This blog's poems are from my published poetry book Star Steeds and Other Dreams: The Collected Poems (CFZ Press: Bideford, 2009) and are © Dr Karl P.N. Shuker, 2009. Except for author-credited review purposes, it is strictly forbidden to reproduce any of these poems elsewhere, either in part or in entirety, by any means, without my written permission.

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Friday, 16 December 2011


‘The Last Spring’ is one of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s ‘Two Elegiac Songs’, and listening to the strains of its profoundly sad but hauntingly beautiful melody inspired me to pen the following poem.


Softly through Space passed the shadow of Morning,
Down through the spirals of starlight and dreams,
Gliding unseen on a shaftlet of primrose,
Dappled with dewdrops and lavender beams,

Softly descending with wings arched and streaming –
Gossamer crescents that soared through the skies,
Sparkling like rainbows as Heaven shone brightly,
Captured by Time in her beautiful eyes.

Yet there lay something that clouded their radiance,
Hiding within them as ever they shone,
And for an instant its shadow engulfed them –
Totally evil, but then it was gone.

She was the Queen of the Dawn and the heavens,
Golden as Light and as endless as Space,
Crowned with a diadem hewn out of amber,
Holding beside her a rose-clustered mace.

Onward she journeyed, through cool shady woodlands,
Lighting their gloom with her soul’s golden ray,
Till e’en the trees bowed in silence before her,
Each one entreating their Empress to stay.

For they knew this was her final appearance,
This was her ultimate day upon Earth.
Never again would she come into being,
This time for her there would be no rebirth.

And as she knelt ‘neath a bower of green shadows,
Snowy anemones murmured her praise,
While in the distance the clouds hung like phantoms,
Shading the skies in a grey, silent haze.

Then, far away, came a strange, surging rumble,
Choking the world with its venomous breath.
And, as she stood, Morning knew whom it called for,
Cold were its tones, for its image was Death.

Yet from her eyes, veiled by Heaven’s blue curtain,
Shining like stars from her beautiful face,
Only a solitary tear trickled slowly,
Downwards to vanish, and leaving no trace.

Now, through the heavens, a spectre rose upwards –
One that her eyes e’er had hidden from view –
Billowing far like a mountain of Evil,
Shrouding the sky with its sickening hue.

And as this hideous wraith filled the heavens,
All of the planet was flooded with tears,
Wept by the mortals who lay in its shadow,
They who created this phantom of Fear.

Gone were the woodlands, each stifled by vapour
Spewn from its lungs as it hovered in Space.
E’en the anemones shrivelled and perished,
Slain by a fiend without flesh, without face.

Yet, neath its cowl – like a shimmering mushroom –
Echoed the grim, eldritch laughter of Doom.
Morning was gone, and anemone petals
Drifted down slowly to cover her tomb.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Painting by Zdenek Burian

Even though Star Steeds and Other Dreams contains more than a hundred of my poems, there are many others that still await publication. This is one of them. As a child, one of my favourite stories in Rudyard Kipling's Second Jungle Book was 'The King's Ankus' (the subject of Zdenek Burian's painting above), featuring an agèd white cobra guarding a priceless but long-abandoned treasure trove of untold riches concealed amid the depths of the jungle. Here is my tribute to that still-proud yet etiolated ophidian warden.


Here, 'midst the heat and the steam of the jungle,
I see you, white worm, embittered by hate.
Ruby-fire eyes glowing brightly as embers,
Deep in the darkness, they watch and they wait.

So you persist, poisoned guardian of treasures
Hidden below in your caverns of gloom,
Vaults long abandoned, avoided, forgotten.
Now your pale presence embodies their doom.

No-one dares venture to pillage or plunder,
Still are the caskets encrusted with gold,
Scattered the gemstones like stars cast from Heaven -
Gifts for the gods that no mortal shall hold.

Yet should men find you, encoiled in the silence,
Then would they see that your power long has gone –
Empty the sockets where fangs once bled venom,
Withered by age, only pride lingers on.

Older than time are you, impotent serpent,
Spanning the ages no others shall see,
White as the sun that has bleached you forever,
Ivory sentinel, ever to be

Hooded and poised, though the world has passed by you,
Dust and decay wait upon you in thrall.
Yet you live on, with that chill heart still beating.
Life holds scant terror; and death, none at all

Friday, 11 November 2011


The symbolic association of the poppy with the remembrance of those who fought and fell during wartime is very potent, and is one that I sought to capture and honour in the following poem – my own tribute to those brave heroes who gave their lives so that we could live ours. May we never forget them, and the sacrifice that they made for all of us.


Far through the countryside’s languorous dreaming
Strolled I one morning in summertime past,
Wondering why this enrapturing vista
Couldn’t unchanging forever more last.

And as I gazed o’er its velvet-gowned valleys,
There lay a poppy field, burnished and bright;
Scarlet heads tossing on stems green and slender,
Swaying round ever to meet the sun’s light.

Crimson and fiery as dancing infernos,
Eyes filled with darkness like eveningtide’s shades,
Peering through petals emblazoned with ruby,
Outwards forever to sunlight displayed.

And as I stood there, their message came softly,
Brought by the zephyr on swift wings of Love;
For, as I listened, their spirits drew nearer,
Borne ‘neath the cloudbanks of Heaven above.

E’en though they spoke without words, without voices,
Eyes sparkling brightly from tall fiery heads,
Theirs was a message more real, yet more distant,
Stranger than any before – for they said:

“We are the spirits of those who for Freedom
Gave up their lives in the struggle of War.
We are reborn in the world they created,
Shedding the tears and the ills that they bore.”

And as I watched them, their petals drooped downwards,
Burdened with dewdrops, each tender and clear,
Capturing memories borne through all ages,
Living again in each poppy-shed tear.

Theirs was a love more intense, more consuming,
Than could be ever disrupted by War;
Peace was their dream and their only ambition,
This was their goal – this is what they died for.

And as I left, still their beauty burnt brighter,
Bright as the sun scorching upwards and higher;
Ne’er would their courage and hope be forgotten,
Cherished fore’er in the poppies’ bright fire,

Burning fore’er in the hearts of all mankind
Living in peace after violence and War.
Freedom has come to this fair English country:
This was their dream – this is what they fought for.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


Fireworks can be very beautiful, but also very dangerous – and it was in order to alert children to this potentially deadly combination that I wrote this poem.


Look – bright flowers of the night!
What a wonderful sight!
The rockets, the sparklers, and flares.
A shower of stars,
As if sent from Mars,
People laughing, forgetting their cares.

The bonfire burns brightly,
The chestnuts roast slightly,
The smoke rises blue in the air.
Guy Fawkes on the fire,
The flames rising higher,
And all of the family are there.

But while all this goes on:
“Please remember, my son,
That danger is lurking out there.”
My mother gives warning:
“Night’s followed by morning,
There are some things I cannot repair.”

Monday, 24 October 2011


Illustration by Michael Fishel

The personification of Nature, as Mother Nature, seemed an excellent theme for a children’s poem, so here is my impression of how she might be.


Mother Nature’s in her garden,
Weaving wings of butterflies,
Spinning threads of shining gossamer
From memories and sighs.

In her lap is sparkling stardust,
In her lap are sunbeams bright,
In her lap are moonlit crescents,
Radiating milky light.

