Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Thursday, 17 October 2019


To meet, to know, to love and then to part, is the sad tale of many a heart. 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge


He takes her hand, then suddenly,
impulsively, embraces her.

He stands tongue-tied
while old familiar feelings stir
and she, acutely conscious
that she only dressed to shop
feels suddenly complete again
and prays that time might stop.

Still Crazy (after all these years)

Saturday, 12 October 2019


Cricket to us was more than play, It was worship in the summer sun. 
Edmund Blunden
The late Edmund Blunden was one of the First World War poets and is among those commemorated in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. 
Passionate about cricket, Blunden was the author of Cricket Country, the tale of a man whose interest in the game was, in the words of one critic, "fanatical".
In his review of Cricket Country, George Orwell referred to Blunden as "the true cricketer", and went on to say that the test of a true cricketer is that he prefers village cricket to 'good' cricket, that his fondest memories are of the informal village game, where everyone plays in braces, where the blacksmith is liable to be called away in mid-innings on an urgent job, and sometimes, about the time when the light begins to fail, a ball driven for four kills a rabbit on the boundary.


A makeshift platform in a cherry tree
afforded views beyond the garden wall
and far off in the distance I could see
some cricketers, with pads and bats and ball,
at play, all shining white. 

A stirring scene
with radiant figures on a field of green
which, to the naive child that I was then,
spoke of a wider world, somehow more true,
inhabited by dashing, fearless men:
a braver, wider world than that I knew.

Sunday, 6 October 2019


Creative writing and the imagination allow us to explore other worlds, other lives, that might have been ours had we followed a different path.


The room is furnished just enough
to qualify as furnished: a bed, a table,
chairs that look the worse for wear;
but it’s affordable and so I say
I’ll take it and hand over cash.
She nods and, with a downward glance,
leaves me to settle in.
I sit down on the threadbare bed
and study patterns on the wall,
the paper faded and forlorn,
the picture of a weeping clown
and, by the door, a pitted mirror.
The window faces to a street,
with graffiti and shuttered shops
and nothing, dog or cat or man,
is there as evidence of life.

Quite suddenly the walls encroach
and all the ghosts of tenants past:
the failed, afraid or just plain old,
assail me and the room feels cold. 

Monday, 30 September 2019


Most people are familiar with the name of Lazarus, whose reanimation features as the last of the miracles ascribed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. 
Lazarus, already dead and entombed, was commanded to return to life and duly rose in his winding sheets and rejoined his family
We assume he was overjoyed with this turn of events.
But was he? 



I suppose I should be grateful
that I have been restored to life.
Truly a miracle, they say,
for I was dead, my youthful wife
a widow. Then came that fateful
moment: the voice, to my dismay, 
of God, or something like His voice
recalled me from that peaceful place,
a still, enshrouding nothingness
where I was free in endless space.
I sat up, watched my wife rejoice,
enfold me in her warm caress,
and back came flooding all the cares,
the daily desolation, fears,
unspooling like a ball of thread.
My neighbours wondered at my tears
and crowded round me unawares.
A kind God would have left me dead.
In death, I had at last escaped
the terror, that each human knows,
of his inevitable doom. 
A feather underneath my nose
proved me extinct. My coffin, draped
with sackcloth, waited by the tomb.
Then came a Man, a God of sorts,
whose word alone awakened me,
my winding sheets fell off, my eyes
perceived, at first, a wondrous tree,
then children carrying reports
of miracles with joyous cries.
I, through this sudden jubilation, wept
for that lost, lovely place wherein I slept.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019


Driving through France this summer has been a rare pleasure, especially now that we've acquired a modern air-conditioned car.
Our lovely old seventeen year old camper-van has gone to a good home and we now own a far from new, but for us state-of-the-art, hatchback.
The roads in France are a joy to drive and it's a relief to be away from the everyday frustration of motoring in Guernsey: a depressing experience even on a good day, as the island's obsession with car ownership pushes it ever closer to gridlock.   
Here's a poem from our French travels.



