Friday, 12 March 2010


Red hot razor blades
tenderly trace lines across my soul.
Ley lines,
fault lines,
lines to cross.
They slip,
burning sweetly,
trailing bloody kisses through my thoughts,
tattooing memories
in psychedelic pain.
They bite deep,
blazing words to my brain
that bubble,
sanguine to the surface,
and turning to black,
they rest.


Here I sit,
wrapped in words
that wriggle with pleasure,
around my mind.
Doted on and applauded
like a baby's first steps,
they wreathe and writhe
until my brain is
And here I sit.

Esther Grace

My baby spoke to me today.
Her “Mama” wreathed in smiles
Played glissandi on my heart strings,
Mellifluous as cherry blossom
tumbling across a clear blue sky.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Sometimes I open my eyes
and realise only then
that they were shut before.
Sometimes I see things
that were always there
and find
I never knew them
as they really are.
Sometimes my world
takes me by surprise
and though I would rather
not be blind at all,
I am thrilled
when sight surprises me

Monday, 22 February 2010

Everything is Connected

As notes hang,
knitting music
in tentative legatos,
so do we,
paper chain people,
hand in hand,
Strung between history
and eternity,
we are dew drops,
beading the web of life.

(With thanks to Daniel Barenboim for helping to clarify this thought!)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Blackbird (3)

A blackbird sings pearls
over diamond frost.
The world is transformed
to a treasure chest
and everything sparkles
ice-cold in the night-light dark.
Eye lashes, decked with dew,
halo my sight with veins of gold
as the blackbird sings pearls
over diamond frost.


Perfect love
with nothing to fear.
The joys of searching
and no clouds of doubt.
Cities like jewels,
crystal clear,
trees brilliant with birdsong,
spread to shade
conversations lifetimes long,
and no misunderstandings.
Meditations long and deep
and no spiral to despair.
This is where
Divinity dwells
and we see
not darkly
through muddled minds
or tears
or fears
but everything
is absolutely,

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The stars are coming out

The stars are coming out.
I feel them piercing the empty space
of my mind.
I cannot lift my head,
not yet,
from the sand,
but on the smooth surface of the sea,
I see
reflected diamonds.
Hush – the waves are whispering their secrets now
and I
can lie,
my ear to their shore
and whisper mine to them.
In my midnight blue,
the stars are coming out.
I feel them piercing the empty space
of my mind.


A prayer.

In the Temple of my mind,
Dreams rise like incense
to a leering divinity
who squats, uninvited,
harsh and sleep-cracked,
mock their own becoming,
turn the grinning god
in writhing delight
and cover me in shame.
Let my songs run pure
like clear springs,
wash my nightmares
to dream of truth and beauty.
Sanctify the Temple of my mind.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Winter Moon

Full moon hangs in translucent sky
over frosted cars and cold-petrified trees.
Fat and blooming,
smiles at new, night-wrapped morning,
tugs at the tides of sleeping minds.
Silvering frost-feathers,
lacing the cold with diamonds,
insinuates lungs on fogged breath,
sowing friendly chill and reaping shivers.
She is queen of the solstice,
wrapping the world in a luminous embrace.

Night Fighting

This is the night,
shoving my body aside,
mainlining my brain
with thoughts and fears
best left til morning.
This is the night,
denying soft, swaddling clothes,
pummelling me with dark fists
that offer no return,
and nothing to wrestle but my self.
This is the night ,
the clarity of not yet morning
when fog is lifted from my dream-logged mind
and I am startled to wakeful watching
by scuttling scenes of what might be,
what could have been.
This is the night
turned hard.
No black-bandaged softness,
no nestling in snuggeries here.
This is the night
and me,
the two of us
tug-o-warring sleep.

(With thanks again to Dylan Thomas!)

Monday, 25 January 2010

Time and Tide

My body is running away from my mind.
The realisation is very unkind.
There's no way to catch it; it's far out of reach
and free-falling headlong into the breach.

Somewhere in childhood, or not far beyond,
my brain is awakening, looking around,
Absorbing the wonders that hold out their hands,
longing to travel their soul-stirring lands.

But just as my brain is beginning to wake,
my body is out of control with no brake;
tumbling quickly, quite out of control,
to where it will finally split from my soul.

And somehow, my brain is left far behind,
beseeching my body to wait for my mind -
There's so much I still want to do and to say,
I want to be useful, to travel, to play,

I want to learn languages, study and sing,
So many books, so many things,
But somehow my body, though adequate now,
Wants to stop sliding, and doesn't know how.