In her hair are woven rainbows,
Mauve and lemon, blue and lime,
In her face is love and kindness,
In her eyes is endless Time.

She will change as she is noticed,
No-one ever sees the same.
They see only what their hearts do,
What they see no-one can name.

She lives in her favourite garden,
Maybe yours, or maybe mine.
It need not be royal or regal,
Where rare blossoms intertwine.

It could be a lowly backyard,
Only daisies growing there.
But if honest people love it,
Mother Nature will be there.

For her garden is where goodness
Lives in sympathetic minds
Filled with tenderness and kindness.
Yes, it’s here where you will find

Mother Nature – in her garden,
Weaving wings of butterflies,
Spinning threads of shining gossamer,
From memories and sighs.

Monday, 10 October 2011


'UFO' (Peter Turosq)

When I was younger, my grandmother, Mrs Gertrude Timmins, told me of how, one evening many years earlier, she and other members of her family had stood in her bedroom watching three brightly-coloured UFOs circling back and forth for quite a while in the skies over their home in Wednesbury, West Midlands, before eventually flying away, never to return. Not having seen a UFO myself, I had to content myself by imagining how it might be if I ever did do so.


Through the night-time’s spangled valleys
My enquiring eyes raced far,
Still enchanted by the beauty
Of each twinkling evening star,

When a hazy gleam surged outwards
From a chasm deep in Space.
And its eldritch light grew brighter,
Darting swiftly ‘cross my face –

Like a stream of glowing fingers
Chasing softly through my hair
In a multicoloured spectrum
‘Mid the evening’s breathless air.

Then the gleam became a halo
Spinning slowly through the sky,
As the moon cast ghostly shadows,
Sinking ever down to die.

Soon a shape became apparent
In this strange, unearthly glow.
Now a humming sphere, it circled,
As its light began to grow,

In a luminous suffusion,
Till, when slowly gliding by,
I could feel its eerie presence
Probing deeply through my eyes.

And I sensed at once that, there, some
Strange intelligence looked down,
One that watched with eyes unblinking
O’er the sombre, sleeping town.

Then the phosphorescent globule
Glided silently away,
In a cosmic orb of aura
Through the heavens draped in grey,

Till its weird, fluorescent image
Faded slowly from my sight.
And my eyes were left to wander
Through the shadows of the night.

But that alien aurora
Still cast shivers o’er my face,
As I gazed in spellbound wonder
Through the catacombs of Space,

In the fear that one dark night it
Will return amid the gloom,
Like a strange, unearthly phantom
From the abysses of Doom.

Monday, 22 August 2011


Hidden deep within the shadowed lands of Faerie is the garden of their king, Oberon – a setting of magical delight, where shy unicorns roam in freedom, bright flowers sing with dulcet voices, and Oberon’s entrancing queen, Mab, reposes in sunlit splendour. Let us step inside this enchanted place for a moment, and see what we shall see…


Sing, yellow linnet, of Oberon’s garden –
Mystical, wonderful, strange to behold,
Hidden away in the deep realms of Faerie,
Dappled in shadows of green and of gold.

Here singing flowers trill their soft lilting music,
Violets, red roses, and other fair blooms,
Borne from all seasons to serenade softly
Oberon, resting in gossamer rooms.

And through these gardens enchanted and lovely
Bright wingèd steeds flit from rainbows to streams.
Timid and shy, here the unicorns frolic,
Misty and distant as overnight dreams.

Pixies race swiftly on glittering beetles,
Harnessed with gossamer, saddled with leaves,
Past tinkling fountains and waterfalls tumbling,
Through groves and woodlands each chariot weaves.

Mab lies serenely in deep beds of sunshine,
Graceful and pale as the bright morning star,
Strange fairy beauty, enchanting and mystic,
Born in a land that lies hidden afar.

Now, as the evening draws o’er this strange setting,
Stars twinkle softly like lanterns of Night,
And when we look back at Oberon’s garden,
We shall find that it has vanished from sight.

It has slipped back to the kingdom it came from,
Back to the fairyland realms of the past,
For in our world nothing lives on forever –
Not even fairies forever may last.

Friday, 19 August 2011


A few moments ago, while browsing online, I came upon the exquisite painting reproduced above, and within my mind the following lines sprang into being, engendered and inspired by its strange beauty.


I felt the swirling flakes of winter surround and embrace me,

Enfolding me within their soft, chilling shroud of silence and death,

As icily mesmeric as the cool, purring caress of a snow cat.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


'The Country Cottage' (Sydney Currie)

Haunted houses are normally ten a penny, nothing special – but the ghost-associated cottage in this poem is very special, very different indeed, as you will discover…


Deep in a green woodland vale wrapped in sunbeams
Stands a small cottage, alone and afar;
Windows still shining, transparent and lucent,
Each pane alight like a shimmering star.

Over the walls clings a shroud of green ivy,
Crisp arrowed leaves shot with yellowing veins;
Emerald spear-heads outsplayed in the sunlight,
Beaming and gleaming from warm noontide rain.

Briars glisten softly with wet, fragrant roses,
Sending forth beauty in sweet-scented bliss;
Each one half-opened as if still in slumber,
Waiting for Summer’s awakening kiss.

Swallows skim swiftly from chimney to gable,
Mazarine star-bolts with waistcoats of flame;
Aerial gymnasts each vaulting o’er cloudlets,
Chasing and racing in sky-diving games.

Spiders spin curtains of gossamer fabric,
Hanging serenely from windows and walls;
Light as the soft gauzy drapings of Faerie,
Murals suspended in Oberon’s halls.

Blossom drifts gently down over the cottage,
Apple and cherry cast far from above;
Fragile and fragrant it sails on the zephyr,
Borne on the wingtips of Nature’s warm love.

So it seems strange that this cottage is haunted –
For, if we enter its small shaded rooms,
Phantoms ne’er loom forth to frighten or mutter,
Nothing appears from the shadows and gloom.

But if we let this small cottage’s image
Out of our sight for a moment or less,
When we look back, we will search for it vainly –
For it has gone, we will have to confess.

Although no spectres appear in its bedrooms,
There is a phantom of which it can boast.
And its strange secret it holds to this day – for
This lonely cottage itself is the ghost.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


It has often been said, and it is perfectly true, that each of us enters and leaves this world alone, but it is also true that many spend much of their allotted time here in solitude too, with only silence and the stars above for company.


Within these dappled vales of Space
My seeking mind is found,
Amid the empty pools of Time
That softly pivot round;
For silence, long and endless, here
Is e’er the only sound.

But in this plane of nothingness
My mind can find release
From human woes and human grief,
For here, all failings cease
To be, among the silence of
This citadel of peace.

And here, my weeping tears and sighs
Can drift unseen away,
For who can know my silent doom
That lingers through each day.
For me, the loneliness I hold
No words could e’er convey.

And oft I gaze unseeing through
These misty realms of Space,
And wonder at the sadness of
The thoughts that swiftly race
Across the pale illusion of
My silent, sombre face.

Yes, I know more of loneliness
Than I could ever say,
As silently I’ve walked alone
Along its dismal way,
Till far ahead a Light has shone
To clarify my day.

