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Norfolk Landscapes

These poems were inspired by the fabulous photography of Nick Stone. To view the  photographs - click on the poem titles.



The sea has been interrogating the land for centuries
Pushing and probing and punishing
And the land, weary of the endless questioning,
Has grown weak and friable

Its alibis exposed
Its explanation of events threadbare
Its resilience gone

So now, hunkered down on its hard stool,
In its cramped cell
It is ready to confess.


The sky puts everything into perspective
Shrinking the large trees
And diminishing the farm buildings -

So that when you walk out here
You, too, are diminished
But only to your proper size.

Deopham Green Airfield

Then: the roar of the bomber engines
Now: the quiet unremarkable farmland

Then: the hubbub of loading and fueling
Now: the grass growing up through concrete

Then: the raids over Frankfurt and Hanover
Now: the ghosts of lost personnel


Today the landscape
Is asleep - its white bed-sheets
Drawn up round its neck.

The Norwich River

Gone now are Billy Bluelight, Old Scientific and Archie Taylor
Gone now the reed-cutters, the eel-catchers and the wild-fowlers
Gone now the men who worked the wind pumps
To drain these meadows

And gone, too, are the wherries
That passed up and down here,
Sunk to their gunwales with loads
Of coal and grain and ice

Whose black sails
Moved imperceptibly
Above the reed-beds
Like storm clouds

All Saints

You are reverting back now:

Your chancel a tangle of ivy and brambles;

Your congregation - jackdaws, circling and cawing;

Your chalice -  an acorn cup filled with rainwater.


Your concert hall is
The creeks and salt-marshes
Here - and your music

Is an echoing
Melancholy concerto:
Sadder than Elgar.


I am a remnant
Of the last war
Hunkered down here
In the shingle

And although
My job is done
I still stare silently
Out to sea

Scanning the channel
From Kelling Hard
To Weybourne Hope
For any U-Boat scope


Always in my ear
I hear the sound of the waves -
Like in a sea shell.


You are forgotten
Now; hidden under alders
Or sunk beneath your

Banks: barely a gleam
In the sky’s mirror – but once
You were important

Wide and deep enough
To allow Roman barges
To unload cargoes

Here: amphoras filled
With Spanish olive oil
And Pompeian wine.



Walk out here while you
Can - for the sea is coming -
The sea is coming.

Little Hautbois

That sense of something
Vanished - like ghost-light fleeing
In the Bure's mirror.

I, Pillbox

When I fell from the
Cliff – the world turned upside down -
So, for me, the sea

Is now the sky and
The skittering, airy clouds
Breakers on the beach.


The mind would have me
Hunkered down in a small room -
Too scared to go out.

But the heart would have
Me striding over the salt
Marshes to the sea.

Sea Wall

When whiting and cod
Swim down the Thurne - we'll know that
You are overthrown.


Some day I will hear
The mermaids - their shrill voices
Summoning me home.


A congregation
Of nettles now reclaim your
Broken, burnt-out frame.



On savage nights when
North-easterly gales blew
Your villagers crouched

In the sand dunes here
Waiting for ships to be wrecked
Off Winterton Ness.


Your land was enclosed
And turned into pasture for
Thomas Thursby's sheep.


Eternal Norfolk:
Somerton; Winterton; Green
Fall and Springfields.


Switch off your mobile
And come walking here; learn to
Be unreachable.


I have gone to ground
Now - like Hereward the Wake -
Under the reed-heads.


It all began here
Thirty years ago; driving
Home that night up the

Dark lane: that sudden
Vision in the car’s headlights
Of a world long gone

Or of a world yet
To come – or maybe just the
Jolt of poetry

Arriving here so
Suddenly like the moon’s face
From behind a cloud.


Time is becoming
A scarse commodity now;
Its share price rising.

On Wensum Street

On winter nights on
Wensum Street - I meet the ghosts
Of my former self.


We are all drawn back to the
Ageless, boundless sea.


Some days I walk the
Criss-cross trails here and let
The heath heal me.


Out on the eery
Echoing, dead-flat marshes
I come back to life.

On Mousehold Heath

Petulengro said:
'Life is very sweet brother;
Who would wish to die?'

Divine Comedy

Halfway through my life
I awoke to find myself
In a dark forest.


What happened to you
All those years ago - and why
Are you still hurting?


There is no where else
But here - so relish now all
The time you have left.


On kingfisher days
I retain your blue ember
In my mind's eye.


Through the middle of
The city - you quietly
Wind some and wend some.


Stop your writing now;
Embrace, like Sibelius,
The sound of silence.

East Somerton

No hymns; no sermons;
No voice of God; only the
Unbroken silence.

Sea Cure

Let the sea cleanse work's
Filthy flotsam and jetsam
From your mind's tideline.


Log off; sign out; switch
Off; escape now into these
Reed-fringed backwaters.


Inside: the endless
Powerpoint. Outside: the rooks
Flapping over fields.


One day I will pay
The ferryman; let him take
Me to the dead land.


Trawl now through the dark
Recesses of your mind for
A single bright thought.


Just before the sea
Reached me - I was demolished
And taken away.


Out there under the
Waves - with your cottages and
Sunken church tower.

Oilseed Rape

Bathe in the yellow
Light; inhale the heady scent;
Remember summer.


Twice a day the sea
Writes a love poem on the beach
And then deletes it.


Retreat now into
Old Norfolk: let the sluggish
Waters absolve you.


I plough old furows
Repeatedly - turning up
Fragments of Norfolk.


Skull-shaped, sea-bitten,
Wide-skied, church-towered, unkempt;
Older than England.


No enlightenment;
No redemption - but rather
Darkness visible.


Listen for the roar
Of returning bombers; count
Them back in: one, two......

Sky Cure

Take the antidote:
Take it now; let it reach deep
Into the poison.


A sudden breeze off
Breydon turns you into a
Wild, whispering sea.

Weybourne Hope

Deeper and darker
Than anyone would allow:
Deeper and darker.

Kingfisher Flying

Your blue dressmaker's
Scissors rip through the fabric
Of the riverside.


The floodwater has
Dispersed; settle back into
Your proper channel.






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