Sunday, February 11, 2018


do not go

  finger firmly on the fashion pulse

do not go gentle

  more gentle than the monochrome madness

    we will not click climate change away

old age should burn and rave at close of day

  in moonlight for the annual Sunset Concert

  assembled masses listened to music

  smiles all round for those who listened blissfully

    people are deluged with so much noise

and learn, too late, they grieved it on its way

wise men at their end know dark

    the early dark days of the new America

the last wave by, crying how bright

  the natural beach wave that is very popular right now

    roads falling into rivers and fish swimming through the streets

danced in a green bay

  the coolest colour around

  an enhancing punch of colour

    biblical, terrifying: tornadoes, floods, “rain bombs”, exploding glaciers

caught and sang the sun in flight 

wild men grave men

    oil producers, Russian influence

near death see with blinding sight

  LED lights straddle that tricky void between sensible and fun

  a must view for lovers

    people are getting really fired up

blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay 

there on the sad height

  the perfect man den

    a turtle on top of a fence post

    blood in his eyes

curse, bless me now with your fierce tears

    the rich have subverted all reason

their words had forked no lightning

do not go

  a Gin Experience Weekend for two in London

do not go

    a nature hike through the Book of Revelations

do not go gentle into that good night

I pray

  time to take control ladies and really own this look

    justify pouring everything you can into it

gentle gentle

  a chat about hair hair and, well… more hair

    and his forces wage war against facts and reason

rage rage rage

    overcome fake facts and false narratives

  incredibly cool bed linen

  glam in an instant

rage rage rage

    the interests of big capital, “dark money”, billionaire political funders

rage rage rage rage

    they are trying to cripple our ability to respond to this existential threat

  lift the veil and be conscious

rage against the dying of the light

cut-up of:

Dylan Thomas – Do not go gentle into that good night

Gallery Magazine – no. 143 August 2017 the [NEON] issue

Al Gore: ‘The rich have subverted all reason’ Carole Cadwalladr  – The Observer Sunday 30 July 2017

after On the Late Late Massachers Stillbirths and Deformed Children a Smoother Lovelier Skin Job by Adrian Henri

Performed as part of From Mersey to Jersey 2017 (Jersey Festival of Words) & 2018 (Festival 35 Weekend - Jersey Arts Centre) by Nicky Mesch (Dylan Thomas) Juliette Hart (Al Gore) and Colin Scott (Gallery Magazine.)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ghost Slipways

sands resist 
   a permanent tenancy
      at a spring tide
           drift capriciously
      lift their shifts
   reveal ghost slipways
      from the beach
   stubbed out trails
       lead to the sea
          paths from the past
            footsteps lost 
         a scatter of blue china
            ridged & broken
         tidal memories
      cascade reclaimed 
          lost again
            shuffled rocked 
      folded & remade
         ghost slipways call
      a song of water
   siren’s temptation
      to walk the slipway
         to slink off our skins
      become sea creatures

During the WW2 Occupation of Jersey, some granite slipways were blocked by the Germans to fortify the coast.  Sometimes the sand on the beach shifts to reveal them again. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Island Stone

They were ours, our people,
brought here from our ruettes and côtils,
from our island they last glimpsed
as granite headlands curving on the horizon.

This memorial stone is carved through,
as the sea caves granite cliffs at home,
opening up a kind of time window 
to look back one hundred summers

to the harvest of horror that was Guillemont
ravaged farms and wracked woods,
all reaped and harrowed by carnage
into a wasted land of graves.

The Earth turns, nature re-seeds, 
crops grow in what were killing fields;
from this topography of lost memories
fragments of stories are still recovered.

Here dear hearts once beat 
in hope and comradeship,
and soldiers passed from life to death
a hole in their hearts in place of the island.

They were ours,
as all the dead of all the wars are ours,
who we can imagine in their millions
circling us to the far horizons.

Within this stone’s missing heart
light will pass, air will sing, 
shadows turn,
wind ghosts whisper through.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

100 Poems

The War Photographer introduces his life’s work

You can’t tell from this photo I hadn’t washed for six days
can’t smell napalm and death in the air
see my hands shaking after I put the camera down
or hear my outcry of messianic rhetoric
on that blitz of a mission up country with the local guide
who disappeared at the first rat-a-tat of gunfire.

This exhibition won’t show you the photos I didn’t take
the pattern of arterial blood sprayed on my lens
that botched execution consigned to memory’s ghosting
myself staring at my face in dark water for hours 
squalid in a ditch, delirious from bad whisky
desperate for first light and the chopper out of there.

As a young man sure, I was cocky, gung-ho, immortal
the exotic Westerner bringing home his treasure. 
I did think my camera was a magic box 
detaching me, anaesthetizing the horror
but I’m not a god, a kindly friend or angel of death.
My photos won’t save everyone, or anyone. 

As you say, all photography is voyeuristic
but the atrocities still happen when we’re not there
- I’ve told myself that a thousand times.
Do I have the right to freeze people in their death rictus?
Do unfixed wraiths stand by me in my darkroom
as their images appear on paper, in that red womb?

No I won’t apologise – the camera is not a gun
though it’s a kind of time machine
but taking images is not stealing spirits.
I’m invisible in my work
and conscience is a luxury of leisure I say.
My camera won’t feed the starving.

