Wednesday 31 January 2018

Saturday Girl

Two days after my fifteenth birthday
I walked proudly into Newman Costumiers
to begin my first job.
It was 1960 and I would earn fifteen shillings,
one shilling for every year, every Saturday.
Knitwear and stockings were on the ground floor,
all neatly stacked on shelves and in drawers.
I didn’t work there. That was Enid’s territory -
she of the bouffant hair and three inch stilettos.
Above were the coats and above them dresses.
All made in Britain, not China and so costing
much the same as they would do today.
Fifteen shillings didn’t go far.
On the top floor was Alterations,
two women stitching away
with a nip or tuck here
and a longer
or shorter
No customer was allowed to escape without a purchase.
We had to fetch the Manageress if they tried.
She would offer inducements such as
a price reduction or free alterations.
Sometimes it was enough
to secure a purchase,
a tweak of the price,
a nip or tuck here
and a longer
or shorter
I worked there a full week during the school holidays
and earned two pounds, seven and sixpence,
not enough to buy my clothes there.
Come the winter custom diminished
and we Saturday Girls were sacked.
So I moved on from gowns to shoes.
                Newmans gowns to

Stylo Shoes,

               both now long gone.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

I’m Tired

I’m tired of trying to see the good in people.
I’m tired of making decisions about good and bad.
I’m tired of endless discussions in armchairs
judging and justifying what is good or bad.
I’m tired of procrastination,
of enquiries and commissions designed
to delay until death or forgetfulness.
Tired of time servers,
jobs worths,
pocket liners.
Tired of them all.
So where shall I go now?

First published in Tuck Magazine, February 2018

Monday 29 January 2018

How many times have we had this conversation?
I don’t know.
I’m not good with numbers
and neither are you.
Probably, it’s the same number of times
as we’ve promised not to have it again.
I’m not very good with promises either.
And neither are you.
How many times have we made a decision,
a final decision, that has convinced us?
Probably never,
as we’re still having this conversation.
I’m not very good at decisions either.
And neither are you.
Life has become too complex for us
and the numbers don’t add up as we’d like
them to.
We want to stop at two,
but there's another number in between.
So, our numbers keep on adding up to nothing.
Nothing except conversations and promises
that we don’t want or believe in.
And are unable to end.

Borfski Press Issue 3, Three theme

Saturday 27 January 2018

Never Again

Never again
the holocaust
of Jews, of dissenters,
of the mixed or mismatched
Never again
the swarms
of refugees 
left behind
to be let in anywhere
Never again.
That’s what they said

Friday 26 January 2018

Empty Vessels
They look like empty vessels jingle jangling,
the green light given to their recycling.
Still full of air, like air filled heads,
heads filled with nothingness.
Emptied of knowledge.
Emptied of thoughts.
Emptied of ideas.
Ready for the crushing plant to
squeeze out the air and recycle it
for the next breath.
Ready to begin
breathing again,

Thursday 25 January 2018

The Christmas Treat

It was my first Christmas in school
and we were getting a treat,
something special,
something nice.
Paper serviettes were handed out
and we placed them on our desks,
our mouths watering in anticipation.
And then came the cake,
a splendid fruit cake
coated with marzipan,
iced and cut
into slices,
one for each child.
What a treat!
I didn’t like marzipan,
so I ate the icing
and the cake
and left the marzipan to be thrown away
with the paper serviette.
But this was not allowed,
the teacher said.
All of the treat must be eaten.
I didn’t want to eat it.
Well, adults aren’t made to eat food
that they don’t like, are they,
so why should children?
It wasn’t fair.
It wasn’t just.
The teacher disagreed.
I must eat the treat,
she said.
So I threw it on the floor,
and to make sure,
stamped on it.
I was made to stand on a chair
in disgrace for not eating the treat.
At four years old,
it was my first encounter
with irony.

