My Enchanted Lady Alyse

Alyse 1
My queen, serene, my enchanted Lady Alyse
sips chamomile tea from her fine bone china chalice
smiles her crooked smile and whispers in lisps
fiddles with the clasp of the copper bangle on her wrist
offers me more tea and although I lazily resist

she waves away my refusal, demurely insists
then chooses a chocolate finger and one with coffee cream in it
from the saucer founding a cathedral of assorted biscuits.
She then quietly recounts to me her day, of
bicycling to her sisters, of catching her dress in the chain, of

hearing a cuckoo call whilst free-wheeling along Capps Lane, of
delighting in the open face of Poor-Man’s Weather-Vane, of
resting in the candle tree’s quiet relieving shade, of
sunbathing with Sophie and watching the kitten-cats play, of preparing
a salad and picnicking beneath the shadowing pear tree boughs, of

strolling through Moreton Meadows, still brilliant with flowers,
of stopping at Helen’s Pantry in Starlington’s Lamb Parade
for a dainty cake and a glass or two of home made lemonade, of
idling the long way home and laughing arm in arm
by way of Lady Mildmay’s Lane, skirting Aston Farm…

“Oh!” Alyse suddenly exclaims
her hand to her mouth, her crystal eyes aflame…
“I’ve just remembered my last night’s dream!”
Then sounding rather vague, she says
“I guess that I was telling myself I’m on to a very good thing…

I found a shiny sixpence in a weed-bed under a wire fence
and half a crown, tail-up, head-down, beneath a clipped box hedge
a ha’penny then caught my eye and so a bright new penny that did lie
half hiding a shilling which led me to a sovereign
then a silver coin blushing and so on along a line…

till I was miles from home, quite where I did not know
and still dropping coins into my shepherdesses purse
on and on and to and fro, all night long until in a hay meadow
I found that my good fortune had quite suddenly reversed!
Not a penny, not a farthing, not a shilling could I find

in my purse or in my pocket, strewn before me or behind
and it was in my flustered searchings that out the corner of my eye
I saw you by the kissing gate where every evening we kiss goodnight…
and I awoke wanting to be with you, then, and forever more…
be we rich and rudely healthy, be we laid up and church mouse poor!”

Alyse 2


Dr Hantrobus Garpike

Dr Hantrobus Garpike

Knelt beside the grave of Kit Fallon, the gloomy ghost of Dr. Hantrobus Garpike offered down his honest apologies and beseeched the boy-child for forgiveness. With a choke in his throat, the Doctor’s red-sore eyes streamed continually with tears…

In truth, tis a common sight abroad the graveyard of St Eligius Church, in the town of Rookwood in the very heart of Ormland… for Dr. Garpike, in that later period of his tenure as a Penny-Doctor, put more bodies in the sour ground than the virulent Marsh Ague he aimed to cure…

As so often happens, this tragedy was innocently invited upon life’s stage. The good doctor, very much in his cups with ale and port, scoffed a hearty supper of rankest cheese that proceeded to inflame his dreams…

Dr. Hantrobus Garpike discovered himself in his usual splendid attire, positively flamboyant in his scarlet wool coat with its wide skirt cut to mid-thigh, his favourite turquoise stockings clinging-tight so as to all-the-better show-off his elegant calves; elasticated stockings of course, none of those fiddly buckled garters or tatty fastening-ribbons for Dr. Hantrobus Garpike!

And then, by way of his crowning glory… his most expensive powdered periwig-peruke, tied neatly with a black silk ribbon at the back of his neck. He’d never thought more than nought of spending a veritable fortune on his most dashingly fashionable periwig, certain-sure that it commended him loudly unto the high esteem of his peers and equally, set all the ladies of Rookwood and Starlington a-swoon…

The dreaming Dr. Garpike looked about himself with all the sneering confidence of a man who knew everything. The planet Mercury shone down from a cloudless night sky as brightly as if it were a high summer’s noonday sun… and in so doing, it illuminated milkily the dark green Eden in which he found himself entirely at home…

“Mercury is most assuredly God’s own cure for Marsh Ague!” Dr. Hantrobus Garpike pronounced unto the planet-blazing sky, entirely confident that God preferred to confide His truth through a mortal’s dreams.

