The bits and pieces on this page make no pretence at being great verse, but are a mixture of doggerel, limericks, poems for children (especially George) and ideas which occurred


A Simple Train of Thought

Where shells and shrapnel tore the air,

The lazy yellow brimstone floats;

And gas attacks and bombs were there,

Where now grow fields of wheat and oats.

Our senses show us fields, not mud,

Nor noise, nor - infinitely worse -

The stench of putrid death and blood.

Graves are our evidence, and verse.

There, in the fields above the Somme,

The thousands mutely testify

That guns, grenades and gas and bombs

Destroy good men too young to die.

How can their evidence be freed

To carry equal weight today,

When eighty years of history

Leave jerky images in grey?

Their ghosts must shout out loud again

To tell the lesson learnt before,

And hammer on the ears of men

In suits who' re lured by thoughts of war.


Written on visiting the graves of First World War poets at a time when war in Iraq was being considered. 01 08 03

There was a young man from Bengal

Whose eyeballs were terribly small.

If you looked through a lens,

They seemed quite immense,

But without, they seemed nothing at all.


The Perseids

A childhood memory


Lying on your back. Feeling the grass growing,

Softening the strong earth behind your back.

Looking ahead, straight up into the sky.

Seeing the wide arc of the heavens,

A vast dome, unsupported, unpillared, distant.

Black? Midnight blue? – It is midnight,

Late to be out here for a small boy.

Steely black. Unfathomable, with tiny twinkling stars.

Feeling the grass growing, pushing up little by little by little,

As you look into infinity.

Stars that sent their light a thousand years ago. Longer. How long?

Where are they now? Imploded? Gone?

Or still shining on, for others to see, aeons from now?

What is the meaning of time and space,

While lying on the growing grass in the darkness of the park?

The unpolluted park has mopped up the city lights.

The leafy summer trees have absorbed

All but the faintest of the white noise of the city at night.

Quiet. A snuffling hedgehog. A distant owl.

Still. The warmth of an August night.

And then, of a sudden, was that one?

Did you see it?

Over there.

There' s another, falling like a spent rocket,

Still glowing, curving to the earth.

Somewhere beyond those trees?

Another. And another. Shared excitement. I saw that one too.

The Perseid shower performs its miracle once more.

And thirty years beyond my boyhood, I still recall that night.

Using different words, but alive again to the same feelings.

The dark park. The stillness.

The growing grass becoming lumpy against my back.

The starry heavens and the shooting stars,

Dropping to their death, and shining like tiny seed pearls.

The shared wonder and the sense of endless time and space.


xx  09 05

Sidney the Snake

My name is Ssidney. I' m a ssnake.

A hisss is all the ssound I make.

I sslide along. No noise I make:

No footstepss, and no twigss that break.

I eat as much as I can take, -                                                          

And then I have the belly-ache.

So I decide to have a break,

And ssleep, and ssleep, until I wake.

I hisss. I eat. I ssleep. I wake.

That' ss all there is to being a ssnake.

The Hedgehog


The hedgehog, when he' s under threat,

Looks for a place to hide;

Or curls up in a little ball

With spikes on every side.

Until he thinks that it is safe

And he can be uncurled,

He lives, unmoving, without sight,

Within his little world.

He cannot see what is around.

He cannot feed or mate.

He cannot get back to his home.

He can' t communicate.

There' s people too who' re under stress

Who copy hedgehog ways.

They hide within their little worlds

And so they pass their days.

Their outer prickles ward off friends

As well as threats of harm.

They can' t relate, communicate

Because of their alarm.

Just like the hedgehog in his ball,

They' re cut off from the world.

Until they feel secure and safe,

Relax and come uncurled.


xx 11 04

A Norfolk Limerick

There once was a barman from Erpingham

Who tested his beers by slurping ‘em;

But alack and alas!

They were so full of gas

That he ending up belching and burping ‘em.


24 07 04

Anything haiku do

Clerihue can do better.

No, they can't.

Yes, they can.

Half Term


Monday is Fun Day.

I do what I like :

Watch films on the telly

Or ride on my bike.

Tuesday is Choose Day.

I might stay in bed;

Or just do whatever

Comes into my head.

Wednesday is Friends Day.

They come round for tea.

We play with computers

Or watch DVDs.

Thursday' s the Worst Day.

I' m feeling quite bored,

So I play with my armies

And helmet and sword.

Friday is High Day.

I just play the fool.

My bed time is later,

When I' m not at school.

Saturday is Matter Day.

It' s shopping with Mum,

To get food and whatever,

- But not chewing gum.

Sunday' s the One Day

I paint model men,

But then I get ready.

‘Cause school starts again.


13 04 06

On Visiting Arbeia Museum


I never saw my bones. In life their frame,

Tensed up by muscles, gave me strength and form.

I felt their outlines and I knew their names.

Now, dead and cold; then, I was alive and warm.

You, as you gaze into the case, can see

My tibias, my femurs and my jaw.

For me, they let me jump like deer, run free,

Throw spears, hug friends, kneel down, and bite and gnaw.

You see my skull, with sunken holes for eyes,

With interlocking sutures, and a grin.

Yet in that skull my brain could think, surmise,

Feel strong emotions, love and hate, and sin.

You who are young, I notice, sometimes laugh,

Perhaps in thinking that my bones aren' t real.

Perhaps it' s fear that life' s just so much chaff,

Blown by the wind and trodden under heal.

You do not know my name. To you, I' m bones,

The white remains of ages long gone past.

For me, you viewers are the nameless ones.

You' ll join me soon. You' ll find your lives go fast.

Life' s journey gives you little time to live.

Live wisely, therefore, in the things you do.

Remember me, but live; don't grieve,

For where I' ve travelled, you must follow too.


In the Museum at South Shields on 31 08 05, a Roman (?) skeleton was displayed, the first that George had seen.


04 10 05

There was a young man from Thermopylae

Who couldn't make verses scan properly.

        They started OK

        In the usual way

But they ended up floppily-doppily.                                    





Another young man from Thermopylae

Was hopeless at rhyming words properly.

        He could cope with the cat

        Which sat on the mat,

But anything harder, and he got stuck - or maybe the verse ended choppily.