A July day in southern France.
The picnic was a simple one:
cheese, ham and crusty fresh-baked bread,
a little wine to wash it down.

Post-lunch, we fell into a trance.
Our holiday had just begun.
We dozed, our paperbacks unread
I sought the sun, you slept facedown.

Waking, I chanced an upward glance.
Above us swallows wheeled and spun
as though they were unwinding thread
from an incredible blue gown.

Thursday, 19 September 2019


Whilst staying in Marsac, Jane and I walked a friend's dogs each day in early morning before the heat became exhausting. 
The area is rural and remote, the nearest cities being Cognac and Angouleme, and is largely agricultural with vines, wheat and sunflowers vying for a space in the rolling meadows.
One morning we had the rare pleasure of spotting that most elusive and mythical of creatures, a hare. 



Passing by a wheat field, early,
we saw suddenly 

a movement:
something camouflaged 

had broken  
cover and was moving slowly
with a hunched, ungainly motion
to the tree-line 

in the distance.
What had seemed, before, a boulder
now was animated, lifelike. 

As we turned to watch its progress
in an instant it was sprinting,
all ungainliness forgotten,
into sanctuary darkness
at the all-concealing tree-line.

We walked home 
to our commitments.
How we envied it its freedom.

Friday, 13 September 2019


Having experienced temperatures of 43 degrees in Europe recently and discovered that an escape to the coolness of the bedroom is the perfect antidote, I'm now a devotee of the siesta. After all, if cats do it it must be a great idea.


In noon-day sun no creature moves
and even lizards, acid-green,
designed for heat beyond belief,
remain within their creviced walls.
Dogs hide away, cats sleep in shade
if anywhere shade can be found
and noon to four the natives sleep
or skulk like fugitives indoors,
the black-clad women making lace,
the men at dominoes or cards.
They have adapted to their world
far better than we have to ours:
at ninety-three they’re still alive
while we burn out at fifty-five.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019


I was drinking coffee at a pavement cafe in Auray, a small town in Brittany in northern France back in 2001, when I heard the news of the terrorist attack on New York’s Twin Towers.
Conditioned by many years of exposure to Irish Republican terrorism in Ulster, I was perhaps not as shocked as many of those around me.
A terrorist’s advantage is the ability to think, and then perpetrate, the unthinkable. There’s no defence against this unless we begin to think like terrorists. 

Most democratic institutions are incapable of doing this.
It’s sad to reflect on how much the world has changed since that terrible day.
How good it would be to be able to rewind time.


Wind Time back. Rewind Time.
Make the struck towers rise from dust,
reconstruct themselves: 
glass, concrete, girders, walls,
a huge jigsaw
complete again.

Lights come on, phones chirp like crickets.
In reconstructed work-stations, 
fingers dance on keyboards again;
vending machines cough 
then spew out pungent brew; 
air-con sighs then resumes; 
elevators ascend, descend;
video conferences resume mid-
sentence, emails beep, 
digital clocks flicker
like quick, green lizards. 

Wind Time back. Rewind Time.

Time restarts 
as though it had never ended.
Hopes, innocence, daydreams, boredom: 
all the mundane certainties of ordinary lives 
are reaffirmed.
Shoes, handbags, mobile phones, flesh, 
warped by intense heat:
these un-melt, re-form, 
resume their former shapes.
The terrible, unearthly screams 

Wind Time back. Rewind Time.

the soft clouds drift; 
birds fly in reverse.
Those grim death-planes, 
stiletto-silver in the morning sun, 
withdraw, like daggers, from the shattered towers,
whose twin glass skins, pristine again,
like smooth, un-rippled water.

Thursday, 5 September 2019


I tend not to write poetry when on the move, preferring to work in the surroundings of home with its lack of distractions.
Instead, I try to gather material on my travels for later use in poems or short stories.
The poem below however is the exception to this, in that I wrote much of it while travelling to Angouleme.



