I have written quite a lot of poetry, though I feel a little bit shaky about entitling myself as a 'Poet' - so, it is something that I 'do' sometimes. Poetry comes 'through' me, rather than coming in as a conscious thought; neither does it come to order - just because I want to write a poem. I have been quite reticent about publishing or proclaiming my poetry, so I prefer if people come across it - just as you just have. It is like walking along a beach and finding a diamond: there is a beach like that in Namibia: though now they don't let you walk along it. Over the years, some of these poems have been published in local newspapers; some have been entered in competitions (one even won a prize - a silver 'Quaire'); some of the poems are very personal; some are boringly romantic; some have been written as a reaction to public events. Anyway, there are some samples of my poetry available on this website: just click on the links.
Various Lives: Over the years, I have connected with what might (pretentiously) be called various "past lives". My reflections on the possibilities of these are written as stanzas in an extended poem: more "as if" I had lived there and then ... rather than as any 'evidence' that I did. I offer you these stanzas, these various lives, as a PDF file of a booklet, here.
As an addition to these, when visiting Athens, another poem came to me similarly: about the death of Socrates. However it doesn't really fit in with the meter of the others, so it stands alone as "Agora Agony", and there are a couple of other poems of that type as well. I had a fairly major re-incarnational experience when I visited the battlefield of Waterloo 20 years ago: the poem that came later is here. And I had another (sort of) 're-incarnational' experience when I visited Lhasa in Tibet, in 2008 - I 'knew' that I had been here before, but the poem for that particular lifetime hasn't come through yet.
Marathon: In October 2004, I attended a Body-Psychotherapy conference in Marathonas (Marathon) near Athens, Greece. We were in a resort on the same beach where, almost 2,500 years previously, a Persian fleet had landed, seriously threatening the newly formed democracy of the city-state of Athens, about 26 miles away.
These poems came as I explored the history of that battle and the events around the epic run of Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens. Perhaps this is also a reaction to the struggle for democracy (v. popularism) that we are still facing today. For a lengthy history, and then the four 'Marathon' poems, as a PDF file, click here.
Nine/Eleven: Written as a personal reaction to the events of September 11th, 2001. I was on my way to another Body Psychotherapy conference in Egmont am Zee, near Amsterdam, when the news of the 9/11 events and the destruction of the Twin Towers broke. Over the next few days, I was semi-transfixed in front of the TV watching CNN, like millions of others. This poem is my reaction, a few months later, when I felt that I could write poetry again.
Poems from the Psyche: As you may have noticed, I am a psychotherapist, or I 'do' psychotherapy. There a few poems that have 'emerged' from this professional work. In about 1988, I (we in the profession) began to notice that a lot of clients were reporting instances of childhood sexual abuse. The first two poems come directly out of therapy work with such people, who have been abused, mostly in childhood - but only now have circumstances changed that we, as a society, can begin to acknowledge this 'abomination'. Of course, many of the abusers were abused themselves, and I have worked with a few of them, but the abused need voices, especially as the dynamic of the abuse is that abuser must ensure the child's silence. Abused children often draw pictures of themselves without a mouth: they cannot speak about the abuse. So, the first poem is entitled, "Fear the Stranger". The 2nd poem, "Behind Closed Doors", which came out of a therapy session where the (adult) client's attention was drawn by the pattern of the wallpaper in the therapy room, which then triggered their memories of abuse. Be careful, reading these! They are not 'nice' poems. You have been warned!
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: I also attended a mini-conference on psychodynamic psychotherapy (in Lubljana, Slovenia, Oct 2004) and wrote a couple of poems. The first was read out at the end of the conference; the second (that follows on the next page) was an afterthought.
Other Poems: Wow! There are quite a lot - quite varied and written on occasions over the last 30 or 40 years! My first poem was written when I was about 14 at school: it was about a nuclear holocaust, and it won a competition, but the prize was taken away from me because someone (in authority) thought I had plagiarised or something: I hadn't. However, I don't have a copy of that one. So, I didn't write any more poetry until 'Ode to a Tree in a London Churchyard in Winter' came through - about 3 years later.