So many times I’ve wondered why
I should be on my own,
While others reap their harvests in
From fields they haven’t sown,
Then leave me there in silence as
I gather mine alone.

But I have long since realised
That I must strive alone
If I am e’er to find the life
I seek to claim my own,
By reaping only where I know
My silent work has sown.

So, silently, mankind may frown
To hear my wistful tones,
But e’en in death my soul must flit
Through Heaven’s Door alone,
To kneel before the Glory of
God’s everlasting Throne.

So let them stare, for onwards still
My thoughts must stream and pour,
If I am e’er to navigate
Beyond this present shore,
And stand amidst the silence of
The Future’s open door.

Monday, 13 June 2011


Certain religious stories, such as St George and the Dragon, have generated very considerable interest down through the centuries and have become extremely well known, but there are others that have attracted much less notice, yet are no less memorable. The following story is one of these hitherto-neglected Christian legends, which has always stayed in my mind ever since I first read it many years ago, so I finally decided to retell it in verse.


Through the emerald forests
Of golden-hued Dawn,
Rode Eustacius, a soldier
Of Rome, one fine morn,
As his hounds bayed all round him
With dark, fearful eyes,
Like a torrent of shadows
‘Neath newly-born skies.

So the soldier rode onward
Through golden-leaved trees,
While the hounds’ dismal howling
Still hung on the breeze
Like a dream half-forgotten
‘Twixt Future and Past –
Yet still doomed by its maker
Forever to last.

Then ahead of Eustacius
A white stag appeared,
And the soldier’s steed trembled,
Then, shivering, reared.
Just as if the stag’s presence
Imbued it with awe,
As the hunter peered onwards
And then, the deer, saw.

All at once, the stag stiffened,
Then fled through the trees,
But Eustacius pursued it,
Through clearings and lees.
On he chased this white wonder,
Past mountains and vales,
And the morn became noontide
In forests and dales.

Later, Evening drew gently
The curtains of Night
Far across the blue heavens,
Now dappled with light
From the glistening stars set
In countless array,
Each a tiny eye peering
Through blankets of grey.

And as they witnessed softly
The hunt far below,
E’en the moon wept in sadness,
And shrouded its glow
To give cover of darkness
‘Midst shadowy glades
To the hunted stag, weary
As still the hounds bayed.

But the stag was now tiring,
Its head dangled low,
As its heart heaved and pounded,
Its eyes full of woe,
Till it sank down exhausted
On carpets of dew,
As the hounds’ ghastly howling
More terrible grew.

Then Eustacius perceived it,
Stretched outwards to die,
As its fragile heart throbbed ‘neath
The sorrowful sky.
And the stag watched the soldier
With eyes dark and mild,
For it made no swift movement,
Yet cried like a child.

Then a pale shaft of moonlight
Fell softly from Space,
And its shimmering beauty
Lit up the deer’s face.
And as all the world waited,
The stag raised its head.
Its mouth opened, and then, with
A human voice, said:

“Why dost thou still pursueth
Me long through the trees?
I am Christ,” as Eustacius
Dropped low to his knees.
For the stag was surrounded
By radiant light,
Like a star incandescent
That passed from all sight

To the heavens resplendent
In Glory Divine.
Then Eustacius looked up, and
Drew slowly the Sign
Of the Cross there before him –
A new saint was born,
In the reincarnation
Of God’s golden Dawn.

Monday, 6 June 2011


'Emergence' - Jack Shalatain

What might happen if a flock of swans somehow coalesced with a herd of horses, even if only in a half-dreaming mind? That intriguing premise was the starting point for the following word-picture – a poetical flight of imagination…in every sense!


Like a phalanx borne from Heaven
On a golden drift of Love
Glides a stream of snowy shadows
From the cloud-worlds far above
In an ever-wider spiral
Sweeping slowly through the skies,
While the lake’s reflection shimmers
Like a star within their eyes,
Growing brighter every second
As their silhouettes descend
To its violescent waters,
Where the ripples softly wend –
Each a trembling ring of sunlight
‘Ere it falls away to die,
Just an iridescent nimbus
‘Neath a cerulean sky.

Now the swans reside serenely
Near the sable-mantled shade
Of the melancholy willow
From the lakeside’s dappled glade,
Where the breezy zephyr murmurs
As its gusty whispers cool
Catch the willow’s pearly teardrops,
Each a tiny silvered pool
Cast in deep, despondent sorrow
As the willow bows in grief,
Dewdrops trickling down in torrents
From each slender yellow leaf.

Here the swans glide by in silence,
Necks held high in regal stance
As their eyes gaze up to Heaven
While its darting sunbeams dance
Through their incandescent plumage,
Wings held proudly o’er their back
Like an arch of sparkling crescents
Tipped with inky plumes of black.
On they glide, past ruffling meadows
Flecked with starry trains of flowers,
Blooming brightly in the shelter
Of their viridescent bowers.

And across these speckled grasslands
To the silver-spangled streams
Chase a herd of snowy horses
Like a host of starlit beams,
Manes caressed by breezy fingers,
Like a sea of moonlit waves
Surging down across their shoulders
From its underwater cave,
As their eyes, afire and glowing,
Burn with bright undying flame,
While their tails toss ever skyward
With a joy that none can tame.

Soon they pass from sight and being
‘Neath the woodlands’ leafy shade,
And my eyes grow weak and heavy,
Each with slumber overlaid.
Yet as Hypnos murmurs softly
From the drowsy realms of Sleep,
Still the horses race before me
As their flowing spirits leap
‘Cross the streams and to the lakeside
Where the swans sedately gaze
Through the heavens’ golden shadow,
Through the skies’ translucent haze.

And as clouds float by in silence
O’er the warm, caressing skies,
Strange to say, the swans and horses
Merge as one before my eyes –
And as Morpheus casts softly
Dreams of slumber round my mind,
Wingèd steeds ascend to Heaven,
Leaving lake and streams behind.
Wings spread forth, and lustrous feathers
Gleam and glow like rays of light,
As these fair, enchanted visions
Pass so swiftly from my sight
To their mellow hierarchy
That no man shall ever see.
Earth is ours – a world of mortals.
Theirs is Immortality.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


(Photo credit: Malaysian Bikers at

What do you get if you cross a parrot with a crocodile? A parrodile! And if you don’t believe me, here’s the proof!


How doth the little parrodile
Improve his feathered tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every pea-green scale.

How bashfully he seems to cough,
How neatly spreads his claws,
Then chomps his owner's fingers off
With wide voracious jaws!

(with apologies to Lewis Carroll!)

Friday, 6 May 2011


Back on 21 February 2011, I posted a listing of the all-time Top Ten poems on my Star Steeds poetry blog, based upon viewing counts. I’ve now compiled a new, updated listing, and as you’ll see, there have been many changes! Interestingly, in most cases, poems that have been online for longer periods (and which should therefore have benefited from cumulative viewing) have been ousted from the Top Ten’s upper echelons by ones that have been online for much shorter periods - which is the precise opposite of what one would normally expect. The 21 February 2011 rankings are given in red brackets alongside the new ones.

Equine-themed poems definitely seem popular in this new list, but whether there is any other pattern or trend present, however subtle it may be, is for you, gentle reader, to decide. If you do find one, however, be sure to let me know!

