For the want of alarms, the people slept.

For the want of sprinklers, the fire spread.

For the wanting of gentrification, so the rich people living nearby did not have to look at an eyesore,

despite the protests of the inhabitants,

the cladding went on, and, when the fire came, caught it and threw it joyfully upwards

to the floors above.


When smoke filled the corridors leading to the way down to the only exit,

the people who were awake waited, as they had been told to, in their flats,

behind their doors which were not fireproof, or smoke proof,

for the rescue that could not reach them

because of the fire.


For the want of care or responsibility or any kind of humanity, the company who ran the building did nothing to answer the warnings of the people that lived in the building.

For the want of care or responsibility or any kind of humanity, the council did nothing to answer the warnings of the people that lived in the building.

For the want of care or responsibility or any kind of humanity, the government did not bring in legislation to make the fitting of sprinklers mandatory which would have saved the people in the building.

For the want of care or responsibility or any kind of humanity, the government failed to give the go-ahead to a safety review for tower blocks which would have saved the people in the building..

For the wanting of money, did the council let the tower blocks degrade in order to make way for new luxury flats in their place?

This terrible thing did not happen because fire burns.

For the want of care the people were lost.

These flames will burn for eternity.


Lament for the Vice

Once there was some artistry in evil;

Some finesse.
Some showmanship.

Once, we gave the devil a run for his money ..
Made him sweat for it.

Time was, vice would hide its face; would ‘smile and smile and be a villain’

Not now.
We live in a world unmasked.

Now, villains stalk the world bare.
They don’t care;
They are no longer actors.

Why go to all the trouble to disguise;
To mimic goodness;
To dissemble?

Why echo your victim’s voice,
Borrow his words, pretend to be friend,
Not fiend?
Lead him oh so gently down the primrose way
To the everlasting bonfire?

No need.

No need to deceive someone who doesn’t believe anything anyway.

Who knows it is all fake news.

We are all trained.

Trained to hear
And not hear.

Trained to believe that they care
And not care
that we know they don’t.

We bite their sounds
And accept that they crumble to dust
In our teeth
And leave our stomachs roaring.

I am a villain!
They say
I will destroy your world!
They say
I want it all for myself
And you can go to hell!
Vote for me!

We say.

And we turn our robot heads to the front
And slide the shades down on our robot eyes
And march, obediently,
Headphones on
Until we tumble over the brink
And feel the fire

And know
That it is real.

A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time

There was a mother eagle
Sitting on her nest
Bumpy with eggs,
Who dropped off.

As mothers do.

While she was asleep
A crafty cuckoo crept
under her broody feathers
And shoved and pushed
And elbowed
and crawled out again..

When her three eggs hatched,
Were bald and handsome,
But one had a bright yellow crest
Like a cuckoo..

Two chicks grew and left,
But the third..
Oh dear.
The third,
Sprawled in the nest, took up all the room, and wouldn’t budge.
It wanted food and attention and scratching behind the ears and if it didn’t get it
It tweeted.
A lot.

She learned to stroke it
And soothe it
And bite its worms up into little short pieces so it could digest them.

But one day, when the chick had worn her out,
She fell asleep again,
On the edge of the nest,
And dropped off.

And nothing ended happily ever after.

You’re fired!

Didn’t anyone watch The Apprentice?

Didn’t anyone notice what a perfect apprentice dictatorship it was?

Trump decided what they would do;
And they did.
Trump decided what they were worth;
And they were.
Trump decided who would go;
And they went.

And that is how he is ruling America.

Of course, there is more to come than Comey..

When you fire a man,
he doesn’t explode into a mushroom
cloud …


This one’s for Carole…


A vast sigh of relief
across Europe,
across the plains of western democracy,
sets the hope dancing.

Young face,
Burning eyes,
Bit short,
No matter.
Smooth skin,
Jut of jaw
Raised flag
En marche!

Deja vu.

Will this one too,
unite Europe under his flag?
Or will they give him the Elba?



A shifting in the air;
A sense of something

But there is no time to pause
To look
To probe
the nature of that significance.

It is all too difficult.

And besides
There is no time.

Perhaps someone really was there.
Perhaps not.


I know I am here.
I feel my heart beat.
I feel my pain
My sadness.
My lack of a connection.

