Notes spilling

The Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia

Oh, the disappointment that comes upon a happy wanderer when awoken from a dream! She was there, so vividly, where house martins had added mud nests and their carefree joy to the aged splendour of coffee coloured stucco, beneath the solemn tolling of the Euphrasian Basilica’s bells, and the notes of choir practice spilling over the polished cobbled paving beneath the Sacristy window.

She saw and heard the returning of the colourful fishing boats and the ancient, creaking shutters bleached silver, dishevelled on rusty hinges, rendering their seeming-permanence miraculous.

And – just as it had been since 1951 – the battered blue bicycle leant against the wall, no longer going places, basket now bright with garden flowers, energetic pedalling having given way years ago to sunlit evenings making embroidered shawls on the doorstep, geraniums glowing as buttercups might at her chin, beneath a deeply wrinkled concentration.

Clear too in this reverie was the small glass of something or other beside a basket of chocolate brown bread and olive oil on the little outdoor table, and needles in the orange pin cushion. Yes: in tonight’s gentle evening breeze this quiet, embroidering, sometime cyclist was recognised again as mistress of her universe.

But the heat? 32 degrees, perhaps. One didn’t feel heat like this in dreams. Heavens – and she meant ‘thank heavens’ – this was no dream! Wide awake, our chief travel writer Becky Buckley was actually, here and now, standing right in front of her old Croatian friend – who, in familiar broken-English, looked up from her craft-work and called to Becky – as she may to you – ‘welcome back to Poreč.’

Simon Marsh

On the road

photo at pixabay

How now brown cow newly
before me on the brow of
the hill

For a moment your great
sandy head was that of a
watchful lioness and awed
at forty-five miles an hour
I was suddenly driving red
dust tracks in Africa

Until snapped back to the
morning’s reality on the road
to Mungrisdale

Aye. Red dust gave way
to grey tarmac. Cumberland
bloomed. This was not tundra

For a moment my own great
sandy head is mildly
embarrassed by the watchful
vividness of my colourful
imagination and I concentrate
brake, slow, park, going

And then I find myself again
in a wondrous seat of art and heart
shared creativity and growing

Marvellous. Graced. Extra-ordinary –
a pride of lions and lionesses in a
little village hall. We write 
meditate, laugh, cry, articulate
enumerate – watchful eyes and ears
on the brow of many a glorious hill

and – exactly where we’re
meant to be – thee and me
quiet and still

Simon Marsh

At the church door


photo at pixabay

(where no one draws breath, and you’ll have heard it all before)

Guess what Norah? there’s going to be
meringue! – ‘a nest of strawberries and
blueberries, raspberries, and rhubarb
coulis.’ Aw thump! Grandpa’s ratted and
Mam’s anxious and Granny’s weather-worn.
God, it’s hot isn’t it? Our Paula’s
nice fascinator’s wilting. Not my
choice of flowers! Who is going to
sweep up all that confetti? Verger
prefers white rice for a white wedding
‘e says. Confetti’s as daft as top
hat and tails when us lot are out in
us t-shirts and jeans, normal. Like them
bridesmaids on the hen night full of beans
and planning a dead rude speech to make
all them others screech. And now the Best
Man’s sweating. He’ll faint in a mo’ what’s
the betting? But his partner’s brought him
posh mineral water and the guy
with the camera says ‘stand in t’ shade’
which won’t make for good photos here or
at the Reception. Got any coins
for the collection? No, love. I’m broke
Hope it’ll be the old vows. We was
at the Methodist’s last weekend and
their vicar can’t half shift the trifle
Aaaaah ha ha! You know, like, worra mean?
You mean ‘obey’ and all that in them
old vows? Well, you know what? You can get
stuffed! Ey up, ‘ere come the eyelashes

Simon Marsh


Walking with Haiku



wide eyed owl sits light
on an ancient platform of
oak and sometimes hoots


foal looks into the
blind eye of an old mare and
thereby knows her depths


blackbird sings for to
call his love who will bring to
birth his future songs


bluebells about the
skirt of the hill invite quiet
delight and picnic


dappled sunlight golden
gladdens the heart of one who
came to it downcast


forget-me-not’s call
to minds fractured by life’s cares
is soul’s light within


silk eared labrador
bounds ahead as though present
she already lives there


haughty cat sits on
warmed stone garden wall and is
secretly smiling


timid orb eyed – tail
quivering beneath beech leaves
slowly awakening


man beckoned forth to
nature encounters deep joy
amongst earth’s glories

Simon Marsh

Cave painting

Rembrandt | The Artist in His Studio

Cave painter

in his studio
his eyes
are black

self portrait
hand on

brush or
dust for

and an

turned eye
the depth
of parietal

art’s mirror
to espy and

to white
or cave

wall to
speak of

which there

is no
life or

at all

in his studio
eyes are

black as
also the
cave painter’s

long years

before his
yet no

do they
then or

our own
eyes seeing

to the
back of
our soul’s

deep caves

Simon Marsh




Screenshot 2017-04-06 15.34.05
hans christian andersen

Green velvet smoking jacket
svelte and warm and treasured
since Cambridge
the pool of light that quickened
the grain in his oak desk was
as much a portal for him
into other worlds as was the
oak door through which he entered
his library at every