#1 A Filigree of Fragments (posted 14 March 2011) (-)

#2 The Unicorn (14 March 2011) (-)

#3 Flying Horse Fantasia (14 February 2011) (-)

#4 Behold the Thunder Horse (10 March 2011) (-)

#5 Stonehenge (29 July 2010) (5)

#6 Tattoos (21 February 2011) (-)

#7 A Different Kind of Dragon (15 December 2010) (3)

#8 The Balloon (25 September 2010) (1)

#9 The Christmas Donkey (20 December 2010) (2)

#10 Robin (24 February 2010) (10)


I was recently asked what the term ‘treasure’ means to me. Here is my reply:


Treasure is whatever brings pure happiness to a person.

It does not have to be of material significance or monetary value, it needs only to lift the spirit and awaken joy in one's heart.

Treasure to one person may be dross to another, it matters not.

All that is essential is that it should bring light into a patch of shadow for its owner, and make that person feel more joyful for owning it.

That is the sole function of treasure - anything additional detracts from its reason for existing and obscures its true nature.

Monday, 25 April 2011


There are many traditional, quite often poignant religious folktales featuring animals, some of which are well known, others less so. In the following poem, I have combined two of these age-old stories, both of which are Easter-themed - the famous legend of how the robin gained its red breast, and the less familiar legend of how the crossbill acquired its twisted beak.


A tall wooden Cross cast its pitiless shadow
Across a green hill ‘neath the grey, leaden sky.
For mankind had crucified Jesus, its Saviour,
And left Him there helpless to suffer and die.

But two tiny birds came to visit Lord Jesus,
Two small humble creatures with hearts full of love.
The little brown robin and bright crimson crossbill,
Each blessed by the Light of their Father Above.

When Jesus looked down and beheld the small robin,
He smiled at him softly, and down from His breast
His blood trickled slowly like deep scarlet teardrops,
And falling below stained the robin’s white chest.

The crossbill in vain used his bill to remove the
Cruel nails that impaled Jesus’ hands and His feet,
But prised with such force that his bill crossed and twisted
‘Ere, strength being spent, he conceded defeat.

And e’er since that day when they visited Jesus,
The bill of each crossbill is twisted and curled,
While Jesus’ red blood on each robin’s chest lingers,
Reminding us just how much God loves our world.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011



Whenever I see a host of dandelion clocks gusting by in the breeze, I think of a whirling ballet of tiny dancers, twirling and spinning in a joyful celebration of nature, and of life itself, however brief it may be.

Like a fairy ballerina
Dancing softly through the trees,
Gliding silently through Summer
On the laughter of the breeze.

Waltzing gaily ‘cross the meadows
As the hours just flutter by,
Twirling swiftly through the woodlands
Like a spotlight from the sky,

Pirouetting round their branches
In a cloud of gauzy dreams,
Rising gently through the shadows
On the sun’s auroral beams.

Drifting long with other dancers
From this ballet of the trees,
Like a host of fairy stardust
Scattered far through fields and leas,

Till the heavens’ sapphire summer
Is transformed to autumn grey.
Now they’re gone, like cloudy snowflakes,
Having danced their lives away.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Martha Washington, the last passenger pigeon, photographed shortly before her death in 1914, which marked the extinction of what had once been the world's most abundant species of wild bird

When Martha Washington, a small grey dove-like bird, died in a cage at Cincinnati Zoo on 1 September 1914, her passing marked one of the most shameful episodes in the history of humankind – the extinction of the passenger pigeon, which, incredibly, had been just a century earlier the most abundant species of wild bird in the world, whose vast numbers as witnessed in enormous flocks migrating each year through the North American skies could be counted in the billions, until they were decimated by hunters. This poem is a tribute to that lost bird, and a stark reminder of the inconceivable wickedness responsible for its extermination. The final verse’s last word, ‘fly’, deliberately breaks the tradition set throughout the poem of ‘sky’ being the last word in each verse, in order to underline a change of direction in the poem, from realism to mysticism.


Each year, across the New World sky,
Would flocks of birds in millions fly –
Unending flights eclipsing light
While travelling through the sky.

Known as passenger pigeons, they –
The birds that hid the sun’s bright ray
For days and nights while endless flights
Migrated through the sky.

But hunters saw this awesome sight
As food for sport in wild delight,
And shot to kill as ever still
More birds passed through the sky.

Huge raucous clouds of birds in flight,
All unsuspecting of their plight,
Were seen and shot, then left to rot,
As more soared through the sky.

The heavens filled with countless birds,
And through the lands their cries were heard,
As they flew past, upon their last
Migration through the sky.

The pigeons’ flocks were soon reduced
When men with savage guns were loosed –
Who aimed and fired, and ne’er grew tired
Of shooting at the sky.

Dead birds grew greater every day,
But mankind’s greed was swift to pay,
For soon, as feared, they disappeared –
No birds flew through the sky.

Then parties searched for any few
Survivors of those flocks that flew
Across the lands in mighty bands,
A-flying through the sky.

But none did any human find,
The victims of his brutal mind.
Extinct at last – the days were past
When flocks whirred through the sky.

At Cincinnati Zoo one day,
Poor lonely Martha passed away.
The last was dead, her soul was led
Across that boundless sky.

And only then did mankind weep,
A bitter harvest would he reap
For many years, as futile tears
Fell flooding from the sky.

But though their mortal days are done,
The pigeons’ spirits linger on.
For up in Space, beyond man’s face,
On silent wings they fly.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Does our journey of existence end with the ending of life, or is the ending of life nothing more than a parting from all that has been, with our journey continuing alone, in other forms and along other routes?


Like a star in the moonlight,
Like a wave from the shoreline,
All alone with the future,
All the dreaming is done.

Like the birth of a morning,
Now the death of an evening,
For the dawning is over,
And the past has now gone.

Friends and dreams are but shadows
In Oblivion’s vortex,
For the show is completed,
And the cast must move on.

Not to look back in silence,
For the past cannot answer,
And a new world is waiting,
Where my heart has not shone.

All my sorrows are ended,
All my joys are departed,
All alone I must travel,
All alone I go on.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


The following poem owes its creation to a very curious snatch of conversation that I happened by chance to overhear one day on the radio, in which the speaker was contemplating whether it might be that many of the people that we casually pass by without interaction or see only from a distance are nothing more than ghosts, mere phantoms. And so, from this remarkable muse, sprang ‘Phantasia’ (constituting, incidentally, the longest single sentence to appear in any of my writings!).


