Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pleasure Flight


              from five hundred feet
              the funfair rides are toys
              to reach down for
              model cars move
              along the streets
              of a model village
              matchstick men
              are laid out
              on a sandy foreshore
              tractor trails in fields
              are finger-writing
              islands along the creek
              are mud-pies with a green top
              only the sea
              and the sky
              retain their real size
              during descent
              we and our stomachs


Composed: Clacton on Sea, 20th September 1981


1982 Harvest (USA)

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Visit


              It told us nothing
              we didn't already know
              not that we had
              admitted everything -
              our worst fears
              at best confirmed -
              Despite all
              the proffered help
              for persistence,
              parental perspicacity,
              percipient patience,
              pertinacious power,
              positive pleasure,
              predicative precision,
              purposeful progress
              and prudence
              there are no substitutes
              In the end
              we are alone
              yet before the end
              there are thoughts
              to share
              burdens to burn
              in the fire
              of loving friendship
              We are all in it together
              pacing our parallel paths.


Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 9th September 1981


1994 International Poetry (USA)

Friday, 29 October 2010

Announcement for Carol


Not much news
and no cheap ads
in tonight's paper

A few hours old
and already being used
to wrap my fish and chips

"Congratulations to Carol
on passing six O-levels"

Dear Carol,
I hope your celebrations
outlast the life
of this newspaper.


Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st September 1981


1986 Diggers Magazine (UK)
1998 The Affectionate Punch (UK)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

To My Wife On Our Seventh Wedding Anniversary


               Seven times seven times seven times
               seven times seven times seven times
               seven memories fill these years
               forgotten memories of tears
               that fell when fear
               occasionally came near
               and though this is the time to scratch
               the itch that's under the other's skin
               there isn't in this world a wind
               that ever could blow out our match

               © GERALD ENGLAND

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 22nd June 1981


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010



               Bright for his age,
               he wants chips with everything,
               knows that beans means Heinz
               and will drink anything
               if it's not too hot.
               He's got two Gran-mas
               and is proud of the fact.
               He shuts all doors behind him,
               switches on the television,
               but only after asking.
               All telephone calls are from Grandma.
               His eyes are bright with mischievousness;
               Each morning he says hello
               to the face in the mirror,
               pulls his Daddy out of bed,
               then fetches him his clothes
               in order, one by one.
               He can find the things that Mummy mislays
               but leaves his own clothes where they drop.
               Vainer than any girl,
               he is defiant yet loves to obey.
               Sometimes he knows what you are thinking
               before you do yourself.
               He is my son. I love him.

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st June 1981


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Baby's Smile

Lain content across my chest,
my eyes reflected in your blue,
an emptied bottle by our side,
you tell me all I need to know.

A baby does not smile -
those spinster midwives say -
it is merely wind that on expulsion
causes an involuntary upturn of the lips

and only by evoking a response
does the infant come to realise
the possible pleasures of repetition
and his world builds up by recognition.

Yet as we lie here, skin to skin,
you commence the conversation -
having the answer, I do not ask -
is love but the perpetuation of a burp ?

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st May 1981


(Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)
1988 Psychopoetica (UK)
1998 Brobdingnagian Times (Ireland)

Monday, 25 October 2010


If God is dead.
if suns are still created,
if carbon is the only basis of life,
if E still equals m,c-squared,
if what Darwin said is true,
if nothing can travel faster than light,
if there are no UFOs,
if radio is the ultimate invention,
if nuclear-fission can be usefully tamed,
if three is the magic number,
we may still be alone in the universe.

If not, we may still, or not.
If anyone could say,
or if not.......

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 13th March 1981


1981 The Old Police Station (UK)
1986 Beyond (USA)
1990 Lizzengreasy Magazine (Japan)
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)
1996 Poephysics (Internet)

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Venusians, Martians, God - all now
discredited as Myth,
the electronic multi-million-dollar search
goes on for our nearest galactic neighbours.

A thousand upturned saucers scan
the radio emissions of the galaxies,
listening on a million wavelengths
for the wow of a signal that will say
- another sun's planet hosts intelligent life - .

If they be there,
a billion light years away,
could they now be here,
watching us ?

Perhaps it indeed were they
who spoilt the crops of those peasants
starved of food and money
halfway across this living Earth !