First published in Free Lit Magazine, January 2018

Wednesday 24 January 2018

I can understand
on a hot, hot day,
Lawrence’s snake appeared thirstily
at his water trough.
And why his lizard ran out
onto a rock
to flaunt himself in the sunshine.
But why
on a wet, wet day,
a newt should leave
her splendidly moist habitat
and venture hazardously
into the dry warmth of my kitchen,
I cannot understand.
And, of course she couldn’t explain.

I can understand why on a hot, hot day, Lawrence’s snake appeared thirstily at his water trough. And why his lizard ran out onto a rock to flaunt himself in the sunshine. But why on a wet, w…

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Sky Diving
Stand back.
You don’t have to push me,
I’m going to jump.
Here I go,
I’m going to jump,
stand back,
you don’t have to push me,
I’m going to jump!
Here I go
any second now.
Stand back.
Don’t push me.
I’m ready
to jump.
Did I miss my slot?

Monday 22 January 2018

A Ray Of Sunshine
It was my first attempt at DIY hair dying.
My friend had transformed her dull brown
into glossy chestnut and Patricia thought
it perfect to transform her unnatural blond.
So I helped her out.
Tiger Lily, it said on the packet.
Well tigers are a chest-nutty brown,
Or so we thought.
But on a base of blond
the result was unexpected.
Could any creature,
any plant,
be quite so bright,
oranger than orange,
more fiery than fire.
And this was before the days of punk
when the colour would have been lauded
and sort after.
Not then.
Early for the emergency hairdresser,
Patricia called into the butcher’s shop.
In spite of the warm day
she made sure that
the hood of her duffle coat was
pulled firmly forward,
hiding what lay
She told me later that she focused
on the large spider on the coat
of the woman in front of her
in the queue
to control her anxiety.
“Did you brush it off for her,”
I asked?
“It seemed quite at home there”,
she told me.
Her turn came.
and then horror!
“Here comes my little ray of sunshine,”
he smiled!
Blood and sand!
She thought he could see it.
But he was just being friendly,
like the spider.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Shadow Man
Hello my shadow man.
You have been
behind me
all my life.
But now
I can turn and face you,
as I turn my life round.
See your features,
see what’s there,
know who you are,
then put you behind me,
as I move on.
Or, perhaps you’ll step forward
out of the shadow
to greet me,
and I’ll see your smile,
and greet you
and then,
and then
we’ll walk
side by side
into my
new life,
as I move on.

Saturday 20 January 2018

May Queen
They crowned her the queen of May,
the little girl.
Chose her for her purity.
Pure and white and smiling.
Golden curls
held by red ribbons,
and entwined with flowers
topped with sweet smelling may.
Spring is here,
you see.
New shoots springing into life,
so we’re ready to be
reborn and ready to play
the game.
Ready for the circle.
Ready to go
round and round again.
Like the dancers she watches
weaving their ribbons round
the maypole.
The maypole phallus they’ve planted
in the ground and
bedecked with ribbons.
Red and white.
Red and white ribbons of menstrual blood
and semen.
Round and round
She watches from her throne.
Round and round.
Then come the Morris Men.
Bells jangling their presence.
Sticks clashing with their power.
Flags waving
to announce
their virility.
They crowned her the queen of May,
the little girl.
A crown of sweet blossom
and hidden thorns.

