Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Monday, 30 October 2017


Hallowe'en, once an ancient Celtic festival with Pagan roots, is nowadays an opportunity for youngsters to indulge in Trick or Treat, the custom of going from door to door after dark, dressed in suitably spooky costumes, to sing or recite in exchange for sweets or currency.
It's all very lighthearted and only the most curmudgeonly person would not find it amusing.
But what if the caller were not a child in a scary mask seeking toffees but someone who had other, less benign, intentions? 


Armani suit and calf-skin shoes, 
Rolex coiled around his wrist,
a sharp black beard defines his chin,
three blood-red rings adorn his fist,
his neck’s embellished with tattoos
which spiderweb his swarthy skin.
He’s saturnine, tall, lithe and slim:
not how I had imagined him.

His smile is supercilious, cold.
He strokes his smartphone, barks my name,
then looks me over with a frown.
You’re ready, Fool. You’re mine to claim ...
I cower, defenceless, weak and old.
He leans in close to stare me down
with hooded eyes as black as coal:
twin mirrors of an absent soul.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Wednesday, 25 October 2017


With Hallow'een fast approaching, it seems appropriate to publish this slightly spooky rhyming poem, Jackdaw Witch.


Where do you fly to, jackdaw witch,
when night affords you change of shape?
Do you, half bird, half brute, escape
beastly constraints, do you unhitch
yourself from our reality,
soar up, in pterodactyl skin,
to mingle with your ghastly kin,
their putrid sexuality
a ripe lure, a sure inducement. 
Where do you fly to? Whose command
bids you attend? Who can demand
your presence, jackdaw malcontent?
And does your night-flight summon fear?
Do ground-bound creatures flinch and hide
beneath your soft-winged deathly glide,
your claws, your countenance severe?

Why do you, time and time again,
abscond to wilderness and brier?
Where do you gather to conspire
when moon illuminates the plain?
Where do you fly, who do you meet?
And are their talons stained with gore?
What words are whispered when you your
misshapen, foul companions greet?

Monday, 23 October 2017


The island of Guernsey is presently fogbound, with visibility limited and the normally-uplifting view of our adjacent islands totally obscured. 

It's difficult to remain upbeat on days such as these.

Happily, the gloom has been lifted by news from producer, Becca Bryers, that the BBC Local Radio & National Poetry Day project, which I took part in last year, has gained Silver at the ARIAS (Audio and Radio Industry Awards) in the Creative Partnerships category.

Stone Witness, my submission to the project, became the title poem in my 2017 collection of the same name.

Copies of Stone Witness are available online from my publishers, BLUE ORMER at

Friday, 20 October 2017


This poem, if indeed it is a poem, came about as a result of an exercise to establish whether I could merge two poems into one and still produce a coherent whole. Whether it works or not remains to be seen. You, the reader, must be the judge of that.
It first appeared in my Strange Journey collection, published in 2012.


we meet on a sunlit bridge                      in an ancient city in spring
and our shadows merge                              we meet like eager lovers
inhaling sweetness                                                your cool skin scent
apple blossom                                                              drenches my lips
the river                                                                                         the light
sings                                                                                                     sings

wings                                                                                                wishes 
or  prayers                                                                                   unspoken
sweep overhead                                                             escape like birds
        we stand like statues                                        our lips eyes fingertips          
our vows now set in stone                        connect to become but one 
sky a purple mass of starlings          stretching beyond and beyond

Sunday, 15 October 2017


I've lost count of the number of poems I've written about birds. It's a subject I keep returning to again and again.
Garden birds, of course, are a source of constant joy and living close to the sea ensures that we encounter an abundance of coastal species ranging from snowy egrets to oyster-catchers in their distinctive black and white livery.
There is a kestrel that frequents the granite cliff-face adjoining our property, an owl that hunts in the narrow lane and a noisy gang of magpies, whose coarse sniggers can be heard coming from a nearby conifer.
Crows, too, can sometimes be seen around Bordeaux but, for some inexplicable reason, these birds fill me with dread.
There's something ominous in their baleful presence that seems to stir a memory in me of a frightening childhood experience concerning these sinister birds.