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 3rd March 1981


1990 X-Calibre (UK)
1993 Sivullinen (Finland)
1994 Dial 174 (UK)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Croick Churchyard

Image © 1999, Richard Webb

The dead-end of two roads,
north or south of the Carron -
the moors from Croick stretch
barren now into Strathoykell.

"Glencalvie people was in the churchyard
here, May 24, 1845".

This message, their names, in English,
scratched for ever on the diamond panes,
cries across the years;
the fingers that wrote
point at us.

They saw their own language dying
as surely as they saw their homes destroyed.
It would not be Gaelic sheep
grazing their old pastures,
denaturing the soil.

This one memorial remains
long after the stones
of their homes have merged
irrevocably into the heather
where not even the grouse
are safe past autumn.
© Gerald England

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 2nd February 1981


1982 Pennine Platform (UK)
1986 FUTURES (Ipswich, Magic Pen Press)
1989 Lactuca (USA)
1992 WORLD POETRY 1992 (Madras, World Poetry)
2007 MIND AND BODY (York, Fighting Cock Press)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Mother England

She is Mother England
suffering a modicum
of morning sickness in the evening
and feeling somewhat heavier
than in her slim-trim days
of pre-pregnancy dieting.

She is Mother England
busy knitting babygros
and searching all the ads
for secondhand cots,
trying to remember
her antenatal clinic dates.

She is Mother England.
The taut swelling of skin
from where comes kicks
hides the lap on which
a three-year-old would sit.

He says there's a baby there,
the result of "Daddycation".
She is Mother England.

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st January 1981


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)
1986 PENNINE POETS 1966-1986 (Heckmondwike, Fighting Cock Press)
1989 White Rose Literary Magazine (UK)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Quiet Christmas

We had a very quiet Christmas
I lost my voice on Christmas Eve
I looked for it in my cup of coffee
but it wasn't there to be found
I sifted the dust from under the bed
It was not there
I accused the Northeast wind
but it did not blow off course
I searched the sheep on the high moors
It wasn't to be seen

I heard the rattle of reindeer-feet
around the chimney-pots
The Christmas Tree Fairy coughed at me
and I found my voice
hanging on the seventh branch
between a robin and a plastic Santa.

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 26th December 1980


1990 Never Bury Poetry (UK)
1994 Boggers All (UK)
1998 LIMBO TIME (Hyde, New Hope International)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Beyond Glossop

cats eyes?
beacons that light a roadside?

Snake Pass

not cats'
but eyes of sheep
headlight-reflected pins

the dark shape
seen too late
squeal of brakes
crash of glass
a dying ewe bleats

splinters of glass
from a broken headlamp
mix with mutton blood

the wind howls
the mountain streams cascade
there is no moon above the mist
there are no lights now

all is frozen

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 20th September 1980


1984 Aireings (UK)
1992 Hybrid (UK)
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tighe Mo Chaidhre

a place without a roof
without any walls
without a door
windows of mist
create transient privacy
snow freezes here
rain is turned to steam
the sun shines shyly
there is a red river
flowing with food
there will be no starvation
until the beaver
dams the supply
to this home
my heart

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st September 1980


1990 Candelabrum
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)

Monday, 18 October 2010


At this entrance to Europe
the Rhine leads past terminals
where the shipping of China, Britain,
Germany, Monrovia, even Holland
meet in the world's largest port.

Motorways flanked by wide grass verges
where rabbits run with the cyclists
take us to the rebuilt city
with its decorative painted lampposts
and the Post Office Peter Post designed.

Even the work of Picasso is not spared
by the artists of graffiti.
© Gerald England

Composed: Amsterdam, 8th July 1980


1994 The East & West Literary Quaterly (USA)
1994 The Good Society Review (UK)

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Here, where man has fought the sea and won,
an airport stands at the bottom of a lake,
a factory stands behind a lighthouse
with the wreck of a ship in a farmer's field
twenty kilometres from the present sea.
Called the Ijslemeer it was the Zuider Zee;
what was the sea is merely now a mere.
Dykes defend this vast expanse of polderland,
drained at vast expense, kept daily drained
against the sea that would reclaim its own.

