it was an illusion

it was an illusion
the lump in his throat
the tear in her eye
the handshake
the kiss
the wave goodbye

it was an illusion
the tide coming in
the sun setting low
the moon
the stars
the fire below

it was an illusion
the love they shared
the home they made
the memories
the photos
the games they played

it was an illusion
the wind in the trees
the sun on the sea
the birds
the bees
the way she left me

Paper Moth

paper thin
and paper worn
paper weight
and paper torn
paper me
and paper you
paper white
and paper blue
paper caught
and paper blown
paper light
and paper bones
paper days
and paper nights
paper wrong
and paper right
paper this
and paper that
paper moth
inside my hat

The Old Man and the Sea

I visited Ernest Hemingway’s house on Key West last year and bought a fridge magnet as a souvenir. It didn’t make the fridge but has instead attached itself to the shelf bracket next to my writing desk. I have reblogged this post from artist and writer Luke Otley because he has done such a great job with the likeness. The quote on the fridge magnet reads “Good writing is true writing…” The same can be applied to portraiture. If you agree why not pop over and give Luke’s drawing a like. Here’s my fridge magnet and Luke’s Daily Sketch.


And by complete coincidence a friend posted a link to this beautiful paint-on-glass animated version of The Old Man and the Sea on Facebook today. It was made in 1999 by Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov. All these coincidences are making me feel like I am in some sort of weird inspiration loop.


19243672_1302997093131608_1718529070_o.jpg My attempt at Hemingway. Nice to be drawing again after moving into a new place. A3, Charcoal

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Meddle Music

Lying here under a warm sun
Everything seems so far away
Pink Floyd are playing with my ears

“a cloud of eiderdown draws around me softening the sound”

I like to write dreamy word poems
Imagine them painted on your mind
Know that they touched you in a certain way
That maybe only my words could set you free

“and I rise like a bird in the haze and the first rays touch the sky”

But it seems the moments may just have been illusory
The dolphin’s dive just a memory
A silenced splash in a forgotten sea

“Behold a dream, the dream is gone”

The cicadas fill the night with their incessant cries
Each one sounds so lonely and lost
As the full moon slips over the hill one last time

“and the candle dies”



(italicised lyrics taken from the song ‘A Pillow of Winds’ by Pink Floyd
from the 1971 album Meddle)


with his ivory foot resting
on a polished rock
the great wave off Kanagawa
breaks over his toes

one knee bent
a look of serene intention
greets us

his cormorant
with roped neck
and fish filled bill
sits in the crook of his arm
wings etched in black

he cannot swallow
his master’s livelihood
not now, not yet
not the big ones

but where is his boat?
his lantern, glass river?
Nishiki, Mikuma
Takatsu, Nagara

he stands
gracefully bent forward
right hand clasping the rope
that leashes the bird
to his will

a playful smile
accentuates his cheeks
we can almost see
his beard twitch

the wave crash
the night closing in
the burning lantern
there to attract fish
cast rippling reflections
as it dives beneath

and all within
the mock Tudor walls
of this suburban bungalow

the cormorant fisherman
has found a home
and stands alone
a lost tourist amongst
the royal wedding tea set
and Sylvac shire horses

in a mahogany alcove
Nan’s nik-nak shrine
where us children looked
but never touched

his imagined past

Description: Antique Carved Ivory Okimono: Fisherman elaborately carved antique, Circa 1900, Japanese ivory okimono; of a cormorant fisherman, standing on rockery among waves and holding his bird with a fish in his beak, signed on red lacquer plaque; H: 7"; Provenance: the Estate of Zoltan Shaw, collected mid 20th Century

(Antique Japanese carved ivory
okimono cormorant fisherman
circa 1900)

To the father and the son

Not I
the father that is
Or he
the father that was
Or they
that came before

But him
the future to come
The son
that fashions the son
And on
Like fathers before

(it’s Father’s Day here in the UK. I was searching relevant poems on the internet but finding only soppy greetings card ditties and tragic he’s-dead-and-I-always-hated-him dirges. It got me thinking about the future of the son once the purpose of the father has been fulfilled – rather like obsolete technology. Oh dear, that doesn’t sound so good put like that! Anyways, my own little ditty came out as above.

There always seems a touch of pat-him-on-the-back generosity from teenage boys on Father’s Day. Here, put your feet up Dad, do what you like; read the Sunday paper and have a rest because you deserve it. Gosh, how I feel tired and old and somewhat redundant. As they say, what goes around comes around but hey, don’t write me off just yet young laddie!

Of course, I cooked our meal tonight, I usually do, it’s my job. Reheated samosas from the food fair we visited yesterday, salad and couscous. And a bottle of wine. Like birthdays, I don’t really celebrate these yearly markers but deep down I smile that at least I have made it to another one. Now where’s my slippers?)

