Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


I’ve written numerous poems over the years but many have been consigned to the wastepaper basket. 
It’s always a difficult decision, particularly if the poem in question has involved a good deal of hard work; but a bad poem benefits no one, neither reader nor writer.
The saving grace is that it’s sometimes possible to salvage a good line for future use or simply to serve as a starting-off point for another, better poem. 
One line that survived the destruction of a bad poem, was ‘brotherhood is built, not born’ and it encouraged me to write Twenty-One, a poem about a close childhood friend, John Simpson, who died in tragic circumstances, half a century ago this year.
The image below isn’t us, but it’s probably the way we saw ourselves at the time.


We started out with cocoa tins
attached by string: 
a telephone
of sorts; progressed to proper phones,
old army surplus; wired them up
and strung a line from my bedroom, 
to yours next door. 

We formed a link
that bound us fast through teenage years:
fifth form, sixth form, till, 
on you went to uni, I to unsought work.

Where you were cerebral and gauche,
I was the opposite, and yet
we hit it off: no other friend,
before or since, meant half so much.

In those strange, final months, we seemed
to drift apart: you went away
and I, in turn, 
went elsewhere too.

Estranged at twenty-one, we were.
You didn’t live to twenty-two.

Your picture, pale, in newsprint grim,
beside the stark facts of your death,
remains my image of you now
a half a century away.

My vanished childhood friend, 
you look so innocent, 
so fresh of face:
forever in a state of grace.


  1. Thanks, Moira. It came straight from the heart.

  2. Lovely - thanks for sharing this.

  3. Lovely - thanks for sharing this.

  4. Thank you, Carolynn. It took me nearly fifty years to get around to writing this but the memories are as strong as ever.