I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress, and may be subject to revision without notice. Completed versions appear in my books. Nevertheless copyright applies to all texts found here.
Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your posts as much as possible.

21 March 2015

Life After Death

For Daevid 

I've been reading a vampire book.
I like to pretend
the dead can stay in this world
in their physical forms.

Even if they only emerge at night,
isn't that when we most want them,
in those long, lonely hours?
But I know it's not like that.

Life after death
is a song you wrote,
a piece of music recorded.
Or it's a poem.

Life after death
is the life you lived,
the moments that stay
in other memories. Ours.

It's your voice we hear
so clearly, we look around
and see no-one  yet still
it lingers in the air.

It's your shape in a crowd,
your gesture
made by a stranger,
the set of your head.

And sometimes
it's a dream
so real that we wake
as from a conversation.

It's a message
entering the mind
in your very words,
your intonation.

It's this tree, that star,
the endless ocean,
the wind across the mountain,
the earth we dig.

And it's the surge of love
that shakes us all over,
warms us, enfold us,
brings us to tears grateful tears.

Lining to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #244.

7 March 2015


Experimenting for dVerse Meeting the Bar.  A great method of revision! I wasn't happy with the originals. I'm better pleased with the new versions.


Always, for me,
the smell:
after rain.

The window,
drops running down.
A few inches visible
the other side of the path.

  Original (July 2011):

  ‘Grass,’ he says. 
  ‘What does that word 
  make you see?’ 

  Always, for me,
  it’s the smell:
  new-mown grass
  after rain.

  What I see
  is the window,
  rain running down
  and just a few inches
  of visible grass
  on the other side of the path.



 Helen demands,
 ‘What beasts
 inhabit my garden?’

 A marmalade cat
 sunning its upturned belly
 shifts its rump,
 flips onto paws.

 It stands, a tiger
 with orange stripes;
 flexes painted claws
 deep red with sparkles.

 An amethyst hangs
 centre forehead.
 It lashes its tail and snarls.
 A flash of sequins.

 Cubs shelter
 behind its flanks —
 a female ready to hunt;
 a drowsy male.

Helen, domestic and wild,
fierce to guard her children,
dances and flashes her belly.

   Original (May 2005):

Helen demands to be told
what fabulous beasts
inhabit my garden,
what masquerading friends
adopt fantastic disguises
to surprise me so.

I do not garden well or often.
Anything might appear
among the luxuriant weeds
and the long grass of the lawn.

I spot a marmalade cat
sunning its upturned belly —
nothing strange about that
(although it isn’t mine).

A sinuous wriggler,
it shifts its rump
and flips onto its paws.
Oh! when it stands, I see
it’s a tiger with orange stripes.

It flexes painted claws.
They are deep red with sparkles.
An amethyst hangs
in the centre of its forehead.
It lashes its tail and snarls;
I catch a flash of sequins.

Two cubs are sheltering
behind its flanks —
a purposeful female
ready to hunt,
and a younger, drowsy male.

Well, Helen, which of my friends
is both domestic and wild?
What magickal sexpot
dances and flashes her belly,
or passionate matriarch
is fierce to guard her child?

Oh, and while you’re there in my garden,
I hope you might plant some veggies
and give me a hand with the weeds!

                              (After seeing the original of this poem, my friend Helen informed me that  she had a ginger cat, and that one of her spirit familiars was a tawny tiger, neither of which I knew at the time!)

6 March 2015

The Colour of the Ocean

He tells me the sea is green:
the stormy ocean.

He would know,
old Navy man. But I say,   

'From the shore
or from a boat near shore

the ocean is blue,
deep blue and sparkling.

Sometimes it's greeny-blue
or on a dull day, grey.'

I live on the rim
of the oldest continent.

I have heard the stories
of the first people.

I have watched the whales
travel south

have seen the turtles
and dolphins play.

Up north we skirted whirlpools.
The tides were 30 feet high.

The ocean booms at night,
and blooms with light all day.

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #242

1 March 2015


(Brunswick Heads)

My friends took me picnicking
with wine and prawns.
I got lots of photos
of fishing boats.

In a shop, I asked:
‘I suppose this doll
isn’t for sale,
but the entertainment
of young children?’

‘Take, it!’ the woman said.
‘How kind,’ said my friend.
I told her, ‘She sees
that I am a child.’

After doing a 55-word piece for the toads, I wanted to try another. This one is for dVerse Open Link Night: Celebrating Poetry. (Following Brian's kind suggestions, I've revised it in the next post.)

Boldly Going

Yesterday the news
that Leonard Nimoy had died,
and we all felt we'd lost
an old friend.

(But then, we didn't really
believe it either. Mr Spock
will inhabit our universe

Today's facebook reminder:
It's 32 years since the final 
episode of M.A.S.H.
with stones on a hillside
saying that huge GOODBYE.

Submitted for real toads' Flash 55 1 March 2015  (55 words including title) and for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #241

27 February 2015

Reflections on Time

The skin etches one molecule at a time
slowly deeper into approaching night.
The light moves across its dips and hollows,
those tiny miniature craters, as if searching
for meaning, but the meaning is only
time's movement and how it reshapes us —

time, that old rogue who waits for no-one
but marches on with the tide, into a future
that does not exist, as time is always
circular and now. The skin, though, reveals
the passage of time, regardless
of music or roses or the faces of children
(your children) looking back at you as they move,
forward or back as they overtake and surpass you.

Then, when you decide that it's merely
a man-made construct, and you construct
evidence in support of this — a new day dawns,
the sun comes up, the world is round, and you know
again it's solid geography and physics, even if some
insist times measured in a thin line on a cats back.

Written for a joust at dVerse in which we were to take a line from a poem by Brian OR Claudia and have it inspire a poem of our own. I am a bad person! Instead of choosing either team Brian or team Claudia, I was so intrigued by one particular line of each that I have used both, as my beginning and end. Either I will get disqualified or my entry will count towards both scores (which is much the same as neither).

no landmark

early or late
this face

drifts on the river
the mist closes

in quietness 
a dark business

water weeds stand
like flotsam tangled

you are alone
the dark place is not safe

the way of the dead
cannot be tamed

the floating sun trails
still rust-coloured

fronds ripple a black pool
shadowy banks

the wild part used to be
alive an animal

the black spine
like question marks

this face
its sacrifice ...

whatever that means

An erasure poem remixed from an early draft of an old poem of mine, Without a Signpost, which never quite worked, interwoven with the first chapter of Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate. It's an experiment; please tell me if it works for you (and also if it doesn't).

Submitted for The Tuesday Platform (24/2/15) at imaginary garden with real toads