My good friend David Tait, who I trust implicitly in all matters poetic, has suggested that the poems I have been writing recently have all been written from well within my comfort zone (I can’t argue with that). He has challenged me to take the risk of trying new things with a view to “moving my work on to the next stage”. His encouragement and support have been a big help in getting me to where I am now so I will take on the challenge – after all what have I got to lose other than I might write some not-so-good poems.

I will be very grateful for your feedback


Three bakeries, a butchers, hardware store,
long gone, a path deserted, litter-strewn,
threatening. I imagine tumbleweed.
No, this is not how it was meant to be.

Village pub boarded up since smoking ban,
post office, shop closed too, public transport
going, going, gone; tumbleweed again.
No, this is not how it was meant to be.

Double bed, one side empty; tumbleweed
rolls past a breakfast table set for one
into the corners beneath spiders’ webs.
No, this is not how it was meant to be.

Nor, believe me, what I had intended.



34 Responses to “Tumbleweed”

  1. Enjoyed David, especially the observations on break down of communities, shops, pubs etc I am seeing alot of this here too, I was told spiders are good for creativity so keep those webs. Look forward to reading more. πŸ˜‰

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Maria,

      That breakdown is happening all over with the result that we become more and more isolated – I was trying to capture that.

      As for the spiders they are very welcome to share my flat – as long as they obey the rules!! πŸ™‚

  2. christine Says:

    Well, your first attempt at travelling outside your comfort zone has worked a treat! This poem, in my opinion, is exceptionally good. It certainly doesnt come under the heading of a “not-so-good-poem”. not by a long way.

    You have captured the atmosphere wonderfully with the tumbleweed and I just love that last line.

    It.s a sad poem and I’m very glad to know that it doesnt reflect how you are at the present time.

    Lots of love



    PS I did have a cup of tea first!! *smile* xxx

    • christine Says:

      Also wanted to say that although you have branched out and I think you really have in this one,your voice is still purring in the background which I think is lovely.

      I want to say “well done” but I’m always afraid it sounds patronising. Maybe I am being silly.


      • belfastdavid Says:

        Thank you Christine,

        David Tait said something similar when he read the poem. I guess it is difficult to suppress my own voice entirely. I am not even sure I want to do that!! πŸ™‚

        Although I guess the aim is to take a poem to the Leeds Writers’ Circle and for someone to say “I would not have recognised this as a David Agnew poem”

        “Well done” is always an acceptable comment. πŸ™‚


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Christine,

      I am enjoying this process of trying to do it differently. David gave me some pointers as to how to go about that which is giving added point and pleasure to reading poetry, to reading it with a view to seeing how other people (good poets) do it.

      It was intended to be a sad poem so I am pleased that came across.

      I have just had my first cup of coffee for today πŸ™‚

      Lots of love

  3. I think it is a wonderful piece that last stanza really hit it hard….yes.. sorrowful..but so well said..

  4. Brilliant πŸ˜›

    • Sorry, no I really like this one, hope the spiders will not keep you awake. Must be great to have a double bed all to yourself πŸ™‚

      I like the repeating last line, is this type of poem a free one or a specific one? And how is your bed not your comfort zone?

      • belfastdavid Says:

        Thank you Ina,

        All good things, like a double bed to yourself, have their good and bad points πŸ™‚

        It is a free format poem – the discipline of rhythm and repeated lines I imposed on myself – part of trying to do it differently.

        My recling armchair is my comfort zone πŸ™‚

    • belfastdavid Says:

      *Big, big Smile*

      Thank you Ina

  5. It’s a lovely poem. It evokes a feeling of desertion. I like the flow of it very much.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Cathy,

      I was trying to capture that feeling od “desertion”, of isolation which it is possible to feel in the middle of society.
      Particularly as one grows older.

  6. Vera Hazelgrove Says:

    You create the atmosphere of past and isolation very well with this poem, and I like your challenge to the whole situation in your last line!!! It “makes” the poem (in my humble opinion πŸ™‚

    I look forward to more πŸ™‚

    Have a good week,
    Vera & Karley

    • belfastdavid Says:

      πŸ™‚ Thank you Vera,

      In many ways the poem was a build up to the last line!!!

      More to follow in due course πŸ™‚

      You and Karley have a good week too


  7. I really like the repeated lines; they mirror that sense of the inevitable about the decline and loss of well-loved, familiar things. The old poetic form called the pantoum is great for this kind of mood, I’ve found; tricky, but very satisfying! And that last line is brilliant; it sent me straight back to the beginning to read it through again. If this is our first glimpse of the ‘new David’, we’re in for a treat and no mistake. Really looking forward to sharing the journey wioth you, and seeing your next step on the way!

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Nick,

      We had a lot of fun a while back at the Writers’ Circle challenging each other with vilanelles, although I never got one I was completely satisfied with. Then we moved on to pantoums and juddered to a halt!! πŸ™‚

      Perhaps I will try again

      • Oh, villanelles are fun, too; even harder than pantoums, I reckon. I’ve been on a long free-verse run, so I think I’m going to take a leaf out of your book and stretch myself with a bit of formal verse; thanks for making me look at my own work, too!

