on life

who are you kidding?
all the better to feel joy
reminders of pain


CLP 29/12/2022

Smile Returned

There is a Smile of Love
And there is a Smile of Deceit
And there is a Smile of Smiles
In which these Smiles meet


The opening lines of The Smile by William Blake c.1803

Smile Returned


sun-break pulls in shadows from Vathi’s quay
pelican’s ankle bracelet roped to cleat
bitter glykos, breakfast cake, crumb sparrows
fisherman puttering back from sea
Kolpas Vatheos throws up briny spray
waiter with eye for me, claimed it his name
your throaty laugh at Greek’s ambiguity
my innocence resumed once sleep took us
achy limbs from the heat of last night shared
There is a Smile of Love


airport lounge, slow rotation of ceiling fans
silver glitter flecks deep Aegean blue
landing strip in mountains’ shade, cicadas
couple from hotel, sit stony silent
both damning lack of mobile coverage
heads held aface, no more connection
he steps out, one last smoke, holds phone aloft
catches a glimpse of signal, message pings
answers her 'Who's that?' with a sweet nothing
There is a Smile of Deceit


our fingers not yet comfortable in gold
work their way to warmly combine, settle
in row eight after late embarkation
the airport two sat by us beyond talk
snap metal buckles, pull tight nylon belts
stewardess bobs down congested aisle
wearing her third-flight-today-happy face
four hours to Gatwick, everyone keep nice
if you’re not happy, please would you stow it?
And there is a Smile of Smiles


charter flight departs loaded with cheap memories
it’s all we could afford, such cramped rigid seats
accompanied by strangers to each other
who remain English-polite to bitter end
she beside you, while he beside himself
in 8D, his surly silence deafens
How was your holiday? she reaches out
for a conversation line to cling to
Wonderful! Yours? Her eyes betray her heart
In which these Smiles meet


n.b. NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Three prompt is to write ‘una glosa’, i.e. answer another poet’s quatrain in four stanzas, (one per line), ideally each stanza of ten lines with equal line lengths (syllabletically), with the last line of each taken from the originally selected quatrain.

n.n.b. In writing this poem, I discovered that the Greek word for ‘bay’ (Kolpas) is also used for the gap between waves, the breast fold in women’s clothing, and vagina – correct me if I am wrong, please.

CLP 03/04/2022

on time

there's plenty of it
lining pockets filling cups
its the dark I hate


CLP 31/08/2021

Dream #20

you know, this thing that didn’t happen

anywhere but my head, seemed real

I remember everything about it

conversation, colours, the amazing food

all the personal touches

every sensation, but smell

smell? nothing.

I thought nothing of it until I was asked to leave

as I said, it seemed real

but without a scent of the place

without that, I knew something was wrong

I thought I could smell a rat


CLP 16/06/2021

On Dreams xviii

Not entirely sure

what actually happened

I was fast asleep


CLP 23/05/2021

On Dreams xv

these people are all

wrong faces on known bodies

pantomime horse shit


CLP 20/05/2021

On Water iii

great crested grebes dance

like that Sunday afternoon

when our hearts dove-tailed


n.b. Somewhat hidden by the willow branches, but they are there…promise.

CLP 12/04/2021

Customer Service Enquiry

Dear Charon,

Have you updated payment systems

for your ferry on the Styx 

to allow ‘contactless’ payment,

or do you still insist on coins

complete or in bits?


(Just asking for a friend)

Yours truly,

Mort, A.L., esq


Dear Mr Mort,

For me, it as a rare treat indeed

to have a customer letter to read

letters about death are usually left

for the eyes of the newly bereft


and not for the ferryman


With respect to the tech

and with all due respect

despite combustion engine invention

there seems no intention


of providing one for the ferryman (I still have to row, row, row my boat gently down the stream).


In regard of cash or card

this may seem a trite hard

but the answer’s ‘no way’

will I change how souls pay


I just need to know who will pay the ferryman


I look forward to meeting you.

Yours in expectation


Styx River Ferry Corp. (Registered in Delaware, Malta & Gibraltar). No returns. No change given.


And now for our (optional) prompt. This is a twist on a prompt offered by Kay Gabriel during a meeting she facilitated at the Poetry Project last year. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a two-part poem, in the form of an exchange of letters. The first stanza (or part) should be in the form of a letter that you write either to yourself or to a famous fictional or historical person. The second part should be the letter you receive in response. These can be as short or long as you like, in the form of prose poems, or with line breaks – and of course, the subject matter of the letters is totally up to you.


CLP  11/04/2021

On Numbers (Infinity)

Everything we do

today can make tomorrow

a day worth having


n.b. God, give me strength to do the right thing.



On the Street vii


Grey, cool rain persists

Days run together down drains

Mingling with lost years


CLP 06/10/2020