Category Archives: Writing

Bus Story

by Peter Buckley

Inspired by poet Lydia Towsey’s performance of her excellent poetry on board Leicester buses tomorrow – more info here, regarding where you should be if you can be and if you’re local, and what you’re missing if you’re not.

I couldn’t read the signs as I tended to whiz by,
the dog sled track where “it snows all year!”
the car wash to make your 4×4 clean,
the green supermarket…

the sat-nav arrow
is pointed to opposing forces,
in your life,
at least on roads,
taking you, the automated voice, to
elsewhere but
not a place you’ll need to go.

The expensive sandwich stopped,
when lifeless bread loses the scent of home
in a service station,

then you’ll swear you followed the map,
and everyone there had their retinas scanned,
with nary a hello, nor a “nary” to-go,
a mumble of wondering
“what is a macchiato?”

And do you now care any more,
as sad as it seems now, as you did once…?
how far you have to go.

There’s a bus where I stared up at a fox fur scarf, a white fur coat
but we didn’t think to know, shockingly, if it was fake.
From this mass of fluffy fat, soft, imposing itself,
wearing a memory,
she produced a humbug mint –
she didn’t, she just gazed out of the window.

Her’s could be a bus of style dropped dead,
But like her then,
I wouldn’t know these passengers
if I saw them again.

But I said hello to a lady reading about molecules,
her son focussed intently
on a virtual penguin.

I didn’t know much about molecules
but said that science, I assume,
and the museum to which we were headed
were important
in some way I’d caught wind of –

a fart that couldn’t be helped and
can humanise your choice of transport.

I had one humbug mint, for myself.

An elderly lady had a smile
that only shifted with the inevitable bump.

A pregnant lady sat, contentedly, put-upon, lovingly rubbing her inevitable bump
like a crystal ball
when all the smoke machines are settled,
and the future comfortable, surprising,
where there’s a seat reserved for all of us,
sat upon.

Teenage friends scream for no good reason
every while, every yelp,
and eyes dart between each of them in code,
emoji of a joke I wouldn’t get.

I could counter-suggest a bald man’s wrinkled headline
that we’re both reading,
as he blusters in outrage,
and ruffles pages,
and some feathers.

and I’m afraid I have the ears of a spy
and the farts of an assassin.
I can’t ascertain who said what about cabbage.

But you are sitting in your service station,
forecasting that your satellite navigation
has queued up a you-turn, miles from your son at home,
a virtual penguin,
the dog sled snow,
the billboard you passed twice, saying
“take the bus
or know not
to ease into meditation
with people you know.”

Sheila’s eyebrows deep into a streamed documentary
saying she’ll have to miss that museum talk that
looked listen, listen
to the blameless satellite
head tied at the endless wheel,
and good night as you check in miles from everyone,
we ride sleepily home
past your small bedroom window.



the silence I feel, the loud bark inside as I run it with a hand (mine.)
The route without leaves just now
the dog barks and is brown too,
the trees the audio tape of my walk.
Mystery because seeing the trees is all that’s needed to see the…

you like to arrive after this
somewhere other than a car park?

Gaps of white sometimes are clouds in some paintings, people breathe,
look at the ground pass by
but breathe fresh air and

would you like to meet someone else’s fresh air,

and say “hi” to their dogs?

Brown dog somehow you are big but small,
bark stacked and growing tight, staying tight,

the sky just white.


Blue Men grouped as aliens, Broadway.
Blu Tack stuck in stress, against the office globe.
Blue seizures, on a ward somewhere.
Blue shades
I wore indoors.

Blue seas, actually green
Blue skies, not often.
Those blue remembered Japanese
robot cartoons.

Blue feeling at a gathering.
I see a red door in another spectral instance, blue,
I need three colours including blue
to fly for me, France and America, if true.

Not bleach blue, but
fish tank with two
inside sleeping blue.

New coat of eggshell blue
and deciding to lose
a CD single – boyband Blue,
for some reason, blue. (da ba dee)

Whatever is blue to you will do.
Mirrorball blue, for a moment, alight
on jitterbugging shoe.

The boys in plume of blue,
a peacock’s room.

“Whatever”, chattering myself
out of a cold case clue,
my kind, my glue,
apathetic blue
(not, of course, true.)

Roughly all the fifty, further natures of you
in a Master Suite hotel room blue,
a mask sought online,
work ties, tight, mercilessly soon,
each twitch, raised hair and goosebump
in our pursuit,
your shock-curled toe paint

and we know we are safe

in words,
and two to each
command/react in beauty

Karen Silkwood

This came from a workshop I took part in inspired by “underdogs” and people who might epitomise the “David v. Goliath” experience. I wasn’t fully done with it on the day, and finished it tonight and I’ve just sent it on for publication in our collection on the theme.

Karen Silkwood (Wikipedia page) was a technician at a nuclear power plant who was outspoken about health and safety standards where she worked and was heavily involved in union activity and activism. She was found to have plutonium contamination on her person and in her home and died in unclear circumstances in a car crash, when she was on her way to meet a journalist.

Karen Silkwood
by Peter Buckley

“Thinkin’ about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie”

– Neil Young, After The Gold Rush (1970)


I have a weapons-grade rage that started with suspicion.
I waited as time, and time again,
delivered confirmation,
believing at almost every turn
the essential Good in people
which we should fix when it disappoints,
like a routine inspection.

The relative Good of nuclear power,
when it puts food on the table,
a split apple, cheese on Rye bread.