      • belfastdavid Says:

        I look forward to reading Nick

  8. a little choppy, in that your “natural voice” has a more well-spoken rhythm. different is not always “better” …. and many forget that these days, even those ‘helping others to “improve.”‘

    no offense to your friend ….. but i now believe in my grandmother’s garden. while i was trying to make the hedges all “perfect” and squared …. she let the birds drop the seeds and took pleasure in whatever shape it decided to grow-into.

    i learned too late, that she was right and i was wrong. sometimes just being who you are is not a ‘bad’ thing. because go under the surface, and me trying to make those hedges the “perfect” example of a “tended” garden ……. who says one shape is “better” than another? it is consensus only. yet there is only ONE natural and original shape in which that hedge will grow.

    beauty is in the eye of the realist. if the ‘beholder’ is a conformist … then that beauty is relative only.

    that said …. i like it. in that one can discern the emotion of loss …. which you usually cover-up due to manners.

    i tried to stretch a certain-way in writing once, and by the time i was re-arranging the verses and lines, creating new meanings that way and telling myself how complex and wonderful ……. i finally realized that when it didn’t MATTER what order i placed the words and verses …. that the point was gone. and yes, sometimes it’s nice not-to-have a point. eventually, i focused upon my wording as how it could FIT IN …. not replace the natural timbre of voice. guess that’s all. have to forgive any over-toward criticism, as tend to work a balance against profusion of encouragements. it’s not the devil’s advocate, but close. πŸ™‚

    i really couldn’t say a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to go in this direction. only that we learn by trying. and would also mention, that i have noticed a growth in your work over the years. you’re hitting the mark …. just at a little more subtle angle.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Eileen,

      I realy do appreciate this comment. I doubt if my “natural voice” will ever be totally suppressed and thank you too for noticing the growth. πŸ™‚

      You have picked up too on something I noticed when I wrote the poem – it expressed a sadness which is almost certainly real for me but which my other poems do not necessarily reflect. So, by stretching myself, I learn something about me!! Poetry can do that!! πŸ™‚

      So I will continue to try new things, keeping in mind that there is only one natural way for the hedge to grow. πŸ™‚


  9. I was looking for more formal poetry forms, and I found an article about the Sestina, with this poem as example πŸ™‚ I thought you might like it?
    : “From “Two Lorries”

    It’s raining on black coal and warm wet ashes.
    There are tyre-marks in the yard, Agnew’s old lorry
    Has all its cribs down and Agnew the coalman
    With his Belfast accent’s sweet-talking my mother.
    Would she ever go to a film in Magherafelt?
    But it’s raining and he still has half the load

    To deliver further on. This time the lode
    Our coal came from was silk-black, so the ashes
    Will be the silkiest white. The Magherafelt
    (Via Toomebridge) bus goes by. The half-stripped lorry
    With its emptied, folded coal-bags moves my mother:
    The tasty ways of a leather-aproned coalman!
    The first two stanzas (of seven) from the sestina
    “Two Lorries” Seamus Heaney (1996)”


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Wonderful, Thank you Ina.

      I have never read that particular Seamus Heaney poem – I will go now, see if I can find the full version πŸ™‚

  10. I just found out it was Heany’s bd yesterday too. πŸ™‚ Funny. Was that Agnew he wrote about related to you? Or is Agnew a name that happens a lot?

    • Oops I meant Heaney not Heany, I was focussing on not spelling it ‘Hiney’ πŸ™‚

    • belfastdavid Says:

      I don’t think there is any relation, although it is difficult to trace too far back in our family tree because a lot of the records got destroyed in a fire some years ago – my young brother did try.

      There is an Agnew clan in Scotland with their own tartan, but I don’t think we are related to them either πŸ™‚

  11. David,

    Although (as I told you on FB) I love this poem, I do wish I could not identify with many parts of it. I think the image of tumbleweed is an excellent way to illustrate a feeling of loss and loneliness in this poem. Here in America, tumbleweed is associated with images of ghost towns in the old west. It is a mood that carries smoothly over from the outside scene in your poem to private quarters.

    I have to disagree with Eileen. I do think it is important to keep your natural voice when you try something new–but you have managed that very nicely here. I don’t find it choppy at all.

    Even when we are surrounded by other people, it is still possible to feel alone, especially if we are alone spiritually. I don’t mean that in a religious sense, though that is certainly true too–I am referring to the loneliness felt when someone important to your life is missing from it.

    I know I have missed the comment on your last book excerpt. It will follow as soon as I have time. I did read it, but a comment is going to be long. *smile*

    *kicking aside my own tumbleweed*

    Much love,

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Tumbleweed has the same association over here – chiefly, I guess, because we have watched so many American movies!! Interestingly I notice that “The Last Picture Show” has just been re-released in our cinemas – one of the most stmospheric pictures I ever saw!!

      I was trying to capture that feeling of loss and isolation – sometimes I feel that growing old in this country is a frightening prospect.

      I have been enjoying the challenge David set me but somehow I doubt if I will be able to suppress my natural “voice” – my muse seems quite determined on that point πŸ™‚

      And I do, very well, understand your comment on feeling alone – it is very true.

      I do look forward to your comment on the last book excerpt. I need to get my finger out and record some more πŸ™‚

      With much love

  12. Peter Doyle Says:

    I like the way the Tumbleweed rolls right through into your bedroom David. Most effective. Have you thougt of shortening the last line? Maybe leave out “believe me”? Now, if you could just write with an Aussie accent… : )

    • belfastdavid Says:

      I did think Peter of leaving “believe me” out but then clearly I thought again πŸ™‚

      My young brother has developed an Aussie accent after all the years he has lived there. If I was ti write with one would I need to mention tinnies and barbies? πŸ™‚

  13. Well done, David. Well done. πŸ™‚

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