poetry diary

I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing. (Seamus Heaney, from Personal Helicon)

Month: December, 2010

Absent-minded shopping expedition

This poem is a response to the weekly prompt on Big Tent Poetry. It started as a list poem, but became slightly distracted.

A tin of beans, to start;
three types of leaf for lunch;
garlic cloves, for your heart,
and a biscuit thing, to munch.


Two bottles of red – stop
right now, that is enough
to last a week, so drop
those thoughts of bacchante.


A toothbrush and shampoo –
back on track, you can pack.
Mushrooms – there are too few!
go back and find the rack.

… smack!

Watch the toddler on the floor
his mum’s nearby, so what’s the fuss?
OK, I will obey the law;
come quietly and hey, no cuffs!

… gosh..

this prison cell is not so posh.

© 2010 Matthew Rhodes

To believe in a mermaid

The first line of this poem comes from “To believe in mermaids” by Donald Harbour, and is a first experiment in linking with others, prompted by We Write Poems Prompt #34

To believe in a mermaid
is to create waves that brush the rocks,
and gently rock the boat –
at first only at night, in the silence of the small hours,
and smallness of your room.

The waves that brush the rocks,
wash away memories and worry cracks,
seeping into pools, bubbling,
and outlasting tides, trap shimmered scales in sunlight,
averting eyes and tempting glances.

Shimmering scales refract
sky and sun and air, distorting perceptions,
drawing on and in and out.
And suddenly there are new relationships –
the vastness of the world.

To believe in a mermaid,
is a start.

©2010 Matthew Rhodes

Happy New Year

This ending year compressing all that’s gone before
stops, in the end, quietly, like a mouse reaching home,
and vanishes, suddenly, down the hole. It’s gone
leaving a moment, only, of emptiness suspended.

We face the void.

This New Year will be different. The words unwritten,
and unread, can tell new tales; open new doors, release
promises made before, and stronger dreams. Each dream
hangs above certainties, solid in predictability, and dead.

I’ll take the chance.

There’s been time enough to think. Time enough indeed:
I have talked, consulted and discussed. I know the score;
the best guesses, lost youth and failed promise. Potential
untapped, effort unmade. You had your chance.

I want one more.

Now I know. Shadows at least. How could I be so wrong
before? When the world was an oyster and the fork
poised in hand, without training or love, meaning nothing.
Now I have it all, and must restart. The die is cast.

In with the new.

Snow jaws

Branches relaxed under weight of snow;
The calm of the gazelle in the leopard’s jaws. 
Beautiful to watch – holding the moment

Who will be first to move, and lose,
Probably – everything? 
And the catch is – 
It’s already lost – in sun and teeth –
Cold skies and weary jaws are no
substitutes for love. 

This cannot last;
And there is a one in a million
Chance – 
of escape. 


Undulating feelings, like dunes
Turn suddenly to water
At disconnected words –

Unexpected feelings, like arrows
From hidden archers
In the trees, the stinging –

Unremitting feelings, like weights
Without mercy, and
Only one direction –

Unswerving feelings, like love
Pulling always, always
Onwards, always –


Time passing, like a car on icy roads;
‘an accident waiting to happen,’ they say
But they are not in the car, like me and
you – deliberately heading for
that patch of frozen snow. Murky
in the gloom.

At least the pond beyond will be

If we survive.

Turn the wheel,



Certainty, soft, like the coldness of snow
Awaiting expression – the path from here
To there mapped, the skis pointed, the rail held;
Fingers loosening – once opened
There is no way back.


Snow falling upwards,
As I cross the room.
Feeling my body –
Mind in tune.

Focused on you too,
What are you feeling?
Snow falling downwards,
As I cross the room?


There is no way to change the past.
Anger and frustration cast
Long shadows over dark’ning thoughts.
The sun will run its course.

There is no answer. It is too late
To hesitate or close the gate.
A world awash with colour waits:
No one pauses at the gates.

And beyond –
The glorious mystery –
Of a future lived.

Carol concert

Innocence and imagination –
Children singing at Christmas.
Hope and potential –
simple –
and love.
And so much happiness.

So much happiness,
So much,
Why do I always cry?