Welcome To Visuals and Verbals

Artwork & Writings of John William Brown
Painter, Poet, Dramatist and Performer

Saturday, 19 November 2016

'Conflating Planes And Stylised Realities No.1' 'unexpection'

unexpection *

time of change impermanence and egress
inward gaze resources new from old

dark recess regression and greater depth
in seeming endless distress unexpection is shown

planes of reality they bend pull and digress
enjoy the daily mundane while breaking its hold

closed systems deny reality’s width and depth
freefall leaves everything open grasps the unknown

i sink and push four ounces of air to the void
i withdraw i turn and sink i return to the sun

i am sunk i push knowing i am knowingly buoyed
no exit return bring it on again bring it on

Drawing: "Conflating Planes & Stylised Realities 2" © john william brown 05-06 November 2016 - Poem: "unexpection" from Part 19 "Knowing Your Place" Italian Journal © john william brown 05-06 November 2016

unexpection  *
My own created word: “unexpection” is correct.  It concerns a state of unexpectedness in this moment.  To me, the words un-expectation and unexpectedness do not suffice in immediacy.  To my mind, “to expect” is immediate, whereas, “expectation” projects into some vague future.  Hence, a state of “unexpection” is of the immediate.  © john william brown 2016.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

'Conflating Planes And Stylised Realities No.1' 'confidence'


who was it said “through despair we find salvation”?
a woman i think and a fascist so i was told

true or not so the quote still pushes through
as i salvage a find of self i have never known

a certain confidence a quiet reformation
all i admire in my self both retiring and bold

past heroines heroes brother and mother too
turn in this shadow attached to me yet alone

i stalk a provincial city in autumnal sun
my first tai chi teacher sticks with me in my pace

i sink into his words one evening long gone
“in chinese tai chi ‘confidence’ is knowing-your-place”

drawing 'Conflating Planes & Stylised Realities No.1'
© john william brown 03-04 November 2016
(Pen & Ink on Fabriano 200g/m2 A4)
poem 'confidence'  © john william brown 03-04 November 2016

Friday, 13 May 2016

I Heard A Father Crying

I Heard A Father Crying

I have not cried or wept in too many years.
And that was for a child in Palestine.
On the radio... I heard a father crying...
Beit Hanoun... “Glass shards... A crib...” His tears...

And in my separate grief I felt his claim.
I listened to his disembodied voice.
I heard a grief that mine could barely frame.
A window on his world broke without choice.

I cannot choose to feel or not to feel.
Ones empathy will rise or it will not.
Without one touch humanity undone.

Damaged by a protective edge of steel,
“Never-Again” should mean none are forgot.
Why only in our pain can we be one?

Poem © john william brown 09 May 2016
Drawing © john william brown 12 May 2016

Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Right Thing To Do (For Tony Blair)

The Right Thing To Do
(For Tony Blair)

We trusted you, my friend, you asked us to.
Do you recall, way back when we were young –
well, younger than we are now, decades on? 
You’ve changed. Don’t seem to do, the right thing to do.
Did you have hidden dark thoughts then? They seem to belong
to someone we don’t recognise? The light has gone.
Instead, there’s darkness. It started once you lied.
We came to you. At least one million strong.
All those you jilted. In our trust. We tried.
Yet, you demoralised this country long
before you went to war. We watched you go.
Arm in arm with Yankey Lover and God
on your side. So Messianic! You sold out
to your Satanic Mammon. So very odd.

We thought you so religious and so
moral. You held the high ground. Perhaps the air,
there, being so refined, turned your mind about.
Climbers, they say, when too high, get delusions.
Well, that was true of you. Altitude affects the brain.
Not that the pain, death and destruction you caused
is easily excused simply by that;
power corrupts those already corrupt.
Such knowledge need not lead us to despair.
It’s good that one no longer has illusions.
You lost your moral compass and for your sins
took territory where you did not belong.
Others came back with flags draped over coffins.
You never quite came back. You never - paused.

