Sometimes I write poetry. Not very often, mind! It’s mostly prose. I mostly write urban nature poetry: think John Clare in a post-industrial landscape.


The Walker/Worker

I took part in a teleconference for writers as part of the “Free Range Humans” Virtual festival today. Basically, it was a discussion with other writers and aspiring writers from around the world. As part of it, we did an exercise where we wrote a pastiche of another writer. We’d chosen a favourite piece of writing in advance. I’d chosen ‘The School Boy’ from Songs of Experience by William Blake, as it fits so well with the “free range humans” approach to life. William Blake was an early free ranger who definitely lived life on his own terms. Here’s a link to the original poem: http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/blake/schoolboy.html

Anyway, this is what I turned it into. We had to think of a character and a situation before we started the exercise and I invented a man called Bob, who is an office worker, sitting at his crashed computer when he would much rather be walking in the Peak District.


I love to wake on Saturdays

When alarms do not ring;

The walker plans out better days

To listen to the skylark sing:

What sandwiches to bring?


But commuting on a spring day

Oh! It drives me crazy!

My manager smirks in his insincere way

As if I’m bloody lazy.

I should be grateful that he pays me…


And when my computer crashes

And IT put me on hold

Through my mind I get flashes

That if only I was bold

I could escape – I know it’s cold;


But how can man born of joy

Sit drooping in an office?

Can I forget things that annoy?

My yearn for freedom is no vice.

Blue sky outside tries to entice.


My youthful plans were nipped in the bud.

Mum said “get a mortgate”; dad: “get a job”.

Emotions turning into a flood

They didn’t want me to be a slob

But my soul this job doth rob!


How shall we feel joy

When programmed to work and shop?

The powers seem determined to destroy –

Rivers to pollute, woods to chop.

When they are gone, we’ve not got a lot!


Adventures on the Bolehills

Here are some poems that I wrote last Christmas after a walk in the Bolehills, which is an area with a park and old allotments at the edge of the Rivelin valley in Sheffield. I think of it as my “patch”, where I go to unwind and enjoy nature:


The Fairy Hill in Summer

Adventures on the Bolehills   23rd December 2012


The wild wood

The winter sun leads me here

Through the tangled wood

To the old allotments

Where a discarded board of forgotten keys

Glitters with rain on rust

And an old rake grows in a tree

The wild wood has grown again

Over lost lives

Various shards of glass

And perished rubber

Bramble covers the earth

And the empty branches of the oaks sing

In the cold wind


The oven door

The ash tree grew around the oven door

It had been thrown out years ago

On the allotment at the bottom of the garden

The flesh of the tree grew around the rusty metal

And its growth carried the door three feet towards the sky

The unnatural becoming nature


The magpie and the jay

They say it’s bad luck to see a magpie

But what about a jay?

It darts through the winter woods,

full of colour and mischief.

A magpie lands high in the oak

It’s white belly feathers blow,

Fluffy in the wind

It looks vulnerable

Just another creature surviving the lean times.


The fairy hill

Next to the worn-out remains

Of a sunken lane

The fairy hill stands

Crowned with sycamores

Swaying in the wind

Its view of streets and towerblocks

Next to the ancient fields

But still I feel something here

The power of the wind and the land

And the turning of the seasons.

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