This is where some of my poems, essays, stories and reviews will be published.
It'll be a mixed-bag!

Unless otherwise indicated, all content is © John Pierpoint.



The End?

(This is a short story written for a 2004 Warwick Arts competition where the total word-count must not exceed 300. My software puts this one at 299 words - just in!)

Dusk falls. I stare glassily at the sad population of my writing desk: a dust-layered ream of paper; pens capped and waiting; a bottle of whisky and glass; a pistol. The paper remains as empty as my imagination, as desolate as my soul. As I reach for the pistol, memories come unbidden to my mind.

I was creative once - a celebrated wordsmith, poet and musician. The ideas once flowed like wine from the infinite cornucopia of my mind to a grateful, thirsty public. I owed it all to her: my muse and my love. We had found happiness together, and our mutual joy seeded creativity, exploring countless conduits of expression.

Yet somehow, gradually, a coldness crept in. Understanding and communication leached from our life in a self-fuelling spiral of misery. Love changed by degrees to familiarity, to tolerance, to intolerance, to dislike, even finally to hate. I tried in vain to resurrect the ghost of our bygone bliss, but no flowers or favours could mend this broken thing. Attempts at discussion were met by stone silence. Even my verses failed to connect. Eventually she left me in body, as in spirit. With her she took the precious spark. The words stopped flowing, and life for me lost meaning.

So I sit here at the scene of past triumphs, contemplating the chosen manner of my death with a strange dispassion. With no further need for prevarication, I raise the pistol to my face. Savouring the metallic weight in my hand, I squeeze the trigger.

The utter silence of the moment is disturbed by a quiet click. A small flame flicks out of the barrel and dances in the gloom. Reaching into a drawer, I pull out and light the first of many, many cigarettes . . .


Tar Barrels

An old friend mentioned to me that his sister was involved in a video project, and was looking for poetry to accompany the images. It was an open call, so many people have submitted entries. This is my entry, which was not succssful, but I think it's good enough to share here.

Dusk is falling.
The town is waking.
No slumber tonight
In its time-etched halls.
Tensions are mounting.
The time approaches.
In darkness, we gather—
Conspirators all—
In cherished communion;
Time-honoured tradition.
We flow through the streets.
We shoulder the route.
Seeking encounters
With the amber fire.

The barrels appear,
Held in reverence.
Their part in this play
Enshrined in this day.
Ignited with care,
Rolled and inspected,
Lovingly tended,
Honoured, respected.
Rewarded at last
With bright conflagration.
In golden glow,
Great gouts gush skywards,
Reflected in the eyes
Of the assembled acolytes,
Lighting the faces:
Eager and feral,
Impatient for action,
Goading and shouting.

Now they are ready,
Barrels ablaze.
Carried aloft
On willing shoulders
They hurtle headlong,
Spouting their fury,
Tongues of destruction
Lancing and dancing.
Throwing strange shadows,
Elusive, chimeric,
Through throngs of believers —
The mad and the sainted —
Who jostle for places,
Desirous of contact.
Amongst the flames,
Heedless of harm,
Immune to the heat
They bathe in the blaze.
Lunging and grabbing,
Caressing and stroking,
The dared and the daring,
Senses heightened.
For closer union
With the holy infernal.
Cleansing the spirit;
Cleansing the town.
Binding its people
With ties of tradition.
A symbol of hope
For time out of mind,
Never extinguished,
Never defeated.
Flame of our passion
Burning eternal,
Illumines the ages,
Still raging, indefatigable.
Borne by the scions
Of Devonshire families:
Proud sons and daughters
Continue the ritual
For the sake of their forebears,
For the sake of their children,
For the pride of knowing,
For the sense of belonging
To something far greater
Than mere existence.
The unknowable mysteries
Of this myth-shrouded isle
Revealed for brief moments
In fiery splendour.

Fruit Flies


I lift the lid
To use the bin,
Contribute some compost.
The air is filled
With darting motes
Aimless, without purpose.
Surrounding me,
In my face
Covering every surface.
A cloud of flies;
Tiny specks,
The humblest little creatures
Explodes aloft
Free at last!
To spread around the garden.
Such joyous sprites,
Short-lived souls
Living for the moment.
Fifty days,
If all goes well,
Their time upon this planet.
Busy, busy,
Hard at work
Heedless of the future
Dancing, singing,
Full of grace,
Timeless courtly conduct.
Amber jewels aflight.

When Harry Came to Stay

(Our son brought a bear home from Nursery one week. We were told that the bear was called Harry, and he wanted to spend the weekend with us, getting involved in our activities. We were supposed to write down what we got up to in a little accompanying notebook. So I wrote this poem (or a version of it)!)

