Category Archives: animal

We are krill

A while back I half joked with a colleague at work who was asking about a website for a conference for international researchers studying krill – “I could write you a poem as well, if you like.”  He was back in touch with another question last week, and asked in passing, “Did you ever write that poem?” Well, I hadn’t, but I have now – so here you go, Andy!

My apologies to any krill-gurus out there for possible wild inaccuracies, but please remember, it’s not science – just a poem.

But also, it’s not entirely about krill…


We are krill

I am the meal that’s in-between,
a format suiting one and all,
for seals and squid and penguins,
converting the smallest of the sea,
for fish and shrimps and people, the
unseen convenience food that’s me.

No legends sung about us krills,
shape shifters of seven seas,
they ping us under pressure,
exoskeletons creaking we dive, dive, dive,
cosy swarm lights rising fallen,
gills bless this brine to wines of life.

More of us aswim than any other
swelling life in each ocean alive,
and not much here without us,
no great whales baleen or blue,
without some fish-free small fry,
brother, without us – me and you.






A Poetry of Elephants

An excellent project by Rebecca Gethin.
Very pleased to have one of my poems (The End of an Elephant’s Tail) included.

Rebecca Gethin

If you press this – A Poetry of Elephants –  you will find our anthology of elephant poems. So here’s huge thanks and grateful hugs to all the many contributors: I never envisaged so many lovely poems would  respond to my call-out!  Twenty four poets have sent twenty nine poems in about a fortnight. Please feel free to share this with anyone and everyone.


When I went to Saba Douglas-Hamilton’s inspiring talk about her organisation ‘Save the Elephants’ she said that we should all do what we can and that made me think of putting together a collection of elephant poems to explore ways in which elephants are a vital part of our culture even though we are not living in elephant habitat. A week ago Kenya set fire to 11 pyres of elephant tusks which I read represents 30 miles of elephant, standing trunk to tail.  I desperately hope that…

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Essential labels

perfume maker's organ

Somewhere in the back of my mind, were the wonders of the ‘perfume maker’s organ’ – like this magnificent and rare specimen at the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum in Venice.

Something a little different – a series of seven ‘photo-label-poems’.

These are a light hearted response to an invitation from my brother-in-law to take part in a seven day ‘nature image’ photography challenge.

I decided to combine my response with a small collection of old laboratory bottles loaned from a colleague at work, and with some [very] short poems responding to each image, in the form of a label…


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An echoed note bends from my
throated whisper to pipe your name.

In the morning I will see
A curlew fly with purpose, horizon
Perpendicular to the driven path.

His bill less hooked than remembered,
His flight as strong as I recall,
His ghost cry stilled in passage.

RSPB’d data beats decreasing,
Awaits a weirder silent season,
As we glance shivers when you sing.





Telling Time

It’s been quite a long time since I first read a poem to a ‘live’ audience. A few years in fact. Last week I got around to standing up in front of a small group of people in a (fairly) public space again.  The occasion was an ‘echo’ event at DCA where people were responding to an exhibition of the unusual slow animations of the artists IC-98. My poem tries to do it’s own explaining, so, I think I’ll just let it…

In response to an exhibition of work by IC-98. Dundee, January 2016. Continue reading

White heart

11418048-largeThis poem was written after I saw a picture of a ‘ghost heart’. This is a kind of ‘protein scaffold’ in researchers hope to be able use to grow a new human heart which will not have problems with rejection by the recipient’s immune system. It’s a remarkable image, I found it at once beautiful, hopeful, and troubling. (more about ‘ghost hearts’…)

White heart

Delicate snowball cradled in latex,
Grotesque confectionary beauty,
Like a glass seed distilled from haar frost,
A harvested death, still unprimed for life.
Wrapped in an eastern widow’s veil,
A bridal chalice engraved with loss,
Gently cupped with gloved competence,
A denatured vessel etched in air.
Reborn, bloody, swollen and restarted,
Will this pale ornament seem quite so fine?
Bonny is as bonny dances, pressing
By hot and ruddy, stealing heat from stone.
The image cusps our movement in-between,
Risky hopes drawn from disembodied flesh.

Salt offering

Thursday 8 October 2015 is National Poetry Day in the UK. Have a great day, and find time to read a poem or two, listen to a reading, write a poem, or share a verse you love!


8581949071_6d0776469e_zSalt offering

Scaling a rising gradient
in ambiguous steps,
My peak conceals
a telescope gaze reversed.

Above this cairn caw
crack spirits lindy-hop on air.

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