We’re not out of the woods yet: lullaby for Isaac


forest picture optimistic


We’re not out of the woods yet: lullaby for Isaac


Not out of the woods yet, little one.

We can’t rest, on how far we’ve come.

There were moments when the trees we saw

Stood by, condemned us, deep with scorn;

At times we wandered, feared for lost,

That no-one would come after us.

No northern star in cloudless skies

Could guide us from dense canopies

Of sullen trees. Yet here we are,

Safe now, with space for quiet and care.


Not quite out of the woods: but not far.

You know, I think we’re almost there.



My beautiful to-be sister-in-law has recently brought the little Isaac into the world. Their family’s journey so far has not always been easy, and no-one can say for certain that things will be a bed of roses from here on in. There may be creatures lurking behind the trees; we might lose our way, every now and then, or feel like we’re walking in circles. The woods can be lovely, but they can also be dark and deep. But at least they have people who love them, and who care for them, as they continue on their travels through the wild, wild wood.

Structurally here I’ve kept to a nursery rhyme feel, simple rhythms, easy half-rhymes and clear imagery. Nothing flashy, nothing too clever: just a simple lullaby. But it is sincere. It is written with so much love. I wish them every happiness and blessing, for the rest of their lives. 



The Sails of Something More


sunsets and sailboats


Right far I made my riven way,

As life forlorn sank from my day.

Amber and veiled I set like gold:

My light though loving lingered cold;

But setting, and sunk delicate

I’ll draw to soft seas, infinite.

Ocean of life, westward I’ll draw

As never I had drawn before.

I’ll alight upon the silver sands

Of heaven’s hold, those sleeping lands –

Softly, softly to the shore,

Borne by the sails of something more.


Call of the Wolf


I never thought myself a wolf. Silverish,

Lone, remembering: these things, yes.

At times, lupine; at times, somehow humane.

But never such a creature of the moon.


I had never felt the pull of the roguish pack;

Nor the wandering menace of the derelict:

Though I had the hungering gait, right to the bone,

And I’d often been seen to flash a sideways grin.


But recent moons have, as me, waned and waxed.

A family has found me at my rest.

I heard their call. Its howl has called me back

To some more loving wildness, maverick.


At lonesome last the route, my roaming home

Has found me, in the wolf-embrace of him.


It Started With Three


A number of you may remember the recent project my friend Gary Holdaway and I started, the Theme Exchange. We took it in turns to write a piece on a given theme, and to respond to each other’s pieces by thinking of a different theme which the previous author hadn’t focused on in their latest piece. It’s a bit like a game of word association, but with many, many more words. I absolutely loved it, and would strongly recommend you try it with a friend or co-writer.

Well now, we’re changing the dynamic. I’m going to present Gary with a picture, and then he must write a short piece of fiction which either a) is based entirely on that picture or b) more interestingly, has that picture  – or something related to that picture – as its turning point.

So that’s the crux of it: stimulus and response. Then Gary chooses another picture – any picture – and presents the same challenge back to me. Reciprocity, inspiration, creation.

I think to really get this project off with a bang, I’m going to present Gary with three choices. How generous of me. What’s more, to start off we aren’t even having pictures, but gifs. Creepy-ass gifs. One thing I know Gary and I have very much in common is a love for downright eerie, cinematic horror. I love a measured amount of self-indulgence, too. Perfecto.

Remember: these could either be the summary of the entire piece, or a turning point. And the twist in the tale may not be something quite so straightforward as the gif would have you believe…

So Mr Holdaway: choose your poison.


1) Her Chair




2) His Coat

Moving coat


3) My Hand

My hand


And let the story unfold.


My Red Lines


For Blair


Scratches on my back

Are love marks.

Love bites.

Like the lines on my back, stretched by time:

They are what they will,

Left by a red tide.

But these were for me, brought red to life by you.


There are some scars which will not heal

And I don’t want them to.



Kings Parade with a Dear Friend

By the end of the evening, on a captive hour

You sprang a trap, all of yourself on me:

“And what if I behave a certain way?

And what if I don’t act on what you say?”

Spoken like a true aristocrat

In exile, and Bohemian dishonour –

The spires held the drooping sheets of dusk

Which weighed warmly over the baroque street way:

Like the thrill of a child, reading late at night

With dull torchlight and claustrophobic zeal.

You sprang on me and asked, And what if you,

And what if you and I, And what if you –

Like the child, reading illicitly.

And if you would, unquestioning I’ll die.



Back from when I was a student at Cambridge. If you weren’t careful, every evening could ensnare you this way. 

“Erasmus lawn, this lunchtime: bring wine and love.”

I’ve found this, back form way back when. I think the day deserves it. Praise the sun and bathe in the glorious love of it.


This is an ode from a couple of summers ago, dedicated to a dear friend of mine. I’ve tried to make it bleed right through with that luscious gorgeousness of summer. It’s essentially a bastardised Sapphic ode: one of my favourites.

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