2 New Malden Poets

Embroidered cloth on Karl Rutlidge’s pulpit

Karl Rutlidge

Karl is a Methodist Minster in charge of a heterodox and lively congregation at the Wesley Church in New Malden. He is also an m-Theory physicist. He is currently writing his doctorate in theology about the origins of the universe and its meaning to humankind. Karl is a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights and easily solves cryptic crosswords. He was born in Preston, Lancashire. His poem, on the question of a resolution to the Wars of the Roses, is breathtaking.

I was chatting in the church coffee bar today with someone who told me he had thought his grandad was, like me, from Preston. However, it turned out that the industrial revolution had taken him over the Pennines, and he was actually a Yorkshireman. Inspired by this and encouragement from Philip, I penned this in my lunch break:

Do white flowers bloom in Bosworth fields


Do white flowers bloom in Bosworth fields

where the crooked rose of the wrong-yet-right side

was trampled ingloriously with neither kingdom nor horse?

Perhaps God planted the Pennines between them

so that the bitter aftertaste of age-old enmities

might be drowned out in the midst of the mist,

the steaming sheets of waters fertilising Cottonopolis.


His mother’s father’s own road led west

for need to fill the growling, bulging bellies

upon which he and his kinsfolk trudged

while nature’s sweet rhythms faded from view.

The merciless march of the mechanised mall,

of merchant and money, limbs mangled and mauled,

would bang the drum of his heartbeat now.


What dreadful chills reached with soot-blackened claw

down deep into the marrow of those Yorkshiremen’s bones

and bleached their lifeblood from white through red to grey?

Yet, red he would stay on the left that was right,

as mill-stacks rose and fell and night begat light.

And thus, his daughter’s son, upon hearing this tale,

found that his own roots stretched from Preston to dale.


If a Tudor rose spawns brilliant red petals from a Yorkist stem,

might white flowers yet bloom in Bosworth fields?

Karl Rutlidge

Roger Murphy

After volunteering at the Wesley Church Cafe and meeting Karl and other friends, I would go to the local Korean cafe called The Place to have a black coffee and write. There, I often found Roger Murphy. We look rather similar, though he is older (and slimmer) than I am. When I first met him he was at the beginning of the last year of a three-year degree in creative writing.

I am not sure if I was a distraction or a catalyst. I think more of a distraction. Towards the end of one of our last conversations before his final exams, I saw him champing at the bit to get on. Then, one day, he was there and happy to see me. He actually looked relaxed. The degree was over and he was waiting for his results on the phone.

Roger had been a lynchpin of his class, bringing his experience to bear. He helped the other young students in his class in their 20s by listening to them, encouraging them and provoking them all at the same time. Roger is an appreciative listener. For a change, he read me one of his poems and I loved it for its dextrous bravery. He has kindly allowed me to share it with you.

Embroidered cloth from the Methodist Church in New Malden

I have just completed a Creative Writing degree at Birkbeck College. The poem is an octastich following a model used by WB Yeats in Sailing to Byzantium. The coward writes a prayer for himself. It is one of five poems which are meditations on loss.

Aubade for a Coward – Loss of courage


Every morning I breathe a quiet prayer

“God give me the weakness to turn away.

Let me disguise my hollowness, no flair,

No eloquence permit me. Let me stay

Silent when I can, blended in to air,

Without a word let fear mark what I say.

Let no judgement pass my parched and bloodless lips        

Obliterate my mind, make me eclipse.


“Let me hide behind the words of others

Find an opinion dressed in what they say,

Absolve me from utterance, another

Hour be blessed that judgement does not play

Upon my mind, require me to discover

Some hollowed out unlikely disarray

Of vacuous verbs that meaning mangles      

With mental weeds and insignificance entangles.    


“Scintillating chromatic zyzzyvae

Fluoresce across the jungle floor, learning

To evade feasting zygodactylae

With speed and camouflage. Perning, turning

To not be seen and yet to feast and play

As I would wish to hide awhile, yearning

For anonymity among the throng

Disguise my emptiness in an empty song.    


“Prince, pray God that is Lord of all, forgive

The silent idiot his silent sins 

Let in your heart an understanding live

Of the weakness that roots and so begins

To pause me, a tacet ineffective,

Show me that every loser always wins

Let me be gutless for every day:

Courage only to hint, but never say.”

Roger Murphy

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