This is a tale of the things we did
When Harry came to stay.
On Wednesday, he arrived,
Big-hearted brown bear,
With his bag and his book,
His plate and his cutlery,
Ready to get to know
A new gang of toys:
The bunnies, the teddies,
The dogs and the dinosaur,
Paddington and Noddy
And the stacking dragon.
Introductions were made
And friendships forged,
Then they sat and enjoyed
An exciting film
Before dinner and bathtime
And finally bed -
After one last long cuddle.

On Thursday we drove out
To Kinver Edge:
Rock Houses and caves
And woods to explore.
The hot sun was relieved
By a welcome, cool breeze
As we ate our picnic
And admired the scenery.
Then up to the Ridge
Where the world stretched out below
And two helicopters flew over
To the delight of Dad and Son.

On Friday we played
In the garden all morning,
Trying out a new toy:
An air-powered rocket launcher;
Sending bright blue foam rockets
Skyward, haphazard,
Into the deep blue forever.
Then in the afternoon it was time
For a “Stay and Play”
At Tristan’s new school.
In the oppressive heat
It wasn’t much fun
For tired parents
But the children didn’t care,
As they ran amok
With the new toys and props,
Making friends and staking territories.

Saturday – the weekend proper! -
And still not a cloud in the sky.
We had to go somewhere
So headed for Malvern.
We stopped at The Fold
For lunch and a rest,
Looking round galleries and farm shop,
Buying beautiful bread.
Then, on a whim, to Ledbury town
Where we wandered round shops,
And found fun things to buy,
Before our parking time was up
And we had to move on.
In Malvern itself,
We did our main shop,
Then settled in the churchyard
With ice cream and chilled coffee
To enjoy the tranquillity
As the whole of England
Was glued to the TV,
Utterly absorbed
In the progress of some football match.
There must have been a goal,
And it must have been for the right team
Because the air suddenly resounded
With the shouts and cheers
Of a whole town,
Echoing around the hills,
Shaking the ground,
Causing the church bells to sound.

On Sunday, we needed a rest
As the temperature rose, yet again.
So we stayed at home
And pottered around
Taking Tris for a walk
Up one of the hills.
He spelled out a word
And learned a new sum
Using magnetic symbols
We’d bought on our trip.
After lunch we relaxed
And enjoyed a film.
Then in the evening cool
In the shade in the garden
Tristan sat by his pool
And floated some toys
And made a construction.

But now Harry says goodbye;
He’s had a wonderful time.
He’s enjoyed his stay
But will be glad to go home
And maybe next weekend
He’ll be able to stay
With another lucky child
And new games to play.


Overcast. . .
Out of luck. . .
Little chance of observing
This most celebrated of moons
But – suddenly!
There it is!
In front of the house
Over the rooftops
Rising in majesty
Above the hills
Swathed in cloud
Long streaks
Parallel to the horizon
Like a series of veils
Lifting in turn
To reveal more of the mystery.
The moon seems immense
Its size exaggerated
By the low position.
A dramatic entrance
For this astronomical Diva.
We run to the windows
(And out of the doors)
To find the best view.
We chatter excitedly
Measuring the motion
Comparing impressions
Trying in vain
To adequately describe
This most humbling of spectacles;
This reminder, that nature is greater
Than our petty, earthbound matters.
Eventually, the excitement peters out
And we reluctantly return
To more mundane tasks.
Hours pass. . .
We watch the News,
And the moon is mentioned:
Apparently invisible to most of the country
Hidden behind heavy cloud.
This reminds me to look again.
No longer visible out the front
I seek it from other windows.
As I walk into my bedroom
I know instantly
That the moon is very much in sight!
Through the open curtains
Silver light floods,
Illuminating my room
With soft, gentle beams.
The moon itself -
Above our neighbour’s roof -
Is less distinct
Due to a thin gauze of cloud.
But it is no less impressive.
So I sit and watch,
Drinking in the moment.
As I stare, I realise
That the clouds are unnaturally low,
And travelling extremely fast,
Changing direction constantly.
It’s as though I were looking at vapour
From some nearby boiler flue,
Roiling and swirling,
Alive and active.
The effect on the moon is incredible,
Serving to increase its beauty and drama.
Those familiar features
Are smeared and distorted
By the intervening mists
As though the surface was covered
By countless sliver scarabs
Jostling and squirming,
Moving in their millions.
Or by iron filings,
Shifting, rising, falling
At the whim of an errant magnetic source
As I watch, a frost ring forms
A rainbow halo around the moon
Expanding and contracting,
Pulsing, deforming
As though alive,
Animated by some lunar heartbeat.
After a few minutes,
I decide to make an attempt
To capture the experience
With the only tools to hand:
A video camera and tripod.
I record sequences -
A few minutes each time -
Of the shifting, boiling cloudscape,
Using different settings,
Flying blind,
As I’m unfamiliar
With the camera’s operation.
But I’m not too worried about the result,
As I’m interested in the abstract:
The patterns of light,
The textures,
The colours,
Capturing the unworldliness,
The alien.
As I step aside for a moment,
I notice something else:
The silhouette of a spider
Suspended in the air
Outside my window.
Dangerous and dramatic,
Poised and perfectly posed
Encircled by the moon’s disc
Such an image!
Both beautiful and terrifying,
Embodying the whole of creation
In a juxtaposition of scales.
But I despair,
As I have no hope,
With my basic equipment
And lack of experience,
Of capturing this tableau.
Nonetheless, I make the effort,
With a borrowed DSLR.
But having no knowledge or skill,
I reach the limit
Of what can be achieved.
Large spider – tiny moon,
Or large moon - blurred spider.
Neither is acceptable.
So I’ll have to keep the image in my mind,
And draw or paint it
At some later date.
Sighing wistfully, I pack away the kit,
And leave the room,
Turning for one last look
At this splendid Supermoon.

