The toll gate


On the road to understanding
there is a tollgate that bars some travellers.
Reason is forbidden and also it’s cousin
rationalisation, as is explanation.

Science bans itself, cast out
into a rational wilderness of its own making
unable to escape its mechanistic view
of a universe beyond its understanding.

So who travel the road beyond the toll gate?
Poets. Painters. Lovers. Artists. The people
who make others uncomfortable.
The odd people who don’t quite fit in.

And of course, all of those who have experienced
a Love and Bliss beyond comprehension,
who have come to know
the name of the Divine.

The bookshelves of my mind


The bookshelves of my mind
must be tumbled and jumbled
unsteady and cluttered, in urgent need
of repair and refiling or shredding.
How do I know this?
Because on the floor of my mind I constantly
find stray memories that have slipped, though
from which volume I know not.

Some are familiar, picked up and put back
innumerable times, but somehow always finding
their way back out, to flutter unbidden into
my consciousness. Usually embarrassing and
from decades ago. Mixed in amongst, sadness,
friends and family, gone, vanished, but not forgotten.
How rare the happy memories that arise spontaneously.

My antidote to this is simply to count my blessings.
I am what I am, and I am loved. I breathe in the scent of flowers
and feel the wind on my face. And above all of this,
I simply smile and record with joy all the good things
in my life and this world.

And they are many.



The locking nut that should have been tightened wasn’t.
But it passed the inspection and that’s all that matters.

The weather decides. Or does it? Perhaps sun and moon
Conspire together and the outcome of the marriage is
Wind and rain. Or frost and snow. Unruly children.
That together cause the leaves to fall.
This one before that one. But why?
God-like the tree that gives them life withdraws it too, job done.
They fall earthward, caught by wind and rain and careless feet
To land and stay and rot, to turn to mulch, next years food.

The driver was late. The delivery slot was now. So he went
Faster than he should have. Down the road made slippy by wind
Rain and fallen leaves. In his lorry with the loose locking nut.

What takes you out of the house? A decision? Or habit perhaps?
Shopping to collect. Job to go to? The need for fresh air?
Or is it fate. That puts you in the same place and time as your nemesis
Take care. Leaves underfoot can be slippy. Oops, What did I say!

In the wrong place at the wrong time was the verdict.

This is my head – what’s yours like?


Sometimes a black bin bag filled with rubbish.
Occasionally – rarely – a cathedral filled with God.
More often a busy highway filled with ceaseless traffic.
From time to time, a beehive filled with buzzing busy thoughts
That fill it with movement and noise, but with little substance.
A bus stop, waiting, waiting for just the right word
That will take me to my destination.
An overstocked library with ancient tomes spilling out
Of dusty shelves, much forgotten, so little retained.
A haunted house, filled with ghosts from the past.
A deep bottomless pit down which all is drawn.
A black hole from which no thought can escape.
A house of illusion.
A theatre of the absurd.
A comedy theatre, where the most ridiculous plays are performed on stage daily.
When you draw near, a garden of love, fragrance filled
Glowing with colour and shape.
A garden of peace, God filled,
Full of fragrant blossoms and soothing colour.
A place of dreams.
But above all else, a place I know well, for this is where I dwell,
This is my home, my space, where only some may enter,
A space where I can bar the door and shutter the windows
Turn out the lights and escape into blessed sleep


Your existence matters



In a universe where the passage of time
Can be measured by the disappearance of a mountain
One touch of a birds feather once in a thousand years
Where the galaxies are numbered in trillions of trillions
And in each are countless stars and planets like our own
You think your existence matters one jot?

The answer? Of course it does, why else would you
Be gifted a brain capable of understanding the Universe,
A brain which itself contains eighty-six billion neutrons
And it is estimated a whopping great 500 trillion synapses
You are as marvellous and as complex as all the galaxies
And all the stars and planets and every atom put together.
The human brain has some 8.6 x 1010 (eighty-six billion) neurons. Each neuron has on average 7,000 synaptic connections to other neurons. It has been estimated that the brain of a three-year-old child has about 1015 synapses (1 quadrillion). Estimates vary for an adult, ranging from 1014 to 5 x 1014 synapses (100 to 500 trillion).

Does dust hold memories?

Preston road

Dust in the hall
Dust on the stairs
Dust everywhere
But do I care?

An empty house loses its soul
All sense of home gone
An empty space without a role
Love and warmth forgone

A chill lives within its walls
Not just the absence of heat
But something more, a void that calls
Without you I am incomplete.

A small toy, bright faced, stares
Abandoned and forgotten
By a child who no longer cares,
Doomed to live forever in its forlorn habitation.

Wait. The toy moves, lifts, as invisible hands
Raise it, cherish it and hold it close
An inner light glows through it, expands,
Spreads, the whole room to enclose.

Voices from the past speak softly
Shapes appear, grow stronger,
Appear more and more clearly,
Making the light in the room alter.

The people may be gone but perhaps,
The memories linger.

Tuesday, 11th July 1905. Another almost forgotten mining disaster

On Tuesday the 11th of July, 1905 at a quarter to eleven in the morning an explosion occurred in the nine-foot seam of the National Colliery at Wattstown in the Rhondda Fach in South Wales, UK. Some 119 men and boys perished, 33 of whom were under the age of fifteen.

The street I grew up in was decimated. The house – the very bedroom I slept in as a child – was emptied, but their death is not entirely forgotten. Was it their knock I heard as a child?
This poem is dedicated to their memory.

colliery disasterwattsotwn colliery

I hear the knock on the window and the loudly whispered
Voice, ”Tom, you up yet?” and then the rush as Tom
Gets out of bed, pulls on his work clothes and
Runs down the stairs to where a sandwich waits for him.

Have you ever wondered what lives beyond us?
In a house, what memories linger in the walls,
What remains when the inhabitants, have left or died,
And do their voices linger on down the years?

It is forty-three years since Thomas Jones slept,
in the bedroom where my mother suckled me,
Yet sometimes, around dawn, when the house Is quiet,
I hear him still, leaving for his last day at work.

Thomas Jones, sixteen-year-old collier is how the coroner’s
Report described him, a boy doing a man’s job and perhaps
Earning a man’s wage to help his family, they who lived here
Before mine, to make ends meet, put food on the table.

Did the tap on the window come from Bill Hunt, who lived
Next door in number forty-four? Or perhaps from Thomas
Davies at number fifty, walking with his own seventeen
Year old son on their way down to the colliery?

Sometimes too I hear the steps and the low conversation
of the others, twenty men and boys from my little street, as they pass by,
Marching, marching on their way down to the colliery,
To join their comrades who together would form the day shift.

As they passed through the colliery gates they would have seen,
The familiar turning of the giant wheels of the winding gear, spinning
Their shiny steel thread, day and night, hauling their steel cages up
And down, men and coal, travelling the shaft’s five hundred feet.

As I used to see my own father, black-faced, red-eyed, weary
Emerge from his shift, so they would have passed the night shift,
Emerging squinting into the rising dawn, weary, tired, wanting only
To rush home for bath and bed before the next twelve hours of toil.

And so the day shift descended,
Down the five hundred foot shaft and
Then made the walk in the dust-filled gloom
To begin their work in the nine-foot seam.

At eleven forty-five on that July day,
They all died, bar three, two of whom
Would succumb later. Some were blown to pieces,
And they that survived the explosion, suffocated.

When I lie in my bed, listening, recalling,
I never hear the sound of the returning day shift,
Only the voices and footsteps of one hundred
And seventeen men and boys going to their death.