There is a mini-series of poems about some other trees: "Redwoods", "How do I make a tree?" and "Yes". And another early poem called "Morgue". These are but diverse samples.
Then, there are some 'collections' of poems written during my 17 years living at Findhorn (1986-2003): here is one from about 1987, when an Australian aboriginal guy came and stayed with us: he told a group of us 'guys' a story: here it is, perhaps as my 'Acknowledgement' to the Elders: "Guboo". There is also a collection of poems about the Findhorn River (see below); a collection of poems deriving from a week's workshop with Thich Nhat Hahn (not on-line yet); and one from one Easter event at Findhorn with Joanna Macey (also not on-line yet); a collection of poems entitled 'Spirit of Nature' (see below); a collection of poems about 'Love and Loss' (see below); and another collection of poems entitled: 'Poems of Power & Passion' (also see below: though some of these are quite dark [Again, You Have Now Been Warned!]: e.g. "The Disappeared" and "Bringers of Death").
There are a number of 'ecologically' oriented poems: "Mother's Anger", "Our Children's Children", "It's Never Too Late", "Blackhills 1993", "A Celtic Oath" and "Some experimental thoughts of a plague virus searching for enlightenment". Some of these also appear in the collections below.
They all have many different sources and there are often stories attached to them. When travelling in the Pacific North-West of the USA, I taken to an Indian village called La Push, where I met a man called John Fourlines (////). I was very inspired by his story-telling, Shamanic wisdom and I wrote this poem, "Man of the Trees" a few months later when back at Findhorn.. This was just about a week before I learnt that he had died. When I was there, I had asked him if I could buy one of his unique redwood bas-relief carvings and he said that he would make one for me, but I never got it, because, a member of the tribe asked if I could release this as it was the only one of his works that they had got left. Of course, I did: but gifts create obligations! So, in return, I asked for this poem to be read out at his funeral.
Some of the poems are ... perhaps quizzical is the best word: "Thus Spoke Zarathustra!", "At Lunchtime", "Never Forget", a homage to Brian Patton "This Morning (30 years later - at Findhorn, not Liverpool)" and "Do Sheep Sleep?"; some of them are somewhat 'transpersonal' like: "We Avatars" and "A Prayer for Death"; and a few others, like these, are just ... what they say they are: "The Moon Disappeared Tonight"; "Intellectuals"; etc.
Then, I offer you some individual (stand-alone) poems: this one, 'The Military Road' (about an unpleasant period of Scottish history), actually won a prize - perhaps because it was written by a "bluddy Sassanach". Then, there is a humourous poem about toilets, "Privy Thoughts"; a sort of presentational essay about William McGonegal, "Very Bad Poetry"; a poem written to my wife's cat Twyla (that was going to have to be left behind in Texas, when she came to live with me in Scotland); a poem that emerged from the tragic death of a young man (a sort of step-son), Curdie, who I felt very close to; a poem written about a childhood experience of mine with a Snake in Singapore; and there are many more: the list could go on and on.
At a workshop in London several years ago with Arnie & Amy Mindell, I wrote a poem: The Bardos of Death. More recently (in 2021), in the Lake District, I came across an art project based in Crow Park, Keswick - a park at the head of Derwentwater. The project, Desire Lines, led by Rebecca Beinart, explores the connections between ourselves and the natural world and especially with communities and the National Trust: anyhow, here is my contribution.
I write and then I don't and then - sometime later - I write some more. Not all of them are available yet - nor are they all - by any means - ready for public consumption, but I have started uploading some of the earlier "Collections" and a few others (to give a flavour to my 'bardic' endeavours - (maybe, I was someone like a Taliesin, once upon a time, in another lifetime):