|Posted on September 1, 2015 at 1:20 PM|
Bands of amber kelp
anchor furred body
floating on back,
rafting against tug of tide
liquorice nose lifted,
small eyes closed,
as sunbathing under settled sky
meals from sea’s kitchen
gained on diving trips –
starfish, squid, crab, abalone –
shell bashed against stone tool
resting on rounded belly
like hammer on anvil,
prising open juicy riches
with webbed paws.
Grooming waterproof coat,
blowing air bubbles
to inflate own lifejacket,
rolling close to female with kit,
who rides clinging, squealing
when she disappears for food
beneath choppy waves.
He kidnaps suckling
forcing mate to share catches,
nuzzles her streaked coat,
then floating on backs,
rafting against roll of tide
under settled sky,
they sunbathe side by side.
Published in ORBIS No: 123 – February 2003
I've included this poem as I have been watching The Big Blue Live on the BBC and have been so entranced by the Sea Otters. They are one of my favourite animals. I wrote this poem in 2002 but it does detail the behaviour where the kits are kidnapped to force the female to give up her food.
|Posted on July 16, 2015 at 5:20 AM|
'A little girl named Ferne goes on magical adventures with her best friend, Chocolate, her dark brown cat. The book contains five stories, one for each season of the year plus one for Christmas. On their travels Ferne and Chocolate meet some amazing characters – seagulls who sail a boat, a bad tempered camel, a pair of strange twins who can swim, a screeching bird with multi-coloured feathers, and flying reindeer. These stories are full of descriptions of weird and wonderful places and Ferne brings home some extraordinary memories with her.'
My children's book with my illustrations has just been published by DayGlo Books Ltd @ www.dayglobooks.com, who specialise in books for children, and people of all ages, who have dyslexia. Do go and have a look at their website.
|Posted on June 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM|
Hedonist's List of Desert Island Essentials
Blue iceberg from Arctic shores
melting into cool, mountain streams.
Chocolate Emporium effusing cocoa –
door always open, shelves always filled.
Cooking pot permanently flame-hot
to bubble water within its depths for
Chinese Jasmine-scented tea,
fragrance rising in coils of steam.
Tent, the size of small bungalow,
with bathroom ‘en suite’ included.
Bombay Curry House,
waiters and cooks ever-ready
to conjure spiced masterpieces
served on white plates.
Library, walls resplendent with books,
superb poetry section –
no overdue charges.
Softest duvet fattened with duckdown,
hammock fittings to lasso two palm trees
under indigo sky christened with stars.
Published in 21st Century Poetry - October 2001,
Write-Away – Winter 01/02 & Panda No: 9 January 2002
|Posted on April 4, 2015 at 7:10 PM|
cherry blossom falls
filling sky with confetti
essence of flowers
pollinates soft air with bees
whirling wings upwards
Published in Write-Away - Spring 2002
Illustrated with 'Spring Blossom' © Vivien Steels
|Posted on February 11, 2015 at 2:55 AM|
I want to go somewhere;
somewhere there is sky
so blue, so vast,
it fills up my eyes
with sapphires of colour;
somewhere there are tents
made of red felt
singing in the desert winds;
a backdrop of undulating dunes
drifting gold across shifting sands;
somewhere there is sun,
so yellow, so warm,
it knits my bones together
and tickles my skin
with a honey-brown glow;
somewhere there are fields
rolling gorgeous green
over the backbone of hills;
holding its wild flowers up to sinking rain
streaming in from distant seas;
somewhere a kaleidoscope of shapes
whirls its frenzy into the retina
causing psychedelic auras to pulse;
mesmerising with a rhythm of colour
painting my mind with dreams.
Published in Moonstone 95 - August 2004
Illustrated with 'Tibetan Festival Costume' © Vivien Steels
|Posted on January 2, 2015 at 6:20 AM|
New Year’s Wish
Grey pearl sky shimmers
with hidden sun
above russet beech-hedge
keeping its old clothes
until a bright green costume
arrives five months later.
Buddleias and box
dress borders with evergreens
ready to reject winter’s grip
for the soft caress of spring
waiting in the wings
to dash, solo, into view
flinging primroses and daffodils
over grass and soil
before the mad hot days of summer
fizzle onto yellow-dead lawns.
Published in Nottingham University Creative and Professional Writing Anthology –
‘Into the River’ – June 2010
|Posted on December 3, 2014 at 6:50 AM|
Christmas Wish for a Dog
I would love a dog,
a big, long-coated dog
to walk with forever
in tree-lined snow avenues
in that land where illness isn’t.
