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Please don’t mind the gap.

Sincere apologies to all who are looking forward to another eight sessions of #PoetrytandProsebyJPFGoodman at Mettricks Guildhall, as there must be a delay in the continuation of this series.

This week’s performance had to be cancelled, as the redecoration of the venue (which I hadn’t known was going to happen) is not yet complete.  So I’m taking the bold step of cancelling next week’s show to give Mettricks time to complete their refurb and for myself to make even better selections. What’s more, as the following week will be dominated by So to Speak’s Festival of words, featuring many talented and intriguing poets, it would seem gracious and sensible to make way for them, with a hearty best wishes to the talented individuals involved.

I’d hoped that the early time slot would prevent their being put in the shade by my efforts (as if!) but making a strategic withdrawal at this point seems to be the right thing to do.





I shall be giving solo readings from my prose and poetry 4.30-5.30 each Tuesday at Mettricks Guildhall for the next nine weeks. Please come along, support and above all enjoy! No charge but contributions will be very gratefully received as I  am in desperate straits at the moment!


Work in Progress

Yr Sweet!




Just the usual


Honesty and consistency

Everything agreeable to me

Without being a pushover or a bore

A naturally passionate nature

That maintains a preference for good humour

Tolerance, openness, an achievable level of romance.

Such was the gist

Of a Lonely hearts checklist

A cris de coer as sincere

As only a young man’s should be,

Which, sadly, was not to be answered satisfactorily

Throughout the twentieth century

Nor in the twenty-first, so far

Lost in an Ocean of Information

She is lost

Fled to the other side of

The information ocean

So I try to cross it and find her

Find even the tiniest echo of her

But that bit filled sea disappoints

Too lost in its own wonders

To bother about my lost wanderings

Poets at an exhibition

Here is a handsome new poetry anthology, resulting from John Hansard Gallery’s “ever growing creative writing and visual arts crossover engagement programme” which, along with workshops and talks from academic writers, saw poets responding to themes arising from its exhibitions.

While this collaborative approach had the potential to enrich the experience of visitors to the shows, it also gave poets involved an exciting context in which to display their work, beyond their own abilities to perform it, adding an extra authority to their individual voices.  My contribution – ‘Advice to Other Poets’ –  seems, for example, to have acquired a sinister new power.

It all makes for an interesting collection, and those interested may be able to acquire their own copy by contacting

I should pay less attention to Screen Actors and more to real people


I should, and believe me, I do

For example, I’m looking at each and every one of you!

Don’t worry, I’m discreet, won’t gossip or dub you in

The intention behind this glare

Is merely to turn the stark truth of your lives

Into beautiful, uplifting poetry.

Real people are marvellous

There’s so many of them for starters

Though one is instinctively less fond of those

Who barge past, inside their cars,

On their bicycles, skateboards, skates, fashionable footwear,

Wrapped up warm and safe in whatever media their devices allow,

Determined to demonstrate that the fashion, costume or attitude they effect

Gives their reality precedence and permits them to barge.

I’m like that myself, on occasion

When armed with enough chips on my shoulder

But plenty of real people aren’t and deserve our attention all the more for that.


I should pay less attention to Screen Actors, of course,

But they are trained to distract and attract attention, after all –

In a way that many real people aren’t –

Carefully prepared by experts to withstand close scrutiny

And placed in situations designed to be interesting.

But then again, don’t we all design our own situations to be interesting?

Talk to real people, when you dare

Discover what interests them,

Talk, by all means but with respect

Talk and listen with equal attention

You might learn something yet.

Of course, real people might mind,

As Screen Actors don’t seem to,

Someone taking an interest in the details, gossip and trivia of their lives,

May even shyly object to a glimpse, a glance, an outright stare

May not relish, as Screen Actors must

Lengthy discussions of their roles, careers, cares and motivations


However, one can’t avoid observing the irony

That real people are increasingly obliged

To observe the standards formerly only enforced upon

Such public figures as the very Screen Actors we prefer to eschew,

Which we agree so to do

In the hope of obtaining the sort of goodies

That we believe might make life more tolerable –

Not just bits and bobs and properties but lifestyles

Which many learn to appreciate and later to actually emulate

Through the efforts of our own favourite role modelling personalities

And those of real people who have influenced us in their turn.

