I’m Sure I’ve Walked Through this Plaza Already,

All Roads Lead to the SuperSol,

If Lost, Ask the Man in the Kiosk, He’s Always There,

The More You Travel, the Deeper You Stay Where You Are


Preface / Prologema

We went on holiday to Granada in 2016, the first holiday we have been able to take outside of school holidays for 29 years, now that I have retired.   But there was a cost.   Having just retired from a career of teaching which left me meek and uncertain I even had two feet to stand on, I came on holiday with all sorts of questions lurking like worm in my bones, riddling through all my infrastructure:

            have I achieved nothing in my career?
            am I finished?
            was I too precious?
            was it my fault?
            am I disgusting when I scratch my nose?
            am I just embarrassing to be around?
            do I just make the wrong emotional decisions each time?

… a whole bunch of self-pity, indeed, especially as it takes a whole lot of my face to even admit these questions in the first place.   But it was important to know what was really gnawing in me if I wanted to kick-start my writing onto a new, careering highway (or even a way, or even an alley) – if I wanted my writing to keep going at all.   I have found that if I am to use writing as my own therapy I have to be dangerously candid about the questions that are exercising me at the time; otherwise I don’t notice the answers that are all about, all the time, anyway, and wander about in some other direction altogether.   I was able to write some good stuff on holiday which I am excited about; and it’s always good to have it reaffirmed that you’ve still ‘got it’ as you get older …

Then I stumbled [“into town, just like a sacred …” clown] through the middle of a plaza-idea which I’m sure I’d been through before: in the tourist shops were some ‘librettas’, note books, really, with nice Granada-y covers; I bought one for myself to have as a notebook, but then it occurred to me to ‘write a book’, just like that.   It’s an alternative to publishing (which is still [being] born, for me) and revives the art of writing by hand: I will write out my Granada collection of poems into the book, in my best handwriting, nicely spaced and arranged, an edition of … one, only and unique.

Here’s my cunning plan: whoever you are reading this {and, thank you for doing so, I really appreciate it, it gives me, and the whole planet, oxygen to survive}, while reading – while breathing, make notes on the notes-page after each poem as you will, [or will not], and then when you are done with the whole book, wrap it up and post it to someone else who might also produce some oxygen.   The same as you received it free, please incur the postage charge yourself.   If you’re really keen you might post what you wrote on the page which I shall publish on observations, critiques, praise, complaints, extensions, rewrites, responses, corrections, questions, parallels, poeviews, suggestions, meditations, obliquiaries (OK I made that up) (but I’m on a roll now), syncopiaries, contrapuntals, quintessentiaries, catalysts, equanimiosities, syncretism, innercontextuality, macrointextuality, I’ll take them all, like a child starved of attention.   It might be really interesting to see how far it travels, rather than how many are sold.


Star * ratings: my ratings of how good I think each poem is, but also of how much scope and reach I think it has; some poems are just big, or deep (not necessarily, but usually, long/er), others are just what they are, not better or worse; the higher the rating the bigger the emotionocognitive breath you need to take, before reading


olive trees: written 170916; 4*; on the journey from Malaga to Granada; I hadn’t been able to get the writing started at the airports or during the flight – looking too earnestly, perhaps, a passing passenger shook her tits at me; after about 1000 miles of travel I finally noticed passing olive tree fields with wild-grass growing around the edges:

                olive trees

                straw fields and
                blackened trunks

                always under
                their own shade edged

                with puffs of
                greenblue vapour


familiasyncopation: written 170916; 7*; the title runs together the Spanish word for family (which ends in the useful prefix ‘a’ which links) with syncopation to provide a gloriously arrhythmic portrait of a family meeting for midday dinner on a Sunday through the wide open windows of the apartemiento; I’m not even sure if all the noises I heard were from the same family, but that doesn’t matter, they were, they were:


down in the narrow streetways of the Gran Realjo of always sunny Granada

                                                vacuum clak whines
                                quickly clak scrapescrape around
                the ap – clak – ment

                light cotton cloth hangs
                                back into the room
                                                hangs                hangs