Echoes of Ancient Trauma


Just for fun,
I did some recording.
A metallic marble
Running around
Inside a rubber bucket.
A great sound!
Ripe with possibilities.
One for my collection.
Only later,
Thinking about it,
Did I have the realisation
That this sound had a meaning,
A dread significance
That stretches back across the years.
A ball – or roller -
Riding on rails.
The stuff of nightmares:
Horrific, repetitive.
The sound and the sensation,
With associations of violence,
Anger, madness, conflict,
Of people trapped in folds of time,
Repeating actions and words,
Over and over,
In an endless Möbius loop.
I used to wake screaming
From these dreams.
Terrified, inconsolable,
Unable to return to sleep.
And sometimes the core sensation
Would intrude upon my waking life,
Often attached to a Déjà vu moment.
It would leave me shaken,
Anxious and afraid of the future.
But why was this experience fearful?
I suspect it was an echo
Of some long-forgotten, infant trauma
For my own protection.
I haven’t had an attack
In many years
(And “attack” is not too strong a word),
But today reminded me
Of an evil that still lurks
In the recesses of my mind.

Let The Words Flow

Switch off your brain
Like someone insane,
Reborn again.
Let the words flow.
Let instinct take over,
Your freewill recover
The passion of a lover.
Let the words flow.
Don’t judge in haste,
Let them form, fully chaste.
Just copy and paste.
Let the words flow.
Consciousness flowing,
Streaming and going,
Confidence growing.
Let the words flow.
Don’t limit your choices -
Include any sources.
Speak with new voices.
Let the words flow.

My Son, My Teacher

I never wanted to be a parent.
The mere thought terrified me:
A mental image of a “father”,
Based mostly on my own—
Unhappy, unloved, unpleasant.
But—as other parents will guess—
That all changed in a stroke
When I first held my son.
This was the first of many lessons
Our wonderful child has taught me.
He continues to teach:
Every day, a new lesson.
He is kind, and patient, and forgiving
In a toddlerish way.
The love he gives me is humbling;
I’ve never felt so connected to another person.
This makes me want to improve myself,
To be the best parent I can.

To a Little Angel

January 2011

(Written following the still-birth of our first baby in November 2010, and recited at his cremation service)

Hello and goodbye, little angel.
Your time with us was all too short,
We never had the chance to get to know you.
But the memory of your peaceful face
In all its jewel-like beauty and perfection
Will remain with us forever.

The shock of your sudden and unexpected end
Still has repercussions:
Tears in the quiet darkness,
Self-loathing, recriminations, anguish and pain.
Sometimes it seems pointless to go on.
Yet sometimes it seems imperative to go on – in your memory.

How was your brief existence?
Was it a world of wonder?
Did you pass your time with contemplation of what the future held in store?
Did you have plans and expectations?
Or did you just accept your reality
With the calm assurance of a child?

How would your life have been?
You knew no tears or tantrums
No selfishness or hate.
But you will not know the joy of childhood,
Meeting and making friends,
Discovering your new world.

We can't imagine, but hope that your passing was merely a slide
Into an easy, welcoming sleep.
No pain, and no distress.
A beautiful dream that by degrees became oblivion
- or maybe the gateway to an afterlife!
A world we may all share some day.

