I was free to dream in Paris

I was free to dream in Paris
when I was a young man
with my head full of ideals
I went looking for the real deal

I was roaming the boulevards
and in the cafés I met poets
and there in the bars I met artists
I went searching for some answers

I was talking to the dead in cemeteries
where mausoleums crumbled
and the paper flowers faded
I went praying to my own truths

I was smoking on the balconies
drinking beer between the daylight
in a hotel down a side street
I went to find my muse under moonlight

I was walking and reading
with a book opened to my mind
lying on grass under glass skies
I went delving in my mind’s eye

I was staring down the river
at grey water slowly moving
knowing also I was passing through
I went knowing I was leaving

I was there for the first time
when I was a young man
and all the world was spinning
I went to ease all the questioning

I was free to dream in Paris
and no-one could tell me not to
not a soul could ever stop me
I went to find my lasting freedom

I was always in my own world
thinking who would come and join me
to be forever dreamers
I went looking for that lover

Yes I was free to dream in Paris
and who could take me back there
oh please take me back there
I went then but now I’m restless

some stories are meant to be written . . .

in a darkened room I caress my skull
a weight of words is bound in books there
some unread, some read, some read twice
some lost, some rediscovered, some . . .
my thoughts lie hidden upon these shelves
drifting between ancients and moderns
not knowing the origins of their species . . .
am I to disturb them in their sleep?
or should I leave sleeping letters lie?
some stories are meant to be written
like the one about the cat in the cemetery
the cat that appears only once a year
but goes unnoticed when the sisters come
to pray for the father they never loved . . .

The Strimmer

He liked to start bottom left
in the graveyard where

Underneath Lies Interred
The Body of Bridget the widdow of the late
Richard Howell of ffynnon velen
Who died on the 14th March 1763
In the 76th year of her age.

His high speed plastic wires
Scythed through the buttercups and daisies
Sent ladybird legs flying and bees knees
Dislocating with decapitated heads.

THIS Plain stone is here erected
in memory of Phebe Phillips
the affectionate and beloved wife of James Phillips
of Blaentrafle of this parish
She died Aug 22, 1820. Aged 48 years.

In his haste to lay the wildness to waste
He never noticed the mouse tail detach
Or the painted lady lose her wings
Or even the woodlouse lose its house

Forgotten for a twelve month year.

There were two caved in tombs
Where creatures fled and hid
To hold paws over ears as the grim din approached
The shadow of the man darkening the sky
As he moved on up the bank.

FEB 18, 1949, AGED 43 YEARS

He paused to wipe the summer sweat
With a handkerchief from his brow
The two stroke engine idled waiting
Whilst a robin fed on bits and bobs of shredded snacks.

Also Henry, son of the above
Aged 2 months

With a self-satisfied smile he had to admit
That it was beginning to look a whole lot neater
This patch of land that the living neglected
And parishioners remembered to forget.

“Affliction sore long time I bore
Physicians were in vain
Till God was ples’d my life to ease
And freed me from my pain”

With the dried grasses now levelled
And the gravestones splattered
The sun hung over his head.

But there under foot
Barely six feet down
The dead muttered complaints
Of deathly disapproval.


I was reminded of this poem – written in April 2017 – after reading ‘Slabs’
by my poetry friend DJB:

tracing footsteps

arriving Gare du Nord
and stepping out into
the late afternoon rush hour
there is rain on the pavements
and puddles in the gutters
motorbikes lean in patient lines
clouds gather in strips of sky

as we look up
and as we walk along
Rue la Fayette
the air is heavy
it feels toxic
with promises

Metro station Poissonnière
café – bar – tabac – brasserie
Metro station Cadet
turn right and right again

our heartbeats echo sirens
our tongues are tied
in tired throats
we want to roll the names
between our lips
like French kisses
but we are parched

when we arrive
at the Hotel Strassbourg
Rue de Montholon
leaning out on the balcony
smoking Gauloises Disque Bleu
every bit the Parisians

my belle de jour
my plus belle de nuit

as the night falls on the day
we join the crowds in Pigalle
sex shops and harlots hussle
we hold hands and smile
ce soir mon amour
I whisper in your ear

and tomorrow Père Lachaise
because you want to leave
a cigarette for Jim Morrison
and say bonjour to Proust
and non je ne regrette rien
to Édith Piaf and Oscar Wilde

and the day after that
the corridors of the Louvre
with Turkish Bathers for me
and Liberty Leading the People
for you before

we arrive at our conclusion
under a brightening blue
September brilliance
not quite Yves Klein
more Pompidou pipes
or Monet at Giverny

let’s stay here forever you say
or until the money runs out I reply
but the Gard du Nord beckons
and the ferry will take us home
from this fantasy