The Dividing Line

I walk the dividing line
between low water & the shore,
where land becomes liquid
and distinction is blurred
and ever-changing.
Out there,
on the bleakness of the tidal flats
is a world of water, mists and space,
where curlews’ call echoes mournful
and the squabble of gulls
is earth and air and bubbling sound.
The tide slides in like snakes,
sending tendrils of water
to fill the dykes and gullies,
running swift behind,
unseen and deepening,
spreading across the sand,
leaving isolated rocks
like sentinels on guard.
The shore is far away,
beyond the grounded boats,
and lights flicker distant
through the haar.

I walk the dividing line
between sanity and madness.
The rising unreason sends tendrils,
snaking through the dykes
and gullies of my mind,
twisting thoughts,
and challenging my rationality,
firing misinformation across
the synapses of my brain,
sending me crashing
into the darkest realms,
like ocean trenches with
uncharted depths;
into the inner darkness
where no light shines.
I hear voices calling from the shore,
see strong arms outstretched,
but the more I reach,
the more they fade away,
until the darkness drowns them
like the rising tide,
and I cannot see the road
to travel on……

The Potter’s House

Go you down to the potter’s house,
the Lord, he said to me.
Go on down to the potter’s house
and tell me what you see.
I walked to where the potter lived,
saw him sitting at his wheel,
the clay a shapeless formless mass,
its purpose not revealed.
The potter looked and saw my gaze,
He said this is for you.
He tossed the clay on the spinning board;
His aim was deft & true.
He worked upon the whirling shape,
formed it with his hand;
a rimmed plate on a short stem
stood upon the stand.

And then it seemed the whole scene changed,
The potter shone like gold.
He took me in his clay stained hands
and my soul began to mould.
I saw myself begin to change,
I saw my form appear;
a goblet tall with fluted rim,
its purpose bold & clear.
I hold the blood of sin within,
pain of the world to bear.
I pour out wine & water clear
for all to come & share.

I walked away from the potter’s house,
my shoulders bowed with grief.
I know that now within this life
there will be no relief.
I do not know this God of mine,
I do not know His name;
but I know His spirit gives me breath,
and life & love & pain.


Pebble on the beach
Grey dark plain
Inside a perfect creature
Lying in the grain
Etched in the granite
Baked in the earth
Soaked by sea & rain
Buried for an age
In the ocean depths
Cracked open once again
To lie upon this lonely strand
Beneath a deep blue sky
Till I should chance upon it
And bear it in my hand

Encircling Love

Let my eyes be for you a reflection of your soul: see in them the compassion and love which is in you. Let my ears hear your whispered fears and, in hearing, keep you safe.

Let my voice comfort you and, in my words, hear your own sweet solace mirrored there.

Let my arms enfold you, strong and sure, and feel the encircling love of Christ holding you.

Let my heart be open to you and, in that trembling vulnerability, hold us both secure.


The old year dies slowly
in storms of howling winds,
rattling in the chimney pots,
tearing at the naked trees,
ripping them up, exposing buried roots….
thus are the mighty fallen.

The old year dies slowly,
the old year dies slowly,
felling the ranks of our heroes,
stealing their music, their song,
their magic…
and leaving a deathly silence.

The old year dies slowly,
taking the icons of our youth,
those who reached for the stars,
and became thus themselves.
And led us dancing into dreams
and fantasies,
replacing drab reality.

The old year dies slowly,
with veils of mist
and tears of rain
with fading light in tired eyes
and darkness

Yet as it sinks in death throes
the new year is brought to birth.

