Texts 1960s-70s


 Untitled Poem (from 1966)

what would she

in all the world

to touch closely

she seems leaning

too close too soon

to touch or least

to glance in eyes

the strangeness

of our ways

for in turn

we move our wills

away from birth

and from our bodies

the other wanders

seeking freedom


why lost, contained

when we only

find it here


Untitled (c.1967)

I am bombarded

by white umbrellas

adrift in late afternoon air

feathery lace-ribbed

they clutch at my hair

& slide over my neck

it is the seed of green things

I think slowly being warm

just sitting & tired

I cannot smell the flowers

of our garden they are too far

away from me

on the other side

of the short-cropped lawn

behind me an excavator’s neck

peers with its one wheel of eye

at the hairs

standing up straight

on my head

needless to say

I am alone


September (c.1967)

along the trickle

of brown earth

a slow amble to the brow

& I watch the valley



then urging on for the hurry

& inbreaths of descent

the outbreaths

building short soft houses

of mist


I slip into the lowerscape

turf & twigs screwed in my hand

feet splaying


mad ballet

of out &



two feet

playing pizzicato

leap along a whispy dark thread

of sheep path


into a slow flatness


I turn

toward the hills

who shrug a few trees

at me


I turn


& make a clown’s counterpoint
















Untitled (14 October 1967)

street forever

down to the docks

& widening

out into the still grey

autumnal sea


leaves of grey boats

veins of red & blue

girding a funnel

a thin & thick stripe

waistband necklace

upon a nest of frigate’s branches

stuck on top of a sheaf

of aluminium wireless spikes



timber piles

stacks of

two by fours


a coast thick droopy

fog    quiet shawl

around the shoulders

of the bay

no view

of the inland


points of fir

knifing out the sea-green



Last two poems of October 1967


the years rotate….

lopped-off stumps

naked round ends of fir branches

radiating out

at the horizontal

tall fir body

with crinkly bark

furrowed old skin


on the eaves

looks under



the rippled roof thrust down

lurches into the greenery

thick needles close around him


he clacks away



low cloud gropes along

small whisp fire-smoke

drifts & rolls

fades into grey tree-tops



drags a branch of birch

still silver in parts

scrapes the gravel makes

tracks in the driveway

turns it over

& over

until it pivots

on the bramble bushes

curves of spruce

hang down

comb the air just

above his head

bundles of brown leaves


around the wheels

of the Vauxhall

ivy in the distance

darkens the first six feet

of a dead but standing

straight unbranched

birch again


Fogface (8 November 1967)

fog came down

crept over us

all of us in the streets

against lights


flat sheets in the dark

paced in it

face & breath


no great


fog & face

cold flesh thrust





the space

between sheets

of fog


Dogwalk (8 November 1967)

a dog

tailpole erect

pats four feet

across the frosted


makes curious shade

of the fuzzy sun


shows he is no statue

but animal walking


grabs the cold by its

stiff morning coat &

shakes, for himself,

a day’s warmth out of it


no man’s dog


a loner


knows the road

& the space between

each vehicle

too well

to be suddenly

a red splash

brushed with tyres


Gorse-gandering (November 1967)


& the fern tangle

knees gouged


spears of seeded grass

hang handles down

from my sweater

& jeans


up the gorse ridge

clay stuck to shoes

peep between spikes

at cows & the far



shale slides

flat decks of granite

quartz blocks jut out

& glint


high sun

peers into bottom quarry



rock doves

hurl themselves

or fall

feet drawn up

beaks & necks



Fire in the Rain (5 January 1968)

almost midnight again.


& it rained today

wind with it & thin mist


three children died

on the radio

their house on fire

in all that rain


I heard a fire siren

in the late afternoon

but it wasn’t for them

they were

two hundred miles away

& for half-a-minute

national news


Two Untitled (probably 1968)

even if

you had taken

the trouble

to look


I would


still have

walked on

& the discomfort

would be no less:


my head swivelling

a thousand miles




there’s a crow

in a tree


a linnet on

the tip of

that rock



rattles his throat

out of sight


it’s cold & still


eight inches of tree-stump

jarring out the flat green



Untitled (2 June 1968)



in bushes





just like

a man




Untitled (c.1968)

shifting my leg

I uncover an inch

or two

of bare armchair


Pea-stick Rondo (c.1968)

