Saturday, 31 July 2010



An old brown-coated man
Walks wordless through the meadow,
With him his silent son,
The seaman, at his elbow.

As the yellow pinebark's
Reflection bent at the water's edge,
Or under grey willows, he lurks,
Rustling almost, like sedge.

Each calm afternoon
Still he haunts the river;
Wholly into nature grown,
He is the sun's familiar.

He has passed beyong the world of men
And whether the perch bite, or he
Labour home catchless, nothing can
Snap him out of his reverie.

I understand his sort,
His each, unspoken intent,
His fishing not a sport
But a solemn sacrament.

I, Thoreau, the pencil-maker,
Salute you from the heart,
Bewick, the wood-engraver,
Of the same mind and art.


When the child opened his hand 
To show me the bird his father
Had sent me to copy
For my birds, I took it from him
And buried it in the garden.
There was no need for me
To study it: the purple-black
Cap, wings and tail, grey back,
White rump and rose-pink breast.
I stil remember that cold spring
When the fruit tree buds were stripped,
Cherry, gooseberry, plum.
Before the birds could flit to cover
With their soft indrawn 'teu-teu',
I'd picked up a stone and let fly.
A bird dropped to the ground.
I picked it up still alive;
Admired its plumage, felt its feet
And the short, rounded beak's sharp edge.
Then it closed its piteous eyes.
I was the last bird I killed,
That little Matthew Martin,
The bullfinch, though many since
Sadly have been killed on my account.
I cut him with care on the wood,
My concern to imitate
Nature. My reparation
Picks him out, in black, grey, white.

Joe Quinn

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

From the Tyneside Poets' Archives


('Let me be writ down as one who loved Mankind')

This Elysian field,
a small plateau above the dusty road,
harbours no peaceful haven. The monuments
vie with each other in shrill voices
over the family burial grounds, petty
dynasties unrealized, immortal memories ephemeral.

It is the mortal side here emphasised,
there is no ground richer in humus.
Arched trees form living parasols,
reminders of sunny days and Indian summers,
the grass knee high
and all the sound of day lost in the flora.

In a generation or two
when the memorials have lapsed
into ivied lethargy, this will be
a peaceful place in the afternoon.
But, for the present, we cannot
contain our contempt for this sham.

The vaults are opened,
monuments kicked down,
Molly and Ginger have left their signature
on one sturdier stone.
The dumped bedsteads and old clothes
let them know

just what we think of dead old fogies.
Every age piles up its follies,
this is one of theirs.
Time will be kind to them, that has not
patience nor period to prevent us
hallmarking their fools' gold as our own.

David Stevenson

Border Reivers

These moors were the favour they wore,
dissolved into mists that moistened
the leather harness. A feuded
sun rose over valleys and low
settlements that they descended
on to take cattle and plunder.

Their incorrigible surnames cared less
for the Laws of Court, than a life
lived hand to mouth, where the spur
served up out of a bare larder
sufficed. Flaunting the warden’s wrath
goaded them onto his gibbet.

Later they lay in the heather
without change. The pasture enclosed
on the dissolution of bones
that trickled along the cut turf,
where strange marauders made inroads
unchallenged, displacing their homes.

George Charlton


Uv erl the bords that flit aboot
ah like the spuggies best;
They hev nee bonnie feathors,
They build an erful nest.

They fight along the gutter’s edge,
They make love i’ the street;
Thor voice is jist a cross atween
A chirrup an’ a tweet.

They eat the seeds the gard’nor sows,
They pinch the farmor’s corn;
Th’ore chatterbox an scatterbrain
The varry day th’ore born.

Below that cheeky little face,
Ahint them beady eyes,
Ye’d sweer they wore erl Satan’s sons
I’ feathery disguise.

For them thore’s nowt ti recommend
That Ah can put i’ words;
But – please forgi’e them if you can, -
Th’ore canny little bords.

Robert Allen

Monday, 5 July 2010

for the love of sir bobby

(in memory of Bobby Robson, 1933-2009)

For the love of Sir Bobby
we will battle on
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will rise again
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will Gallowgate dream
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will rage on
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will take pride
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will roar by the Tyne
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will rejoice in Newcastle
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will chant on the walls
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will recall the good times
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will brighten our lives
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will drink in the sea
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will sparkle our eyes
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will save our soul
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will keep hold
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will dance with our kids
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will win back our town