I Am Your Light

I am your light
Brilliance in the winter sky
Joy in my sister’s face
As she giggles 
Presses on
The snowman’s button eyes

I am your light
Headlamps gently guide
Any distance
Spot the potholes in the road
We ride together
I still know my way home

I am your light
Your faith
Your Christmas tree bulbs
Your shimmering crescent
Your Hannukah candles
I am Diwali
Celebrate me
Feast with me
Shine with me

I am your light
Moonbeams on the river
Rushes quilt the ducklings
To Nightingale’s lullaby
Beaver starts his nightshift
Magic in the air
The scene feels like an illusion
But trust the owl, she knows
It’s real 
You’re not dreaming
Skim a pebble in the moonlight
I’ll skim you a precious stone

I am your light
Your rainbow
Seven party streamers
Sing across the sky
Fly above the jet plane
The swallow, the cuckoo
Seven vivid colours
One for every day
That I miss you 
My light burns eternal
I frame the shadow on the wall
Create the pixels in the picture
The dancers’ curtain call
Olympic Torch for athletes
Fizzing Catherine wheel
Dog’s illuminated collar
X-ray to help heal

Bulb in your bedside lamp
So when drowsiness marks the page
Switch me off 
But remember
If your dream’s not the one you wished for
Or loneliness gets too much
Just reach out
I’m close enough to touch

I am your light
My star
A speck across the galaxies
To show
Without me
Your universe
Could never be 
The universe you know

Blithe Spirits

BBC India reports
The Universe has summoned
Keeley and Kyle
From Nottingham
To The Great Temple of Om
In central India
Where they will truly
Discover themselves
The Universe thinks
this is unlikely to happen
in Nottingham)
‘Hell on Earth’
Snaps Keeley
To our reporter
Close to the ground
‘God knows
When the tailor
Will be able
To return my saris
And I can’t even tell you
When I last sipped a latte
And does our government care?’
In the background
Of the shot
Another elderly Indian
Kneels in the dust
Sips water from a puddle
(the sleeve of his kaftan
frayed by anxious chewing)
‘How can 
Consciousness expand
When a dude’s been abandoned?
And does our government care?’
(he’s always been
a bit of a lingam)
Then one or the other bleats
‘All we want
Is enlightenment
Then to drift down
For a few days
On the beach’
(nearest beach
837 miles)
Just out of shot
To the stranded throngs
A child kneels in the dust
Playing solitaire
She can never win the game
Because there are
Cards missing
Marquee farewell party
In Mummy and Daddy’s pile
Bucks Fizz
Outside caterers
And so on
‘Long Island in the Bahamas’
Mummy snorts
‘It sounds just like a cocktail’
Tosses back her mane
Did Daddy marry his horse?
Rose-petal speech
‘We’re off to Paradise
But how could we possibly forget you
And we’ll always be on Skype
Of course’
Cue polite applause 
Twelve months later
Rips the roof off Eden
In the sea
‘Our boss has done nothing
Though he’s so big in pineapple
London doesn’t care
Although we used to pay our taxes
How could these peasants
To fix the signal
For the Internet?’
Maybe this poet
Has a chip of ice
On each shoulder
He’s never shaken
Or stirred
With the smart set
But I hope I’m not the type
To pleasure in asking
When you moved into
A cyclone zone
What the fuck
Did you expect?
Did you think
You’d been born
To sleep soundly
Swaddled in the eye
Of every storm?
Yes, there’s a plane overhead
No, it won’t be landing
Be thankful
You’re the chosen
With a bit of your house
Still standing

It would be wrong
To add insult
Stick the boot in
But what on earth
Possesses people
To splash thousands on a trip
Scrimp a hundred on insurance?
A drunken dive
A scooter ride
Family bereft
‘We might have
To sell the house
The government
Has left us
Hospital cares for nothing
But who’s going
To pay the bills’
I’m truly truly sorry
Nothing is so cheap
As human life itself
Why should they
Make sacrifices
For a complacent
When every single day
Hundreds of
Lie down in their shacks
Of preventable illness?
I don’t wear a halo
But I’m touched
By midday sun
When the attitude
Rising to the surface
Is that for all
We should have learned
Countries and their natives
Exist purely for our service
Please do me a favour
Stick to Blackpool
Send me your passport
I’ll refund the postage
Take care of the recycling


Like any faithful hound
I scent dinnertime
From a country mile
Come bounding
Sit up
Devour my bowlful
Eternally grateful
For a full five seconds
Leaves me
Dyspeptically full
Begging to get down
Is a mystery
Of the cosmos
I chew over
While Tim
Over the rim
Of his no dessert
School ma’am
‘I’m full’
Like a whining
I skulk off
With the dishes
Tail between my legs
Sneak a
Wistful sniff
Of the cheese
And crackers
Leave seizing
For a furtive night time
What garnishes
Wistful and crackers
If not
And knackers

(belated) Happy Birthday Mr. F

A couple of weeks ago marked the 101st birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, still active activist, resident of San Francisco and writer of my all-time favourite poem, ‘Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes’ (see link below). In the 1950s, Mr. F. was co-founder of City Lights, America’s first ever paperback bookstore and every bit as iconic as the man himself. A champion of those who need champions, Ferlinghetti’s poetry is heartwarmning, honest and, most importantly, accessible. Anyone with a tenner to spend could do a lot worse than invest in his ‘Collected Poems’.

Why is ‘Two Scavengers…’ my favourite poem? It’s an idea of ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ simplicity used to show very deep and complex issues in a way which engages, rather than preaches. Clever, or what?

Enjoy the poem.