And there it seems, my friend, you still remain.
The dead aren’t heard. They sing a silent song;
it says exactly where, and who, you’re at:
the horseman of your own Apocalypse.
The evil you created none can stop,
and still you spit your pestilence; truth speaks abrupt,
yet only parsimonious lies pass through your lips.
You changed religions. Did you confess your lot?
Forgiven? For penance: “Envoy, Go Make Peace”.
But even so you wheeled a deal with those
whom, it is said, helped bring twin-towers down.
Not that I go much on conspiracy,
I just repeat what I have heard proposed;
you made a pretty penny from their oil.

Such are the spoils of war. But why now fleece
those you were sent to save? Yes. Even now.
You make peace deals set to divide and rule.
Seems everything you touch you seem to spoil.
If nothing else, you have consistency.
First, you screwed us. Made us look like fools.
And then you went off, flirting, played around.
You’re like a political tart! Just, how
do you manage to get to sleep at night?
Grandee delusions? Out of touch. And reach?
Rich! Powerful! The Main Man! The One! Despite
that: we, The Many, are ready to impeach.
We’ve learnt that we can do the right thing too.
Trust us in that - as we, once, trusted you!

Poem & Drawing "To Do The Right Thing" 
© john william brown August 2015

Friday, 28 February 2014



A Short Love Story in 28 Sonnets


she sat in her car looking straight ahead
tapping her steering to her radio
a silent singing to her stereo
well-dressed coiffured and off to earn her bread

i’d been awoken by a front door's slam
so from my kitchen looked down saw her pass
slowly with happy song and traffic jam
a person of position stature class

next day i set my alarm so to see
and though she’d give no first or second glance
still i gazed down and through my double-glaze

a voyeur lover watching caringly
i loved that silent song that finger-dance
i haven’t seen her now for several days


i haven’t seen her now for several days
though i still look my interest has waned
yet i can’t change the error of my ways
my daydream stays nothing lost nothing gained

my cliché mind pulled me back to that hand
her finger-dance traced my attention there
the joy i saw in her face as she sang
a line of broken thought took me elsewhere

and i was back-tracked almost fifty years
to someone on a platform left behind
she’s holding back her hair and stubborn tears
while i pretend no care and set my mind

and through my kitchen window i recall
we walked down love lane passed the prison wall


we walked down love lane passed the prison wall
then through back lane i knew and so did she
i didn’t really want her there at all
but she would have her way and silently

she glanced at me and awkwardly as planned
i got onto the train nothing to say
i made a casual gesture with my hand
she did the same and then we looked away

one moment less i stepped back from the door
the window strap was up the window down 
then i leaned out to catch her eye once more
but she was staring down towards the ground

i tried to speak but could not mouth goodbye
the train began to move i watched her cry

unsuspecting blue

the train began to move i watched her cry
i could not hear her through the noise and steam
but saw her shoulders shaking her small frame
i see her now as traffic passes by

i shut the window sighing in relief
inside the carriage no one else was there
i sat beside a window looking east
thursday thank god i didn’t have to share

the rumbling train soon lulled me even more
outside on unsuspecting blue dark cloud
in layered waves of black and grey crept in

its silence seemed to dumb the engine’s roar
then on my window pelting sleet hailed loud
“let me in! damn you! damn you! let me in!”

close call

“let me in! damn you! damn you! let me in!”
her face was pressed against a small square pane
of that one red telephone box up in
muswell hill or was it off crouch end lane?

no maybe near the hampstead tube? yet
it doesn’t really matter much at all
except to know we’d been caught in a squall
me in the box she outside getting wet

i teased her for a bit then let her in
left it too long almost our first close call
she smiled with grey-green eyes i with a grin
she seemed at ease while i was not at all

a storm a train a whistle’s sharp alarm
she reached and touched my cheek with small rough palm

nothing more

she reached and touched my cheek with small rough palm
and as i now watch traffic stop below
she touches still though I don’t want to know
one wishes not recall if one caused harm

a lonely station platform rain must fall
he gets down with his rucksack slams the door
she meets him in the ticket office hall
she puts her arm around him nothing more

