Wednesday, 28 April 2021

 A Bucketful Of Dreams

I’d always loved rainbows.

I knew that the sunlight made them

so I watched the rain showers eagerly

waiting.for the sun to shine again.

Then I was off 

in search of gold.

I wondered 

what form it would take,

a heap of coins

or golden pebbles

or perhaps bars

like chocolate 

wrapped in golden foil.

I would soon find out.

I took my bucket and followed 

the long and winding roads,

the steep and rocky roads,

I forded streams

and leapt ditches

and always I was too late,

only in time 

to watch, 

the rainbow fade away.

But this time was different.

I was there!

I really was!

I sat down,

and exhausted

with excitement

fell asleep.

When I woke

the rainbow had vanished

and the sun was blindingly bright.

I looked in my bucket

and there it was!


filling my bucket with light.

I carried it home


 In Flight

They’re fleeing like broken butterflies

stalked by their nemesis

from a former life.


It was so beautiful,

gleaming huge and iridescent

gold and green and blue and black.

With wings that should have been clear,

filled with shining rainbows 

not like this, twisted at strange angles 

and dulled with sticky silk.

Not stuck there waiting

to be prepared for some spider’s supper.

I held it gently 

and took it from the web.

I carefully removed the sticky silk

and saw the rainbows sparkle as they should,

saw it’s eyes brighten and gleam 

with the prospect of freedom.

It took a while, this disentanglement,

a delicate task to free this fragile creature.

And when it was ready,

I opened my fingers and

let it fly away.

It bit me then.

No parting kiss,

but a bite that

left a bruise.

Such gratitude!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

 Cotton Fields

Fields of cotton

as far as the eye can see,

row upon row of soft white balls

always thirsty

the plants and people,

always hungry

the plants and people.

A crop so thirsty it can dry up a sea

in socialism.

A crop so hungry it can starve a people

in capitalism.

A crop so needy it can render sterile the land

forced to grow it.

A crop so demanding it can destroy,


and exploit

wherever it goes.

Its softness hides a heart of steel.

But still it’s natural.

Always natural.

Only natural.

Sunday, 25 April 2021


He picked us up near Torino,

a dapper Frenchman 

with an impressive moustache.

He was going to Nice.

So were we!

Such luck.

One lift

all the way from Torino to Nice.

We settled back to enjoy the ride.

We came to a roundabout.

With gesticulations of frustration

and twitches of his moustache,

he missed the turning.

We went round again

and the next time,

he missed it again.

The third time we were ready

to call out and point it out

in good time.

But with more expansive gesticulating

and moustache twitching

he still missed it.

There were many roundabouts 

between Torino and Nice.

We came to know them intimately.

On arrival we were hugged and kissed

in thanks for our help.

Without us, who could say where he’d be.

Not us, for sure!

He invited us to accompany him

to Monte Carlo the next day,

if we would like to.

Yes! We would like to!

We turned up at the allotted time and place,

but he never came.

So, we never went to Monte Carlo.

Possibly he never went there either.

We imagine him still,

going round and round a roundabout

somewhere in Nice,

his moustache twitching in frustration.

He’ll be a very old man by now.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

 A Familiar Story

It’s a familiar story

well told

and many of us can identify

with some part of him -

Odysseus the escapee,

Odysseus the wanderer,

the adventurer,

the explorer

the leaver of a past life

and embracer of the new.

We’ve all desired

to sail away 

in boats that fly

as quick as thoughts

and at some point we’ve all 

ate the sun god’s cattle

and paid the price.

We’ve all described our relationships

as “complicated,”

or wanted to.

It’s a familiar story

well told.

Each landing was a new challenge

in a newly discovered land

inhabited by Other people,

Other creatures

monstrous beings

to be vanquished by superior swords

or stolen to serve 

as housekeepers or herders,

to be made into fish food if they resist. 

It’s a familiar story

well told.

