Sunday, 17 August 2014

Cairngorm Haiku

wind rustling the pines
the white noise of the forest
voices in the trees


the edge of hearing
brittle pine branches snapping
slug eats a mushroom


ant metropolis
tens of thousands of workers
in endless labour


young osprey calling
to be fed by mother hen
next week she'll be gone


female grouse disturbed
flies for cover into trees
away from humans


female roe disturbed
darts for cover into trees
away from humans


waiting for winter
a ski-slope dreams of the snow
as summer passes


the need to ascend -
a steep climb upwards, moonwards
cloud forms question mark


technology's song -
wind blows through radio mast 
a lonely music


tranquil afternoon
a calmness on the water
before the debate


two grey men in suits
argue about the future
while we drink whisky

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Dust and Ancient Light

we are made of dust and ancient light
of matter and molecules married by chance
we are the stuff of stars
now bride and groom are fused together
as perpetrators of circumstance

do you take this force of nature
for better and for worse?
these cells and particles to honour and obey?
let us join together to celebrate this tiny universe
and let no man rent asunder

speak now, or forever hold thy fragile peace

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Lakeland haiku

crows fly below us
step-by-step, a steep ascent,
above, only sky


poet captures words
cages them between the lines
sentence meted out


friendless, wandering
existing to shed tears
solitude of clouds

a secret mirror
clouds reflected in the tarn
fish dreaming of flight


tawny owl
greater-spotted woodpecker
blue tit
great tit
wood pigeon
song thrush
greylag goose
yellow wagtail

pipistrelle bat
mason bee
red squirrel

woodpecker watching
squirrels chase one-another
through branches of pine


a dead lamb listens
to the yellowhammer's song
eyes plucked out by crows

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Rolf Harris - a wasp in the jam

When I was at Art College in the early nineties, I suggested that it may be a good idea to ask Rolf Harris to present us with our degrees at our graduation ceremony. This was before his career took off again, before Rolf's Animal Slaughterhouse and all that other stuff, and before he acquired a certain hipness doing cover versions of Lou Reed and Led Zeppelin songs. He was considered to be a bit naff at the time, a children's entertainer who painted on walls and sung novelty songs, but we thought he'd be an unusual choice for the ceremony, and we'd be able to look back with a sense of amusement over the whole thing.
Unfortunately, he was busy, and Neil Innes ended up presenting us with our degrees, which was very nice.

Now Rolf's been unmasked as a serial sexual assaulter, with scores of women coming forward claiming that he'd molested them at various times over the last forty years, and some of them were really young at the time, which given his showbiz persona, is absolutely sickening. When it was disclosed that he was being investigated, nobody could quite believe it; it wasn't as though he had a reputation as dodgy as Jimmy Savile's, or as weird as Stuart Hall's, but as more details came out about what he got up to, it just left everybody feeling sullied, and sad and angry that their childhood has in some way been blighted.

Now it looks like he going to prison. I'm not really sure what the point of a custodial sentence would be to somebody in their eighties, other than a chance for society to extract some revenge for being duped by him for so many years. He's a ruined man, his life and reputation's in tatters, and in his final years, his past has caught up with him.

It would surely make more sense to look at what financial assets he has left, and look at punishing him through his wallet, rather than sending him to jail.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Phone-hacking haiku

who runs this country?
not the likes of you and me -
we are nobodies


tory spin doctor
listening to the public
conversations taped


bindweed trumpets blow
in the soft breeze to herald
this midsummer day


 good day for red-tops -
gold-finches flock in gardens
sun behind a cloud

Monday, 12 May 2014

The death of John Smith

Stones placed by the grave of John Smith on Iona

It's twenty years ago today since the death of John Smith, and like many people I'm wondering just how different things would have been for the Labour Party and the country had he survived. There's no doubt he would have become Prime Minister, and would have pursued some of Blair's policies, especially the use of private investment to build hospitals and schools, although the likelihood is there would have been tighter controls over this. Like Blair, he would have modernised the party, and reduced the influence of the Unions, but not see them as an irritant, as his successor did. I think there would have been less spin, less froth, and more substance to his policies, and perhaps a more intellectually rigorous approach to doing things.

There would have been none of the Shakespearean rivalry between Prime Minister and Chancellor that ended up poisoning the party, and none of the glitzy sleaziness that became all-pervading towards the end of Labour's time in office.

He almost certainly wouldn't have been self-deluded about our role in policing the new world order, or been dazzled by the neo-cons in Washington. He'd have kept his distance from Dubya, and not ride into war on the back of that idiot's coat-tails.

Unfortunately, history is littered with what-ifs. I think it's fair to say though, that had he not died, the country would be in less of a mess than it actually is.