i get out at her station sun is hot
i book a room at station-house hotel
she waits below my hotel room is bland

they visit parents he’d have rather not
they are direct politely treat him well
beneath the tablecloth her small rough hand


beneath the tablecloth her small rough hand
i’m nervous so it’s hard to eat my meal
i’m sat with awkward judgements and i feel
i’m treading water running shifting sand

her father has been tasting prison food
he finds it and his prison inmates vile
i wonder if he also finds me crude
his talk is terse i listen with fixed smile

so through the back gate passed the prison wall
love lane back lane i know this town too well
i’m held estranged its bleak and gritty charm

my hotel room is narrow dank and small
i close the door as if to my own cell
while small rough hands still rest upon my arm


while small rough hands still rest upon my arm
i turn again to watch out for that car
to distance me from past thought and alarm
that finger-dance had become my lodestar

but that has not been seen for several days
that hand that played that wheel that turned my mind
that called to memory that passed lost phase
that forming transience that i can’t find

all loss seems held in mind consistently
though taking altered views sometimes can bring
one casual gesture to change everything
one silent song can fill eternity

i stepped down off the train with my rucksack
two small rough hands on my arm call me back

small rough hands

two small rough hands on my arm call me back
how can a touch have voice even a past?
this presence present hauntingly steadfast
reminding me of everything and lack

a prison life of form this ageing cell
this emptiness i feel so solidly
this shallowness i know i know so well
a fullness that was shared so fleetingly

on quiet nights i walk your northern town
slow walking silence held in each footfall
in back streets where the dirt sleets pouring down
on love lane back lane painted prison wall 

a train these thoughts that run without delay
two small rough hands two hundred miles away

futile gestures

two small rough hands two hundred miles away
hold on as fingers tap a steering wheel
and from a train five decades back thursday
two casual futile gestures one weak smile

rings in a tree the ripples on the sand
traced silent echoes songs in traffic jams
all transient connections one door slams
i woke up from a sleep into a dream

this fallacy this memory in change
such ifs? what-ifs? buts lies and changing doubt
all storylines that give a life false form

this verse’s conceit tries to rearrange
verbal deceit can’t edit darkness out
a train up north is heading into storm


a train up north is heading into storm
while i strive save my sensibility
lost to layered clouds’ propensity
to swallow unsuspecting blue make form

crowded stirrings break into my mind
unconscious loss some needed clarity
forebodings of the fullness i can’t find
joy spleenful innocence disparity

a passing storm will thrash a train’s sealed pane
both far and near my eyes can see her face
and clarity’s prevailing for awhile

i‘m heading north on the mid-morning train
the storm has gone my past life i replace
i step down to the platform and your smile


i step down to the platform and your smile
i’ve waited for this moment for too long
this chance to change to go the extra mile
to rewrite what i am right what was wrong

i step out of myself and i become
you move to me i slam the carriage door
i smile you come towards me almost run
your arms around my neck feet off the ground

so light i lift you swing you to and fro
and tears well to your eyes i’m as you seem
and somewhere in between that and my dream
and all of this and none and who i know

a train slows to a station one time more
i step down to the platform slam the door


i step down to the platform slam the door
weekend off work we meet at gospel oak
the station near the heath we laugh we joke
we race uphill then hold hands tight before

we rush the other side screaming insane
we rest beneath a large oak gnarled and burled
dead older oaks pollarded bare their grain
your brightness darkens wood shade heavy world

you finger-trace heart year-rings one dead tree
i watch as shadow falls in granite stone
your words hard broken circle distantly
leaving bed-sit move father north job home

i hear your voice you ask me visit you
i’m leaning back unknowing what i’ll do


i’m leaning back unknowing what i’ll do
i’m on my bed dull faded hotel room
a challenge to myself tell asking you
come live with me in london make it home

come back with me or let us end it now
i run it through my head time after time
i change it into quatrains make it rhyme
it still sounds blunt no softening the blow

