For Lesley Johnson


Obviously they were after the docklands –

Liverpool, Wallasey, Birkenhead –

with a week long of raids but many bombs,

as usual, missed their targets entirely,

shrapnelling then burning streets – commercial

and residential – either side of the river,

upstream and down. The photos of acres

of devastation in Liverpool’s

downtown city centre prefigured Dresden.


There is a watercolour in the Walker

by Peter Shepheard –



This morning apple blossom, scattered by

the softest of winds, showered me like

confetti and, by chance, I looked up

into a deep, deep cobalt sky and there

they were – one, two then a third and fourth –

arriving perennially at this time

here each May. Monogamous, returning

to the same nests until they die, each

generation nesting in the empty nests –

each generation now, as it returns yearly

from the tropics, finding more and more nests

gone as buildings are renovated

and new ones built sealed as airless boxes.



Whilst I am at my morning exercises,

the limited dumbbell, the selected

Pilates, observing, through the French window,

the shimmering, ornamental grasses –

that obscure the water feature – and the odd

finch and dunnock feasting on the birch

and the lawn, a large, black, raucous fly

hits one of the panes, once, twice, thrice then stops,

becomes silent. We are all learners, most of the time.

It – in a long life I have never learned

how to sex a fly – walks with care,



The motorway cuts through it. It was always

a proper Cheshire country lane with

ditches and hedgerows of may and oak

but it remained an unpaved track subject

to the weathers. Travellers or Roma –

though ‘Gypsies’ or ‘Irish Tinkers’ we called them

then – with grass for their hirsute ponies,

their caravans obscured by the hedges

and their shy kids safe from the odd car,

would camp there. We would try to explore,

to find where it led, hoping for some mansion

occupied by GIs with their comics

and gum.



For Mike Francis


…realising the hopes, dreams, nightmares, visions,

of other artists;


transporting us from a silent, empty black box to

Kwazulu, Hastings, the Marches, Belfast, the Balkans,

and endless rooms and streets in Ellesmere Port;


transporting us to a roundhouse, a pigeon loft, a ferry,

a seashore, a desert, a hill fort, a lonely farm, a cave;


truly gifted – with more than a touch of genius;