Monday, 21 December 2020

There Are Those Who Sing


(for William Martin, 1925-2010)

There are those who sing,


with the breath of thrushes;

who craft songs

from out of their deep roots,

whose verse roars

with the sea

and the sky

and the pain of the land.

In the cathedral

of their hearts,

their tunes rise up

and fill the heavens

with flocks of words.

They are few

and far between,

these fliers

of lyrics.

Above plodders

and traipsers

of verse,

they reach for real stars,

pluck at galaxies

and dreams

of word symphonies,


that soar for centuries.

William, my friend,

you were 

one of these,

a fatherer of folk hymns,

a Durham choirman,

singing quarryman,

carving out poems 

with his pick and soul.

On a piano keyboard

of a dictionary,

you composed

a music festival 

of passionate poetry. 



Wednesday, 16 December 2020



 Twin tall galvanised poles,

Concrete set, bannering ikon and legend;

“Traffic Enforcement Cameras”.


Between and around, busy hands twine

Lily bouquets, vivid sprays of mixed blooms,

Football shirt, like a dead crow.


Driving by and glancing, but there’s no

Blood-shush between tyre and tarmac,

No scattering of windscreen gems,


No rumours, no reports, no single shoe

In the gutter, Just the fluttering, flapping favour

Billowing lifeless in rain-faced wind.


Scene slips into rear view mirror,

Diminishing witness to two heads bowed mourners,

Kneeling on the saturated verge.


Dave Alton