AGE by Barrie Purnell

                       AGE by Barrie Purnell

 When I was young I was immortal and invincible

                                       The whole world was mine

The future a blank canvas on which all my

                             Dreams could be defined

I ran laughing through the storms the raindrops

                     Sparkled like diamonds on my jeans

The sun was hot, the winds were warm and snow was fun

                                                         When I was in my teens

New paths were there to walk along when I was young


Life was carefree and school just an annoying interlude

                                                         Between long holidays

I was forming lifelong friendships before we all went

                                                         Our separate ways

It was the fifties, teddy boys and rock and roll with the

                                                     Emergence of the teens

I wore a jay blue drape coat and crepe soled shoes, my hair

                                                               Coiffed with brilliantine

Beat poets were on my tongue when I was young


Riding my Triumph Thunderbird down country lanes

                                                         Risking life and limb

A leather jacketed Gene Vincent look alike just

                                                  Wishing I was him

My first real love affair was with Patsy I carved her

                                                         Name into a tree

She was the village beauty and I felt so good when she

                                        Walked hand in hand with me

There were love songs to be sung when I was young


In my youth I listened to those protest songs about

                                             Race and power and war

I was full of idealistic notions of how they had

                                             Got it wrong before

In my naivety I thought that maybe we could

                                 Change the world at large

Not realizing we could not reach the faceless

                                                      Men in charge

Tears were shed and hands were wrung when I was young


Student life was a great time for me just parties

                                             Interrupted by exams

And trying to understand thermodynamics and its

                                                         Baffling diagrams

This was a time for love a time for dreams it was

                                                     Youth’s curtain call

Ambition had yet to show its ugly face inside our

                                               Cloistered college halls

Life was just so much fun when I as young


Now I am old the future is uncertain and my time

                                           Remaining has decreased

My dreams are now of past adventures my personal

                                                       Inertia has increased

Now the sun’s too hot the wind’s too strong snows just

                                           Another cross that’s to be born

And storms just get me wet and means a raincoat

                                     And gumboots must be worn

I am always too hot or much too cold now I am old


Now I am old time is passing much more quickly than

                                                    It did when I was young

Those lifelong friendships are now sadly ending with

                                                       Requiems being sung

I look back on all those youthful dreams I had that

                                                        Remain unfulfilled

And look around my empty house into which my whole

                                                           Life has been distilled

I remember all those principles I sold now I am old


I return to the village of my youth to see Patsy’s’

                                               Name still on the tree

But try as I might I can’t recall her face and that

                                             Somehow saddens me

That canvas on which my dreams were painted is now

                                                         Just in shades of grey

When young I never thought I would ever be as old

                                                                   As I am today

That is how it is I’m told when you are old


With age has come perspective on the idealism

                                                               Of my youth

Replaced with scepticism of those beliefs peddled

                                                             To me as truth

I realise power and money come out the winner

                                                 In life’s murky game

And looking back in history we see it has

                               Always been the same

I see world problems just get retold now I am old


Now I have time to think about all the things that

                                                   I have said and done

All the battles that I have lost and all the races

                                                     That I have won

All those greasy career ladders I tried so very

                                                       Hard to climb

I see were of no consequence at all viewed through

                                                 The telescope of time

I have so few of life’s pages to unfold now I am old


Love in a boat by Kevin Murphy

Love in a boat by Kevin Murphy


Ged McMahon loved his women, them and their bodies – strictly in that order. Married with three kids he liked to say “I’ve only had sex twice”. He certainly considered himself a ‘man-of-the-world’, qualified in Sex Education: to tell youth how good sex can be in a loving relationship.

He also knew how King Canute felt.

Seeking to offer unusual opportunities for raising self esteem, Ged included narrowboating. Dougal got Ged to take his village club for a residential on the canals of the Big City – Nottingham. It had all the ingredients – ‘boring’ sitting on a boat at three mile an hour, turned out to include tests of several unknown skills; team working with that lad you thought you hated; feats of strength; the promise of nooky at night when Dougal and Maggie, and Ged of course, were asleep; and talking about anything you like to adults.

