Monday, August 08, 2016

spring garden
the child inside begins
to share her secrets

Blithe Spirit Vol.26 No.2 May 2016
we travel in silence
while I try not to see
the signs

Blithe Spirit Vol.26 No.2 May 2016
new love
introduces me to
a different kind of blues

Blithe Spirit Vol.26 No.2 May 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016


It's a nightmare world, freedom is an illusion, I never really got away. I wander in a wasteland and find the old house. All the walls are broken down. I'm frustrated to be back here, trapped here, so I struggle to escape. I struggle in my sleep and find I'm flying. I see familiar places on the ground. The buildings are derelict, the roads potholed, and I'm afraid to come back down to earth. I dream of making contact, tuning in to the calm voice of air traffic control, speaking to someone who can bring me in safely to a place that's not a war zone.

an incoming wave
deposits debris
on the beach

Blithe Spirit Vol.26 No.1 February 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

the ocean passes
mysteriously beneath
this floating world

Blithe Spirit 25.4 November 2015
drone footage
can't see through
the fog of war

Blithe Spirit 25.4 November 2015

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Brick dust rising and the sound of heavy machinery from the roadworks, on the far side of the park. A regular beat of metal on metal, four beats then a pause, then four more beats. A saw, rasping, grinding, in short bursts, against something resistant. The machines and the clothing, hard hats and hi-vis vests, flash with light from the low sun. The traffic, reduced to a single lane, stops and starts to the rhythm of the signals, red, amber, green.  I'm drawn with a quality of fascination to the labour of road building, reconstruction, urban orthopedics. The physical forces involved in cutting through, straightening, taking apart to rebuild in a form better suited to future flow. The slow healing of arterial routes.

tall poppies
a brightness beneath
the approaching storm

Presence 53 October 2015
Galaxy of Dust. Red Moon Anthology 2015
passing clouds
travelling without
a destination

Presence 53 October 2015
inarticulate desire
the first warm
of spring

Presence 53 October 2015
every day
it takes a little longer
to recall
all the things lost
never to return

Presence 53 October 2015

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Doing NaHaiWriMo again.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

midsummer night
in a room that overlooks the sea
the ebb and flow

Blithe Spirit Vol.25 No.3 August 2015

a soft light
rising long before
the dawn

Blithe Spirit Vol.25 No.3 August 2015
morning calm
a shaft of sunlight
moves across the wall

British Haiku Society Member's Anthology 2015 'Edge'

Thursday, September 03, 2015


I live in my own world much of the time. Everything there is in constant flow - air and water and pure energy. Sometimes I feel the need for fixed points in the outside world, to help me keep my bearings. When the waves threaten to carry me away I need anchors that can be put down, temporarily. At other times I crave dry land, weight, and solidity. The trilithons of Stonehenge have a permanence that I find calming. Even the towering blocks of apartments in the city center can be comforting, as they enclose and define a manageable space in which to live. Taking time each day to focus and notice even the small and insignificant - wild flowers sprouting from the city walls, the tangled roots of trees - can help to ground me and stop the panicky sensation that I might spin off into space. Even now I can feel the earth shift under my feet. I have yet to find bedrock.

cast loose
from the North Star
skylark song

Presence #52 June 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

in the evening
of a long, hot
summer day
a stranger's shadow
merges with mine

Soft Thunder. British Haiku Society Tanka Awards 2014/15
I lie awake
listening to the small noises
of my neighbours
the calls of city birds
late into the night

Soft Thunder. British Haiku Society Tanka Awards 2014/15
she becomes
the ocean in his dream
of drowning

Presence #51 December 2014
his blue scrubs
just a shade darker
than the sky

Presence #51 December 2014
I learn to hold
the light inside

Presence #51 December 2014
sunset sky
a peach halved
around the stone

Presence #51 December 2014
reflected light
the thought that you can
change your mind

Blithe Spirit Vol.25 No.2 May 2015
a closed book
and on opening it
the blank pages

Blithe Spirit Vol.25 No.2 May 2015
a dream
within the dream
a sleeper

Blithe Spirit Vol.25 No.2 May 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

the pull of gravity
and a turning tide
before I know it
a decision
takes me

Blithe Spirit Vol 25, No 1 February 2015
at the darkest hour
how everything can change
from one moment to the next

Blithe Spirit Vol 25, No 1 February 2015
spilling over
over and over
the waterfall

One Hundred Gourds 4:1 December 2014
sunlight through leaves
the nurse in search
of a vein

One Hundred Gourds 4:1 December 2014
my fingers
but I touch
the stars
with my eyes

