Hush now

a poem


WenPhotos via pixabay

Big girl now, so you don’t. Your tea party will not come to pass, so get up, get out and get on. There’s gold in those distant towers, creep in, sit quiet, be good. Rapunzel got her prince, but you cannot, must not, let down your hair, no. Don’t spread too wide. Fold those gauzy violet wings neat. Pack them in a shiny carapace without markings, and lower your eyes.

Big girl now, so you don’t. It’s a paradox all right, this flipped and contrary view. You’ll get used to it, or maybe not. Don’t talk back. A smile pays rent on the space you occupy. See, you exist in the moment of a careless glance. Grow curves (no edges) smooth and pleasing to the hand. But beware the wrong places. A magic trick; more presence, and you are invisible. Now they see her, now they don’t.

Big girl now, so you don’t. It’s good to share, yes, even that. Everything. Your one possession, boundaries breached, legs parted for him. Not too many, just enough to bag your prize. It is what we have done, always and forever. You must prove you’re worthy, grown in a different way. Mouth shut, eyes open, the cuckoo housed. The enemy is within the walls.

Big girl now, so you don’t. There are always jobs to do, babies to soothe, egos to cradle, wounds to bind. Your blood ebbs and flows, and the clock ticks on, and life is a seething ocean, testing defences and opening cracks. Peer over land’s end at the rocks where sirens beckon.  Their invitations whisper at the edge of hearing, snatched away on the wind.

Big girl now, so you don’t. You are the battered headland assailed by storms; the lighthouse dark and empty. It is another day, and you have forgotten how the sun warmed your skin. This world is forever grey. This heart is forever patched and broken. No matter how much you wish to sink, the world is built upon your back. When the cliff itself despairs, there is no place to jump. Offer shelter, promise safety, stand firm and carry on. They need you.

It was child’s play then; it’s woman’s work now. It’s a man’s world still, and it’s time to find your place. You’re a big girl, so hush now.

The collector

still life with old camera_Unsplash

Unsplash via pixabay


Here, a bright feather of iridescent purple and blue, plucked from the bird of happiness as it flew by. I fashioned a quill, dipped in black ink drawn from a pale, eyeless octopus that, shunning light, knew only deep sunless despair. And with these, I write a song for you.


Here, a dark mysterious shell, some glittering grains of sand, pulled from the farthest shores of imagination. I searched after lightning struck and used sea glass to bottle tamed fragments of raging sea. And with these, I carry the storm home for you.


Here, a smooth jawbone and a horn, ripped from some ancient creature now extinct. Elbow deep in blood I dug through rotting meat and guts, and boiled the bones white. I strung sharp teeth on sinews and scraped the hide clean. And with these, I make necklaces and furs for you.


Here, a fine pattern hinting at past violence and pain. The icy burn of a Judas kiss, a red-hot blade slipped into my heart both left their names behind. Fresh scalpels carved embedded bullets and forgotten shrapnel from my flesh. I cried healing tears till wounds were mere memory, scars written on my skin. And with these, I trace forgiveness for you.


Here, a brimming cup of clear water. I stumbled among rocks, scrabbled in the earth with ragged hands, searching for the source. I toiled endlessly, shaping the clay, firing each hard-won vessel in the furnace, though so many lay broken on the midden of experience. And with these, I bring refreshment for you.


Here, a monarch butterfly caught in amber. I chased many joys but captured only one, sacrificed to preservation that more might see it close. I dissected and catalogued the pieces, then remade them into a lesser whole.  Deathless yet not alive, its colours are held where a tree wept, hardened by time. And with these, I offer possibility for you.


Here, a hoard of objects orbiting my gravity. A lock of hair, a puff of breath, a glistening tear. A heartbeat, a ruby blood drop, a remembered sunrise. A sea-worn stone, an autumn leaf, a stolen kiss. All these I have collected, sewn into a Frankenstein quilt with hopeful stitches. And with this patched creation, I offer my love to you.


First published 15th April 2017 in The Creative Cafe on Medium, and winner of the creative challenge

one sky


AdinaVoicu via pixabay

one sky.

brilliant colours blend and slowly the sun descends
in blazing orange hues. we did not choose to be here and
we have no choice. your voice quietened by tube and pipe
a muffled scream. I wonder if you dream of summer, dressed in stripes,
of dancing on the beach. you will not reach the sea-lashed strand.

one sky.

a tiny hitch of breath, the merest twitch of a hand
machine made. humanity fades to a discordant chorus.
if there is nothing pure above, no sure god in whom to trust
then we must accept our fate of sun-bleached bone and dust.
prayers cannot help when no-one cares to listen to us.

one sky.

cloud tears falling rain. I try in vain to hold up the sun.
no deal that I can make will reveal a spell to stop what’s begun.
I hold a hand turned cold, and clearly I’m outrun.
this day closes not with perfumed roses. instead a clockwork beep
tells all is not well. here at day’s end for the last time, you sleep.

one sky.

and when the sun slips from my sight, I hope the stars lend you their light.

for M

What love isn’t

(Inspired by Valentine’s day)


dagon via pixabay


He thought he could buy the secret. But buying books is not the same as knowing.