Why did you have to leave us so soon?
Had we not professed sufficient longing for you?
These are the thoughts that plague us daily.
Or were you too perfect for this evil old world,
Too innocent and fragile to bear the burden of life?

If somehow you can hear these words,
Wherever your soul finds itself,
Please know that we would have loved you.
(No! That is wrong: we DO love you!)
And that we would trade everything for the chance to be with you again.
Our perfect little one.

Cat Portraits: Ember

(Sadly, we lost Ember last year, so I'm glad I wrote this back in 2011)

She's not all there. . .
You can see it in her eyes,
Their glazed, unfocused confusion.
It's in the set of her ears,
And the angle of her head:
Off-kilter, unbalanced.
And you can tell by the way she moves:
All sideways-on and erratic,
Clumsy, kitten-style,
A zig-zag path – to confuse imaginary enemies.

In a natural setting, she appears strange enough,
Shooting from bush to rock to tree,
With no apparent logic or plan.
Sometimes, poised as if to pounce
On a non-existent prey.
Often out-running her own feet
As she careens around
To go gambolling over the edge of the lawn -
A frantic ball of legs.

But to see her inside the house
Is to grasp the full extent of her lunacy.
The way she repeatedly bounces
In front of our glass door
Like a teaser-toy on elastic,
Claws scritching against the glass,
Face rendered eight-eyed by the fluting,
Each eye a window to insanity.

As the evening wears on,
She winds herself up.
Fuelled-up and ready to go,
She motors around, ever-accelerating.
Gravity loses its grip
And she runs around the walls,
Like a death-defying motorcyclist,
Then up curtains, over tables, across laps
(Leaving a trail of pain from those razor-claws).

She has no discernible survival instincts
Except for one:
She remembers facts about food.
She counts the portions we serve,
Logs every scrap that remains uneaten,
Every lump of chicken,
Every tail of fish,
Every bowl of cream.
If we feed another cat, she appears,
Even with no sensory clues to aid her.
She is the Idiot Savant of the kitchen.

She can be obsessive too.
Suddenly a lofty perch becomes the Holy Grail.
In autistic fashion,
She applies dedication and perseverance.
Her sheer tenacity
Can defeat my feeble efforts
To keep her on the ground.

But it's a small price to pay
For those moments when she looks at me
And I see that which is so rare in cats:
An honest love and adoration.
Yes, she can be selfish
(What cat is not?),
And she does try to be devious.
But she is too transparent:
I can see those errant thoughts
Slide across her face
As it adopts a George W. Bush expression
Of smug self-congratulation.

Yes, she can be cruel,
But her hunting skills are so poor,
That only the occasional small creature is hurt.
The birds laugh in her face.
The mice run around her in rings.

So when I see the love on her face,
I know it is genuine.
Those frog-bulging eyes,
Those wide-mouthed wails
That fragile, sun-sensitive skin
Underline her frailty.
All combine to melt my heart.
Then to cap it all, she rolls
White fluffy belly upwards,
Wriggling, luxuriating,
Revelling in nature,
Loving life.



The Humming Garden

(Written following a pleasant afternoon in our back garden)

Breakfast on the patio.
Late summer sun warming my back.
Traffic noise has almost stopped;
Only the occasional magpie rattle disturbs the peace.
So my ears attune to the background sound:
An all-pervasive drone
Centred not three feet from our table.
Amongst the potted plants
A host of insects are busy.
The air abounds with life:
Sleek, striped shapes,
A constant, complex,
Unrepeating pattern of movement.
All shapes and sizes,
All forms and functions.
Carefully co-ordinated?
Or mutually oblivious?
It's hard to tell.

There are bees, of course.
One glance takes in several types.
I lack the knowledge to name them all,
But I can tell a few. . .
Huge bumble bees:
Often inelegant, clumsy,
Throwing their weight around
Yet settling gingerly
Like drunken lords with gout.
Sleek honey-bees show them how it's done:
Darting rapidly from flower to flower,
Efficient - on the clock.
Wasps lurk, like sullen school bullies:
Radiating menace, plotting mayhem.
And everywhere - hover-flies:
Random, wavering flight,
Nervous and uncertain
Until they find their dream flower.
Then their personas change:
Now they are masters of the air,
Hovering millimetre-perfect
While they lovingly inspect their prize.

And now I can hear more clearly:
The omnipresent drone is a chord,
But amorphous, mercurial,
Ever-changing by subtle degrees.
I concentrate, tuning in more deeply.
Ah! There. . .
Component tones denote the details:
Species, speed, position, power,
Success or failure, annoyance or timidity.
The sound is strangely calming,
No jarring step-change shocks,
Only the sand-shifting trickle of change -
Music to meditate to,
A universal Omm.
I let it fill my awareness
And a sense of peace takes over.