One Hundred Gourds 4:1 December 2014
the bird
has flown, and yet
he left me
the tilt of his head
the look in his eye

One Hundred Gourds 4:1 December 2014

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Doing the Poem a Day challenge on Writer's Digest during April

Saturday, December 20, 2014

rain drops
into the hollowness
of empty pots

BHS Anthology 2014 'Sound'

Thursday, December 18, 2014

you give
so much
I can't take it

Blithe Spirit Vol.24 No.4 November 2014
learning to trust
in my own buoyancy
the ocean
and the slow ecstacy
of letting go

Blithe Spirit Vol.24 No.4 November 2014
the moment
when you find something
and think

Blithe Spirit Vol.24 No.4 November 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

as if to remind me
that the world can still
surprise me
my poems came back
as a song

A Hundred Gourds 3:4 September 2014
I finally forgave you
for not answering
those letters
that I wrote to you
and never sent

A Hundred Gourds 3:4 September 2014
in a dream
of broken ground, twisted rails
and ruined buildings
I am a plane
that flies above it all

Skylark 2:2 Winter 2014
I've grown accustomed to
the old fridge makes
a hum I only notice
when it stops

Skylark 2:2 Winter 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

spring rain
falls softly, steadily
all day
the sadness
comes and goes in waves

Blithe Spirit  Vol.24 No.3 August 2014
on the day I hear
that you are never
coming back
I play the same song
over and over

Blithe Spirit  Vol.24 No.3 August 2014

one summer's day
measured only
by the sun
the rest of our lives
seemed like forever

Blithe Spirit  Vol.24 No.3 August 2014
the seeds
I've held all winter
baby's breath

Blithe Spirit  Vol.24 No.3 August 2014
the estate agent
never even mentioned it -
goldfinch song

Presence #50 July 2014
she asks
if he has any
real friends
the pain of someone
half a world away

Presence #50 July 2014
half a tin
of whitewash
in a dark corner
things I can't
use or part with

Presence #50 July 2014
for so many years
you helped to light
the way
today the path leads
through a darker place

For Martin

Presence #50 July 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lost property

You must have
left her with me
by mistake

maybe you put her down
to pick up your coffee cup

many years ago
when we were younger
and less careful

we sometimes let
our paths cross
with those of strangers

as if we didn't know
the dangers

I've tried not to
let myself think of her
as mine

but I've become used to
having her around

she's grown a little wiser
over all the years
I've kept her

just in case
one day you
want her back.

 (Oldie revised.)
older now
I dream that you still
sing to me
and that I write
poems for you

Castles in the Sand TSA 2002 Members Anthology
trying to switch on a light that already is late October

Modern Haiku Vol.43 No.1 Winter/Spring 2012
the backs of books
belonging to a neighbour
I don't know

Modern Haiku Vol.43 No.1 Winter/Spring 2012
the approaching storm
carries ahead of it
a red balloon

Presence #45 January 2012
I realise I've lived
all my life on islands

Presence #45 January 2012

Also at

swirl of wind
the sound of laughter
from a courtyard garden

Presence #45 January 2012
crescent moon
no expression on the face
of the doll

Modern Haiku Vol,43 No.2 Summer 2012
my neighbours
at their windows too
by the violence
of the storm

Presence #46 June 2012
after the concert
wild music
of the wind

Blithe Spirit Vol.22 No.3 August 2012
that old wish
before I can stop it
falling star

Blithe Spirit Vol.22 No.3 August 2012
with the evening breeze
the blackbird's song

Blithe Spirit Vol.22 No.3 August 2012
jubilee bunting
reaches only halfway
round the pub

Blithe Spirit Vol.22 No.3 August 2012
waking again
to find it dark
then in the stillness
the first birds
begin to sing

Blithe Spirit Vol.22 No.3 August 2012
on a book
on the earth
dust has settled

Presence #47 December 2012
lava field
aware I'm walking
on a planet

Presence #47 December 2012

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Am I a traditionalist or an innovator? No. I refuse to roost in either pigeon hole. Quite often I work within (self-imposed) constraints. Sometimes I like to see what happens when I turn things upside down, add pepper and give them a shake. When it seems right I'll write whatever comes into my head, just as it comes. Other days I edit, edit and edit again. I don't follow masters, especially not self-styled ones, but I know stars when I see them and I've got the sense to use them to navigate by. I do like a good metaphor. And plain, simple, direct language. And ambiguity. And the common or garden seen afresh. And the marvellously strange. And, and, and! Not either/or.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NaHaiWriMo 2014

