Somewhere, a long way,
the sea- a second horizon line.

Here, a blank sheet of sand.
The ground gives, blanching at each step.

Later it will be a palimpsest
of stories, a circle scrabbled
by eager children;
a dog’s paws printed shallower
and wider as it runs;
serpentining bike tracks and
gulls’ webs pressed like leaves
into the sand.

This is not a new poem. I wrote it five or six years ago when we were visiting family in the Isle of Man. It’s not quite the poem I hoped for and I post it here because I want to use it as a starting point for something else.
Let’s see what we can salvage.
I don’t like the start. It’s all too vague. Too vanilla.
I do like “ The ground gives, blanching at each step” – there’s movement here. That works.
I’m not sure about “palimpsest) ( it’s a manuscript which has been scribbled over and re-used) Shall I keep it ? Maybe

The rest of the poem is straight description – stories and pictures drawn from the marks on the sand. It works…a bit…but it doesn’t go deep enough for me. Standing on the tideline is a curious existence. You’re standing where fish swam a few hours before. It’s not one place.It’s two places. And tomorrow morning there will be no scrabbles or bike tracks in the sand…the tideline only exists for now…

So. I’ve got some ideas. Add to them if you like. I’ll go and punt a few sentences about.

If you want to hear the poem read then go here : … on #SoundCloud

The Poets

I have a friend who writes poetry.” Do you find it a struggle ?” I said, ” You know,…getting all the words in the right places ?”
He smiled. ” It just flows down my arm, into the pen, and onto the paper.”

I wanted to strangle him.

I’ve always found writing poetry difficult – which is why I’m still trying to do it,I suppose. I hand write poetry.Fountain pen. At the moment it’s a Conklin Durograph. I like the shiny line of ink it gives. It encourages me.I get something which might be a first line. I go away, have a cup of tea, and come back ten minutes later to see if I still like it. I don’t. It reads like baby drool. I start again.

It is a slow process but slowly…very slowly…something starts to peep out. It takes days. One took over a month.I cover sheets of A4 pad with scribbles, question marks, slashings out until…it’s there. And I’m usually shocked. This isn’t what I intended at all. This…thing…has crawled out of some dark corner in my brain. I read it again and… works…I quite like it, actually.

But this time it was different. Two days ago I had a line in my head – ” This man could give a voice to stones” – I had no idea what it meant. Maybe I thought the man was a magician, a wizard. Then a line of Ted Hughes hovered- ” this house has been at sea all night.” And I was off. It was about poets.

The next verse was easier. Ted did external. This had to be about inner weather- and I thought of Elizabeth Browning and Sylvia Plath. I liked the idea of poetry as a pulse handed from poet to reader.

I think the last verse is about poetry as subversion.Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain. So suck it up. Or something like that.

So there you are. And here it is.

The poets

This man could give a voice to stones,
cause trees to shriek in a December gale,
see through solid flesh down to the bone,
make houses creak, and ancient timbers fail.

This woman annotates her pulsing blood
and makes it roar again in others’ veins.
She pleads the possibility of good
and, dying, leaves that rhythm in our brains.

These are the poets, vilified and cursed,
who wear their souls turned inside out
and lead us, struggling, to face the worst-
where faith is sin, the only virtue doubt.