Monthly Archives: May 2012



There’s no excuse, I should have been gardening today. The weeds are shooting up through the gravel and the cat mint is threatening to capture the entire border but no, I couldn’t be bothered. Lassitude overcame me.

While fidgeting restlessly  in a deck chair something useful did at last happen…  A poem came to mind that I had written  about my Mother’s efforts in the garden. Here is it is…..and the asterisk are there because I can’t get the spaces between verses to work properly, not because they really should be! Any advice from anyone?


The back yard

at number seventy-five

faces North and

an unturned mangle

stands solid by the wall

while geraniums in haphazard pots

glow red on concrete.


The clothes pole frets the line

as pyjamas dance in sunlight,

and Mother hums and

tickles pots

of crumbling earth.

Her face glows red

like geraniums.


A child appears,

her smudgy, gingham dress

in tatters.

She stabs a  rusty trowel

in scattered earth.

Her face grows pink

like roses.


Long minutes pass

at night-time.

The child returns and trembles.

A ghost appears

with blackened fists

from crumbled earth.

Now Mother’s face is ashes.


Memories fade

like freckles.

They crack like upturned pots

beside a wall and

grown child seeps sorrow.

Sees mangle turn,

sees crumbling earth,

sees geraniums glow –

for Mother.




No chance of getting to the station in Cheltenham this morning. A fire on the M5 has caused chaos on all the surrounding roads. Here I am, back at my ancient cottage, thinking about catching a later train down south.

Has the delay brought an opportunity? Is there a poem in there somewhere?

Here’s my five minute exercise to write a  short poem. Always a useful activity, even if the results sometimes excruciate!


Sunshine at last.

Forget the long past

of wind and rain.

The shivering pain

of Winter.


Take a train

down south.

Plymouth again?


Yes, walk the Hoe…


the flickering flame….

is squandered.



Sometimes I’m stuck. In fact, very frequently I’m stuck. ……I’m a bit stuck now so I thought I’d list the reasons:

I’m wearing my glasses rather than my contact lenses and the bridge of my nose is beginning to hurt.

It doesn’t feel good to be wearing an old dressing gown at 1.40pm, someone might come to the door, and then what?

I’m supposed to be designing an invitation to a jubilee breakfast at this very moment, not being in poet mode.

The attic room where I write is in a mess and it’s bugging me. I want to go out now and buy more shelves, not sit here in the chaos.

But really….

I’m afraid. Just recently I read an article about Andrew Motion and there were words to the effect that he had to get used to his work sometimes being described as a bag of shite. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get used to that – and I’m no Andrew Motion either!

This is a poem I wrote to get out of being stuck. I read some Robert Frost and copied his style. That’s always worth a try.


This store is lovely, cheap and bright,

With slinky tops so neat and tight,

And skirts with frills and skinny jeans,

And glittering belts that catch the light.


My mate and I are full of beans,

In sequined frocks we look like queens.

The mirror tells a different tale:

We’re bulging through unravelling seams.


We both let out a tearful wail,

And head towards the goods on sale.

Our hopes are dashed – it’s all such grot,

Our ‘on trend’ dreams are set to fail.


But dreams revive, we won’t head Gok,

We’ll rummage on until we flop.

We’ve hours to shop before we drop.

We’ve hours to shop before we drop.


Thankyou to Robert Frost for Stopping by Woods



I thought of entering a competition about the Diamond Jubilee this morning but I was distracted when I knocked a cup of coffee over my writing desk and on to the carpet. The next half an hour was spent mopping up with a rancid flannel I retrieved from the bathroom. After that, the Muse had left me so only three verses got written. Here they are – in no particular order.


Does she fret when they wee on the carpet,

Or when they snaffle an ankle or two?

Does she toss them a biscuit

While boiling some brisket –

So deliciously tender to chew.


Does she sigh at the pile of red boxes

While she longs to be watching a soap?

Does she curse the word ‘duty’

And believes that there’s beauty

In reducing them all to a note?


Does she weep in her bed close to midnight

For the griefs she has suffered in life?

Does she cry for dear Maggie

And Mummy and Daddy

And Philip who’s caused her such strife….?



Before I forget, I’ll tell you one thing about me – I’m a poet. That’s all you need to know just now, but there’ll  more later……

Just recently a niece of mine got married in Sydney. Her new husband is Macedonian and I was asked to write a customised poem for them. To ‘get’ the poem you need to know that she’s a nurse and he’s often involved in building projects. The happy couple don’t much like their veggies either.


There are eight rays of sunshine on the Macedonian flag spread out over a blood red field. So today I bring you eight wishes.

I’m not going to wish you the moon and stars,

And a fortune to put you at ease,

I’m just going to wish that you’re just like flags

Fluttering round in the breeze.

Fluttering round in harmony,

And fluttering round apart,

Because all that vigorous fluttering

Is very good for the heart.


I’m not going to wish you a night on the tiles,

The brandy, the vodka, the wine,

I’m going to wish that you’re just like clocks

Ticking away in time.

Ticking away in the present,

-For clocks can’t tick in the past-

And the joys that live in the moment

Are better than those that have past.


I’m not going to send you some vegetables,

Neither lettuce, nor spinach nor kale,

I’m just going to wish you the passion of love

And the grit to make sure you don’t fail.


I’m not going to wish that you grow apart,

Like ghosts that pass in the night,

I’m going to wish that you learn to knit

And keep your stitches locked tight.

Knitting away to a pattern –

The stitches of faith and of truth,

Those lessons you learnt from your parents,

The messages taught in your youth.


I’m not going to wish you sweet fragrance,

Or bubbles to use while you bathe,

I’m going to find you a pack of cement,

A mixer, a trowel and a lathe.

I’m going to hope you keep building,

Though your hands and your nails get rough,

All that mixing and grinding and smoothing

Will remind you that loving is tough.


I’m not going to wish you an ache or a pain,

Or a gruesome plague, or worse,

I’m going to pray for the gift of health

And a permanent tender nurse.

A guardian angel in day time,

A dragon with wings at night,

All those angels and dragons and nurses

Will help if it comes to a fight.


And I’m not going to wish you the horrors of war

The battlefields spattered in red.

I’m going to wish you the safety of home,

And that you’ll be happy in bed.


I’n not going to wish you a thunderstorm,

Or a shower or rain or snow,

I’m going to wish you a fountain of light

And that old Macedonian glow…

Of the sun on the gleaming poppies

As the Vardar sweeps down to the sea,

And I’m going to wish you the language of love –

Whatever that language may be.