So it keeps running away from my mind.
It's all very normal, but oh, so unkind.
There's no way to catch it; it's far out of reach
and free-falling headlong into the breach.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Listen, Time Passes.

It is not too late,
not yet,
to see beauty
and transform the rest
to peace.
It is not too late to lie
soft and gentle
in a warm embrace
and feel it to be true and good.
It is not too late to recognise
what future good can come from present pain,
to arrest the bitterness
and live again.
Yet Time is marching on
and will not wait
for promises nor passion,
love nor hate.

(With thanks to Dylan Thomas for the title.)


What is this life?
Mists swirl hypnotic
in the desert.
A mirage beckons,
shimmers and dies as I must.
In the internal winter
I feel the heat of exposure
to its glacial heart
and then the mists return and so do I.
In the labyrinthine caverns
I see the light of
death’s quick blade.
In the primal moon
of my inner eye
I see your light reflected.
Turning the chaotic seasons of my sphere to order,
you rise to bring meaning into life.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Dedicated to Seraphim Jane Mcleod, born yesterday 19th January 2010.


A blackbird is singing.
Alone in the clear, cold dark
of this January before-dawn morning,
at the top of the tree
at the bottom of the garden.
Its song is clear as ice cold mountain streams,
tumbling through the air
to where my sleepy brain soaks it up.
It is a pure, uncomplicated start to my day,
Gold above the grey.

Blackbird (2)

A blackbird is singing.
Alone in the clear, cold dark
of this January not-quite-morning,
it anticipates the new day
with its pre-dawn recitative.
A tiny Angel singing Glory to God
for the birth of a Seraph.

Monday, 18 January 2010


My brain is fizzing.
Not unpleasant.
A far from comfortable effervescence.
A sizzling, fizzing, combustible,
bubbling brain.
It fires thoughts across my night sky
like UFOs.
From the unknown to more of the same,
they sparkle confusion
from neuron to neuron
and continue to far away.
I am an atom in the void,
percolating tiny philosophies.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Last Stand

It is grey outside.
Cloud close enough to
water-log my brain.
I am through with grey.
I will do all I can to keep it at bay,
hold it limp,
at arm's length.
From now til Spring
I will rainbow things.
Hair dyed bright above
stripy scarf and
coat of many colours.
I will Joseph my way through the
winter wilderness,
dreaming dreams
of glorious futures
where suns bow down to no-one
and grey
knows its place
and slinks away.


These are the spheres that rise
from my mind,
effervescence bubbling
from ocean depths.
Laughter and tears,
and sudden clarity,
fizz to the surface,
burst all over my brain.
I reach out to hold them
but they are gone,
bubbles on the breeze.


I want to spin words like tops,
colours blurring together
into a frenzy of beautiful expression,
juggle syllables
and twist sounds
into kaleidoscope patterns.
I want to spark
the fuse of fireworks,
paint wonder across the sky,
wave my pen like a wand,
and weave magic into every line.
but every time I try,
the fireworks fall away
and leave my brain
a blank, empty sky.


Dark thoughts fly outwards,
tattered edges of nightmares,
as day’s cold light dawns.
Dreams that fluttered like burnt moths
at the flame of my slumbering mind,
disturbing my sleep
and waking me,
uneasy in the small hours,
slip towards morning
and disappear.
I am left with a sense of something uncertain
as the day breaks.

The Bullies

Sometimes the bullies come back.
Their snide remarks
that wormed into my perceptions,
or slid like wire through cheese,
smoothly brutal,
stab uncalled for –
like the first time –
into my thoughts.
They niggle and gnaw until I’d rather just stay
another day
hidden out of sight,
than face the bullies that still lurk
in every looking glass.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


The thing that made it perfect
was its lack of walls,
or any other keeping-it-in-or-out

It had trees to sit in,
silent, thinking,
grass to walk on,
(without sharp things in it,
so bare feet were with it.)
No signs on doors denying access -
there were no doors,
no gates,
no inside places to be shut out of.

And God walked in the garden.
No churches, temples,
walls of any kind.
No ceilings for prayers to bounce off,
mocking their own echoes.
Just a talk with God,
a friend to friend chat.
How perfect was that?