Hear the echo of a lifetime
Doomed forever more to last,
Or a murmur drifting backwards
From the theatres of the past,

Whirling softly through a vortex
Spinning deep in silent Space
Like a whirlpool in the heavens,
Or an eye within a face

Gazing outwards, yet unseeing,
Pale as Dawn’s auroral birth
From the snowy dreams of slumber
Shrouding velvet, verdant Earth,

Like an unseen clock vibrating
As its lifetime ebbs away,
While its fingers trace the seconds
Of another unborn day

Through the silhouettes cast downwards
From the shadows of the stars,
Now a host of winging phantoms
From a distant world afar,

Flitting slowly through the evening
As the planets e’er rotate,
Each a windmill in a spiral
On a shining, spangled plate

Spinning outwards e’er to nowhere
In their orbit round their lord,
While lugubrious crescendos
Chase like half-forgotten chords

In a lonely helter-skelter
Through the avenues of Time;
They – the spheres’ eternal music –
Lacking syllables or rhyme,

Drifting downwards through the starlight
Lest their meaning fades away
To a ghost upon the moorlands
Of an evanescent day

Ever seeking ‘midst the future
For a future of its own,
As the souls of Past and Present
Soar like cloudlets to the throne

Of a duplicated kingdom
On Time’s unknown, farthest side,
Where their memory still lingers,
Round its universe to glide,

While they merge with more illusions –
None is real, for none can be
In this pseudo-world of Shadow
Cast from vacant Destiny

Like a set of footprints chasing
After footprints of their own,
Or a pool’s encircling ripples
Running rings around a stone;

Yet their messengers are present
In a hundred other lands,
Groping ever through their darkness
Like a metamorphic hand,

E’en within our crowded suburbs
‘Midst their noisy, raucous hosts,
Who could guess that most are shadows,
Mindless images, just ghosts?

Thursday, 17 March 2011


'Elephant and Friends in Eden' (Joe Gauthier)

The disturbing prospect that, in spite of our (allegedly) superior brainpower, humanity may now be further from God than are any of His other creations is the basis for this poem – a celebration of the purity and unadulterated beauty of the wildlife all around us.


Blameless and fair are the infants of Nature,
Freed from Temptation and born without Care.
They are unblemished, untainted by Evil;
Mankind they heed not, for Eden is theirs –

Nature unparalleled, Beauty unending,
Radiant Kingdoms from which we are gone.
We were too weak, and Temptation destroyed us;
Fallen, we left, and were forced to pass on,

Lonely and shameful in exile unending,
Banished forever from that which was ours.
They were more wise, and sought only to follow
God and His Mercy, His Truth, and His Power.

Swallows skim brightly like throbbing pulsations
Soaring and gliding in infinite flight,
Rising forever through heavenly strata,
Shooting and streaming like spirits of Light.

Squirrels chase wildly through branches and treetops,
Russet infernos with flushes of flame,
Tails curling brightly like flickering candles,
Darting like fire in arboreal games.

Miniature harvest mice scurry through cornfields,
Tiny brown atoms of scampering joy;
Shyly inquisitive bundles of mischief,
Bustling with life like diminutive toys.

Mottled fawns lie ‘neath the woodlands’ green mantle,
Secretive denizens, peaceful and shy;
Perfectly camouflaged, dappled by Nature,
Watching her kingdom through dark wary eyes.

Mayflies flit gently like riverside sylvans,
Briefly they mate before sinking to die.
Short is their life, yet infused with rare beauty,
Born in the new when the old flutters by.

Thus they continue while mankind grows feeble,
Lovely they still are, and ever will be.
Fair and unchanging, the beautiful people,
They are His children – the wild, and the free.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


How strange and sometimes rather unsettling yet also very precious it is that a scent can suddenly recapture and restore memories of long ago that had previously seemed beyond recall.


Yesterday, on a whim, I took out of their battered yet still sturdy leather case my old trusty but seriously scuffed and very heavy pair of Greenkat 10 x 50 binoculars,
long since replaced by a lighter, more modern pair.

But as I inhaled their characteristic scent,
a unique suffusion of leather and preservative crystals,
I was instantly transported back through time to those far-distant, happy days of my childhood.

And just for a moment it was a warm Sunday afternoon once more,
back in the Shropshire countryside with my family,
looking for birds and feeling truly alive again,
alive and happy in a way that can never be replicated in adulthood.

Yes, perhaps nostalgia is indeed best only in small doses,
for in greater ones it has too much power,
and can inflict too much pain.

Monday, 14 March 2011


Over the years, I’ve written a number of short compositions, rhyming and non-rhyming, to serve mostly as chapter openers for a variety of different publications (and sometimes even using a pseudonym), but which, I feel, deserve the opportunity to stand alone in their own right as poetry. Here is a brief, representative selection.

(pictured above)

There's something very mysterious, gothic, and totally spellbinding
about this painting,
redolent of decay and disuse,
a scarcely-remembered memory
lingering like a flickering shadow somewhere in a lost attic of the mind.


Let not the dream pervade these living hours,
Lest the winged cats of nightmare stalk once more
The haunted spires of distant memory,
Their pinions raised, alert and poised
To deny the conscious dawn.


Velveteen silhouette, silent and sinister;
Satin-furred midnight on ebony paws.
Eyes hewn from emeralds, seeking a sacrifice;
Death to deliver with ivory claws.


I shall garb myself in gossamer,
And dance amid the darkness,
Silver in the shadows of my song.


How tragic it is that such wonderful creatures have no concept,
no awareness,
of just how beautiful and magical they are.
Then again, perhaps they do -
after all, they are cats...

King cheetah (African Safari Pictures)


I penned the following composition as the opening section of the introduction for my book Dragons: A Natural History (pictured above). First published in 1995, it went on to become the bestselling book of all time on dragons, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and is still in print today, over 15 years later.



Fire-belching damsel devourers mortally skewered upon a valiant knight’s lance, or ethereal serpentine deities wafting languorously through the skies in celestial tranquillity.

Vermiform monsters with coils of steel, or winged wonders with jewel-encrusted scales.

Bat-winged nightmares that terrorise and desecrate with volcanic gullets of flame, or polychromatic dream beasts soaring heavenward upon iridescent plumes of crystalline glory.

Personifications of malevolence or beneficence, paganism or purity, death and devastation, life and fertility, good or evil.

All of these varied, contradictory concepts are embodied and embedded within that single magical word!


Unicorn (Johfra Bosschart)

My homage to the fairest, most magical beast never to have existed...


A shaft of bright golden sunbeams broke through the leafy canopy of the forest, illuminating a clearing deep within its verdant, secluded heart - and also illuminating a wondrous creature, standing sedately like a living statue hewn from shimmering starlight.

It resembled an elegant snowy-hued horse, but its noble brow bore a single, central horn - long and finely spiralled, upon which the sunbeams joyfully danced.

Here was the forest guardian, the very spirit of nature incarnate - for this was that most rare and fabulous of animals, the unicorn.

Suddenly, however, the distant sound of a hunting horn pierced the stillness of this magical scene.

Instantly alert, the unicorn raised its head, momentarily betraying flickers of alarm, and of sadness too, within its shining eyes.

Then, as softly as the echo of a single heartbeat, it was gone, lost to human sight and knowledge within its woodland sanctuary.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


I have always harboured a somewhat Quixotic captivation for windmills, and this following poem was inspired by the very eyecatching cover of a 1970s record album (pictured above) that featured a spectacular, multicoloured image of a windmill created by time-lapse photography, in which its arms seemed to be turning not merely through the air but also through space and even through time itself.


Like an astral wheel of Heaven
Sweeping silently through Space,
Never ceasing, never easing
In its convoluted pace,

Like an outward-coiling spiral
As its spool spins ever on
Through the webs of Space forever
Till its silhouette has gone,

Past the stars all draped in wonder
As its whirling arms sweep down
Through the solitudes of darkness
In the evening’s velvet gown.

