Friday, 13 June 2014


In Dharamsala, I stayed at the
Rising Horizon guest house,
where I met a girl from Belfast,
a boy from Dublin, and shared a room
with an Irish guy from New Zealand.
Every evening, we sat on the balcony,
watched eagles soar over the valley,
then when it was dark, drank Indian beer, or rum,
and smoked cheap cigarettes out of squashed packages.
Dervla took me to the Tibetan
Children's Village, where we spent a day,
surrounded by smiling, happy children,
who piled onto our laps as soon as we sat down.
Mike spent long days in the
library at the Dalai Lama's palace,
and Barry trecked about, and walked me up
to the Hindu temple by the waterfall.
I set out alone one day, against local advice,
and walked high up into the foothills,
braving bandits and tigers,
but nothing befell me. At midday,
I sat on a rock, staring out over the plains,
with the vast mountains towering behind me.
"I can see clearly now" I thought, and,
just as the song says, the pain was gone.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Summer in Sparkhill

The girls wore dresses, or skirts, that
stopped above the knee, and knee high socks
with diamond patterns, or white ankle socks.
We spent all summer out in the streets, and
we were the kids people from posh areas warned their kids about.
Stolen cars were abandoned in the
ill-named Belle Walk,
each car offering weeks of play before,
someone took them away.
The windscreen became a slide;
there'd be four, six kids
sitting on the roof,
someone in the driver's seat, someone in the back,
then we'd climb on the roof of the garages,
and throw small stones at passers-by.
The really brave shinned up the
flat splinterry planks of the fence around the generator.
We balanced when we reached the top of the fence and JUMPED
across the six foot gap
to sit on top.
It hummed and throbbed warmly under our bums, hot metal under the sun.
There seemed to be no adults. There seemed to be
no-one in charge, as the days swam by.
Until six O'clock when windows opened and
mothers called children in for their tea.
And after tea, we were back out
until the sun faded, until it was dark,
and one by one wooden doors
slammed shut for the night.