Our band MoorbyJones just laid down the basic tracks for a song called Light is a Story. It’s to be the next single so a good deal of construction needs to be done over the next few weeks before a fully embellished and mixed version is ready. The lyric is mine, written in free verse format, and the tune (to be added when the full version is mixed) is by my songwriting partner Steve Moorby.


I dreamed I was a bird
amongst a multitude of birds
and like bread rising
the sun rose over the fields

I dreamed I was a fish
amongst a tenement of reeds.
Green was my truth
and I glided past the fisherman’s fly.

I dreamed I was a tree at night
under a sickle moon,
drawing down the silver
into my place of deep gold.

Light is a story
taken from the fire.
Remember if you can
the chapter of the single flame.

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Anarchists should open cafes.
Spill the ill-assorted chairs
and tables onto the pavement.
Go heavy with the red paprika,
shower down the black pepper.
Have trans and Roma waiters
to glide between the tables,
taking orders couched as poems.
Decorate the walls with graffito
pics of Emma Goldman, Patti Smith,
Pete Kropotkin, Allen Ginsberg.
Sit the refugee next to the barrister.
Welcome dogs of all persuasions.
Usher in the teenage truant.
Request that those in uniform slip
into all-encompassing rainbow robes.
Feed the snap-trap eager-beaver
TV MPs vegan burgers ‘til they go
all Leo Tolstoy, shouting, We are
new in heart and soul, come to
change the way things are!

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My shadow could be any age,
sharpened to a T by
a stare-me-down sun.
My sideways self gliding
across the straw and chaff
tells me as we walk of
how things were, or how
things might have been.
Like skidding down a slope
on scree, laughing, breathless,
like a fool, or floating,
masked face down, watching
tiny silver fish amongst
the casual treasures of Salamis.
Or watching your back
from a high window,
your right hand lifting
a lock of hair as you climb
into the cab, the last cab.
Shadow blessing, shadow curse,
shadow, my dance partner
until the sun’s at rest
and they turn out the light.

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The Barley

When I climb the slope
of Bottom Field, I run
my open palm through
the stalks of barley.
The little cobs are green
and the stems are
a ghostly blue and
those grouped antennae
are just junior whiskers.
This multitude, though young,
has buried the hill
and is its own horizon.
I shall come down the slope
of Bottom Field some day
in the coming months,
heading for home. And
I shall run my brown hand
through the barley stalks,
now a dusty gold, each
ear a dream of bread, each
stalk a dream of chaff and
we shall know each other.

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What’s the risk
we take, we
the music makers,
compared to
the dancer’s shifting,
slipping grip;
the penalty taker’s
injudicious shot that
hits the bar;
the climber and
her crew lost
on the implacable
rock for a
final hand hold?

For us maybe
a clinker dropped
across a piece of
pristine harmony
before a crowd
we’re trying
to impress. And
even then
at half time
it’s a shrug
and, “I didn’t
even notice, mate,
and I don’t reckon
they did either”.
Or maybe it’s
stomach cramping
laughter, the three
of us hunched over,
all in tears at
the absurdity:
the sacred
made profane.

Death or glory
under the lights,
the sun, the stars,
we the mutualists,
the diggers and
the levellers
are bound in
a cargo net
of love that fills
the heart and stops
the breath. There’s
a joy you simply
cannot buy
in the moment
pledged towards
the shared self.

Clinker = bum note.

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Dog Latitudes §16
as if the houses
were to be drawn across
the loose earth on which
they stand and go down
as if the trees that shield us
were to shake once
and follow the houses
roots up and branches down
each the mirror of the other
as if the sky already broken open
were to fold and fold
and swallow itself like water does
as if we were to stand on nothing
watching the symphony up
to its last echoes and wonder
what now
what to do
whether to step back
or step forward
or like the houses trees
and sky itself just fold
and fold and swallow ourself
like water does

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Dog Latitudes §17

two paces off
the path and
inside the cloistered
trees /
the brindled hare
steps his paddles
from the free
earth’s edge and
into the governed
bracken /
you belong to
my two barrels
says the keeper
their two round
eyes  will watch
you through nettles
and brakes and
bushy hollows right
up to my
privileged moment and
your reckoning /
and here we are
we two
you crazy free
me creeping across
the fallen leaves
a poacher sans
traps lifting only
the mushrooms picking
only the berries
breathing just the
loaded air and
its traffic of
loam and pine
pitch and the
musk of deer /
for my time
along the aisles
and trancepts of
these oaks and
beeches i shall
pay nothing owe
nothing care nothing
for your deeds
and contracts because
just as i
own my bones
my salts my
neural tracks so
these trees and
their partner shrubs
and brambles and
the passengers who
tread and slip
and scramble own
themselves as is
told in the
encyclopaedia of all
time from alpha
to this green
glyph right here
and now /
and i am
happiest right here
and now and
I will prevail
amongst the trees
in my time

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how you are

how you are
lonely in a crowd
like the moth
inside the cage
of hands
and each wingbeat
sheds more
of your powder
and you can hear
the calm voices
and the shared
laughter and
they think that
you’re with them
out in the light
but where you are
is entirely dark

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and do you find
you asked after
the first bottle
(hesitantly because
this reunion shared
only the fumes
of a maybe past)
that tears come
more readily
these days?
oh yes i agreed
barely a day
goes past without
you looked
into your glass
lachrymae rerum
you pronounced
man’s relentless
cruelty to man
as the default state
and far too long
of trudging that
same old road
more like riding
that same old train
i said
only this time
it’s terminus bound
with only the last
few stations to come
our waterloo
you smiled
kings cross for me
i said
and we laughed
you declared
potters bar
i countered
you intoned
finsbury park
i whispered
and we laughed
to tears
as we used to laugh
back when the line
stretched far ahead
and impatience grew
as each platform
glided to a halt
and we yearned
for the turnstiles
and the streets beyond

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february snows

it was an omelette
two eggs and some
chopped mushrooms
the cat switched his tail
as he always switched his tail
when the evening pigeons settled on the hanging baskets
one storey up
she poured a vodka
the last glass from the bottle
from the belgorod relatives
she watched some tele
a couple of hours or more
but she smiled at herself
in the mirror at bedtime
as she tried to recall exactly what
the news of course
always the news
so what of tomorrow?
what of next week?
what is certain?
february snow

the cat survived
cats always do
she didn’t

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