Once there were green lanes
Leading to grassy meadows
Running brooks
branches moving in serene air.
Now there are crumbled buildings
on uncertain streets
Red smoke.
The only passage
wires strung from here to where?
We are all tightrope walkers now.

Covid Thoughts 3: Free Fall

We float spreadeagled in the sky

Lifted and pulled by vague winds

Invisible currents.

Above us the receding plane

a speck

hidden by cloud.


As we fall,

Burnt cinders of news

Sparks brightened by the wind

Circle us.


Gradually we shift uneasily together



And lock hands.


Our frail parachutes open

and we lose our grip

Still descending

towards an uncertain earth


Yet together.


Covid thoughts 2: Warmth


Seems suddenly warmer,


More connected,


Despite hugs

giving way to

elbow bumps

giving way to

little waves,

giving way to


and distance.


The wish to be close

Coiled in every muscle.


I would never have believed

I could survive

five weeks

without the merest touch of another human being.


And not be desolate.


But I can.


Because I know

The warmth is still there


in the heart.

Covid thoughts. Birdsong

I am at the moment working on the libretto of a new oratorio we have been commissioned to write about this surreal experience. To help me imagine my way into it, I am intending to write a poem a day about different aspects of the experience. These poems are just thinking aloud; inching towards finding out what I want to write about. But I thought I may as well post them as I go along.


I sit

Book on knee

In a green



Branches between blue


Into bud.



Calling birds.


Filling the sky,

the trees,

the wind,

the world.

Beating against my closed eyelids.

Mary’s Song

These are the lyrics to a new carol Jools and I were commissioned to write for the children’s choir at Bath Abbey. The music is wonderful.

There were many things in my mind when I wrote them. Foremost was not the nativity, but the later Mary, running for her life with her baby. Like the Kurdish women, and all the other fugitives across the world.


Sleep my darling, sleep my little one;

Toes curled gentle in my hand.

Sleep my darling, sleep my little one,

Stranger in a stranger’s land.


In the wind

The snow is blowing

Dancing in the

Winter air..


Sleep, my darling, sleep, my little one,

Do not fear the winter’s cold.

Sleep, my darling, sleep, my little one,

Child in a world grown old.


In the wind

The snow is blowing

Every crystal 

Fragile, rare..


Sleep, my darling, sleep, my little one,

I am watching over you.

Sleep, my darling, sleep, my little one,

You will make the world anew.





In the wind

The snow is blowing

Dancing in the

Winter air..


D Day

So infinitely touching
The love and tenderness
Of soldier to soldier.
I understand the colours
And the uniforms
And the bands
The pride and dignity
Of rank.
Only the beauty
And exhilaration
And emotion
Of music and flags
Could help these
Gentle men
To kill
gentle men.