Category Archives: Poems

Conspiracy of Joy

Kate Tempest wrote a lovely short poem called ‘Watching My Dog Sleep’ (after Dermot Healy). I like poetry and dogs, so here’s my contribution to the conversation.


Dudley is running, faster than flight,

perfectly judging the length of my throw.

Stretches long, leaping, brown into blue light.

Lopes a triumphant lap round the field edge.

Ears bounce, velvet victory bunting,

gives up the prize with a wide staffy grin.

Light shining bright in the black sloes of your eyes.

Block my path huffing,

 again again again.

Cycling: Derbyshire heatwave

For hours after my blood still fizzes

and pops like hot tarmac bubbles

under speeding tyres that sing and hum along

to the click of gears.


Shady alleys of hedgerows and thick-leafed trees

hide potholes, sly skid of gravel. Hit the

hill at speed feeling the ratio of slope to gears,

the push and pant and power up.

Then swoop down, gripping the brake hoods,

down on the drops, lean into corners.

Tight focus on tarmac and the wheel ahead.


Things flash past: the wayside shrine near Axe Edge,

quiet pubs; a shirtless man spreadeagled

and pinking on the sloping gritstones edging

Goyt Reservoir. An exploded pile of feathers,

brown and white, big as a turkey,

yellow legs with clawed feet up-ended,

big as my handspan.


All the yellow fields, green-outlined,

seem not England but pictures of Tuscany.

Cyclists Sit in Cafés

The poem is about a winter bike ride in England, but all my café pix are outside on summer holidays.
The poem is about a winter bike ride in England, but all my café pix are taken outside on summer holidays.


Cyclists sit in cafés 

‘Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike’

                                                                                    John F Kennedy


Cyclists sit in cafés and discuss

everything that makes a good café.

‘The bacon.’ ‘Oh, bacon’s all the same.

But what do I know? I’m vegetarian.’

The price of tea. ‘And in a proper mug.’


Enough chairs. Warmth and cheerfulness. ‘Not posh.’

‘The all-day breakfast, three-fifty for

the small one.’ ‘She’d bring a teapot over,

and the beans! You couldn’t see the bread.

Proper bread (fingers spread) that thick.’


Fluorescent queue, flamingoes clacking restless

legs. Upturned helmets crowd the table,

Beached turtles filled with stuff: gloves and sleeves and

Glasses, buffs and beanies, phones and purses.

Rides we’ve done, rides to come and other riders.


Short today, a winter ride. ‘Were you out

yesterday?’ ‘Just three of us, Trent Lock

and back.’ ‘There’s that two hundred this weekend.’

‘Forecast’s bad, they’ve given rain.’ ‘Wind on the

nose on the way back. They’ll have to dig in.’


Outside steamed up windows, bikes lean, cabled

up to railings with café locks. ‘Come on.’

‘Sup up.’ Mount up and ride away.

Wind’s on the nose again.