chopping birch branches


for pea-sticks you have

to get them about three

feet long    the smaller

twigs forming something

like a fan


you point the thick end


& clean the lower six

inches of side-twigs

so that you can push

it into the soil    you

make a vaulting of

sticks    an extended

tent    the fine tips &

small buds crossing

hands at the top


when your peas


are planted & you’ve

waited they’ll twine

& creep up both sides

of the tent until they

tangle together at the

top & drop fat pods

into sheltered air

between them &

the ground


Two Poems from Iconolatre, Issue 22/23, 1968

(retaining the punctuation and typographical tics as published)


kids hand,

rubbed flat along the length

of the iron bridge,

leaves a mark.


a bit of him

rubbed off

on it.


some of it

(dust & rust)

rubbed off

on him.


mutual gift

of bridge & boy.

even this cold evening.






walked home

during a lull

in the rain

when the sun

(an extended flash)

smacked the concrete

& I’m almost sure

steam rose



I’d seen

hung up

from lamp to lamp

across the street


but that was in town

above slick shops

& bus queues


here a gull

traverses the street

at fifty feet

twists its head


& climbs higher


And another poem from an Iconolatre Anthology, 1969

(a few pages after poems by Douglas Blazek, George Bowering and Charles Bukowski – illustrious company, at the time)

chewed & chopped

into tea-leaf stature

fibres strung-out

pulled along the length

of a certain white papet


comes the hand

fire on the match


the death:

charring red

then feathered white

falls some of it


& the transfiguration:

some of it



snakes its goodbye

into the corners

& transparency


one tight room

left gasping



the smoking.

R. Strauss to the ears.

Oct. 67


Goat Story (c.1969)

in the yellow field


I found a wild goat

with a tattered ear    he’d

caught somehow in a thicket

on a thorn    bitch-of-a-bush

bellowed & threshed dark

under black-pine    came out

red-eared & wet of sweat

& blood    lay down by the mill

licked it dry    & slept


I met him perhaps two hours

later    freshly wounded    grey





Summer Sequence: Cityscape (c.1969)

Nothing is little to him who feels it

with great sensibility.’ Samuel Johnson


all afternoon

children play games

as if their lives

depended on it



hot tyres branding

the road’s black




a flash of white

lifts my eye:

a seagull in all

that blue of sky



I sweep the dust

along the floor

but the patch of

sunlight will not

be hurried



a sea moves overhead:

waves of thin cloud

lapping against the sun



myself I see

in the urgent wanderings

of the fly



a seagull rides

on a puff of cloud



sunbeams press

upon the typewriter keys

& this poem gets




shadows on my flesh:

sparrows cross the sun


I sit here enthralled:

sky like a great

map unfolding



slowly the shadows

revolve: the trees,

the earth, turning



I slept for an

afternoon while all around

the sound of children



Four ways to the old woman (from 1968-69)


From a letter about her childhood:


we made fires of birch branches,

dead old fungi rotted into crisp

summer pulp, bracken, hay, fibres

pulled from dead stumps white

& easy to split. Smoke hung

over forty acres of wild daffodils




A man:


I met old woman

along the thin road.

She had on a haggard face.

Her bony old legs

Were  like walking sticks.

We didn’t speak.

Silence climbed ten miles.

Her gown was of fine



I felt she hadn’t lied to me.





I was more alone with him

than without. He never spoke.

We were both on the same road.



Sing up old woman

tell us about the men.


Men do not figure in it at all.

They laid me down and I was easy.


Why do you wear such a gown?


It is to hide a scar. My only

breast is still firm. Feel.


Was it cancer?


It was restlessness. I was not

content. Wanted more.






Railway observations from the early 1970s

Ducks on a pond

cows in a field

a few hundred people

on a train





A sheep on its back

in the middle of a field



or giving birth?





Cows with their ears tagged

me & my dreams

we’re all on our way to market





In the evening light

even short trees make long shadows





I sit on the train reading Chinese philosophy

out the window there’s an ancient White Horse

on my lap, a dead fly





Wind ripples water

& bends the grass

but a business man’s face

stays the same





Clouds & sheep

sheep & clouds


what’s the difference?





A man does a crossword

I read a book

a girl falls asleep


we may get off at different stations

but we’re all on the same train





Somewhere in Somerset

eight cows meet on a bridge


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