'Along this remote cove bearded by bladderwrack, discarded buoys huddle in netting, jostled on incoming tides.'
I was born in 1959, live in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and work as a self-employed gardener and interior decorator. I sing with the St Albans Chamber Opera choir, and began writing poetry after a 35 year break from creative writing.
Since joining the Ver Poets Society in 2008, a number of my poems have been published in competition anthologies, broadcast on Radio Verulam and on the online forum, Poetic Voices Live, founded by Anthony Fisher.
My pen drawings of St Albans landmarks are used to illustrate some of the Ver Poets Society's publications and my debut poetry pamphlet, 'Banking Towards Home', was published in May 2017.
Photo of bay, Tanera Mor, Summer Isles, by Christopher Delaney
Email : [email protected]
To mark the centenary of WW1, the London based poetry group, Beyond Words, run by Angela Brodie and Caroline Vero, have created an event, A Blackbird Sings, comprising contributions from poets and artists along with music and photos, and I will be reading one of my poems, 'Passchendaele', on the night – (which can be read below).
If you are free on the evening of Tuesday 6th November, and are interested, why not come along to the Gipsy Hill Tavern?
Beyond Words offers a warm welcome and holds regular monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, featuring a wide range of talented poets.
More details below...
Desperate for sunrise, Harry and I would hunker down,
sharing last drops from some poor bugger's rum ration,
while rats scurried over our boots.
When dawn came, we watched the dead swell, mist unravelling around horse and man among scuppered tanks,
their guns trained on clouds.
Hard to believe that one day's march away, bird song
from hedgerows startled ripening corn, further along the path
a willow tree presided over reflections.
When at rest, we'd take that track to bathe in the river,
then lie on the bank, naked, until dry,
attuned as newborn twins...
On the fourth of November nineteen-seventeen,
a shell exploded at Harry's feet in the Ypres Salient.
Deafened, and bleeding, I cowered by the fire step,
watching limbs and clods of earth rain down around me.
Harry's head rolled by my boots, slowed
and came to a halt.
I didn't speak for three days after crawling to the dug-out
with it cradled inside my tunic, wouldn't look at the wagon
waiting to take him and our comrades away.
Despite being shrouded in a ground sheet, I wanted to believe,
among that wrangle of butchery and flies,
his blue eyes still sought mine...
I was taken to a dressing station; spent the rest of the war
in a locked ward back in Old Blighty, wishing I'd flung forward
over the top unbidden and unarmed on the day
Harry died at Wipers, when I'd hollered across no man's land,
begging Fritz to lay me on my back, staring up at heaven,
until crows skewered my eyes.
But, as years passed, I recalled Harry pointing to chevrons of geese
flying over Passchendaele that autumn;
telling me how each bird takes a turn to lead, slicing
through the air's resistance with instinctive esprit de corps,
each saving the energy of a fellow
following in its wake.
C J Delaney