Colin Fletcher

Writing poems and self publishing since 1969. ‘Windows’ in 1978, then ‘Out of Doors’ in 1988 and ‘Colours of England’ when eldest son at the age of 16, asked “what’s good about being English?” Do ask for a copy, soon.

Making time for three ‘suites’ of poems now. ‘Quilt’ about family feelings. ‘Walk under the trees you have planted’ – reflections on a homily from Voltaire, ‘Clunbury Hill Cycle’ a poem or more on each month from looking at hill above our home–“from whence comes my understanding”

Border Poets has boosted me so much. The tough, kindly- put criticism and the exemplars of so many styles, the topics that, when shared, encourage – literally. There’s courage all round.

I am a writer who loves to roam,

Mary Gauthier put her roaming this way

" You can say I'm a rhymer and rhymers get restless

You can say she's gone in search of a song....."

I left Merseyside at 22 and married.

My father and father in law were craftsmen in wood.

I had a parallel scholarship in working with tools:

After 4 years in Handsworth we moved to a Carmarthenshire village,

to pits, pubs and music of spoken Welsh. I became Anglo- Welsh:

Six years, three children, house building and organic growing later we moved on to a Nottinghamshire mining town for 5 years and then Milton Keynes for the next 11 years. I learned to be political at work and locally, I realized that I wanted to welcome the end of Empire with improvements where ever I lived.

My day jobs were in Universities as a research tutor. I put students first and quarreled with those staff who did not. I went freelance. For 20 years we were smallholders and community activists in South Shropshire. I was a shepherd, we walked under the 2,000 trees that Lyn planted and managed. I was taught husbandry and country crafts. I learned to stand, look and listen.

After 20 years we passed on our stewardship of a small piece ancient ground. We have lived in York for 4 years from where we modestly adventure.

But has my roaming been in a circle, a feast of wonders held fast by a fulcrum? I have never been beyond her reach, beyond the pull of my mother. She is an 100 now. She has illuminated ageing for me. I have been able to see the cunning that I might one day need.


I psyche myself for the trolley park

ready to wrestle,

pound coin double-checked,

,I tug hard with the will of a trolley tamer ,

could be a twister, veering ten degrees to starboard

or a refuser, wheels squared-off by trolley- rage.

I’m in luck, only a trembler this time.

Together we limp along Cereals, then to Coffee,

aisles of contemplation and dilemma,

to kneel down for bottom- shelf essentials

or to stretch up to achieve top-shelf luxuries.

Do I save? Or do I bolster my self-esteem?

I weave past a ponderer

his hand poised like a cobra’s head

nip around gossips

sidle past a loaded shelf filler

to turn into peaceful pet food corridor.

Ah! The relief of Aisle 14,

no difficult decisions here.

Pet food choices are made by pets.

I stack a week’s supply as ballast.

By now most trolleys are like container ships,

pizza boxes in layers, milk bottles as funnels.

But what’s this peeping in? No trolley?

A near-empty basket across her three-wheeled walker

she steers past every can, ignores their smiley labels

picks up speed, turns around

and is joined by another wheeled- walker

her spine as bent as a coat-hanger.

They charge down Aisle 14 together

and they notice my curiosity.

It’s dry and level here, whatever the weather.

We get our legs going, can’t have pets where we are,

not even a budgie.

We go before it’s busy, ‘til then we have these races

and let each other win.

CF 29.9.2016