A sudden breeze disturbs the scene,
Sending all bodies aloft
In a cloud of mica wings,
When the gust subsides
The aerial harvesters pause -
For just a millisecond -
Then continue their timeless dance.



Blackbird Avenue

(Written during a very pleasant walk up a path in the Malvern Hills in that otherwise hellish year: 2011)

I can still see in my mind's eye
That path, that view
Starting as a wide expanse of tarmac
Heading hillward from Great Malvern.
By degrees, the path degrades
To less foot-friendly surfaces
As it climbs the hill.
But our feet rejoice in the honesty
Of the rough, rock-strewn terrain,
Once we leave the speckled charcoal.

And it is at about this point
That our attention is drawn
To an ever-present scurrying on either side.
The trees are closer here,
First touching to form a canopy,
Then embracing fully
To create a green tunnel:
Cool and tranquil -
A balm on a hot day.
The strong sunshine still penetrates,
Delightfully dappling the floor
In a pattern that softly moves,
Occasionally twitching or vibrating
As the breeze picks up.

And – there! That scurrying again:
A nervous, driven, incessant rustle,
A dry crunching of small feet on old leaves.
To the right, we hear it,
And, shortly after, to the left.
We stop to look, to find the cause.
A creature in the undergrowth,
And another, across the way.
But we knew, even before we saw,
From the pattern of the sound:
Nervous, driven, slightly mad,
The movements of a bird we know.

Sure enough, there to the right: A blackbird.
Moving with that strange mixture
Of boldness and caution:
Hop, hop, stop. Hop, hop, stop.
Each “hop” amplified by the dry vegetation,
Slightly echoed by the hills,
Yet also damped and rendered intimate
By the closeness of the trees.
He looks at us as if to say
“Well, haven't you seen a Blackbird before?
“I'm just looking for my dinner.
“What on earth has it got to do with you?”
And just to underline his case,
He hops a few paces nearer to us,
Yellow-ringed eye bright with impudence.

By now we have remained still for some time,
Transfixed by the scene.
But then we suddenly wheel around
As we hear the same sound from the left again.
As expected: there is another,
Picking his way around the opposite line of trees.
His attitude matches his fellow's:
A feigned indifference to our presence.
But he eyes his rival,
And to prove his superiority,
Raises a worm-crammed beak into the air.

Just as when you first see one ant,
Then you see another, then several, then dozens,
So we then realise that in the bushes around us
There must be many Blackbirds,
All busy harvesting the leaf-mulch,
Apparently concentrating on their own patches of ground
Yet cognisant of the other birds,
All retaining a respectable distance
From their nearest competitors.

We continue our walk,
Upwards and skywards,
The sky, indeed, now more significant
In our immediate world
As the trees thin, and light increases.
Underfoot, the random rocks
Now dwindled to stones, pebbles, scree.
Then finally soil and grass
As we emerge from the trees to see
A blue, cloud-strewn sky over a green bowl.

Stopping again, we turn and gaze back,
Down the hill-cleft,
Through the green halls of the natural avenue.
The sharp, fidgety motion
Can still be discerned amongst the trees.
The hop-hop-stop patterns continuing
With no need for human witness.
So strange - we suddenly notice -
That so near to roads and a bustling town
We can can hear no traffic,
Only an unending symphony of bird-song:
A celebratory clamour
With component patterns repeating,
Yet the whole varying continuously.
How strange, that we came to see the hills,
Yet all I can remember
Are the sights and sounds
Of that Blackbird Avenue.

19/05/2011 and 04/06/2011


(This verse was written for a card celebrating the wedding of two friends)

To you: the perfect couple
We wish the perfect day
Perchance the first of many
For this, we hope and pray

Take this perfect adventure
This fantastic carnival ride
Wring every second of joy
With happiness and pride

Let Devotion be your credo
Let Love be all you need.
An example to the world
Of how Perfection is achieved.


The Ring

(This verse was written for a card celebrating the wedding of two friends. . .)

The ring is a potent symbol.
A single link in the chain which bonds two souls.
Metal: for stability and strength.
Gold: for a love which is eternal, untarnishable.
Pure: like the high emotions it represents.
Bright: like the hopes and aspirations of young lovers.
When hands are clasped, the ring’s cool texture is a reminder of a promise,
Of the joy of love.
Never to be extinguished.
Never to be forgotten.



(. . .As they are both French, I had a go at writing a version in French too - apologies for the shoddy translation!)