Composed: North Sea Ferries, 6th July 1980


1986 Aireings (UK)
1991 The Vincent Brothers Review (USA)
1999 Red Booth Review (Internet)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

I Always Turn


I always turn

upon mad dogs
bark back even

that way
i sometimes end up
with my back against the wall
not that all walls
are so thick
that you can't fall through

but mostly
they reject my challange
it's the chase they want
and they can't
chase you
when you face them


Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st July 1980


1982 Global Tapestry Journal (UK)
1988 Groundworks (UK)
1989 Green's Magazine (Canada)
1990 Lizzengreasy Magazine (Japan)
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Henry Winstanley

Inventive practical joker,
what made you abandon
your imprisoning seats,
chairs that descended
or slowly rose, frightening
their occupants to the
delight of your family?

The sea had laughed at you
tossing two of your five ships
to pulp on the Eddystone reef.
You were not the first
who demanded action
having lost a valuable cargo
only sixteen miles from Plymouth.

But none else took up the challenge.

Who before had tried,
on an isolated, wave-swept rock
facing the full fury
of the wild Atlantic ocean,
to build a tower,
to light a light
to save seafarers?

Which dastardly French pirate
was it captured you there
and found himself the prisoner?
King Louis recognised your aim;
French ships too had foundered
on the treacherous Eddystone reef.
He was at war with England,
not with humanity.
Louis wined you, dined you,
set you free.

Three years in building,
you lit the candles yourself.
No ships were lost
on the Eddystone that year.
Your greatest wish
was to be in your tower
during the greatest storm
that ever was seen !

For four years your tower stood
until that November night,
seventeen hundred and three,
when your wish was granted.
Eight hundred houses in the
West of England collapsed;
one hundred and twenty-three
lost their lives on land;
at least eight thousand at sea.
Nothing of you nor your tower
remained at daylight.

Two days later the Winchelsea was lost.

Because your structure failed
to stay that storm
later lighthouse engineers knew
the mistakes that they then must avoid.
The way for safe shipping
and for safe design was possible
only after you had made
that original brave attempt.
© Gerald England

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st June 1980


2005 Sons of Camus Writers International Journal (Canada)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Clearing of the Highlands

The year that Patric Sellar came to Strathnaver
black smoke hung along its length
from the homes so lately vacated by his tenants;
too late for one young woman who would not leave,
so perished in the flames, her unborn child within her.
Old men, led out in time, were laid
to die from frost instead of fire.

Some went meekly like the sheep that replaced them
down the road to the barren, rocky coast,
driving their salvaged beasts before them,
oats and barley left for the sheep to trample,
potatoes in their lazybeds left to rot.

A Lowland jury cleared him later of all charges.

Many were the poor and destitute in Bettyhill,
in Farr, in Tongue, in Golspie and in Helmsdale
who died later from cholera or famine.

Others, who could survive Atlantic storms
and carve new life from a frozen wasteland,
found Canada no more tough than Sutherland;
there are more Gaels in North America
than ever crossed the Minch.

Not only in Strathnaver but in every glen
and by the side of every ben
factors served writs, burnt out, moved on a people
betrayed by the chiefs for whom they had always fought,
but who now wanted a four-footed tenantry;

though not named Sellar
only their faces were different.

Seventeen babies died on the Street of Starvation
when six hundred people were cleared from Ulva
and dumped on Mull.

The lairds and Lowland shepherds said
it was for the "Improvement of the People"

- that vast peasantry
who lost their homes, their hopes
and the inheritance they had thought infinite ?

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 5th May 1980


1983 Moorlands Review (USA)
1985 SPEAK TO THE HILLS (Aberdeen University Press)
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)
1993 The Frogmore Papers (UK)
1999 The Animist (Internet)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Ann Frank

 You said you wanted to live
      after you were dead
 No-one can deny you have
 But did you really live before?
 You tell us more by what
      you do not say

 You were the schoolgirl
      who talked too much
 and justified herself
      by talking even more
 Always you justified yourself
 even when you knew yourself wrong
 At bottom, position counts

 How secret did you keep your diary
      in the Secret Annexe?
 The others knew of it
 Can any have read it?
 They threatened it when they thought
      the enemy threatened

 They must have come quickly
 for you in the end
 Neither you nor they
      destroying its evidence
 Only rescued even then
 by office cleaners

 Was she not right
 whose pessimism you so
      harshly criticised?
 And what was it cracked your spirit

 Was it the death of your sister?
 Or the strain of two years
 living so closely with hatred
      among friends?
 Or losing the lover you had gained
 in spite of your self and his?