A hawk commands its post as we zip by, his gimlet eye evaluating us.

Beyond the gate a sunflower field spreads like a golden sea,
while to the right
green rows of vines march towards the swelling sun.
It’s forty-two degrees out there
but here,
within our air-conditioned car,
we are at ease,
our summer trip through southern France a joy.

It’s all we Francophiles desire:
small cafes, vineyards, postcard-rural scenes
and pungent cheeses far too numerous to count.

There’s much to see as we drive through
this countryside so similar, yet different, to home.
Each turn, each tiny hamlet brings surprise.

I have forgotten
the hawk’s bleak eye of cool disdain.

Friday, 30 August 2019


A recent conversation, about a local arts event that may have as its theme the subject of flight, prompted this short poem.

The Wright brothers, Orville (1871–1948) and Wilbur (1867–1912), were two American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building and flying the world's first successful aeroplane.
They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered aircraft with the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA.



Nearly midnight, folk are sleeping;
brothers whisper in the darkness
while their siblings drowse like puppies
and their parents snore and rumble.
Seven Hawthorn Street in Dayton
hums with energy and crackle;
Bishop’s Boys, Wilbur and Orville,
once again are talking nonsense,
crazy dreams of birdlike exploits
freeing them from terra firma
and from gravity and boredom ...
how they’d soar with wings like buzzards
up above the dusty backyards,
up above the town church steeple,
higher than the swirling soot-spook
from the morning locomotive, 
higher than the proud flag flying
on the Day of Independence.
Two boys safe in bed, unsleeping,
prey to wild imagination:
aviators, free as angels
fly towards the gates of Heaven.

Friday, 23 August 2019


This is my 500th blog post since I began publishing poems and short stories back in 2014. 
My thanks to all those loyal readers who have stayed with me through these last five years. 

'A word is never the destination, merely a signpost in its general direction; and whatever body that destination finally acquires owes quite as much to the reader as to the writer.'  
John Fowles  


Sun warms the rooftops of the old town,
flows between close-built houses like liquid honey
and, in the tiny, unkempt gardens slipping down
the hillside, gathers interest like bankers’ money.
Gulls stand like weather-vanes to face the bay
from chimney-pots and leaning chimney-stacks.
Swallows scythe like scimitars from break of day
till evening when, with rounded backs,
finance workers ascend the hill, evolving, as they do,
into the dour wife, weary father, wayward son.
With laptop, bespoke suit and tie askew,
they hurry homeward, overtime undone.

Sun beats upon my shoulders as I climb
these narrow streets, unburdened, heart astray,
no cross to bear except the Cross of Time
whose crushing weight steals youthful strength away.
On granite steps I pause to mark the view
of painted boats that scorn the castle’s gun,
the sea, around the islands, unremitting blue,
the distant, crooked rocks where foreign currents run,
then, towards the airy summit of this prideful town,
set off, ascending, liberated, free,
through layers of stillness soft as eiderdown,
content, this hallowed day, to simply be.

Higher and lighter, the heart, of hope, bereft:
so many yesterdays gone and few tomorrows left.

Thursday, 15 August 2019


T.S.Eliot referred to April as 'a cruel month'. 
For me, August is a disappointing one for the reason outlined in this poem.


August always disappoints:
the days are never hot enough,
night falls too soon, warmth dissipates
and somehow autumn never seems
too far away: it hovers like
a beggar in a ragged coat
with mean dog, winter, at his heels.
Of course poor August disappoints
for Augusts now can never bear
comparison with Augusts then,
when each year, in a Morris packed
with windbreak, tartan rug and toys,
beach towels, stumps and cricket bat,
my father, mother, siblings, dog,
escaped from dull suburbia
to holiday beside the sea.
Two weeks unbroken happiness
with donkey-rides and candy-floss,
sand-castles, penny-slot-machines,
and strangely tasty guesthouse food.
Two weeks of sun and sea and fun,
with father less preoccupied
and mother carefree as a girl.
It never rained, no cloud would dare
intrude upon those halcyon days.
We spent each year, June and July,
with chalk marks, ticking off the days
till August and our holiday.
Those childhood memories that cloud
the way I look on Augusts now
are unreliable at best,
at worst a foolish fantasy
but still I find it hard to praise
these lesser Augusts nowadays.

