A LITTLE TASTER OF MY POETRY

POETRY

I read poetry for its sound, because they make me laugh, for their emotion and because each reading reveals a slightly different meaning.

I write poetry to describe experience whether personal, imagined or a combination.

I belong to Cannon Poets, which meets monthly in Moseley, Birmingham and publishes Cannon’s Mouth.

I belong to Second Light and attend its workshops in London and read its magazine, Artemis.

I have made friends through writing poems, have attended workshops, readings and read my own poems at events.

Minster Towers*

I sit where I always sit in the pink chair with wings.

There are no magazines or papers here.

My mother’s eyes close, her pinnie dappled with porridge,

her hands warming mine. Blue hands.

Blue from my walk across Saturday market,

across the car park,

through the door that only lets you in.

 

I sit where I always sit in the pink chair with wings.

Jean shrieks, My mother died. Then my brother died. My father

he had cancer.

We drink tea. We watch the blossom blow.

I was ready to go. I wanted to go. They were mean.

We remember the sea. We talk of the waves. We feel the cold.

I got ready in my dress.

They were mean because they wouldn’t let me go.

Jean remembers the sea and its waves and wants to see them again.

 

My mother cradles the past like a favourite child

too wrapped in her world to risk the outside.

 

*Minster Towers was the name of a residential home in Yorkshire for people with dementia

Question*

 

This hard, upholstered chair is not mine.

 

Through the windows

men and women get out of cars

to go shopping.

 

The door is not our door.

 

In the corner of the room is an aquarium

Angel fish, Zebra fish and glints of colour.

We have a dog called Roger

We aren’t keen on fish.

 

Perfume fills the room like a disguise.

 

Two women in uniform

step into the room

though no-one is ill.

 

You frown.

You pat my lap.

I ask, ‘How are you?’

 

In the palm of my hand a biscuit is melting.

I lick the chocolate

as delicately as a kitten.

 

Next to me

an elderly couple sit close on the settee.

She slips a hand into the front of his trousers.

Leaves fly off the trees.

 

You are frowning.

 

A woman calls, ‘Time for tea.’

I get up from my chair and follow her.

A voice inside me asks

‘How did you know I was here?’

 

* This poem is displayed in Wilde’s Wine Bar, the Parade, Leamington Spa

 

Perspective

Your mother is fine!

black-handbag

Is she asking for me?

Does she wonder when Jan will be back from Rome

Gill from the Scilly Isles

remember what she had for breakfast?

Has she thrown away her spill proof cup, her plate with the special edge?

Has she jumped from her wheelchair

insisted her hair is cut and permed

demanded the keys to the bungalow in Bainton Close

found her purse

phoned my dad

asked him why she isn’t living at home?

 

My mother is fine, is she?

Ryton Gardens in Autumn

The wind waves the dipping vines

grassesdancing leaves

dying grasses.

 

Newly bare-branched trees briefly

stilled

graceful silver birch float skyward

Bamboo, triangulated, waits.

 

Solid structures stand attentive to the uncontainable

Masses of lilac on thyme

Profusion of sweet-smelling confetti

Promise of spring.

 

Grey haired men, walking stiffly against arthritic joints

laugh wisdom, cough.

A turquoise coated rider counsels towards the tea room

A courtly old man framed against the arbour

examines hope of re-creation.

It floated

swirlson grains of sand

as if she would reclaim it before the next gust of wind

 

when her little pink scarf floated across the sand pit

I called her name as if she would leap from her burial chamber

 

when I called, ‘Violet’, the wind carried it as his own

as if he’d prised her from her swing, slide and castle

 

when the wind carried her name, I slipped

from garden to house

from house to fields

from fields to stream

 

as if I was consumed

 

when I burned through our house

her house

as if she were playing peek-a-boo

her face leapt at me among the cinders

 

they found her

face down in the sands of the stream

pink wellies weighted with water

Forgotten Hero

Passengers on the 67 bustle passed himpoem-baubles
Last off, the man steps down to the pavement in front of Boots
its windows sparkling with tinsel trees

He hobbles
his mouth as dry as cotton wool
He stretches out his arms towards the lights
red and green, as shoppers surge across Warwick Street
leaving him on the corner
dazzled

The star-strung door to HSBC is shut to him
He stumbles outside the gold awning of Chinese cures
gazes at Santa’s sledge
bedecked with books and candles in Waterstones’ cavern

He swerves, (remembers the scrum)
unseen
round the holly-wreathed, smokers’ tables outside Starbucks
under the halogen glisten, the glitz of baubles
in the Royal Priors

