The Gifts of the Magi

detail from The Adoration of the Magi tapestry by Edwin Burne-Jones, Wllliam Morris & John Dearle


The Gifts of the Magi

The Magi came to Bethlehem
As guided by a rising star,
And there a newborn greeted them
Beyond the busy brisk bazaar.
So three wise men each bore a gift –
The other nine just looked-on, miffed.

The first brought gold – a solid lump –
An ingot, so the paintings show.
That must have made young Mary jump
As Caspar flashed his gift aglow.
But prizes prising gasps aghast
Should surely be withheld till last.

Then Melchior with frankincense
To sweetly burn at times of prayer –
The sort of thing we all dispense,
To hosts and strangers ev’rywhere.
Safe and useful, just the thing
To give to clients, in-laws, kings.

And finally there came the myrrh –
Embalming oil for the dead.
A tactless gift to give, for sure,
That only brings a parent dread.
Poor Balthazar had left them cold –
And wished he’d also thought of gold !




Leftover Sprouts



Leftover Sprouts

The first discarded tree on the pavement,
The first house not to turn on its lights,
The first fallen card not to be re-hung
And we still haven’t reached Twelfth Night.
But the Tudors partied all twelve-long,
But we’re back to work by the Second of Jan –
Once New Year’s hit, we’re done with it,
We’ve season’s-cheered as much as we can.
Why did the Magi have to take the scenic route ?
If only they’d got there in a week !
I don’t think our waistlines will make it to Epiphany,
And Winter is coming to the meek.

New Year’s Day

red fireworks near body of water
Photo by ViTalko on


New Year’s Day

Well, that’s another year gone by,
So chalk him up and write him down,
The first and last, the low and high –
He’ll have to earn his own renown.
So many births, so many deaths,
And passing thoughts and careless breaths.

He’s faded from the deadlines
And he’s faded into yesterday
By chart and stat and trend.
He leaves a little wiser,
If a little scarred and greyer,
In the end.

Then in the ledgers he’ll remain,
In fact and myth, in curse and grace.
We won’t be seeing him again,
He had his chance, he ran his race.
He spun us once around the sun,
And we went on, but he was done.

He’s fallen from the calendar,
And fallen into memory –
A half-neglected friend.
So many urgent choices,
So important, so forgotten,
In the end.



Happy 12020.

How to Count the Years

multicolored abacus photography
Photo by Skitterphoto on


How to Count the Years

Some folks say that the decades run
From one to oh.
You know, cos there was no Year Zero and all
Oh, how they made the wrong call.
They assume we give a toss
About the loss of a year.
Oh dear oh dear.
Listen, all you smug alecs,
Fetishising factoids from the abstract void
Of cleverer-than-you.
Speaking in italics with mouths askew,
While ignoring common sense –
Stop classifying speech by pounds and pence !
For the only thing that matters by far
Are the numbers on the calendar.



Swan Song

detail from Move Out! by Morten Storstein


Swan Song

Christmas morning, along the canal,
As we strolled passed the swans who had lost all their grey,
Between the old works and the back of the mall,
We watched as the swans chased their cygnets away.

The cob and the pen were a pair of old thugs,
On Christmas morning along the canal –
They drove out their rivals for duckweed and slugs,
And sent their kin flying off over the mall,

Frozen or starving or prey to a fox –
Their parents don’t care, but then that’s nature’s way.
We watched as the swans taught their children hard knocks,
Along the canal on a cold Christmas Day.


I would just point out that ‘canal’ and ‘mall’ do rhyme, despite the current trend to ape the Americans.



Season’s Fleetings

snowdrop christmas card


Season’s Fleetings

How can the Midwinter feast be here,
So far from the middle of Winter,
When Autumn’s leaves are barely down,
And frost has yet to hit the town ?
How can the shortest day be near
So far from the chill of Winter ?
We feast on pudding by the wedge
Before we’ve eaten up our veg.
But wait…the snowdrops soon appear
In what was once still Winter –
If Advent sees the last of Fall,
Then Burns Night sees the Springtime call.