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    • As The Light Changes
      The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article entitled ’22 beautiful poems about East Anglia’ in their Saturday magazine insert on March 18th this year. I was very pleased to see this poem of mine on the same page as poems by Sir Walter Raleigh and George Szirtes. TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON […]
    • The Last Word
      By way of a change, here is a short piece of prose: In a writers’ group this morning we were challenged to write a short story in 150 words.  The story below contains exactly that number.   The light was starting to fade, and breaking soft waves seemed even quieter.  He stopped collecting pebbles and […]
    • Moving Hands
      How many things that  seemed eternal early in life, have completely vanished?                         TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW ABOVE   Sometime in the nineteen-fifties it perched on the hundred-foot workshop,  where Waitrose’s  entrance is now. It would pace the working lives of hundreds. […]
    • You know you are worth it
      I wrote this poem in mid November this year, then my e-mail inbox started to fill with ‘Pre-Black Friday’ offers, then ‘Black Friday’ offers, followed later by ‘Post Black Friday’ offers, and now I am seeing ‘Black Friday repeat offers’!  Reality has overtaken imagination.   TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE […]
    • Poems for a portrait
      I agreed to sit as the model again this morning for an art group producing portraits.  We had a cultural exchange as at the end of the two sessions as I recited the Haikus composed in my head during the forty minutes of the sitting.  I then exchanged a book of my poetry for the […]
    • Last Orders
      This poem won a ‘Commended’ award in the recent 2016 George Crabbe Poetry Competition.  The competition judge, Moniza Alvi, wrote of ‘Last Orders’ “Tragic and hard hitting, I found this poignant poem compelling.”  ” This is a poem with a real sense of urgency”. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM […]
    • Irony
      During a few days in Liverpool we visited Crosby Beach, to see the Antony Gormley sculptures arranged as  ‘Another Place’.  Two friends had been examining the work, and turned to walk off the beach.  I took the photograph below, and the poem was written after I examined the image, using an  element of artistic license. ‘Communing’ […]
    • Illuminating Longing
      Here is a shared experience from the night of the full ‘Strawberry  Moon’ on June 20th.  A warm evening after a wet morning promised the sight of Nightjars hunting, and the moon was a bonus, PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   The mist quilt  slips across the sodden heath […]
    • Soon the Longing can begin
      Two days after the referendum, and still dazed by the result. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   Soon the longing can begin, but the awareness of our loss will take longer for all to own. Already the Young feel despair for they were closer to hope than the wrinkled, […]
    • Deleting Footnotes
      This poem recently was selected by Helen Ivory for appearance in the poetry webzine  ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears‘, it also appeared the the Suffolk Poetry Society’s magazine ‘Twelve Rivers’. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   You can never prepare for this task. It demands no passion in the wrecking, just […]

The moment before

No explanation is needed for this Haiku, its all in the image.

 

Photo by Rupert Murrell

Photo by Rupert Murrell

 

Wonder in a glass

where do you enter delight

the clean spoon hovers

 

 

Out of Order

A chance meeting gave me another dimension to our politicians’ crusade against welfare expenditure.

 

out of order sign, vector

 

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I find it difficult  to socialise when undressed.

Body image, lack of calcium when very young,

the dislike of goat’s milk  curving my spine.

I adjusted my towel, she seemed determined to talk.

First the cold sauna then the steam room’s dirty door,

she would complain discreetly,  because the staff  were good to her,

but being disabled with a reduced immune system

the dirt on the door was important .

I could have made a non-committed grunt

instead I praised her  considerate actions,

and thus the moment of evasion passed.

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Restoring Vintage — A Tanka for Rupert

I recently wrote this poem for my youngest son, Rupert.  He sent me this photograph after riding to the top of one of the hills on the Sussex Downs.

A Tanka  is an extension to the 5-7– 5 syllables of the Haiku, with two final lines of 7 syllables each that change  the direction of the poem.

 

Rupert

‘Selfie’ by Rupert Murrell

 

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Renewed, your old bike

takes you to the vantage point,

where you  see clearly

the joy that was, far below,

and the road to now follow.

 

Regeneration

Poems were requested on the subject of ‘Renewal’ to be read at the recent Suffolk Poetry Society’s AGM.  I wrote this poem for the event, but there were so many people wanting to read their work that I decided not to join the queue, and now show it here instead.

You can click on the image below ( from Professor Dennis E. Briggs’s definitive technical book   Malts and Malting ) to enlarge the images of  cross sections through a barley grain.

 

Cross sections through a corn of barley
Cross sections through a corn of barley

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A single barleycorn  sits on my hand

its Ventral Furrow matching palm’s crease,

turning it reveals a tiny bump

under the taut husk’s dorsal tip.

This blip, unnoticed by most,

is a miracle under protective cloaks

a sealed promise of an endless cycle,

the time-locked dormant Embryo.

