The Introduction to ‘Poems For Hard Times’


Well who would have believed that I would have eight books of poetry in me?

Once again I have enjoyed compiling these poems and writing the prose that sits alongside. I am not sure that they are really poems. Who dares say?

Sometimes I write long pieces and sometimes I write short pieces. Sometimes I call them novels, sometimes stories and, particularly with the shorter ones, I call some poems.

Some of my poems scan and rhyme and some do not.

They come into my head and I write them down.

I do not care what you call them. There are no rules – only proven means, previous success, and things that have worked in the past. We adopt the methods that work best and stick to the basics so that we can all understand and share – grammar and punctuation have a purpose but still – there are no rules. I make up rules as I go along. You never get anywhere by doing things the same as everyone else.

This volume was largely written at the end of 2016 and on into 2017 so it is overshadowed by the scourge of Brexit and Trump. Some of the poems reflect that.

For me overpopulation and the wanton destruction of nature are the two compelling drivers. I perceive that we are destroying the planet and it grieves me. I want some sanity and a universal approach to dealing with poverty, overpopulation, environmental degradation and pollution. Something has to happen fast or it will be too late. Both Brexit and Trump seem to me to be quantum leaps backwards in this regard. They represent insular, narrow nationalistic attitudes based on fear and hatred that are the opposite of the ideals I aspire to.

We can but hope and go on dreaming.

Opher 15.4.2017 (written in a cabin on the Megellan on the Arabian Sea)

Poetry – You and Me can Do It!!!

You and Me can Do It!!!

They used to rid themselves of nuclear waste

By dumping it at sea.

They’d still be doing it now

If not for you and me.

Sadly they’re still chopping down

The forests with impunity,

And strip mining in the wilderness

Where the wild-life used to be.

They are spraying all the crops

And killing pest and bee.

Soon they’ll be nothing left

Of elephant or chimpanzee.

We’ll be living in a concrete desert

Without a single tree;

Billion upon billion of us

Swamping nature by degree.

It’s time they reigned in the greed

I’m sure you’ll all agree.



Opher 18.5.2016

You and Me can Do It!!!

Nothing makes me more frustrated and angry than the rapid destruction of the wilderness and slaughter of nature.

In my own lifetime I have witnessed the rapid degradation of our environment. The world population has doubled and we are swamping nature. The extinction rate has gone through the roof and even creatures that were common in my youth are now threatened.

We are a disaster.

Yet we should not be. It is our stupidity and greed, our national pride and cruel, violent natures that is causing the problem.

If the G7 put their mind to it they could solve all the problems.

  • Reduce the population
  • Global laws on pollution
  • Global laws and enforcement on poaching
  • 50% of the planet for wilderness and nature – 50% for humans
  • Stop the greedy practices that are strip mining, fracking, cutting down trees and slaughtering wild life.
  • Stop the wars
  • Bring in contraception
  • Create greater equality
  • Sort pensions, welfare and sickness benefit

Problem solved.

Poetry – The Last Tree

The Last Tree

When the last tree fell

There was laughter.

As the chainsaw bit

There had been jeers;

As the trunk crashed

And branches splintered

There were cheers.

As the last bird

Was blown

From the sky

There was a whoop

Of joyful triumph.

As the last Chimp

Was hacked

There was a smacking

Of lips.

There were no tears.

The tears were saved for later.

But when they finally fell

There was a flood.

By then it was far too late.

Opher 15.5.2016

The Last Tree

We cannot resist. There is pleasure in destruction. There is a cruel streak in humans.

One of the favourite stalls at the fairground is the one where people smash crockery with wooden balls. The line up the plates and dishes and people pay to delight at the way they smash, crash and fall.

  • The kid with the airgun sitting in his backyard and picking birds off the line, feeling a leap of pleasure as each one falls.
  • The idiots with the chainsaws who ringed a giant redwood to put an end to its two and a half thousand year life.
  • It goes on relentless as children’s first reaction is to stamp on the bug.

Life is not sacred.

There is fun to be had at the expense of forest and creature.

Even at the animal park yesterday where they had two amazing Eagle Owl fledglings on the lawn a man with his two children joked that they should be shot and eaten.

