Friday 26 January 2024



Well, they made him a "Group Leader"
 Or, in grander modes, a "Group Manager"
The nearest he got to "Laird".

But he did the duties "well"
Some said "very well" but argued he did
Too much of the work himself.

If ever they marked him as "fitted"
For a higher grade they ensured
"Well fitted" was the required mark.

As he became sardonic
They decanted him from groups to
An asylum for hardened cynics.


If you should work in wood to reconstruct your
Dismantled wardrobe, mend a gate, or make
A stool, disorder would attend your structure,
Things fall apart, breadths vanish by mistake.

If you should work with paint its varied thickness,
Shirt dabblings, sprays, propensities to chaos
Might show the Id in some repressive sickness;
A poltergeist might think you framed his naos.

Lawnmowers burn out; wires break and fuses blow:
Tyres you are blowing up deflate instead;
You cure locks worse; warped plumbings overflow;
The headboard slants and wobbles on the bed.

Words only find me an effective warder,
Framed by me into one essay at order.


Unarranged, the sensations
Suck by my senses to
My "faulty sensory perception".

Within, further confusion,
The sense of humour

From the core
The sense of sny

O wretched man that I am!
Who shall deliver me
From this body of death?

If what I need is a Deliverer
What I gain also
Is a Master.

If what I need is an Escape
What I gain
Is also a Lord.

If what I need is a Resource
What I have
Is a Head also.

 These are views on Lindisfarne, the so-called Holy Island, on the Northumberland coast.  It is specially associated with Cuthbert.

Tuesday 23 January 2024


 More from Northumberland; the 'clock' is a tidal clock in the guest house where we were staying, useful for knowing when we could go to the tidal island of Lindisfarne.


Rose and I together,
Gangrels on the Ben
Stomping snow or heather.

Feet ensconced in leather,
Free and careless then
Rose and I together.

Loosed the daily tether,
Left the mundane pen
Stomping snow or heather.

Climbed past ewe and wether
Far from homes of men
Rose and I together.

Vagaries of weather
Dappled vision when
Stomping snow or heather.

Yearning, I ask whether
That will be again
Rose and I together
Stomping snow or heather.


"Oft have I travelled"
Hrafnkel's tortuous terrain
Traversing mire-veiled rock
To Eyvind's treacherous murder;

Clambered with Grettir Greitlandsjokull
By the ice-shaded crevasse
To where in the shadowed valley
Only sheep perturbed his peace;

Come with Kjartan to the rock
By the ravine Hafragill
Where his friend bore
Anger into the ambush;

Stumbled with the blind bard Egil
To his final murders
Where edging bogs and pits
He buried money and slaves;

Ranged with SkarpHedin
The nightroad with the ringing halberd:
"Two ravens flew with them
All the way";

Raced to the river with Hedin,
Hurled to the icehump,
Birdfast skimmed the snowbridge,
Slidden to the crux of the battle.

Gone with Gunnar back
Through glorious slope and gold cornfields,
Thralled by Iceland s loveliness
To his home and thief's eyed Hallgerd.


Wanderings, tergiversations, vacillations.
I have trodden the wilderness,
Thirsted, hungered and murmured:
Stumbled back towards Egypt
(Through grace moated by the Sea);
Plunged headlong to Hormah
To force the land in my strength,
And trawled through sand and rock:
Even, in some seasons followed
The Ark to our resting place.

For I have tasted the grapes of Eshcol
And seen in spirit the fertile land:
Milk and honey are to my taste:
And I, like Caleb, have the land in my heart.

But more I know the One
Who bore me to this waste
Will plant me in His mountain,
His fixed and purposed place.

"The Ben" is Ben Nevis, the highest hill in Scotland. Part II relates to my early fondness for Icelandic sagas. 

Thursday 18 January 2024


This is the first of seven sections of a sort of autobiography which I wrote in 1994.  It is not specifically Christian.  It includes older sections, such as AI, which existed as 'poems' in their own right.  The better poet of AIII is George Mackay Brown: Scottish Poetry Library


Meaning was not enough,
Aptness with words even
Was unsatisfying:
A hunger of the mind.

Sometimes a distant form
Will almost coalesce
But defies the eye's focus;
The object undefined.

The artist forges line,
Colour, texture and form
Into a unity:
More than he had defined.

So he became a poet:
The timbre of the words
And texture of their sounds
Cast him this other kind.


Words and images
I have cajoled into
My own order.

Into my mind and others' minds
I have guddled, hoping
Some plump, fresh grilse might surface.

I have ridged page upon page
That seed of my sowing
Might bear some fertile ears.

Through others fields and wastes
I have tramped, plucking
Berries, seeds and feathers.

Tentatively I have raided
Unaccustomed lands
Trying to make something mine.

And I have essayed to deploy
Old images and rhymes
Into new hymns and anthems.

If any words have lived
Or any symbols danced
I have become a poet.


If I am poet, not mere versifier,
That honed style has been the marque
Of the real poems; while the concetto used
Is the best I can distil into the poetic
Myth-cauldron.  Since both are derived
From a better poet I make no claim
To originality.  But I attempt to build
On others' foundations: the minor poet's task.
Consider my idyll; a laird or chieftain
Rules benignly; peasant and shepherd
(Or fisher) fold grain and flesh;
A tramp scuffs past; a fighter or seaman
Relives old struggles; and each in his way
Poet and priest bear succour and praise.
Against these archetypes I have tasked others
Now try myself: will the metal weigh true?