The by-product is isolated alone and is,
like I am, safe as a collision.

I’m still driving off of
the straightest forever, road.

We met in Union,
we were tired but sensed blood, and
I carried a document
from the café where we planned.
You held an expression for a full two minutes
I could’ve kept as an alarm.

In the last steps to my car, mushroom-cloud where
the country radio – wouldn’t turn on –
was melancholy with betrayal and a noted Pastor
spoke about soluble plutonium, and
Jesus, if accepted, is the reactor shielding
who will stand taller than your playground bully,
elected or in place of power.

I dreamt of removing shelves from my refrigerator,
a hat that cast a shadow and had a grimace and a beard,
the man who had all his reasons for doing what he did,
weed-smoke and the static ‘lectricity that came off in my hand like a handle,
Sievert dosages ladled like a stew of Chernobyl,

offered by the glowing sun
like rainwater from a shower head.

And there were patterns, planned accidents,
like thick, red-green, woven strings behind my eyes;
Two baseball-white things knocked out of the park
got old and started shutting
then I nodded as if agreeing,
irresistibly towards the sedation’s pull,
up there and further away toward it,
a Better America,
with a view of
Longview, Texas.

I dosed in drowsiness
remembering you had a punchline,
and the Martin Luther Kings or JFKs,
most of all my family
who I love and who it tears me up to think of,
would fight my corner, on a round Earth
when the soil was new
and made for our children.

You best be as sad as sorry,
sorry, and raging, and
I hope you do your bit,
that’s all.

Untitled *Biopic Poem (Draft)

Video tape is
black under music,
shut out from playing fields,
working behind its plastic window.

Soil segmentations are
aerated by earthworms,
next to pinned
flags of the world.

A cut of Schindler’s List for schools,
shook us behind our desks
in a room with
pencil crayon atlases.

I caught your biopic
by luck, in the cast net of stars,
flicking through satellites, stations,
happy enough without pause
to be embarrassed for them now,

because what a hold our new self-images had,
not yours I noticed, the beyond-wise (or a bit mad)
escaped their young shadows.

The lesson differently pieced together by everyone,
who is ever going to learn the role that
fumbled then crushed dialogue
once played in sweetly stupid

At a paranoid pitch, too,
making molecular
wildness inside
tone-blind to what feelings
seemed to scream.

I passed through an obsolete sleep
into days that test me more,
sure that you were a movie star –

what significance might be best asked of
the miscast stars I dreamt for us,
their celebrity easier
wound back for memory
than innocent as wax torches
held to faces we don’t have.

But I forget the horror of each
awkward hallway
shivering in bones,
bodies jostling for steps on stairs,
and names called to be heard.

I’ve yet to label my working title
in a smudged, thick,
left-handed daub

and almost yours,
wise and tall,
joined up and circled Disney dots to i’s of yours,
remembered only just but like
ice cream in a cone,
clever and kind,
and you would put up with
this nonsense – and more

bursting through in spits

and I remember a bit about
my better double in History.

The Milky Way

“Erasure Poem” composed entirely of words from
Popular Science Monthly Volume 26 January 1885

Image: SnEptUne-Mountain-in-Ink-300px


The neighbourhood,
completely neutralised,
the darkening of sky.

Seductive, revolutionary.
Walking with footsteps along paths.

The nature of bodies, their movements;
such different objects,
novel modes of investigation,
centring of circles
printed in photographic cameras.

Ingenuity anticipating
atmospheric transit,
carrying upwards into finer air.
Light and heat.

Its pursuit is far too arduous to be conducted
with less than a man’s whole energies.


Today in Bradgate Writers, lead by Lydia Towsey, our jumping off point was reading the poem “Today” by Frank O’Hara. Having never encountered the poem before, I fell in love with it instantly.

We wrote our poem based on words which happened to arise from discussion, but which, of course, we made our own in our poetry. It was very natural and organic, quick and free as a moment of writing, after a sleepless night (the unusually hot weather we’re having in England, where we’re more used to summers that aren’t summers.)


Marry, marry, to celebrate joining up,
once, twice, again 
with oneself,

pillow, kiwi bird, kiwi fruit,
in which case, vegetarian
in New Zealand.

Air traffic, the thing with birds is –

downy feathers
smoothed over.

The accidental pottery owls I’d collect,
each momentarily
proud amateur potter.

Interrail, because Interrail.

Draw a way out, far out…
Man, if you’re the paper not the pencil,

go abroad.


Movie Geek For Refugees – Reviewing My Unseen DVDs For A Refugee Charity, In A Time of Humanitarian Crisis

This is a pile of DVDs in my living room, most of them unwatched.


“Movie Geek For Refugees” is an attempt to make something like a charity marathon out of film reviews, in aid of Refugee Action. Regular readers of my work might well note that silliness is never far from intense seriousness in a lot of stuff I seem to do, so while you’ll see me having fun as an amateur film critic finally getting around to viewing a two-column-strong pile of impulse purchased movies, I have seared in my mind what we’ve all seen is going on. People just like us have fled war, torture, indiscriminate violence, persecution and horror only to find that the international community is responding with indifference. People are living in unlivable conditions. Hundreds of unaccompanied children are perhaps the most greatly at risk. Your donations are desperately needed. If you’d like to join me in my fun movie critiquing sideshow at “Movie Geek For Refugees” you can, or just donate towards much-needed work and offer, in these times, a much-needed gesture of your compassion.

Refugee Action homepage.