The Pestoration


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Twenty five years of Saclà and Pesto, the aspirational ketchup

Allora, ragazzi,

You have a little hunger?

But haven’t met this jar?

Well you’re no Columbi – you can’t have travelled far.

So genovate your palettes,

And pimp my primavera:

Crush garlic, salt pine nuts, blend basil,

With two noble cheeses – both alike in dignity

To wrestle and pestle in Ligurian oil.

Then will I spoon in and swoon up your pasta,

Drizzle con brio across butterflied breasts;

Get clammy with clams

Upgrade that ciabatte

Bring zip to your pizza,

Lounge in lasagna to access all areas.

And just when you think you know me,

I’ll lead your mash astray, spike your meatballs

And be the ultimate trofie wife.

Welcome to the Condominium of Saclà!


On Quality Street


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This tin, wherein

You rustle, bustle

Shake and share,

Is where you’ll find

An invite of the formal kind

To connect and get confected!


Our costume ball

Will now enthrall

Your senses.

We’ll wrap and twist

And strut our stuff

And boil up toffee

Till you’ve had enough.

Perhaps, a little nudge

Of good behavioural economic fudge

Might tempt you?


If not, just there in damask rose

Is posed a strawberry blonde for your delight.

Another more exotic, draped in

Sapphire chiffon wrap

Promises a deeper bite of paradise.

How long, indeed, can you resist a complicated

Love triangle intensely rich and green?


La Belle Dame now in your hand:

The Purple Empress with the hazel heart

Oozes as she smoozes all around you;

Deluxed and crunched, gold fingered:

You’re left penniless once more.


Dappled papers lie abandoned now

Amongst the bent metallic foils,

And in the swirling sadness, once more you mourn

The coffee cream, the peanut cracknel,

The ghost of nougat from Montelimar.

Their fate of course is bitter sweet:

These live no more on Quality Street.




Poems of Place: Adventurous Training


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Coach House Cuisine, Farchynys, Gwynedd

Friday was the dangerous day: tea came with us on wheels,

Our minibus smelling of boys and batter and non-standard tomato sauce;

Perhaps not exactly Mrs. Watkins’s Taste the Difference fish

Was stored precariously under seats in scratched Aluminum and threatened,

As we climbed the heights of Dinas.


Saturday often brought surprises after long fresh air days

Like Geoffrey’s Boeuf Stroganoff and the dark brown slush of

Poires au vin du Bourgogne,

The sight of which tested the saporific nerve of even Alpha boys

But nevertheless soon passed our eager invigilation and was gone.


On Sunday, the reward for finding long lost Roman roads

Was JAD’s Brithdir Roast: a great golden bird

Displayed with squadrons of spuds and roots

And plattered to fill us up and lift our hearts for

The journey back to Mocks.


The Kitchen spick once more,

The light falls in the Dayroom,

Refectory tables are stacked,

The Coach House stands empty

Yet full of the aromas of our histories.


Poems of Place: Acela Express


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Boston to New York, November 18th 2015


Flopped, fatigued against the grain and route,

We left the dark cold concrete Boston quay

In business class, our train a silver flute

Of gleaming portholes and intricacy.

We passed sad sidings and graffitied trucks,

Framed azured skies, dark edged with orange hue,

And knew this was the day’s defensive crux

When relentless night might again break through.

By creeks and coves and whiteboard harbor homes,

We crawled then spurted to impending shade

And halted briefly where no signal roams,

Saw lights expire and all ambitions fade.


At this small junction, did the engine send

Its silent signal of how careers end?


The Pages’ Carol





So what’s the rush?

And what’s the fuss

Compelling us to ride?

And who’s this king

The special thing

Who’s got us starry-eyed?



So from afar

We’ve trailed this star,

Apparently a sign

Of where we’ll find

A Mastermind,

A gift from the divine

The divine



Royal Melchior

Can well afford

To celebrate this king…

But why confer

A flask of Myrrh?

The death of everything.

Of everything.



The reason why

Lies in the sky:

This Star of Bethlehem!

He shines his light

Through darkest night

His death brings life to men

Brings life to men.

An Old World Status Notification


The social clicks of poke and post or such

Now facilitate the way we keep in touch

And Likes like candles light up the profile pages

To show our great connectedness.

But long before the World Wide Web

Brought new currency to the way

We value social worth,

We wished good friends

The boon of serial returns

And untaxed happiness

To mark their date of birth.

So as more ancient status updates used to say,

Let the returns be many -and happy- of the day!

Poems of Place: At Legal Seafoods


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Boston Harborside, August 26th

For Nize, Dulce, and Jarod

Somewhere in that domain of blue,

Across the sound,

A jet is landing to take me home.

I’ll leave

The flutter of nylon in the wind,

The scent of lemon brine

The smiles of well-heeled WASPs,

The bobbing lobster floats

The happiness of families

Dressed up for summer nights,

The welling anticipation of lovers,

The therapy of women talk,

The baseball caps reversed and telling jokes,

And rich mens’ launches which dart across the bay

Like screensavers to my thoughts,

So now absorbed and lost in all of this,

I leave the mobile-me upon a bench.

Life pauses and then a transformation:

I leave reflection to realization and panic


And then with staccato heartbeat

Comes the brittle face of loss,

I glance the time – compute the options.

From nowhere yet apparent,

A thunderbolt command says ring your number

I finger tones, anticipate the rhythmic loop

And fast, a friendly voice speaks in my hand

‘We’ve found your phone….’

Across the room, three faces wave at me….

And soon I’m leaving:

My smile and thanks I’m leaving here with you.

The Transformation (Under the influence of Arthur Guinness)


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At last, on life’s long pub crawl

– Exactly where I don’t recall,

I finally crossed taste’s Rubicon

And left my youth behind

In sweeter shallows of the easy kind.

And at a darker Solstice now did halt

To drink scorched earth, dark rubied malt

Embracing, we are told, the bitter hops of fate

Now surging transubstantiate,

Its tidal foam running back from caramel sands

To fathoms of adult darkness.

And in this first communion, my mission now complete,

Absorbed full realization, that life is bitter sweet.





For shall the poet starve for words

Whilst shivering in the rain?

And will he drown of silence

By the wetting of this brain?

Or could he turn to pen and air

To make his heart beat fast?

And feed himself on visions

So his thirst is quenched at last

And so I’ll not defend my words

As poets sometimes do.

The words of senses sown,

To the senses are due


Walsall (12.VII.75)

Poems of Place: At the National Portrait Gallery with Simon Schama


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 The BP Portrait Awards

You told us to lock eyes,

Get up close and personal;

Be inspired by Hogarth’s words

And if in doubt, swipe right.

But I didn’t expect a face-to-face with Fairfax

Over the Sancerre and sea bass.

But the Roundhead was a better with pike blocks than with banter

And sadly for me he sat impassively

As I munched on burrata and asparagus,

So I talked instead with Karen.

You might have warned us Dr. Schama

That we’d been invited a Game of Thrones theme night dinner

Where House Stuart showed once more how if you win, you lose

And three big names – Strafford, Laud and Charles

Looked down at us with hauteur and as yet their heads,

As we sat below the salt

Contemplating life’s greatest dilemma:

Of being wrong but romantic;

Or being right, but repulsive?