poetry diary

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

Month: December, 2013

A Christmas Cake

Africa! In the first mouthful a cry,
exuberant and rich, like the joy
of the suited businessman in the hall
when Mandela came to Oxford (I was there
– sixth from the right in the back row, 2002)
which still makes me weep. Dates and almonds
from Morocco, sun-suffered and strong.

Aromas of Asia in the air;
cinnamon and ginger – thoughtful
and intense – flavours in which to swim;
always wanting more and yet too much:
I think of India’s smiling crowds,
her warmth and ‘welcome home’, the noise.
Delicate nutmeg; ancient, wise and human.

Sensual sugars from the Americas,
sweetness swamping tongue and taste:
confident and bright, like Carnival in Rio,
or Miami Beach. Impatient
as the traffic in New York, raisins
from California everywhere,
like yellow taxi cabs.

Europe comes through later, an aftertaste
and reminder to forget so many things;
so many things – that tang of alcohol,
and practised mellowness: a hint
of leather armchairs and smoking guns,
conquistadors and sailing ships. Spanish
sherry – oak-aged and waiting just for this.

Our Christmas cake.


Every year around this time I bake a (very rich) traditional fruitcake for Christmas with my two children (we’ve done this since they were extremely small, and we all know our roles). This will sometimes last until March. Recipe as above (approximately).

Posted on Poets United.

On raking autumn leaves

Each leaf a life, accidental
and fallen. Damp-collecting,
for composting or burning.
Recalling summer skies; brushstrokes
for laid-back lovers – grass in their hair,
green against blue, waving gently
from sap-filled willow wands: a kiss –
her moment in time; another life
accidental, and rising now.


I was raking leaves off the lawn this morning and suddenly felt like writing again. It’s been a tough couple of months, but a rest and break over Christmas is now in sight.

In the summer, I sometimes like to lie under the trees and look at the sky through the leaves.

Posted on dVerse.