London

It’s so quiet out here
in the small hours,
just the song of robins, the larks
and the sound of my feet on the wet
pavement for company,
it’s so very English.

I love this city,
for all its problems
and all its iniquities
London is my home,
maybe if I had ever lived anywhere else
I wouldn’t think of it in that way
but I haven’t, so I do.

I think of this big, generous city
like a big, generous person,
busy, complex. changing,
one who makes room for
everyone and everything;
every race, every creed,
every torment and every joy
and then sleeps peacefully
with the gods at night.

DF. 2-2-2021 1452

Stillness

I stopped to watch a train
passing under the bridge this morning,
a speeding promise that weighed
over a hundred and eighty tons
hurtling through the wet night
on its way to somewhere,
I watched the signal lights
reflected on the carriages
as the train passed them,
red one way, green the other,
flash, flash, flash
green then red, green then red,
no return, no return.

As the train disappeared down the track
I imagined myself on board, a passenger
sitting in the last seat in the last carriage,
all this behind me, on my way to a different place
to be a different person, and though the train was
travelling fast, I was perfectly still.

DF. 1-2-2021 1451

Night

I have come to love
being outdoors at night,
I love the solitude, space and anonymity,
I love the freedom to be myself
and the absence of expectations
from anybody else.

In the darkness
things become visible that
you just don’t see in the light of day,
an entrance hall to some flats filled
with fluorescent light,
a solitary lit window high up
on the side of a dark building,
a security light illuminating a side alley,
when I am alone in the night they all
become thresholds
to a world of wonder.

DF. 29-1-2021 1450

Soldiers

I have worked as a
psychotherapist for nearly forty years now
and though I have never met one in the course of my work
I have heard and read about people who are enlightened,
when I was younger I hoped that one day
I might count myself among them.

I thought that if I could achieve
an enlightened state I would no longer have to suffer,
but now I believe that the difference between somebody
who is enlightened and an ordinary person
is that the enlightened person has found
something inside that helps them to
bear their suffering without blame
and turn it into compassion.

It’s the same source that
enables trees to fall without complaint,
helps soldiers find peace on the battlefield
and compels me to write these poems as I walk.

DF. 27-1-2021 1448

Now

4.00am and the streets are deserted,
nothing but hard frost on the pavement
sparkling in the lamplight.

Somewhere behind me I hear a car,
the petrol engine murmuring and then the sound of
the tyres on the road, disappearing into the distance.

A fox crosses the pavement right in front of me
intent on some purpose that has consumed her fear,
quite unconcerned by my presence.

As I step through the park gates
a passenger jet passes overhead in a self-important
clamour of flashing lights and screaming engines.

I walk past the three plastic ducks set on car springs
in the playground, past the monument to Olaudah Equiano,
across the bridge over the ponds and up the steep path to the exit
past an open suitcase lying empty on the compacted snow.

I start to think about how much longer I will be able to walk
in the mornings like this, my knees aren’t what they used to be
and I’ll miss it when I’m unable to come out anymore,
then I hear beauty’s lovely voice whispering
and I know that all that matters is now.

DF. 25-1-2021 1447

Lost and found

Lost and found
About 15 years ago
my life was beautiful and filled with hope,
then it became ugly and then uglier,
I don’t know why, I thought of reasons,
I thought of nothing but reasons, none of them kind,
but I didn’t really know why and even if I had
I doubt that it would have helped very much,
somewhere I knew that all I could do was sit it out.

It wasn’t all dark, I got glimpses of beauty through
the trees, in the birdsong and the howling of the foxes
and I thought that was it, that was how it would be
until I passed from this world but now something
has changed and beauty has become my companion again.

I still don’t know why I abandoned her all those years ago
and it doesn’t matter since have found her again,
now as we walk together I know that my life
is not in my hands and it never has been,
I just thought it was.

DF. 25-1-2021 1446

Soup

What will happen to my poetry
when I take all the seeking out,
all the images of journeys, struggles,
trains and pathways, when I just want to
be where I am because that’s where God is?

What will happen when
my breath is company enough
and I no longer need cynicism
to protect me from the pain
of my unrealized dreams
or shadows to hide them in?

Then I will write about the way
you dip your spoon in your soup,
the way you purse your lips to cool it
and close your eyes when you taste it,
I will write about how I feel your pleasure
and your joy when you do because
then I will be completely in love.

DF. 24-1-2021 1445

Betrayal

Have I ever betrayed love?
Many times, but not nearly as often
as love has betrayed me.

Not nearly as often as love has refused
to fit into the ideas or rules I have prepared for it,
broken the fetters I have placed on its wrists and ankles
or passed by my poetry without a glance.

Love doesn’t bow to human effort,
it serves a far greater master than we do
and calls that mastery from within each of us
with every difficult breath and painful step we take.

DF. 27-2-2021 1473

Intoxication

This morning was
dark, cold and frosty
with a perfectly clear sky,|
as I walked over the railway bridge
I stopped abruptly, turned and looked up
so I could take the moon by surprise.

But the moon
took me by surprise instead,
so clear, so sharp and unequivocal,
there’s something intimate and exciting about
the light of a full moon on a dark and frosty morning,
it’s like taking a sip of vintage champagne,
sparkling, mysterious and intoxicating.

DF. 26-2-2021 1472

Passing

Budlea.jpeg


I passed a woman on my
early morning walk today
and as I did I said, ‘Morning’.
She looked up from her little dog
who was peeing against a tree and said,
‘Mornin’, then we went our separate ways,
she with her dog and me with my thoughts.

I walked on, over the railway bridge,
past the purple buddleia growing out of
the cracked pointing between the bricks,
I looked down the silver tracks then up to the sky,
it was beautiful, soft and gentle, gold and pink
under light clouds and so peaceful, so very peaceful,
just to walk in that light was healing.

I paused for a moment and felt sorry
that I had missed the opportunity to share
more with the woman and her dog.

As I made my way home
over the iron footbridge
further down the track
to my great good fortune
I met the woman with the dog again,
I wasn’t going to miss my chance
a second time so I nodded to the sky
and said, ‘Beautiful sky this morning’.
A broad smile spread across her face
and she said, ‘And a beautiful moon last night’.