Still its shadow keeps on turning
Past the zenith of the skies,
For the windmill’s winding pivot
Is where Time most surely lies,

E’er gyrating on its axis
Like a pendulum in Space,
As through depthless pools and chasms
Its unwinding fingers trace –

Like a clock revolving slowly,
Lacking rhythm, lacking rhyme,
Just rotating through the heavens
As the centre-stone of Time.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Fantasy horses – such as unicorns, flying horses, and star steeds – have always held a particular fascination for me. So here is one of several variations by me upon this exotic equine theme – the thunder horse, which features in the traditional legends of North America’s Sioux tribe. Interestingly, during the 19th Century the Sioux showed various scientists some huge bones said to be from thunder horses, and when these were examined they were found to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto-undescribed form of gigantic prehistoric mammal distantly related to rhinoceroses, which scientists duly christened Brontotherium – the thunder beast.


Dark lie the skies, as an ebony ocean
Rippling with cloudlets of surf-showered foam,
Lashed by the whipcords of storm-harnessed lightning,
Raking the heavens with fiery combs,

Savagely striking like flame-spitting cobras
Flicking their tongues through the vapours of Night,
Streaking through Space like a phalanx of dragons –
Melting the candlewax stars in their flight.

And as the skies part their dark, scorching curtains
Lit by the flickering shadows of fire,
Out from the flames rears a black steed of thunder,
Phoenix-wise born from a burnishing pyre –

Eyes blazing fiercely like crimson infernos,
Flashing like meteors bolting through Space,
Flames roaring loudly through dark velvet nostrils,
Framing with fire his illustrious face –

Streaming to Earth like a star cast from Heaven,
Wingtips alight with vermillion plumes,
Tail tossing high, now a flickering candle
Burning a trail through the smouldering gloom.

And as he lands on a grey, brooding mountain,
Mane ruffling far like a meadow of fire,
Thunder is borne from his deafening hoof-beats,
Echoing far like a vast booming choir.

Clashing in Space, these celestial cymbals
Loudly resound through the battle-torn skies,
Shredded and shattered by arrows of lightning
Shooting like flames from the thunder gods’ eyes –

Gazing to Earth as their mighty steed races
Far ‘cross the mountains in glorious flight,
Hooves ringing far, as the star on his forehead
Slashes the heavens with sabres of light.

Onward he surges, through hillside and valley,
Singeing the treetops with each fiery roar,
Vomiting flames like a spurting volcano
Booming with menace from skyline to shore.

Yet as he glows like a lava-lit furnace
Far through the sequin-sewn shades of the night,
Evening flits softly from purple-hued heavens,
Bidding farewell as she passes from sight,

Leaving the skies now as slumbering Morning
Shakes off her rose-petal blankets of sleep,
Soon to ascend through the clouds, soft and fleecy –
Frolicking gaily like clusters of sheep –

Bearing the sun like a glistening globule
Dripping its molten aurorae through Space,
Hanging it deftly from Heaven’s bright archway,
Lighting in splendour her shimmering face.

And as she smiles in the sun’s golden mirror,
Thunderclouds wilt, sinking downwards to die,
Blown from the heavens by Morning’s gay laughter,
Nothing remains but a soft lonely sigh.

Now, far below, like an ebony shadow,
Rising on pinions emblazoned with fire,
Swiftly their stallion soars through the heavens,
Upwards once more to his ultimate pyre,

Swiftly approaching the sun’s bright corona –
Hung like a burnishing nimbus in Space –
Nearer and nearer, till wingtip and halo
Melt into one ‘midst the heaven’s warm face.

Gone is the steed of the storm cloud and thunder –
Far past the dawn’s bright eruption of light –
Lost in the radiant sun’s incandescence
Borne through the clouds in its luminous flight.

Yet if the thunder gods e’er should roar loudly
Far through the heavens of some future night,
Then would he rise in a great conflagration,
Streaming on pinions of flame-feathered light,

Scorching through Space like a blazing colossus,
Tail curving high like a smouldering lyre,
Spraying with flames this caliginous shadow –
Borne into life by the spirit of fire.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


In response to several requests lately, I have now compiled a complete, chronologically-arranged, single-page listing of all of my Star Steeds blog's poetry posts for easy access, with each post directly clickable, and I'll endeavour to update this list on a weekly basis.

I have placed the listing on my website, where it can be accessed by clicking the 'Poetry' tab at the bottom of each of my website's major pages, and it can also be accessed here, in this present Star Steeds blog post, by clicking here:

Have fun!

Friday, 4 March 2011


Innocence personified!


A small, bewhiskered face peers up
Whene’er I call his name,
E’er seeking to attract my gaze
To join him in a game.

A snowy ball of eager fun,
With silky floppy ears,
And deep brown eyes so full of joy
They have no cause for tears.

For like an animated stump
His tail wags fast and few,
As then he waits for my response,
Impatience showing through.

Yet still it wags, with outline blurred,
As each enormous paw
Plods clumsily across the ground
To tap the closing door.

But soon his small bewildered form
Dismisses daylight’s charm,
And seeks his box with sleepy eyes
To doze in slumber’s calm.

And thus he spends each afternoon,
A tiny ball of white,
Bathed long and deep in Summer’s warmth,
And Heaven’s golden light.

Monday, 28 February 2011


The following poem of mine was inspired by a beautifully-written short story (entitled ‘The Bell’) penned long ago by Hans Christian Andersen – one of my poetry’s most influential muses.


Morning rose slowly through pale, dreaming cloudlets,
Peering down softly from clear, violet skies,
Watching the countryside waking from slumber,
Sending forth sunlight from warm golden eyes.

And as the song of the warbling dawn chorus
Drifted in ripples of carolling darts,
Church bells pealed gaily their glorious chansons,
Born from the joy of their bright, silver hearts.

Yet, ‘midst the chimes of their vibrant crescendo,
Echoed the sound of a more distant bell,
Deep and majestic in strange, holy splendour,
Singing unseen through each woodland and dell.

Rich was its tone, like a solemn concerto
Borne from a World of Perfection and Truth,
Calling me onwards through dingle and forest,
Haunting the wandering soul of my youth.

Snow-white anemones listened in silence,
Bowing down low as its heavenly chimes
Rang out before me in infinite glory,
Growing more fair with the passage of Time.

And as I walked through viridian woodlands,
Lilac convolvuli trumpeted long,
While from the arbours the bell’s regal chorus
Softly resounded through hyacinth throngs.

Still I continued, past silver-lit lakesides,
And as the swans drifted softly from sight,
Leaving their shadows on deep turquoise waters,
Far up ahead shone a shimmering light.

And as I passed through the lavender mountains,
Seeking the bell that had called from afar,
Fountains danced brightly from woodland to valley,
Spraying the vales with a bright shower of stars.

Meadows lay glistening on in the distance,
Dappled with poppies in slumbering bliss,
Peacefully dreaming in rapturous beauty,
Wrapped in enchantment by Summer’s soft kiss.

And as I climbed to the grey, cloudy summit,
Sunset spread softly through brilliant skies,
Filling the world with its rosy suffusion,
Scorching with colour my wondering eyes.

And as the sun sank down softly through Heaven,
There, ‘neath the sky, lay the glittering sea,
Snaring the sun’s silhouetted reflection –
Here, if at all, would the bell surely be.

