John now has over 50 poems written over the last 50 years, awaiting a publishers interest:
AILSA CRAIG 1942
Coming on deck that morning
The sun shining on Ailsa Craig and the green Scottish hills,
And the grey death of the North Atlantic behind us,
I felt a kind of resurrection,
A promise of a sanctuary of green
In which grey would be banished forever.
And the years ahead seemed in that brief instant
To be alive with the timeless expectancy
That can illumine that first step ashore
In a new land; as if we were come at last
To our final destination, the rough sea fever over,
The journey done.
More than half a century later I ache for the grey seas of yesterday,
For the never since known camaraderie of the long dead
And for the hope that Stevenson said we should travel with
To a place we could never define.
Today I stood where sixty years ago
I looked down from the window of the dormitory
Where they told me to wait, and saw you who had
Brought me there standing in the street as if you
Could not bring yourself to go.
And I prayed that you wouldn’t, that somehow
We might escape this situation to which we’d come
Because you could not afford to keep me at home,
My father having left us when I was barely nine,
And you too proud to beg for his support.
I don’t know how you coped now looking back,
Somehow, later, I could never ask these things,
Or ask what his going meant to you, and was
Your desolation as complete as mine was
In those empty years.
I only knew that he was gone and I was left
Bereft of understanding , lost and resentful too that
Suddenly I’d entered through a door and called
Only to hear the echo back again
And see the abandoned house.
All this between us in the years that were to come,
Years not without comfort and delight , but Oh that I
Should come back here, and last catastrophe of all
Should understand too late to say