Now, just as we ourselves succumb

To the latest available advances

Tempting us to create and recreate our favourite versions of ourselves

So others impose their own imagined not entirely realistic ideals

Expecting our reality to adhere to and conform with theirs

To the point where the artificial yet familiar

Seems more authentic than the unvarnished, poorly presented truth

And we are judged not as real people but as Screen Actors

Performing before the ever watchful, judgemental eye

Of the latest surveillance technology

Which is why you and I

Should, if we could, pay less attention to Screen Actors

And more to real people

Before we find ourselves replaced

By some more attractive simulacrum

And all that’s left of the real person we used to be

Is pics and clips and fragments of memory.

Work in Progress

I should pay less attention to Screen Actors and more to real people


I should, and believe me, I do

For example, I’m looking at each and every one of you!

Don’t worry, I’m discreet, won’t gossip or dub you in

The intention behind this glare

Is merely to turn the stark truth of your lives

Into beautiful, uplifting poetry.

Real people are marvellous

There’s so many of them for starters

Though one is instinctively less fond of those

Who barge past, inside their cars,

On their bicycles, skateboards, skates, fashionable footwear,

Wrapped up warm and safe in whatever media their devices allow,

Determined to demonstrate that the fashion, costume or attitude they effect

Gives their reality precedence and permits them to barge.

I’m like that myself, on occasion

When armed with enough chips on my shoulder

But plenty of real people aren’t and deserve our attention all the more for that.


[Continued next week]

The Little Ape Man

The Little Ape Man

I was taking my usual walk through the densest part of the blessed jungle to the beginning of the sea. I love my tribe and my tribe loves me, but sometimes I just like to get away, have my own thoughts and enjoy all the life around me.

The sun had just risen and the day’s warmth was beginning, when a shaft of light pierced through the trees and showed me the thin white body of an infant child sleeping comfortably on a patch of soft vegetation and leaf fall, breathing noisily, his little chest rising and falling.

Well! We had not seen much of the whites in those days and many of us just found their pale skin, with its tendency to burn, rather amusing. We knew they had come from a long way away, were impressed by the quality of their trinkets (often made from strange stones and metals) and rather frightened by their tendency to shout and, of course, by their weapons, their guns.

None of the whites had stayed for a long time yet. The ones we had seen up to that point were explorers, looking for what they would not say. They were friendly enough, more scared of us than we were of them seemingly, but I was one of those who always wondered about the meaning of things and I did wonder what might happen if more of this strange tribe appeared.

I would not disturb the boy’s sleep, of course, while I looked at him enquiringly (he seemed unhurt), looked around for signs of how he had arrived there (no sign in the immediate vicinity though when I got to the sea later there were traces of shipwreck) and half jokingly muttered,

Go back to your own country!” as people often do when they see a stranger.

The child seemed healthy enough, despite his strange appearance, but I knew he would need raising and looking after. I had no child of my own and could think of no one in my village who wanted one just then.

When one finds a lone infant animal in the bush we usually leave it to wait for its mother to find, unless it is obviously sick or injured or would make good eating. But this strange creature seemed so close to human, with no sign of its mother near, so incongruous and helpless that I did feel under some obligation, however uncalled for. The white people might have left him as some sort of gift perhaps, or because they couldn’t look after him themselves, or as a trick, that could harm our people, introducing a new sickness (as I knew they had done before) or turn us all white! More whites might appear and blame us for harm coming to their youngster, or accuse us of stealing their child, in order to wage war upon us.

I looked at this sleeping boy with something like resentment. I wanted peace in my life just then and did not relish the thought of taking care of another’s needs, but I knew he was really too young to be left alone to fend for himself.

More creatures of the day could be heard and puffs of mist rose from the ground as the day achieved its full heat, and the boy woke, shaking his straight black hair, opening his sleepy blue eyes and opening his mouth to scream like the baby he was.

I calmed him, gently taking him by the shoulder at first but when he could not stand I cupped him in my hands, swung him round to see all the jungle and set him down again on a more comfortable, drier patch of ground.

Listen!” I said, as patiently as I could, but of course he would not and kept on screaming until he gulped for breath.

He was old enough to walk, but still small enough to want to be carried. His eyes grew clearer as he calmed a little, but then he began to stare at me with what looked to me like great resentment, as if he felt the right to take over my life just because he had arrived there, though I certainly hadn’t invited him!

So, though I should have loved this pale, black haired stranger as a child I found I couldn’t. I just saw him as a problem, to be dealt with quickly and kept away from my village, my people.


I tried singing to him as one does to a baby but he writhed and pulled faces, as if he did not like my voice, my face, my very presence. Perhaps the poor boy just wanted his mother but I felt challenged and hated, as if I was the one who didn’t belong.

