Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor

Monday, 19 March 2018


This poem, from my Strange Journey collection (2012), was written following the untimely death of a friend's mother. Obviously, therefore, it's factual, but I hope it manages to transcend mere reportage.

Old Postcard of Torteval Church


The heart beats, now, a mourning drum
behind the coffin held aloft.
Head bowed, you step, back ramrod-straight,
blue light, through stained-glass, falling soft,
from the black car beyond the gate
into the congregation’s hum.

Grief carves a beauty in your face  
or highlights what was there before,
unrecognised.  You seem to shine,
to have become not less but more,
while others’ faces, at this shrine
to gracefulness, lack any grace.

The hedgerow birds, today, seem dumb
as one by one the black cars leave:
you by your crumpled father’s side,
consoling him, holding his sleeve,
so full of elegance, dry-eyed,
with redefined years yet to come.

Thursday, 15 March 2018


Guernsey's Reflections on Occupation begins tomorrow in the Greenhouse Gallery at Candie Museum and will run until 3rd June. 
I urge you to see it if you can.
A fascinating mixture of art forms is on display, each reflecting, in its own way, that traumatic period in the island's history.
This thought-provoking exhibition coincides with the release of the film version of Mary Ann Shaffer's best-selling novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society starring Lily James, which is set during the Occupation.
Poetry features strongly among the submissions and one of the poems on display is A Letter Home, which I wrote from the perspective of a young German soldier stationed on the island during World War Two.  

This is not proper soldiery,
no proud thrust for the Fatherland:
instead we police, unwillingly,
people we do not understand.
They are an island race, apart:
intransigent, shrewd, stubborn, smart.

We count the months, our rations low,
imprisoned by an angry sea.
At the parade-ground, to and fro,
we march and drill, purposelessly.
While months accumulate to years,
we yearn for heimat and cold beers.

And all the while, the Occupied,
gaunt Guernsey peasants, enemy,
exhibit an unbending pride
that chills the heart and unnerves me.
Such angry spirits. I thank Gott
that we are armed and they are not.

Each breaking day, I make a vow
to summon strength, refuse to weep.
Rations are non-existent now.
Expendable, our lives are cheap.
Such brokenness will never mend.
Would that this pointless war would end. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


Unlike the homicide in my previous post, this murder didn't quite fit into twelve lines.
If my wife happens to read this: relax Jane, it's purely fiction.  



I cannot stand my ghastly wife:
instead, I love her sister, dear.
The former one pollutes my life.
The latter woman I revere.
I’ve hatched a plot to rid me of
my wife, I’ve simply had enough.

I’ve put rat-poison in a cake:
my wife is fond of sweets and treats.
One slice is all she’ll have to take:
rich cream will guarantee she eats
then she’ll be gone and I’ll have Maud.
It’s simple: just give fate a prod.

Maud’s phoned me to my work and said
she’s at our house to tend my wife
who’s got the sniffles, gone to bed: 
there’s germs around and flu is rife.
I fear I’ve made a great mistake:
Maud’s brewed some tea and scoffed the cake.

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Staying with comic verse, albeit of the blacker persuasion, here's a grisly tale of murder in just twelve lines.


Bright stiletto in the sternum.
On the parquet, blood is spreading
as she mutters, That’ll learn him ...
then she’s through the doorway heading
for the Ford and then the State-line
in the Californian sunshine.

Bright stiletto, polished handle:
icicle of death and danger. 

Dead, he's like a snuffed-out candle:
half her lover, half a stranger.
She, a victim of his lust, is
now a fugitive from justice.

Monday, 5 March 2018


Here's a lighthearted piece of verse to counteract the winter blues.


The Parrot has a tiny brain
but what he has works fairly well
He’ll perch all day, will not complain,
and now and then he’ll ring his bell
then, with a smiling, open beak,
he’ll twitch his tongue, commence to speak.

Now you might think the words he squawks
are fascinating and profound:
what he comes out with when he talks
won’t half impress you and astound
until you stop and think, this bird
is just repeating what he’s heard,

he hasn’t really got a clue,
decisions are beyond his ken,
it’s all a load of ballyhoo,
he’s like that fool at Number 10.
Despite his feathers and his poise,
he’s simply making pointless noise.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


I missed Monday's Open Mic due to an unusual event in Guernsey's weather calendar, the arrival of snow.
It's not something we have to contend with often: once every four or five years on average, but when it happens the island grinds to a standstill. 
Schools close, shops become denuded of provisions and businesses limp along with only those few die-hard staff who manage to brave our treacherous, ungritted roads.
I'd planned to read this bit of light verse on Monday because the chosen subject for Open Mic was "Words". 
Maybe I'll give it an airing next month if the snow's gone by then.  


Spray-can taggers in the street
obey the law of graffiti.

Musicians, with a hip-hop beat,

legitimise depravity.

Con-men, chat-show hosts and hacks
stick words, like daggers, in our backs

 The Internet, email, smart phones, 
breed words that wildly reproduce

like cancer-cells within our bones ...

a narrative, verbose, diffuse.

Words, nowadays, require a crutch:

they’ve been recycled overmuch.

Poets, with each lively ditty,

use their dictionary quota:

nothing changes, more’s the pity, 

not one thing, not one iota.

Words, although at times fantastic,

choke the human sea like plastic.

Monday, 26 February 2018


The theme of this month's Guernsey Open Mic Poetry evening is "Words" which seems an appropriate, if unimaginative, subject for a poetry event.
An infant's first words provoke jubilation in the parent and there are few among us who are not curious to learn of the famous last words of the great and good.
In between life's bookends lies a massive accumulation of words, significant or otherwise, many of which we may well regret having spoken.
As a child, I was drawn to words and, indeed verse, by means of nursery rhymes.
It's surprising how many of those tales were downbeat. Jack and Jill's unfortunate tumble, Humpty Dumpty's premature demise and poor Little Miss Muffet's traumatic encounter with a spider: these gloomy tales created a decidedly negative impression of the world that awaited me beyond the safety of the family home.


If words were worms that warmly went
from A to B beneath our feet
in worthy earth, absorbed, content,
through coffin-wood to winding-sheet
they might diminish, as they fed,
the boredom of the lonely dead

who surely must find wearisome
that endless nothingness, their lot:
unmoving lips, tongues rendered dumb.
Were words, like worms, to breach each cot
then pale flesh might become a page
on which to document their rage.