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The Warp



there was a time

when I who was

who I was then

walked and sang



fought my fight

shouting amidst

the blackness

so how can I now

sitting by lemon-green waters

or in green mountains

warmed by an April sun


myself as I am now

with he who fought so long

amid the darkness

against injustice

that contented man who now
the mirror shows me

that man who now

pitches his tent

beside the waters

of a more

Arcadian sea

how can I be that same he

who once ‘the conscience of

a nation stirred’?

a voice answers

there came the day

you learned with pain

that he who touches pitch

will become himself defiled

that in fighting ugliness

you had yourself become ugly

and, despite all the evils in it

the world remains a place

where beauty can be achieved

you knew already that

a man is ennobled

by fighting evil

where he finds it

now it was time to learn that

it is also necessary for a man

to find peace within himself

which then may be contagious

to seek to put oneself alright

to find a pattern in just one day

this can be a sacrament

so, after many years

fighting the negative

a man may seek

to ally himself with

the positive.

For Nell, Remembering a Holiday in Italy

darling how describe the wonder that you were

now I remember beneath the pergola

the morning light splashing over your shoulders

in your blue shirt

your milky skin

and at Florence too I remember your gold hair

float among stone palazzi dark on trams

shakily travelling down corridors

of stone

and at Venice boatborne, the oily waters

swelling beneath you, smokily the street lamps

flared and you my Goddess

glowing over the sea-waves more

sultry than

the waters

and now may every year dear

lovely flesh and spirit

behold you radiant and lovely

as this one

and every time and place as now bring worship

and love of poets always

as of this one

Poem Written on the Island of St Louis in Paris

we were drunk after lunch my love drunk

with rough red wine and each other and now

I ask what way of life could be better

what more could the good life ever bring

than this the water teeming past our island

our hotel room in this grey street

you playing recorder

our bed and the world it holds in its

pool of lamplight our little stove

its wandering fumes and our wondrous succulent feastings

we were drunk after lunch my love drunk

with rough red wine and each other and I

drunk my love drunk with you with your gilded

hair and your curving body

that gives me vertigo as if standing on a tower

and your lisping

wanton mouth and the words it frames

wanton lisped lovely words framed

like invisible rosebuds

we were drunk after lunch my love drunk

and I hope that we’ll never forget it

but that all these several drunkenesses

will combine to make one memory

for we were drunk and they were always watching us

in the restaurant where we were always too late

for a meal but they gave us one


the boy with his homework

the father who had the best dishes

of all in the restaurant

the ancient frustrated dog

and as you swallowed your bread and your soup

your meat and your cheese and your gateau au rhum

I was drunk with red wine my love

drunk with it all drunk with you my love you

Poem for Nell During Filming

I’m sure this is a happy place

this home

beside the grey Thames endless race

where sewage foams

where barges wend from far

and near

and fog hangs heavy on the air

and Nell and Jeremy drink beer

where vast projectors whirr

and film goes coursing

through the projector’s gate

some good some not

many takes much shot

where music’s placed on track

strange noises too

and Nell squints through the camera’s back

with eyes of blue

your eyes of such deep blue

the table in your room is swelled

with constant spate

of headlong scrawl

where massive works are born at headlong rate

for the delight and edification of all

our sweet yet virgin Roc


with gay and eager cries

espies a dirty sock to eat

puts pins or screws in mouth

or nails

or eats his mother’s pen

or alarm clock

or wails

watching the telly in bed by night

writing by day

we too spend the time

in a good way


you hold your arm half cleft and fingers lightly open

as if to catch a bird that might be flying through

the velvet dusk drawn by your white flesh

I tilt my morning lust into your heart

drain you of all gifts we are renewed

and as I lean across you feel where lying snug

your baby kicks me lightly yours

not mine (never mind) he’s welcome to the world

let him come in let him come in one day

he too will feel a girl yield to his bloom

and know that of all the world

this only is true

And if he

lost in purple caverns snug

in tented sleep feels me

pass near and holding out

his perfect tiny hands clutches

at tamarisk or floating gossamer

the goods the gaud of life and dreams

will he then maybe fancy that all

will be like this, gilt, bliss?