The desperate pressure
Of thought, passion, unsung songs,
Unspent energy, turning to dust in my hands as the clock ticks.

But the air shifts in the wind of your passing
And I cannot reach through it
To touch you.

Uncle Nick

This poem is in response to a glorious article: A school in Portland, Oregon, has granted approval to a local Satanic Temple’s request to set up an after-school programme for pupils.
Children at Sacramento Elementary School, which educates pupils aged between 5 and 10, will have the opportunity to attend the Satanic club’s inaugural meeting on October 19.
Satanic Temple spokesman Finn Rezz told Oregon Live the club would focus on “on science and rational thinking,” promoting “benevolence and empathy for everybody” – while providing an alternative voice to the Bible-centred “Good News Club”.
“Across the nation, parents are concerned about encroachments by proselytizing evangelicals in their public schools, and are eager to establish the presence of a contrasting voice that helps children to understand that one doesn’t need to submit to superstition in order to be a good person.’ Apart from believing in Satan, that is.

Uncle Nick

Hello children,

Come right in..

There’s no need to be shy.

Here’s  your new buddy, Uncle Nick

He’s here to tell you why

we need a new America

that’s rid of lies and stories

so we can tell it as it is;

just like those English Tories.


What is it, Myleen? What is wrong?

You’re scared of how he looks?

Is it his face? I know it’s red..

When weather’s hot he cooks!


Is it his hair? I know it’s strange, but..

Oh. You don’t like horns?

Well, listen Myleen, in this club,

We live in our own way..

whatever shape or shade we are..

it’s cool with us, ok?


Just because a guy has horns,

it doesn’t mean he’s bad.

Yes, I’m sure it’s what your parents said,

but you go tell your Dad,

That he is just plumb crazy

if he really does believe

in all that Good and Badness stuff.

We’ll teach you to be free!


His hands are small, I do agree,

But have you seen his claws?

They’re long and gold and sharp and cruel

They’ll teach you how to deal with life..

Much better than your school.


We’re on your side, you little guys,

We’ll see you get your due.

Just come and sit

by Uncle Nick

and he will see you through.




Written on Water

The first set of Lyrics for the Footprint project, the story of Bath Abbey, written! A good day! (Thank you, Keats, for the inspiration as to how to tell the story of an Abbey that rose and fell so many times)

Written on water
Our life is …
As we write..

Written on water
Our life is …
As we write..

Written on water
Our life is …
As we write..

All that we do
That we are
Lost as
The bubbles
Take flight..

Written on water
Our life is …
As we write..

As time
Flows onward
All traces
Seem lost,
Seem washed

But all we love
we long for
Believe in
Day by day..

The water
For ever,
To vanish

Stairway to Heaven: A Meditation on the angels of Bath Abbey

As usual, I am trying to write lyrics and, as usual, am getting deflected into a poem. It is good to be writing again; I have stopped adding to the blog for a long time, depressed by the impossibility of getting any children’s poems published; and depressed by the gloominess of my own thoughts in the dawn of this trumpery age.

Stairway to Heaven

Up they go, the virtuous angels,
Lifting their faces to heaven as they climb
and up
and up,
sure of their welcome,
strong in their goodness,
eager to greet their Lord.

Some of them look down.
Why look down?
Are they worried about the ones who struggle up the ladder behind them?
Do they miss the warm familiarity of human sin?
Are they afraid of heights?

Many of us are afraid of heights.

It isn’t easy, clambering up that ladder,
impeded by long skirts and folded wings.
The effort is carved into their anxious faces,
their clutching hands.

Why don’t they fly?
Is it a test of their virtue, that they have to climb?

Not all of them make it.

Down they fall, the other angels,
in a crumple of masonry,
necks at a broken angle,

Was it just one unfortunate slip?
One dive-bombing pigeon?
One opportunistic imp tugging at an unwary ankle?
Or have they tumbled all the way down from Heaven,
through clouds of infamy,
lightning bolts of fury,
stinking of hatred and greed and evil,
Damned from the start?

Some are headless;
Did they go the way of Waller’s nose,
shot off by the troops quartered in the Abbey?

Not the first to lose their heads over a soldier.

Very human, those angels.