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Artists model

Today I have had a new experience, which is always welcome at my age.  I sat as a life model for a group of artists.  

The last time I had my image sketched was by a ten minute street artist in Beijing in 1996 (see image below).  I am not sure my mother would have recognised me from this.

Ivor by Beijing street artist 1996

Ivor by Beijing street artist 1996

During the last session today with the artists  I formed this Haiku in my head, and then shared it with them:

 

Will your measured marks

unmask the sitter’s face or

 just lie on paper?

 

One of the artists, Stephen Curtis, later came back to me with some of his rough sketches of me, and his Haiku in reply:

Your Haiku still rests

as a disturbing challenge

to we who aspire.

 

And here is one of his aspirations, below:

Stephen Curtis sketch of Ivor March 2015

Stephen Curtis sketch of Ivor March 2015

 

 

 

 

Peregrine

 Jean and I were watching a murmuration of Starlings gather, about 6000 birds in two groups, when a Peregrine Falcon attacked the group I was videoing, first from the right, then from the left.  The effect on the Starlings was amazing, and here is a Tanka to celebrate that moment.

 Click on this link to see  that moment from the my video clip starlings at Minsmere

 

Head of a Falcon By Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Head of a Falcon By Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Startle the murmur

leaf rustle of jewelled swirl

one will not be missed

your rush livens the ballet,

frenzied choreography.

Snipe

A walk in such a range of sunlight yesterday afternoon, when I was able to take some good photographs of Snipe feeding at the waters edge of Minsmere Mere.  Here is a Haiku with two photographs to share the moment.

Snipe-2   Snipe1

 

Probe stiletto, probe,

With soft tip like tiny lips

A kiss  before death.

 

Fourteen lines on The Peninsula

Geraldine Green (click here to visit her blog) led another workshop for an enthusiastic small group of  poets on Shotley Peninsula in Suffolk last week.  A stimulating  annual event that we all now look forward to.  The ‘Write on The Peninsula’ workshop was organised by Suffolk Poetry Society Chairman, Ian Griffiths, and generously hosted by Patience Shone.

One exercise was to write a sonnet in ten minutes, using one or two given words in each line,  the words, throat,yes and elbow,  had to be used in lines 1, 2 and 3, then the word longing used in both lines 4 and 5, etc, etc..  The finished poem is below.

sun

 

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Song has changed in the Robin’s throat
he sings for a mate,  then waits for a Yes
thoughts link to spring, the Sun signals yes,
dark winter is nudged by a radiant elbow.
A sharp surge of hope rekindles longing
for a sense of change, a new belonging,
as fresh sap pumps like athlete’s blood.
Emerging plants engorge their new spines,
my slumped spine uncurls in beckoning light,
warmth speeds in bone, from finger to heel,
almost a riffle in the garden’s green silence.
Light from afar reaches to my bared scalp
a powerful headlight from the heart of the Sun
heads straight to dormancy’s rekindled heart.

 

Exposure

There is a steady number of  people discovering in the later stage of their life that  contact with asbestos at an earlier date can be long lasting.

 

pleural

 

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A starved cur huddles in his lungs,
motionless, but coiled in tension,
awaiting some insignificant sign
of weakness, the encouragement.

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When I think of Christmas

Christmas 1948…. I have been thinking about writing this poem for years, one of the sharpest memories from my childhood. Finally,  I sat down this week, and it leapt onto the page.

 

Fireplace

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Bright red tiles, arched around an open fireplace
ablaze with suspect fuel from the midnight coalman,
Diddley Sharman, with his tired white horse
that knew which house to stop at in the dark.
Just light from the fire and the crackle of comfort,
with both parents there, silent, — clockwork
the only sound, blue tin shaped as The Mallard
breaking records on the small round track
not quite level on the threadbare rug
that wore the shape of the room’s worn floor.
And I remember dancing then, me, their only child,
secure and three years into the rationed peace.

 

 

 

 

The Elusive Purple Roller

One of the most elusive birds in Botswana was perhaps the most colourful.  For a moment one perched a considerable distance from me, and using a new camera, which was far more skilled than me, I managed to take the amazing photograph below.

S4-on-11th

Purple Roller, ( Coracias naevius )
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT

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For the briefest moment, as I raise the lens,
your black claws grip the dead Mopane wood
leg scales resting on the weathered limb,
purple striped cravat merging to waistcoat,
moss backed, cloaked in every shade of leaf life
splotched with hues of deep water
darker than the Chobe Forest winter sky.
A coloured whirl, then you have gone,
–           but only in reality.
Your captured image perches on my screen
I almost touch the texture of your plumage
but the brilliance of your eye
avoids the hunger of my gaze.

 

 

The River’s Voice

This poem was written for the Waveney and Blyth Arts recent Poetry Competition, and was ‘Commended’. The subject set was to write about the area that the Rivers Waveney and Blyth  flow through.