Tom Dooley

Tom Dooley was a tramp.
He lived high on the Staffordshire moorlands
in an old ruined shepherd’s hut.
He had patched it with salvaged wood,
with stones and mud.
He tramped the roads and tracks about,
the heathery slopes,
The groughs, the peat hags.
He wore a cap, black with age,
a coat patched and worn,
boots tied with string
and a bright chequered scarf,
incongruous colour in a sepia picture.
He built his fire of deadwood,
Of dried peat and scavenged logs.
He ate of bread and cheese, strong onions,
rabbit trapped and skinned and cleaned,
roasted on a makeshift spit.
I heard it said his real name was Colin Ralphs,
a name belonging to a life unknown.
A name given him, reminiscent of family,
childhood, school and friends,
in an age before he sought this
harsh existence,
which to him was peace.
Peace he sought after the violence,
the evil, the death, the destruction,
that he had seen in the war,
that war to end all wars.
It ended, not war, but Tom Dooley’s hopes,
desires and future promise,
driving him away to this barren place.
He took from the world a meagre living.
He gave to the world his silence.
Not once did I hear him speak,
and yet, one day, as I drove past,
he stood in the red phone box
on a crossroads miles from any house,
and he held the receiver to his ear
and he was talking…….

Tidal Wasteland

Coorlie, the cry echoes bleak across the tidal flats;
late afternoon, and autumn sun reflects in wet mud,
shimmering shades of brown & mauve,
a faint line of silver grey marks the returning sea.
Cooorlie, a thin & mournful sound,
pierces the darkening sky, skims across the no-man’s land
between the tides.
Can anything live in the wasteland?

Coooorlie, and a curved bill penetrates the ooze,
emerges triumphant with some blind & squirming creature.
Ghostly shades of sanderling flutter & dart & run out on the water’s edge,
a graceful swirling dance, partner to the creeping waters.

Coooorlie, the curlews cry, as the twilight deepens into night,
a thin chill wind begins to blow.
My steps hasten towards the lighted window and the bright new flames of fresh dry wood.


There is a doorway in the mind;

beware you who find it and step within.

It will lead you into dark labyrinths

of circles, dead ends and hidden turns.

In four dimensions it spirals

from giddy heights to unfathomed depths,

from before time to all eternity.


Pause a moment,

your hand upon the latch;

will you step within?

There will be no return, traveller,

to that shallow place which

seemed to be all there was.

Once through that door you will wander

a way unseen and unknown.


Others you will meet along the way,

those who have succumbed

and stepped through their own secret door.

They will walk a while in tandem

but do not cling to their company

for they will leave you

and you will mourn their passing.


For many miles you will walk alone

through storms, through nights as dark as hell,

with ghosts and horrors

as your midnight companions.

None can reach you on that path;

they can only stand and watch,

with arms you cannot see

stretched out in love.


Times you will drop to your knees

exhausted, unable to crawl another inch,

unable to raise your head;

unwilling to look ahead,

unable to turn back.

What will you then, traveller?

Will you question your sanity?

Will you regret your choice

as you stood on the threshhold?


Beware the secret paths of the mind, traveller,

there are waterless deserts within,

dense forests and raging torrents,

hidden wells of pain,

of tears and shame and guilt.

Knives will pierce your soul

and you will bleed.


Why would you lift the latch, traveller,

why step onto that path

that lasts through all eternity?

Have courage!

For those who dare, for those who  yearn,

who ask, who  seek, who knock,

there are rewards beyond belief.

Sunrise follows sunset

and day comes after night.


Comfort and blessings you will have, traveller,

oases of peace and calm,

days of warmth and sunlight,

nights of velvet moonshine;

a rare sharing of souls, arms quick to hold

and the strength of another to lean against.

And the path you will call your own

will ensnare you with promises of wonder.







Waiting for the Lord

Here am I, waiting for the Lord:

waiting, waiting…

as life and times pass by.

Here am I

waiting for the Lord.

In this ancient place of worship

where prayers are soaked into the stone;

where people come, friend and stranger,

to wait for the Lord.

Is he here? I cannot see.

Is he speaking? I cannot hear.

And so, here am I,

waiting for the Lord.

But I am one of action,

lacking the patience of saints.

I need to walk beyond this place

for there will I find the Lord.

Not in that place

but carried in my heart and soul

from the place of worship where I waited

for Him who was always within.