Lo! What magnificence! Lo! What resplendence!
There stood the sun like an altar of gold,
Raised o’er the sea as a shimmering halo,
Kissed by the ocean’s voluptuous folds.

Here was the wondrous Cathedral of Nature –
Pillars of willow, and Heaven its dome,
Singing of Beauty, of Love in the Highest,
Borne from the chorus of wavelet and foam.

Stars twinkled brightly like crystalline lanterns,
Lighting up softly the pathways of Night,
Casting their shadows like glittering diamonds
Down to the woodlands in crescents of light.

And, as I stood ‘neath the Archway of Heaven,
Nature and Poetry singing as one,
Still the invisible Bell rang above me,
Calling me ever more, upwards and on,

Singing of God, of His Power and His Promise,
Sending His Love in melodious chords,
Borne by the souls of the Blessèd forever –
Praise in excelsis, for theirs is the Lord!

Friday, 25 February 2011


How many of us look back at our childhood days with fond memories and not a little sadness, recalling the summers that seemed much brighter and sunnier than they are nowadays, the flowers that blossomed more profusely, and the skies that were infused with a vivid intensity of robin’s-egg blue that we can scarcely even imagine today? How many of us would willingly give up all that we have achieved in adulthood to return to the blissful happiness and security of childhood and the loving arms of our family? I would, without a moment’s hesitation.


‘Midst golden mists and shadows cast
By summer sunbeams glowing,
‘Cross straits of deep blue heavens past
The oceans gently flowing,
Glides soft enchanting sun-drenched bliss –
The warmth of Summer’s loving kiss.

For here a world of sunshine lies,
Where fragrant flowers are blooming;
While silhouettes of soft mauve skies
Through mirrored pools are looming,
Reborn from silent breaths of Spring,
As delicate as fairy wings.

And here I sit in languid haze,
Caressed by wafting breezes,
Or lie in cool, refreshing laze
As sunlight gently teases,
And dream in realms of mellow green
Of amber fields, and woods serene.

And drift through lands of summers past –
Unclouded worlds of wonder –
When childhood seemed fore’er to last,
And fears I tossed asunder
As I through Nature’s realms would choose
My outer shell to shed and lose.

And then, unheeded, passed I long
The hours in lone seclusion,
In worlds that more to me belong
Than modern-day illusions –
The work of Man’s despairing toils,
Ensnared by Greed’s unending coils.

For oft I yearn to set my gaze
Beyond the heavens’ ending,
And live again those bygone days
In which my mind is wending.
One day, perhaps, my soul will fly,
And find my world beyond the sky.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Kiefer Sutherland in the cult vampire-biker movie 'The Lost Boys'

Just for a change, the following composition of mine does not feature in my book Star Steeds and Other Dreams. As you may know, highly-acclaimed graphic artist Andy Paciorek and I are planning various collaborations. One of these may result in a future book on supernatural entities of the night. Consequently, I'm currently preparing some samples of text for it, retelling these entities' legends and lore in lyrical prose. So here, in an exclusive preview, is one of them. I hope you enjoy it!

                                         THE VAMPIRE

Alone with the ghosts of days long departed, stretching back in silent homage, I dream that I am gazing into a looking glass and fancy that I see there, staring back out at me, a tall grim shadow, a wraith in human form that haunts my very being, chills my innermost essence with its dread pallid countenance, mesmerising and yet also captivating me with its icy doom. I have so many questions to ask this creature of darkness and night, I scarcely know where to begin.

Why do you and your kind exist?

“We exist to remind humanity that sometimes not even death can bring release from the evil that is nurtured in life. We exist to feed upon the fear that such realisation generates, to feed and grow stronger and wait.”

But why feed upon blood too?

“Blood is life, blood symbolises all that has dried up and long since disappeared from our shrivelled, exsanguinated existence. When we imbibe it, we are temporarily regenerated, rejuvenated, and reborn. For a short span of time, we are fully alive, even if only during the veiled hours of night. We may never feel the warmth of the sun, but we are sustained by the coolness of the moon and by the fire of the stars, nourishing and restoring us, empowering our living death with deathless life.”

I stand before this mirrored being of nightmare, and imagine with trembling electric horror its long slender fangs pressing so softly, imperceptibly, against my exposed neck, seeking the throbbing jugular beneath before sliding within, to freeze forever my existence with a single scarlet-trickling kiss of eternity.


“Life is fleeting, death is immortal. Those who become one of us shall persist forever.”

But what kind of existence will it be? Nothing but an undead, half-living, surely, surrounded by death but unable to find release.

“True enough, but that is the punishment for having lived an evil life. Only a stake or the burning caress of sunlight can end our torment, and then shall we decay and crumble, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, our long-postponed mortality finally upon us. Until then, we must linger, and hunger, and wonder…”

Only a dream, and a foolish, impossible dream at that. True, now that I am awake again I could indeed stand before the looking glass. Yet I know only too well that to do so would be futile, it would serve no purpose. How could I hope to elicit answers from my own reflection? After all, being a vampire I would have no reflection...

'Kiss' - Sue Woodlace(?), 1994

I'd very much like to include this wonderful artwork in a future publication of mine, so I've been trying to trace its artist for a very long time, ever since I purchased my numbered print of it, in fact, one Sunday afternoon in 1994 at the Sunday market formerly held regularly at the Holiday Wharf in Birmingham, England. I can't quite read her signature on the picture - her surname may be Woodlace, Woodlane, Woodlore, or even something else entirely! - but if anyone reading this blog has any information regarding her identity and/or current contact details, I'd love to hear from you! 

Monday, 21 February 2011


'Tattoo' - Boris Vallejo

Someone once asked me why I have tattoos. This was my reply.


Our tattoos are the stained-glass windows of our soul,
Which illuminate and animate our drab external shell
With the dreams, fantasies, and desires
Of our transient mortal existence
Within the mundane, earthbound realm of reality.


Several sets of stats concerning a person's blog are available for inspection by him/her on Blogger, and perhaps the most interesting set is the Top 10 most-viewed posts of all time for that blog. When I checked this out recently for my ‘Star Steeds and Other Dreams’ poetry blog, I was extremely intrigued by the result - so much so, in fact, that I felt it warranted a blog post of its own!

So here are the Top Ten most-viewed ‘Star Steeds’ poems so far - be prepared for some surprises!

#1 The Balloon (posted 25 September 2010)
#2 The Christmas Donkey (20 December 2010)
#3 A Different Kind of Dragon (15 December 2010)
#4 The Angel (28 December 2010)
#5 Stonehenge (29 July 2010)
#6 Patch - A Four-Legged Friend (31 August 2010)
#7 The Monastery Garden (12 November 2010)
#8 The Tiger (6 July 2010)
#9 Dreams of Nature (11 August 2010)
#10 Robin (24 February 2010)

Sunday, 20 February 2011


'Starsteed' - Nigel Parton

As a teenager at school, I was impressed enough by a scraperboard picture of a star steed produced by a friend, Nigel Parton, to purchase it from him for the princely sum of £5, and also to write the following poem in homage to the celestial stallion that it portrays. Over 30 years later, I still own that picture, entitled 'Starsteed', which is framed and hanging in my study. It is also on the front cover of this book, and is included here above this accompanying poem of mine. Thanks, Nigel!