Friday, 9 August 2019


The sixth and ninth of August respectively are the anniversaries of the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the latter an area largely populated by non-combatants.
These were the first and only instances where nuclear weapons were used in combat and the total death toll will probably never be accurately assessed.
It is believed that these cataclysmic events in 1945 led to the Japanese surrender and the end of the Second World War. 


We work our fields. The sun is bright.
The men sing a patriotic song.  We bend and straighten. Our backs ache. 
We do not curse: we are polite and strong.  To work is to belong.
We toil for the Emperor’s sake.

Old Haruki points overhead: a crane is flying from the north.  Its languid wings sweep like brushstrokes. Cranes are good fortune, it is said.

We resume plowing, back and forth, joyfully, singing, sharing jokes.

I dream of fiery rice wine, ice then flame in my throat; the slow walk homeward.
We are a happy crowd.
Comradeship, sacred brotherhood, binds us together as we think of our great nation and sing loud.

I do not hear the Yankee plane
but shudder as a mushroom cloud despoils the picture-perfect sky.

Nearby Hiroshima,
domain of a nobility most proud,
is laid to waste.

Prostrate, we lie, while airborne poison, like a stain, begins to spread.
We tremble, cowed, claw at the earth, prepare to die.

Our tranquil world is turned to pain.
We burn to ash in fields we plowed.

One hundred
thousand people.


Monday, 5 August 2019


There have been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States so far this year.
The most recent, at a Walmart shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, will probably not be the last.
Twenty-two people were killed and more than two dozen others injured after a man opened fire in Cielo Vista Mall.
The suspect, a 21-year-old man, was arrested.



Withdraw the bullets, mend the flesh.
Place back the bullets in the gun.
Return the weapon to the store.
Remove the fury from the heart.
Transform the shooter to the youth
he was before obsessive thoughts
led him, against humanity,
to spew out death like obscene words
and scatter souls like fleeing birds.

Thursday, 1 August 2019


Whilst it's pleasing to exceed one's three score years and ten and continue to survive, the downside is that month after month, one's contemporaries fall prey to terminal illnesses and prepare to join that great, silent majority, the dead.



A sober card for sympathy:
words of condolence, trite but true ...
we write them now so frequently
as deaths of friends slowly accrue.
We cannot help but feel concern
as we grow old and wait our turn.

The world repopulates so fast
that when we’re gone we’re soon replaced
by models surely built to last,
smooth skinned, bright eyed, strong limbed, fresh faced,
that will obtain wealth, power, romance.
We can’t complain: we had our chance.

Saturday, 27 July 2019


One of the many talents I've not been gifted with in this life is an aptitude for languages other than English. 
My wife Jane, however, has a natural fluency in those she's chosen to learn. 

It's fair to say that, where learning a foreign tongue is concerned, she applies herself with a single-minded passion which makes my own desultory efforts appear half hearted to say the least. 


She learns her Italian online,
with earphones in.
a tutti ... the rich sounds combine
like musical notes, their beauty
enthralls her, transports her gently
She listens intently
and murmurs soft responses, then,
encouraged, concentrates some more,
replays a phrase,
listens again.
As chiaroscuro words outpour
her face brightens;
perhaps she feels
hot foreign soil beneath her heels.

Monday, 22 July 2019


Childhood reminiscences provide ample material for verse because, it seems to me, there's something about the haziness and unreliability of memory that seems more compatible with poetry than with prose.