procrastination enters every day
it burrs my sharpness dulls my mind somehow
coldness and distance furrows in my brow

i put it off want it to go away
you arm’s in mine rough hands on skin heads down
estranged we walk the backstreets of your town


estranged we walk the backstreets of your town
but this time it’s midday and so we go
towards a pub you say what i don’t know
saloon bars are men only you turn round

you draw back i insist we break taboo
as londoners i say they’ll simply think
fools with their london ways bring them here too
i leave her at a table get the drink

i return with our beers and cocky smile
and all the time she’s staring at the door
small fingers tapping out a table-dance

we drink our drinks she’s nervous all the while
down south i know she’d take this shit no more
i let the moment go pass up the chance

seize the day

i let the moment go pass up the chance
meanwhile as all my rewrites fall apart
back before in london after you depart
i need to get away a boat to france

instead i spend my next weekend in deal
i want to run the beaches cross the fields
to walk the coast path edge and try to feel
but i have no resource on which to build

instead i watch the tide come in then fall
and walk the rippled beach as it goes out
and miss you wish you here to hear the call
as herring-gull terns small gulls turn about

i sit and watched the ferries cross to france
i wish to seize the day to take my chance

procrastinate and die

i wish to seize the day to take my chance
instead i freeze procrastinate and die
that habit always dies hard tries advance
fear-of-sharing as caring silent lie

along the sunny streets of your home town
he laughs and jokes pretends and hides his mind
you know he knows you sense what lies behind
are telling you the something he holds down

she looks up to me with quizzical smile
what’s wrong? she says what? i divert reply
nothing she shakes her head we’re double-bound

he stops looks in a shop window awhile
looks through your reflection you hold his eye
she turns her head away stares at the ground

existential games

she turns her head away stares at the ground
the train began to move i watched her cry
silent in rain and steam without a sound
desirable i lose her to the sky

engulfed by layered black and grey storm cloud
while i damp down feelings through window frames
effluent stupid existential games
caught in my youthful swim indifferent proud

to inundate with recall is to dream
the past’s afloat i dive into the known
wash it away wave goodbye it has gone

but i’m a dreaming fool so it would seem
held down by small rough hands and undertow
i could drown or drift out of right and wrong

romantic cliché

i could drown or drift out of right and wrong
but i am caught up in romantic cliché
i need to dream tell tales wander away
in real worlds of nostalgic silent song

a finger-dance a walk along a strand
to count rings in trees' hearts imagining
a million destinies yet to be planned
past lives brought into now all new becoming

perhaps i dream that in a passing car
a memory of someone is in fact
that same person herself now driving by

or am i taking everything too far?
but then? what if this storyline has cracked?
she turns her head i catch her grey-green eye

conflicting feelings

she turns her head i catch her grey-green eye
and in one look i’m caught know i belong
and such banality becomes my song
more precious to myself than even i

in other-time this idea seems absurd
without number i should submit to nothing
yet both ideas are unformed hardly heard
unsettling feint whispers not yet made thing

and as i catch her eye they fall away
are overwhelmed by what needs to feel true
the here and now as i try seize the day
and clouds engulf an unsuspecting blue

needs seek to feel secure yet unconfined
so two conflicting feelings hold my mind


so two conflicting feelings hold my mind
one fed by free data one by control
while i am torn both held in double-bind
and also once removed above it all

this world of either-or seems false constrained
what is goes on beyond either these two
i am freed by this thought yet still restrained
thesis antithesis synthesis too

bifurcates while the rest of life’s unmoved
it goes its way in storm and wind and hail
though absolutes remain they’re far removed
the relative is where i will prevail

she takes my arm i walk her home again
i smell her hair released in wind and rain


i smell her hair released in wind and rain
a scent of gold transports me back in time
a bakery and passing it i find
feint gaslight shadows of us both remain

a jeweller’s clock had beckoned seven-thirty
alone together running for a bus
a busker’s song torn donkey-jacket dirty
the bakery smells golden on we rush

a gaslight once stood here upon the wall
now there’s a bare outline where it had hung
we stood beneath and kissed do you recall?
melding warm gas lit shadows flickering