Illustrated with 'Christmas Walk' © Vivien Steels
|Posted on November 10, 2014 at 6:50 AM|
I have posted this poem today for Remembrance Day on 11th November.
If grass could bleed
what scars would be exposed
when wounds of battles,
now grown over
with meadows of time,
scythed their way
through trunks of bodies;
lopped, uprooted before maturity,
left bare before crows
and wuthering skies;
returning riches to nature’s soil.
with the wildest of flowers
amongst bonehard briars,
spread an ancient king’s epitaph
across early summer’s book.
Published in WRITE-AWAY – Spring 2003, Artists Without Frontiers 2004
& In Flanders Field Anthology – Forward Poetry Oct 14
|Posted on October 28, 2014 at 5:10 AM|
‘Trawling’ was based on a dream I had which I recorded in my dream diary. It had a rather nightmarish quality to it, as in the cellar was an old sailor (wise man of the sea) mending the net of my heart (heart-broken?). A cellar can refer to your subconscious and water can refer to your emotional life. As there was a lot going on in my life then, mostly very difficult to deal with, this was one of those poignant dreams that stay with you for a long time after and mean something deep; deep as the ocean.
Sinking shut into sleep
silk-soft cotton mesmerises feet
to tiptoe hallways housing
damp-filled skirting boards,
mirrored doorways, wisped ceilings,
all signposting to secluded cellars
where one, inhabited,
breathes like a barnacle
clinging to the underbelly,
labyrinth of night starred with senses
and there he sits, silver as fish,
sand-blasted hand grasping
the hook of your heart,
pulling thread in and out,
mending the net,
re-designing the web that
will trawl the waters of the world
to drag salty words of treasure
into the limelight of your luminous eyes
from wild, wild mermaids.
Published in Popshot 10 - October 2013
|Posted on September 28, 2014 at 5:15 AM|
Anyone who has owned a pet and is an animal lover knows only too well the terrible feelings of loss and grief when a beloved pet dies or has to be put to sleep. This is a very personal poem, but one which I think pet owners can identify with and was written when the pain of loss was very raw and the grieving process had just begun. It was written about Misty, my lovely grey fluffy cat, who is seen here helping me with my work. (Misty - 19th October 1992 to 24th February 2006).
Don’t Leave Me
So this is the reason I am here –
this is what they do.
He was kind to me.
He examined my back legs.
I cried and tried to tell him.
She was holding me
and stroking my face,
tears dripping down onto my fur
like rain from leaves on the trees
in my beloved garden.
She signed a piece of white rustly paper,
then he gave me an injection.
I began to feel warm and fuzzy.
The pain in my legs began to recede.
She kept stroking me
and talking to me
but the only words I heard were
“Don’t leave me – I love you.
I’ve loved you every day for thirteen and a half years
and I don’t want to be without you.”
So this is what they do.
She bent over me and whispered.
I didn’t feel the second injection much,
but my beloved garden appeared,
sunlight rustling the leaves.
She was standing by my wooden bench
cuddling me in her arms
and I knew she’d never leave me…
Published in Animal Antics Anthology 2011 - Forward Press
|Posted on September 4, 2014 at 3:30 AM|
I have been stunned and appalled by the events in Iraq and Syria. It reminded me of this poem I wrote in 1995 about the crimes against humanity in the second World War. This poem is written from the view-point of a survivor from Auschwitz. How can mankind keep repeating the same murderous mistakes? Don't we ever learn from history? Then there are the men and women who make it their life's work to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice...
womb of the world
weeps for those
spiked by swastikas –
Queues of blood-tied
cry for their kind;
showered by gas,
dusted by fire.
The beater, the gas man,
starver, death planner,
march like ghosts –
always at night –
up mountains of silken hair,
over spectacles of barbed wire,
down suitcases of names
stacked like tombstones
against my heaving heart.
Auschwitz – fifty years ago –
I have never left that hell.
I am still there.
I pray for dawn
in purgatory –
circling humanity –
as some* bring
cattletrucks of crime
into the glare
of our time.
* Poem dedicated to Simon Wiesenthal
Published in CPR International 4 - October 2000, Write-Away – Spring 2002 & The World at War (anthology Forward Press Poetry) – September 2013
|Posted on August 13, 2014 at 3:05 AM|
The bus I catch to the centre of Nottingham stops at a piece of wasteland where purple buddleia, yellow ragwort and red poppies grow wild amidst the rocks, boulders and arid ground in the summer months. It always catches my attention how nature will blossom and burgeon in the most inhospitable of environments and try to spread its beauty across ugliness. This poem was written seven years ago and the wasteground is still the same. It is such a pity as it would make a beautiful inner-city garden.
Field of Dreams
The bus stopped.
Someone got on.