L'anneau est un symbole puissant.
Un lien seul dans la chaîne qui adhère deux âmes.
Le métal: pour la stabilité et la force.
L'Or: pour un amour qui est éternel, untarnishable.
Pur: comme les émotions hautes qu'il représente.
Brillant: comme les espoirs et les aspirations des amants jeunes.
Quand les mains sont agrafées, la texture frâiche de l'anneau c’est un rappel d'une promesse,
De la joie d'amour:
Ne jamais être éteint.
Ne jamais être oublié.


Happy Birthday

(Written for the birthday of a friend who has had to endure a great deal of pain and heart-ache recently, yet somehow manages to be overwhelmingly positive, despite it all)

Another birthday, another year.
A cause for celebration?
For you: most assuredly!
Though there is so much hurt in your life:
So many trials,
So much illness,
So much injustice,
Somehow you transcend it all,
And embrace life with a joy that truly astounds.
You take on each new challenge willfully.
With a smile,
You beckon on your next opponent.
With a song,
You challenge evil.
Faced with such resolve,
The whole world is outnumbered!
How can mere forces of nature triumph?
How can simple Fate hope to win?
You are unstoppable, indefatigable.
When I'm low,
Drowning in my own petty problems
Wishing to hide away
Or leave it all behind,
I just think of you
And am humbled, chastised,
In the realisation
That love, life and victory are always possible.


This Place

(This one came together over a period of two years. I am not always a fast writer!)

This place knows you.
The walls thrill to the song of your presence,
Echoes of you bounce through the corridors
And resonate in every surface.
Few here seem conscious of this.
Yet a faint pulse of your rhythm beats in all ears.

This place sees the light of your joy.
Your benign, glorious glow bathes every corner,
Suffuses every fabric.
This light transcends every witness.
Afterglow of sweetness reflected in all eyes.

Now you have left again.
As the last wisps of your ghost flicker and fade
A circadian change takes hold,
And the light withdraws.

This place shivers with the loss.
Walls moan and creak, bitter winds banshee.
Concrete greyness leeches from the fabric,
A pallor returns to every face,
And silence smothers every soul.
This place becomes a tomb once more.

Earthbound Angel -
You appear oblivious to your own magic:
Your contagious vivacity, generosity of spirit.
This place can only wait for your return
With patience and resignation.

But one day you will not return.
This place will fall to the creeping necrosis
That your gentle spells no longer hold at bay.


Aspects of Love

Love is the last great adventure:
The unconquered peak, the untrammelled depths.
Love is the uninvited guest, who throws ordered life into chaos.
Love is the sniper on the rooftop:
Apparently indiscriminate, yet utterly precise.
Love is the whale-song in the ocean:
Distant, yet all-encompassing.
Love is the poet’s boon, and the poet’s bane:
An arc-light picking out mediocrity.
Love is the gnawing at the stomach and the swelling of the breast.
Love is the patient teacher and the ribald libertine.
Love is the fuel, the catalyst and the product.
Love is all this and more.
Embrace love!


The Writer

A song of Pain.
A song of Hope.
These words flow thick and fast

My head bursts with the possibilities
Must transcribe them into words
Put down on paper
Random happenings: occasional purpose.

Sometimes I can go for months
Before a freak event triggers
The emotional storm,
Sending scatterlings of frenzy onto paper.

Venom Anger Spite Disgust
Angst Worry Paranoia Fear
Doubt Uncertainty (Blank: it's gone...)
And sometimes, only sometimes: Resolve.

Yet the dark things that haunt me now
When captured in ink seem somehow mellowed.
Problems are smaller; fears laughed at.
And there are some that fall on fertile ground...


Take A Night

Take a night like this
Crazy windblown winter's eve.
A gathering of like minds,
Versed in Melody and Beat.

You'll find them anywhere
A house, an inn, a street corner.
Giving from their souls,
Stealing feelings; sparking ideas.

Take a night like this
Balmy summer stretched afternoon.
A thronging, restless multitude moves:
Targets a Sacred Site

Watch the Mass begin.
Beloved High Priests can do no wrong.
A Dawn of Time ritual:
Renewing Faith; spreading Hope.

c. 1989


(This was written after watching some racing pigeons flying over my home in Wythall)

Such a splendid sight!
A squadron of sleek grey and white racing birds,
Wheeling in the deep blue summer sky above my head.
Circling the space between the rooftops
Over the gardens,
Over the fences,
Over the heads of curious children, engrossed gardeners, hopeful cats.

From my garden below, I pause to admire their perfection:
Every feather in place.
Every eye bright and keen.
Each one an avian superlative
Bred to race and win.
Locked in formation
In the heat of competition.
A wheezy, pneumatic beating as they arc overhead.