Into the sea’s erupting foam,
Concealed by Evening’s shades,
A star descends from Heaven’s vale
‘Ere Twilight’s beauty fades.

And from the sapphire turbulence
A starry beam is borne –
A hazy mist of twinkling light,
A strange, auroral dawn.

And soon an outline bright appears
Within this gleaming force –
A silhouette in silver, of
A shining, starlit horse,

Emerging from the bubbling depths
With sparkling, ruffling mane,
And eyes that dart like icy stars
From Evening’s dappled train.

His body glints with rippling light
As clear as starfire rays –
A flowing spirit borne through Space
To islands far away,

To race across the mauve lagoons
‘Neath Heaven’s silent gaze.
And though the moon sends clouded light,
She knows he ne’er long stays.

For soon the sky recalls this steed
Of starry, dreaming Space.
And so he leaves on sparkling hooves
Past Earth’s immortal face.

From Space into Eternity
He goes where none have flown,
A spirit wild with nature mild,
A ghost fore’er alone

Amongst a vast Infinity
That stretches ever on,
A phantom flitting long till Dawn
Arrives to see him gone.

But Evening watches o’er this steed
From far-off realms sublime,
And still the fourth dimension waits
For him – the soul of Time.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Clowns and jesters (Dr Karl Shuker)

The poignant image of the clown who secretly weeps beneath his painted-on smile, whose staged laughter conceals his real tears, is both powerful and prolific, having appeared in countless forms, but assuredly attaining its zenith in the Leoncavallo opera ‘Pagliacci’. It was after watching a performance of this, and hearing its most famous, sorrowful aria, ‘Vesti La Giubba’ (‘On With The Motley’), that I penned my own variation upon this tragic, universal theme.


Here, ‘midst the tinsel and stars of the circus,
Stand I, before yet another vile crowd,
Gaping and gazing in leering distortion
Long, as their laughter rings raucously loud.

But know they not of the face that lies weeping
‘Neath coats of greasepaint, of white and of red.
Know they the sadness I keep trapped within me?
Know they the clear pearly tears that I’ve shed

Through endless buckets of cold chilling water,
Thrown at my face for the crowds’ grisly glee?
Tears that run rivers down pale whitewash features,
As all the hate and the envy I see

Circles, encompassing people and kingdoms,
All glaring at me through cold eyes of stone,
Stone as the hearts of the crowd now before me.
Gone is true love, leaving me all alone,

Lost in a world knowing not the true laughter
That I produced in those days long since past.
Nothing remains in a world ever changing,
Not even laughter forever may last.

Yet still I stay, like the great Pagliaccio,
Always I’ve known that the show must go on.
Put on the greasepaint and bow to the cheering,
Though all the spirit of laughter has gone.

For tonight gave I my greatest performance,
Giving my all for the bellows and jeers.
Yet did they know my lugubrious laughter
Served but to cover my visage of tears?

Monday, 14 February 2011


'Flying Horses' (Ezra Tucker)

One of the most exquisite examples of cinematic animation that I have ever seen is contained within the ‘Pastoral’ segment of Walt Disney’s animated masterpiece ‘Fantasia’, and features a phalanx of flying horses spiralling downwards from the sky to settle gracefully upon the surface of a sparkling blue lake. This poem is my word-picture homage to that breathtakingly beautiful scene.


From the heavens’ rainbowed archways
To the clear blue lake below
Soars a flock of flying horses,
Down and down, where rivers flow
Round the willows and the fountains,
Past the sparkling waterfalls,
To the mountains and the valleys,
Where lone Echo softly calls.

Down and down they swoop in glory,
Flowing manes and silver tails,
Through the lilac clouds of Summer,
Over meadowlands and vales.
Round they circle, wheeling swiftly
In a graceful sweeping flight,
As the sky pours forth its tribute
In a shower of golden light.

Down they glide towards the water
As their wondrous wings surge round.
Then alighting on the surface,
They fold back without a sound,
As these equine swans of Summer
Drift across the azure lake,
Heads held high in noble splendour,
Pinions trailing in their wake.

Blossom swirls upon the waters
Like a host of golden charms,
While the air is filled with singing,
And the sound of murmured psalms.
Then the wingèd colts neigh loudly
As their graceful parents glide
Far across the lustrous waters
To the lake’s far-distant side.

Both as regal as the sunset,
One as snowy as a dove,
And the other, black as Midnight,
Each with eyes so full of love,
As they call in dulcet voices
To their boisterous colts behind,
Shining blue, and pink, and lemon,
Flowing manes all intertwined.

And as Morning’s sunlight shimmers
On the waters’ mirror bright,
It reflects five flying horses
Soaring slowly out of sight,
Past the golden drifts of sunbeams,
And the shadows of the morn,
To idyllic lands beyond them
In a pastel-shaded dawn.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


The spectacular, vivid spectrum of colours filling every corner of our world must surely be one of the greatest gifts that anyone can enjoy. I have always been fascinated by how this multitude of shades and hues can be expressed in words as well as by visual means, and there is surely no greater challenge than to capture and celebrate the polychromatic wonder of the rainbow within the medium of the written word. That, therefore, became my goal with this poem, to create my own vibrant multicoloured rainbow in rhyme


Upwards I glide through a brilliant archway
Spanning the chasms of Space far above,
Sewn by the radiant needle of Heaven –
Weaving its splendour from sunbeams of Love.

Upwards and on through its crystalline crescents,
Casting a multihued shadow of Light,
Lost in a world of reflecting translucence
Showering colour in shimmering flight.

Upwards forever in vivid crescendos
Streaming like fountains through lilac-lit skies,
Swiftly ascending in bright sapphire spirals –
Sparkling like diamonds in star-showered eyes.

Upwards and onwards through whirling suffusions
Blushing like crimson-tipped roses of fire,
Passing through arches of amber and turquoise
Curving through Space like celestial lyres.

Upwards I soar through this arcuate spectrum
Spraying forth shaftlets of sun-shattered rays –
Rocketing outwards in golden aurorae
Filling the heavens with glistening haze.

Upwards, e’er upwards, like amethyst arrows
Bursting asunder with petals of flame,
Riding forever the arcs of the rainbow;
Light is my spirit, and Colour my name.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Our innermost emotions can assume many forms, but, hopefully, none as tangibly malevolent as the version described here – ophiophobes, look away now!


Well I know you, gleaming Green Snake,
Brightly wrapped in shining mail.
Well I know your silent movement,
Gliding forth on glinting scales,

To your unsuspecting victim
Sleeping peacefully in bed,
As your forked tongue whispers softly
Through the dreams that fill his head.

Now your coils enfold him tightly
In a feverish embrace,
And a potent stream of venom
Drips like fire upon his face

As your toxic tongue still murmurs
Like a wind through silent leaves,
Infiltrating his subconscious,
Till inside his mind it weaves

Webs of Doubt and Greed and Envy,
Soon eclipsing Love and Bliss,
Turning Beauty into Hatred –
Strong and deadly is your kiss.

And when morning comes, your victim
Rises full of Rage and Spite,
Hurting others with his cruelty,
Setting Love and Peace alight

By the flame of Hate inside him
That one day, his heart, will take.
Yes, I know you well of old – for
You are Jealousy, Green Snake.
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