26 February 2011


A poem I composed just over a week ago during a quest for Found Art.

Today I planned to write a poem
And find a ‘found object’

My treasured object at the moment – I found,
A year or two back on a stall in Church Street Market
The old man, already ephemeral himself,
Sold it to me from the ephemera box –

It’s a tiny snap, I think from the First World War,
Faded now and creased,
But blurred from the instant the shutter clicked
On a grey dull day
There is a low building, mud, and a woman in a long skirt
Carries a bucket from a well
Beyond her – horse-drawn vehicles wait and soldiers I am sure

Somebody thought the scene worth capturing,
The disappointing result worth keeping,
And knowing the time and place
Did not think to write them …

And so the house clearers came and salvaged it.

For all its nebulous anonymity
Or because of it – I’m glad I rescued
This orphaned piece of history.


Today. Today I planned to write a poem
And find another ‘found object’
Set off across the green, noting the sprouting daffodil stems
And the lack of spring in my step

The 328 duly arrived, sedately.

I boarded, sat, opened my notebook
Mused, pen in hand
But soon
A little girl and her mother boarded
Moved to sit in front of me
The querulous child
Wanted to take off her jacket
‘No!’ tussled the harried mother.

Screaming doesn’t help composition.

‘What a nice pink rose you have in your hair’
I said. The girl stopped crying – smiled
Looked at her mother and back at me
Bashful, mute.

‘Thank the man’, the mother said.
‘I’d like to wear a pink rose like that
But perhaps not in my hair’, I said.
Quickly, as the bus rocked us down Kilburn Park
I did a crude pen sketch of her – a squiggle for the artificial rose.

Gave it to her ‘That’s the best I can do on a bumpy bus.’
She smiled again
After a while, peaceably sitting down
Holding the scrawled likeness in her hand. I watched her face
Reflected in the glass shielding us from the bus door
Her long gazes at the picture.
Before I got off, after half an hour of quiet
(And still no poem) I said ‘Goodbye –
Sorry it’s not a better drawing
Shall I write your name on it?’
Her mother in her foreign accent offered ‘Rosalie’

‘Rosalie on the 328 bus
17 FEB 2011’


I didn’t write a poem
Nor did Portabello Road’s ephemera boxes
Offer a poetic found object
Perhaps I’ll walk on the edge of the Thames again.

For all the sketches, paintings, photographs
Of soldiers …
There is no peace.

Speaking of the 328 bus, I append a reading of an earlier poem:


  1. We are indeed fortunate to have the "chance to see the world through your eyes".

  2. RE: "He Missed the Bus"
    I was particularly fond of "smoky, in swirls of snow" to describe the trees. . .enjoyed the alliteration in this line, and the image it presents. The compactness and completeness of this poem is quite satisfying. Lovely!

    RE: "The Foundling"
    I think that the "second act" of this poem, on the bus with Rosalie, works best. Its verse feels more rhythmic, like the journey of the poet and the movement of the vehicle. Perhaps, to that point, the first section of the poem is supposed to feel more ambling, as the persona is moving with less known direction until the photo is found.

  3. What a pleasure to attract such gentle souls on your trip.
    I am a magnet for the sad and ailing who insist on giving me a blow by blow account of their operations and conditions the likes of which their doctors have never seen!

  4. Dear Mr P. once again your erudite words and mellifluous voice offer food and solace for the mind and heart.
    One week ago my daughter had a brain haemorrhage, spent seven hours in theatre,and is now making progress. During my week of hell you have been an oasis of sanity. I've said this before and it's never been so inadequate but "Thank you".
    I wonder if "Rosalie" or her mother will realise what a treasure they have?

  5. I am touched by the responses to 'The Foundling', and I am sure my readers join with me in hoping for the best of all possible outcomes for J's daughter. EP

  6. My trip to Arles was the only occasion I've had to see Plane trees. Your description left me wondering if they look different in London. In my view, the crazy way they prune them look more like something from science fiction.I think we call their relatives,Sycamore.

  7. Thank you for your good wishes - having been told that without an operation my daughter would die, and even then the surgeon could only offer small odds of her surviving said op., I'm glad to report that two weeks on she is home again and functioning very well considering all she has been through.