That truant day, I slipped away
to the Cave Hill with makeshift kite.
Fourteen years old, escaped from school,
my uniform in disarray,
absconded, not at all contrite,
I fled with mooring-string and spool,
a headstrong, heedless, wayward boy,
to fly my home-made pride and joy.

Beneath me, grey, the city spread
like scattered jigsaw pieces spilled.
Above me, hot, July sun burned
down on my bare, uncovered head.
The kite rose up with warm air filled.

I steadied it as I had learned.
It sailed, breathtakingly, above,
free, yet restrained: somehow like love.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019


Despite the media rhetoric and the predictable virtue signalling of minor celebs, it isn't only plastic waste that blights our oceans.


The tide-line, like a black-edged card,
records another oil spill. 
Tarred birds, helplessly, 

their plumage black,
lie stunned,
blind eyes clogged up with glar,
as we, the volunteers,
who gather in
these sorry, broken things
and weep,
will fall, exhausted, into bed 

at close of day
but will not sleep.

Thursday, 11 July 2019


Those who have had to bid a gentle farewell to a loved one when Time has finally claimed them will recognise that moment shortly before the end when surrender occurs and the claims of the world are set aside. 


The digits on the clock face blink.
I count each minute as I sit
beside your starched hospital bed.
Your fragile fingers interlink
with my strong digits. Words unsaid
travel between us. You emit
no sounds apart from rasping breath 
in this room, unembellished, stark,  
and yet there is disclosure here.
I sense that you now welcome death,
that somehow you have ceased to fear
that endless falling through the dark.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019


Such heedless creatures we were as children: animalistic in our approach to life, each day a new beginning and Time a matter of no concern.
How different it seems now.


As children, we scattered them
not caring where they flew or fell
and thought we measured Time itself.

I count them now, this season’s crop,
each puff-ball head, each milky stem.

Uncut, run wild, they flourish well
that white-haired mob, unlike myself,
who dreads the moment time will stop.

Friday, 28 June 2019


Fake news, false clues, untruths ... who can tell what's real or unreal nowadays?


A crowd of backpacks gathers round,
like cattle where cool water flows,
to watch the dormant rope spring up,
unaided, as though it arose
by magic to the flautist’s sound.
They drop some rupees in his cup.
A child, big-eyed, all skin and bones,
ascends the rope, now vertical:
up, up he wriggles like a thief.
No explanation, rational,
explains this. Out come mobile phones
to validate their disbelief.

Friday, 21 June 2019


I've spent much of the afternoon watching sparrows feeding their young in one of the bird-boxes in our garden. 
It's the second brood this year and they seem to be thriving. 
I read that sparrow numbers are diminishing in the UK and friends in Ireland say they rarely see any nowadays so it's truly a joy to find them in such abundance here in Guernsey. 



A sparrow’s building in the box
we fixed up on the wall this spring:
hardly the tenant we desired;
a dull, unprepossessing thing,
unlike the Technicolor tit
but then, we had no choice in it.

He builds his nest there, bit by bit.
Labours to find, fetch, gather, knit,
while we watch on and gradually
applaud his efforts, even cheer
this hero who was no one’s choice,
uplifted by his presence here.

Saturday, 15 June 2019


On a recent trip to Brussels I visited the Musee des Beaux-Arts and saw Pieter Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, a truly impressive painting by one of my favourite Old Masters. 
The Icarus story is one we can all relate to: a tale of a young man whose ambition overrode his judgement.
Which of us has not, at one time or another, aimed impossibly high and consequently been brought crashing to earth when reality shone its fearsome rays on our ludicrous aspirations. 


I am falling from high
but they do not notice.

The air, through wings
that promised much,
keens like a mourner.

Creeping ants below
to shepherd, ploughman, angler.

I fall unseen.

will dream it later.

I have no time
to scream.

The water is
hard as stone.