There was a time,
around childhood, and even more
recently, I’m sure,
when snow transformed winter gloom
to white-wrapped wonderland.
between then and now,
something stole the status-quo
and so, the snow
is turned to grey
by the winter world
on which it falls.


Walking down the River Lea
and the canal
barges nesting neatly on the banks,
swans, (miraculously white,)
gliding like Tchaikovsky through
rainbow slick oil and
alien green soap suds,
I must say,
what strikes me
most clearly,
is so much grey.
Colour is there
but the dust jacket stops it
getting out.
I am cynical as doubting Thomas
about the transformation potential.
Then the sun comes bounding from some hidden grey of its own,
turning dross
to pure, surprising gold.

Near Death Experience

Pulsing through veins,
steady throb of heart to brain, fingers, toes
and every far flung part of me,
blood red life ebbs
and flows.
Awake, asleep, joyful, sad,
head-over-heels mad,
One by one or all together,
into myself and out again.
Tumbling and climbing, roller coaster flying,
birth to death riding high and low.
The veil gossamer, silk, barely there,
Every breath
near death.

In his book "Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation", Adrian Plass defines "Near Death Experience" as "Life". The idea that all of life is a 'near death experience' is somehow liberating, I think. Anyone else?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


The Almanac’s annual end returns
to start its circling seasons
once again
and in the whirlpool’s spirals
casts its soul.
As circle’s life completion
lies in its conception,
time, ironic, takes its Spring
from Winter’s frosted grave.
So here is read,
in winter’s whitest depths
the annual end
where life is newly made.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Year Warming

The Weather was out in force
for New Year's Day,
sentimental in the spirit of the season.
Snow at midnight,
full moon hanging heavy,
pearlescent before dawn
and sunshine bright all day.

Clear, blue skies,
ice-laced trees,
frosted fingers of frozen sunlight,
wrapped the day
in chilly warmth.

And friends
and soup
and fresh-baked bread
made this new year
warm and homely
from the start.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

New Year

Here we are,
spitting out serpent tails
to begin again.
Banking resolutions in armoured vaults,
casting scaled skin aside,
swearing the past into its grave.
Every time surprised when January bites back,
a sting in its December.



I’ll run a mile every day,
I’ll learn to speak Chinese,
I’ll eat a healthy diet, and
I’ll hug the local trees.

I’ll drink a lot of water,
And file the post away,
I’ll keep a clean and tidy home,
And read a book a day.

I’ll start first thing tomorrow,
But first I’ll have a break.
I’ll crash out on the sofa
And finish off the cake.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas Day

I tidied up the living room,
I tinselled up the hall,
balanced light-decked Christmas tree
and hoped it wouldn't fall.

Presents neatly wrapped, I stacked -
artistically I'm sure -
and just when I had got it right,
my husband found some more.

Eventually I got to sleep,
the buzzing in my brain
shuffled off to slumber land.
Recharge... and breathe again...

Then up again before the dawn
and ever since, I'm sure
I haven't stopped to draw a breath,
I haven't seen the floor.

The living room was tidy,
the house was dusted through,
but what with paper, boxes, toys,
there's such a lot to do.

I think next year I'll leave it.
We'll all go far away -
and mess up someone else's house.
Hoorah for Christmas day.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


I fought all night with sleep –
or it with me.
It was a dance through burning dreams
into waking worries
that seemed like nightmares.
Then, about an hour ago,
I drifted into deep,
feather-down sleep
that loved me,
nursed me,
molly-coddled me,
until the alarm clock,
like Jonah’s giant fish,
plucked me from the deep
and spat me into morning.
It’s a beautiful, golden morning,
but it’s cold and demanding
and I want to go back to sleep.

Bed Time

It’s time to climb the stairs again,
Up the cotton wool stairs to cloud cuckoo land.
(Or, probably, a nightmare land where
nothing as nice as cuckoos nest,
or cuckoos, yes,
but the real kind,
that boot the babies out to dash their brains
on the far off ground.)
Time for bed, sleepyhead.
Lullaby time,
Kiss good night and tuck-in time.
(And tucked in so tight under that suffocating sleep,
that sits like Huple’s cat on my face
so that I wake screaming in the small hours.)
And so to sleep.
(Yes, here I could quote Hamlet’s
what dreams may come, but here,
in this mortal coil,
my dreams throw tantrums already,
not waiting, respectful, like Hamlet’s,
for me to shuffle it off.)
To dream.