Someone got off.
in grey, dusty voices
to rocks, lumps of sooty concrete,
spilling over edges of wasteground
where grass, fine, pale green,
erupted over bald earth,
surrounded stones to meet
plumes of purple above
batches of golden ragwort
bowing to scarlet poppies,
paper petals crumpling
in shoals of city gusts.
The bus stuttered,
its countryside destination
a mile or two away
brimming with lusciousness
a few days of rain brings,
to be a meadow,
to be something more,
dreading piles of flats,
acres of bricks, yards of metal,
crushing its desire
to be living, verdant,
imprinted with wild flowers,
singing with butterflies,
turning barrenness into abundance.
The bus stopped
back at the wasteground.
Someone got off.
Someone got on.
Sun shot out from
a hedge of clouds
onto a field of dreams.
Published in Earth Love 31 - May 2009
|Posted on July 21, 2014 at 3:45 AM|
School of the Heart
Come away with me
down country paths
sifted with leaves of green,
to adventure in fields
where lapwings call,
haystacks gild the horizon,
sky sips from blue water river
and trees stride over hills.
It is here
you can walk unfettered,
away from the cinderhills of sin,
away from barren goals,
away from money, pin numbers
and recorded options
to a lane frothed with cow parsley
lacing collars of white,
dusted with swallows’ tails,
stung with bumble bees
and blue butterflies
meandering their fragile life
with the meaning of beauty,
and reach the small schoolhouse
set within a grassy clearing.
Go on through the open door,
push up the casements
to let in scented air
wafted from woodfuls of bluebells -
for here you begin your heart’s work.
Previously published in Forward Press Poets 2008 (The Midlands)
|Posted on July 2, 2014 at 3:00 AM|
Homesickness has hit me at various times in my life. Like a hard cricket ball hurled with great force, I’ve caught it in my hand and felt the shock reverberate through my whole body. As a child, who loved being at home, when I was removed from it, I longed to be returned again with my mother, father and sister with all my familiar things arranged around me once more.
I have always found change difficult and the worst experience of homesickness was when I went to live away from home for the first time. In 1970 I left Nottingham to go to Reading University and Berkshire College of Education to study for a B.Ed. (Hons) degree in English Literature and Education – just after my father had died from leukaemia.
I can remember feeling utterly lost and that awful ache, similar to the thudding physical pain of loss and bereavement, settled into my being, so nothing seemed to reach me and I couldn’t reach out to anyone and anything either. A dream I had at this time echoed my state of mind. I was walking with a group of people along a country path with trees either side. The path ahead had a small wicker gate, which needed to be opened, but although everyone else opened and closed this gate easily, my method of getting beyond it was to try and crawl under the small space underneath it, which proved quite difficult and painful. Was I choosing a difficult path?
The scene changed to the seaside. I could see myself in the sea, which was very rough and choppy with huge waves crashing. I was only just able to keep my head above water…
I am not sure how long this lasted, because like looking out to sea, it seemed endless and the horizon of feeling happy kept receding into the distance. I did eventually begin to enjoy life away from home. That elusive horizon of happiness began to advance slowly towards me, resting within my grasp, but only with the suppression of that which was causing me pain.
|Posted on June 12, 2014 at 3:55 AM|
Although this poem was written eleven years ago, I wanted to post it as it is very relevant to the ever-increasing accounts of child abuse which are being revealed each day. I have tried to imagine what it would be like to be a child who is being/has been abused.
I stare only at desolation,
eyes dead along with my heart;
body defiled long ago
when innocence should have reigned.
My soul was captured with image
flashed onto film, photographs, computer screen;
caught in a web worldwide
to be leered over
by men perverting natural love
of a father for his child
into an evil that
I should want this shame
thrust upon me,
to be sexually tortured,
should want this hell?
Let them, these men –
policemen, judges, prison officers,
teachers, MPs, nurses, doctors,
rock stars, celebrities, DJs,
the man in the street with dirty raincoat -
let them feel one fraction of the fear
I feel every minute of every day
pinned to this rule of denigration
where depravity is king
and there is no escape;
no passport back to naïvety,
where I am used as a commodity –
Published in Write-Away - Spring 2003
|Posted on June 4, 2014 at 6:10 AM|
Further to my post of May 29, my Robin re-appeared on the front lawn yesterday when Bill came to garden for us. He hopped all round the earth where Bill was digging and clearing weeds, collecting grubs coming very close. He came to my call and flew up in to the beech hedge and on to the bird table, dancing and twirling amongst the seeds. I saw him many more times in the afternoon and when I swept the front drive, down he flew near to the brushhead, fluttering up and down like a red leaf amongst the swirling dust and brown beech leaves. I am so pleased he is back.
|Posted on June 4, 2014 at 4:20 AM|
During July 1980 I went on a Yoga and Meditation holiday. During the week there I had a dream whereby I was a chrysalis encased in darkness. There was a light glowing and shining in the distance, which travelled nearer and nearer. Slowly I emerged from my case as a butterfly with wings slowly unfurling. The light became brighter changing into cerulean blue. My wings began to move and I flew up into the sky. The butterfly wings changed into bone and feather and I was a bluebird soaring across sapphire heavens. The bird became a star-baby looking down on the gently spinning world. The images formed an eternal circle of life, rebirth and transformation.
