Vale of Pewsey
White veiled Avebury plain
And Marlborough downs snug 
In eiderdown
Deep virgin snow
Rolling hills rolling by
Scored by this carriageway 
To the hiss of slush I wend my way
Down a wet ribbon of flashing sun
painfully brilliant bright
A road turned to a river of light
Memories of long ago
Return on this road
Stories of old
Nakedness and snow
Silbury hill and West Kennet longbarrow
Cruisewatch on Salisbury plain
And Sarah yearning
When I was young
But Now, 30 years on
30 springs gone
The seasons turning
Imbolc, time of Bridie
Juniper incense burning
Snowdrops in a flowerpot
A candle’s weak glow
A bunch of daffodil
The scent lingers longer in the cold air
We gather by the stones in ritual
Invoke Bridgid’s embryonic new year
A circle dance within a circle
A megalithic stone circle
An outer ring of oak
An Inner ring of oak dragon folk
And tourists pass us by
Fluorescent pinks and un-natural greens 
glowing bright as neon
Sledge and Snow ball
On henge ridge and ditch
A family of three alike as triplets
Brand new suits, boots and red Parkas
Fake faux fur lined hoods marked and logoed
A hire car parked beside the road
English heritage for Asian travellers
What might they make of this
Huddle of pagan worshipers
Quaint old Englishness
New age and
Age old both
Celebrating this time and place
A sacred space

Bees Knees

You’re the bees knees
The dogs Bollocks
The cat’s pyjamas
The pick of the litter
A big cheese - on toast
A rarebit
The hostess with the mostest
The upper crust
The best thing since sliced bread
Angel dust
Delicious spread
Just my cuppa tea
A speciality
La creme de La creme
A Chicken Supreme
The cat that swallowed the canary
You are a chip off the old block
Barrel, Lock and stock
I would do anything to please
I’m down on bended…
You’re just the bees knees

River Lea

I wake from a sleep deep as the ocean
Rocked gently by the motion of a boat
and woken by light as shards of glass
dancing across the cabin roof like
frantic yacht race sails at Cowes
bent headlong to round a buoy or
a tinkling chandelier of daggers
in an infinite loop of brightness
as I lie in this isle of white light
snug as a newborn swaddled
in the depths of my duveted berth
as dreams full of cake and old car
ebb away and all is silent
but for a creak of fender on mooring
and a distant moorhen
the more distant chug of tender or tug
but no sound from the sluggish Lea
nor wash as it wends its way
through now trendy Shoreditch
and the dock lands of Greenwich
towards the Thames and the sea

We're Here Because We Care

We’re here because we care because we’re here because we care we’re here because we care because we’re here because we care


60 years summed up in a single word
Piles of clothes, a draw full of jeans
Piles of papers, but not the ones I need
Piles of tools, rusting in a shed
Piles of books, I never read
Piles of wood, waiting to be sawn
Piles of weeds and leaves on the lawn
Piles of pebbles and shells from the beach
Piles of wants that are just out of reach
Piles of things that I need to do
Like sorting the garage where the junk has accrued
So I can get to the bikes that are piled at the back
Under mountains of boxes of this and that
A box of shoes not worn in ages
A tin of screws all shapes and sizes
A fridge full of jars that are all half used
Who’s best by date is ancient news
A shelve of once exotic spices
Stockpiled for some culinary crisis
Piles of stuff just getting in the way
That might just come in useful some day
Piles upon piles of plastic crap
Piles of long forgotten tat
And I’d rather not mention the piles in my bum
Piles is what my life has become


If I were to believe my eyes
The world would be flat not round
And the sun would rise
Not with the turning of the ground beneath my feet
But as a part of a greater mystery
And the sun would be a God
And today we would celebrate the promise of his return
This Beltane
This May Day
At winter’s end
And we turn our faces to the glow
And know that summer is on it’s way

What might we lose in the flick of a switch

The chirping of the birds in their sex driven urgency to mate
The grass in the meadow you can almost see grow
Buds explode
The nascent leaves like baby dragons wings open out
The brightest of green abundance

The dance of life
The dance of life

Young maidens fair
Represent this turning of the year
In a youthful exuberance
Of hope and prayer
Dancing around the maypole
Tethered with bright ribbons of hope
Chains of daisies in their hair
And love in their hearts
For the life in the very air
Without care that some May day
They will become old and maidenly

The world turns both fast and slow
For young and old
As we all weave a dance in time
Around the poles of life and death
And the earth and the heavens
Dance to a tune we can’t hear
But sense in other ways
The music of the spheres,
Not with our ears,
From where it comes we do not know
Of musicians we see none
Their music fills our lives our dreams
The celestial patterns endless streams
Will continue though we be long gone

