New art


We are in Margate in October.
A cold grey incongruity
Brutalist, graffiti, wet sand,
Busy ship lanes from Dover to Calais.
The ching, ching of amusements,
A closed- up beach bar, thundering waves, ice cream parlours.

Seaside places out of season are like sepia photos
Full of murkiness, nostalgia, echoes,
A kind of displacement, not to be believed
Just as the soft drone of traffic in the basement flat
Has the air of unreality, confused memory;

Tunisia in October at the start of Eid.
The same drone of traffic
Lorries loaded with sheep
Heading for slaughter, for family feasts.

Mostly we stayed inside the stone apartment, built for sun
Wary of the outside, spiked hostility, faded heat,
Of a heritage we both claim and try to disassociate from.

A past too big, too awful, too out of reach
But still affecting. Still current.
We hope our little snippets of human courtesy may count
Build a tentative human connection across the gulf, whilst
Protective of our beautiful blonde daughter and her gorgeous friend
Wanting to wear bikinis and flimsy tops
In a world they really can’t.

The traffic rumbles on in Margate
The greyness and destitution, the unemployment and the drunks outside
Infiltrate our thoughts, the ongoing interior world that transverses time and continents
Is both remote and deep, relevant, distinct.

Surprised by the small shoots of wealth
The new gallery, the bistros, bookshops and reclaimed Victoriana
Revealing a once fashionable architecture
Hidden under the broken pavements, 60’s tower block and shabby hotels

The mix of hope and shame,
Past and future, immigration, class, culture
Margate’s unlikely heroin,
The unmade bed;
Draws new art, new narratives
Creative, incongruous, out of cinq.

The traffic rumbles on in Margate
The drone of the outside world seems far away
As we walk on the faded promenade, a cold wind bites,
Revitalises a longing for Summer and warmer sea
Promises both present and out of reach.

Love is stronger

We are so busy looking for atrocities, hatred and acts of betrayal we forget to notice how much love is in the world. This imbalance is making us sick, mad, anxious and cynical and afraid to trust anybody.

We need to wake up and see the small acts of everyday kindness, loyalty, forgiveness, generosity and understanding between people, friends, families, strangers even and bring ourselves back in balance and start seeing the good in people.

Our perception is out of cinque and as my friend Janine said recently inflamed by a screeching news.

I’ve started subscribing to positive news , not to cheer myself up so much as to address the inbalance. I can recommend it.

This is my piece on subversion that I made during my foundation in Art and Design at Sussex Downs College . Wierd, how a celebration of love can be conceived of as subversive . It should be the size of a billboard and take it’s place in the world of advertising, a world in which the essential dignity of our humanity is quickly down trodden and a world which really is deserving of scepticism.

One day when finances allow, I’d love to see this as a giant billboard alongside a series of others that celebrate the love and warmth between people. My fellow poets at Compass Community Arts are currently working on this project. We will keep you posted. Follow us at http://www.compass community


I am a rare English nurse in my team,

Working amongst the kindest, the most patient, the young,

And those over from the Philippines, Poland, Sri Lanka, Kerela, Romania and Nepal,

To care for the British old. 

Night after night we clean up incontinence,

Cream, papery white skin,

Turn skeletal limbs, to stop sores,

Bring tea, hold bony gnarled hands,

Feed ham sandwiches, creamy fruit yoghurts, shortbread, cake

To those in shadowy lit worlds, between the living and dead

Who no longer recognise their children

And call out for their long dead mothers.

We hold their unease, their dislocation.

We are greeted with screams and scratches, sometimes kisses and ‘darlings’

Moments of recognition, of laughter and an occasional song

Eyes glazed and scared, where am I, what’s wrong? 

Those who come to judge, forget to notice our care.

We are checked for records, targets, evidence for court,

Piles and piles of written justifications

As though we were the guilty ones.

This is the tragedy, the lack of belief

An absence of trust, 

A desire to blame.

Misunderstanding the passage of time,

The inevitability of death

And the soaring, overriding, magnitude…

Of love and what love can truly mean.