The Red Lamp

if I had to be
an inanimate object
I would be a naughty book
with a raunchy saucy story
read by frustrated young women
who would fondle my pages with love
and drop their cookie crumbs upon me…



Helga’s Glorious Tomatoes

I had dropped off the Skyline Drive
Like a swallowtail from a flower
To drift down and catch up time
From the dizzy heights to Charlottesville

Like a swallowtail from a flower
I dropped away from the Skyline Drive
And drifted downwind to catch up with time
For I had been losing myself in the dizzying heights
Where black bears played hide and seek with tree shadows
And the daily procession of Harleys and vista seekers

Watching swallowtails
Dropping off the skyline
Drifting down to Charlottesville
Catching up with lost time

A year ago –
And then this.

Charlottesville, Virginia, one hour later
I skimmed your city limits
Headed slightly south to Helga’s house
My destination, dinner, bed
Charlottesville, Virginia
A year ago
Your first couchsurfer

And then this
Of all things
Not a stone’s throw

I remember the tomatoes you grew
That we harvested – a big tray of whoppers
Heritage varieties you called them
Fat and juicy with VA sun
I was your first couchsurfer
We watched fireflies from the decking
Can’t remember your husband’s name
We became friends

I’d dropped off the Skyline Drive
Been watching swallowtails
Tried capturing them on my camera
Black bears that never appeared

You said
Take them to your next host
Mimi and Rob in Edenton, N Carolina
Almost ran out of gas on that stretch
Charlottesville, Virginia to Edenton, N Carolina

Almost exactly one year ago
Helga’s tomatoes
And then this

I came back your way
But we didn’t connect
Our paths didn’t cross
You were up at the cabin
Feeding Luca the black bear
By hand

Silly, fearless, generous Helga

I came back your way
Through Kentucky and Virginia
Past confederate flags
America’s slumbering trailer home masses
Stayed in Charlottesville
Worst motel on the whole trip
A brothel

No Helga’s juicy tomatoes

Drove the whole length of the Skyline
No dropping off this time
No swallowtails either
Just plenty of mist

And then this.


current mood

current mood? not in the mood. today. to be honest. I’m sprinting out the blocks. turning anger into energy. into actions. struggling to keep within the speed limits. myself. the parts of me that are on fire. in flames. pumped like a bodybuilder on steroids. yeah it’s manly. sweaty. not very pretty. but needs must. if must you need to know. reason? well it’s not important. not really. not in the scheme of things. the bigger picture. widescreen surround sound. biopic. you know. sometimes. you have to put your foot down. speed past other people’s crash sites. or simply take the alternative route. it might be much longer. more picturesque. but wind back through the back roads. where. despite the twists and turns. occasional blind corners. peace and solitude parks itself up in lay-bys. yep. next to the don’t dump rubbish here signs. that’s where I am right now. stationary. thinking. pausing for a sweet jesus moment. then. opening up the door I step out and start to dance in the middle of this single lane country road. bend it bend it just a little bit. oh yes that’s good. bend it bend it just a little more. FUCK ‘EM I shout. volume full up. I’m at the top of my voice. FUCK ‘EM All. this feels good. a man in Lycra on impossibly thin wheels cycles past at speed. faster than necessary. i hear the sound of twisting metal. breaking bones. skin scraped from cheekbones. elbows. knees. i can’t stop laughing. i can’t stop myself dissolving into a puddle of oily water. the colourful kind. a rain shower will wash me away. down the road. into the soft verge. beware. be one with nature.


(bend it lyrics by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)


she steps outside
thru the broken screen door
straight into humid heat
southern Louisiana
high pitched cicada noise
all around unnoticed
unsteady on hard bare feet
on weathered wooden boards
railings for support
t-shirt stained with sweat
daily chores
children dribbles
a Bud Light in hand
her drunken heady poise
she exhales smoke spirals
takes two steps down and
sways to the swing seat
thru scattered yard toys
thrift store bargains
Walmart remnants
church offerings


he follows her scented trail
bare but for baggy gray shorts
his hand inside
full of himself
manly desires begging
night threats releasing
his time to entreat
dark neighborhood streets
sound of shouts
tired air con units whining
yet more background noise
add it to the cicadas
the voices in his head
volatile cocktails
street corner dealings
no work just more heat
deep south swamp heat
dripping sweat summers


her mouth full of cold beer
holding it back to enjoy
then sliding down throat
draws another
he calls her his
lips tits and bum whore
she takes his hot lusting
sticky as candy sweets
abandoned in sweating cars
this token moment of love
dirty and indiscreet
a pleasure for her Sonny Boy
distracting for a moment
defence methods deployed
it uncripples her from the past
childhood horrors
recurrent nightmares
he wanders sated back indoors
cicadas scream from trees
hands over bursting ears
heart beating like a drum


and later
for absolution
she showers off the guilt
the smell of him
the taste of him
the all and every
last stinking piss of him
with the water running
she can’t hear the cicadas
the air con and the children
or the cripple next door
wheelchair bound and blind
who shouts foul obscenities
to anyone who will listen
and this is her life
of welfare benefits
food stamp grocery shops
and of course she loves him
his lips tits and bum whore
who beats her now and then
but still she prays to her god

deep south2small

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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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.



we lit the taper to light the fuse
igniting passion that would suffuse
the kiss we blew fanned the flames
of love’s desire that spoke our names
and when the fire was burning bright
we came together with much delight
but shooting stars that come and go
will taper out and lose their glow
so when you light the flames of love
remember what you’ve seen above




Severn Bridge

so this is where it all changes
where salt water turns to fresh
balanced between two worlds
adrift on the flooding tide
holding on to a raft of indecisions
to go back or move on?
and wondering how it must feel
jumping from a tall bridge
hitting hard water

they say it’s the fall that kills
not the drowning

like that funny feeling as a child
standing on a cliff in Cornwall
feeling pulled towards the edge
father grabbed me and shouted
how could you be so stupid girl?
the family holidays, the yellow dress
sunny summers all in the past now
a tangled overgrown mess
oblique and rewinding

it should never have ended here
we were meant to drive into the sunset

PicMonkey Collage

(bridges and cliffs are notorious suicide spots)