Through Time’s arches,
Tomorrow beckons
clean and pure.
It shimmers and shifts,
Nothing set in stone and
All is promises and suggestions of
What ifs.
Its mother of pearl luminescence
Slippery and scattering fragments of reflected today
Into confusion.
It is not yet concrete.
Not yet weighty Now.
It is merely the ghost of future memories
Mirrored in yesterday’s dreams.

Old Age

Existence trembles
In shadows of laughter and life’s left-overs
Until Death’s indifference
Dances her away.

Where Your Treasure is

The shadows flicker gold-laced on the wall,
And firelight dances crimson in the grate.
The season’s frost is banished from the hall,
Despite the dark, and though the hour is late,
When icy gales cause temperatures to fall,
The knife-edged Winter is compelled to wait,
For in the warm embrace of gathered friends,
The steely season for a while ends.

In company of strangers, though the sun
Shines warm in summer-saturated sky,
And though the birdsong-dawns their courses run
Ecstatic, and the meadows flower-decked lie,
No heart could feel as warmed as mine has done
In depth of winter, loved ones closely by
And so, above the summer’s golden kiss,
Which still I treasure, I will treasure this.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Winter Solstice

Lullabies laced with ice slice into hibernating ears and fears of slipping away before day returns slip too in dream-filled solitude.

Bright clear sky scythes sleep like diamond knife through velvet and soft snow swaddles granite ground kissing world to winter with every falling flake.

Dark descends before Day's done ushers Night untimely borne on whispering winds scuttling frozen through naked trees.

Christmas Presence

Behind the red-wrapped presents

a swaddled presence,

womb-red lies.

Light-bedecked trees,

home-warm inside


Light of the World

hung up to die

on the cast-out,

outside-the-city hillside.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Little jars of things you found
under the surface

sit, quietly shelved.

Here we see

a potted history
of a whole village worth of lives.
Here, a few beads,

still blue,

lie beside a bit of brooch.

Who wore you?

Was she like me?

Did she have off days,

crazy days,

days when blue beads

were just what she needed,

when only blue beads would do?

That pile of pieces of pots

once held perfume,




Now, carefully cleaned of soil,

it waits where it’s put

and holds nothing but

the past.



Every so often, Abigail thinks that she should feel at least a little bit guilty.

(It's hard to be repentant when you're married to the king

and the husband who passed away to make it possible

was horrible.)

Still, it niggles

just a little.

She remembers,

(day time, a lingering glow of satisfaction,

night time 3 am, a blush of guilt,)

how, maddened by horrible husband's outrageous,

(and dangerous)

discourteous behaviour,

she nicked the week's supplies from his bleating pantry

and whisked them to David in the desert.

It was a thrill, (though scary.)

Still, when that oaf of a husband was blotto (again) on her return,

it eased any potential remorse.

He died of a hard heart a week later.

No, Abigail, it wasn't your fault.


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Season’s Greetings

Here I am again,

the dark would-be-day

folded like midnight around me,

curling into my thoughts like smoke.

I remember when

this time was day time,

and we sat in long-shadowed evenings,

sun-warmed and pensive,

gnat-gnawed, summer days stretched like elastic

to trespass on night’s turf.

Suddenly over stretched,

they snapped back to where winter waited,

stung the season’s hand,

frost biting the fast-fading skin.

Here I am again,

wrapped in season’s greetings,

holding out for spring.

O little town

Look where little Bethlehem lies.

Not sleeping but seething.

Swarms of rest-seekers

begging inn-keepers

for a bed.

Look where little Bethlehem lies.

No silent night.

Streets lined with Roman soldiers

and criminals on crosses,

hung as gasping warnings

to the passing throng.

Look where little Bethlehem lies,

between sheep on the hillsides

and star in the east.

Occupied territory

teeming with lost souls

far from home.

Look where in a manger lies

- hay scratching new-born flesh,

nuzzled by flea-ridden beasts,

the everlasting arms

bound by swaddling bands -

Hope of the nations,

Wonderful Counsellor

And Prince of Peace.


Whatever we do, we humans, we are all walking on ropes.

High ropes, pulled tight between left and right, wrong and right, ethics and human rights,

suspended on a knife edge on the edge of reason.


knotted ropes,

struggling to find


and ends.












Half way between Time and Eternity, we step out boldly,

Picking a path on personalised strands of this tangled web.

Christmas Carols

Christmas Carols

Was it bleak?

