Heart of Darkness

The following poem was published on the webzine, I Am Not A Silent Poet on 9th August 2016. Here’s the link:  https://iamnotasilentpoet.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/heart-of-darkness-by-david-urwin/

The refugee crisis continues, and everyone gets on with their own lives. Although many of us are disgusted by what the refugees have to endure, governments fail to take clear and decisive action. Europeans and Americans in particular live with great wealth and privelege, much of which could be shared with suffering refugees. Yet still so little happens to relieve their suffering. Are we all essentially selfish and protective of our own interests? This poem addressteargas-calais-YouTube.jpeges the plight of unaccompanied child refugees in particular.

                                     Heart of Darkness

 Something is rotten in the states of Europe

children fighting for survival     tear-gassed

at close range

into the eyes

refugee children

down the throat.

Something is rotten in the Jungle

of democracy

and civilisation

refugee children starving

sent away from terror       to suffer in horrorunaccompanied children refugees

or be killed on the road           to a better life.

Something is rotten in the states of America

land of the free                    capital of liberty.

Is something rotten at the heart of humanity?


© David Urwin  2016


refs: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/02/child-refugees-calais-failed-by-britain

Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, August 3rd, 2016.

Photos courtesy of ibtimes.co.uk,  and (teargas image) independent.co.uk







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Ashamed to be white

The following poem was published on the webzine, ‘I Am Not A Silent Poet’ on 11th July 2016.

According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, ‘Police killed more than 100 unarmed black people in 2015.’ And ‘Unarmed black people were killed at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in 2015.’

Forty years ago Bob Dylan was singing (in ‘Hurricane’) about a black man, Rubin Carter, sentenced for murder by an all-white jury: ‘How can the life of such a man/ be in the palm of some fool’s hand?/ To see him obviously framed/ couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed/ to live in a land where justice is a game.’   What’s changed?

black lives matter Is his life worth more

Ashamed to be white


(in memory of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana

and  Philandro Castile of St.Paul, Minnesota,

murdered by white police officers.)


‘Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.’   John Donne


It is shameful to be white.

It is shameful to be white

and not speak out.

It is shameful to be white

and not speak out against

racial abuse.

It is shameful to be white,

the colour of purity,

when so unclean.

It is shameful to be white,

the colour of innocence,

when so guilty.

It must be shameful to be white

in the home of the brave,

when some behave as cowards.

It must be shameful to be white

in the land of the free,

when so many are imprisoned

by their colour.

It is shameful to be white,

the colour of cold sterility

of those who have the power

and abuse it.

Black brother, black sister,

when the trigger is pulled,

I am ashamed to be white.

Centuries deep

and time after time

I am ashamed to be white.


© Dave Urwin 2016


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Library closures in the UK

We are going through a period of local authority austerity measures, resulting in the very short-sighted policy of closing public libraries. Well over 300 have closed since 2009, whilst others have been saved only by being taken over by community groups and staffed by volunteers. Much gratitude is owed to them.

Libraries are absolutely vital to a civilised society. Education takes place not only in schools, but for life in libraries.  At a time when it is thought that boys in particular need to be encouraged to read, and we are sliding down the world rankings in terms of educational achievement, we opt to close down one of the most vital of public services. How can we hope to develop intelligent and civilised minds without books and reading? ‘Library’ derives from the Latin for book, ‘liber, libris’, and I would say that the word ‘liberation’ does too- liberation from ignorance, prejudice and lack of imagination at the very least.

Here is the poem I wrote for a reading in aid of a community library group in my part of the world.


 Inside the building of worlds

all was there,kids in library

worlds    within words   within worlds,

a liberation

from the narrow shadowed field,

from the stricken streets,

from isolation,

from grief,

from the daily creaking mill.                                  kids' books in library

How the girl lost herself

and found herself

and lost herself again,

fed the hunger

on a simple page

in a simple chair.


How the boy’s horizons broadened                                   toddler in library

of mountains,

of desert,

of polar ice cap,

Shackleton meeting Confucius,

Peter Rabbit on board with Columbus,

Mowgli in the little house on the prairie,

Darwin discoursing with Prince Caspian;

and was that not God and Kierkegaard

in conversation?


Their minds, their imaginations

lay like fallow fields in the sun,

eager for the sowing of seeds,

thirsty for the raindrops of wisdom;

and the old man came in

out of the wind’s careless clamour

to warm himself on the world’s news.


Then all the wise men and women

of  Constantinople   Alexandria

Cordoba  and  Nalanda

wept to see

the chains of Fiscal Man

imprison the brains of new-born babies,

his setting fire to the old libraries.




© David Urwin 2016

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Earthly resurrection

Here is my very latest poem, inspired by a planting of tulips in my garden, which every year never fail to amaze and delight me. After this, I should speak no more of them.


