The pebbles roundness,

worn smooth on its journey

to the sea

slowed for a time

by its rest on the river bank,

fits in the palm of my hand.


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On hearing of the death of Beryl Rubens

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And so another voice has fallen silent,

And for a moment the wintering wild birds

No longer sing in the skies.

And I walk amongst stone angels

And there is no comfort for me here.


Tears of sadness do not pierce

The emptiness of where a heart should be.

And your expressionless eyes

Stare down unchanged

Over the days, over the years.


Here there are carved words

On smooth milled stone,

Each letter, each word

A fragment of a life’s story

A momento to last an Eternity.


So many words worn away

By the hard edged rain

Of so many winters past.

Expressions of love, of duty done,

The reward of rest in heaven.


And the remembrance always

Of those who follow.

Followers themselves now dead

So that the grave lies forgotten.

And the words meaning lost.


But I will think of your life now

And of what you have meant

To me and those who knew you

And will always treasure you

And your life’s memory.


I smile at the remembrance

Of the sound of your violin,

Of your laugh and delight,

And your strength and determination

To fight for those broken needlessly.


I do not need stone angels now,

Or the waste of aged sentiments.

Life has always been precarious.

It is enough that you were here.

And I will light a candle for you.

Uncertain times.

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I see only forgotten men

Living in places

With once famous names.

I hear only words

Of tales and deeds

Of days of men and women

Long since forgotten

Long since dead.


And in these times of uncertainty

People live surrounded

By purposeless decline

A landscape of waste

And those twisted lines

Of once white shone steel

Polished by the unceasing grind

Of the turning wheel

Now lying hidden by elder.

And gathering the dirt brown stain

Of rust and disuse

Map out the death struggle

Of this dark place

And in this uncertainty people live.


Writhing in its decay

Its history ensnares

the withering and hopeless present.

But its people refuse to cry out.

Anger has been replaced

By that silence of regret

That pitiless lament

Of resignation and acceptance.

Some say it is our age

As if we were born in other times

And others days

Or as if this turmoil

And unceasing uncertainty

Was not of our own making.


It has taken one hundred years

To silence and to forget

And to carve away with such precision.

One hundred long hard years

To isolate those memories

To purge our dreams

And cut with all the accuracy

Of liquid golden steel

The misery of generations

The torments of our people

Of the years of our childhood

And before.

We can do nothing

We can say nothing

We are not listened to.


This is the song of our people

We suffer we suffer

We have cried too much

We have cried too long

And we have become lost.

But do not stir us

For we are dark dogs

We are shadow dogs

We sleep in motionless terror.

Do not speak to our hearts

Of indignities of suffering.

Do not kindle our hatred.

Do not evoke words to spur

Our slumbering emotions.

We sleep we sleep.


In Silence


That strange silence

When did it first occur?

Were there no witnesses?

Did no one see its coming?

Had it been something gradual?

Something that had begun

Without our knowing.

Or with that abruptness

That quickness of the blade

That cuts and severs

And life without knowing

Without recognising its own going

Seeps silently away.
That strange silence

When did it first occur?

Were our eyes turned away?

Our intelligence caught

By other curious happenings.

Was it that? Simply

A distraction of sorts.

Or was it something

That we secretly welcomed?

And now if there are regrets

It’s too late, much too late.

All that has been is no longer

All that may have been

Is now silent and forgotten.


Who will remember?

Or will it become

A few pages here and there

Of names and muttered words?

Some faint remembrances?

That strange vision

Of people blackened

Standing in cobbled streets

Faces turned towards camera

Their eyes watching

Looking but seeing nothing.

And we see nothing of them.

Their world our past

A fleeting glance caught

On the papers gloss

And in this hour I ask

Is that all that remains?

That strange silence.


Of words and truth.


Like grasses bundled

And withered in storm

We are blown helplessly

And not a word is spoken.

Who sings the authentic song?

Who speaks the words of truth?

Who stands for me and mine?

Who looks at what we see?

Who hears what we hear?

Who breathes the air we breathe?

Who sees what is right and wrong?

Who speaks for me and mine?

Who sings the authentic song?

Where are our heroes and poets now?



It was painful that experience

Of first love and the abruptness

Of that unexpected separation

Rejection how else was I supposed

To understand your disappearance.

You believed in direct action.

And I had walked away from Christ

But not the teaching of love

Supporting violence was not my cause.

It was the first and last time we argued

And then you were gone

And love. My love was left

Fluttering in the darkness.

I’d thought it was better to work

From within. A compromise

You’d said. I wanted no labels

Attached to me. But no matter

What I said or did to avoid this

Providing the machine with an excuse

To dismiss. Devoid of reason

They went ahead in any case.

For forty years I’d worked

To help and speak  for those

Appointed and anointed as the cause

Of societies shame and failings.

And at a time when I was brought

to my knees and my belief

and hope suddenly made to falter

I sought you out –  that place

that time when it felt like

there was a degree of certainty

to see what you had done

with your life and whether you’d found

an answer or even happiness

The first search brought up

Your face from a photograph

In your obituary I recognised

had been taken at that time.

In that place that house

Where we had lived together

And you were gone again.

Edinburgh 001

Time redefined


Time redefined


And now

Am I marooned here

You told me to go

Go go go go go

When you decided

That it was done

That you were done

With me.

But I have been left here


Then now

Now then

Time stands still

For some things

Trapped in this silence

Now and then

A fracturing of time






I struggle

For words.

Its not true

That time heals

It simply

Loses pain

I am like a bell

That has not chimed

For so long

I am not silent

Only in quietness

Will you hear

The deep vibration

Of my calm

I can’t make

Up for lost time

Making up

For lost time

What time?

Who’s time?

A clock,



Or Clocc

A silent


Missing a bell

Is called

A Time piece.

I clock you

You you you you

You. And you!

I watch you you

You and you.

And you.



The grassed land yields

to the spades sharp edge.

It has been many a year

since this soil was last laid bare

and now as the upended sods

are lain on their backs

so that the turf lies buried.


I smell the earth’s sweetness

and feel a light breeze

touch the back of my hand,

the sun on the hill line

reminds me of the time of day

and a chill begins to cool

the sweat on my back.


Before gathering the tools

I stop and stand straight

old Oaks in the woods

loose their brown leaves.

to lie on the woodland floor.

The fluttering clattering fall

shatters the day’s quiet.


Young Oaks on the field edge

sway, waving gently

holding their leaves tight

waiting for the warmth

of a late spring day

as if unwilling to relinquish

memories of summer, of youth.


A thought of children

now. And another

encircling year begins.