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.

7 December 2016


Or, The Play Of Scars

Now is wild summer.
Storms carve the sky
with sharp light; 
thunderous drumrolls

Small cat is careful, 
places herself underneath 
my big wooden table, 
folds herself smaller still.

Memories carry
two other cats
who crouched, gazing,
in the open doorway,
revelling in storms.

Another piece for dVerse's Quadrille #22. This time the obligatory word 'scar' is hidden – four times.

6 December 2016

All His Life

From ten years old
twice daily
my Dad's injured shin,
open to the bone,
was dressed in red 
and re-bandaged.

Above this gaudy wound –
more horrifying  
to child me –
on his smooth, pale knee
a dimpled scar
like a blinded eye.

For quadrille #22 at dVerse we are asked to include the word 'scar'. It brought back a vivid memory.

(Dad's legs were almost unnaturally smooth and pale, as he always wore long trousers to conceal the large bandage. Years of attempted skin grafts never took. The deep scar on the knee was from the same 10-year-old accident.)


The next war: USA and China,
writes journalist Pilger, shared by a friend on facebook.

That Pilger! Always so confronting.
I put the article aside, make myself some toast

turn on the TV, not for the news
(who wants to watch angst and horror?) but Cirque du Soleil.

Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides offers a new form challenge for December: the landay. As regular readers will know, I enjoy trying new forms, especially with such an opportunity to keep practising them, so you may expect to see a few more efforts here.

Note: It is clear from comments here and elsewhere that this one is not working satirically as intended, so it will need a massive rewrite later. (I greatly admire and trust Pilger, I never miss watching a serious version of the nightly news, and I do NOT recommend turning to 'bread and circuses' instead of confronting reality. [I do love Cirque du Soleil, and probably should have chosen something less beautiful and uplifting to try and make my point.])

4 December 2016


He thinks to wipe his face away,
making pain a mask. Not play
but anguish prompts this frantic task.
Obliteration? He would ask
not to hide, rather reveal
the ugliness he cannot heal,
imposing inner truth upon
the human face he wishes gone –
exposing self as mask of pain
over, over, and over again.

Written for Flash 55 PLUS (Dec. 3, 2016) at 'imaginary garden with real toads' – the 'PLUS' being a response to this video:

3 December 2016

Early Summer

The day, hot blue,
smells of earth.
The sky stills;
clouds, hills, horizon blur.

Hear the silence: 
the little town by the river
slowing down in the heat.

Somewhere a smell 
of sunscreen – 
warm brown skin, 
bare feet.

2 December 2016

Tempted to Tell

It was a good dinner.
Afterwards we settled back
over coffee, and one said:
‘I sometimes think ETs
must have discovered us
by now – don't you?’

How that triggered my inner
cringing fear. Feeling a little sick
I kept so quiet, the dead
might have been more voluble. Jeez!
How could I say I knew this,
and very personally too?

I have been called a sinner
full of wicked lies, my soul black.
And worse than that: raving mad.
After enough reactions like these,
you learn the ways to pass
for normal – never mind what’s true.


A little green man? No, taller and thinner.
Limbless, featureless, my friend Kondark
resembled a floating column; had
a good brain though. But please,
where do you find a physicist who’d choose
to telepathise with an alien. Like who?

So he went back home, no-one a winner.
He’d wanted to help us, but needed to talk
with a fellow-scientist. That sort of head,
on earth, does not tend to telepathise
with alien visitors – can’t encompass
that reality, even though it’s not new.

And who could I have told? The stigma
is still too strong. They remain in the dark
the rationalists (so-called) – still led
by terror of the unknown. They’d seize
me and shut me up in the nut-house.…
(Yes I kid you, of course; you know I do.)

Written in response to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Social Stigma. 

1 December 2016

The Mind an Astrolabe

After Dransfield

The night, cool green,
tastes of air.
The sea moves beneath;
waves wind and tide coordinate.

Sniff the bougainvillea:
the South Pacific, 
the purple islands.
A cloud ... a beach....

Something about wine – 
and already the stones 
of court and temple
different, mourning.

At dVerse Poetics – Covers we are asked to do a 'cover' of someone else's poem, using their words but in some way making them one's own. I wanted to pay tribute to Michael Dransfield, but it was hard – his poems are all so perfect just as they are. In the end I decided on an erasure poem taken from my favourite, 'Patricia's Raga', using part of its subtitle as my title. (And I slightly changed the last word.) It still feels rather sacrilegious! But I hope it leads you to the hauntingly beautiful original.

30 November 2016

A Prayer for Bad Weather

It rumbles again, 
thundering –
the air out there,
the malevolent sky.

please make rain
for my unsoaked flowers.

The air out there
is hot and heavy.
Yesterday I rain-danced.

The malevolent sky
released two tiny, stinging drops,
no more. Oh, stop teasing!

29 November 2016

Why I Can't Write About Cooking

Well you see, 
I’m not much of a cook.
I have little patience:
can't do games of chess or recipes.

I’m not much of a cook
except when it comes to the simple –
omelettes, fried mushrooms, grilled fish….

I have little patience
for weighing and mixing and waiting
for the oven to work its measured magic.

Can't do games of chess, or recipes.
The ingredients – rare spices, self-control –
are far too exotic for me; I don’t stock them.

The current Mini-Challenge at 'imaginary garden with real toads' is Cooking Up a Storm. This is not the luscious, foody poem requested! I call myself a 'non-cook'. But it was another opportunity to practise the trimeric, as I am doing this month. (I am breaking rules all over the place. We were asked to write a poem of four tercets, and in a trimeric the first verse has one line more – but it comes very close, so I hope I can get away with it.) PS I know how to play chess, but I always want to play it like Chinese Checkers.