Friday 19 January 2018

The Funeral of Bosco Jones
Twenty years ago Bosco Jones died after a long and purposeful life.
His children, (long departed from their roots), returned.
“Don’t worry, Mum”, they said, “we’ll see to everything.
We’ll make all the necessary arrangements.”
They arranged a splendid funeral with a vicar and hymns and flowers.
A lot of people went, for Bosco had made an impact during his life.
They left the doors open so that all those outside could hear
And join in the proceedings.
There was nice churchy music and an atmosphere of peace and serenity.
The vicar began the service with a lot of talk of God and Mrs Jones stopped crying.
She started to look around her and take in the proceedings.
She seemed somewhat agitated and alarmed.
Then she stood up and shouted at the vicar, shaking her fist,
“I’m having none of this!” she cried,
“My Bosco didn’t believe in all this claptrap and nonsense!”
Some people cheered in agreement and she sat down again.
The vicar, a dedicated professional, began to continue the service.
Mrs Jones stood up and began to sing ‘The Internationale’.
Most people joined in and no one could hear the vicar
Who became very angry.
“It was a riot”, Nina said, with a wry smile.
When they had finished singing, they started to shout at the vicar.
He shouted back telling them that he was throwing them out
And they were never to come into his church (or outside it) again.
Everyone cheered, but no one left and Bosco made his last journey
To the sounds of ‘Bandero Rosso’ and ‘Joe Hill’ sung very lustily,
Which he would have liked a lot.
“It was a riot”, Nina said, casting her eyes upwards.
Afterwards, they all enjoyed eating the food that the children had organised.
And drinking the drink and arguing and shouting at those
With whom they had political differences and at those
With whom they were in complete agreement.
The vicar stopped by and apologised to Mrs Jones, who was very rude at first,
But then happy to sit down and explain her position
While he listened.
People still talk about the riot at the funeral of Bosco Jones

Thursday 18 January 2018

Tuesday 16 January 2018

The Vase
The kitchen looked tired and worn
like my mother did,
the last time I saw her there.
I felt no nostalgia for it.
It was not my childhood kitchen.
It held no special memories,
I thought.
And then,
I saw the vase on the counter top.
My friend found it on the Kings Road.
Bought it and brought it home.
I’d asked her to buy me something,
a souvenir of swinging London.
She bought the vase.
I never much liked it.
Dark and bulbous,
it spent most of it’s time at my mother’s,
though she didn’t like it much either.
Then time stole it away,
took it from my memory,
erased it.
And now,
here it is again, sharp as ever
bringing the past home
as it stands empty
on the counter top.
It seems that her death
invested in it a poignancy
that it had not known before.
I took it home with me.

Sunday 14 January 2018

No Place
The buildings line the street.
Such bright colours
lining the street
of the holiday resort,
a place near the beach,
a living place.
But if I should transform the cars,
into their metal box shapes.
If I should paint out their windows
and doors,
and the windows and doors
of the buildings in the street,
it would leave me
with coloured squares
and rectangles
dividing blue from green or white
with no life left there.
No place,
no place
for life
at all.

Saturday 13 January 2018

Living Alone and Loving It
I’m living alone and loving it,
that I am.
I had a good ‘un though,
but wouldn’t want to train another.
Takes years to train ‘em.
That couple last night,
what a one she was.
You could see who was boss
in that marriage.
Ain't it funny that
you picked up on it as well!
I don’t like the shows, though.
That magician was terrible.
Worst I've seen.
Mind you, magicians are old hat,
In my opinion.
Still, better than sitting on our own
watching the telly.
I think we only watch it out of boredom,
being on our own.
I wouldn’t want another, though.
Well, I had such a good ‘un,
it would’t be fair.
Couldn’t believe it when she said:
“I told my first that I’d divorce him
if he got a pot belly
and look what I’ve ended up with!”
Must have hurt him!
No equal partnership that!
You could see she was boss.
Fancy you picking up on it as well.
Must have hurt him.
Living alone and loving it, I am.
Wouldn’t be fair to have another.
I’d be making comparisons.
He was so meticulous.
If he was taking something to bits
he’d make a drawing first
so he could put it back together.
No wouldn’t be fair.
Fancy us both picking up
on that woman last night.
Yes, you can see who’s boss
in that marriage.
No, wouldn’t be fair to have another.
Living alone and loving it,
that’s what I am.

Friday 12 January 2018

Fairy Queen
She wanted to be queen
of the fairies
and live on the top of the tree
displacing the star.
That should belong in the sky,
she thought.
So she picked it up and threw it
watched it float upwards
to join the other stars.
And then it snowed
starlike snowflakes
which engulfed her
even on the top
of the tree.

