I have a right

it’s said time over, but

who confers that right, 

so eagerly professed, 

lauded freely, loud

foreign boat people

people of colour


the imprisoned

homeless, our children

dogs and cats 

are rights bought

sold or earned

does someone’s right

wrong another’s right

who’s right?

surely I have right to know


© Graham Sherwood 08/2020


last night I slept with the curtains open 

the lower boughs of the nearby copse

framed by my small window

anticipating early sun to stream through

it took a few minutes to register that

it was still murky at the first crow-caw

4.47am, the morning’s footlights 

weren’t ready to herald the chorus-line

of gently quivering branches

as the backdrop colours rose

from stone blue grey to pallid salmon

black trunk silhouettes morphed to bottle green

an unexpected bold and breezy dawn

whistled through the cracked willow

embarrassed to disappoint me


© Graham Sherwood 08/2020


as a child

I saw you in that golden time

believed your stories, parables

sang your songs

I loved you unreservedly

whispered prayers

to save my family and friends

sought not to see your face

hold your robes, touch your hand

knowing was enough, faithful

then you let me go

amongst foreign tongues

the grey-bearded science

the seers the oracles

the sirens the warriors

teachers athletes lovers

armed with chisels, hammers

calloused hands

that shaped and cut and polished

that emerging man

now dimmed, frail, pensive

searching for forgotten paths

long buried by 

the chippings, shavings, dust

shed in a lifetime’s quest

for the meaning of it all.


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020


thieves steal hours from my days

each week another life-long hero dies,

wailing chords fade in the wind

the lash of minstrels’ tongues fall silent

painted canvases wear muslin thin

their creators now in caves,

the young have become my masters, 

but in turn have become

slaves to their machine,

no need or respect for mentors

questions, answers, decisions, options

arrive on a fingerstroke,

I am dislocated, impatient

guiltily bathing in a false calm

Zen texts held to my breast

like a saviours’ scripture

upon which I must now rely


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020


darkness outside, black and blue,

a watercolour wash 

separated by the jagged horizon

of a nearby roofscape, angular, 

stark, an origami fold,

pierced by four brilliant rectangles 

the only light 

stencilled onto the night,

a bedroom light

a brazen beacon

a rampant plant

filling the centre pane,

curtains are never drawn

a trap pulling in the eye

tense, no sign of life,

I am a moth to your flame


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020

Past Tense Past

saying good morning was your mistake,

before your latest blood-letting

a nod to your whiskey glass

our reality check,

not to be fooled

by your tidy appearance

trim beard, new shirt, haircut

the real you, still there

never happier than when wallowing

in the fox shit of your past

like a naughty dog

that will eventually come to heel

for a redemptive bath in our sympathy

you, oblivious to the fresh gashes

we bandage after each sermon


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020


there’s nothing to see

isn’t that the real problem,

avoiding the unseen, the invisible

not knowing where to look,

everything feels dangerous

worth a second glance

a wider berth,

we become isolated

insular untrusting,

donning masks

we appear furtive, uncomfortable

spurned amateur bandits

speaking only with our eyes


cursing the reckless, 

the young the fearless

who sense it is now their time

their war

where nobody fights but

many will die, 

their bloodless coup


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020


black hearts with white faces

I rage to witness the

privileged protestants 

who rinse their devious hands 

in that cold-blooded cauldron

the ‘bame blame’ cul-de-sac

littering ten-pin effigies

in no-one’s name.


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020 


‘that’s bloody clever’

that’s what he said

holding my first pocket calculator

Texas Instruments,

‘give me some more numbers’

him more used to working out

his bookies winnings on the flap of

a woodbine packet,

how I’d love to snatch him back

just one day

him and the Iphone

he once saw on Star Trek

late 1969,

to look into those eyes and 

revel in his wonder

flicking through the apps,

YouTube horse racing,

searching for Sinatra

on iTunes,

speaking to his grandson

from the other side of the world

hearing her calling through

the serving hatch

with chicken fingers,

‘when did Adam get home then?’

because the reception was so clear.


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020


walk the dimmed aisle

find the dusty tome,

weigh its considerable corpulence

in both hands like Lady Justice

and as your blindfold falls away

let it drop heavily

onto the reckoning table.

Begin at the end

turn the pages in reverse,

some are brilliantly illuminated

others dull, of darker hue,

remove them cast them aside

to burn at leisure.

When it is done, 

with an oiled cloth

cleanse and invigorate

the cracked and tortured binding

replace this slimmer volume

to its place

look to the floor

strike a match

walk away smiling

you have done fine work.


© Graham Sherwood 07/2020