That’s what set’s the poet free…

I am sort of in between jobs at the moment- one of the joys of doing agency work. There is a song that keeps coming in to my mind;

Having said that- on Sunday, I got paid for talking about poetry all day! It was such a lovely day that I kind of feel bad for even taking the money. The soup was good too- not a cold dog in sight.

I am referring to the poetry workshop that I ran for the Castle Lachlan Trust out at Inver Cottage Restaurant. I had three punters- and it was such a privilege to share a day full of words with them. Each person used poetry in different ways, but it felt like something was being set free in each of us…

Poetry workshop…

Love words?

How about spending some time in a lovely place immersing yourself in words?

There are still places left on the poetry workshop at courtesy of Old Castle Lachlan next Sunday. A tenner for a day of poetry plus lunch from the wonderful Inver Cottage Restaurant.

Details below;

creative workshops poster


rainbow, barbed wire


Blue hangs like a limp flag above him

Stirred only by half-a-breeze

Always waiting for tomorrow


Light falling through these trees

As if through ten green bottles

Hanging on for the fall


In a crush of commuting greys she wore bright orange

Less to draw attention to herself, more in blazing protest

Against complicity, against the curse of ordinary compliance


Yellow says hello

As the summer strips the grass to straw

And flowers forget their gazing upwards


Red bowl of the sun in a darkening sky

Curtaining so fast that I reach out

Grasping as to cup it, to keep it close


Pink flesh unfolds like a flower

This fragile child, as if fearing the late frost

Now wrapped up safe in mother


The night is purple, not-quite-dark

Wide open like the mouth of a whale

Or the space between stars


Black like before-life, like un-pregnancy

Like before the big bang roared outwards into us

Before love made anything possible


Grey like the day she came to say “The time has come for leaving”

The sun itself was choked by cloud

The very sea was weeping


Water falling down on these old rocks

Gilding them with liquid silver

This normal place, anointed


Age has turned your hair pure white

Like the soul that dances in you

You are cathedral and I, your evensong


Sunlight makes alchemy from mountains

Now gold in the evening mist

Far beyond the wealth of kings


Brown like the ground where we lay down

The earth is pillow-soft

And waiting


‘Learning to Love’ book is now out!


The book is now out!

You can get your copy (download or paper) here.

This from the blurb put out by Proost;

“We think this book typifies the reasons why Proost exists.  It’s promoting people’s art and creativity.  It’s giving people a voice and it’s sharing those voices with a wider audience.  It’s almost an incredible good and very moving collection of poems. For those reasons we think it’s a fantastic resource and hope you’ll visit the site and pick up a copy.”

Here’s a poem to give you a flavour by Sheena Bradley

Being true 

Before, I was not
And now, I am
In this place and at this time.
Rain, hail or shine I will hold up my head And bloom…

And not just so that I might be seen, That I might be admired
No, I do not need your praise.

Celebrated or unnoticed Until I’m trampled or I fade, For fade I will
I’ll bloom…




Below the broken houses

Under these shattered streets

The earth lies like litmus;

Bright red

Made toxic by all the anger

All the layers of pain

Fresh young blood

Worms its way

Into each holy strata



A general declares for war

“Until we have located and destroyed each tunnel”

As if it might be possible to rid the earth

Of moles

Or earthworms

But both are fed by what falls from above

Death makes fertile soil

For tunnellers

Thunder falls on Venice beach…

venice beach


Yesterday, on Venice Beach, a man was struck by lightning

Honed bronzed flesh was sparked to mere crackling

Many more were shocked.


I do not mean to be flippant at the death of fellow man

No matter how Biblical his ending

The rumble it raises in me is this question;

How did this become world news?

Who decided that one death among a million

Should be at the top of every news cast?


Meanwhile another dozen die in Gaza, nameless and barely noticed

A four year old AIDs orphan coughs his final cough in Mozambique

Fifteen people are killed in a crash outside Kandahar

Scores are killed on the streets of Benghazi as Libya slides into civil war

In Gineau 24 were crushed by rap music.


I should not be surprised –

We celebrate inequality in life

So why not also in death?

One soul does not weigh the same as another

White photogenic flesh is neon

Skin that is darker, dirtier

Is worn like camouflage

Even to the grave

Engine out at sea…

hebrides, snow storm

Sometimes when you stare at the sea

You hear a distant pulse of an engine

But see no ship

It is close

Like a fast heartbeat


And sometimes the hackle of the gulls

Masked as it is by the sigh of the sea

Can sound just like the cry

Of a child

In distress


The roll of a wake

Is a whales back

Which emigrants

Are riding

Back home




Why did they die
-these northern lads
On Culloden field?
Fifteen hundred
Sets of bones
Embrace in a peat blanket
Mingled by moles
Stained brown by
Tartan water

Some say they died for noble things;
For freedom
That they charged into bloody mist
To rid this hallowed soil
Of the English


I say they died like all poor soldiers do;
To make rich men richer
They died at the string
Of some puppet king
Their blood was paid for power

Perhaps like ours,
Their culture held in high esteem
The glory of a killing
They like we thrilled to see
The gushing blood of the other

There will be more massed graves before we are through
More mixed clans to fill them


Let the heart create for us…

Michaela bought me a present- a book I had loved in a former life and then lost/loaned.

It is this tiny book by Michael Leunig, written back in 1991;

the prayer tree, leunig

It contains one of the few poems that I can recite by heart- “When the heart is cut or cracked or broken, don’t clutch it, let the wound lie open….” I have quoted this previously here.

Today, with thanks to Mr Leunig, (and my lovely wife) I offer you this;

God help us to live slowly

To move simply

To look softly

To allow emptiness

To let the heart create for us


And for those whose heart is not quite ready to create, perhaps this will help you realise that you are not alone;




I have been doing some work on a new poetry project recently- a collaboration for Advent. Here is one that I do not think will make it into the final mix, as I am not sure about it. It is still in sketch form, and I am a bit worried about it being a bit too sentimentally ‘mystical’ rather than carrying some real honesty…



To you whose hope

Seems stolen

Know this tender thing;

The bruised old sky above you

(Which seems to yawn indifference)

Is, in fact, leaking light.


Particles tumble down

Like this promise;

I am here

Where you are


For I know what you know

I see what you see

The fences you built are no protection

From starlight


My stars leave no shadow

Only the gentle light

Of becoming.