The Maypoles,
Once a symbol of defiance,
Banned and burned, rise again,
And we should dance a merry dance
Around the greed of the self centred, corporates oligarchs and political Spin
Shout out our truth to power
In defence of this precious Jewel of green and blue,
Morris dancers shake your sticks, your garlands of yellow bloom,
Rattle your bells in the face of all
May the spirit of May transform this world,
The meek inherit the earth
May we continue to dance the dance
Generation upon generation
Celebrating the turning of the earth
And the seasons of the year

Stacks Image 27

Time To Change

God is dead, the flock has dwindled
The vicar at the door is feeling swindled
The new religion is consumerism
Today’s cathedral is the shopping mall
Sunday morning the bells still calling
But the crowds flock to the carboot Stall
A bargain to make a life worth living
Though the thrill of the new so quickly palls
Seeking Meaning in some shiny new thing
paid for monthly Obsolete in a trice
Adverts to get you green with wanting
The latest fashion and the coolest device
Containerfulls of shrink wrapped stuff
Shipped and trucked and stored and packed
Two for one, as one’s not enough
On poundstore shelf and clothes store rack
Fast fashion for a fast generation
Fast food for fast folk on the go
Fast drugs for acid indigestion
Pain killers and coffee shots in an endless flow
Jetplanes crisscrossing the stratosphere
Aprés ski and aprês sol
Instagram a selfie lol
Business class to NYC
For PowerPoint and corporate coffee
Fomo - Fear of missing out, not fitting in
Is the ad exec’s raison d'être
The Creed is greed and the mantra spend more
We’re all taken in by the ad man’s spin
We are all on the most colossal bender
To spend is on the main agenda
We are because we shop
in hock to the money lender
And no incentive to ever stop
On a shopping spree that’s a never ender
All the stuff that isn’t bought
Ends up going from tender to tip
In this wasteful wanton world of commerce
Where consuming is the holy writ
We strip the earth of all resources
Pollute the sea the land the air
To feed this needy greedy nation
Millions of years in the creation
A time of destruction and devastation
The end is getting very near
A cancerous canker of growth
We’ve cooked our goose, burned our boats
Pillaged raped and burned our earth
This house of cards will fall about us
Like dominos in endless rows
No longer in an equilibrium
A tipping point we’ve gone beyond
Our growth driven graph ridden linear path
Can no longer sustain so many of us
Mother Earth is telling us so
Earthship mother is saying no
It’s Time to change or it’s time to go

Stacks Image 29

Grim Reaper

He heaved a huge scythe and reaped bitterly

The Dance of Life

The yurt and the circle dance it contains are one and the same
a circle within a circle
walls weaving in and in in visual harmony with the dance
the woman’s lodge as a moon, ripe like a pregnant belly
pale and full, round and round
and arms reach gracefully for the sky
in salutation to the light of life
as bare feet step gently step directly on this circle of earth
the circle that the yurt has drawn on the field
Enclosed, safe, nourished, held
As warm and snug as a long slow hug
Nestled nested perfect egg
All creation in a simple circle dance
Round and round
A slow rhythmic pulse
The gentle beat of drum and heart and feet
Bare feet step gently on the earth


A sudden whiff of days long past
Drifting woodsmoke in the haze
Morning sunlight and breakfast making
with camping gas and paraffin
And the heart quickening odour of old canvas tent
As if the essence of childhood summers
Might be distilled and bottled like scent

The distant squeals of children
Delighted and excited as gulls
And the muffled chatter and chuckles of passersby
Indistinct like a rumbling shoreline of pebble and wave
With only an occasional clear word caught
And brought my way on a waft of gentle wind
The smells of childhood so deeply engrained
To surface maybe once in half a century

Caught by surprise I am transported back momentarily
To another time and place
An island half a world away and nearly a lifetime ago
Intense aromas such as Fresh ground coffee
Home baked bread turpentine and wax polish
These are easy to hold
But this sudden camping memory is more subtle
But only half caught
And already gone
Although thought moves on to the smell of my dad
Though defying description
And he no longer alive
But this idea of the smell of him
Lingers on in my memory
And holds me as a child in time

An Epistle

To you my grandchildren

I am deeply sorry

To be of this generation
That is stealing your birthright

To be one of the thoughtless
Who flew high
Drove fast
Bought new
Consumed without heed of tomorrow

To you my grandchildren

My heart aches that I can’t pass on this world as it should be
Pristine and perfect as a new born baby
The sparkling of the stream
The gentle breeze of a summer day
Clean and fresh and full of wonder and beauty

To you my grandchildren

I am truly troubled that I can not give you a teeming sea
Plastic free
A clear blue sky
The honey bee

For you my grandchildren

I weep that you can’t see the stars in their profusion for light pollution
Hear birds sing for the cacophony of the machine
Breath without fear of asthma
Eat without fear of allergy
Feel the sun on your skin without fear of cancer

To you my grandchildren

I am deeply saddened
Deeply apologetic
Deeply sorry

To pass on an earth so ravaged

To love you I must do all I can to repair the damage
Hand on the gift of life as it should be
Not even as it was handed down to me
I am deeply ashamed
And must take the blame

