Category Archives: poem

Earthquake in Japan

The evening grew cold in the coldest of months.
They climbed hand in hand up unequal stairs
and lay beneath rafters, disturbed by small tremors –
never anticipating a big one.
All the years living above
uneven floors, lovers in their slow decline
with creaks echoed in their dreams.

The night grew darker, and clutching his gown,
he staggered out into an alleyway,
a sleepwalking figure who only
awoke when he couldn’t go back,
when he coughed back dust
clouds of plaster and wood.

The morning grew bright. Twisted beams
smouldered in ashes. The house lay
broken and burnt. “There!” he said.
A sniffer dog pawed at the rubble
where the building had been,
but not deep enough yet.

(written for Abingdon Share a poem – February 2024 – Theme – Catastrophe)

How Mist Falls

How mist falls on the football field,
wipes out the trees and bushes,
blots out the clubhouse
and the far-end goal.
The game is over:
the foul shouts,
sharp whistle,
mud thighs
have gone.

A great-tit chinks insistently.
A car door thuds. The throb
from a diesel engine rises:
the last of the away team
takes their spoil. No way
back. We scored first.
They scored twice.
They’ve taken

(written for Abingdon Share a poem – January 2024 theme – cold)

Looking Smug

I wanted to keep on the shepherd
dressing gown and banded tea towel
and be seen like that in the album,
not in my Sunday best like Rob
with his jacket and his covenantor badge
or Chris with her bow and pink tartan dress.

Rob discarded Joseph readily.
Chris cast aside the angel.
Rob’s hand on her shoulder
like the best of friends
for once, caught with their eyes closed.
‘How smug!’ I thought.

There would have been room –
off-centre as they stand, by the fence.
I was looking out from behind the curtain
with a feeling of -, a feeling of –
it’s coming back as I look at the picture again –
after the tears. At least I was not smug.

(written for Abingdon Share a Poem December 2023 – theme childhood)

St Swithun – Man and Legend


There’d been one miracle in his life:
a woman dropped a basket of eggs
on the bridge that he built over the Itchen
and he collected the eggs – all unbroken.

Unlike his peers, the Bishops of Winchester,
he chose to be one with the soil and the wind,
buried in the churchyard, open
to the rain and the common people.

Pilgrims came – how they came
attracted by his space in the ordinary.
The pilgrims came and left like eggs,
arriving broken and leaving whole.

Other cathedrals wanted part of him.
Canterbury claimed the head.
Evreux an arm.
His fame spread as his body was broken.

At Winchester, Ethelwold reformed the monastery,
dedicated the cathedral church to him,
and built a shrine over him
where pilgrims could come and wonder.


Beneath the shrine, from rain protected,
St. Swithun woke, his heart dejected.
How he wept, how he cried.
For forty days, it rained outside.

ST. SWITHUN’S day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain ;
St. Swithun’s day, if thou be faire,
For forty days ’twill raine nae maire.

by Alastair Fear (written for share a poem on Saints and sinners – Nov 2023)

Leeds United 1972

Gary Sprake 03.04.1945 † 19.10.2016
Jackie Charlton 08.05.1935 † 10.07.2020
Terry Cooper 12.07.1944 † 31.07.2021
Norman Hunter 29.10.1943 † 17.04.2020.
Paul Madeley 20.09.1944 † 23.07.2018
Paul Reaney 22.10.1944
Billy Bremner 09.12.1942 † 07.12.1997
Johnny Giles 06.11.1940
Eddie Gray 17.01.1948
Alan Clarke 31.07.1946
Mick Jones 24.04.1945
Peter Lorimer 14.12.1946 † 20.03.2021

Catching a Virus

We catch it through direct contact,
through a go between like a mosquito;
through defence mechanisms such as:
vomiting, coughing, sneezing, diarrhoea.
We catch it by not washing our hands,
by touching a door handle then our mouth
by breathing the air close to someone infected
by being bitten, kissing, from drinking water …

It has a heart of nucleic acid,
within a lipid envelope, spiked with protein
that hook onto our cells, injects nucleic acid –
hijacks our cells, and replicates.
We send out gobbling white blood cells
and run a fever and end up feeling
wretched, until we decode the spike,
and make antibodies.

It is not calculating.
It mutates and jumps from another species
and becomes a strain that can attack our cells.
It mutates, and produces a new variant
that moves easily between us.
It mutates and disguises its spike
and becomes immune to a stored antibody.
It mutates and keeps us apart.

(Written for share a poem in Feb 2021 where the theme is Science.)

Train ploughs into flock of sheep at Nutfield

That winter brought strange interlopers –
Sussex, Dorset or Leicester Sheep –
Replacing Surrey’s homebred cows
Upon their hoof moiled beat.

Then one sheep teased a barb wire fence,
Reinforced with chicken wire,
That kept them from a richer diet
Than faded grass and briar.

Swarming tightly through the gap
Heads bobbing as they barged –
Like an army unrestrained,
Over the top they charged.

Among the rows of leeks and cabbage
Began their marauding spread
‘Til they saw a man approach
And a stalking canine head.

The shambling flock took formation
And led by one sheep’s eyes –
Sped by fear, they smashed the fence
Back to their home side.

As torn white flags marked the fences,
The lame and injured numbers grew –
The dash-eyed many from behind
Drove on the curious few.

A foggy night in January
They climbed up to the railway line –
Eleven were slain by a train
Upon the Tonbridge Line.

(Written for share a poem in November 2020 when the theme was Remembrance)

On a Visit to the Lake District

Rain rides the wind and darkens the rockface
Towering over the heather and peat.
The pulse quickens beneath vegetation
And the bleary forms of Herdwick sheep.

From the swollen earth racing like children
Becks cascade, tumble, and crash,
Down the sheer curve of the mountain.
They gather as one and conquer the pass.

A veil of water flows over pebbles
Then comes to rest in a wide bellied tarn,
Where a strobing stepping-stone cadence
Ripples the shadows and deepens the calm.

(Written for Share a Poem group on the theme Autumn in October 2020)

Perpetual Lockdown

Every week a letter from Doctor Stroud
tells them to continue their isolation.
Their window holds the rainbow of hope
That everybody else has taken down.

Each day is the same as every other.
Nothing really changes. Life goes on.
They watch each other getting old.
He asks her again about the virus.

Who is it still brings the food and water?
Who keeps the door locked on them?
Who brings them their medication?
Why do they need those coloured pills?

She has told him so many times
About how they will get out tomorrow.
Plaster’s strewn on their bedroom floor
From the time they tried to break free.

(Written for share a poem in June 2020 when the theme was Pandemic)

Helen Keller Romance Backlash

Now that I am quite enfeebled
I fall in love with you again.
You the skilled finger speller –
Our only way of being friends.

I remember you – the charming lover,
And how we soon began a dream
A secret marriage, of three children –
To fill the world in between.

The Boston Press learned our Secret.
My family banned you, except in brail –
A go between brought your letters
But plans to meet would always fail.

Carers did what they thought proper –
I was deaf. I was blind.
To stop us having deaf blind children,
Was I foolish, and were they kind?

Now that I am quite enfeebled
I feel your touch on me so slow –
Lightly spelling, playful, talking –
Touch – the greatest thing I know.

(Helen Keller and a temporary male assistant called Peter)