I was brought up well

respected my parents

and never drew trouble to the door

I worked hard at school

was good at sport

and passed my exams

I married young

fathered four, taught them well

and never wandered

I’ve hurt no-one,

have protected some

never used drugs

I pay my taxes

never taken benefits

observe the highway code

I’m not a hero, neither brave

nor a coward

but I’ll look you in the eye

I’m normal, just normal

most of us are

so what’s your problem?


© Graham Sherwood 09/2018

Puccini and Sunflowers


Do you remember La Tuilliere

the old winery farmhouse

at the end of that lane

bordering the ruined church

in the hamlet of St Nazaire?


We would arrive for each summer’s lease

eagerly anticipating which crops

had been sown and where,

the vines, always situated to the south of course

then clockwise, sunflowers, maize and cattle grass

rotated every year,

whilst we all secretly hoped

the beautiful golden tournesols

would still be bordering the lawn.


If you recall

I had been told that first year

by a local vigneron

that Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

had a house nearby

and that he tended her vines, made her wine.


Although situated on a hill

overlooking La Tuilliere

her house was well shielded by trees,

the swimming pool water, mirror-like

glinting through the branches and

after dark lights were turned on

and we mused what she would be eating

that evening for dinner.


Sometimes on those magical nights

as the last finger of pastis

swirled in our glasses

we could hear gentle arias

tumbling through the vines

plaintive but soft enough

not to wake the drowsily bowed sunflowers,

we preferring to think it was herself singing

and not a recording being played.


Years later,

with you four all grown up, independent

off backpacking, interrailing and the like,

I went back to visit Thierry once again

to take some more of his wine prisoner

catch up, chew le cud! and he told me

that Dame Kiri had sold up

that he had bought her vines

and the enchanting music had gone away



© Graham Sherwood 09/2018


Old friends meet loudly, hug and call each other “man”

their heads on other days would turn to Tim or James or Dan

Suburbanites who freely mix with New Age scruffs

safe in the folds of music, smoke, real ale and stuff.


On their acre’s nest of tiny multi-colour nylon domes,

these torch-lit tics smell of sweat and spunk and pheromones

dressed in tie-dyed, damp, old outrageous threads

until Monday comes, the suit, the tie, the tube, the talking heads.


In feathered drizzle, stretching last nights’ stiff necks legs and backs

strolling aimlessly with skinny dogs who sniff for discarded burger scraps

before the music calls, the thudding bass, the squealing riffs, the angry drawl

as Eloi turn and amble toward the hypnotic churning call.


Demure young girls then sensually writhe and show their tits

and hope they won’t appear on someone’s Facebook pics

henge-like some stare, some sway, some jig, some surf and fall

it’s Glastosphere, you have to be here, come one come all.



© Graham Sherwood 09/2018

Tate Modern

I walk into the large white box,

some young people look really cool

others just take the piss.

Three students appear informed, anguished even, intelligent,

others merely shake their heads.

I study Wine Crucifix, Arnulf Rainer,

old ladies stand up straight and tilt their heads,

others lean closer in wistful passivity.

A large group of children are shown Jackson Pollock, Summertime 9a.

most are expressionless dismissive uncomfortable,

some speak of images I cannot recognise, only one gets it.

A well-dressed man, American perhaps, is ambivalent,

a half-dressed girl is beautiful and knows it,

others are imprisoned by their ugliness.

Cy Twombly’s Quattro Stagione beguiles me completely,

like a Mucha poster left in the rain.

Tourists read the captions, inquisitive and scratch their chins,

Japanese, study it, leave reverentially but return for yet another look.

La femme et son Poisson, Man Ray shimmers,

both lithe, both swim, both dream.

A small group do not look, but look at each other,

some are tired and blow out their cheeks, vacant,

others sympathetically recoil, feeling conned.

I puzzle at Brague but fall in love with Metzinger’s

La femme a la Cafetiere, sensual, ovoid, warm.

Schoolgirls look like schoolgirls, are schoolgirls

but wish not to be at school,

clutching books for authenticity,

others leave hurriedly, reluctant to stay.

Everyone notices the crack across the floor.


© Graham Sherwood 10/2008

Lost in Music

Would that we were privy to the paths of musical notes

that dance and dither around our heads.

Music must be set free to take its course

in clean air, uncaptured frivolous brave,

and when spent, revered praised immortalized.

Music must never be captured or held

perched in the grasping boughs of trees

or lodged, stuck fast amongst dark rafters

in dusty attics

or entangled amongst bristling wires

like a wet paper kite

snagged, repressed, frantically

repeating its pitch in the hope of escape.

Music must have freedom to permeate

the naivety to wander, allowed to drip and seep,

to infuse its listener

become lifeblood, an essence


© Graham Sherwood 09/2018



After the long drought

the barely damp plough has a foot feel

of poorly made meringue,

a red kite circles at great height

its looping plaintive squeal mimics

the lusty wolf whistle of a butcher’s boy,

wheeling down majestically

with the elegance of a pantomime angel

carrion is daintily plucked, lifted skyward,

blackberries hang forgotten,

unwanted farm gate windfalls too

a cordial invitation ignored,

weak late-afternoon sun

plays hide and seek in smoky clouds

somewhere manure is smouldering,

seasons are negotiating dates

both listless for the change

newly barren plough lies pregnant



© Graham Sherwood 09/2018

St Mawes


Five tethered skiffs nod and bow,

carousel horses, tugging at salty ropes

that rise, then dip into the flotsam,

like skipping ropes twirled by lazy children.

Scornful, gulls balance on these bucking prows,

and from time to time take irritated flight

only to return to station

each bringing a grumbling squeal.

The fret flicks across the harbour

with an unheralded slap,

the sharp edge of its tongue

catching us unawares.

A windswept busker, back to harbour wall

sends flamenco notes into the maelstrom,

a box of urchin shells

like shiny painted fruits

for sale offered near his feet.



© Graham Sherwood 10/2012