A low and boisterous draught then nagged at his ankles, laying flat to the ground all the profuse herbage that made so untidy Eden’s forest floor… only for it to then all be gusted vigorously otherwise and then again obtusely. But the deeply devout and ever-so clever-wise Dr. Garpike was so certain of the profundity of his God-delivered insight that he ignored the timid yet insistent whisperings of those flowerless plants…

Dr Garpike set at once to obtaining the very densest mercury that coin could acquire and via Ebenezer Luxulyan, the Apothecary in Starlington’s Orm Lane, he was purveyed a half-quart bottle of the liquid metal, labelled scratchily, ‘Quicksilver’.

Stirring it liberally into a soup of foulest eel and slimiest bleak, Dr Garpike prepared a decoction that he was certain-sure would cure the ghastly Marsh Ague that was then, as seeming ever, rife abroad all sodden and mildewed Ormland…

Eelers, withy-cutters, beetle-makers, hull-board shavers and nailers, sail-cutters and stitchers, rope-winders, kettle-weavers, flax-twisters and fish heavers, descalers and skinners… all had lost immediate kin and neighbours and constantly feared that the Ague would soon steal away their own souls into the long dark night…

So certain was Dr. Hantrobus Garpike of God’s inspirational Word that he continued to prescribe the deadly medication despite his patients falling in agony by the wayside so regularity that they quickly became a blur of unrecallable corpses. He simply assumed that he’d not been granted access to their mortal body’s with sufficient time to save them, what with the poor marshfolk too often not having spare the penny necessary to command his presence and attentions.

Of course, it being Marsh Ague they would have died anyway… Dr. Hantrobus Garpike simply made their passing into God’s embrace a Hell of a lot more agonied than would otherwise have been the case.

If only he’d realised that his rank-supper-cheese inflamed waking-dream wasn’t directing him to look up at the full moon, which, oddly for a clever fellow of great learning, he’d managed to imagine was the planet Mercury… no, it was directing him to look down at the profuse plant that had hailed and regaled him in furious whispers…

Bog’s Mercury, the ubiquitous yet essentially anonymous plant in question, wished for nothing more from its life than to be sacrificed as an admixture in a curative caudle… as all the many witches of Ormland knew of old; they called it Ague’s Ease, after all. But Dr Hantrobus Garpike was not the kind of man to stoop so low as to ask a crooked crone for advice; indeed, he was certain to sniffily dismiss their balms and charms as vain deceits…

But quickly upon commencing his personal wait for Doomsday, Dr Garpike came to regret his gross error… so, to this day he roams St Eligius’s graveyard, ever-beseeching the consolation of his many victims’ mercy…

And he has much work still to do before the trumpets of Doomsday release him from his guilt and reconcile him with his all-forgiving Lord.

Have pity for the poor fellow though as he approaches the agonied and raging spectre of Hugh Briss. He’ll find no comfort there, even if he begs for a million years…

Dr Hantrobus Garpike




Sleet 2

Hoarfrosted, thorned-hedgerows
stunned blunt by this winter’s fiercest frost

Guide a long skein of slow mute crows
across this solid white sky until almost lost

Amidst the horizon’s dissolving mists and blurs
that strike dumb Even Song’s summoning toll

Twixt here and distant Bixwood Hill’s eerie serried firs
the Jinnet’s floods are numbed to ice by the startling cold

The starlings have forsaken their twilight flight and verse
though a ghostly owl swoops amidst the disconsolate sheep

Then one stray blasphemous raven curse
shatters this frozen silence into sudden sleet

Sleet 1

Three Dozen Black Apostrophes

Left marginThree dozen black apostrophes sit atop these skeletal scribbled trees

at a sudden rain-burst, parliament dispersed

wheeled, dropped, flapped, caw-cursed

beaks full of guttural, hoarse harsh verse.