The day was warm enough now to bring out a sweat in both of us. I tried to cool him a little with a broad leaf but he batted it away with his little arms, kicking his legs too, and he would not try to stand, would not be comforted.

It would be a simple matter to take him in my arms and embrace him by force but he wasn’t mine and I found I couldn’t do it.

It was a problem! I laughed but he would not share the joke and I looked around,searching for other company.

High in the trees the little birds had started chattering and chirping, and nearer to the jungle floor I saw a couple of macaques darting around on some errand, but they would not come nearer and show curiosity because of the noise the boy was making.

I hadn’t seen her before, of course, but I was then startled by the soft thump of a great ape arriving beside me.

They rarely come so close but she knew I was tame for her and wasn’t afraid.

Her eyes were sad and I noticed she was still holding her own child close to her though that poor little beast was already dead.

So now I was stuck between the two of them and though the white boy had not yet noticed the great ape mother she was full of curiosity about him, whimpering and tugging at my arm as if asking permission to go nearer.

Perhaps I should not have done what I did. My people would have taken good care of the boy even if a single family had not taken him. But I did not want him living in my village; I did not want those cold eyes staring at me every day.

The great she ape had no such qualms. She whimpered and pushed against me and when the boy heard and seemed to notice her for the first time, he imitated her noise and then resumed his own crying. I lost patience, stopped blocking her way and let the animal approach the human child.

I retreated some distance but kept watch to see there was no violence, waiting to see if some bonding might be possible between the strange pair.

As if she thought his tears were for her dead child she lay the little corpse at the boy’s feet. He sat up and turned away violently as if disgusted but soon directed his attention towards the mother. She didn’t seem displeased by this, and I could see her effort to transfer her maternal feelings to this little stranger.

Too shy and gentle to touch him yet, her heavy hands pulled at the shrubbery around him as if to make the ground smoother, bringing them closer gradually, to tempt the boy.

It looked to me like more of his disgust but she was eager to overcome the boy’s hesitation and gave a triumphant yelp when, finally, he deigned to touch her finger.

Before we knew it she had the white child in her grasp and clinging to her neck, as she bounded away and disappeared into the jungle with him, leaving me alone with her natural baby.

I waited and listened and soon the retreating cries faded or were drowned by the other sounds of the bush.

I felt guilty at first but was full of stories it suited me to believe of the strange adoption of one animal by another.

I forgot the whole incident for a long time as I wanted, but this black haired, white skinned lost little boy would prove to be the one who grew to be a terror to all animals, even those who raised him, whose tricks soon stopped making my people laugh but became sinister, who, once other whites had found him, would call himself the lord of the jungle and expect to be treated as such.

Sometimes I think things might have been different if I’d treated him more kindly, but mostly I’m just glad I got him and his curse away from me.


After We Were Beaten

Half Truths

Too Clever by half

Don’t you worry, I’m nobody’s fool

Nothing gets past me (unless I let it)

Make a mistake, I shan’t forget it

Choose your words carefully,

Don’t expect me to agree it’s “cool”,

Not for nothing did I go to school.

I seem to know what you’re saying before you say it

Repeating and rephrasing is just irritating

Don’t bother trying to sell me anything

I’ve seen it all before, bought it, thought it, felt it

If there’s a rat behind you I’ve already smelt it

I’ve seen monsters of hypocrisy spouting their lies

Slavishly following their party lines

Making promises they know shan’t be kept

Trying to win tears that won’t be wept

So while naïve people dash about getting enthused

I’m proud to be one who has always refused

To participate in anything with any belief or passion

Knowing the only truth in this world is but passing fashion

Very little survives my sarcastic scrutiny and wit

It’s a long time since I expected anything else of it.



Not Half!

Belief is a wonderful thing, undoubtedly

When folk tell their tales don’t listen half heartedly

Enjoy their stories of past glories

Consider carefully their life living theories

Don’t discount their long winded struggles and woes

Attend, even to their dullest and wildest accounts

Whether of real ghosts or mere sightings of UFOs

Don’t smash their claims, don’t spoil their game

Don’t treat them like fools, we all are

We all need to be believed

Especially when we try to improve

On our own wonderful, terrible truth

For which of us can bear to exist

Without being their own protagonist?

Who can accept the world’s aspersions

Without presenting their own versions?

We can only get past mutual suspicion

By agreeing to share some level of vision

The truth is what we make of it

We live and die for the sake of it

But it can be nice to take a break from it.


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