To you my grandchildren

I can only hope dream and pray that all will be well one day
When I am long gone
When the world has moved on
And belongs to you

My grandchildren
And your grandchildren too


Chick chick chick chick chick chick chicken
Peck peck peck peck peck peck peckin’
On soya bean feed from the Amazonian zone
Lush green virgin rainforest gone
Like a Brazilian shaved bare of all vegitashion
Raped by men chasing profits no matter what
Mile upon mile upon mile of fast cash crop crap
To feed our need for a fast hot snack
Getting our chops around a factory chick chicken
Rich pick pickings
Every bite a golden nugget for those at the top
Not such fun for the birds of the flock
At the bottom of the pecking order
Who’s flesh is poultry chicken feed
Late night fast food finger lickin’ Fodder
Sating our munchies on legs that never had a run
Wings that never flapped
Hens who’s party wasn’t fun
Cocks with no crow
No where to go
Confined in cages for their short life long
A breast that never nurtured a new generation
Pecking their kin out of boredom and frustration Billions of chick chick chick chick chickening
It’s sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sickening

Tim things

An avuncular Tim Holding
Larger than life
Rotund and hirsute
Jocular and chummy
Memories of Jungle Jim
Watercolour paintings and the school hymn
A wedding, dimly remembered, 1964
Although It had been Tim and Carol before
Since upper fourth or even form three
A school romance
And now just Carol and her memories
Bemused, a lifetime of tools no longer used
A accumulation of machines all three phase
Long ago days
Before the cancer bit
A lemon yellow Citroen, a model T bus
An Art gallery
A bronze foundry
Workshops and sheds
All larger than life
As was he
And all these tools, that knew his hands well
What will become of them now?
Woodworm and rust
Dust to dust
And all are/our memories


Jet black
Regular as clockwork cat
Climbs from the foot of the bed
To nudge a pillowed head
In the liminal pre-dawn
A body clock says
it’s time to be fed

Pawing lips and nose
Purring in the ear
Exploring with a half retracted claw
Nibbling on an exposed finger or toe
This is the way the game goes

We hunker down cover up
Try to Ignore the bloody cat
But then the phone alarm
An ersatz dawn chorus
Wakes us
Tweets and twitters
Increasing in volume
To fully dispel the other realm

The cat leaps for the door
A Pavlovian response
leads the way
looks back owl eyed
weaves an impatient figure of eight
Through bare legs on the loo
Mews her urgent need for food

Then as we sip
Our morning tea
the satisfied cat returns
Seeking sleep hot thighs
to lie like a pelt on the quilt
A full stretch sphinx
The mini minx
A soft muff of purring fur

Legs pinned to the bed with this lump
of lead heavy bellied cat
Till Messages mails and calendars read
weather and news reviewed
It’s time to leave the feather bed
to the jet black cat
Who returns to her nap
Spread on the bed to doze and slumber
One eye on the garden window
One ear cocked to the downstairs door
Curled up in a tight black ball
23 hours in 24


Fuck it’s a mess
I’m depressed
Stressed and messed up
It’s a humongous fuckup
We should be blessed
But our carelessness
Has brought us here
To the edge

So many to feed
So many in need
Breeding like rabbits
Because that’s what we are
Mammals, animals
Like a plague of locusts
Eating everything in our path

And greedy with it
It’s a mess

Just too many of us
Saying fuck to all the rest
Is this the best we can do?
Fuck it’s a mess

What this world needs
Is a little less greed
A little more sharing
A little more caring
A fair share for all
Enough for our needs
Less of the greed

He Thing

It’s a he thing
Like a doggie sniff
To catch a whiff of quim
The private parts
Hidden between she thighs
Forbidden to prying eyes
Even the gloriously naked
Bathing in the alltogether
Stripped bare for the swim
That enticing triangle
Is all that can be seen
A mound of curly hair
Even a pube shaved bare
Shows just a wrinkle
A crevice
Without legs akimbo
The folds of pearly pink skin
To which manfascination clings
Remain hidden and in the imagination
Fannyland, even to label these labia
Needs a pseudonym
We try nonchalantly to keep our gaze elsewhere
As if we didn’t care
Whistle in the air
We wouldn’t dare get caught in a stare
While the mind’s eye wanders down under there
To under where this lowest uncommon denominator
Drags our eyes like iron filings or flies
And I can only Apologise
That the swells and curves of pimply flesh
Uncovered from their normal dress
On which we woeful males Obsess
Is the cause of such political incorrectness
That this inbuilt masculine trait
This genetically engineered twist of fate
Is my doubly twisted DNA
Perpetually hunting for a mate


