A Passage in the Snow

A ghost of Christmas past

The smell of mistletoe
and newly felled wood,
Through a flicker of candle light
and candle mass,
a figure emerges.
Decked-out in sack-cloth
and winter finery.
All hail the dark night
at the edges of our world,
unrefined and unbroken.
All hail the fondness,
we hold such simple things.
And the passing of time.
And the footprints,
so small and indistinct.
A passage in the snow.
A way we hope to go.

Eleventh of December #2

Small spooks feel
the pace a little
stronger than the
Whistle all you like.
Follow the same
well-worn paths.
Things will remain
elusive to you.
Greater things.
Somewhere –
in the middle distance.
Shake-off the trappings.
Those shrill songs,
maddening in their monotony.
Lay down with the moon.
Turn back and walk,
away from the fray.
Into the shards of
tomorrow and the day.

RIP Pete

Goodnight Pete Shelley.
A Punk original.
Without the surface sheen.
The light may have gone.
But the pulsebeat,
Carries on.

Winter Wonderland

Daylight dreaming, yesterday.
A place of fallen leaves.
Take the train to Cricklewood.
Graffiti out of Kentish Town:
A night on my mind.
Neither cold nor warm.
Just a windblown
kind of day.
Grey tones interspersed
by news of Winter Wonderland.
A snowless, autumnal experience.

Broken November

In this broken November.
The raw and the ragged
are out on the street.
A penny for the one
without any shoes.
Whose lantern eyes are
all blood and black tar.
They speak of nights,
long past remembering.
And the hours of darkness,
that never have an end.

Dulce et Decorum Est

I was taught this poem by a veteran of World War II. He was fifteen or sixteen when he was captured and became a POW, the youngest English POW. He had lied about his age to join up. He spent the rest of his life campaigning for the cause of boy soldiers who like him had joined up during World War I and were shot for cowardice, when they were actually suffering from shell shock or PTSD as it now know as.

By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


that pickled vintage,
always on the ropes.
A sea change
of course.
until it hits you,
right between the eyes