winter series

I saw a leaf fall

I saw a leaf fall,
and thought to catch it
though this seemed futile as
I could not stem the flood
of those that would follow.

All I could do was sit there
looking out of the window
at the steady accumulation on the lawn
whilst the tree grew
an air of melancholy.

winter series

The tree skeletons

The tree skeletons
Stand out in the fields
As I pass by,
Their stark, nakedness
Presenting no embarrassment
As might such frankness of expression.

In a time of want and austerity.
The countryside around is barren
But the coat of death
Has not yet turned to decay,
The deep freeze a desperate grasp on what was
But may no more be.

winter series

The crash of the glass!

The crash of the glass
Came as a sudden shock
Though looking back
I can see it in slow motion
As the coat swept across the table
And knocked it to the floor.

The connection with the hard tiles
Set off an explosion
Also available in slow mo replay
With shards scattering
In a wide arc around him
Under the other tables.

The immediate shattering silence
Turned into a pause of anticipation,
He deciding in his mind on an approach,
Every eye in the café upon him,
Including the staff behind the counter,
Themselves assessing the moment.

The decision arrived and apologies forthcame,
Answers calming the room,
Encouraging familiarity
And heartfelt sympathy
From the other diners,
Short-lived in their quiet discomfort.

The plateau reached, of mutual satisfaction,
He put on the coat,
Paid for his drink and left.
The girl swept up
Restoring harmonious order.
New diners arrived, oblivious.

winter series

The woman on the train

The woman on the train
Would have been quite attractive
But for the disturbance
That kept the smile from her lips.

Her phone call bore no fruit,
“It” hadn’t arrived yet and
She arranged to call back
On the way home from work.

She was in her mid-30s I supposed,
Sitting there in contemplative silence,
Her long dark hair contrasting
With the creamy wool of her coat.

On the table in front was
A pair of red leather gloves
With a velvet scarf that
Matched her crimson lipstick.

When we got to Peterborough
She pulled on the gloves
And, moving down the carriage,
Left the train.

I noticed she wore black boots
As I watched her walking
Off along the platform
The rain beating heavily against the window.

The train pulled away
And I sat there wondering
What her problem might be,
Then I moved on.

winter series

It’s cold and bright in Albion tonight

It’s cold and bright in Albion tonight
Though the snow covered fields
Have little to reflect
From the greyness of the cloud laden sky.
Tonight the owl hunts in vain
As nothing else stirs,
The silence of its glide
Amplified by the hushed tones
Of the icy blanket beneath.
Trees, ghostly sentinels, patrol the hedgerows
That enclose the hunting grounds.
Smoke rises vertically,
Windless from the occasional chimney,
Whitewashed walls invisible
To all but the owl,
Which is itself seen only
By the trees and
Through the aperture of the imagination.

winter series

Hole In The Wall

Personal yet impersonal,
Grubby and soulless,
Addictive, without joy
Source of money, sometimes –
Swallow hard.

Herald of bad news,
Card swallower.

Watch your bent back
In litter-strewn streets
Of cloned city centres

All in all it’s just
Another hole in the wall.

winter series

The Box

At arms length from other boxes
On the outskirts of town stands a box,
Poorly protected by a flimsy slat fence
A thin hedge takes the full blast of the wind
Across the bare fields and over the quarry below.

Paper walls make for little comfort
And no cats swing here though they
Lap at saucers at the exposed back door.
The cheap settee fills the room, with the TV
Which sits on its altar next to the gas fire.

The small garden patch is shaded by the shed that
Stands large on the patio next to the rusting barbecue.
The paint peeled garage door opens into clutter
Where the car seldom fits,
Idling instead on the tarmac on the front drive.

The local pub survives, just,
Its new brick blandness mixed with gassy beer
And a desperately bored clientele.
Frozen food, fried, microwaved, boiled.
Choiceless, characterless, tasteless.

The box, uninspiring, the bulldozed architecture
Of (optimistically) a 100 years hence,
Thrown together, built with hopes and dreams,
Stands on the outskirts of town
An arms length from other boxes.

winter series

It’s Cold And It’s Damp

It’s cold, wet and miserable.
We are back to the normal British winter.
One or two smiles break the gloom
At Kings Cross station
But they are the exception.
People don’t smile in London.

The waiting room is warm and quiet.
The cleaner talks to the attendant,
With almost a smile!
An effort, forced through the boredom,
After ten minutes collecting
Three empty coffee cups.

I tap away on my laptop.
A woman brushes her eyelashes,
Another eats a sandwich
And some read newspapers,
But most just stare blankly,

winter series

Winter Tennis

It’s freezing point
On the tennis court
Though the action is hot.

Vestigial muscles rediscovered,
Youthful opposition forces the pace,
Balls blaze a trail in the crisp January morning.

Breath hangs in the air,
The score hangs in the balance,
Youth triumphs and handshakes firm.

Finally the snow arrives.
Small flakes drift across the court
Satisfying our romantic sporting spirits.

We retire to Starbucks
For hot chocolate with a warm glow,
Marshmallows and whipped cream.

winter series

A few days to Christmas

Six sorry looking taxis standing in a rank

Five days to go but

Only four small turkeys left at the butchers.

Three ducks scooting across the water, surely cold.

Two bag laden Christmas shoppers, heads bowed into the drizzle

A grey December day, never in sight of the sun

And there’s the traffic, why do they do it?


There is really only one place to be

And that is at home in front of the fire


The cards are dispatched, logs piled up by the back door

Plenty of time yet to get the big shop done,

Turkey ordered and a couple of parties to come.

The chink of glasses and the cheery sounds

Open that bottle of malt and pass it round

Mince pies smell of brandy

winter series


I sit in the window enjoying breakfast at my leisure,
Taking in the traffic on the pavement outside.
It is cold out there and
The anonymous scurriers are
Wrapped up against the biting December wind.
They have been up early to get there
Though I am now just sitting down to start the day.
Full English, tea and toast and then
I leave the warmth of the hotel and venture forth
Looking for my destination,
Unsure of my options.

Heading for Victoria Station I swim against the flow of office fodder,
Miserable looking people subjected daily to discomforts of the commute,
Crushed into compartments,
Standing within sweat smell of strangers
Trapped on the treadmill of the city.


I take the taxi option.
It is the only one available
As the voluntary queue for compression
On the Underground looks longer than the taxi rank.

A good meeting and later I do take the tube
For a lunchtime get together.
Plenty of time to people-watch.
A mother speaks Spanish to two young girls
Who reply in both Spanish and English
As they see fit, lucky girls.
Otherwise few speak.

A busker enters the compartment
Complete with bedroll and survival gear.
Tattooed, with shorts and worn leather gaiters
He entertains poorly with a penny whistle.
The carriage ignores him with a practised survival instinct.
But I give him a pound as I leave at the next stop
Poor pickings, and all he got.

Homeward bound
On the train a phone sings out “swing low sweet chariot”
And a voice answers “hello?”
Others doze or are sucked into their laptops,
There is little talk as the chosen ones
Head home after a long day at their machines.

winter series

The Graveyard Of The Chelsea Tractor

Rusting metal mingles with rubber, glass and orange plastic.
Decay, a by-product of self-destructing self-worship.
The smell of oil and dirt, torn leather and plastic,
Badges of affectation, discarded on urban wastelands
And picked over by the poor.
Born of pretension,
A contempt-venting urban behemoth and
Wreaker of environmental carnage.
Gas guzzling yank tank,
Now an out of favour status symbol,
Dying in ignominious obscurity
Driven out of existence…

The Chelsea Tractor,RIP, 2008.