Posted by: John Looker | 10 May, 2020

A haiku for Spring (2)



The bluebells are back.

Their caravan pauses here;

they know this place.



© John Looker 2020

Posted by: John Looker | 3 May, 2020

Remember when we could fly?

“Even an airport dreams at night …”

Looking back to before Covid-19, and looking ahead: this poem was published in the last issue of Poetry Salzburg Review – in other words, before virtually all flights were banned.



  Even an airport dreams at night. 
There was an unfamiliar hush, the lighting was low, 
a handful of late arrivals, stranded, stretched out 
on chairs amid the columns and dense interior planting. 
Time was sleeping. But he himself could not, alert 
to the finest shifts of shapes in the half-lit hall  
or indecipherable sounds. 
  His eyes picked out the night workers, slowly
and silently moving among the shadows: 
the cleaners, security, the fillers of shelves. 
And he must have dozed because, on looking again, 
he saw that the scene had altered. 
  The strings of a lute – no, surely a guitar – 
were gently humming and figures, glimpsed
in an unexpected beam of golden light, 
were gathered around, sitting maybe on a bench
or standing about. And there she stood. Graceful.
Poised. Dressed in the colours of remembered woods. 

Her silhouette! It was this that he noticed first 
and then her face looking his way – and her eyes 
returning his look seemed suddenly familiar 
as though he had known them somewhere, some day,
before. He moved, and for a moment believed
that she might approach. But she turned away 

  back to the circle that held her. 


© John Looker 2019

This is the second poem in a draft sequence entitled The Galahad Call. I posted the opening poem (The Point of Departure) here in November. I am grateful to Poetry Salzburg Review for publishing these two poems.


Posted by: John Looker | 12 April, 2020

While we cannot travel …


“Doors to manual”
and the flight finally
We burst from the plane
like a can of cola
unzipped. At last! 

All night long
in that shaken tube, 
that intimate kaleidoscope
of strangers – but now
it’s Passports, Baggage
and escape. 

There’s barely time
to drop the cases
before a child
has flown like a bird
to perch in your arms
by your cheek.


© John Looker 2015

This was first published (under the title ‘The Arrival‘) by the Austin International Poetry Festival in their 25th anniversary anthology ‘When Time and Space Conspire’, 2017. It was reproduced in my second book ‘Poems for my Family’ (Bennison Books, 2018). Both are available through Amazon. 

More important: it was first written for my granddaughter Evie.

Posted by: John Looker | 25 March, 2020

Working from home? A poem

Already with this coronavirus pandemic, many of us are holding meetings by video conference, telephone, email – and I even know of one meeting held through the open window of a car. This poem catches that spirit:




This conference – by videophones –
would stop Marco Polo in his tracks,
take the wind out of Columbus’ sails,
and has messed up meal times
in five separate time zones.           

Dinner in Shanghai
but breakfast on Wall Street.
Luncheon in London’s City
and in Frankfurt am Main. 
Tea in Mumbai.

Listen! … so what do you think?
There it is again:
the delicate sound of a glass
on a glass – a clink,
a disembodied clink!



© John Looker 2015.

This poem was published in The Human Hive (Bennison Books, 2015). You can read a selection of poems from the book on a dedicated page of my blog at


Posted by: John Looker | 1 January, 2020

It’s the New Year sailing in

It’s the New Year sailing in to harbour

To brass bands and bunting,

The deck crowded with promises, promises –

But it’s Truth we’re wanting.

John Looker 2020

Read More…
Posted by: John Looker | 3 November, 2019

The Point of Departure


  The traveller was ready 
but this was a journey without a horse or armour, 
sans sword, sans shield or squire, and yet
there was a sort of Lady’s Favour: her young face
smiling warmly from the home screen on his phone. 
He would carry this wherever the journey took him 
but she knew he was impatient to be gone. 
  All around were people peddling their certainties: 
aunts with crumbs of scripture caked upon their lips, 
men in their hand-me-down liveries 
of inherited political clans. Even his friends seemed
comfy with the old contentions. Did they never question,
but daily thump their tankards on the greasy board,
singing the same old songs as the torches guttered?
  All he had needed was a prompt. 
A vision would have served him best 
or an angel perhaps, some ethereal messenger, 
but in the event it was simpler than that
and belonged to the world he knew. 
A fragment of song slipped into his head and lodged, 
a riff, a phrase that spoke of another life 
or the prospect of enlightenment, 
of bringing home some talisman of the Truth. 
  So, hoisting his backpack, he left. 

©John Looker 2019

I am grateful to Poetry Salzburg Review who published this in their recent edition. It is the opening poem of a sequence with the title ‘The Galahad Call’ which I hope may be published in a forthcoming book.


Posted by: John Looker | 4 October, 2019

How did we get here, where are we heading?


       Untruth is the smiling genie

       Imprisoned in the lamp

       Whispering ‘release me!

       That I may be your slave’


© John Looker 2019


Updated on Sunday 8 December – four days from the British general election – in a mood of despondency.

Original post in October:

This year’s National Poetry Day has had the theme of Truth. I’m a bit worried about truth or the lack of it in public life at present and thought I’d try to catch this in a few lines of verse.

Posted by: John Looker | 29 September, 2019

Serenade for Europe

Poetry Salzburg Review kindly published this poem of mine in their Summer 2019 issue. It is one of two I have written about Europe, the companion poem having been published by Magma in their Europe edition of 2018.

The bay in Cyprus where it is said that Aphrodite appeared.


Serenade for Europe

with his inky fingers has touched
the little bay where Aphrodite appeared,
so soft and rosy-pink, among the rocks. 

He brushes the Dardanelles, the Danube, 
and reaching north draws a blanket  
slowly over forests where the wild boar run. 
He brings a hush to the lands of the longship 

then turns for the turbulent isles
and so to the twin ends of the earth. 
Under his spell the shutters of vineyard châteaux  
are closing, starlings thickening the air.  

He darkens mountain and plain 
coming at last to the mouth of the Tagus 
where caravels, of heart-stopping fragility, 
sailed for the Indies, east and west. 

And Europa sleeps. Or so it would seem: 
one eye open and dreaming fitfully 
our home, our continent, 


© John Looker 2019

‘Dusk with his inky fingers’ is an allusion to the recurrent mention of ‘Dawn with her rosy fingers’ in Homer’s Odyssey. The first of the two photos shows the little bay in Cyprus where, it is presumed, Aphrodite appeared. The second shows the mouth of the River Tagus just outside Lisbon in Portugal.

The mouth of the Tagus, near Lisbon.


The companion poem, The Descent of Europe, published by Magma can be read here at:

Posted by: John Looker | 14 September, 2019

Poems for Europe

It was nice to come home from holiday and find the new Poetry Salzburg Review waiting on the mat – a great big fat volume of new poems. And this issue includes three from me – one being my ‘Serenade for Europe’.

This poem is a companion piece to ‘The Descent of Europe’ which Magma kindly published last year in their Europe issue.

Neither poem is directly about Brexit or the EU, but both are celebrations of Europe as a place and a culture, one being a historical view, the other geographical. I’m grateful to both journals for giving them a place.

In due course I shall post the new poem here on WordPress. ‘The Descent of Europe’ is already here at:

Posted by: John Looker | 20 April, 2019

A haiku for Spring


The bluebells are here.

Immaterial as ghosts

that drift through a room.



© John Looker 2019

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