                                                                for the
                father’s sentence – chairscrape
                                ri – co – ch – e – t – s
                                                around four walls
                                                                in warm and all-inclusive statemental embrace                
                                                                                and continues – despite interruptions – all the while                

                children lament a chasing game
                                of plakplak sandals
                                with surprising tragedy
                                                in the street below an uncle

                pushing the baby
                                half on the pebbles                from time to time
                                                “ahahahaha … herrr”
                                                                talks staccato with his brother

                light cotton cloth
                                billowing out, not quite
                                                          not quite
                                on the cactus

                leans back into the room


and here I am: written 170916; 5*; arriving: in all the flush of 56 years, swirling round the pan, but not yet down it, surprised to find myself here having travelled so far (‘are I all here?’; ‘check the register …’ {old habit} ‘yep, they’re all here, with their different coloured shirts’), unpacking:

                and here I am again all
                shiny and buffed clean

                from wherever I came from
                before and slowly tarnishing

                from burn and deposit
                especially in the edges

                forgetting to just contain
                and allow the alchemy

                to happen with upright
                ethical gleam and wanting

                all the while to question the
                whole purpose of recipe


quiet river: written 180916; 4*; walked up the side of the Río Darro between the Alhambra on one side and the Albaicín (old Arab) quarter on the other, past many guitar shops; … aha: music; someone played guitar with a gentle amplifier, but he wasn’t sat with a cap before him, he was sat in his living room across the river – wide open windows with no balcony railings; he would have pulled crowds, but there were too many scooters eager to show their young speed, and too many white taxis with fares to deposit and pick up, passing up the narrow street; aha, music:

                the dormer window
                of the dilapidated escuela
                de música, a sheet holder

                to turn notation
                to wave perhaps perched
                above the quiet river


passersby: written 180916; 6*; oop, here it comes; the quote is from Stephen Batchelor’s translation of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara (V, 57) which I was reciting as my holiday reading; the ideal and the model, the should and the example; how to be amongst other (and amongst others), it is not the finials, so much, as the sky before which they reach …

                “acting like an apparition
                  with no sense of self”; not

                martyring myself an apparition
                because no one recognised my

                self; let me wander the streets
                and plazas parrying every foil

                in my head, swinging up
                facades and leaping rooftops

                with closed-lipped smile
                to greet the passersby; the

                artist sits with his back
                to the wall to finish

                the finials opposite with just
                touches of blue sky


this aching / and spacious dichotomy: written 190916; 8*; written sitting in the Cathedral in Granada – no speaking please; the second line right-angles the “I AM WHO I AM” given to Moses from the Burning Bush when Moses asked ‘who shall I say sent me?’ … unqualified existence, self-is-ing existence, made cathedral:

                oh, what have you done
                this, the way that it is

                made to location
                twenty pillars tall

                costing absolute
                tourism for the upkeep

                so many nationalities
                to come find themselves

                awed and reduced
                by the very quieted echoes

                that they themself have
                made; this the way to

                make the cross,
                child, no, this first,

                here are the names
                to find your family

                and this is the song
                in disciplined arpeggio

                there the pipes to
                sculpt the air

                all everywhere the figures
                for to know your place

                and there – thank God –
                the windows to let the

                light to see within to
                bridge this aching

                and spacious dichotomy


magnificent salad: written 200916; 5*; forget about ‘flossing’, don’t ever forget the olive oil; this one had to be written before ah, oh, meanwhile … tha ya ta could happen at all: you have to have the properly filled stomach for that sort of thing:

                magnificent salad

                you take diced red and yellow apple
                and sliced melocotone flesh
                a few dark-shredded prunes and a
                sprinkle of roasted abrezia nuts

                a lightwood table top to eat from
                in the lo-fat custard (with hint of lime
                from the pulled curtain) apartamiento
                and the blood-orange shirt discarded

                from the morning’s walk, in the burnt
                orange street of a constant 30º Granada
                of a currently perpetual 2 pm, then
                just a twist of no-tickets to the Red

                Castle all week; a cup of milky coffee
                waiting, but not before I drink the
                run-off olive oil and soy sauce from
                the green and bluely leafed plate


the 19th century: written 210916; 5*; was that Whistler’s or Turner’s grandmother; I don’t know where this one came from but there are a lot of cool-black painted balconies in the Gran Realjo of Granada, and it does eventually turn to evening …

                even into her later years
                the 19th century sat in the
                darkening room with dark wood
                furniture long into the evening

                on warm nights you could
                see her profile and slight-etched
                smile between the balcony railings
                and all the height of window and

                coving above her sometimes-
                nodding head; when she died
                she left a chalk-purple and dark-
                blue halo on the bare white walls

                glistening sometimes
                where her black cap used to be


ah … oh … meanwhile … … tha ya tha – : written 220916; 8*; when in Granada … visit the Alhambra, and visit the Generalife gardens … if you have booked up to three months ahead; on the walk up to the palaces are trees and shrubs which are plenty-watered by sprinklers, in the morning sun the sprays will often catch a rainbow at their edge; the bordered captions in the piece are comic-conjunctives, there is a beginning, middle and end being told here, folks; the mantra: thaya tha om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi soha, is the mantra of Prajnaparamita, the Perfection of Wisdom; it can be somewhat semantically translated as ‘it’s like this: [everything is] gone, gone, completely gone, completely and perfectly gone [with no loss], enlightened [dispersed, dispelled] all-right!’; but what’s ‘gone’: “the slings and arrows of outrageous romance” … of one’s self, and the whole world, positioned awkward to placate its mewling little story, as stolen by Joni Mitchell, who was talking too much at the time, from ‘Willy the Shake’:





le mot just
the piquant phrase
                                         the simple model rising magnificent
                                         from cavalcades
                                         of stoic tumbling