Sometimes the desk supported
the console of a racing carriage and
at others the cockpit of
a spaceship from the pen of
Leonardo da Vinci and
at others still the pool of light
upon the desk resembled that upon
the spectacles of a tiny Rumpelstiltskin
or the chestnut hair of Lydia
the one and only he’d ever
truly adored

And his pen added a carrot-nose
to a snowman fashioned
by his father and the slowing
pace of his seventy-five year
old legs was rejuvenated as
his pen pointed brighter than
candle flame into the
archives of an always fertile mind

His eyes could appear as blank
black discs in a handsome patrician visage
when observed at the desk from
eventide street window but
only because there they gazed
inward, remembering, rejoicing
resurrecting realities borne of
fairy tales of wingéd truth

Simon Marsh


Photo at Pixabay

First word she’d scratched on slate. Shaping her days and dreams, she loved sound, colour and stone better than her name. ‘Yes love – our Cornish sea be turquoise.’

Daddy held Anna’s hand tightly on clifftop walks. Her enthusiasm made her careless, he said. ‘So does yours,’ she told him, at his funeral, on her fifth birthday. ‘You an’ Sharkey an’ your stupid fishin’ in the turquoise in the storm.’

Years later, Sharkey’s lad proposed. ‘Nah,’ she said. But then she saw his ring.

T-u-r-q-u-o …

Simon Marsh

You rang

Photo at Pixabay

The new electric bell rattled the beeswaxed oak panelling all the way downstairs. I knew it was you. Always did. Hot already. 10 o’clock. Adults and children alike paddled gratefully in the fountain in the Square. You were just up. Dinner guests hadn’t left until past midnight. Monsieur Herbin shuffled past your gallery with a pair of baguettes under his right arm and Madame Léonie leaning on his left.

Light blue cotton dress sort-of-a-day, you said, and I knew you’d choose the apple blossom scent, scanning the room for a missing sandal, morning air beckoning you to tall wide-open windows. You could smell the coffee below. ‘Love some,’ you said, ‘and isn’t the lavender gorgeous? And the pine?’ And – for the thousandth time – ‘Can we walk in the forest?’ Ah, mignon, I’ve always adored you. Of course we could walk in the forest.

Wild strawberries and bilberries on the forest floor are still your favourite breakfast, just as later they’re supper for the wild boar – some of whom have long been your friends, though you’re always respectfully cautious of each other.

And even when you’re a bit fraught the forest birds call you out of yourself: Black, Middle Spotted, Great Spotted, Lesser Spotted, and Green Woodpeckers, Bonelli’s Warblers, Short-toed Treecreepers, Nightjars and Hobbys. ‘He doesn’t really love me,’ you’d say, a tear in one eye whilst the other was pressed to the viewfinder of your treasured little camera.

‘Rubbish,’ I’d retort, ‘all men are the same. Just not very good at showing it.’ ‘There, got him!’ you said. ‘Pierre, or the woodpecker?’ I laughed. ‘Silly! – the Middle Spotted: captured in my little Kodak Box.’ And I loved to hear you laugh like that – indulging the ever-so-slightly imperious tone you’ve always used with me.

‘He doesn’t though, you know: Pierre, I mean. He doesn’t. We argued again. And I’m not even sure I love him. Not really.’ ‘But I adore you, you old softie,’ I’d say. And we’d hug, tightly. And you’d grin, and dab your bright brown eyes, flicking tousled sleek black hair, running on ahead. And I’d jog along after you, always slightly out of breath, tripping now and then over roots and branches, loving every shining hair on your beloved and beautiful head.

And you married the handsome Pierre twenty-five years ago today. Your fine English grandpere captured the two of you, in eight black and white frames, with your own birdwatcher’s Box Brownie. Coffee, of course, and fresh baguettes, ham, cheese, wild berries and ice-cream for the wedding breakfast. And all these years on I love you still.

‘Do you remember?’ you ask. ‘You mean my first walk in this forest? Oh yes, my darling, of course I remember. Half a century ago. Monsieur et Madame – ‘Come, let us walk a little along the forest path’, they said: ‘we have woodpeckers, and treecreepers, and little Anna loves to skip on ahead in here.’ I loved you already, my Anna. And just before we got to the first bend of the dark brown forest stream beneath the warm-scented lime green canopy, they asked me if I’d come. And I said, ‘Mais oui! Oui, oui, oui! Certainement, Monsieur, Dame.’

And they smiled, at each other, and at me. The Monsieur adjusted his pocket handkerchief. Madame twirled her little parasol. And there, and then, mignon, they appointed me your own delighted ever-loving Nanny.

Simon Marsh

Sun chased


When I drove west, gladly
anticipating another
invigorating morning’s
contemplating, dreaming,
listening, and writing,
the sun chased a cloud
across the face of
gargantuan Blencathra –
quietly present and glorious

And it dawned on me that
that life-giving source
and chase would do precisely
the same in a little
community gathered around
creativity’s table,
equally gargantuan –
quietly present and glorious

Simon Marsh