 You talked always of feelings
 now, and sometimes then,
 but hardly ever talked
      of after


Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 4th April 1980


1988 New Wave (USA)
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)
1999 The Animist (Internet)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Sonnet for a Lost Roman Road

Treading by compass the unseen line,
Following the way the Romans led,
Thinking only of the road ahead,
Looking for a place to realign,
Bringing their direction back to mine,
Fording then each river bed,
Crossing over each watershed,
Marvelling at such a straight design.

The stones lie mostly below the turf;
A barn there and an oak tree here
Point to this route no longer used
Under the land of some Saxon serf
Who ploughed his fields without a tear
For all the history he had seduced.

Composed: Ashton under Lyne, 1st February 1980


1986 Acumen (UK)
1989 Vigil (UK)
1998 LIMBO TIME (Hyde, New Hope International)
1999 Black Creek Review (USA)
2000 Manifold (UK)

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Beach Ball

A mother and father are to be seen on the beach
With them is a small boy with an inflatable ball
When he loosens his grasp the wind takes hold
It rolls the ball and with gathering speed hurls it seaward

Now the father is seen scurrying in chase
The ball rests in pools but as the father nears
a gust blows it on again over the rocks
The father can only follow after its flight

Gulls and guillemots and baby terns flee their sea- wracked rocks
as a panting dodging figure dances forward
The ball now wave-borne is floating slowly shoreward
Surely it will catch the sandbank of the shelving beach
to fall at last into the father's reaching arms

But the wind has the winning over the waves
Relinquishing the struggle the father returns
to console his son now playing with his mother
having already forgotten the bright beach ball

And when the wind in the morning has abated
Will the ball be found on some more southerly shore
to delight another child playing on the tideline
- a bright bouncing bonus to his holiday ?

Or will the wind have changed to anger the sea
and smashed the ball in the pounding of some crumbling cliff
its remnants joining the deathbed of a thousand shellfish
picked at by the early morning gulls.
© Gerald England

Composed: Bridlington, 2nd September 1979


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)
1997 NASA (USA)

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Spring is a young girl who having helped
her mother with chores goes, still
with her pinny on, barefoot to where
the sheep graze on a hillside by a pond
There, throwing her straw bonnet aside,
she throws her body down beside her young sister
and picking a buttercup, examines it,
marvelling at the detail of nature,
seeing the sun's colour in its petals
Her sister stares into the water
and wonders what it is her elder knows
© Gerald England

Composed: Edinburgh, 1st July 1979

1980 THE RAINBOW AND OTHER POEMS (Heckmondwyke, Fighting Cock Press)
1981 Britannic Magazine (UK)
1990 Maple Valley Vine (USA)
1992 Poesie India (India)
2002 EOTU (Internet)
2004 Iodine (USA)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cramond Island

Twice a day wet-footed invaders tramp
over your hillsides among the thistles
sea-thrift and primroses searching for shells
washed into the bay or fishing for mussels
that cannot be eaten; discovering again
the concrete left by an army at war
The causeway built over the sewage pipe
is fallen away and officially closed
yet only the tide rushing up the Forth
can make you an island at peace
but for aircraft screaming their way to landfall

Composed: Stronaclachar, 25th June 1979


1986 THE BLOOM (Madras, Ocarina)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Factor's Island

O Factor of the Duke of Montrose,
tell me! When Rob Roy captured you,
stole the rents you had collected
and held you on the island for ransom,
were there then seagulls congregating
among tame trees and purple rhododendron?
When Glasgow took Katrine's water
and raised its level seventeen feet
they built a wall around it - made it nice
You would rather they'd let it be submerged!

Composed: Stronaclachar, 25th June 1979


1980 THE RAINBOW AND OTHER POEMS (Heckmondwyke, Fighting Cock Press)
1997 NASA (USA)

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ballade of Domestic Upheaval

The house is in a mess I'm sorry to have to say
It's falling all to pieces is the baby's pram
I don't know who it is is going to pay
unless all my horses win in one grand slam
Sometimes it's me who feels like running home to Mam
Perhaps Ernie will send a thousand in tomorrow's mail
Checking the Pools only makes me swear and damn
and all the while the dog just laughs and wags his tail

I did get one letter in the post today
inviting me down to meeting in Birmingham
about the plans for some new motorway
but really I think the whole scheme's a sham
and partly a plot to bring back the tram
and lure commuters back from British Rail
I take a bottle of whisky and pour a dram
and all the while the dog just laughs and wags his tail

