Richard McNeff

  Blue Nest woodcut © Bill Fulljames




The place is very beautiful

But you do not see it –

The rugged creek

Where Rigoberto painted

The fisherman and his son

Once setting out at daybreak

Again when they returned at dusk,

Moonlight green as glow-worm

On the boy’s pale blouse.


You hardly notice

The slate-calm sea

Or the sloping tile of Formentera

Wedged against the sky –

The immense gull

Perched on the treacherous rock

Of Santa Eulalia,

Which has drowned Phoenician silver

As well as corsair gold,

Is as indifferent as you are

To the bell tolling

Beneath the sea

From the church that slid there

When the men wore red caps

And the women garlands.


In the end, Rigoberto fled the Blue Nest

Bruised by the Argentine

Who plaited her red hair

In the nets of the fisherman –

He no longer saw slate, tile, or steeple –

He was blind to everything

But her soul.



Halfway House

Like a book he could not put down

Rigoberto returned to the Blue Nest,

To the little house shielded by pines

And the breeze they baffled –

He regretted Laura, regretted their battles,

He had a dream she would receive him

Like an old comrade,

Have him sit by her,

Drink and eat the old times,

They would dance to the flamenco

As it played on the phonograph –

He was not seeking love

Nor to usurp the fisherman from his nets

But if that came too he would not demur.


He knocked at the door of the Blue Nest

And a voice gruff with garlic and wine

Demanded what he wanted –

She was so thin

It seemed the door opened itself.

She howled at him in her tramp’s overcoat

That possessed no shoulders

Only spidery arms.

Fleeing from her barbs

He scrambled across the creek

As baffled as the breeze. 


Rigoberto’s Envoi

Having laboured so long and gained so little

Rigoberto could not believe

The news the postman brought

As he scrambled down from the tree house

He had built on the tallest pine

To evade Laura.

The prize in Barcelona paid for

The house he built

On the purple hill at the back of Santa Eulalia

Flanked by almond trees still in blossom

The first night he slept there.


Rigoberto left the Blue Nest to Laura,

Left her for the fisherman and drunken waterman

Who caroused with her

When the fits weren’t on her –

He could not believe the wonderful peace

Of his spacious house –

No voice scolded him,

No moans honed his cuckold’s horns –

All the night through

He could not sleep.


North East West South


You only made a triangle

But intended a cross

From Edgware Road

to intersect with Aldgate 

And Russell Square.

King’s Cross was closed

So in  Tavistock Square

You detonated your scrambled mind,

Finally shattered the vengeful dream.


On the side of the bus an advert states:

“Outright Terror Bold and Brilliant”

A gleeful god laughs,

Your god, Bomber,

Who brings misfortune at the crossroads

And the wrong sort of posterity.



This time we’ve got him! We know where Arthur

Rimbaud is – the great Rimbaud, the true Rimbaud,

the Rimbaud of the Illuminations.”

                La France moderne (February-March issue 1891)

At this altitude, it is,

And will be for another month,

Unpleasantly cold.

It rains and hails, and the wind

Is like a mother when she scolds.

Had to buy a mattress, blankets, overcoats.

Forgive me recounting all my troubles,

But I’m about to turn thirty or thereabouts

(Half a lifetime!)

And I’ve worn myself to death

Wandering the world,

To no effect.


The descent to Ballawa from Egon

Very difficult for the porters,

Who stumble at every stone,

And for me, who falters and almost

Tips over with a moan.

The litter is already half dislocated

And the servants completely exhausted.

I try to mount the mule,

With the sick leg strapped to its neck.

I am forced to dismount like fool

And get back into the litter

Which has already lagged a kilometre behind.

This journey is bitter and wrong.

On arriving at Ballawa, only drizzle.

Furious wind all night long.



Please then, Monsieur Le Directeur,

Send the tariff of services

To Suez from Aphinar.

I am completely paralysed, and so

Wish to embark in good time.

I must be carried on board.

What hour should I come?

I shall go under the earth

And you shall walk in the sun!




In Memoriam - Hunter S. Thompson

A moment like no other

Came and went -

The wave rose so high

When it was spent

A different world emerged,

Worse and better

Than what had gone before.


Charting it, your head full of

Booze, your pockets packed

With acid and sedition,

You railed against the

Villainous dull ache

Of the everyday.

Firing bullets

At all and sundry

Till one got you.




(7 January 2006)



My dad loved art and Shakespeare,

Hated football and the royal family –

He was born in Wormwood Scrubs

To a neurasthenic soldier

Who left.

Brother Eric died at five,

He told me this to burst a depression,

Revealed the secret of my childhood,

His dark youth, because he loved me

And wished to see me well.


Brother Tommy was killed at Arnhem,

A mangled parachute in a nest of snipers,

I found a daughter and said

This is her because he loved me

And wished to see me well,

Her mouth was Tommy’s,

The same slant of smile,

And in profile

My dad’s Barrymore nose

In his knight’s repose.



Sixty Years


Sixty years they loved one another

I missed eight -

Six steadfast decades

From Rommel and the ATS

To Iraq and the PLF

In their true love loyalty

They bickered and squabbled

And danced round the kitchen table

Shouting words of love.


 Sweet Father Death


Sweetly he went

His body riddled

With disease but in

No pain, he died

Serene, went to meet

No maker that he owned

Yet still believed

In a love allotted evermore.


Sweet father death

Into your dark stables

Take these hooves -

Let them gallop!



Silly me

Walking out on everything

Like the proverbial bull –

All that broken China,

Sixty million dead they say,

But I’m so busy with myself

I can’t see the wood

For the proverbials.





Pitched in the key

Of Solomon’s desire

He rent the veil.


Tired love’s clichés

Smouldered at the chords.

The senses’ mountaineer

Climbed the scales,

The circle of a moan

Praised the unrelenting bone.


But in the modern age

The hero crushes death

With razor blades,

Sees it all in a mirror.


On the rocks

Tim Buckley

The narcotic siren

 Broke you.   


















Banned Practice
Lynne Munn
Richard Snr- Actor
Barry Flanagan