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')

Some of these poems are autobiographical, some are entirely fictional, and some are a mixture of both. The intention is art rather than self-expression. I don't allow factual details to get in the way of poetry! (I do seek emotional truth.) They 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. Copyright also applies to almost all photos posted here, most of which are my own, though a few are licensed under Creative Commons.
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 blog posts as much as possible.

26 July 2016


I went away today
to visit poetry
in a place where 
I used to play,
and might again
some day. I dawdled
through the streets
enjoying the familiar,
noting the new and strange.
At first I felt like a voyeur, 
but then the delight 
of reconnection 
grabbed me and the joy 
of hearing that language, 
breathing that air…. I 
went away today 
into poetry 
(at Project 366)
and lingered there
for several hours. What 
luxury! It was something 
I did just for me.

And if anyone else would like to enjoy some terrific art and poetry, you too can have a look at Project 366 (though only blog members can comment).

24 July 2016

My Role in the Circus of Life

Most circus performers
are versatile now. You have to be.
Acrobat and clown, weight-lifter
and juggler, aerialist ...
well, you get the idea. Me,
I'm a little different: between
specialties, not this one plus that, 
but something of all. Or none. 
What I do is – 

                      I jump sideways. 
And the way I do it is to land 
somewhere unexpected, leaving
my audience scratching
its collective head: 'How did ...
why ...?' And I love it!
Not that I do it to shock.
It's just the way I'm made, 
how my freaky synapses work.

Written for Play it Again at 'imaginary garden with real toads', in  response to the prompt: 'Is your life a circus?  If so, which circus performer are you?  Tell me about your act . . . in 90 words or less.' (Mine's the full 90, excluding title.) 

See also Jumping Sideways (memoir material).

23 July 2016

The Teacher

I believed you were holy and strong.
I wanted a good teacher, wise enough
to instruct me faultlessly, so I could make
my life perfection. I knew you knew it all. 

The re-assessment was gradual. You said
things I couldn't agree to. My subservience 
to your understanding was shaken. Then,
on some facts that I knew, you were just wrong.

Yet you spoke with conviction. Oh well, 
it wasn't a lasting problem. I moved away.
Our correspondence was brief and infrequent.
I remembered you as a great teacher.

Twenty years later, while travelling, I visit
the bitter old woman you have become.
During most of our lunch, you castigate
one of my closest friends for an ancient mistake –

ignoring her many achievements since.
Our conversation has nowhere much to go
after I contradict you – though, in the old habit
of reverence, I say little. Soon it's time to leave.

I know I won't be back. I know I have grown
into my own opinions, my own ways of living 
my (imperfect) life. I kiss you goodbye, saddened. 
I see you are still an excellent teacher.

At dVerse, for Part 5 of the 5th anniversary week, we are asked to:  Write on a belief that you once had that has now changed or you let go of it.  Did it change any relationships that you had?  

22 July 2016

Title: I explore & examine my totems so as to create #poetry – which I'll post on twitter, that is I'll tweet – each one called a #poetweet

First I #poetweet Owl, 
my Left-hand Guardian
connecting me to the dark,
penetrating mystery
with clear incisive sight
an advantage for #poetry

My Right-hand Guardian is Serpent
for Cunning (Owl's Wisdom)
giving day/action streetsmarts and 
the Healing I want in my #poetweet #poetry

Last, Great Mother Spider 
childhood terror / lifelong totem.
Protector. And Weaver 
good for a maker of #poetry,
blessing my every #poetweet

Note: Each aforegoing #poetweet was written in response to prompts from 'imaginary garden with real toads'dVerse, playgrounds for #poetry

[And a further note just for readers of this blog – the hashtags have to be within the 140 characters, so for this exercise I needed to include them in each tweet. Because, yes, I have tweeted all of the above, including Title and Note. But not this bit.]

21 July 2016

Coming a Long, Long Way

“I am cold, even though the heat of early summer is adequate. I am cold because I cannot find my heart.” ~Sebastian Barry from his novel A Long, Long Way

I grew up cold. Frosts every morning
in the long winters – thick and deep, lasting
half the day before they thawed. The wind
biting to the bone, the relentless rain chilling.

I grew up cold. The ice of a mother love
which included criticisms and no cuddles
that I can remember, only the tense few
cheek kisses immediately withdrawn from.

Years later, well into adult life, I always
wore cardigans right into summer, unable
to feel warmth all the way through, inside,
even when I surrounded myself with huggers.

But life is long. I live now in a warm climate
all year round, and I generated enough
warmth from my own heart at last, for others,
that it reflected back to me and filled me.

I no longer wear cardigans in high summer.
That was long ago. I understand now 
that my poor mother loved me, but couldn’t
express it freely from her paralysing lifelong cold.

For dVerse, day 3 of the 5-day fifth anniversary celebrations

20 July 2016

Sevenling (My Favourite Music)

Nothing made Freya happier
than to snuggle between Andrew and me,
purring all night in deep rhythm.

Later, when Andrew and Freya were gone,
Levi would curl up next to me and purr.
Now he too has left me; they are all gone.

My new cat is wary, and shares the bed silently.

Yes I know, comparisons are odious, and the new cat is gradually getting more trusting and affectionate. (She did purr the other night while sitting on my lap, as I wrote two poems ago.) I love her – and I still miss the others.

A sevenling for dVerse. We were asked to write about music.

At This Point on the Journey

Good companions are leaving – 
some without farewell. Let me now revisit 
places where I paused in delight, 
before I too stop travelling. 
                                              In Nepal 
I recall we walked through fields of weed
to meet the Bonpo Abbott. He revealed
wisdom but no lasting answers.

Back story:

Vivienne Blake, a warm and talented English poet resident in France, whom I knew only online, died suddenly and unexpectedly on July 5th. Billy Marshall Stoneking, an American-Australian poet and film-maker, died on July 15th. As far as I can gather, that was sudden and unexpected too. I remember him from the days when we were both young performance poets, committed to taking poetry 'off the page'. In recent years, we reconnected on facebook. Though neither was a close friend, it's a shock.

Today, over lunch with one who is a close friend, talk turned to Tibet, Nepal, Buddhism, and the earlier Bon (aka Bonpo) religion. This evening I looked at dVerse to see an interview with another poet I only know online, just returned from time in Nepal, plus a prompt for a quadrille on the subject of 'journey'. And it all came together....

14 July 2016


My new cat, who has in her past 
been abused and abandoned,
has chosen to remain silent – 
until, tonight on my lap,
for the very first time she made 
faint but continual purring.

(We were actually on the couch at the time, but I certainly wasn't going to disturb the moment by taking a photo, so this is the nearest one I've got.)

A note to my email subscribers

I do apologise for my bad habit of posting poems when I think they're ready, and then immediately noticing things that could be improved.

I wonder if you get several versions popping up in your inboxes in quick succession? Probably. All I can say is, prefer the last one.

I am making good resolutions to wait, go away and do something else, and have a fresh look at a new, supposedly finished poem after some hours have passed. That might work. (But there's something about seeing it posted which instantly highlights all the faults!)