The fire-glow and flame of the hedgerows along Northcott Lane

blaze against the greys of this drizzly October dimsy

stray sunrays illume autumn’s displays

the mid-blast explosions of hawthorn’s berries.

Black branch lightening, permanently striking

against a heavy-rain cloud sky

new moon rising, wryly smiling

mirrored in the misting brook, brim-high.

A lone crow idles through these damp mauve airs

that ring to the choirings of a crownful of starlings

their elegiac hymns

their passionate beseeching prayers.

Pain Hill Moor


High in heavy rain clouds edged with chrome
Spins a carousel of rooks jacks and carrion crows
Too bickeringly quarrelsome to allow their silence to condone
The robin’s melancholic evening air
Over the years the wind has blown
These beech crowns to form a shallow dome
To the top of this natural cathedral has flown
A flock of laughing Fieldfare
Stiff-masted moorland grasses sing long low
Moaning laments when the sharp wind bluster-blows
Such long whines and long wails as if the wind longs to atone
For its desire to scour the moor bare
Ragged upland sheep, all skin and bone
Shelter in the lee of a wall of grey stone
Sadly surveying their Pain Hill Moor home
 In silence, with disconsolate stares

Pain Hill Moor Bottom

In It For The Money

Money top left (2) 2Money top right (2) 2

Cutting a dash, making a splash

Inspiring as any enemies as admirers

Cream of the crop, rising to the top

Reprising Machiavelli’s designs for high-fliers

Wine bars, fine cigars

In cahoots with cohorts, conniving with cunning

Fast cars, first class

The leader of the pack, not just in the running

In tip-top condition, with top-spot ambition

Whatever it requires to deliver desires

Top-dog gets the top-job

King of all corporate thieves cheats and liars

Money bottom left (2) 2Money bottom right (2) 2



If asked, I’d reply that I always have a ninety-nine percent chance of maintaining my innocence…

I can live with that, especially as I perform my duty anonymously.

And for a million U’s a year? When everyone else is cold and hungry on way less than fifty thousand?

Literally money for nothing! Well, almost always literally…

All I have to do is syringe one drop of a randomly chosen bottle’s contents into a small glass that’s made brimming by the addition of all one hundred minims of ‘Elixir’.

Don’t worry yourself about what Elixir is exactly… just accept that it’s essentially a scentless translucent liquid… and be reassured, the ‘Recipient’ always chooses to drink it… well, once the ‘Alternative’ is explained to them, anyway. Consequently, as Our Sacred Training stresses, we of The Virtuous Panel of The One Hundred, retain exemplary records in the judgement of the Ultimate Arbiter…

I never see who drinks it… or ever know why. It could be a murderous paedophile… in which case, if asked, I’d reply that I hope my drop was loaded… but it could be a frightened old woman, informed that she must cease immediately to be a burden on The State… in which case… if asked, I’d reply that I hope I’m in the ninety-nine…

But whomsoever sips or is intravenously dripped the Elixir… they are quickly ‘Cancelled’. And my virtue remains intact.

So, if asked I’d repeat that I have a ninety-nine percent chance of maintaining my innocence…

But to be honest… I couldn’t really care less.



Remote Viewing

Dusk over the VastInvisibly alone in the deepest darkest pocket of space… I’m conscious of every single second of existence, but have nothing against which to measure the passing of time…

Then, after presumably millions upon millions of excruciating years, an exhausted photon from an out-of-sight star cluster to my right limped, grey and sluggishly before me…

By sheer fluke of coincidence, an equally exhausted photon from an equally distant galaxy to my left, slugged equally grey and limpingly, before me…

In the very moment of their mutual expiry the two photons met, collapsing gently, the one simultaneously against the other…

The consequent blast was so immediately and so profoundly vast that I was incapable of comprehending the least of it… but in the searing light of the new sun I caught a glimpse of myself for the first time in aeons… before being blown violently head-first back through space and time, landing in my bed with a gasping paralysed jolt…

“Hey, it’s ok… you’re just dreaming…” she whispered sleepily.

But we both knew I wasn’t.