Earthly resurrection                                                



Some may think it quite sad,

some may think it quite ‘zen’,

but I confess that I’ll be glad

to tell the world yet again

of the dusky, seductive beauty

of my sultry Queens of the Night.

I count to very nearly fiftyDSCI0021

blooms with satin sheen that quite

astound the mind with mute perfection.

Why should we look elsewhere than right here now,

this spring, this earthly resurrection?

In the mad chase we lose our sight somehow.

Soon those petals of maroon will drop awayDSCI0022

like all life. We must learn to pluck the day.



© David Urwin 2016

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Lake Como haiku sequence

I wrote these haiku, my favourite poetic form, in 2013, whilst staying by the lake. They were direct observations of what I could see and hear around me while sitting right by the lake’s edge in solitude.  Photos by Franca Panizza, who has lived all her life in a village by the lake, and by Guido Ferrari.


                                                     Lake Como haiku sequence

 Como across the grey lake


           Sunday church bells chime

        across the grey lake hills

draped in grey cloud.

Como-draped in grey cloud


the gull on the rock

             at the lapping lake’s edge-

          a dream of fish in its feet.

Como gulls

  flotilla of ducks-

invisible engine

        their feet in the lake.

Como ducks

necklace of cloud

     around the mountain

       waist deep in the lake.


Como necklace of cloud

           lake edge kingfisher

             flashing her jewels on

 flat, grey rock.



                                                    in two (three?) towns

 church bells chime mezzogiornoComo church bells 3

back and forth the lake shores.

Como village


Como church bells 2Como church bells 1

           ding dong dong ding dong

dong   church bells

      this that side the lake.


Como-yellow light

         yellow light stippling

         the grey green lake –

it comes, it goes


                    green mountain  white peaks

         blue lake sky red roofs

kingfisher’s flash.


Como cloud mtn

                   cloud white, snow peak white,

sky blue lake blue,

            breeze waves dance light.




Como lizard

after the storm

in lakeside sun the lizard –

scratching his head?

Como sunshine

© David Urwin, October 2013


Photos by Franca Panizza and Guido Ferrari





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In tune with nature?

Here follows a poem written a few years ago, but which is ever relevant to my life, as I ‘harvest’ all my own firewood and heat my cottage with a woodburner. More sticks than ever have been blown from the trees this winter.

Winter Sunday afternoons

Winter Sunday afternoons
I pick up twigs and sticks
of ash and oak and also willow
from field, garden and outgrown hedgerow
that autumn gales
have torn from the trees’ tangled tresses.

I am blessed by this necessity,
this primeval labour,
this fundamental harvest,
twice warming the body,
kindling the spirit,
distant from the clutch of money,
the claptrap diatribe of politician,
the television’s siren blether.                       DSCI0001

Yes, I am blessed
by this need for fire
that draws me out into haunt of heron,
the fox’s clandestine domain,
the snipe’s hunting grounds,
where frost-bitten air stings skin clean
under the one embracing sky.
© David Urwin 2013

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New Year Resolutions

It’s that time of year, and although I have not been one for New Year resolutions much before (preferring to resolve to do things better at any time of the year), this year I have been prompted to write a poem by the book, ’52: Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going.’ (Nine Arches Press, 2015). This is based on the project that was run by the poet Jo Bell in 2014, providing a weekly prompt and a poem by various other poets to help inspire us to write our own.

I don’t anticipate being able to write a poem a week, but it’s good to have a go and adopt a positive approach. So, in response to the first prompt, ‘Everything is going to be amazing’, here is my first poem of 2016, on that very matter of being positive (or telling myself to be so).

Revolution resolution

I’m gonna chop that log,
I’m gonna split that wood,train tracks
I’m gonna bring that axe
down clean. Understood?
I’m gonna sow those seeds,
I’m gonna watch ’em grow,
I’m gonna keep ‘em fed
and watered, doncha know?
I’m gonna buy that ticket,
I’m gonna take that train,
I’m gonna go to those places
come shine or rain.
I’m gonna kiss those tulips,
I’m gonna suck those cherries,
I’m gonna squeeze the juice
right out of those berries.
I’m gonna chew that music,
I’m gonna lick that moon,
I’m gonna slurp those words
from an emerald spoon.
I’m gonna melt that mountain,
I’m gonna cook that poem,                    cherries
I’m gonna drive those donkeys
all the way back to Rome.
I’m gonna write that song,
I’m gonna blow that horn,
I’m gonna hang my troubles
on the sharpest thorn.
I’m gonna be a fire-eater,
I’m gonna be an acrobat.
It’s gonna be amazing
or I’ll eat my hat.
© David Urwin 2016


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