Friday, 30 December 2016

Christmas Day

Christmas Day dawned mild and clear
And I though about the wind still blowing.

The trees on Christmas Day shook
Their empty heads, no more leaves to fall,
And clouds rushed across the blue
Impatient shreds of nothing,
Orange against the sky.


Lies are told,
With grains of truth.

We agree. We disagree.
No-one cares;
Nothing matters,
Fact or fiction.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Colours of Today

The colour of today is angry:
Flecked with spit and foam
And spit again.

The rising sun reflects fire
Beyond the line of sight: hidden,
Sour, like acid in the belly plates,
Boiling till it belches useless bile.

Menu Ad Astra

Eric IdleProfessor Brian Cox and Noel Fielding are explaining the universe in a forthcoming BBC musical - The Entire Universe - showing over Christmas, on Boxing Day, I believe. I thought it relevant to resurrect this piece. 

To start:

Hydrogen bombes,
     Delicate, nascent cosmic embryos
     Of pure fusion universes,
     Less than a nanosecond old,
     As big as grapefruit and as dense
     As all there is.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


So cold
Mist freezes
On leafless trees,
Every stick and stem

Orion rises late;
The dwindling days
Prey to his dogs
And weapons.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Oh, Sunrise,
You beaches,
It is no favour I ask.
Will you come again?
Oh, Beaches,
You sand-grains,
Speck of red, oh rising sun.

Waves Upon a Beach

Waves upon a beach
Rattle up boulders to build a shoreline.
In the calm shallows, shellfish
Lay down their bones for tomorrow’s stone.

An ocean floor rises over time
To the roof of the world.
While the waves of a primeval shore
Still crash in the chemistry of our cells.

Waves upon a beach
In time change everything.
Life, on the crest of change,
Goes on, leaving itself behind.

Tomorrow continues to be born.

Arc of the Lovers

In a back street,
Rain has fallen,
Lies in pools.
A man throws away
His cigarette. It hisses,
Dying, in the wet.

And she throws caution
To the wind that blows
Her hair in shadows
Round her face.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Slivers of Memory

Sky scudded its shapeless cloud; I stared up in wonder,
Alone on the cold granite stairway of my house;
The quaking earth shook in my trembling limbs.

In the night, half awake in my darkened room,
Lions roared around my bed, a raging menagerie
Beneath its narrow frame.

In a dream I saw my mother
Lean forward and, with her knees, gently close
The dresser drawer in which my clothes were folded;
She pulled the door to just a crack of light, enough
For sleep to come and hold me.

Monday, 31 October 2016


Rain on stone
Drips from sills,
Floods the gutters,
Drains away.

The empty streets are always empty.
Faces reflect in windows; rain falls anyway.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


It comes to this. Time passes and nothing alters.

A black shoreline stretches, rippled water on it, laps.
They kneel in contemplation, purgatorial souls gathered
For a Stygian moment before their crossing.


Went down to the crossroads
Tried to beg a ride. 
Asked, can anyone show me mercy?
Got nowhere left to hide;

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Waiting Room

Waiting room: warm as sleep,
Seats lined along the walls,
In a periphery of patience;
Magazine pages rustle
In casually shaking hands;
Advertising on a screen
Mimics normality and the sea
Rushes to shore, tide rising;
Elsewhere a chamber of politicians
Drags out decision or indecision,
Drones on.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


I looked in all the old places
Where the bones of the dead
And the stones they had become
Slept in each others arms.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Who Presumes?

Who presumes to speak for the dispossessed;
Those who strip them bare like thieves and brigands;
Those who find affront in the naming of their dispossession?

The great unwashed heave themselves 
Through drab days; the poor are always with us.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Ozone Spindle Your Highness

The old dogs have barked their last and gone wild again:
Too many black nights baying at the moon’s dark heart.


I am old now, for a poet
Having four hundred and thirty two poems 

Scrawled in my name.


Ten years old,
Down a lane
Behind the school,
Outside primary seven
On the play-yard gravel,

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Roads and Eyes

Roads we travel on, eyes half open,
Lulled by the rattle of wheels.

Eyes we fix on the division
Between here and there:
Spattered panes in bus windows;
And the passing verges blur,
The faces of fellow travellers
Hang transparent, drowned in shadow.

Monday, 29 August 2016

September Light

In September light,
Before the leaves turn
Summer holds its breath.

Sun sits low on the skyline
And shines under the red 

Reflection of its setting.

Water Under the Bridge

Water under the bridge:
The dead and gone;
Shades of meaning
No longer important.

First there was water
From rain or snowmelt,
Running underground,
Resurfacing, a spring
Out of bare rock.

Monday, 22 August 2016


Full moon hung on a blue-grey sky;
Trees in distance black against it;
Nothing moved in the clear air,
No night birds, no clouds to speak of.

The moon’s aura silvering the grey,
Cast light on the outbuildings,
Filled the yards with ghosts, shone
On the rubble roads and track-ways
Winding up my hill.

A horizon’s paper-thin edge cut the timeless night in two.

Curved Air

Spin the world on its axis. On its mahogany table,
The slightest touch will turn a globe of antique wood.

Spin it with the sweep of a hand: an idle gesture 
While contemplating other aspects of the day.

Spin it and then go; there are better things 
To be done. Meanwhile the entire planet turns.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Mare Ingenii

Summer is the deceitful season, delusion
Sweats in feverish heat and light is endless.
The sun never sets on its empire of days,
Skimming the rim of sight at midnight.

A periodic rhythm, regular,
A dance, full-circle, draws time round.
Here in the mountains, dry for now,
The sound of water echoes, spring is recalled;
Winter is presaged by rainy autumn.

