On Thermals

Roundels on fanned wings

Clockwise spiral up on high

In sight; out of reach


n.b. A buzzard new to this part of the country, with distinctive creamy roundels, eventually disappeared from view high above, ascending on a rising pocket of hot air, (that brought some gulls drifting in from the coast). The buzzard soared with its primary feathers extended.

I have never seen such markings as these roundels on a buzzard. She will be easily recognised should she ever return here; should she ever return to Earth.


CLP 21/05/2019


It was Mrs Howard who Love taught me

In the temporary classroom

Sat on the rugby field

Her love of Love and its expression

From the page in gently found words

Spoken In bright metaphors

And subtle allusions


She spoke to me of hidden themes

And how a phrase could mean so much

How a rhyme can unlock the heart

Or harden up that vital muscle

To misunderstanding

And ill-focused yearning


She hooked me in

Close by the Itchen River’s bank

A young rainbow trout lifted up

From its soggy bed

On a fly fisher’s sharp whip

I was spotted, baited

Hungry to be caught and taught

To engage with finer forms

Than all those scawny spratts

With whom I’d been engaged before

Directed to gods, war, injustice

We were un-schooled

In more urgent places

Behind softly closed doors

Beneath blankets of meaning

Where bodies of learning could be openly studied

At length; in depth


It was not a coy mistress

Who opened Love to me

Her joy of Love

Without ambiguity

Writ large in her notes

Like billets doux that pointed me

Towards insights and Passion’s feelings

Mrs Howard my teacher

So pure and simple.


n.b. Paul Gordon and I formed “The Mrs Howard Appreciation Society” of which we two were, (dare I write it), the only members. She was a great teacher and we never thought of her lustfully. She was just a lovely person with a gift for sharing her love of poetry. Thank you, Mrs Howard, where ever you are.


n.n.b. NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 28 prompt: Write a poem about writing poems 🙄. Like writing songs about writing songs, this is navel gazing of sorts, which in the right company is a pleasant enough pastime I suppose.


CLP 28/04/2019


Everywhere you’ve been

Everything you’ve done

I have been there with you

I have seen it all

Despite my blind spot

No doubt stemming

From my nervous disposition

That allows me to see

But not believe, nor deny

All that I have seen


It’s not for me to judge

Where you’ve been

What you’ve done

My transparency

Inability to intervene

Makes me silent witness

To the images

Flashing on my retina

Although I react quickly

To the dark and light

A pupil that never learns

I remain insensitive

To everywhere you have been

And all that you’ve done.


n.b. NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 17 prompt: Seeing from an unusual, unexpected point of view.

A useful reference point for this poem was www.moorfields.nhs.uk

CLP 20/04/2019

Natural Consequences

Anarchronistic Britain

Cannot decide European future

Government has ignored

Knife mayhem

& numerous other pointed questions

Requiring serious thought.

Unburied victims wait


Yield to zymogenes


“&” was the 27th letter of the English alphabet

Xenoliths are small particles of elements found within larger deposits of mineral, rare elements amongst dross.

Zymogenes are the bacteria that help break-down and lead to the fermantation of organic matter, although xenoliths are not organic… so I claim poetic immunity.

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 19 prompt: Use the English alphabet to shape a poem. Artificial and challenging. I cheated to make the final line sensible as best possible.

CLP 20/04/2019

The Witch

A pronounced bow wave

Presages her imminent arrival

Her keel knifes the dark waters

Peels twin curls off the surface


She draws down the light of stars

Calls the wind to her direction

Tides pause on her command

Squalls and storms follow


Treading water as she passes

We can only witness this spirit

That lifts like incoming waves

Leaves us awash in her wake


n.b. NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 13 prompt, witch

I was asked, “Is this poem about a boat, or a person?” You decide.

CLP 13/04/2019


I could not tell you when it was

But I see the moment even now

She made a point of coming in

24 carat gold still on her hand

Me at my desk, gladly interrupted

“You can have it back. I set you free”

As if I had asked for it to end

Her choice of words deliberate

Her implication clear

It was a bind that tied me down

Caused me misery

As if her magnanimous gesture

Would release my spirit and let it fly

Then she went to text her son

“I’ve given him back my wedding ring”

Her Jocasta to his Oedipus


I carried it round for a while

Spun it on the bar

Placed it on my little finger

Twisted it around

Until I walked past a jeweller

And exchanged it for hard cash

Which like our marriage

Didn’t last.


n.b. NaPoWriMo 2019. Day 12 prompt giving away or destroying something precious.

CLP 12/04/2019

On Landing

Cup the wings, spread claws

Focus on the chosen branch

Flex knees on touch-down


And breathe


n.b. My camera caught a Great Tit flitting between perches in the moment of final approach.

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 1 prompt: Instructions

CLP 30/03/2019

On Friendship

Lovers to begin

Then joined in marriage

Friends after? Maybe


n. b. The paths we travel follow uncertain routes and sometimes diverge.

CLP 31/03/2019

On the Canal

Unusual duck

Beak long, slender and hooked

Goosander – female.


n.b. The Goosander is also known as the Common Merganser, but it is not that common. I saw this female on the canal when walking towards Little Bloxwich.

It is a duck, longer than a mallard with a lower profile when on the water. The goodander has a distinctive fluffed back to its head and its beak is as described above. All seems well-suited to hunting under water amongst reeds and around rocks, or indeed around sunken shopping trollies, traffic cones and bits of discarded furniture.


CLP 26/03/2019

On the Towpath (II)

Every piece strewn

Where difficult to retrieve

Rubbish placed with care


n.b. In Walsall the mess of litter is hard to avoid. It is distressing to think that some people make such an effort to dump their rubbish in places other than the municipal dump.

It is shocking to see how much waste has been thrown from passing cars, caught in hedgerows, blown into bushes, snagged in tree branches, snared on barbed wire, caught in slats of security fencing, dumped in the canal and streams.

It is depressing to see this mess. Clearly there are many things wrong here. Litter and waste are symptomatic of broader issues.

CLP 25/03/2019