Then there’s the women

the temptresses

with their beautiful voices

weaving with shuttles made of gold.

Beautiful voices 

but dangerous mouths

enticing us with their cupid lips.

And there’s always others,

the ones who seem all mouth

or have many mouths. 

We can quieten them.

We can steal them away to become our maids,

our handmaids

as Atwood might describe them.

It’s a familiar story 

well told.

And we’ll load up our ship with lotus fruit,

or lounge about while they do it,

and then we’ll forget the long swords

and how we fed the fish

with the heroes of the Resistance.

We’ll be the heroes when we get home.

It’s a familiar story

well told.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

 Holding My Breath

It looks as though the historians of today

have finally caught up 

with their nineteenth century colleagues

and discovered

that fresh air is rather good

for treating 

and preventing

infectious diseases..

Even politicians have noticed

and now have a new slogan

to promote

the discovery

in Britain.

Britannia rules


Not long now before they ‘discover’

that the isolation hospitals of history

were pretty cool in preventing cross infection

and might have saved one in five people

from Covid infections in England. 

That’s the number acquired by hospital in-patients,

the number acquired by out-patients being unknown.

It seems that hospitals can be very dangerous places.

More dangerous

maybe than bars,

or cafes,

or schools,

or even crowded metros.

So I don’t expect to have to wait long

for this discovery.

Shall I hold my breath?

Maybe not,

no matter

how fresh

the air


Saturday, 10 April 2021


I didn’t silence easily,

not even as a child

I spoke first

and listened later

to the embarrassed laughter

or pourings of outrage

from adult mouths.

I resisted my mother’s attempts

to quieten me,
I knew it would ruin me,

arrest my development,

curtail my growth,

my flowering.

So I was ready for you 

when you tried.

Yes, you tried.

But by then

I was ready,

I knew who I was,

knew too much altogether

and there was nothing we could do 

about it.

I had already spoken out.

Friday, 9 April 2021


The king is dead!

Long live the king!

The crown of thorns,

the cut to the heart

in the end

there was no end,

so it's said.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

 Inappropriately Dressed

I wasn’t dressed for snow,

or clouds,

or wind,

or for walking at all,

if I were honest.

But sometimes 

you just have to give it a go

and trudge through the clouds,

kick up the snow in passing,

challenge the wind

with the size 

of your hat.

It wouldn’t dare to blow

it away, would it?


you just 

have to don

your dark glasses

and stride out to the sun,

regardless of snow, or clouds, or clothes.


you just have to go.

 I Was Not Like Her

I was not like her,

the girl in the picture

looking out




No I was not like her

not me

not then.

I wore the gloves in summer 

that my mother bought me

the classic cut clothes 

that she had always 

wanted to wear

even allowed my hair to curl

as it wanted to

as she wanted it to.

No I was not like her,

the one in the picture

not then.

But when I broke free

made myself up

wore minis

or long skirts

controlled my curls

with an iron in hand


I think

I became her


 Leaving Home

The van departed

fully loaded,

I stood there 

empty handed

and took a last look round

the house 

where I’d once been happy.

I felt empty now,

like the house,

empty rooms

and faded dreams.

I was on my own now,

going solo.

I walked briskly away.

I didn’t look back.

 It’s Behind You

Sometimes you just can’t see it

however closely you look,

a case of the wood hiding the trees

with the elephant there in the room. 

For safety's sake you need to take a wider view

three hundred and sixty degrees

if there’s no audience to shout it out.

Get ready to run.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

 To Luisa Casati

Even when her hair was aflame with orange

they would never call her ‘Ginger’.

Ginger was her choice 


Like the snakes.

Did anyone shout

“snakes alive” with shock

when they saw her living jewellery?

I wonder.

I wonder

how they reacted to the emerald sparks

from her burning fires.

With wonder

I think

always with wonder.

How else could you view her


as a work of art.

Monday, 5 April 2021

 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.