Another travelling poem, written when I was actually travelling – physically, that is. I’ve passed through a lot of stations since I wrote this, physically and philosophically, but I sometimes think this pilgrimage will only end when the engine stops.


Day snakes
Along miles of track,
Trees either side sprint
Into distance,
The engine pulls me with its drone
To a place I might connect with.
It is an arrow
Splitting through landscape,
Tunnelling the innards of hills
Digesting the day into darkness.

What am I,
Hurtling towards
An unwritten future?
The hands have scraped
Past the hour
A million times before
But never like this,
Slowly, cautiously,
Their quartz world
Unaware of me or distance.

What will I do?
Close my eyes and hope
The transition will be instant?
Lose faith like a dying rocket
Scratching at the sky?
Clutter my tongue
With pregnant narrative?
I move, shrill as a rising note.
Another station gone,
Another to arrive at.


This is from when I was travelling back and forth between home and and my University town, must be about 15 years ago now (how time creeps on). Not a major poem, I was just feeling miserable today, thought it could be worse and dug this poem out.

Hopefully, at the rate I update this poetry blog, I will have started writing again by the time I exhaust my back catalog of poems. For anyone interested, I’m finding it hard to even contemplate sitting down to write. I think the spark may be gone, but I’ll keep trying, and in the meantime I do have all these odd little poems I wrote back in the days when I could string a sentence together…


A tear spoke in his eye
As he approached,
As transient as the travellers
Waiting for connections
But permanent here.
Not much to ask for,
A cigarette, a light,
But wanting too much more.
“Too old for this,” he said,
To sleep on the streets,
His only hope the hope
Of not collapsing
Today or tomorrow.

A tear scribbled down his cheek
As he showed me his hands,
Tattooed when things were different maybe,
Love on the right,
Hate on the left,
His life tossed between the two,
And the travellers
Complaining about the delay
Indifferent to either.


This was written during what friends have been calling my “window period”, when I would write lots of poems from the perspective of looking through a window. This one was conceived while looking out of a window on the 4th floor of Manchester Central Reference library, it was raining, people were going about their business. It struck me as some kind of play or movie I was observing from a detached perspective…


Faces. Pictures. Lines of light
In downpour whipping
Up emotion, splash of feet

Departing to warmth, to love;
Flume of traffic, spark of tyre
On surface, grind on grind

Of movement, drill of cogs.
Just these, within this window
Frame, then blink, snap,

Splice to some new, not entirely
Unconnected scene. But undirected,
Just the ad lib of players

In perpetual rehearsal, reacting
To reactions, flow on flow
Of drama without beginning

Or denouement. Then cut, dismiss,
Leave just this littered
Screen of pavements,

Specks on empty frames,
Over and over flap of reel at end,
The incomplete flicker of rain.