That noise!
Always in the background,
It finally gains my attention.
A regular, metallic strike and reverberation.
Somehow connected to this aeronautical spectacle.
Mystified, I follow the birds’ progress
Around the box of sky
Squinting as they cross the sun
And come by again. . .

My laughter spills out,
Scattering the cats from their vantage points.
The answer is simple:
On every lap, the birds’ path
Takes them over the same rooftop,
The same chimney.
The same TV aerial - Ptang!
Clipped, the metal quivers as they wheel on.
A lone feather begins its journey to the earth
A laconic, graceful ballet that ends just in time for the next. . .

Such beautiful birds!
Such athletic birds!
Such stupid birds. . .



Time To Change

(To be recorded by Omenopus or 1912 soon!)

When I think of all the times we’ve had,
I get a little angry, then just a little sad.
And I know I should stop before it all turns bad,
But the fear’s too strong and it’s driving me mad.

What I said and what I didn’t say,
How do you expect me to remember today?
Makes no difference – you can have it your way.
However it falls, there’ll be hell to pay.

Stop what you’re doing, and listen to me.
The course that you’ve chosen is not the only way. . .

Looking back at all the wasted time
Change for no reason, blame for no crime.
Dancing to the whims of a liar’s rhyme:
“One more effort and it’ll all be fine”.

Stop what you’re doing, and listen to me.
The door you see closing is not the only one. . .

Reminiscing ‘bout the golden days
Soft memories in a sunset haze.
Thrown now into a world of greys
How I miss you and your gentle ways.

The Gulf Between Us

(As recorded by The Earthmovers)

Time after time, someone's called to this land
To lay down their lives- spill their blood on the sand.

See the fires are burning
Lighting up the night.
Is it too late for the learning?
Might is Right - Right is Might?

Swinging into action come the boys in the van
A holiday in the sun and a Christmas suntan.

Spinning, spinning - out of control
We blunder into Chaos, for money and oil.

Stations compete, bring it into our homes
Prize-winning scenes of slaughter and bones.
The Tyrant is smiling - pats a child on the head
And video-game replays follow missiles to the dead.

Spinning, spinning - out of control
We blunder into Chaos, for money and oil.

Baying for blood like a pack of wolves,
We're playing at War, like we know the rules.
Sitting at home - enjoy the show!
Let's see that one again. . .

Nothing's changed; the game still remains.
Is it over?


Thinkin' 'bout You

(As recorded by The Earthmovers)

What the Hell am I s'posed to do?
Spend my time thinkin' 'bout you.
The way you smile, the way you move
And that crazy laughter...
Our names are paired on people's lips
Yet nothing's been said, no deal's been struck.
You play dice with my heart
I gamble my soul...

Ooh... thinkin' 'bout you.
Ooh... thinkin' 'bout you.

Tell me please what I should do.
Am I wasting my time thinkin' 'bout you?
We've got something good; but fragile - a jewel
One wrong move: it comes crashing down.
Countless times I've seen this before:
"Just good friends" but hoping for more.
Yet the power is undeniably there:
So beautiful; so terrible!

Now I know - it's what Ive got to do:
Channel my mind into thinkin' 'bout you.
Can't take you for granted (no f**kin' way!)
You manage to surprise me every day.
Like a bee trapped in amber, I'm helpless and lost
Touched by your madness.
Don't set me free. Don't end the game.
I'm still thinking, thinking ... about you.

11/09/1989 - last verse added 10/05/1992


(As performed by Zion Zone)

Grey day - grey night.
Bland sky gives way
To suffocating blanket dark
Something's coming - Thunderhead!

Can't sleep. Not quite awake,
Evil crawling thoughts scuttle 'cross my brain.
Tiny Omens - dread Harbingers
Warn of the coming - Thunderhead!

Listen there - that sound!
First distant rumble: the Titan stirs.
Panic rises - fight it down!
Nothing to fear - Thunderhead . . .

Now see it - the light!
Eye-searing electric death.
Got to count . . . count the seconds
Pray for my soul - Thunderhead!


Running For The Hell of it

(As performed by Zion Zone)

Outside at last
Crystal lights beckon
Air slides warm, then cool past fingertips;
Lifting my spirit
Picking out strands of hair
On a night like this
I can only RUN!

Feet unfaltering.
Stride takes it all
Breathing easy
Flight is effortless
Up a notch
Hair streaming
Feels so good
Being able to RUN!

Wild abandon grips me tonight
Feet don't exist
Air keeps me aloft
Consciousness streaming
For miles spreading
Close to God
I need to RUN!


