poetry diary

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

Category: Favourites

Sharing autumn skies

When I say ‘I love you,’ now,
we speak as trees in late summer,
and whisper in September winds
as the first leaves fall.

When I say ‘I love you,’ now,
we have seen the trucks collecting lambs
and held the empty starlings’ nests,
black against the dawn.

When I say ‘I love you,’ now,
your roots flow deep into your hill
and mine surround my grassy knoll;
binding earth we know.

When I say ‘I love you,’ now,
I do so freely, as our branches touch,
expecting nothing in return,
but shared autumn skies.


Feeling wistful.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link Night.

A jelly baby

And what remains of love is this;
a pack of jelly babes.
“Give these to your mum,” he says,
and turns away to shield
his tears.

Fifty four sweets are in that bag;
one for each year of coloured days.
This one tastes of ’65,
that one of ’91 –
all gone.

“She still likes these, sometimes,” he says,
“as far as I can tell.”
She takes one more, unsmiling,
and heads towards the door,

of who she is or who we are,
or why these little bumpy things
still seem to mean so much to us
and feel so warm and moist,

defining something once well known
she feels is lost or yet to come,
but will not find her now.
There must be something new
to do.

Across the room the curtains close,
and in the fading evening light,
a single jelly baby lies
alone; her lover’s furious final wail –
of farewell.


Jelly babies are traditional English sweets. People with dementia seem to like sweets.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night.

The Albemarle Rest Home

Amongst the row of faces waiting death
is one I know; her mirrored eyes my own.
Like ancient sailors held in Siren song –
here sung by soft armchairs and patterned rugs –
they sit with cups of tea and biscuits, brought
by strangely purposed nurses, patiently.

Only their eyes resist that strengthening pull –
call back like whales to days long gone
of youthful lives on tennis courts,
school open days with charts and pens,
parental hopes and grandchildren;
of lovers trysts and last year’s post;
to yesterday and slowly fading vows,
and yesterday again, which seems much like tomorrow now.

Amongst the row of faces waiting death
is one I know. She’ll always be my mum.


This rest home specialises in dementia. We reached the point at which we could no longer cope with caring for my mother in the family home two weeks ago.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night.


It almost snowed this morning;
odd flakes distracted in the air,
like girls with secret crushes
blushing in his sideways stare.

I almost loved a woman;
odd moments that connected,
like snowflakes sparkling in her hair –
yet which, as courage, later melted.

We almost spoke of feelings;
unsaid, not settling; but biding,
baying – like wolves in winter
from mountains with dusk falling.

Lives almost changing daily,
and landscapes almost smothered
by almost snow and almost love:
almost makes us days to covet.


Actually from a week ago – it’s got warmer since then.

Posted on dVerse open link  night

At Baddesley Clinton

Through centuries of Octobers’
windless days; quiet leaf falls
kiss and hold the ageing ground
like hands, that bind the earth and lake;
ancient lovers tired now, and still –
recalling (not yet awaiting)

Trees like memories hold
this latest year a few days yet;
caught between times, now and past –
softening under autumn light
and silent as prophets.

Footsteps and words, like bricks
and lily pads – uncounted
but complete, and bringing shelter
these six hundred years, to priests
and artists, and now to you and me;
stirring gentle eddies in the air.


Baddesley Clinton is a moated late medieval manor house in Warwickshire, England. It has beautiful informal and human-scale grounds.

Next to a footpath at Fuente De

Lives like raindrops falling into mud,
making rivulets of blood.

Unwasted, yet ungently blown; dashed and mixed and tossed and dropped,
then burned and baked to clay;
stretched tight in frozen screams.

Time, as in a century, will pass
and stir the mud; raise ears of corn
unnumbered like the raindrop lives
that cannot be remade.

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.

The Teacher

Rose-red lips;
as autumn leaves fall, we kiss.
How could I not know?


For September Haiku Heights  – today’s prompt is ‘teacher’.

Dawn in the Alps

It begins:
sunlight as fingertips pricking pine tops;
a shiver starting down the ridge,
massaging mountain spines
and spreading opened palms through pastures
which sigh, colour, and yield
(cow bells tingling)
to the dawn.


Posted on dVerse.

Evening in the mountains

Midday’s tyrant sun has gone;
and returning now as artist
paints that peak, those roofs, this lake,
like ripples on a mirrored pond,
with light,
made precious in her fading.


I’m enjoying the atmosphere here. This was prompted by the view from the house I’m staying in yesterday evening.

Posted on Poets United