A Flood of Years

Posted: November 20, 2016 in default, urban poems

This morning I woke up to the sound of our river steam-training through the town. It was the first winter storm and overnight Devon bore the brunt. Here’s a poem from my collection Fault Line I wrote about an earlier flood.


Flood river is wide as a motorway.
Lying in bed I hear it roar through town.
And later from a top floor window I see how serious
Exmoor has been in ridding itself of a thousand
rivulets and streams decanting themselves off hills.

A sheet of mud-brown satin rolls over the weir.
Was it only last week that kids played here
on this moss-covered dam?
Ankle-deep, screaming, shouting.
Now it is a different creature, a snarling beast.

Nothing gets in its way.

Riverbanks are scourged, broken bones
of trees tossed and hurried downstream.
This power draws us to its side,
gaping at the volume and speed
of this highway to the sea.

We are transfixed.
Reading into it
the chaos of our own lives,
watching years stream by.

Memory Bank

Posted: November 14, 2016 in urban poems

On Friday I gave a one-man poetry show for an hour at the Taunton Literary Festival, having been booked earlier this year. Initially it was a daunting prospect, but it turned out to be a lot of fun before a wonderful audience. Here is one of the poems I read from my collection Fault Line.

The first time I had amnesia
was in Hong Kong.
I was five. I don’t remember.
The second was in Cyprus.
I was ten and found
wandering Limassol’s streets. So

I stand in awe of those who recall
childhood days, opening up a tap
in their hippocampus and pouring out
places, friends’ names, events
even conversations. My memories
are absent. They stand on the other side

of then and now, a canyon between
with no linking bridge. Not even ghosts
teetering on the far side’s edge.
The only triggers are mother’s photo albums,
the past caught in a zoetrope flicker
of black pages and her immaculate white writing.



Reading at Friday’s Taunton Literary Festival event


Posted: September 19, 2016 in default

Recently on Ben Banyard’s excellent and well-respected Clear Poetry site he featured four of my poems, Empty Spaces, Jackdaws, Wembury Beach and The Fire Has Gone Out. You can read them all via this link https://clearpoetry.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/paul-mortimer-four-poems/. I highly recommend following Clear Poetry …. it brings a wonderful breadth of quality work. Meanwhile here’s one of my four poems featured.

Harsh chatter cuts through the baking
air seething across our roof tiles.
They are arrogant, ice-eyed, chopping up
a blackbird’s melody that’s been flooding
the river’s beat. Theirs is not birdsong,
just nature’s practical edge.
Functional. A rooting in the ordinary.
Like that faint rocking of traffic.

Bob Dylan On A Dirt Road

Posted: June 6, 2016 in default

Recently Bob Dylan celebrated his 75th birthday and in Taunton there was a great evening to mark the occasion featuring six bands and four poets – of which I was one – performing in front of an audience of more than 100! It was a great night and here’s one of the poems I wrote and performed that night..

How was I not going to get you
after being brought up on a diet of
Ella Fitzgerald,
Nat King Cole,
George Gershwin.

You were a storm building
on the horizon, thunderheads
flashing discordant lightning.
A strident hammering at the door,
notes off centre,
your voice whining
through cracks in our establishment.

The life-blood of a new generation
zinged through my veins. You
were right. The times were
changing, more than any of us knew.

And now?
Your waspish music
and whip-crack lyrics
are milestones on dirt
roads in a foreign country.
Many of us still live there.


That’s me ~ please note Joan Baez looking on!

Frosty reception

Posted: April 29, 2016 in default

Today at Toads Bjorn Rudberg wants us to take a picture from the nearest window and write a poem of not more than a 100 words- see http://withrealtoads.

toads poem pic

May is a breath away but
this morning a cold-bladed wind
chills the river,
puts ice in the sun.
Gulls gather at the weir’s edge,
scattered broken teeth holding
fast in a steel blue current.
It threatens to flush them down
to the river mouth
and fling them back out to sea.

Your Hands Are Not Still

Posted: March 15, 2016 in default

at http://dversepoets.com/this-is-us/tonight we are looking at hands – and writing something about them. This is a poem about my mother shortly before she passed away a few years ago. I also use the technique where the title is also the first line of the poem.

Unlike the rest of you.
They constantly twitch and ripple.
Your fingers are not frantic, but urgent,
grasping and letting go of the bed sheet.

As if it’s a shoreline lapping at your chest.
As if it’s the edge of an ocean.
As if beyond it is a normal life you
are desperate to reach.

This place is cathedral quiet,
broken occasionally by machines
breathing with ticks and bleeps. But
it does not bring you calm.

That bird-like alertness through which
you measured life is completely dulled.
Your eyes are bemused.
Your body is still.

Just those hands working away
as if they alone can free you
from a place that is neither
prison nor sanctuary.