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.

How to purchase Star Steeds and Other Dreams

If you wish to buy this book, which is 230 pages long and is ISBN 978-1-905723-40-9, it is readily available online from its publisher, CFZ Press of Bideford, Devon, UK at and also from such major literary websites as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, W H Smith, and sellers on AbeBooks to name but a few. You can also purchase a signed copy directly from me, the author - please email me at for full details.

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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 ag├Ęd 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.”

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