Ged was a specialist at the latter. He had both the Hippocratic Oath and held the silence of the Confessional – and had he heard some stuff! ‘Opportunity’ was almost sinking under the weight of hormones they were transporting; sex was on the agenda, and the crew knew. Dougal and Maggie had a scheme to nip this in the bud, a curtain separated boys from girls – Dougal one side, Maggie the other. What Ged was able to reveal to Dougal three weeks later, was a night long traffic of kids out of the front to the back – and vice versa, and that Janine had at last succeeded in getting Big Dan to take her virginity.

It was a battle to draw any kind of realisation from the teenagers that sex could be a damp squib. He tried to warn the girls that sex could be an ‘is that it?’ moment. However, he said it could be a sharing, loving thing, a ready for it thing, planned for thing; sweet, gentle not panting and thrusting – a whole higher thing.

“Naagh, Ged – you don’t understand!”

Ged had to listen to them expounding their encyclopaedic knowledge of the Kama Sutra, then to hear that young people did know all the alternatives to dropping Acid, stealing a car, a quick shag, telling a copper to ‘fuck-off’ – it was not to tell them.

They asked him about his first shag; did he like doggy style; what about spunk floating in the bath. Yes, laughing was the way in – and shock treatment: “What? Me? I’ve only had sex twice”.

Dougal laughing, nudged his assistant youth leader Maggie.

“Thought you had three kids, Ged.”

“Yes I have. So what do I mean?”

“Yer lyin’!” “Other one’s not ‘is!” “He’s a saddo!”

Try as he might, Ged could not get over his distinction between making love and having sex. It was like taking a dummy off a baby – or in a youth context – taking the needle off a junkie.

On the way home, Dougal offered to drop Ged off at his house as it was on the way – no need for him to drive all the way back again.

Big waves and shouting out of the bus windows as he walked up his path. When he finally turned the house key,someone bellowed, “Third time lucky, Ged!”

Youth In Revolt by Steven Halinski

Youth In Revolt

basically the follow on from my earlier poem, “Arrested Youth”. The second chapter of it, if you will,

Steven Halinski

My lungs; coal

Like the black ice

Scorching around them.

Smoke, smoke

Filling each breath

That penetrates

The glaciers surrounded.


My path is as narrow

As the minds around me,

Smashed are the rules

By the hand that guides me.

I make my own decisions now –

Decisions are the prisons how

I lock myself towards

To grow my freedom’s roses.


Done are the days I vegetate and decay,

I grow myself my truth

Not based on what they say

But to be prison-free;

Shut off from the shackles

Of the past indecencies.


Claimed be the suffering I lament,

I no longer continue prison sent –

I take my dreams and leave my plea

Based on not yours but my consent.

Arrested Youth by Steven Halinski

Arrested Youth


My mind turns a cheek to thought –

Can’t think when feelings turn to nought

Sorrow fills at early death

Freezes cold when realised life was never there.


“What have you done, with your life?”

“Don’t ask me, it will bleed me dry.”

“So can I wipe away your bones?”

“Do what you like, I’m stone-cold alone.”


The court rallies the jury.

“In which is your greatest crime?”

“My crime is avoiding my truth!”

So they sentence me a life-time –

When death would be more kind…


“Your prison is the bed you made,

Forever, never shared.

This is the price you pay!”

I look to my reflection bared:

This is the price I pay…

If only I weren’t so scared.


“Your last words to the court, if you have any?”

“I have many,

But an excuse is no use

When it is nothing but empty.

So I say only this,

May my young-self forgive me.”


To relive this torture everyday

Is to push forwards and move back again,

Sometimes free of my restraints –

Distractions from dreams lead me astray.


A pity prison for a petty plea

How picture-perfect for the joke on me.

“If you wanted so much from life

Then why not make it be?

You possessed what it took

Now you’re left lonely –“


Bon Voyage to my broken dreams…


Cornered by these prison walls

I meshed from strangled thoughts;

Too choked to make the call

To take action in these courts.


Deep apologies to

The one I used to be –

Our big dreams turned ugly

When all they did was prison me.

We should have had it all

But pressure took its toll;

Thicker than these prison walls.

I’ve nothing left but a suicide call.

Steven Halinski