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.

Don’t confuse astronomy and astrology


Don’t confuse astronomy and astrology
Yes, they are both about finding meaning
In the study of the stars.

One is about observing the motion,
Of the planets through the heavens
Oh, and so is the other.

They both use complex charts and tables
To predict the future and understand the past,
And draw on a great body of knowledge

One tells me things I find unbelievable
That most of the Universe is hidden from our sight
Tied up in dark matter and dark energy.

The other speaks of my destiny and the
Unfolding future, of life and love,
Which is much easier to believe.

No exit


What space defies geometry by
having only entrances but no
My head. And I guess
yours too. There are events
from my past that have
entered into my head which
I would rather forget, mistakes
embarrassing episodes, but
once they enter, that’s where
they stay. Forever and ever.

Yesterday in Lockdown


It’s funny what pressing an extra
“nought” or two on a keyboard will do.
Yesterday in lockdown
I ordered a kilo of potatoes
Or thought I did.

I wondered why the Store sent
A fleet of delivery lorries
To my door and why
The front garden is covered
In brown paper bags.

To those who wonder
Why there is a shortage
Of potatoes, I can only say,
It’s funny what
A misplaced “nought” or two
Will do.



So you think you are unchanged?
The same as you were
Yesterday? But that cannot be
So who are you today?

Never the same for
Another day has dawned
And flown past, bringing with it,
New thoughts, feelings, experiences.

But can you recognise
What has changed?
Who is the new you?
Answer – if you can.

The Toll Gate


On the road to understanding
There is a tollgate that bars some travellers
Reason is forbidden and 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
Love and Bliss beyond comprehension
Who have come to know
The name of the Divine.

The Compass

Modern compass on a white background

What compass divines
your direction as you pass
through life
from birth to death?

Blind fate, simply casting
the runes that determine
what future lies before each
and every one of us?

Predestination maybe?
The road already marked
that you will blindly follow
believing that you choose?

Karma? The pull of the previous
life, lives, that sweep you along,
atoning, overcoming past failures
moving you ever closer to nirvana?

Free will? You are your own
agent, making choices,
moving hither and thither
as you and only you determine?

Whatever the mechanism
that moves the wheel that moves
us from birth to death,
May you find peace and happiness
In this journey that we all make.