The wind can not be seen
But it’s deafening today
Screaming where caught by twisted iron sheet
Ripping through the trees
Stripping the leaves
A wild combing, thinning out and baring,
Howling up the valley like an express train
Screeching on corners
Wailing like an angry lost thing, a Banshee
Bemoaning the end
The soon to be dead
The craw of a crow snatched
Like the moment an umbrella blows inside out
Flapping wildly in the squall
Scraps of birds in funeral black
And the flame red leaves shower down to scatter And lift again in swirls
Like the dresses of wildly dancing girls
Halloween and Samhain
That time of year again
To remember the dead
But no quiet of graveyard this
No whispering words
The power in this invisible air
Neither can the dead be seen or heard
But they are surely there

Cheap Words

Words are cheap
So throwaway
It’s deeds that speak
Not rhetoric or hearsay
Strings of promises
Impossible to keep
An ex banker with an election
In his pocket
So he thinks
Lies and half truths flow
Like effluent from a sewer overflow pipe
Just so much tripe
Quick as shit off a shovel
Water off a duck’s back
A sickening sight
As they dodge and weave
And insincerely apologise
When they overstep a mark
Slippery as an eel
Wriggly as worm
Slithery as a snake
Oily as oil
Snake oil salesmen
It’s all a game
And we are the game
The shooting season is open
And the arrogant sods
Fire off
Pie in the sky
Taking aim at you and I
Capture our vote
It sticks in the throat
Makes me gag
The lies
Make me choke
And stretch my eyes
I vote for truth
And Equality
And not the old school ties
Right wing

In These Dark Days

In these dark days
Know that light will return
Though Rain thrums on roof
And drips down misty panes
And heavy clouds press in
We do believe in spring
Life and death go hand in hand
Dancing round forever
And when we gather together
With warmth in hearth and heart
We shall brave this storm
All shall transform
Everything changes
But Love goes on and on

And Nero Fiddles

Nero fiddles, Rome burns
Civilisation ends, dark times return
The animals going, gone - we fiddle on
The ice, going, gone - we fiddle on
Flocks no longer flocking
Swarms no longer swarming
The titanic sinks, the band plays
As if in those more innocent days
We saw this happening
Steamed full ahead
We see this happening
Steam full ahead
To reach a point of no return
The forests burn
Too late to shut the stable gate
Too late
The manger is on fire
And we lay our new born down
And the wise men fiddle on
Fiddle on, though the forests have gone
Fiddle on, fiddle on, singing a swan song
As they prance and gyre
Around the pyre

Grey Day

Might I then personify a winter day?
My heart as grey and dreary
Cold drafts through every shake do make their way
And heaviness weighs down such to make me weary
Wet and cold each dark morn the wind bleak moans
I don't recall when last the bright sun shone
From within it’s midst this season reaches deep as bones
To chart the lows and isobars of each depression
In every joint I feel my years
A face glimpsed briefly in reflection
A white haired old man, an unknown stranger turns
A photo from long ago is stranger still
Though that this facsimile will long outlive me
As unreal as the summer day that is a long gone distant memory

The Isle of Avalon

It rained
forever it seemed
So It felt at the time
Levels rose across the levels
The water rose in the rhyne
Like sand through an hour glass
And I drove back fast
In the dark
Just in time I think
As water reached the brink
And spilled over
The drove turned to a stream
Then a torrent
Then a flood
The rain fell in sheets
The wipers beat
My heart beat faster
But I reached high ground
Dry and sound
And In the morning
The sun shone
bright light glinting on a lake
Far as the eye can see
The tor once more an island
The tips of willow trees
All that can be seen
Where rhyne and drove used to be
Flocks of swans
And the Isle of Avalon

Circle and sing
Bright sun and stone
The return of spring
St Brigid’s domain
Maiden Mother Crone
Return again
Triple crowned reign
On nature’s throne

She's Gone

She’s gone
Like a rag
I’m tattered
And torn
Wrung out
Frayed at the edges
Dragged backwards through hedges
She left
A cleft
In my heart
The tart
The butcher
Wielding a cleaver
Pressed every button
Pulled every leaver
I lost it
I Lost her
I Lost me
I Lost us
She’s gone
She left
She’s flown
I’m alone
And don’t know
Where I belong
She’s gone


I went to bed with language
And at a stroke
Awoke with none
The words that came so naturally
To my mother tongue
Now just sit on the tip, and trip me up
Too slippery to grasp
Like soap in the bath
There at the periphery of sight
But when I reach, not quite...
Like a dream on waking
Trains of thought, yes
But words unhitched
They don’t convey
What I wish to say
Chains of missing links
I fail to string a sentence
Though I try, I’m tongue tied
I loose the words to say...
language Is fundamental
You don’t know
It’s so crumby to be dumb
Not stupid, I have my faculties
But Mute
These erased words give me such difficulties
Won’t commute, this sentence
This mutation
This frustration
It’s absurd
I’m lost for words


