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 updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). 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.

28 January 2018

Words of Power

The man next door
is beset by demons.
When he's off his medication 
I hear him banging around
trying to fight them off. 
He always resorts at last 
to his most potent curse
which he yells with grim intensity
and awesome courage: "Fuck off!" 

Judging by the sudden silence,
it works. Then he switches on
his talkback radio, loud
enough to hold the spirit hordes
back beyond his walls:
words from the outside world
making a noisy babble in his ears 
to drown those other messages 
only his ears can hear.

I have words for him too.
"If you keep using my phone
or cadging milk and sugar, 
I'll need you to pay." (Thinking, 
"I'm not your mother.") Now 
he never speaks to me, which I prefer….
But he's in the right place. Every night 
I send through the fence, like lasers, 
the words "Light" and “Love".


Magaly, in Art with Me at "imaginary garden with real toads" says she believes words have power (I do too!) and that they can be a way towards healing (so do I!). She asks us to explore "one or three (even thirteen) things you believe words can do for you and others"

26 January 2018

"Plenty of Time Later," You Said


Dear, one day
I might die,
and most likely
(we could suppose)
before you do.

Such a thing
need not matter –
need not sound
the faintest bell
inside your mind.

Already you stop
the taking in
of my presence
in the world.
I am erased.

The real erasure,
when it happens,
will be anti-climax.
You are wise,
are you not?

21 January 2018

How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy, Mister Death?

Thank you, I like him fine.
Buffalo Bill will never 
not be handsome now,
and his prowess won’t deteriorate.

And when I give him back
to the cradling earth again
– for I don’t get to keep them, you know –
dressed in a new body and sporting a new name

perhaps you’ll meet him once more, in a different dream 
… unless it is you I am holding then. 
Unless it is you I lead by the hand
to your new, true awakening….


At "imaginary garden with real toads" Brendan asks us to "dance with a ghost", i.e. to respond to another poem. (Well no, it was to play tennis, but I prefer to dance.) The original e. e. cummings poem is one of my favourites – and hey, if someone's "defunct", they're really a ghost! (I have read the cummings poem bitterly in the past, identifying with the questioner. So in a way I am here talking to myself, using Death's voice to persuade myself of a different, kinder perspective.)

The "different dream" is an allusion to the final passage of Kahlil Gibran's
The Prophet, and in Death leading one by the hand I was recalling Sir Terry Pratchett's lovely posthumous tweet (involving his fictional character, Death).

20 January 2018

Summer Evening

The heat cools to comfortably mild.
I look out the front door
and see, on the top step,
my dear man taking the air
in his chair on the landing.

Our pantherish old black cat, Levi,
sprawls near him on the mat.
Tortoiseshell Freya is curled up neatly 
close by on the second step.

And there's me. I am sitting  
on the top step, leaning back
against the rails: positioned to see,
talk to and touch all three....

It's five years ago and more. 
All of them are dead now.
Even on such a pleasant evening
I never sit, these days, on 
the front steps, enjoying the air.


Sharing at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #388.

4 January 2018

The Opening of Doors

I usually barge right on through, and usually
there is some light on the other side, even
when one might think I’d have done better
to leave that door shut. Sooner or later 
there is always light – some – and  often
a late burst of unexpected brilliance … and
sometimes the door opens onto sustained
sunlight, and I need only enter and bask.

And there are times when I’m just here, 
and a door opens to let someone else 
come through, towards me, and that 
can be sweet or exciting or possibly
nothing at all – but nothing demands nothing, 
which is restful; and so, one way or another,
I tend to like it when doors open: I tend to see it 
as a good thing … for the most part, anyway.

Best of all is when doors become irrelevant:
when, instead of traversing some boundary or
entry, some turning-point or edge, we rise
skyward, unfettered, on waves of pure thought:
lifting into flight, cavorting on clouds, floating
and dancing in long arabesques, ethereal
pirouettes … which pleasure is encompassed
even better together, and so let our minds 
entwine. Meet me in the middle of the air!


The final sentence is stolen from a Paul Kelly song based on the 23rd Psalm. This particular line, which he inserts into it, is by Kelly himself and not the psalmist – and has different connotations from those I give it here.

This poem was inspired by the Doorway(s) prompt at Poets United this week.

2 January 2018

A Manifesto for the New Year

I have not got the music
but I have the words.
I have not got the dance steps
but I have the words.
I have not got the numbers
but I have the words.
I have not got the science
but I have the words.
I do not have the lovers (any more)
but I (still) have the words.

I call out loudly with the words.
I throw my arms up and my head back,
shouting the words triumphantly.
I whisper softly with the words,
bending close to your secret ear
and breathing them, 
exhaling so lightly you can hardly feel –
but listen hard and you'll hear.
Sometimes I shout them in rage. And outrage. 
Sometimes, I wish to whisper venom.

The words are mine
to do with as I will.
(God said so, 
who gave them to me at my birth.)
I can make them sing, 
I can make them dance.
I can make them count.
I can make them explain – if you will follow –
the secrets of the Universe.
I can make them bring back my lovers.

Yesterday is breaking up, falling away.
Yesterday is getting thrown out with the garbage.
But the old words live on,
unable to be entirely discarded.
Words have power. I call up the power
from deep inside. I call up the words
from where they too are anchored within.
I set them free. I let them loose.
Now I make them new, like seedlings, like cubs.
They will play. They will grow. They will climb all over you.


At 'imaginary garden with real toads', Bjorn invited us to write a manifesto for 2018. I am not much for such things ... but then I watched Patti Smith on YouTube (who does have the music and the dance as well as the words) and – in the mysterious way it happens – suddenly became inspired.

Also sharing this at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #386