Healey Dell Viaduct photographed Summer 2010
This is a poem about my dad told through the tools of his trade.


Heavy wood, dark with age
Corners worn off
By Time, by use
By His hands
Inside the stone
Flat smooth
Glistens grey green
The sweet smell of oil
The swooshing, sliding, grinding
See those firm hands gripping
shaping, honing
His dry skinned palm
Rough and faded
Tests the edge
Sharp and precise
A few more stokes
A wipe, a polish
I replace the wooden lid

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Sanity burning

Here’s a new poem about someone who starts fires – it isn’t based on a single real person but on bits of things I’ve come across over the years. No pictures of fires here but the “B of the bang” sculpture in Manchester fits nicely (the sculpture was eventually dismantled because it was dangerous)
“B of the Bang” photographed at Manchester Sportcity

He no longer cares
burned it all away
matches, bonfires
cars, houses
it didn’t matter
took away the pain
hurt drifting upwards
wind blown on the smoke

He’d stagger home
Alcohol dimmed senses
cosy armchair comfort
music and books
old gold framed photos
black and white pasts
glimmering ….
He settled briefly
contented calm
and the fireplace sparked
his inferno reignited
the wide eyes stare
pale skin reflects orange
and all that’s left
charcoal blackened memories

And the familiar cell
who’s iron bars don’t burn
and where, for now
he no longer cares

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The Churn

I wrote this poem about my Granny when she was about 95, based on memories from my childhood and beyond. I hope it gives a feel for how her generation lived.

Granny aged 94 – pencil drawing

Splash, thud, splash, thud
Like the paddles of a Mississippi steamer
Steady, rhythmic, beating time, lento
Now the sound marks the final stage
The last carefully choreographed steps
The dance? Its churning day

In the kitchen, listening, feeling
As she turns the old wooden handle
Splash, thud, splash, thud
Only a few minutes to go
She knows the dance so well
Created it perhaps
Still she stops to check

The milk had stood in its basin
As the cream rose to the top
She had skimmed it off, gently
Sometimes she blows across the surface
Sometimes she uses a flat spoon
The cream had stood in its bowl
Now it is ready, the churning begun

The rhythmic beat grows slower, softer
Two more little glances under the lid
Just to be sure
On the paddle the small clumps
Have started to form
Soon the paddle stops

She washes her already clean hands
Pin-head oatmeal to remove the soap
The super-clean hand reach into the churn
And draw out the golden butter
In a wooden bowl she kneads it
Forms it into shape
Wraps it and stands it on the pantry shelf

Granny always made the best butter
Rich, smooth, soft and tasty
So much better than mass-produced
We children always knew that
Expectant we’d listen
Splash, thud, splash, thud
Like the paddles of a Mississippi steamer

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I’m a Bloody Poet Now!

 I wrote this little poem about being, or rather becoming a poet. Once you get started it can be a bit addictive. This one is written for performance and starts off as if I am speaking at a meeting of “Poets Anonymous”
Teasel photographed in Mum’s garden

I’m Seamus,
And I’m ….
A poet

No, please don’t look at me like that
I won’t shout, or snap, or bite
Its just that sometimes I suffer
From an awful urge, to write

I don’t know when it started
And I don’t remember how
But some words just came together
And I’m a bloody poet now

I don’t have to write another
I’m always in control
Just a short one and then I’ll stop
Yes! I’m getting stronger now

Just a couple of lines
Now surely that can’t hurt
My God its miles past Midnight now
Ah! just a couple more

I think I hit rock bottom
And truth stared me in the face
I just couldn’t keep from writing
But I couldn’t stand the pace

All that poetry makes you think
And look at things too hard
And describe every tiny detail
The minutiae of life

The answer lies in writing prose
No more counting syllables
Chapters instead of verses
The twiddly bits all gone

No need to read out loud
To make it sound just right
Not panicking so much when
The bleedin’ words don’t fit, quite like they might

I think I’m making progress
The rhyme is long since gone
But the damn thing’s still got rhythm
So I’m standing here tonight

I don’t know when it started
And I don’t remember how
But some words just came together
And I’m a bloody poet now

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