In Meditation

Layered hills one beyond another beyond
The rising sun from smokey green to
Pellucid pink wands of paper folded clouds
Hung above a waterfall, framed by pine
“Where nothing in the cry of cicadas
Suggests they are about to die”.

I hear the chime of the meditation bell,
The sweep of rush brushes on gravel lawns
And sliding, the screen wall opens, reveals
Mountains too high to climb in one lifetime;
Ink splashed, an empty space silenced,
Unanswerable, mysterious, islands, islands.

She clips the wings of the bonsai tree,
Feeds red crowned cranes from her palm,
Gifts cherry blossom kisses to the wind.
Gone in a week, flown away to the north
On a gold foil sunset, venerated, veiled;
We link our arms around the cedar tree

But the wave engulfs us, octopi fingerlings
Fan out with great speed in straight lines,
Bullet fast in perfection, twisting the aesthetic,
The seas, skies and conscious far horizons,
Entering the shrine, contemplating nature,
We are animated and energised by the land.

She takes hold of my hand, flickering
Spirits reshape on a forest path winding
Upwards, summiting the vast view of blue
Bewildered hills, layered one beyond
Another beyond her eyelids and fingertips,
Blinking into a future migrating heartbeat.


(Quote by Matsuo Bashō, 1644 – 1694 Japan.
‘Haboku-Sansui’ ink on paper by Sesshū Tōyō,
1495, Japan)

Currently Reading: Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham


or more precisely, almost finishing – just a few more pages to go. Some negative reviews almost persuaded me against taking up this book after it arrived in the shops in paperback form but a visit to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Llanelli was too good an opportunity to turn down. I steered my mother towards the gift shop and to the one orange-spined copy left on the bookshelves. Well, it was my birthday and mothers like to buy gifts for their sons. For a few weeks it sat next to my bed whilst I finished whatever it was I was reading – you will have to search back to my previous Currently Reading post to find out. During that time those negative reviews kept finding their way into my inbox. And so, with some trepidation, I finally opened the very appealing bright orange cover and started on the first chapter, ‘The Collector – July 1966′ and all those harsh critics’ words immediately began to ring alarm bells.

Chris Packham is a remarkable man; a naturalist and television presenter with an encyclopaedia brain who has lived and breathed and been a strong advocate for the natural world since his early boyhood. His extraordinary creativity, work ethic and attention to detail has led to a successful career encompassing photography, film-making, writing, conservation and campaigning. Personally I am hugely grateful for the breadth of subject matter he has undoubtedly brought to the BBC ‘Watches’ – Springwatch having just finished its current three week run last night. We now have the most informative and relevant natural history programme on UK television which increasingly is unafraid to tackle some of the man-made issues that our wildlife currently faces.

But back to the book and those less than complimentary reviews. The problem is in the structure, the wordiness of paragraphs and endlessness of some of the sentences; tenses chop and change from chapter to chapter and we are hurled from first to third person from year to year and back again. It can all feel a little jarring, dizzying, confused – until you stop fighting the prose and slip into Chris’s mind and only then does the beauty of this book really shine through. There are so many moments of pure joy and innocence, like the first time he flies his kestrel, but for all of these there are as many times of heartache, rejection and loss. His whole world is turned into confusion when that same beloved kestrel dies. Perhaps the most revealing passages are the italicised therapy sessions from the summer of 2003, a brave opening up to the demons and insecurities that he has dealt with all his life.

Finding a ‘voice’ when reading a book is often integral to the enjoyment. With a novel one usually creates one’s own character voices as the author’s is generally unknown and unimportant to the story. But with a memoir the author’s voice is a bonus. Anyone who knows Chris from his TV work will be very familiar with his voice, mannerisms and humour. You might not ‘get’ his jokes or be a big fan of his presenting style or musical preferences but he has an individuality which sets him apart from many of his contemporaries and with this book he has offered a unique glimpse into his private world Find the rhythm and pace and you find the man. Find the man and you find something special.

So thanks to Mum for gifting me this gem of a book and to Chris Packham for his relentless thirst for knowledge, through scientific study and sheer dedication to his love for the natural world. If anyone can fill Sir David Attenborough’s shoes then it must surely be this man.


The Total Paradigm Shift Generation

Hi there, we’re sorry for the inconvenience
But like, we’re trying to CHANGE the world
You know, only the people can FIGHT injustice
We NEED system change not climate change
We are the 99% – TOO BIG TO FAIL

The corrupt FEAR us
The honest SUPPORT us
The heroic JOIN us

For ALL our grievances ARE connected
And you have the right NOT to remain SILENT
DEFEND human needs over corporate GREED

We are YOU

We are the TOTAL PARADIGM SHIFT Generation
With the power of LOVE over the power of MONEY
The 99% that won’t go away
For these streets are OUR streets
And WE are NOT disposable


(original photo c/o Getty Images / Independent)