                                         threads through like
                                         weave which clothes me
                                         presentable to the world …

                                         but no one sees the
                                         emperor’s clothes of
                                         such fine thread it cannot
                                         be seen, no wise child
                                         to point and exclaim
                                         the hang and drape
                                         to put an end to all step –
                                         “look, mummy, that man
                                           is not an emperor!”



less than naked
I am seen right through
                                         adrift of discourse
                                         I step with stubborn countenance,
                                         all the better to
                                         stare myself into existence,



awkward and
hidden away in some attic
                                         lest I lose [what I haven’t
                                         got] self-contained in trembling
                                         vanity, secretive in hope
                                         of things to come, desparate
                                         in tragedy that my grimy
                                         portrait might be seen …


wander, wander
around the flowers, smell
                                         their colour, breathe their
                                         light and let the light rain
                                         fall in shards of rainbow,
                                         cleansing with love –




                      om     ga – te     ga – te
                                      pa – ra – ga – te
                                                      pa – ra – sam – ga – te
                                                                      bo – dhi     so – ha


embodying: written 230916; 5*; what is the tumble of life if not but flow:

                constant éclat and smack
                from spout of god or shell

                of cherub avec fraças and
                badinage of flowing passersby

                who pause in declaratory
                language among nodding

                pigeons, lap outwards to
                swell the trough, embodying

                under plinth and pillar
                of warm carved stone


just one, open, nerve,: written 260916; 5*; what is the sclerotic of damming life’s flow?; the first two lines formed quite easily in my head as I walked up the hill; the rest took ages to write, squeezing each line out, sitting peacefully in the shade of a horse chestnut tree, watching the tourists wander up and down in the grounds of the Alhambra; just after I finished the piece, there was a pause, the crowds were quiet, and everyone heard the sound of a conker fall from the tree and burst its case – a perfect deep brown nut … oh:

                      I have a self
                      it is my self

                      a little capsule
                      grown in life –

                      whenever I noticed
                      every time I didn’t
                      each time I wouldn’t

                      a sliver at first
                      twisted once
                      but never looped

                      back to feed,
                      no helix to hold,
                      just one, open, nerve,

                      preserved in cartilage
                      opaque: hit it
                      you bounce, cut it

                      you slip, ignore it
                      it withers leaving
                      a baggy sheath

                      time now, quickly,
                      to make amends

                      time now
                      to connect the ends


apex belief: written 260916; 6*; I wanted to like the Alhambra, as contrast to the too-crafted deliberation of the Cathedral’s ‘aching / and spacious dichotomy’; but there was too much ‘oh’ (when we couldn’t – easily – get tickets) and too much ‘ooo, let’s get a photo’ when we got there; oh, lighten up, Redford, just like the place; but I couldn’t – my wife called me a miserable Marxist, and I was quite happy with that:

                I am sorry Alhambra
                I just didn’t like you much

                I wanted to, I always have the
                soft spot for the yawning gap

                and I wanted to hope that
                there was sublimity in your

                finest white line that
                proceeds in simultaneity,

                its exponential spaces
                spontaneous to behold: colour

                dimension, the faces of beings
                the trickle of water between;

                I saw it all but it was
                too demonstrable to see

                a monument to yet another
                hideous hierarchy and

                yet another shaved and
                sharpened apex belief


returning home handsome: written 280916; 6*; handsome is self-possessed with no sense of self; a daughter with a career in town, sharing a late lunch break, perhaps, with the mother, to see her home, mum laughing at something on these phones they have, daughter laughing at the anecdotes and observation, eyes held; later, after the daughter had left, mum unpacked some ready make sandwiches and cake, she gave a donut to a passing homeless man with a limp, she’s packed too much, neither she nor he had to say a word:

                returning home handsome

                and you are city-smart
                pony tail, black jacket
                perfect haemoglobin nails
                not too long, waiting

                with your mother in her
                damson beret at the airport
                attentive at the table
                listening to her with sheer

                ankle socks – well, they’re
                practical! – such strong feet
                stood up out of comfortable
                slipper-shoes – heel arch

                ball knuckle toe pointed
                or fabulously wrinkled with
                every parenthesis – that they
                do not realise I am writing

                this poem, and don’t need to,
                with concluding laugh



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