you hold your arm half cleft as if to catch a bird

I gently sink my shiny teeth into your lip

and feel your baby kick


when I think of Herefordshire my home

I think of farms standing by muddy pools

ducks, decrepit horses, old wood fences

a few bare trees

when I remember Herefordshire my home

I think of the dank dry back of the Long Mynd

deep plough and dripping forest

and shacks of thatch and corrugated iron

I think of a mellow pink-brick Georgian

house standing amid snow

of gardens lush and rich with fruit and roses

when I remember Herefordshire dear home

I think of my mother stirring damsons

in huge cauldrons

the hymn’s thrum from the sunken church

that stands beside the lawn

a bee goes bumbling past


And I am waiting

for the time when this wild and crazy world

will send me back home ...

home where my snorting horse Blackie

tosses his head

impetuously as he munches

the long rank grass

home where the golden sunset

gilds the plates

home where the overblown roses drench

in the evening dew

home where the saucy sparrows

speak my name

home where my Mother trims flowers

in huge china bowls

home where village ladies skilfully

in the village hall perform Chinese plays

home where the voice of Harry the farmer

calls the cattle in at evening

mixes with the cries of curlews

home where in ordered bookshelves stand

the exotic books of my father’s press

tooled coloured leather covers hiding

nymphs, satyrs, all the exuberant flotsam of

his inventiveness

home where the little cherubs from the

antique plaster ceilings gaze out

roistering amid a welter

of cornucopias, water melons, roses

home where ancient apple trees stand

gnarled in the soaked, dewy, lovely evening

and I am waiting

I am waiting

for the time when this wild and crazy

world will send me back home.

To a School Girl

O schoolgirl beauty on your way back home

cars prowl beside you

faces loll out

with brown moneyed invites to

plush carpeted flats where

sweet music thumps from

mahogany boxes;

and the air is fetid with central heating

and He is Smooth with After Shave

And before the night is out

sozzled perhaps with too many Babyshams

too many compliments

you realise in a bright frightened moment

he means to get you and then

fight beauty, fight for once you’re had

O schoolgirl beauty on your way back home

stride though you may along the curb from school

never so sexy no more or the hunger

never quite the same your wanderings

giggling, with your schoolfriends

through the afternoon

To a Young Girl

(In the Time of the Hydrogen Bomb)

Nothing is certain now

there was a time

a girl could wait through many summers

many years to see her grown

to a woman

it isn’t like that now

no longer

nothing is certain now

there was a time

a girl could trust romance to keep

and love maintain its lustre till

she’s old enough

no longer

nothing is certain now

then was the time to wait

but now

my darling come give me your lips


before the world’s end.

To a Girlfriend Left Unvisited for a Year

Darklashed girl I bless you

now I remember you

as you were as I came from your bed

your face just caught with frost in the spring darkness

standing cloaked beside the flaking pillared doorway

waving as I drove off toward the dawn,

waving after me,

and I remember how I then

saw the skies ahead of me cool,

yellowing with the cold winter presunrise

you with a few snowflakes flitting down about you ...

I felt then how life is fleeting

and how things are only partly what they seem to be

or what one would desire that they should be.

and so for ten months I left you unvisited

thinking that my path lay in other beds ...

so now I return ...

and if, since that time,

your love for me is diminished

if passing time has taken from you some of that white innocence

which then you had

if now I am to pay the penalty

for my absence

with your withdrawal

with a grief beyond tears

I must remind myself

that it was my choice

my choice entirely

to fish in shallow waters when

I could have had the sea

and I’ll not cry.

The Season

(‘Soon it will be spring again, and debs will once more be in season ...’ The Observer)

O rich girls, county girls

how I have loved you

O rich girls, rich girls,

so many rich girls

pampered and plumped

by your supertax Daddies

plastered with bangles

along your downy forearms,

Cashmiri spangles,

Egyptian sarongs

with so many ‘ring me’s’,

so many (white) telephones,

and Friday, come morning,

it’s back home to Wiltshire

with a bootful of sketchbooks,

sunhats, bouquets,

paintboxes, print dresses,

and copperplate invites ...

