began to write poetry in the 1960's, and continued until political activism took
over in the late 1970's. My main influences were the Metaphysical poets, although
I also spent time with Robert Browning (even to the point of trying to stagger
through Sordello). I knew what Liverpool and the performance poets were up to,
and even shared a Poetry Society stage with the great Horowitz and had the word
`OM' written on my hand by Allen Ginsberg, but my head was firmly planted in the
sands of the past. All the criticism against "dead" poets is misplaced,
since poets do not die as long as their words are read.
most recent poem is usually the one that brings the parental feelings out of poets,
so they are printed lower down this page.
is my longest work. He was the hermit who facilitated the rehabilitation of Tristan
and Yseult. This poem took 2 years to make, and is so long it stands no chance
of seeing the light of a magazine. It is centered about the part of Cornwall where
the legend of Tristan and Yseult touches history. Possibly.
main preoccupations are with the seashore and other natural
locations . Some are set in my Somerset locality.
Unfortunately, environmental degradation figures almost constantly in the poems.
The poetry simply reflects what is, regrettably, there.
few might be described as philosophical .
rears its aching head in the political poems, because
green politics is not a career, it is a compulsion driven by emotion - mainly
fear that our species is in the process of destroying what was once a perfectly
good planet. Quite a few are about War. Unfortunately..
write about people (and insects). Sometimes - rarely
- I write especially for a competition theme, but
never get around to sending it.
of my stuff is "page poetry" rather than "performance", but
this one popped out as a performance poem, although I have a sneaking feeling
that my unconscious plagiarised it from a longer poem I heard at a Bristol poetry
Some are quite
there has been a definite tendency to dwell on the subject of sheds.
Often I write a poem, and leave it for years before
finding it during a tidy up. Running from Surt met
this fate. It emerged from a period on reading mythology.
leaves the miscellaneous poems gracing the rest of this page. The top one is usually
the most recent.
for having a look. Hope you find something you enjoy. Feel free to contact
me to give feedback.
The following poems have been published:
Call : Poetry Room (web)
City Burns : Poetry Room
Heaven watchers: Voice & Verse
Driving has won first prize in the W-s-M based West Country Writers' Association
View from Crook Peak ,
A Wood in Somerset, Iraq
Leaves on the Lawn
the Chief - all in Chickenbones
How will they live,
A shadow touched,
Down Changing Corridors,
Fairground Ride: all in Nightingale.
Genoa & Lost Sock in a previous incarnation of Writers
The Dream was Poem of the Week in http://www.comrade.org.uk/
A Case of Fire published in Philosophy
The Fisherman, The Wild Horse: published in Aquarius many years
A Wood in Somerset, Iraq, and
A Dream of War were judged
joint third and highly commended (respectively) by Adrian Mitchell in the Iraq
Occupation Focus / Red Pepper Poetry Competition 2004
To Walk Again
was highly commended in the Iraq Occupation Focus / Red Pepper Poetry Compteition
Leaves was commended in the Partners Poetry Competition 2005
Sun disc pale and white
At the low point of the year.
gives way to night
and the wet branch drips a tear_
that holds a falling
compressing all we see
into a tiny liquid globe
hung on a silent
While Roman steel is hurting
and their armies make us bow,
Mary's belly bursting out
a child infused with power.
We listen for a
to universal love;
he conjures up a spell
change the eagle to a
But the dove grew talons
and his song became a scream:
bore down upon us
where the Roman boot had been.
So we traded Church
and the donkey for a Ford
but there's nowhere we could park it
the children soon got bored
and the banks that gave possessions
in their loans;
their smiles hide their aggression:
they want everything
But the sun will rise beyond this death
And next year we shall
Another way to shield the Earth
From the Roman soldiers' mind.
Hail to the Chief
flash your filthy flower, your red pustule
whose foul black winding sheet's
your final word.
This is your moment of fulfilment,
your argument that cannot be denied,
who sees this rose of death
is forced to feel the hate that tortures you.
echoes on and on in desolate triumph
a set of images caught in facing mirrors
in a split infinity : hate, hurt,
hurt, hate, irrational regress, endless,
wasted world, where nothing grows,
no bird sings, only a lacerating hate
that stains your too-committed consciousness,
the perfect canvas of your world,
with blood of babes,
and us, the bystanders, no longer
spattered with hate.
We feel a surge
of hate for you, and so it goes
over and even until death, which does not
until the pity that we feel for your split
can grow and blossom into a piteous love that swells
cover the whole world until it swallows even you,
you pitiful child-leader,
engulfing you in
pain-struck, hate-contaminated love,
the leader who in some way we have allowed
lifetimes of inattention, to speak and act for us,
to mouth these foul excrescences,
against the Life that bears us,
to speak these bombs on our behalf .
to pity you enough, rightly to pity your pain,
condemned to heal or share
'til we die.
01:12hr 15 July 2006
Occupation : Jobbing Squaddie
(The Platoon Pantoum)
It's what we're trained to do, it's just our job.
If jumped up Hitlers want
to get tooled out
with nukes and gas and germs that they can lob
we'll bring them down, no fuckin doubt.
so much warfare as a rout.
The worst our unit faced was sand and heat.
Talk about open doors - if we got out
to piss, they'd stick their hands up.
They were beat.
It wasn't really such a major feat,
it's just our job, it's what we're trained to do.
First they were friendly,
nice as you could meet.