What is it about elephants and memory?
If it’s the wrinkly skin
It doesn’t help me
Quite the contrary
I knot a hanky
And forget why
Half way up the stair
I wonder why I’m there
I come into the room for
I don’t know what for
keys, glasses, a thingamegig
To play hide and seek with the synapses
A head like a pigs ear purse
Stuffed over the years
With ticket stubs, club cards
Receipts in profusion
In chaotic confusion
The detritus of living
Till I can’t find a thing
And my skin
Thick and leathery
A scrotum of lines
Etched over time
Sun bleached
Verdigris, a rust-stained patina
A polish of constant wear
The marks and scars of memories
Would, one would think
Be carved in stone
Cast in bronze
But I forgot what I just done
And stare for a while at a white wall
Thoughts adrift
Like flotsome on a flat sea
Wafted by a breeze
A shipwrecked mariner
My head a vacuum
Did someone mention dementia
That elephant in the room

In These Strange Times

Life has its meter, its rhythm, its rhyme
Stay well, keep safe, and keep a good distance
As they may say, in these strange times

Simultaneously slowed and sped sometimes
In bed for sleepless hours whilst weeks pass without resistance
Life has its meter, its rhythm, its rhyme.

Winter bursts into spring, urgently through every shoot and vine
Whilst some wish it gone, and a return to normal existence
As they may say, in these strange times

A field of yellow turns to white clocks in these warm climes
In a tick, a tick, a click of a finger, Complete consistence
Life has its meter, its rhythm, its rhyme

How easy to alter reality, to turn on a dime
everything stays the same, yet changes utterly from a single instance
As they may say, in these strange times

The Nell tolls, the clocks chime
Is now a portent of our dystopian future?
Life has its meter, its rhythm, its rhyme
As they may say, in these strange times

The Last of England

VE Day and a meme
That we should all stand at our sills
And sing Vera Lynn
Good old blitz spirit
Stiff upper lip
Boris the born again Winston
Cheering and clapping
We are going to win
Home made bunting flapping
Street parties in parlours
But no hugging, no kissing
Till we meet again

I feel troubled
I won’t join in
This national obsession
With a war
Our finest hour - our last
A past and passing generation
Most of us unborn
And those that were, dying now
In expensive private care homes
In a very different England

For 10 years we’ve been told
There is no money for the old
For teachers or for nurses
For carers or social services
Dustmen have been privatised
Essential amenities
Make profits for corporate entities
Tax avoiding global obscenities
10 years of austerity
The rotting body politic
While Hospices and hospitals
Are run down, under funded
Supported by charities
Amid massive health disparities

A Centenarian Veteran
Zimmers round his garden
And a septuagenarian titanic
Rows the Atlantic
In a home made boat
Heroes Helping heroes
While the gap between rich and poor
Widens ever more
And politicians stand at the door
Clap and cheer the lowest paid
Give them gratitude
Raise a Union Jack
Take us out of Europe
Wish that they could have the empire back
Make Great Britain great again
What chance of that
Is a county ever great?
It makes me want
To emigrate

Fly a flag
Give national health workers
The ‘front line’ soldiers
A medal and a badge
But not a decent wage
Or send them home
Where they belong
Shut the boarders
To fruit pickers
Shelf stackers
Check out packers
Foreign slackers
Here to steal
Our welfare state
But wait
What state?
It’s all been sold off
By the toffs
To their mates
Of this nation
It grates
It makes me want
To emigrate


Who needs a muppet
A mop haired puppet
When we have the real living thing
And a witch doctor of spin besides
Who Lines up the lies
And pulls all the strings

This flax thatched spitting image
Of mumbled incoherency
Jiggling to a rote-learned liturgy:

Get Brexit Done
Get Brexit Done
Say at home
Move on
Get Brexit Done
Stay at home
Move on

No press ganged donkey jacket racket this
A self inflicted on yer Boris Bike monkey jacket vanity project narcissist
Zip wiring whizz kid Old Etonian
With a sliver spoon stuck way up his bum

You couldn’t make it up
It’s a total car crash of a total fuckup
perpetuated by this pompous buffoon
I’m just hoping that it’s all a bum dream
dies irae ad nauseam
And that I’ll wake up soon


A miller once lied to a king
A boast that his daughter
With eye watering bling
Could spin worthless straw
Into a golden yarn
As shiny as her long blonde locks
A ripping yarn
But it was just so much bollocks
Until the king's spin doctor
A Rumpelstiltskin
A hoppin' and a poppin’ thick skinned cheat
Who could weave such a fine web of intrigue and deceit
Came stepping in with his spin doctor’s spin
And turned black to white
And night to day
And wrong to right
He spun all day and he spun all night
And his mates grew rich
And he grew richer
And in his glee he thought he’d tricked her
But we all know how the story goes
Such impudence must be exposed
And in the end he will get his comeuppance
Be deposed and debunked and renounced
At least we might hope that the little skunk
Will stamp his foot ’till eventually he’s sunk

Falling Statues (The Fourth Plinth)

Who do you immortalise
Who do you choose
Who do you idolise
Who do you loose?

