Come over here, I'll give you a surprise.
I was kicking up clods at stupid clouds
the day I'd first watched puppies being drowned.
The sleeping sack was sunk and gone, concise.
I couldn't believe this was God's purpose.
He beckoned me over, finger on mouth.
My T shirt was grubby, the skirt dowdy
and when it twirled I blushed at the applause.
He put his hand up it in the long grass.
When I cried he gave me a dog daisy,
told me not to tell my mum and to creep
round the back way. Arriving home at last
I couldn't stop crying for the dogs for days
so I could blot him out and fall asleep.
TO DADDYA love sonnet
How can I tell you now how much I yearned
For your embraces, warm, secure and free?
The aching heart from which you always turned
Can never reach you, nor can you reach me.
We smile, and talk, and laugh in friendly ways
Until our words fall foul, and part again
The wound, the gaping wound. A tangled maze
Surrounds me. All I feel in hopeless pain.
Why, if you loved me, could you not have given
The strong-supporting praise, the longed-for kiss?
Forward I would have travelled from that heaven
Into a safer, surer world than this.
Trying to hold the peace and be your friend
Is bitter-sweet as we approach the end.
(Written before his death)
Witness a grief that's barely to be borne
I clasp a hurt so deep to scarce contain
Through seasons, twenty, waking to dark dawn
Swinging from partly mended to wracked pain.
Long years taken to hone my caring skills
Have come to naught - full zero marks my plight.
She rejects, twists, manoeuvres, with harsh spills
Of words, which I return, thus fuelling spite.
This relationship, which I now despair
Once meshed with love, this dearest babe I bore
Arms-length stranger, that joy I cannot repair.
The answer - none, no winner nor achieved score.
My daughter's darling child, listening hard
Must not witness, accept - must not be scarred.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
I lie here thinking of chores for the day;
Through the window starlings perch on a bough
Preening feathers then squawk and fly away;
Clouds are racing and rain is falling now.
Should I leave here early and catch the bank?
I'll see Joanna at seven thirty
Must arrange to empty the septic tank
And put in washing that's far too dirty.
My car needs cleaning. I must check the oil;
The central locking does not work again.
I'll have to take it back to Mr. Doyle
To fix, at the garage in Skippers Lane.
Here comes the sun. I stretch, I must get up
To wash and dress and fill my coffee cup.
A star that sparkles in the Northern gloom.
St. Cuthbert stayed here for a coffin break
en route to Durham and his splendid tomb,
before George Stephenson had chance to make
a railway town, a station to pass through.
A quiet place, a pleasant spot to wait,
Convenient and nothing much to do.
The Crescent where I live adjoins the great
Memorial Hospital. Truly fine
memorial to what? His Mam? My womb?
My husband's and my children's town, not mine.
My smokeless fire feebles in my room,
A yellow/turquoise prison of the mind.
The chains that hold me are the chains that bind.
The strand which binds us like today's, is bright
With sun on sea and dune. Horizons fade
In heat and haze, blurred and lost to left and right,
Dune cream, forest green, sea creamed and greened and waved.
The beach is broad before us, but on either hand
Perspective tautens it to points annealed
In blue-gold mirage, sky and land.
Driftwood and your body, swathed in sand are all that's real.
And in the dune, a painted pillbox with surreal mouth
Its entrance and sphinx-like eyes designed
Unseeing to see the solitude we find
And marks the spot as X would, north or south.
Stranded here beneath the sky, all day we stayed,
Knowing what we have and are and what we made.
When we touched, palm to palm, arm on arm, our
souls passed straight through our bodies, the touch learnt
by foretouch in the school of loving for
lost souls still at the desk with can't and won't,
how our souls taught us simplicity
of giving, no self in the bed, our souls
passed through, all gates open, writing our story
in the book of atoms; there in cold coals
our hot fires will be read, quarks and sub-sparks
met and exchanged histories from the bang
of time, our wavelengths were singing the talk
of love into silence, and your eyes sang
with the choir of it afterwards; when we
touched, it sprang back, a reflex of that sea.
(From a sonnet sequence A Book of Days, Part II, The Work of the Wind))
A MORNING SONNET
Like every other day I woke and rose
befuddled, angel-less and morning grey
wishing I had already ironed my clothes
and then remembered it was Saturday.
Grey becomes gold, the sun shines into sleep
but restless now my brain kicks into gear,
the alarm clamours a relentless bleep,
a little over two hours you'll be here
and I still haven't washed the kitchen floor,
the pots from the night before, or my hair
or removed that stain from the bedroom door
I still haven't decided what to wear.
It doesn't really matter what I do
Because tomorrow I will wake with you.
The sea has made its offerings, swept up
on the tide-line; string, a lost lobster pot
a plastic barrel, planks, a picnic cup
pretty shells hiding underneath the seaweed rot.
Her tidying up in Spring and Autumn leave
me breathless. I prefer her gentler moods
when she hums away sorting through her sieve
for treasure sand, mica and other goodies.
She's a stickler for grading into size
and shape, likes rippled carpets of sand
swings round headlands with lows and highs
eats her way contentedly through soft land.
She may have sourced all life but won't pretend.
Make no mistake, the sea is not your friend.
DO YOU FANCY A PADDLE?
Electric eels make mischief in the dark,
incinerating mermaids' tails for fun.
And swimmers feel their metal bra straps spark,
their juicy bots and toes nowhere to run.
Creatures nibble where the lilos flounder,
shallows beckon, come, see, no trench lies here!
Quicksand triggers wriggles if you wander,
a simple game with teeth and barbs my dear.
The deeper shadows wait for bigger prey,
a trailing arm or bosoms floating free,
a tender child sucked down, they often say,
the Corryvreckan? Foolish one, it's me!
So human, may your rubber ring be stout
or perish in a bubbly jaw or snout!
So, it's official: the number of sparrows is falling.
Right from the start of this year I'd had the notion
that there weren't as many; and now it's gained recognition.
The RSPB confirms that something has stolen
the chattering out of my yard. And, too, the starling
is suffering some inexplicable diminution
in populace over the whole extent of our nation.
And I'd thought it was next-door's cat that was the felon.
I can't believe how often I cursed their clamour,
the feathers, the straws, the moss pecked down from the gutter,
the unspeakable stains dropped on my nice clean washing;
nor how much I miss them now. It's crystal clear more
's wanted than hoping for genies out of lamps. We've got to
take some sort of action. They won't come back for the wishing.
THE DEVIL'S SONNET
Devilishly daring, artful dodger
Astute archfiend you always love to hate
Rascal, rapscallion, cad and bounder
Knave, jackanapes, depraved reprobate.
Easy-going, laid-back, I'm a part-time
Vampire, I'll suck your blood, yet give a smile
I'm a fiend indeed, no reason nor rhyme
Lucifer-like, an anagram of vile.
Satanic, smart, Beelzebub's my name
Pull up a chair my dear, learn my dark art
I'll astound you with all my cunning games
Repel you with my cold, demonic heart
I'm your Machiavellian playmate....
Tarry for a while and gamble with fate.
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Last updated on 18 July 2006.