Monday, 10 June 2019


I'm a great admirer of the work of English film director, the late David Lean, whose cinematic triumphs ranged from the wonderful low-budget classic, Hobson's Choice, to epics such as Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, the latter of which launched actor Peter O'Toole to stardom.  In 1945 Lean directed a film version of a Noel Coward play, Still Life, a poignant love story about a couple who meet in a railway station: the sort of film that my mother's generation would have referred to as 'a weepie'. The film was entitled Brief Encounter.
My story's title is obviously a play on the film's name and is also about an encounter in a railway station but there the similarity ends, except, as a few film buffs may note, both my protagonist and the male lead in David Lean's film are named Harvey.
Briefcase Encounter was recently placed third in the Guernsey Writers Flash Fiction competition.  



Eurostar disgorged its passengers like a pod expelling seeds.
Harvey, clutching his briefcase, allowed himself to be carried forward slowly, legs still stiff from the journey.
Security checks were in progress but Harvey moved forward confidently, certain his bland exterior would ensure cursory attention.
Waved through, he waited by the railing close to Betjeman’s statue, briefcase resting at his feet.
He saw the woman approach; her stride confident. She gave him a quick, cold smile and set down her briefcase, departing with his. Harvey picked up her case, identical to his own, and hurried to board the returning Eurostar to Paris.
He wanted to be far away from London when Pandora released the deadly spores in Oxford Street.
Safely aboard the speeding train, Harvey cradled the briefcase, itching to handle the stacks of hundred-euro notes he knew lay inside. He thought of Pandora preparing to text him with the combination to open the case: his portal to a new life.
Of the devastation awaiting London’s population, he thought very little. After all, who said life was fair?
Mid-way through the Tunnel, Harvey was on his third cognac when the text came through. He fumbled with the lock; suddenly remembered Pandora’s icy smile, and felt terror engulf him as he opened the case.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019


In my seventy-fifth year, I regard each day as a gift and marvel that most of me is still in working order. A daily inventory of aches and pains tends to turn up something new every now and again but, to date, it's all been minor stuff, nothing sinister. 
Granted the choice, which would you prefer to surrender first: body or brain? 



The present is arcane and strange
and any recollection left
of what has happened in the past
is vague and liable to change.        
Of future plans, he is bereft,          
for nothing now is hard and fast.  

They give him multicoloured pens
and paper, as one might a child.
Familiar voices interweave.
He sees, through a distorting lens,
people who wept, people who smiled,
that, one by one, stood up to leave.

He is content. He lives in grace.
What matter if the moments blur,
if his nocturnal thoughts are grim?
He has escaped himself: his face,
a kind of absence in the mirror,
comforts and somehow pleases him.

Thursday, 30 May 2019


Poetry shouldn't be a competitive business but we humans are a competitive species so there's a tendency at live poetry events to want to be the best.

SMALL CHANGE                                                                

When words are called for, verse or poetry,
I rummage in my pocket for small change
and promptly offer up a handful: 

here are my poems, these sundry coins ...

It’s strange
to see them there, 

so lacklustre and dead,
those dull ten-pees, those drab pathetic twos,
that shone so very brightly in my head.

My hard-earned verses, rhymes, opinions, views,
have not much sterling value, so it seems,
while other, bolder people’s money screams.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


The rainbow is an important symbol in the Bible, representing a promise of protection from God to Noah and to future generations.
In modern times it has been appropriated by various groups so that its Biblical significance has been obscured, if not lost.
This poem seeks to reclaim the rainbow’s original symbolism. 



A dappled frog croaks
a prayer for rain. Rain falls.


We set out walking in the afternoon
with small provisions and light waterproofs
in sturdy boots because the ground was rough.
We climbed uphill, below we saw red roofs,
and stopped to eat when it was opportune,
then off again when we had had enough.

As we walked on, the rain was left behind: 
a rainbow spread before us like an arc.
The day grew bright, I felt my spirits rise.
the air was charged by some elusive spark.
We clung together, fingers intertwined.
The world seemed new. We viewed it with surprise.