Those that climb the greasy pole
Those born with a spoon of gold
The entitled, the embedded
To whom are we indebted?

The late great Tate, so refined
Made his pile on a pile of sugar
Should his life be re-defined?
In this diet conscious age should we re-consider?
Will the galleries of Art be taken apart
To remove the stain of pedophilia?
Those that we revered we now distain
Should we live a life Sans Gill
Picasso, or Klimt or Egon Schiele?

On whom do the mighty climb
As they scale the giddy heights
How high and mighty might they be
Under the regalia of pomp and ceremony
Those Raised to sit upon the plinth
Established by the establishment
Are also Naked, wrinkly, pink
On whom have they trod on the way
We are all dogged by circumstance, enslaved by history
Flawed and swayed, formed by our age

Those proclaimed righteous by righteous knobs
Being erased by the rioters and the mop haired mobs
The men of war, so often they lorded over
The deaths of so many common soldiers
Gory glory flags flapping in the winds of change

What effigies will go, which will remain?
Colston, once cast in bronze
Now cast in water
The Will of the people, to smoke tobacco
All the women, written out of his story
A Churchillian king, or a flawed great orator?

Why do we immortalise
Heroes carved in history
No longer flesh and blood
But stone cold and bronze
No longer men, but gods
It’s no longer about them, but us
Who do we idolise? - discuss...

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Miles of wall score fell and moor

Webs of limestone grit snake crisscross with gaps and gapes here and there like moth holes in knitwear and where stones have tumbled to the roots that prise them apart, the badgers scramble

Moss flock and lichen stains in fluorescent greens and yellows zing in the bright light against darkly aged grey rock on which an ivy tangle is growing

Once upon a time, who knows when ago, each stone was given a careful thought, a sorting, an orientation and a placing by a hand unknown

I contemplate, whilst walling, those long ago hands as I repair a few fallen feet

Deep in the wall I find sea shells and in one slab a huge ammonite, ghostly White, then deeper in the dry stone of the dry stone wall countless bleached snail shells entombed, generation upon generation, a gastropod catacomb


A snail cants earnest full sail
Across a vast expanse of ocean tarmac
The road a thousand miles wide
A galleon leaning on the trade winds New England bound, or a lone round the world yachtsman, mid Atlantic, gulls eye view

A verdant green verge horizon beckons - far distant grass is always greener
A new world, though some croak - bad joke
iridescent scraps of skin, it’s owner obliterated, squished to smithereens by a swishing tyre, no longer frog, the dog sniffs the remains, the driver oblivious to the slaughter

Rooks look on, then take off as one with
A cawing whoosh of unwrapping and flapping

Across the paddock, bullocks play grandfathers steps end to end, style to gate.
The teenage calf’s don’t know their fate, oblivious to their slaughter


Massed cloud dark as a negative, the whole landscape suddenly inverted by an approaching deluge, scraps of scudding gull in flight, bright white in bright sunlight, storm tossed flotsam squawking in protest at the tempest

I too head fast for home, past fast food wrappers discarded, tumbling, and drinks cans rattling along the painfully bright wet black ribbon of road, like lightening, white hot shining cold gold, bounded by wet dark dry stone walls, and the double arc of a rainbow


Peering, disappearing through my own reflection
Into the depths of a deep green blue crystal pool
Up through an indigo star specked night sky
Deep into the inky pupil of an eye
The light in that black centre
What be?
Eternal mystery - I have seen it go
Clouded over in death, and by its going exist
Though no specimen to be pinned down
No Polished glass mirror or scope
Would do more than reflect as I do
Nor seen or heard, tasted nor felt
Yet this essence sensed in every beat and breath
What is?
As is love, unseen universal
The infinite centre that surpasses all comprehension

String Theory

How long is a piece of string?
Does it inevitably begin and end?
When young I would attach two tin cans
And pretend to phone a friend
Were he still alive
I might telephone my dad and ask
And with him, Hear the wind whistle and ping
In the rigging of yachts in safe harbour
And sing a song of Lord Franklin
Threading through the pack ice
Looking for a fabled route
Rime in the rigging
Thick stiff rope held fast in blocks
The aptly named Erebus held tight
In the icy grip of Arctic night
The line on the chart
Through Arctic white
Through bitter biting wind
Done them in, he and his men
An Industrial blight - fashioned in lead
Lines of solder in manufactured tin can rations
And all of them dead

Now the blight spreads
Ice melts
Franklin’s plight is revealed
Passages open
In flood the oil explorers
Opportunities for more exploitation
Fuelling this contracting world of jet flight
A globe wrapped in traces
As planes connect places
And vapour trails criss cross the stratosphere
In this age of ubiquitous travel
Here to here