The Lady is Back

(Written to celebrate singer Andrea Rushton's return to health and the ranks of Dusk, following a long period of illness - never recorded though)

In a dingy backstreet somewhere
People stop and stand and listen.
A clear voice permeates the air,
Crystal notes that shine and glisten.
There are some who know this sound:
"Too long have the streets been silent!"
But now the songbird has turned them around
And the people sing...

(Chorus) "The Lady is back!
No more, no more silence!"
And the colours in the sky take on brighter hues
The streets have come alive to kick away the blues
And the faithful who have waited go to spread the news:
"Oh . . . oh . . . the Lady is back!"

There was a time (thought it'd never end)
When she fronted a band with splendour.
But the crawling, wasting evil
Took a hold of her.
She couldn't fight - didn't know how.
The whole world seemed flat and grey.
A descending Spiral Path was begun
Like a Dragon devouring its tail.

(Bridge) It took love and the will to fight.
Whispered curses echo into the night . . .

Came a day, came a change:
The fire inside flared out
And grappled with the evil and shouted out
"I will be free - you cannot conquer me!"
So the human spirit prevailed,
Changed the course of a life - for good, so it seems
And the evil will darken this soul no more
So we pray . . .


The old woman stirs from her sleep
Smiles to herself, then carries on dreaming.
The child is silent - listens alert.
No lullaby is sweeter than this.
The music has changed, but the voice has not
Play on, play on - let it never be stopped!
Fire has tempered this silver instrument,
And the message it brings is . . .



State Of Grace

(Written after seeing Andrea's group Swivel perform at Ronnie Scott's, Birmingham. With thanks to the Swivel crew for *that* moment. This song only exists so far as a vocal-less demo, but Lee's new remix gives it a new lease of life)

Verse 1
Like the warmth of the sun
A change has begun
And life seems worth living again:
A sense of purpose renewed.

Verse 2
And the grey halls of existence
Pale to insignificance
Revealed as mere absurdities
Viewed from this higher plane.

Chorus 1
Suddenly and with no warning
From Creation’s Cusp – a dart!
Fletched with golden feathers
Strikes me through the heart.

Verse 3
Impaled on blades of purest sound
Though feet are melted to the ground.
Sound expands to fill the void there was before.
Bathed in beneficence

Verse 4
Beautiful poison works its way
Through my veins. I start to pray
That this passion will not disappear, this time -
Fall prey to petty things.

Chorus 2
Because your muse has found you
Sundered all these years.
To touch the Face Of Heaven
To attain a State Of Grace



(Written as a - so far unrecorded - solo bouzouki tune, celebrating my wonderful feline companion of the last 16 years. Sadly he died recently, so this song now has added poignancy. It's about time I finished the arrangement and recorded it!)

King of all he sees.
Sits at my feet.
Proud nobility.

Staring through the patio door
At his lush and verdant world
Paws together
Tuxedo chest thrown out.

Easily pleased
A sunny patch in the garden
Or a moonlit stony stair.

Handsome, clever cat.
Senses finely tuned.
Skin detects the source of heat
Ears, the source of food.

Obsessive, dear old friend.
Insanely covetting my lap,
My papers or my bed.

Or lying across my shoulders
While I'm trying to do some work.
Headbutts of happiness
(Just watch where you put those claws!)


Dream On

(Written and recorded as a guitar demo, but then wiped accidentally due to useless bloody 1990s MD technology! I need to re-record this before I forget how it fits together!)

Verse 1
Heaven, the vision you see
Sends you reeling
She: so perfect and free
Your spirit is soaring

Burst into you’re your grey empty world
An icon of pure effervescence
Demands your attention and holds
The focus of your whole existence

And for a while
You feel it could be
Your reason has gone
Blown away on her breeze

Unprepared for this day
“Recognition” has struck you
Yet she’s worlds away
Moving in circles that spurn you

Yet for a while
You could touch the sky
And play sweet fantasies
On your mind’s inner eye

Dream on, dream on.
“Maybe it could happen some day”
Dream on, dream on.
But you’ll wake one day. . .


Caprice of the heart is so cruel
And you are defenceless
Lured by this glittering jewel
Now you’re beaten, bruised and senseless.

One day the dreaming must end
As reality shatters your vision
All you can be is a friend
And smile so the pain is hidden

When you realise
That your world has just died
You crucify yourself
On the pain from inside

And it’s never coming back
And it’ll never be the same
And you’ll never be at peace
Your soul will never sing again.


Courage! Sad victim of fate
Time is the greatest of healers
The love and the pain will both fade
Though you’ll welcome the loss of neither.

(additions between this and 20/01/2003)




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