Out of breath he leans on the balustrade
Of the ice-cream wagon
He licks his lips
in anticipation of raspberry dip
Fumbles in pocket holes for lost coins

Down the escalator he moves
down to longed-for iced mince pies
piled on Drucker’s bar
He stares beyond the crib and Santa’s grove
in Hammell’s display
to the darkness beyond

On Regent Street he searches his wallet
Finds only black and white photos
Dredges his memory
for people he can’t recall

Daughter

You and I often speak of the day you died

the dog in the corner whining

noon day shivering

 

men love their daughters

so I could command your father

fetch the healer

Jehoshuah, the One who speaks true

 

we tell you, O sweet one

how Jehoshuah would not run or rush

but stopped a sinner

unclean

praised her for her faith

 

while frenzied women keened

around your bed,

herbs and oils prepared

for your final anointing

 

at last he entered your room

turned away the mourners

sat by my side, held your hand

Talitha cumi, he said, little lamb arise.

 

you and I often speak of the day he died

outside the city

how we joined women in the shadows

shared his hours of agony

until the light faded

 

This poem was inspired by story from the Bible during a workshop led by poet Angela France.

Journey Home

Journey home: from Molescroft court to Minster Towers *

 240px-Beverley_Minster

You wore your turquoise gardening mac

Jaeger check skirt, taupe shoes tied tight

 

dad in the back, me at the wheel

you waved goodbye to temporary care.

As I drove us past the old cemetery, paths

leading to pasturelands, the new Burgess’   DCP04164

ice-cream shop you’d forgotten, along with

dad on occasions, the Minster’s towers

overshadowed. I could have walked by your

side, held your hand as you once took me to

school. We could have strolled round Bainton

Close, showed you your house, its acer

granddad’s warm stone lantern. Would it

have hurt to peek inside, let you sit in your easy

chair, stroke your dog’s devoted head, listen

once more to the news? As we left the house

Frank at his gate in his lonely wheel chair might

have wished to share one more joke, waggle a finger

at your giggle, shake your hand. Instead we

processed under North Bar Without, into the market

square, past Briggs and Powell, along Toll Gavel.

Instead, I hummed a lullaby so you wouldn’t notice

dad’s silence. You paused on the step, your stick faltering

before you strode inside without looking back.

 

 

  • Molescroft Court was a residential care home and Minster Towers was a residential care home for people with dementia

Both were in Beverley, East Yorkshire

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Goat's Song

Goat’s song

Response to Song by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

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It is night. Wind rattles the railings.

A mouse scurries close to the house

in search of grain. Above, a hawk hovers.

 

Curled against the fence, the goat stirs

in sleep. The gate snicket clicks. The ground

tremors, the Summer’s air shrieks, whoops.

 

The goat stumbles from her depths, raising

her mouth to suck. Struck down, she buckles.

Struck again, she hears the clank

 

of the pail, tastes its sweet, warm milk;

feels her hair stroked. Struck down once

more, she cries like a woman.

 

 

The axe severed bone from bone, head

from heart. The head hanging, bloodied

on a tree outside school. The body

 

lay stiff by the railings. The earth absented

itself. The mouse hid in the grain store

and the hawk’s encompassing wings stilled.

 

Who will fill this void?

 

Only the goat.

Heart and head united in song.

The song sang low at her mother’s side.

The haunting song.

This poem was published in Orbis 177

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testaments of Youth

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Listening to you, whistling at the sink, hands swishing

tea towel tucked in your belt, sleeves rolled to the elbow

setting sun gleaming on hair that whitened overnight

for you, a peaceful man, cannot share.

 

You tell me, you kissed goodbye to your bride-

The Only girl in the world for you- she smiling

waving, steam shrouded- on packed Paragon

station, egg sandwich squashed in your pocket.

 

I cried reading Vera Brittain’s story. Her loss

of Roland, Edward, Robert and Victor, and Oh!

What a Lovely War! was not for you

nor words like grief and sadness. Yet you, my sunny

Granddad taught me the French for bread

was pain.

Published on-line by Algebra of Owls on March 2017

 I was delighted that this poem was published. I had several stabs at trying to capture this aspect of my Granddad. I was an adult before I understood what he must have witnessed. He only spoke to me about missing my Grandma.  The humour of Oh! What a Lovely War escaped him. He was part of a generation who didn’t speak about their feelings. I like to think he wanted to protect us from the horror he witnessed.

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