Frame of Refence

No more reason any more:
Sense in flux like molten rock,
Magma on what was solid ground;

Old certainties swept away
Like a pyroclastic flow from
The core of the earth;

Thursday, 14 July 2016

White Rabbit

These pills in an small agate box;
Carry on as if…

Take each day the daily dose.

Medicine: a semi-precious stone,
Or counterfeit health trapped by it.
Powders and potions, nothing but
The dust of ground-down rocks.

Just ask Alice. Or Jefferson.

Late Light

Summer night falls on the sea-lochs,
Its long gloaming dim in the kyles;
Heavy-lidded, shadow deepens
In the folds of the hills.

They brood, craig and bealach,
The fanned scree’s debris, the high pastures,
Frowning at the last ebb of dusk
Scowling as the last rays burn
Shreds of cloud over island and horizon.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Easy Rider

Crossing the border
They threw away their watches
Time was indifferent to them now.

Riding the highway
Tomorrow coming like a dream
Crossing the rivers of arid lands
They went in search of…

Friday, 24 June 2016


Human eyes see as in the beginning;
Since the dawn of cells, all change,
If change it were, was in the mind
Light interpreted as it falls
Shadow’s darkness guessed at.

Green became the colour of place
Canopy, valley, grassland, pasture,
And blue, the sky, except when cloud
Held it down, neutral and grey.
Brown and black made the ground,
Heath and tree bark, the soil beneath.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Different Again

I breathed in.
The air, in hollows or rooms.
Entered me, invisible.

Out, I breathed part of me:
An exchange as invisible
As each breath before it.


rough birch bark leans in silence
to the wood grove’s pitch-black dark
so falls dusk however temporary
till only fingertips can see
the invisible forest

animal noises rattle the broom pods
bending under stems furtively creeping
to ground in some black burrow
then soundless like a breath
gasped in the gape of night

Monday, 30 May 2016


Follow me down, raindrop, between cleft earth
Where roots in the chasm twist and writhe;
Come with me to caverns with neither light
Nor water.

Long Hand

The long hand sweeps, dials time for me.
Oh, the hours, they hardly matter;
Slow by comparison.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


I caught the blues from my baby
Walking down by San Francisco Bay.
It’s an old clichĂ©.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Inner Sound

A beat, like the sun rising behind you,
A crack of dawn over the mountains;
Cloud shifts; shafts reach over your shoulder,

Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Room with Black Text

I live in a room, with black text scrawled
On ink-stained pages: typescripts piled
Ceiling-high, I live among notebooks and notes.

I have cabinets of ill-assorted documents,
Drawings sketching roads from there to here:
Roads well-trodden, followed for safety,
And those less-travelled, never taken.

But not for the want of deliberation.

Sunday, 17 April 2016


What falls out of the sky was neither rain
Nor mercy: cold faces set hard
Against transgression only mirror it.

True victims are dead and buried,
But we take their status on till,
Like a sickness inside the family,
It rubs along with grief.

Out Patients

In the street, cold tranquility, traffic,
Yellow lines and wind from the east.

The hospital grounds lie green,
I remember, and the blossom,
Such as it is, pale red;
Too early in the season for warmth
With the vigorous chill of a sea-wind blowing.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Trees in the Forest

A tree in this forest grew for me
Rings around its heart, season by season,
Enclosing a hollow beginning, stretched to light
From a dawn in the leaf litter’s shadow.

Thursday, 31 March 2016


For God’s sake, put something human there;
Add the I-word or rub in some personality;
Otherwise words only follow words,
Sense and nonsense in apparent order
Or none at all.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Art Theft

Artists, at fever pitch
Daub anger and delight
Against the wisdom of a day,
Every stroke, a slash of paint
A bright essence, underscoring.

Troubled times.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Ten-ten oh-two

On a day like today
When a velvet sky rains grey
A planet might stop its spin
To touch a moment and pause.

But our world turns
On dimes and dollars,
On the spendthrift blood of nations.
Our lives are built of currency
And the ignorance it brings.
© BH, 2002

Thursday, 10 March 2016

A Poet

That was not it at all; that is not what I meant at all

A poet told me this but his lines
Said something else, reading between,
Something else again. How am I to think
With so much meaning?

Monday, 29 February 2016

Dry Landscape - 2015

Journey north in a late, late summer;
Try to tell if change in the air 
Has seeped into the ground.

Water, buildings, shanty sheds, 
Seen from the roadway,
Seem otherwise the same,
Reflecting a slate sky.

Sunday, 28 February 2016


Rising sap.

Liquid iterations of soil
Upwardly mobile
Defy gravity.

In phloem and xylem
The line from earth to heaven
Is drawn.

Other lines
Cross the horizon
A line itself
Contorted by landscape
Placated by sky.

Secret Agent

Phone is ringing.

A voice whispers in my ear
And I know already
What I am about to say.


The outside sun is only rising
On a day like today
Because dense cloud has parted
And red sky warns of rain to come,
Warning us all who sell the benefits
Of different clothes, or better weather.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Dialects of Human

In Babylon, the works of men,
Hands crabbing in the dirt,
Raise edifices to the sky.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

My Breathing

My breathing,
Fast and shallow
Like the tide
Over coral.

My thoughts,
Dense dreams
Where memory was fever.


A solitary man; a switch.

…electricity behind walls…
…eyes blessed with vision…

A switch; a chain reaction.

…let there be light…
…all the burning energies…
…our metallic gods…

Here, a modern man
And his good wife, a modern woman,
Take the mystery of switches for granted.