Tag Archives: Ray



I’m with him
On the lawn that he has mown with precision.
We both stand down after tending his precious rows,
Blood-red roses, always his favourite.
One special rose takes pride of place,

On a slow, sunny Sunday,
Sat in his upturned wheelbarrow,
Ploughed field of a wrinkled face
Set off by twinkling blue eyes above,
Bright as flares on a starlit night.
Woodbine entrenched in the corner of his mouth.

“when Lieutenant Smithies arrived, new to the front,
He hadn’t seen the neat lines of men
Mown down by machine gun.
He paraded on the fire step to show he had no fear,
Top of his bloody head blown apart in two minutes!”

The no-man’s land between us
Plays out a Christmas-truce football match.
I think it’s a draw.

Now he’s studying
Motorway traffic on the bridge.
“There’s been seventy four lorries this last hour alone,
That’s twenty more than yesterday,
You’d think there was a big push on.”
The blue stars turn to a piercing storm,
“Did you buy that motorbike,
Despite what I said?
Bloody dangerous things,
Kill you as soon as look at you.”

“Yes, I did.”

He sighs
“Well, I’d better get you some proper boots,
No grandson of mine
Is going to moan about
Trench foot from riding his bike.
Now, have I got to watch that
Bloody rugby today?
You know very well it’s
Wrestling on a Saturday afternoon.
What’s that Grammar School taught you?
What’s wrong with football?
If you think I’m putting up with this
Four times a year
You’ve got another think coming.”
Hostilities break out again,
An echo of his life some fifty years before.
Except these are gentle, loving skirmishes.

© Ray Stearn 2nd October 2009, revised 5th November 2015

There is a Place

There Is a Place


There is a place, one very dearly bought,
Where women tasted freedom as men fought.
Work brought liberation from domesticity,
A female charge emerged, like electricity!
More than a million women forged the workforce,
Worked the trams, worked the mills, worked the horse.
Even that most sacred, hallowed place of all,
The field where men worshipped the God, football
Saw women in daring, new-fangled shorts
Take up the game. Whilst living men shot through the ports
To fight in Belgium, France, Gallipoli, then died
In the trenches, bled. Women still cried.
Canaries behind munitions factory gates
Filled shells, faced death at half men’s hourly rates.

Then came war’s end, opportunities lost,
The death-knell of soldiers not the only cost.
For some, their life went on a brand new tack.
For many the ticking clock simply turned back,
Domestic servitude became, once more, their lives,
While husbands, maimed, put more demands on wives.
The vote came in; it’s true, if you were thirty
A small enough result from war that’s dirty.

So has one hundred years changed women’s lot?
In many ways the answer comes “It’s not!”
Wages still differ; career choice is still hard,
Yet football’s not confined to the back yard!
So is there any gain that we can name?
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

© Ray Stearn 14th August 2014

Ray Stearn Panacea For All Ills

Panacea for all Ills

In praise of brown algae

If you’re desperate and lonely
If your breath smells really bad
If the love heart in your mouth’s
The only love you ‘ve ever had
Sea kelp, sea kelp, sea kelp.

If you cry upon the shoulder
Of mutton in the shop
If you go on weeping all night long
And never seem to stop
Sea kelp, sea kelp, sea kelp.

If your dog just up and left you
Faithful hound around no more
And you’d walk out on your life
If you could only find the door
Sea kelp, sea kelp, sea kelp.

I should stop these words from flowing
Forming into useless rhyme
Perhaps avoid a sonnet
For I know for me it’s time to
Sea kelp, sea kelp, sea kelp.

Ray © 14th October 2013

Ray Stearn Casting Thoughts

I was holidaying in Sandsend this September and couldn’t make the TCWG workshop. I sent my apologies and this poem, which came to me as I was fishing, or more correctly, wetting a long distance of nylon line. James Nash was the facilitator and read my poem to the group, which makes me extremely proud as James is a remarkable poet and a sensitive, sympathetic, quite brilliant facilitator.


Casting Thoughts

Swallows and House Martins greet

and leave

while I tell myself I’m fishing.

a pair of Grey Wagtail yellow the morning,

dazzle of concentrated sunlight.

rods bow and bend

in time with the sea waves

timeless everlasting timeless everlasting

Pied Wagtails mimic canine approval of

the waxing and wanings, Waxwings and wailings

yet to come.

no fish bite to interrupt this moment of perfection.


beyond the powers of my binoculars or my description

still manage strong wingbeats in a still air. Still there.

then the dolphins tumble in the waters

opposite the Sandsend Store


Copyright Ray Stearn 4th September 2019