“more fares?” my cold kiss shudders on your cheek
the shadow’s gone i passed there by last week

bare outlines

the shadow’s gone i passed there by last week
the baker too now it no longer seems
i held your face with tears about to break
“take courage!” the beer poster boldly screams

can you recall the moment that you went?
i’ve no recall no memory that’s clear
was it by coach? by train? your parents’ car?
just one last hug your hair was damp the scent

i smell it now but that was days before
routemaster bus to work your final week
i took you to the stop last time i’m sure
“more fares?” my cold kiss shudders on your cheek

i wave goodbye a pavement-shiver smiles
we’re nothing more than shadows bare outlines

bacon and eggs

we’re nothing more than shadows bare outlines
i’m thinking as i lay back on the bed
i look along the bare hotel room’s lines
another dreaded day to face ahead

cold water wash-down shave small bedroom sink
i hear the traffic passing slow below
and still i have not said the thing i know
must be said and i don’t know what to think

downstairs i stare out at the sunny day
across bacon and eggs that i can’t eat
i wish to be in future time away
today’s the day an hour’s time we meet

and out my kitchen window i can see
she sits inside the car looking at me


she sits inside the car looking at me
her father in the driving seat no smile
he doesn’t like or trust me why should he?
i haven’t liked myself for quite awhile

a day’s a haze a blaze a river walk
bleak car park riverside industrial
the water flowing fast and we don’t talk
intense intent what won’t be said at all

parents’ prison-house evening we eat
every mouthful chokes and i can’t wait
till we’re upstairs alone so i can speak

my words cold granite quake our eyes don’t meet
i ache to take them back but it’s too late
she’s weeping and i watch the thing i break

one last call

she’s weeping and i watch the thing i break
i get up leave the room i go down stairs
her mother rushes passed “you! wait!” she glares
i wait at the front door for what it takes

i get it full and fast when she comes down
your father? where was he? i can’t recall
estranged we walked the backstreets of your town
back lane love lane white painted prison wall

you came to see me off back to the train
i didn’t really want you there at all
but you would have your way and silently

long platform at the station first slight rain
your teardrops mix with raindrops one last call
follow your heart you say so quietly

oriental plane

follow your heart you say so quietly
same words when i leapt from that slowing train
the braking wheels still screeching noisily
same words now washed away by falling rain

the hiss of rain and steam as we withdraw
you look up mouth three words as if in sigh
i step back then i lean out of the door
you’re looking down i cannot say goodbye

i looked down from my window watched you pass
i hadn’t seen you so for several days
a front door slammed and woke me up to you

you’re changed you have position stature class
while i dream on and watch through double-glaze
the oriental plane against stark blue

follow your heart

the oriental plane against stark blue
is empty now its red leaves scattered round
birds serenade the traffic peck the ground
as one more slow car edges into view

and it is you your finger-dance once more
you stop i wave gesture through years and while
she looks up at me with quizzical smile
i leave the room i run i slam the door

follow your heart the last words that you said
i followed to your car with all it takes
to seize the day from all my fears and dread

you finger-danced my heart and how it fled
right off the kerb i heard the screeching brakes
she sat in her car looking straight ahead

© john william brown February 2014 - Norwich UK -

Thursday, 2 May 2013

...end of days

...end of days

in the making of great ways
in the darkness of crude times
in the coming of new slaves
this will be the end of days

playing with what we could do
to avoid our chatter games
empty twitter tunes and shame
this will be the end of days

playing to avoid our shame
in new empty chatter games
making darkness in crude times
this will be the end of days

to avoid what we could do
playing empty tunes and games
with our twitter chatter shame
this will be the end of days

in the coming of great times
in the making of new slaves
in the darkness of crude ways
this will be the end of days

Poem "...end of days" from "The Last Book" (2013)  © john william brown 2013.
Drawing "Remember Afghanistan" (1980)  © john william brown 2013.