Our Boy

It's been a while since I've posted any new poems, but let me assure you that I have been writing! I've been kept quite busy with work of different sorts, but that's not the only reason. It has actually been eight months since I last posted. It was the poem 'Her Fingers', a celebration of my amazing wife and her creativity. 
One of the reasons I have been so busy is that, for the last eight months, Silje and I have been preparing for the best of changes in our lives. We are expecting our first child, a baby boy, in time for Christmas!
As you can image this has inspired a great many poems about the prospect of fatherhood, the miracle of life, the impending responsibility,  of journeying through pregnancy with Silje, her courage and strength, our boys developing body, mind and soul, his kicking and jumping within the womb, the glimpses of his face at scans etc etc etc.
So I'm really excited to share with you one of the latest poems that I've written for our …

Her Fingers

Her fingers press the keys
With skilful muscle memory
Of adolescent compositions.

But now, her fingers are clothed
In the jewels of promise
And the band of union.
Her fingers press the keys With skilful memory.
A would be forgotten melody Is slowly remembered, Quickly played.
But her fingers have changed. They have reassembled the shards of me, They have studied my skin,
They are now clothed With the jewels of our promises, And the engraved band Of our union.

I wrote this poem in 2014 for my wife Silje soon after we were married as she played something she’d written years before. I was watching her, and struck by the simple image of her playing a piece she’d written with fingers that are now clothed with our wedding and engagement rings. 

When it snowed in Montpellier in February 2018 she was playing Prelude in C Major by J.S Bach. I thought the image of her playing with the snow outside would go well with this poem, so I recorded her without telling her. She can be very shy about her music. But don’t w…

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Hi everyone!

I’m really excited to announce that my poetry has been included in a collaborative anthology ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ being published to support the charity ‘Mind’... and it goes on sale TODAY!  My copy arrived yesterday and it’s a beautiful book with lots of amazing poems from 116 poets around the world. 

The book explores different aspects of mental health, and is designed to grow with positivity throughout its sections. My poem, which is about how recovery and redemption can beautify the scars and stains of our suffering, is therefore towards the end of the book. For me it’s really exciting to see my work published in a book (on real paper with an ISBN and everything!) but more so, to be part of such a wonderfully constructive project that will help people who struggle with their mental health. I had the privilege of working alongside ‘Mind’ during my years working for the Watford homeless charity ‘New Hope’ and can testify to their wonderful work.

The very talen…

Railay Number 4 - Princess Lagoon

As the morning sun starts to bake
the red earth of these hills,
we set out.

Clasping rock and rope,
we embed our digits into this land as the mud embeds beneath our finger-nails.
I am shoeless and bare chested, to let the clay paint my skin with the story of this journey.
This climb is not about a summit, but an isolated depth, an interior sea-level  inside this peninsula's ribcage.
So we re-descend the steep trachea walls, and listen to the breathing path whistle and giggle in playful respiration.
If you are fascinated with the echo of this palaeolithic chamber, that vocal selfie-stick,
the waters of the lagoon will freeze in interrupted stillness, shy of the volume of trespassing tourists.
But, if you listen in silence, long enough for your feet to sink beneath the surface
the heart beneath the water begins to beat, and the lagoon will rouse unto its pious dance, with darting fish, red-breasted birds and unseen monkeys,
whilst a gargantuan web soundly glistens as the sun pierces through from the world of th…

The Vine and the Branches

Photograph of a vineyard in Les Cévennes, by Silje Lilly. Taken in July 2017.

John 15:1-8
Gleaning grapes before October storms,
the vines are ancient fingers, deathly-dry and knotted digits. bark-scarred with the wisdom of growing. They are crowned with a branchy vibrancy, of greenery, naivety and fertility.
The miracle of the vine and the branches is the fruit.
The credulous branches, are trusted to bear the weight of the yield, their green luminescence is continually fed by the vine that looks like deadwood.  A Lamb looking as though it had been slain.

I wrote this poem in the Autumn of 2016 while I was in a vineyard on the outskirts of Montpellier, where Silje and I live, in the south of France. We were picking grapes after the harvest and enjoying time reading and writing in the autumn sun. Silje took the photo in July 2017 while in another vineyard in Les Cévennes, a short drive north.
Time and again, since moving to Mediterranean France in 2015, I have read biblical imagery of nature while…

A Writer's Paradise

I find myself where
the wind in the leaves is heard
but traffic is not,
where hills without houses
roll to the horizon,
where the creaky chair and desk of tired varnish
furnish the coming days with ideal,
and I must write.
The air is fresh and the sun blistering, et je vais parler français  avec les amis, en buvant le vin de la région,  et la sensation de la conversation dans une belle langue  ajoute une émotion pure, when I come to write verse in my native tongue.
And the boisterous laughter of children, and the giggling of an infant energise this siesta atmosphere to fill the time with melody, and the fill the melody with words, and to fill the words with meaning, to fill the coming months avec le repos de maintenant.

Written in July 2017 while Silje and I were on retreat with some friends in a tiny village in the south of 'Le Parc National des Cévennes.' 
As I learn to speak more French I have experimented writing bi-lingual poetry... This is the first one that I am sharing on this blog. Here I chang…


It’s not only in the colours and outlines
of the soft rounded hills and calabrese trees,
and every possible variant of the colour green, under a grey sky.

It’s also in the patterns of rust
drawing maps on corrugated roofs
of trackside farm buildings.
It’s in the wells of deep hoof print 
in black sodden earth
surrounding a trough of water.
It’s in the living fence-posts of moss-damp wood,
and beacons of fresh-yellow timber
where it has been recently mended.
It’s in the crown-of-thorns birds-nest
visible through naked limbs of a winter oak.
It’s in the irregular circles of tiny yellow lichen
on the unique fragments of our planet
which make up ancient stone walls.
It’s in the fragile chandeliers, of frosted spiders-webs
that decorate an evergreen hedge.

When I return, 
I find my home
in the details of Britain. 

This poem was written in the autumn/winter of 2016, whilst I was visiting the UK. 
Since moving to France, it feels like I have been given new eyes for my home country. A new appreciation for the beaut…