I joined in with NaHaiWriMo again this year. It's always fun, a challenge and a good exercise. The resulting haiku are usually variable in quality - some prompts being a lot trickier than others - but there are usually some that I'm not too ashamed of. This year these are the ones. (Some have been revised since February).

racing clouds a crow drinks February rain

migraine aura
the world begins to
break          up
round the edges

tail of the bean
so many possibilities
expertly excised

cold light
a pile of wood-chips
by the stump

Keppler mission
the wail of the wind
rises and falls

the busker plays another one
from Trad Anon

cirrus at dusk
the brazen fullness
of the moon

free-range eggs
in the high-rise dweller's
shopping bag

beehives beside the sunlit sea a honey stall

at the waterline
a fishing boat becomes

racist comment
on the western horizon
a storm brews

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


My interest in the concise and the minimal doesn't just manifest itself in haiku. The experience of editing down to the essentials - but no further! - can be applied to other things too. Over the last few years I've been gradually reducing and simplifying my living space and personal possessions. I've done this not out of any ascetic philosophy, but because it makes me feel better - less encumbered. I enjoy the things I have more now than I did when they were lost in a sea of 'stuff'. It also has the advantage of helping me live within my means.

I've been interested to see at what point it felt right to stop. When is enough, enough? When would I reach the point at which disposing of anything else would be uncomfortable or limiting? The last thing to go was the microwave oven and I haven't missed it in the slightest. I'm now living in 32sq metres/345sq feet and it feels right. It's not as ingeniously designed as Gary Chang's famous example, but it suits me. I'm hoping it might also be a good place to settle down to writing again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Martin Lucas 1962 - 2014

Martin Lucas: front row, left. *

The day I met Martin Lucas was one of those rare perfect early summer days. I was one of a group walking along the Norfolk coast. I'd recently discovered the strange, intriguing form of poetry called haiku while browsing online and this walk, from Sheringham to Hunstanton in June 1999, was my first meeting with haiku poets face-to-face. For a while on that day I was walking with Martin Lucas and John Barlow who were discussing haiku. I was fascinated by what I heard and I recall thinking 'this is a conversation I want to be involved in' and I have been involved in it, in one way or another, through all the years since then.

Sometime during that walk I acquired my first copy of the journal Presence and it has been a favourite ever since. On those rare occasions when I gather together my published haiku I go to my Presence collection first because Martin, as editor, had a way of spotting the best and kindly returning the rest, often with a handwritten note of encouragement.

I've lost one of my first haiku mentors and it will be a more lonely path without him.

Martin's poetry showed a deep connection with the natural world and empathy with all kinds of living things, including humanity, often expressed with a touch of gentle humour. I'd like to include a small selection of his haiku and tanka here in appreciation.

the many noises of London
in the smallest hour
all that's left:
voice of the blackbird

Blithe Spirit 8/1 1998

poetry group
deep in thought;
gurgle of plumbing

 .. click.. Hub Editions, 1998

deepening winter
  darkness in the eyes
    of a chained dog

Earthjazz, Ram, 2003

a quiet stretch of river
the gull's little kick
into flight

Frogpond 26/2, 2003

summer river -
when I'm barefoot
it's forever

Presence 39  September 2009
Awarded 'Best of Issue' by popular vote in Presence 40

autumn spider running to the raincloud sky

Presence 47 December 2012


*  BHS North Norfolk Coast Park walk 1999. I would very much have preferred to get permission from everyone else in the photograph before posting but that was not possible as I do not have current contact details. If anyone has objections to it being included here please let me know and I will take it down immediately. If anyone does not object but would just like to get back in touch - please do! My new email  address can be found in my profile.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Martin Lucas missing

Martin Lucas, poet and editor of the journal Presence, has been missing since Friday 21st March. 

Photograph by Frank Williams

Martin was one of the first haiku poets I met, back in 1999 on a walk along the Norfolk coast. I know, from talking to friends and acquaintances in person and via social networks all over the world, that he is much missed. A lot of people would like to know that he's ok.

I want to do what I can and so I'm posting this in the hope that it might reach someone who knows something that might help.

If you have any information please ring the police on 101. Please share this news.

The BHS Facebook page will have updates.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

open windows
on a summer's day
the only words
I've heard my neighbour speak
'You've never loved me'

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
moon on the wane
the sound of wings
at dusk

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
finding it again
that still place
where it all begins

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
a wisp of cloud
losing itself in deep blue
tail end of a dream

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
the growing
impatience of the queen -
autumn deepens

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
city street
I fall into step
with a stranger

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
falling leaves more of the sky

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011

can't stop the evening colours fading

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011