Thursday 11 January 2018

Smoke and Magic
I remember the children’s party.
There was a magician.
I had never seen a magician before.
I’d heard they could pull a rabbit from a hat.
Or saw a woman in half
and put her back
together again
This magician had a hat.
But it stayed empty.
He did tricks with cards
like my uncle Percy,
but not as good.
Then he waved a stick called a wand
and a puff of blue smoke came out,
like magic.
And hidden in the smoke were flowers,
real flowers
showing through a gap in the smoke.
Since then
I have discovered
that there is usually a gap in the smoke
where the light shines through,
like magic.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Weeping Mask
The mask weeps
diamond tears,
turning ruby like
as the blood
flow starts.
Then black
like coal
as decay begins
and the mask
begins to crack,
to distort
and disintegrate,
to flake away,
to disappear.
As all masks will
in the end.
Until only
the tears

Tuesday 9 January 2018

The sun is standing still for them
Standing still for the streams of dreamers.
Dreamers streaming down the roads to somewhere else.
From somewhere that has become nowhere.
Dreaming of escape.
Dreaming of a future, any future.
Dreaming of the life they once had.
Dreaming of normality, whatever that means.
Dreaming of returning
when the sun comes up again, if ever it does.

Monday 8 January 2018

testify that
it is my will that
soon I will cease to be,
whether it is midnight or not.
That I have had enough of it all.
That I have seen as much as I want.
That I have been there and done that.
That I have changed what I could change
and made the best of the rest. And that now
I am ready, ready for another change,
a change of place, a change of form.
Ready to go back to the earth and
nurture new seeds and forms.
To form new attachments.
Freed from old ones.
Yes, this is my will.
and I will do it,
for sure, I

Saturday 6 January 2018

It’s Clear
On a clear night
I should see the moon full silver
in a sky shot by moonbeams.
Not greyed by a smoky mist
and dust clouds rising from the ruins.
I should see a black, black sky.
Not bright from the orange glow
from the fires of hell on earth.
Which send sparks high enough
to compete with the stars,
the pinpoint moonbeam spangles.
Not beamed by lasers.
I should hear the silence
in the depth of the black night,
not the explosive cacophony
bought by the masters of war
and the silent screams
buried in the rubble.
I should hear people talking in the street
and the music and laughter of the night.
I should see them walking home
to feel firm flesh loving and soft
unsplintered and unblemished by shrapnel,
unbroken by the metal clad monsters
masquerading as humanity and
wrapping themselves in the uniforms
of thousand years old myths
dressed up as history.
These should be my rights.
But they aren’t.
I have no rights.
Nor do you.
Only what they give us,
the men of the flags,
Writer Highlight: Lynn White
Poem: It's Clear
* All Highlights are chosen from our daily writing prompts at Creative Talents Unleashed.

It’s Clear On a clear night I should see the moon full silver in a sky shot by moonbeams. Not greyed by a smoky mist and dust clouds rising from the ruins. I should see a black, black…

Thursday 4 January 2018

The Hoopoes Are Back
The hoopoes are back,
even though
the walls and holes they liked to nest in
were destroyed by human nest builders
four years ago,
when there was a housing boom
and money to be made.
The hoopoes are back,
even though
the new holes and rubble they liked to nest in
were destroyed by human nest builders
three years ago,
even though,
there was no market for nests
and no money to be made.
The hoopoes are back,
even though
the new holes and rubble they liked to nest in
were washed away two years ago,
as the walls that stopped the storm flow
were destroyed by human nest builders,
to prepare the ground for money to be made.
The hoopoes are back,
even though
their nesting places are hidden, buried
under growing mountains of rubble brought
by the human nest builders a year ago
as there is no demand for human nests
and no money to be made, except from rubble.
Hey, the hoopoes are back! I’ve seen them!
The hoopoes are back!

The hoopoes are back, even though the walls and holes they liked to nest in were destroyed by human nest builders four years ago, when there was a housing boom and money to be made. T…