He thought he could study the secret. But reading is not the same as doing.

He thought he could borrow the secret. But reciting poetry, even with a flourish, is not the same as feeling its truth.

(He thought he knew what love is)

He sought its pale shadow, in accumulated volumes and olden sonnets and cloying champagne truffles and twelve overpriced florist’s red without scent.

He mistook the token for the treasure itself, and it slipped unseen from his grasp.

He sated an appetite, and mistook it for deep satisfaction.

He felt a candle’s glow, and mistook it for the heat of the sun.

(He had never truly known it)

The sudden thrill running through your veins like lightning. The light of stars reflected in another’s eyes. The tears and smiles and rage and tenderness. The betrayals and reconciliations of love, its ebb and flow, its change and its constancy.

The words, the paintings, the gifts, mere echoes of reality.

Love defies attempts to capture and confine it, eludes definition, stirs us soul-deep and for time eternal.

To love is to burn.
Any poet knows.

A little something is better than a big nothing


Pete Linforth via pixabay

It’s been one of those crazy, swamped, 12-hour day weeks at work. And so I have not been able to write the blog post I planned. It’s tempting to give up and say it’s too late, it doesn’t matter, I’ll leave it. But we all know that it’s very hard to revive a habit once it is abandoned, even for a short while. I learned to let go of perfection long ago, and embrace ‘good enough’. And I believe in finishing my stuff.

Here’s the thing; a small piece is better than no piece.

In this spirit, I offer you two small pieces of Twitter poetry, written in response to the #BeautifulMess prompts “in the fade” and “lost stars”. Each poem, plus the hashtags, must fit the 140 character limit.
Thanks to @_BeautifulMes_  for the inspiration.


pixelheart via pixabay

in the fade

when our light is dying
there, in the fade, we will know
how bright our colours truly were
how much we have lost



geralt via pixabay

lost stars

before this world consumes my soul, I’ll flee
beyond lost stars and forgotten galaxies;
I beg you, do not search for me.




SplitShire via pixabay

Skin, warm and smooth.

Tiny hairs clothe the inside of your arm, pale and velvet soft. Purple veins sit under the surface, tracing jagged patterns wrapped around your fingers. My fingertips brush yours. Trail fingers upwards to the soft curve of your shoulder, brush my lips against your collarbone and follow it, swooping down, up. Your throat pulses against my mouth as goosebumps stand to attention, your hair a waving cornfield. You tremble and I inhale softness, musk and vanilla, peach fuzz. When you speak, I do not hear. I absorb your words, transmuted in vibration. I feel sound, rest my ear against your heart to understand life, strength, constancy. I am drowning, cocooned by memory, caught by anticipation, hypnotised, ensnared by the possibility of you.

Skin, taut and strong.

Long glossy hairs clothe the hills and valleys of muscles restrained and defined. Soft, corded veins contain the heat of blood and life. Your flesh retreats beneath my hand, then rises up to meet me, first shy, then bold. I map these contours of a strange and well remembered land. Your breath holds steady; mine catches in my throat. On a journey of discovery, I travel these many roads, to find and lose myself. I search this country of you, in the light and dark, on the wide plains and ridged fields, for the particular place that smells like home.


This piece is one of three poems and two short stories that I contributed to the anthology While glancing out of a window, now available on Amazon UK.

the stuff of dreams



image: GLady via pixabay


From my table, I watch them. She is bright
Floating in turquoise silks
He follows in his suit of drab.
A bottle of red sits heavy between them.
She orders another flute of champagne
Borrowing its sparkle and fizz.
He drinks Châteauneuf du Pape
I hope they have a taxi later.

The waiter takes the order
She takes his gaze and smiles.
Then, glancing at her companion
Takes another sip
Her eyes demurely lowered.
Not red, no. Too obvious and so
Elegant French manicures stroke and tease
Linger on the stem of her glass.

A green salad, to start.
Poached fish, steamed mangetout
While he chews rolls and butter
Then attacks steak, perfectly seared
Still bleeding inside.
A stoker feeding the boiler, he steams through his fuel.

Meantime she watches, raises her glass
Swallows almost nothing
She seems to run on pure energy.
Her third finger glitters, and how is it
That black carbon, heavy coal, brilliant diamond
Are made of the same stuff?

Trusty carthorse, flighty racehorse
Cannot be yoked together.
From my silent table, I watch them try
An unlikely alchemy.
One of these does not belong.