David Punter



Paunch-proud re-enactors, crusaders in doublet and hose

charging through mud, shouting hoarsely of honour and blood


Wizened men stealing off to their attics where the railways run

dreaming of when the machine-tool shop will finally close


     Gamers, baton-twirlers, bread-makers and calligraphers,

     winemakers and mycologists, skydivers and snowboarders

Lofts of murmuring pigeons after lights out, a stilled longing met

by the one true bird returning from its ineffable journey

Philatelists - never confuse them with philanderers -

lost in contemplation of the final stamp of life’s incomplete set

     Furniture builders, makers of model ships, Lego addicts, lapidarists,

     restorers of ancient vehicles, cruciverbalists, genealogists

Embroiderers, crocheters, knitters of long felt wants,

unending clicking of needles, pincushions stuffed with hope

Radio hams crouched over the waves, sorting sound from sound

crafting a mosaic of noise so that lonely men can dance

     In a world of work without soul, where hope might seem in vain

     it may be the strangest hobbies that keep us truly sane.


In his song 'Tangled Up in Blue', Bob Dylan has the lines 'Some are mathematicians, some are carpenters' wives/I don't know how all this got started, I don't know what they're doin' with their lives'. This reminds me of how little I know of others' lives; and the poem is an attempt to salute all those who, stuck in jobs that are less than fulfilling, nevertheless with enormous brilliance and intrepidity find in their pastimes ways of giving their lives and ours fresh levels of meaning.

DP pigeons.jpg