An old grey crow perches on a granite wall.
Its prehistoric stare
unnerves me.
In those unfathomable eyes
I see
nothing discernible,
only vertiginous darkness.
It hardly seems afraid
when I return its look
but hops from foot to foot
as though to say
this is my wall, this is my wall ...
so I retreat.

From farther off, I pause to look again.
There it remains,
in silhouette,
stiff as a sentry,
with murderous, malignant eye,
camouflaged blade,
assassin’s cloak.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017


This month the annual Poetry On The Lake Festival took place in the beautiful setting of Lake Orta in northern Italy. 

The festival was founded in 2001 by poet, Gabriel Griffin, and has as its Patron the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who described it as
‘ ... perhaps the smallest but possibly the most perfect poetry festival in the world”.  

I don't have Ms. Duffy's wide knowledge of poetry festivals but I'd certainly agree that the Poetry On The Lake Festival is as close to perfection as I can imagine.

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to attend the events there with my wife, Jane, who had been invited to Orta to read her acclaimed poem, Il Mio Pavone Bianco.
On the final day of the Festival I took part in an outdoor poetry reading on the wooded hillside at Sacro Monte along with a number of acclaimed British and Italian poets, including the Poet Laureate herself.
This poem, Suitcases, is one that I read on that occasion. 


Crouching in attic gloom, 
where skylight beams 
illuminate their pool of silver dust, 
old leather suitcases doze like alligators 
dreaming their prehistoric dreams.

They sleep soundly having eaten up my father’s life ...

the photographs, the hearing aid and collar studs, 
the safety razor with its rusted blade, 
the letters and the wallet with the ticket stubs

... yet I am so afraid 
that when I kneel beneath the skylight 
to prise apart those sagging, alligator jaws,

the life that I will find compressed within 
will be too small to match 
my memories of him.

Saturday, 7 October 2017


As a child, the seaside was a place of wonder and delight where my family holidayed for a fortnight each summer.
Throughout my life I have retained the sense of excitement and fascination that those early excursions provoked.
The north-east coast of Ireland has some of the finest beaches in Europe and the journey from Belfast, by way of the spectacular Antrim Coast Road, is a joy to any traveller.
On the small island of Guernsey, by contrast, the sea is never far away and its proximity to our home at Bordeaux ensures that, when sea fever overcomes me, I am only two minutes away from the beach.
Standing by the sea wall at high tide on a bright morning, sunlight reflecting on the water, brightly-coloured fishing-boats bobbing in the foreground and the neighbouring islands of Herm and Jethou on the horizon, is a truly uplifting experience.


These early autumn mornings, bright
as summer,
catch me, wakefully,
prowling the house while still you sleep,
your face turned from the windowpane,
where sunlight flows in.
Wrapped in surrealistic dreams,
you hardly stir as I collect
essentials: glasses, mobile phone,
slip on a coat
then step outdoors
to marvel at a morning sky
that, in its endlessness, astounds.
A sea breeze summons me.
The wild,

so alluring sea
awaits my morning presence there,
where wave meets wave
then slips away
from granite wall,
from foot-worn steps.
I picture you then, sleeping still:
a child again, immersed in warmth,
and wonder what unknowable
oceans of strangeness
lap your dreams,
then draw my snug coat collar up
and stride out lightly
towards the shore,
my spirits rising, soaring free
as swallows do, effortlessly. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


It's a bizarre experience, on a damp autumnal night, to encounter a large gathering of amphibians on one's doorstep. 
There are those who might find such an experience unnerving but I considered their unexpected presence propitious and cause for celebration.


Tonight, on flagstones, drawn by rain,
frogs have congregated.
Drizzle falls gently,
like acupuncture needles,
on slick, camouflaged skin.
They squat there,
a dozen Buddhist monks,
bulbous eyes blinking.
My torchlight does not disturb them.
their leather throats pulsate.