How we need Ariadne’s thread
To lead us out of this maze
In an infinite world, with monkeys true to type
String might have no beginning, no end
In our finite world everything is connected
Tightly knit
Consequences we didn’t intend
Pull one thread, everything unravels
End to end

Holy mother of cats

Really, what’s a cat for?
I know they purr and have four paws
but why. What’s a pussy cat for?
I know they are furry, and they have sharp claws, but that’s by the by. What are they for?
Pretty, adorable, with their own little door
Always hungry and asking for more
then laid out flat on the living room floor
But I just don’t get what a pussy cat’s for
She’ll lie on my lap with her legs in the air
Fat tummy exposed and her fluffy belly hair
Which I’ll stroke for a while then she’ll rip me to shreds
Puddly and cuddly and then clawed to death
I know their adorable, deplorable and primordial
I’m just not sure what they’re for.


Death be not proud
Where might you be?
No longer with us
But in memory
And death shall have no dominion
Just turning out a light
Go gentle, gentleman Jon
From poppy sleep to eternal slumber
This day in September
This autumnal equinox
When apples ripen
And you sink deep, dark
Wrapped in mystery
Abide with me
Long Jon
We shall remember
In and to our core
You shall belong


The man to whom I owe my name
I never knew
Except through some old photographs and books
And my mother’s memory
When now and then she catches a familiar look
Separate by two generations and an early grave
Though through and through
I feel him in my Protestant genes
Like writing in rock, rings in a family tree
His DNA a legacy
That is both a blessing and a curse

Young in a different age
Two centuries past
The era of mahogany, coal, iron and brass
When photography was new
Motorcars yet to replace the horse
Few planes flew
Trains ran on steam and on time
Reliable as Empire
Clocked by the sweeping hand of a pocketwatch

And Thomas Corder Catchpool
Engineer with LNER
Sat above the buffers
Watching the track disappear
While black and white liners crossed the sea
To be painted grey
As the new century turned to double figures
And his generation signed up to slaughter
Queuing in tin hat and khaki drab
Boarding troop train and ship
To waves and tears from girls
Mother, wife, daughter
The front an affront, blood, mud, and dead
He an Adjutant, Red Cross proudly worn

But in 1917, with conscription, he was torn
Continue to serve, or, as a pacifist, resist
He chose a white feather and a tribunal
Deeply the idealist
Coward or hero?
To displease king and country
Incarceration with hard labour
Three years to pace, a cell to measure
Solitary confinement at his majesty’s pleasure

Such passion and strength
Unwavering faith that led him
To live against the stream
Be the grit in the machine
Speak truth to power
Would that I could endeavour
To emulate him
In these days when his indomitable spirit
Is needed more than ever
His wisdom and insight
His deep belief
That what he did was right

Stories - a villanelle

We are the stories that we tell
As well as that twist of DNA
Coiled in each and every cell

It makes our shape, our colour, our height
But on lap and knee we learn ‘I’ and ‘we’
We are the stories that we tell

The baton passed on as our birthright
How to behave, believe, the familiar rite
Coiled in each and every cell

In understanding us, there is a them
The other on whom we pin the blame
We are the stories that we tell

If our fable is flawed can we break the spell
Cast off a skin, find a new shell
Shed the fetters, flee the cell?

Is this the way it has to be
To be bound so tight by our family tree
Coiled and caught in our own cartel
Tied by the stories that we tell?


It’s no longer PC to burn effigies
So no penny for the guy
Yet each year we applaud his demise
And we never stop to ask why
Remember, Remember the 5th of November
Gun power, Treason and Plot
400 years of fires and cheers
And what the fuck have we got?
Come back Guy Fawkes, forgive and forget
Give it another go!
The straw stuffed heads of the current lot
Are a really dismal show
Come back Guy Fawkes
They’re a bunch of dorks
It’s time to stop the rot
Gather your barrels your matches and wick
And give it another shot


My dad hoarded nic-nacs
Like an oxo tin box full of tin tacks
And little white hole binder things
That I found among his other things
Two plastic packs of tic tacs
Like those tiny little cough sweet Blacks
That he loved, no longer made, gone, past

Nothing lasts

He would be as incensed as I
At these times of spin and idle lie
And such moral paucity
How he would have gathered his vexation
At the sorry state of the nation
With laudable tenacity
Collecting firm opinions
With which to regale his minions
Now passed down to one, me
A righteous soliloquy

Though nothing lasts

Like the forty pounds in one pound coins
Stashed in a screw top container of splendour
No longer legal tender
Pen knives, Bradles and awls
Polished, varnished, large and small
And half a dozen tiny Anchors

Nothing lasts but

I remember childhood picnics
And many camping trips
A hoard of happy campers
Where he fed the copper kettle
Forever on his mettle
In yellow sou’wester, wellies; the gear
There is a faded snap of him here
With a drip on the end of his nose
I remember him with one of those

A plethora of notebooks, quotes and quips
In his beautifully crafted penmanship (script)
Collections of notes about mountains and boats
Of what the weather and wither the wind blew
And how things in his garden grew
A gentle man through and through