I went on to write the poem Unity (included below) and to paint the vivid images of chrysalis, butterfly, bluebird and star-baby above.
Thought from my daily Happiness Cards:
Think about how a chrysalis changes slowly into a butterfly: a potent symbol of personal change. Know that the power to change lies within.
The body curled into a chrysalis,
slept for the darkness
soft within a womb of life,
suspended and silent.
The light fell onto the brittle case.
Energy flowed through the hidden form.
The head lifted,
the wings rose
drawn to the sky.
Patterns dusted with colour
filled each floating wing.
Life lifted and fell
with each stroke.
The wings strengthened.
Vein became bone,
dust became feather,
butterfly became bird.
The bird shimmered and sang,
sifting the air for food.
Blue pointed tail;
blue stretched wing,
diving and rising
between earth and sky.
The wings lengthened.
Bone became strong.
Feather became skin.
Bird became child.
The child sat, arms outstretched,
seeing the spinning world
marbled below her.
Patterns coated with colour
filled each eye.
She was one -
with butterfly, bird
and whole world.
Published in Yoga & Life Magazine - 1981
|Posted on May 30, 2014 at 7:05 PM|
This poem epitomises how I feel at the moment - fallow. Although it was written over eighteen years ago in the month of February, while re-reading it and going through a bad patch of ME/CFS, it reminds me how weak and unwell I can feel. The Winter symbolism echoes the numbness, inaction and bleakness I experience when this awful illness flares up.
Grim sky tries to watercolour
its way out of cloud.
Grey doves flap
amongst blue fir
softly waving in iced breeze,
as beneath pliers of frost
only snowdrops strike for light.
fainting for a sign
to play circadian chords
of sun, soil and strength.
I watch mercurial lake
from winter-white bed
silvering between black branches,
unable to walk the way
to stand, sniff clean-cut air,
watch duck antics,
feed greedy geese
and stroke swans.
tilting spring’s horizon
to tear at winter’s sail.
Published in Panda 15 - July 2003
|Posted on May 29, 2014 at 4:15 PM|
Days and days of grey rain. It is feeding time at our bird-table. I look out for our Robin, a three-year friend, who is so tame he will come within an inch of me. He runs into the conservatory and garage to hop alongside our rabbit, Shadow. In the garden he follows me around, dancing at my feet and when Bill, our gardener, comes he adventures among the newly-turned earth for food, stopping to rest on a spade.
March is the start of the nesting season for two or three broods when his disappearance is punctuated by flying visits to the several sites around the back and front garden for food, then collecting more grubs and insects to feed to his partner and their young. Every morning he greets me by the bird-table, chirruping as he flies from a nearby perch. He alights by my hand as I pour out a special Robin bird-seed mix with mealworms, which he loves. But at his last visit he held his right leg up into his body. At first I thought he'd lost his leg then gingerly, he put it down only to retract it quickly up into his body again. He had perfect balance on one leg.
For a fortnight now I haven't seen him once. I feel bereft. A juvenile robin has started visiting Robin's places. Is this speckled young robin the son or daughter of my Robin? Is it looking for a new territory? Did Robin's leg injury contribute to his disappearance? How old was he? Robins can live to seven and older. I miss him. His presence cheered my soul every morning and his brave behaviour made me smile as his trusting flurries and dances got ever nearer to me.
I still look out for him in the garden, front and back. I listen for his beautiful trilling song from the bracket of the hanging basket near the back door, or from his perch in the old pear tree, or from the tall pyracantha hedge. My cat, Mittens, wakes me up every morning at 4 o'clock for his breakfast and then goes to the front door to be let out. Usually my Robin is singing his song from the Rowan tree opposite. It is loud enough to be heard through the double glazing and can be heard later on over the loud drone of traffic from the Loop Road just at the back of the Park.
I know my Robin as he had a white feather which often peeped out from under his right wing and sometimes he looked quite bedraggled especially when he was looking after his nest. I hope he returns and every morning I wait at the bird-table for him in the grey rain.