Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Sunday, 26 June 2016


A massive Buddha-head, ordinarily a piece of garden statuary, occupies a spot in our living room.
Although not intended for indoors, it nevertheless sits well in its corner and the Buddha’s uncritical eye takes in our everyday routines as we read, drink wine, laugh and converse.
I have no particular engagement with Buddhism but my wife, Jane, has gained much over the years from her application of Buddhist disciplines.

While I am far too restless to sit and meditate, there have been occasions when I have fallen into a dreamlike state whilst contemplating that strange stone face.
Perhaps I should drink a little less wine.


The Buddha’s head stares coldly back,
face impassive, almond-eyed.
That gaze, in which whole worlds reside,
deciphers and detects a lack
of something in me, some lost light
that once burned fiercely then expired.
I bow, return his stare, though tired,    
feel strength return, fire reignite.

Saturday, 25 June 2016


As waves of shock and sadness broke across the country after the murder of politician, Jo Cox last week, it was hard for anyone to find the right words for what had happened. But in the age of social media we are all commentators, and there is more pressure than ever for us to say something in the wake of tragedy. In the immediate aftermath, one language was being used again and again by people struggling to express how they felt. People were sharing poems  ...  people have always turned to poems in times of great sadness; it’s why we have readings at funerals  ...  and so it makes sense that when we’re faced with huge shock, we turn once again to sharing poetry.”
(Extract from a recent newspaper article by Charlotte Runcie)

Click here for the full article.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


A Haiku is a poetic form that has not appeared on Bard at Bay despite there having been over two hundred posts since this blog began.
I am not well acquainted with the Haiku and would refer those interested to Laura Sheridan's website, where you will find a daily Haiku, or to John Buchanan's excellent poetry site, where you'll find advice on how to compose one of your own.
My understanding is that the poetic form is Japanese, that it has three lines of five, seven and five syllables respectively and should contain a reference to nature.
Using these guidelines, I constructed the following Haiku using a Japanese subject, a reference to nature in the form of a tree, and, of course, a five/seven/five syllable structure.
Somehow I don't think Basho would approve. 


Watch Kung Fu First Dan
smash tree. Tree fall down. Oh Damn!
Tree fall on First Dan.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


I wrote this vignette whilst in Italy, which has an abundance of churches, but the true inspiration for the poem was an individual whom I frequently observed during my boyhood in Ulster (which also has an abundance of churches). 


She loves God: approves of no man.
Small face sour with disapproval,
she clutches a well-thumbed hymnal.

Watch her Sundays,
drop shillings in collection tins,
repent an absence of real sins
with contrite gaze.

See her weekdays, at the church hall,
organising the removal
of dead flowers. A pious woman.

Saturday, 18 June 2016


As summer gets off to a hesitant start, let’s welcome it with a burst of “sunshine music”.

Vazon Bay, Guernsey.

Click here for a sunny performance by my favourite African group, Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens. 

Mbaqanga, South African township jive, has been described as one of the most spirited and joyous sounds in the world and it certainly lifts my spirits on even the most overcast day.

Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens

Wednesday, 15 June 2016


This poem was published long ago under a different title, but stumbling upon the haunting image below brought it to back to mind. 
Poem and image seem ideally suited to one another.


As night goes stepping like a dancer;
white frost stands on the black-thorn;
moonlight spills on the expanse, where
grass advances, each blade drawn.

From her bed, voices entrance her
then draw her, helpless as a fawn,
out to the bridge and there, balance her
briefly, before she plunges down,

as night goes stepping like a dancer,

to drown
and drown
and drown
and drown.

Friday, 10 June 2016


To rhyme or not to rhyme? This is a question that many poets struggle with and the majority appear to fall into the “Not” camp.
I tend to enjoy rhyme, however unfashionable it might be, although I’ll happily write non-rhyming verse when the spirit or subject move me to.
Today’s poem, however, is a rhyming one that was a pleasure to write, even if the subject matter is rather less than joyous. 

Image by Igor Morski



In these last moments, timelessly, whatever hinges things breaks free.
A great wind blows throughout the world. The map of nothingness is whirled
and tumbles out a pair of dice: no sixes there, but fire and ice.
Brave swallows, in a turquoise sky, soar over riverbeds, once dry,
that now cascade abundantly through altered landscapes to the sea.
Wild children, with unearthly powers, split boulders, from which, blossom flowers
that garland mountainside and flow, like liquid honey, gentle, slow
into lush valleys, suddenly alive with butterfly and bee.
The air seems charged, soft rabbits stir as wind caresses tawny fur,
from sunlit woodland step young deer, no longer having cause for fear.
The dancing hare evades the hounds, the dray-horse on his weary rounds,
shakes off its harness, gallops free, the sapling transforms to a tree,
each branch adorned with singing birds whose notes translate to human words
that sing of history and fate and how it is too late, too late.
In auburn earth, young foxes sleep while fish, like phantoms of the deep,
with ghost-eyes, pallid, silver-grey, in crystal pools, suspended, sway
a hook’s point from untimely death. Moor ponies, with their apple breath,
grey-granite-hoofed and shaggy-skinned stand silently and sniff the wind.
As pheasants rise, unharmed by gun, wild bees sip nectar in the sun,
the field-mouse, in its grassy nest, sleeps safe: the barn owl is at rest
and yet the owl dreams splintered bone and bloodied flesh, as dead as stone.
The hunter and the hunter’s prey, together in a strange ballet,
one killing and one being killed, yet somehow each of them fulfilled,
perform their pantomime with poise while forests roar with blood and noise,
and deserts, measureless and mean, become mysteriously green.
In these last moments, timelessly, whatever hinges things breaks free.
A great wind blows throughout the world. The serpent wakes and lies uncurled.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


As promised, Bard at Bay has returned today, following a short break. 
What better poem to resume with than one about hibernation: a brief suspension of time before the future resumes.


Hibernation over, they wake
hungry. Then swiftly re-engage
in animal things: so the cycle
begins again. We understand that.

Is it fanciful to wonder
if they dream? Or is their slumber
incomprehensible, like death,
devoid of sense of anything?