We all relaxed. Nobody had a clue
it would all go sour. Nobody knew
exactly when we overstayed our leave,
but when a roadside bomb took out our crew
I got the first faint sus we'd
We didn't mind the looters and the
we're trained for that, it's all part of the job.
The thing that
always makes my stomach heave
is facing down a screaming angry mob.
hurt, bottles can burn, but when they gob
and spit at you, that is the thing...
we sweated blood to save the fuckwit yob
who's screaming hate at you...it's
that what stings.
We chased and caught them. Some
them back inside the compound walls.
I heard our sarge say
"Make them sing".
We laid in with our toecaps on their balls.
got court martialled. Told us all to crawl.
Told us what not to say, gave
us a gag.
They called it torture. I say we lost our rag.
We'll pay with
years for one five minute brawl.
What stupid bastard
sent us to this war?
How is this supposed to help the British nation?
They lied to us - we're here for Bush's oil.
No paddle in a shit-creek situation.
years have passed since liberation.
There were no WMD. That lying slob
Blair, he fouled up. This is an occupation.
He should jailed, not us. It's
not our job.
(c) Richard Lawson
Leaves on the lawn
This happens every year
coloured and sculpted to look like frogs
crawls across the mossy lawn
sometimes by hop and skip, mainly by stealth
blanketing mournful flower beds,
their plan is simple: cover
the earth with mulch,
rot-fragrant brown leaf drifts
to make a fine soft nursery for seedlings
to raise their heads,
spread out their arms to greet the sun
and in their turn, drop leaves.
Within our species there are those
who'd clad the earth
without a thought.
Between those two
we have to set distinctions.
Grass here, flowers there,
and leaves in shining sacks
to wait three years,
rot down to fibre, to make soil
improvements that I may not see,
my turn I go to ground, the land sold on
be covered yet with concrete death
or reclaimed by the river.
must do this work ;
our given role
is to improve our soil and our soul.
Congresbury winter 2001/2
To Walk Again
was a routine day
the way to work
out by sameness
packed in a steamy cattle
like extras in a film
strangers, unknown to anyone
apart from family and friends
from those who cry when we're not there
from millions who will experience
one tiny shock
hear what happened next :
a flash of
changed everything, forever.
editing, a jump
in a dream,
where brown and red
and no-one registers a
not for a second
'til the pain cuts in.
then it was
bellowing of cattle
the noise of fear and pain
than an abattoir
much worse than when
we kill to eat
neatly, in order.
not just line us up
Go there strip
off, breathe in and die.
Why not that ordered
to reach their goal?
so much blood?
Why tear us all apart
who rip their toys
like a jet
and throw red paint against the wall
get their way?
And yet I know that I'm the
to have a heart that beats
spite the empty space below my knees,
time my eyelids close
somehow the pinkness of the
conjures up images of tortured flesh
just torn up flesh,
Halal or hamburger,
do not care
Whether the author of our pain
now in heaven with a thousand virgins
in his mess with brother officers
I do not care
screaming in hell while demons
using exquisite pains
I do not care
in the highest office in the world
bathing in lies
I do not care
who can freely walk the streets
You care. Break
the routine of death.
I only want to walk again.
Burdened by books
the single root of all this fine reality
and tablets of wooden thought
that made him what he thinks he is
out the weight of all these fetishes
not good enough to use
not bad enough
to be destroyed
sheathed in fine-spun fibre
will fade, grow veins
weak and rot away:
the plastic will outlast the leg
Power Comes In Many Forms
the stable substance
that leaves an unseen cloud
weaving its way
among the sky blue air
so that the first wave of the web
cares? we are the Man
no-one can prove I killed your child
prove it in court of law
caught in the fork between
necessity and reason
die for your beloved frogs
is a form of power
Is willingness to try new paths
(c) Richard Lawson
Tsunami - Vilanelle
not search hopelessly among the wreck;
not here, among the stench and sticks,
for those who left this heaviness behind.
not grieve, except for us
caught in the tangle of a broken paradise.
search for what is not there in the wreck.
a mess of wood and broken stone
of silver bone and fertilising flesh.
They have done well to leave this weight behind.
rise above a dark chaotic mass
moving to lightness from a hard, heart breaking
You will not find them here among the wreck.
them the fear of death is in the past
from height they see the gasping shade
Their burden's gone; their being has grown light.
for your life among those who survive.
Wait patiently to meet the ones you
Do not look now for them among the wreck -
for they have left their
light storm coming
tap on my chest
HOW WILL THEY LIVE
will they live, our children
when like us they put their little ones to bed
and feel the lightless air
rich with cicadas and the voice of dogs?
I lived through a dream one night,
Beginning in the usual way, a
Of people on some common task
Gathered on the beach
Lit by a
fire, within a darkness
Needing for one of them to die
do it" said my dreaming self,
Impulsive, eager to please
so I died - something involving waves
Khaki green shorebreak, others were
That memory is vague,
not the vivid beauty of the breaking day.
A dawn that reached into the west
A hollow vibrant violet coral light
The surface of a sapphire seen from within
Taut as a bowstring
Splitting the world of darkness.
was laid out in the mud
Feeling the dawn, not cold
Until a mother came,
Bent down, and looked at me.
"Poor boy" she said, speaking to herself
a bougainvillea blossom
by a cast off yoghourt pot
I fell off a cliff
there would be plastic by my corpse