Red poems

This is a poem sequence, inspired by a painting of a Flamenco dancer, one idea leading into another.

Red skirts swirl
Gestures arrogant
Fire to the tips
But her heart flinches
from the avid watchers’
greedy eyes.


Red flamenco skirts swirl
Red shoes dance their endless rhythm
Cold eyes watch and appraise
Beneath the glitter of the cruel sun
That beams uncaring
Of the sorrow in her heart.

Red seeps through the earth
Of the cold damp north
In Flanders’ gentle fields
Where red poppies bend their graceful heads
To catch the whisperings of the dead.


War ends
The dead fade
Into weeping memories
But the poppy
Is forever red.

In the west
Red boat clouds sail slowly
Sinking into the fiery sun
Carrying their cargo of souls
Into the dying embers of the day.
Viking sunset.


My green pen draws a red boat
With a cargo of words in its hold
A cargo of shoots and delving roots
A floating forest of stories painted
All the colours of morning.

In these dark days

This poem is in response to Peter Bouchier’s comment that we need words of hope of some kind ‘in these dark days’. This week has seen enough shocking, senseless deaths on our European doorstep to make any right-minded human being shout, stop! Whoever is doing it, whyever they are doing it, this is not the way.


Once death reached down from parching summer skies,
Crept into cradles with a spring that came too late,
Strangled with a winter’s grip too hard too long,
Stalked the streets, a pox, a plague, a reason of state.
Death came in many simple forms
Slim blade simple, empty belly or a soldier’s hand
Too little food, a poisoned well, or too much snow
The simple terror of the tyrant in command.
But in these safer democratic days
When science and education shine their healing light
The tyrant is the leader with a poisoned tongue
Who fans the flames and sends men out to fight.
Too quick to heed the words of hatred we refuse
To see the beauty in ourselves, our world and be content
But butcher maim and justify another’s pain
In these dark days of our enlightenment.