But nothing lasts

Other things I never new
Like the tiny pinups of pretty girls
With fringes, looking all the world
Like my mum when young
Cut from glossy mags, carefully snipped
And Silhouettes of merchant ships
A lifetime collecting Nic-nacs
He had the knack, and passed it on to me
Nothing lasts but
Precious Memories

Maladies (and men)

(After reading Edward Lear)

Poor Louise has damaged her knees
And Arthur has arthritis 
Fernlea has an inguinal hernia
And Tris has succumbed to Gastritis
Pete is prostrate with the state of his prostate 
And Glenda's gender is tender 
Cystitis the blight is, and itchy the night is
So hanky-panky’s off the agenda
Jack sprat would eat no fat 
Because he’s a hypochondriac  
Regina also likes meat lean
Less fat, less carb, more pure protein
A diet so as not to die yet
A rigorous regime
Rhi has diarrhoea
Which is very sad to hear
But not as dire
As Diana’s diabetes 
Olivia is on the brink
The problem is she drinks
Her limbs a’quiver
With cirrhosis of the liver
And her Heart is on the blink 
Dai is a guy with yellow eyes
From gall bladder stones
And a pile of bile
It makes him bilious and apt to revile
But it's not as itchy as Kyle's piles
Or Micky's prickly dick
Or Dicky's dicky prick
Or Rodger’s dodgy todger
That he may have caught from the lodger
Then Sidney has a  kidney crisis
And in order not to die of this
Needs regular dialysis 
And Doreen worries about her spleen
That mean machine that keeps blood clean
While Ricky's rickets make him curvy
And nervy Merve has a dose of scurvy
Odd that in this day and age
We still come down with pocks and ague
And that these Victorian disorders
Are coming back again to haunt us
Like the dropsy in Aunt Maud’s leg
Or the maudlin mood of miserable Meg
The whiskers on Sebastian
That hide his tiny pimply chin
And they say that Claudia’s chlamydia
Has spread as far as the vicarage
And Dean the Dean in the deanery
Does not improve the scenery
While Poppy is popping potions
For her irregular motions
And you wouldn’t want to mingle
With the singles with the shingles
Or the fun guy with the fungi
And heaven only knows
About the dong with the luminous nose

In The Mild Midwinter

(With apologies to Christina Rossetti, and all, me included, who love her wonderful poem)

In the mild mid winter,
Eco windbags moaned
Permafrost less permanent
Waters all a-grown
Snow no longer falling now
No more snow on snow
In the mild midwinter
Not so long ago

Man, the planet cannot hold him
Nor the Earth sustain
Heaven and earth shall flee away
Now he’s come to reign
In the freak midwinter
climate chaos rife
Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ

Enough for us consumers
Consuming night and day
A breastful of milk
Now in a tin is thrown our way
Everything is monetised
That was free before
Pushed by the media ads
On the tv we adore.

The Fat cats and oligarchs
They may gather there
All the noxious toxins
Polluting everywhere
Mother Earth is crying out
Poisoned by all this
All the animals dying out
As we face the deep abyss

What can we do then
Wretched as we are?
We should protest loudly
Join up with XR
If we were wise men
We would do our part
All that we can do then
We can make a start

Blinking Christmas Bling

Blinking Christmas bling
Pneumatic snowman shivering
In faux cold driven
By motor driven
By electric driven
By coal
All the lights like fake icicles
Ho Ho Ho
In an unusually warm December
Actual snow and ice hard to remember
Becoming more usual year on year
Sparkly lights with heavy metal batteries
Replace the stars which we can’t see
Because we fill the night sky with sparkly lights
And all the stars are on tv
The festive special
The Christmas binge
The manikins of the nativity in shop windows
Wear designer robes
Virgin girls in festive stockings
And suggestive lacy garters
Is it Christmas totty that you’re after?
A chrishmash mishmash
Of neo traditionality and commerciality
The red dyed hair girl with antler tiara
Calls me dear
Serves hot toddy
In a Star bucks disposable
In a Santa hat the gay cashier
And the elf who wipes the table clear
With all the season’s cheer
For £10 an hour
And the plastic tree winkles
In the steamed up cafe window
Salvation Army Santa shakes a plastic tin
The big issue seller wearing Christmas bling
And the oppressive cafe fug
Wrings from me a
Festive bah humbug


Take Solace
In a solstice sun
Still, low, bright
A single ray of light
Sighted through the megaliths
Casting deep shadows on the ground
An ancestral resound
The crisp white frost
Twinkling like crystal starlight
Twilight dissolves
The sun again rises
This midwinter dawn
Cyclical and circular
A magical morn

Be the sun
Stand still and take stock
Then continue on your journey year round
Re-born, unbound
May peace and tranquility surround you
May there be beauty all around you
Be blessed and crowned
And in love abound

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