with so many nights out

in so many night clubs

so many parties,

dancing till the dawn,

so much champers

and so many bath salts,

so many ice-buckets

for so many love buckets

and so many conversations

(desperately important)

so much black coffee

drunk until the dawn

so many visits to

so many spring collections

so many compliments

so many private diaries

so many names in

so many (pink) address books,

so many afternoons

lying in the sun

so many compliments

such a lot of fun

such a lot of flying in

so many aeroplanes

such a lot of flirting

not down country lanes.

o rich girls county girls

how have I loved you

o rich girls rich girls

in your zany sportscars

pampered and plumped

by your supertax Daddies

plastered with bangles

along your downy forearms

Casmiri spangles

Egyptian sarongs ...

I truly sought to

distrust and flee the

privileged world that

has produced you

yet you keep popping up

in my songs.

Let’s Get the Hell Out of Here


Suburban Fido Song


let’s go!

come on!

let’s get

the hell

out of here!



leave old fido by the slicone

leave the chrosol washing dregs

leave the sno-white sheets to rot

upon their nu-grip pegs

leave the leatherette leopard carseats

leave the vibrosantic trusses

and the hydrogenic phe-nits

and the thermostatic beds


let’s go!

come on!

let’s get!



walzing down the subways

frenzied and forlorn

scribbling on the whisky ads

pissing into the windy dawn

staggering on the escalator

in the white tiled gents

all tied up in toilet rolls

rolling through the fields of Kent!

unzipped, hanging out,

shouting news of the day’s events

we’ll scribble over pinups tits

while scratching at our heads for nits!

hitch with toffs in sportscars

cock snooks at our betters

fill up church collection boxes

with old stale French letters

kip in shattered greenhouses

defecate ‘neath cypress trees

prey on sodden vestry hassocks

bit by venerable fleas

romp in rusty cars on scrap heaps

pop songs ten years old we’ll sing

brewing potato whisky in

a leaking nestles tin!


let’s go!

come on!

let’s get

the hell out

of here!



Saturday Afternoon

By the river the trees lean

dark against the silver water

fishermen dabble swans swim

cows munch and the skies dream

and mists lie on the hills

in the street by Woolworths the crowds press

girls and young men in their Sunday best

boys in black suits, suede shoes

walk in the slatted sun are pressed

and red buses grind beside

two worlds

which shall I choose?

Arterial Road Song

O soft crunch of the teeth of the gearbox soothe me

warm winds of the bypass flatter me

sweet surge of acceleration sing to me

O all innumerable winking lights and beacons

streetlamps and glimmering tailfins trafficators and neon

and O that other light less strong glow of the setting sun bathe me

so that the smooth white

catbodied auto will cruise

through the misty gloom

along tarmac

as far as the elm trees

and all the men gaze in envy

and the girls on the curb call out to me

and all the shops along the route reflect me dark

in the embrasured plateglass caverns of their wares

and I shall go speedy / and the luminous

dial of the speedo pull me onward / and my

tyres rumble over the cats eyes

finally doing a ton of a sudden!

A N A R C H Y – anarchy!

skid! turn twice! turn again! now flower sweet skin

to blood and stretched beneath the neon

the traffic halts light may slip

in the dark thin rim of space behind my eyes

and death clammily overtake me

straddled lit stretched prostrate


across a zebra crossing.

Dream of Places Far Away

I dream of places far away

the sour spike of tarmac

the fresh stab of green

dream of farmhouses

in secluded valleys

by the sea

the blue sea

dream of Paris and a little bookshop

run by George its American proprietor

sitting there in his gloomy bookshop

chewing tobacco

then once a year

going on holiday

to the Grand Hotel

at Biarritz

sitting by himself

in the tearoom

sipping tea

by himself in the tearoom

drinking lemon tea

eating one man


dream of Swiss mountains

carved from the mist

and the chill cool tang

when you come out

of the sunlit valleys

into the cool darkness

dream of wooden huts

under sunny summits

dreaming, dreaming ...

dream of trim cottages

beside canals

dream of far monasteries

where bells hum and toll

dream of cemeteries

between pine trees

dream of water

hazy ships on the water

dream of the city’s evening throng

the busy night-time of great cities

dream of places far away

dream of places far away.


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