Yet we are part of that web of life. When it is gone we will follow. We cannot live on concrete alone.

Poetry – A Holocaust

A Holocaust

A holocaust

Six million burnt.

A holocaust

Pol Pot and Uganda.

A holocaust

Rwanda and Sarijevo.

Genocide on scales unimaginable.

Repeated with regularity.

Out of the psyche

Of humanity.

A holocaust. A holocaust. A holocaust.





A holocaust. A holocaust. A holocaust.

Every decade

Another atrocity

Is designed.


A holocaust

For nature

Every single day.

A holocaust. A holocaust. A holocaust.

Opher 9.5.2016

A Holocaust

I wrote this after reading a poem that talked of Holocaust. I am sorry I cannot track it down and so cannot tell you the poet’s name. He was castigated for applying the term holocaust to things such as poverty. He was told it was disrespectful.

I do not agree.

The holocaust perpetrated by the fascists in Germany against the Jews, Gypsies, Trade Unionists, Communists and others was a horrendous crime of unimaginable cruelty and scale. Yet it is one of many such crimes. They occur with monotonous regularity. Cruelty and barbarity has been an ingredient of human nature throughout time.

We run the world to create inequality from which millions die. Poverty is as much a holocaust as the Nazis orchestrated. It is there by design.

Genocides are not always concentrated in one vicinity.

ISIS is demonstrating the barbarity of humanity as they think up the most sadistic methods of killing people.

The terrorist bombers loading shrapnel and nails into their bombs must imagine the flesh and organs being ripped. The thought of these horrific injuries probably causes them satisfaction.

But for me the greatest crime of all is not that inflicted by people on other people; it is the mindless destruction of nature, the slaughter of our wild-life, the cruelty inflicted on animals.

As the relentless intrusion into habitat, the poaching, hunting and building, the deliberate inflicting of pain, continues on a daily basis; each and every day is a holocaust for nature.

Starling Murmurations in Yorkshire.

The starlings are visitors fron Russia I was assured. They have come over because of the cold in Russia. I took a few videos which do not seem to have come out. It is incredible the way they wheel about and form such intricate shapes. Unfortunately it appears that I’ve missed the best. Many of the birds have already gone.

Thank you starlings for an awesome display.

Poetry – Light and warmth from many summers given and gone

Light and warmth from many summers given and gone

Today I collected the last of the twigs,

Sufficient for one more evening.

I scavenged the ground for enough

To provide one final fire.

Tonight I will stare at the flame

As it releases the work

Of many decades of labour.

The wood will shine one last time.

In beauty it stood proud

And would now have been

In blossom like a pink

Wedding of bloom.

In summer its green leaves

Would have sighed under blue skies

And hidden the ugliness

Of brick and tile beyond.

Its fruit would have

Briefly hung in rich profusion

Before providing rich pickings

For the birds and ne’er a one for me.

And as it releases the

Light and warmth of all those

Years of sun into my home,

I will think of it once more,

And in my heart

I will thank it

For the joy

That it so freely gave.

Opher 24.4.2016

Light and warmth from many summers given and gone

I still look sadly at the large empty space where the cherry tree once stood. Instead of a huge pink mound of ice-cream between my house and the houses beyond, there is now a vacuum and nothing is masked.

There will be no new leaves to seek the sun or fruit for the birds this year.

The tree became sick and, as with any suffering creature, I had to decide its fate. With buzzing saws it was reduced to mere timber.

I chopped and hacked that wood and stored it in a pile behind the wall, sheltering it from the elements.

Through this winter I have brought those logs into the house and on a cold winter’s evening it has heartened our room with its stored light and heat and brought much pleasure into our lives.

Today I collected the last of it and scrounged around for the last small twigs with which to last the evening.

Tonight we will enjoy the cherry tree for the very last time and I will gaze into the flames, and think of it in all its pomp, and celebrate its long and wonder filled life, and thank it for its gifts.

Today’s Walk along the Beck

The beautiful crystal clear water of the beck flows out of the mere in Nafferton to the old mill at Wansford. We walked along its bank to snakeholme nature reserve. The orchids were just pushing through the undergrowth. There was a heron and two egrets at the reserve.

The sun shone. It was warm. It felt like a spring day!!