Sunday, 28 February 2016


Lost in the wilderness

We are lost in the miasmal darkness
With inadequate tools to help us find
Our way to the unbroken kingdom
We are lost in the labyrinth of words
For we are incapable of naming
The essence of blood or fire or star
We are far from hearing wise voices
Or signs in the wilderness we have to
Resign ourselves to fragments of bone
& obscure purposes that cannot
Be made clear by the light of reason
We pretend that we have made progress with
Liturgies that cannot adequately
Describe the sheer fullness of Being
Yet there’s a reassuring, spectral wind
From Time’s distant, long forgotten shores that
Still stirs intermittingly through the cracks
In the frail and all too human structure

Freedom Tower

Monolithic glass structure
Proudly reflecting the sky
Modern tower of Babel
Nerve centre of capitalism
With cloud bursting antenna
To receive signals from lesser gods

Born of grand hubris
Deliberately detached
From the world’s perpetual pain
With no sense of the tragic
For progress must continue
Despite contemporary hindrances

Monolithic glass structure
Penetrating the sky
Illuminated intermittingly
With the red, white and blue
Of a peculiar conception
Of freedom

Friday, 19 February 2016


Standing on this hill, this mounded culm chucked
Out from hollowed earth, where darkness sucked
Men down into its precious depths, pressed them
Beneath pages of rock hard to the seam,
The black seam and all its different damps,
To pick out, despite scarred backs and leg cramps
And the wheezing of props, their value in coal.
But then, another blackening, the fall
From favour, the locking of gates, sealing
Of shafts, with a bitter present stealing
The future, leaving only heritage.
So very difficult these days to gauge
From atop this hillock of rough-grassed spoil
Where the headstock once stood. That patch of soil
And clay, fenced and sapling planted, must be
The site of the bathhouse. Not much to see
Now for joggers and dog walkers, strollers
And fly-tippers, those casual callers
Whose fleeting footfalls leave barely a mark
And no echoes deep, deep down in those dark
Galleries settling beneath a country park.

                                                                                                Dave Alton

Saturday, 13 February 2016


The hot-headed geniuses of Sandgate are leaping round town tonight
but the place is drunk and the walkways stagger
and there seems no sense in historic streets.
Where old sailors lamented and hand carts rested
and ships grew up on the river,
the times merge in the swaying crowds
and fancy dress keelmen swig in the night.
Here's the 'hot headed geniuses'
gannin doon with the tide
to plant bites on fresh lasses' necks,
and the hours keel over
and the days rock on,
as the love-bitten 'Lass of Byker Hill'
falls in the Keelman's Arms.
So let the pipers play
this Tyneside story
all over again.
It's a Geordie nightmare,
a black and white dream
all for you,
with knobs on.