I read it at a poetry evening in Diss Cornhall on October 9th.

 

The River Waveney at Earsham

The River Waveney at Earsham –
Click on the image to enlarge it.

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I stood by the Waveney’s infinite flow
to question its banked wisdom;
“How many songs can you sing?”
The stream gurgled a gentle note.
“Do you miss the Bittern’s boom?”
The current brushed the empty reeds.
“Do you dream of flowing uphill?”
The rippled surface gave me sarcasm.
“How many sorrows have you soothed?”
I sensed a reply as long as the journey.

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The proof that civilisation started by eating together.

Jean and I were in Falmouth, Cornwall for a few days.  We were shown to a table for four in a restaurant and asked if we would mind sharing it,  if required.  We replied ‘No, we did not mind’.  Part way through the first course a stranger, subsequently identifying himself as George Woodward, sat down.   At the end of a loquacious meal, three friends made their farewells.

The two poems below were written to show him that poetry need not rhyme: the first is  a Haiku, which was then extended to a Tanka.

stein falmouth

Rick Stein’s restaurant, Falmouth

 

Serendipity

Chance table seating
can stimulate appetite
for proffered morsels.

 

George Woodward sat down.

Chance table seating
can stimulate appetite
for proffered morsels
of a seated stranger’s life
savouring favoured moments.

 

George Woodward claimed never to have written poetry before, but he looked at the Cinquain information in ‘Forms of Poetry’, elsewhere on this website, and then e-mailed me a few days later:

Dartmoor

Deep down
in Wistman’s Wood
misty moss encrusted
stumble boulders and ancient oaks
sun shafts

George has stated that he intends including verse in his daily note taking, I sincerely hope he does.

A Presence in the Wilderness – June 4th, 2014

 A highlight of our visit to The Kalahari, an unexpected meeting in fading light, just after sun-set, seventy metres from our tent.

K16-on-4th

 

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Deception Valley in the Central Kalahari,
where we searched for you for hours
amongst the desiccated grasses, rich
in brittle blooms of dormant plants,
Oryx and Ostrich,  solitary or grouped
and hovering noisy Black Korhaan’s
whose erratic  flight amused,
but nothing seemed disturbed,
which hinted at your absence.

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Secretary Bird Tanka

Here is a thirty- one syllable Tanka straight from the Central Kalahari, inspired by that wonderful member of the Eagle family.  The photos were taken with my birthday present from my wife.

 

K7-on-3rd

Secretary Bird, click on the image to enlarge it

 

 

Some soar but I stride

tirelessly in long black shorts

quills behind my ears

desiccation dictating

managerial options.

 

 

The splendor of the Central Kalahari's dry vegetation,  Click on the image to enlarge.

The splendour of the Central Kalahari’s dry vegetation, Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Mr and Mrs Badge

 Have you ever been on a wonderful travel experience, where one or more of those taking part think that you are very fortunate to have them in the group?

kenya badge

south africa

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How reassuring it must be
believing  your experience and knowledge,
however slight,
takes  priority in all discussions.

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Reading the Rune

A recent note from Geraldine Green reminded me to post another one of my poems that started in one of her dynamic workshops in January 2014, and was subsequently polished over a several months to result in this final version.

 

mannaz_rune

 

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Passed amongst them from hand to hand
polished pebbles in a soft leather bag.
The bard’s fingers sift the sensual sack
seeking a smooth, attractant stone
carefully incised with a single rune
that may invoke the gods to speak.

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A Sweet Retrospective

In the 1930’s the Pan Floor Manager was the most powerful man in the Home Grown Sugar (beet)  factories, and a seven year apprenticeship had to be undertaken to learn how to boil sugar.  That power had long gone in the 1960’s and it took me about a month to learn how to run a Pan to make sugar. A sugar boiler ran three Pans at once, which could be hectic on timing.  Today the process is computer operated.

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Vaccum Pans at Bury St. Edmunds Sugar Factory, circa 1960

Vaccum Pans at Bury St. Edmunds Sugar Factory, circa 1960

C-R-A-C-K  the bleed  on the Pan’s suction line
then open the main to the stolen air’s roar,
swirl the feed tap  to its end stop
charging the vessel with evaporated juice.
When liquid licks at the lowest sight glass
slam shut the feed – then summon the skill.

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Lines of demarcation

All poets sift their childhood for subject matter, and some experiences surface more readily than others.

 

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Canned-Sardines

 

It was winter, several weeks from his fifth birthday

when  his father left him at  grandmother’s farm.

No memory of  a parting,  perhaps its casualness

the catalyst for future ambivalence?

 

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Fading by degree

One of our shyest Summer visitors, the Grasshopper Warbler sings in a high range, somewhere between 5 to 8 kHz.  

Grasshopper_Warbler

Photo by jtwood on www.birdforum.net

 

Reeling in the reeds

your high pitched Summer love song

ageing ears can’t hear