The baby pours his milk all over his tray
and bangs his cup down with a thumping wham
then trots off merrily up the stairs to play
The wife talks about some new slimming programme
while cutting herself a good thick slice of ham
She wonders why my face has gone all pale
but says it's probably due to yesterday's lamb
and all the while the dog just laughs and wags his tail


Prince, can't I have just a little bit of jam ?
The butter has gone sour and the bread is stale
My mother-in-law regards me as a ram
and all the while the dog just laughs and wags his tail
© Gerald England

Composed: Oldham, 1st June 1979


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Sharing its route with slow canals
meandering rivers, rolling lanes and rapid roads,
the breakfastless train sped hungrily
from a cold city of silent warmth
to a smoking hot metropolis
where compassion melted
and was lost among manipulative
manoeuvrings of committees

Walking the streets as a penance
revealed much more than all
the fruitless travelling underground
Though the high notes were out of tune
the melody of the flautist by the market
where Punch and Judy first were seen
accorded well with the day's mood
and left one memory that may alone remain
when all the rest is best forgot

Composed: London, 15th May 1979


1990 Eavesdropper (UK)
1995 TOPS (UK)
1998 LIMBO TIME (Hyde, New Hope International)
1999 Black Creek Review (USA)
2001 Mir (USA)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

May Special

It was May and it was snowing
as we drove down that delightful lane
lined by saxifrage and beyond them trees
We did not stop at Rievaulx
but only surveyed it from the car
Further on a pheasant, or a partridge,
flew down from the trees
to land behind a fence
It wasn't any special day
But later, when the sun forced out its warmth,
for our son, running over the grass
of Mount Grace Priory dodging daffodils
and trying to get in on the photograph
a girl was taking of her boyfriend,
perhaps there was something special after all

Composed: Oldham, 1st May 1979


1980 THE RAINBOW AND OTHER POEMS (Heckmondwyke, Fighting Cock Press)
1988 Pennine Ink (UK)
1995 Current Accounts (UK)

Monday, 4 October 2010


© Gerald England

Composed: Oldham, 22nd September 1978


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)
1984 Issue One (UK)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Poetic Thing

I would like to do the poetic thing
I would like to run naked into the sea
A symbolic cleansing of my filthy body
An act of simple ritual and pious purity
But I am afraid
Not of the devils of the deep
I cannot do it
for if I do
the law will nick me, lock me up
charge me with indecent exposure
And if I escape the law
the cold will get me,
lay me down in hospital
with double pneumonia
So I merely wash my hands
buy a peace offering
of fish and chips
and go home
© Gerald England

Composed: Flamborough North Landing, 9th June 1978


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)
1999 The Affiliate (Canada)
1990 YOUNG MINDS (Hull, Psychopoetica)
1990 2nd Rapture (UK)
1990 Lucidity (USA)
1993 Pomes (UK)

Unexpected Return To The Bay

UNEXPECTED RETURN TO THE BAYI took you there before your time came
Already it was too late
You wrote of the life of it
and almost proved it true
But you got its name wrong
If it were only a name
my feet would be dry
I went today driven by forces
that took me angrily out of the house
I was halfway there before I knew
where it was I was going
I did not know it was so near
The sun was on its setting
The tide was on its turning
The sand I stood on was dry
As I turned to leave
the sea rushed forward
drowning my feet
Though I cannot ever escape from you
being in the sea and there remaining
I have found my dry land
and there have built my home
© Gerald England

Composed: Flamborough Head, 8th June 1978


2002 Poetry Chain (India)

Friday, 1 October 2010


"The day that the rains came down"
This is the melody that has haunted me
since we first together to Bury went
I had hared over the Snake to see you
with just another weekend's courting on my mind
You asked me to take you to Bury via country lanes
It rained so hard I think I might have been drunk on the outside
The water fell flop flop from our coats
forming deep puddles in the thick pile carpet
of the jeweller's shop where a month's wage
disappeared in a diamond ring
We were engaged before I really knew
Everyone else was rushing round dodging between doorways
while we in a dream walked wet but not weary
Once we visited Bury in a warm October sun
buying clothes for our daughter
the day before she died
Our years of happy marriage don't rely on the sunshine
for it is the rain that has haunted the memory
© Gerald England

Composed: Bridlington, 6th June 1978


1981 DADDYCATION (Ashton under Lyne, New Hope International)
1986 White Rose (UK)
1995 REMEMBERING FORGETTING (Hull, Psychopoetica)