History isn’t history at the time, you see
it’s what it becomes, the lens we see through.
I’m not an alchemist, an illusionist.
I prefer magician of light.
If death is a performance, a dance
I make a wreath of flowers for the wake.

I don’t ask anyone to pose.
What you see is what I intuited was about to manifest
frozen in a split-shutter-microsecond
all coming together, the weather gods, the players.
I click and they watch me forever
but my camera feels no pain.

By being there did I change what happened?
Of course I did.  Is it quantum theory?
That observation affects reality?  You’re all doing it now.
As I meter light and calculate shutter speeds
the event passes through me  
rematerializing in the darkroom.

Retire?  What dreams will come…?
You don’t hear the tinnitus of constant shelling
when even birdsong sounds like machine guns
don’t see the images played on loop in the cinema of my brain.
When I’m old maybe, I’ll photograph glaciers, prairies.
Done talking, the photographer points his camera and shoots.

This poem was included in 100 Poems, an anthology of poems about war, conflict resolution and peace, published a year ago by Jersey Arts Centre to commemorate the centenary of World War 1

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Made with Love

calls  to  me
whispers  come  here
   bring  your  bag  of  ghosts     let  us  celebrate
bring  your  laughter  to  echo    your  stories    your  songs
I  will  envelop  you    protect  you    be  your  sanctuary
I  am  a  blueprint  for  your  future     a  centre     hub     nest   
nexus     carapace      a  fixed  point  on  your  map  of  life
your  orientation     your  space  in  the  universe
a  shell    a  shelter  from  weather  wildness  wuthering
a  sleep  palace     a  theatre  for  your  dreams       
be  pillowed    quilted    star-kissed    cradled  by  time
   recharge  rebuild  recover  root    make  new  memories
       be  remembered  here     love  and  be  known
the  worn-out  places  will  show  where  you  lived  best
your  footsteps  will  mark  the  way  here  for  others  to  find  you

Monday 5 June - Saturday 1 July 2017

Highlighting the plight of refugees worldwide as part of Refugee Week in Jersey, this exhibition in the Berni Gallery at Jersey Arts Centre is a creative collaboration between refugees and Jersey artists.

Friday, June 2, 2017

how to stay safe in twenty-first century war

wear no symbols of faith   badges   T-shirt slogans
            speak very clearly avoiding adjectives   ambiguity
                        better still avoid language entirely

study brands   marketing   economics
            be very rich or very poor
                        don’t look like a victim

judge which people will poison your well
            who will kill your neighbour’s dog
                        who will burn your crops

stay close to home
            wear your home
                        be packed and ready to leave at any hour

practise navigating the streets in darkness without a map
            discover which wild plants and berries are edible
                        prepare to beg

have a plan for bombs   raids   disease
            adapt and modify the plan
                        welcome life without the plan

inhabit the fields as animals do
            move in search of food
                        follow the sun

know that all empires fall in time
            don’t become your enemy
                        learn to wait in the shadows

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Poem for Liberation Day


After a cider reception at the Mairie

the Veterans don’t want to visit graves

prefer a sunny afternoon in Avranches

have their own stories to remember

 - their old friends, their ghosts.

So it’s a small party of us who visit

the Brittany American Cemetery at Saint James  

where the headstones are very white

fanning out in pristine rows

under chestnut trees

 - simple marble crosses

with some Jewish stars of David

dotted here and there.

Soldiers die ‘pro patria

and this ground is theirs

while their bodies are buried in it

 - unclaimed.

To leave them here is to lease small pockets

of this countryside to America

- and to Britain, and to Germany - for ever

a turfed resting place far from home.

The emphasis is on fallen troops

- not individuals, who loved and laughed -

men arranged in tidy ranks

unlike the local graveyard we passed en route

with its colour and clutter

its generous heaps of flowers.

And yet, in all the village cemeteries

headstones will weather and age

become forgotten

but these boys’ markers will remain

as timeless as the stories

of them sacrificed for our peace

in their prime, as if yesterday.

In the Memorial Chapel

I follow the arrows of war

painted on a map of Europe

and I stand here now in 1944

with these American liberators and comrades

as they advance on Brittany

to my mother sewing in occupied farms

and then towards Germany to free my father.

He is listening to a secret wireless

for BBC Radio Londres news of D-Day

writing coded postcards to his sister

about the 'heat' in Brittany

quoting Charles de Gaulle

on courage, faith and patience

wishing he could help with the 'harvest'

hoping to be back by Christmas

free and drinking a bowl of French cider

with his family and friends.

He’ll be caught with the radio

be imprisoned, hungry

forced to eat scraps off the floor

when the Americans reach him in April 45

then repatriated by the Red Cross

and back home to Lannebert

for the end of war celebrations.

I have a photo of my father on the boat

crossing the sea to Jersey in June 1946

travelling towards his new life

a wife, his children, grandchildren

a future all ahead

while I look back now and forward

in this habitual communion with the dead.

This poem was written during a visit to Avranches in 2014 with a group of Jersey's Normandy Veterans and about my father Albert who was a French forced labourer in Ruhla, Germany during WWII.