Short texts 1990s

In the 1990s there seems to be a shift towards simpler diction, brevity and the use of rhythm and observation to convey changing perceptions, actions and thoughts.

Walking the dog

three adders along the track

clouds of butterflies above

pale-seeded grass

whilst first arrivals come to

the scout-field picnic, we,

the dog and I, trail the shadows

of larches and oaks

we trudge through deep

red clay where horses have

stamped into sagged and puckered


a buzzard, unused to company

in this dark and solitary

hour, takes his slow-flapping


a wood-pigeon, cornered by

surprise and lost imagination,

ignites into fistfuls of wings,

cleaving the silence with

ill-tempered grace

what can the dog do but

bark and run at empty air?

[5 July 1992]



what is it that we meet

turning in the quietness

of a shadow?

what is it that moves

the air on the edge

of the dark pond?

and here in the city,

where police inspect

the night by helicopter

and an ambulance hunts

for fugitive pain, what

is it that we meet in

the crowded street

between the takeaway

and the bank?

[10 July 1992]


That look

the woman has that look

of bone-like shock, as if

her body was no longer

inhabited but left to

carry on its daily tasks

unaided, and she carrying

the feathery bundle of

a child

running from sniper-fire

is no way to raise a family

[25 July 1992]


A night in the caravan

roof scuffed and brushed by

narrow-leaved arms of the wind

cones and scales of

bark fall to the


this morning’s hymn is to

moving air, to ceaseless

mobility of branch and

cypress frond

what fury the wind ignored

by rigid timbers raised against

cloud-whipped sky

[22 August 1992]


Poetic licence

according to Giraldus Cambrensis,

the Welsh priest and historian,

writing in 1188:

an eagle is said to know

the place where it can find

its prey, but not the time


a raven knows the time,

but not the place

[August 1992]


New Forest

all these charred and twisted

shards of heather, like so many

bones scattered across a misty


in the shallow wet light of this

August evening even the pines

seem to float and shiver as

the choirs of silver birches

gather to sing

[25 August 1992]

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