Two Scavengers in a Truck
Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

At the stoplight waiting for the light
nine a.m. downtown San Francisco
a bright yellow garbage truck
with two garbagemen in red plastic blazers
standing on the back stoop
one on each side hanging on
and looking down into
an elegant open Mercedes
with an elegant couple in it

The man
In a hip three-piece linen suit
with shoulder-length blond hair & sunglasses
The young blond woman so casually coifed
with a short skirt and colored stockings
on the way to his architect’s office

And the two scavengers up since four a.m.
grungy from their route
on the way home
The older of the two with grey iron hair
and hunched back
looking down like some
Gargoyle Quasimodo
And the younger of the two
also with sunglasses & long hair
about the same age as the Mercedes driver
And both scavengers gazing down
As from a great distance
At the cool couple
as if they were watching some odourless TV ad
in which everything is always possible

And the very red light for an instant
holding all four close together
as if anything at all were possible
Between them
Across that small gulf
in the high seas
of this democracy
(Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Dachau, 1902

Dachau, 1902


At certain points

Of the day

There is no time

Only hues

Which confuse

The seasons


An artist

She drips

Paint, sex, society

Blues, greens

Six-pointed stars


A shepherd boy lamb

No puncture marks

No apple

Just seeds


The Midday owl


It knows


The canvas freshly painted

Is blank





First Letter Home From A Migrant Worker In Mumbai

photo of trash lot on shore
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Dear Mama and Papa,


Despite our differences

It has broken my heart to leave our village

To leave you so very, very far behind


This astonishing city holds many challenges

Yet, you may rest peacefully

I am happy, safe and well


I am writing to tell you of my first great accomplishment

Please excuse my lack of modesty

But I am absolutely sure

Almost sure

You will be beacons of pride


I have visited Chowpatty Beach

And stood shoulder to shoulder

Amongst the elite of Mumbai

On the most celebrated and prestigious

Rubbish dump in all of India


For a poor village boy

It is truly a sea of inspiration

No well, no river

But an ocean of plastic bottles

Stretching further than the eye can see

Farther than the mind can dream


I am so grateful for your sacrifices

Your lifetime of simple meals

Fruit, veggies, dhal, chapatis

To give me this opportunity

This golden wandering

Through potato chip packets

Ice cream wrappers

Even paper plates


This isn’t just trash

This is cash

And you know what?

I couldn’t resist removing my sandals

To feel Lakshmi’s love

Dusting my feet




And the sea

The sea harbours such indescribable smells

No outdated salt

Or bygone fish

But bouquets of industry, progress, exports

I’ve heard it said they’re channelled

In a pipeline from Malabar Hill

To serve as a reminder

Such beautiful pollution

Is attainable for us all


Mumbai couldn’t be what it is

Without Bollywood fantasy fiction

I have heard a most entertaining fable

About a mythical palace called Antilia

A palace of such treasures

It could not exist on this earth

I believe it serves as an inspiration

That no matter how great one wealth

There’s no harm in coveting more


Back in the real world

I am enclosing three hundred and twenty rupees

A small contribution

But Chowpatty has strengthened my resolve

To become more than you or I

Ever dreamed I could be

I am also enclosing half of a paper plate

I took as a souvenir

I was tempted to take two

But wish my successes

To be tempered with the humility

You have instilled in me

Please show it to my siblings and cousins

As the oldest, I need to be the strongest of role models


You have brought me up not to take without giving

So I dropped my bus ticket on the sand

May it serve as a symbol

I am a man of the modern worls

A capitalist, a Mumbaikar


Your loving son




Love In…

At McDonalds

I saw…

A woman
With a face
Like the sludge
On her boots

A man spitting
Into a plastic cup

A man
Chastise his son
With the C word

A woman
By hope

A backside
That never sees home cooking

A couple
Of cracked statues

A guy talking into his phone
As if
He were alone

A woman

By everyone

Their kids all ate Happy Meals


The Sikhs’ magnificent Harmandir, or Golden Temple, is the centrepiece of the temple complex in the holy city of Amritsar. Tourists are welcome, and when i visited, I saw the following act of humility which on the surface looks small, but which is imbued with huge significance.

Respected, Rich
Humbles herself

Knowing what pride precedes
Hitches her sari above her feet

A forward thinking lady
Descends the stairs


Clears her mind
Cleans God’s house
For the pious
For the tourists
For the peasants who spend their lives
Swallowing dust

Not born to be a cleaner
She sweeps
Right to left
Right to left
Gathering tiny piles
Of unholy dust

Each movement
A speck of dirt

Each movement
A broadstroke golden universe
Of love and hope

Unkind thoughts
Everyday sins
The one thing
No rug is big enough to cover

Sweet water reflects
Ten heavenly smiles
Nanak to Gobind

The eleventh
Pauses its reading
And bookmarks
The purity
Flowing in and out
Of four open doors

My Second City

My Second City

My second city
Is called the Second City
It’s very different from my first

From date palms
To packaged dates
From cows swishing flies
To a bronze bull
Girls in jeans

I wonder what that word means?

Safe new friends
A school with books
Free bus rides, with unfriendly looks
Sky-high prices
Everything’s sort of clean and neat
Just don’t even think of stepping out in bare feet

A sanctuary with a leaky roof
My shiny blue raincoat drips daily proof
My Second City gives me every little thing I need

Except love

When I think of my first city
I laugh and I laugh and I laugh
Until it hurts

In my Second City
Nothing waits
No-one waits
But we wait and wait and wait and wait
For permission to unpack ourselves and stay
I’m really sure I’d like to stay

Perhaps for a few more days