Possibly for Mary,

Weak and heavy-laden every labour-inducing step

to Bethlehem.

Not winter though –

not with Passover lambs on the hillside –

and definitely not white.

(In Palestine snow would have been yet one more

miracle that holy, but probably noisily-not-silent night.)

No snow.

Dusty streets and maybe some green hills for the sheep.

Could the beasts in the smelly stable know

their maker lay

mewling in the hay?

Doubtful. Even his mother was confused.

Who wasn’t? (The angels were at an advantage, being celestial.)

The shepherds believed, and did what they were told,

but did they wonder

ever after

what exactly had gone on?

Even we,

with two thousand years discussing history,

still spread the rumour

it was all about babies and the bleak mid winter,

ignoring what we know (about the baby growing up, beaten up and dying.)

There was no tinsel in the manger.

Just two tired refugees

huddled in the hay,

hoping the birth would be ok.

Boxes for God

Whose idea was it,

to keep the king of Heaven in expensive buildings?

Perhaps whoever it was

forgot that he’s gone home to his throne

and left the poor and suffering

representing him here.

Strange, building ornamental houses inside his footstool,

when he’s made his home in people

who have no homes to put a footstool in.

The Hands of God

The Hands of God

They must be huge,

the hands that hold the world.

Hands that set planets spinning like gyroscopes,

and threw stars so hard

they stayed where they were put.

They must be strong hands,

to hang on nails,

and still support

the weight of humankind,

without dropping a single soul.

They must be huge, strong hands,

where the bruised reed of my life

lies like a baby,

curled into the nail marks,

Knowing it won’t be broken.

Monday, 14 December 2009

The Sadness

The Sadness

It is not that the

sun stopped shining,

that the earth grew dark and cold,

it is not that the

clouds moved nearer,

that the days shrank withered, old.

It is not that the

crown of darkness

was placed on Winter’s brow,

it is not that the sun’s stopped shining

in the frosty heavens now,

it is not that the earth is silent and lies as hard as stone,

but that I in my pale, cold prison,

am held here all alone.

In the darkness of all my loathing

my heart beats captive to flesh.

It is not that the nights grow darker

but that Dark is withholding Death.

It is not that the sunlight has vanished,

that the earth is cold and grey,

it is only myself captive, waiting

for Death to take me away.

But Death is held by the winter

as helpless and silent as I,

til my spirit returns to my body

and the sun shines again in the sky.

The Rooks

A thunder cloud,

the midnight crowd


Black as whirlwind’s

inner eye,

drawn magnetic

from the day-bright heavens,

scavengers settle


Seasonal rite and

season’s rights


tarmac-black leaves

flung outwards

from the stripped naked tree

to return,

instinctive to its

telepathic touch.

Veni Vidi Vici

It is cold.

The rain that strikes the earth

like a thousand spears,

like the tears of an angry god,

is a frosted passion.

The once warm breeze

is wrapped around

with ice-bound love

that freezes with each kiss.

Flesh and blood resist the chill


the hungry bone is touched

and all is lost to Winter’s game.

It is cold and all is held

in the season’s silver clasp.



Winter, you are not dead nor old,

you are not the almanac’s diseased remains,

the corpse of calendar’s out of date days.

In your silent, frosted spirit dwells

the sum and crown of all the seasons’ joy

and pain.

Winter soft, your darkened days

are not shrunk youths grown old and grey and failing,

but cradled in your arms they sleep

and heal.

Yours hours, sequestered twilight, yield

to velvet shadows’ soft caress

and know the gentle passion of their touch.

You are not the shroud that

suffocates my hopes,

the icy flow that floods my passion’s fire.

You are not the frost that claims my heart,

the scythe that strikes the substance of desire.

I know you now,

Winter who I saw unseeing, cruel,

was my illusion,

my own fear of what I thought I knew.

Winter, still those fears that haunt me still.

All the seasons meet in you

to know their essence in your own.

Your place within the season’s restless,

turning tide is right

and true.



Mist settles like spectres
in the sepulcral hills.
Where the ghosts of spiralling seasons
linger in the fallen leaves
and pine cone-carpeted earth,
it nestles silent as solitude.
Winter wrapped in ghost-bandaged air
where scent of summer lingers still
on the damp moss
and deep, deep down
spring sleeps.
There is life here.
Cradled in the frost hard kernel
of winter's womb
the seeds of summer
grow in the grave of the year.