Saturday, 28 January 2023


A Grim Fairy Tale

When I was a child 

my mother told me 

that Never Never Land

Is where the lost children go,

those who can’t find their way home.

My mother told me that

they stay children for ever

and can play all day long.

It sounds like a fairy tale

and perhaps 

that’s where these children have gone,

stepped into a fairy tale

or perhaps

they’ve been taken into one

by a monster

straight out of Grimm.

And now they wait.

And there’ll be others



for someone to find them.

Perhaps they’ll put up a sign

hoping someone will see.

And they’ll sit by the sign

waiting for rescue,

waiting for the fairy tale ending

that can never come.

Friday, 27 January 2023

 Button Box

I loved playing with the buttons

in ‘Grandma’ Kirk’s button box.

She wasn’t my real grandma

but mum’s friend 

who used to have a Chip Shop nearby.

When she died ‘Auntie’ Stacey,

(who wasn’t my real aunt either),

took the money 

that Grandma Kirk had hidden 

under the floorboards,

even though it had been left to mum.

She was a bad ‘un,

my mum said.

The £200 that was in the bank

was all that was left.

She showed the bank manager

the hole in the floor.

He looked amazed

my mum said.

He said to leave it with him

and she heard no more.

I inherited the button box.

 Ravens Can’t Read

“That’s quite a raven,”

thought Poe



But of course

it needed to be large

to collect


all the pages

all the words 

he had written.

And then,

what then,

what will happen next


all those words

are collected up

and made ready

to be consumed

for Evermore.

Ravens can’t read

after all.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

 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.

 Odyssey In The Afternoon


I remember that day of the voyage

from the moment the dawn rose

out of the golden globe

and stretched out

pink fingered roses

into the blue

of the morning,

without knowing 

what was to come after,

in the afternoon

when the wind took us

to a strange land.


But I embraced its strangeness

and its indolent contented people

who showed me the lotus

and smiled 

as I bit into the delight 

of its flowers and fruits,

savoured it’s dreamy sensations

with no need to wonder

what would to come after,

there were only afternoons,

forever afternoons.


But the moment 

when I woke,

shook myself awake,

I dragged us all away

out of fear of forgetting, 

forgetting where I’d come from,

forgetting where I should go

and before I forgot to leave that place

with it’s soporific days 

of perpetual afternoon. 


And in the evening

as night fell

to envelop me

stretching out

its grey blanket

and touching me with black,

I wondered

if I would I even remember

sniffing the fragrance

of the flowers 

and tasting fruit

alive with the sleepy sensations

of the days of afternoons.


I have already forgotten

to wonder

what came after.

 Crossing The Line


As the ship drew closer to the line of the equator,

the sea king began to lick his lips in anticipation

of the celebration which would mark the occasion

and of the fat fresh tadpoles which Big O and his 

waiters would serve when he returned from the 


Of course, tadpoles that could swim in the ocean 

were unknown, 

but Big O knew that the frogs on board would have 

given birth long before the line was crossed.

Tadpoles were the king’s favourite party food and he 

had already a collection of shells to serve them in.

He had been training the waiters for some time.

He always did when they heard that a ship was 

approaching the line.

His octopuses were in great demand.

With eight arms they were the king’s waiters of choice

and he had more standing by ready to become wine waiters.

They would serve the rum that would be gifted when the 

king went on board and roared and waved his sceptre 

around a bit and struck the deck with three loud raps to 

signal his judgement on which tadpoles should become 

food for his homecoming party and which he could call 

his sons and trust to raise frogs to supply his future treats.

The octopuses waited, wondering how hard they must work 

before the king and his retinue were sated and sleepy from 

fat tadpoles and watery rum.

It would all depend on the bargain struck on board,

tadpoles for now or more tadpoles for later,

rum for the king, or more rum for the waiters.

Big O always tried to assess the king’s mood before he made 

his judgement.

It would be a clue as to how many shells would be needed

after the ceremony.

Small shells were easy for the waiters to collect, but the large 

ones to hide the rum for later were hard work and needed 

several arms to fill them and stash them in the sand out of 

sight for when the king and his followers slept.

As usual the sleeping king dreamt of octopuses dancing 

drunkenly on his table and was that Big O wearing his crown?

He woke, combed the weed from his hair, retrieved his crown 

from under the table and pondered.

Did he really see it on the head of Big O in his dream?

Recurring dreams were such a strange thing, he mused.

Then, puzzled, he surveyed the broken shells on the table.

He wondered how they came to be broken.

Had his dream come true?

He straightened his crown and looked for his sceptre to 

bang on the ground.

He really must speak with Big O.

Somehow, he thought, a line had been crossed.

 The Power Of Gods

He would have had an easier journey

if he hadn’t harmed Neptune’s son.

He should have beat a hasty retreat

from the sailor-eating giant

leaving him unharmed by anybody

or nobody.

And Aeolus’s gift of winds to speed them homewards

was not a blessing when Neptune heard about it.

So unsurprising that he magicked the sailors

into letting the winds out of their bag 

with a chorus of  “all together now”.

What did he expect!

Gods are powerful, 

some more than others.

The blinding his son was a fairly big offence in Neptune’s eyes

and having control of the seas is a pretty impressive power.

So, Odysseus paid the price.

And then there was Circe.

Not only the goddess daughter of Titan,

Circe was also a witch,

of course she was, 

she was female 

so it went with the territory,

but her magic skills 

were more renowned than most

and thus more feared by men

and rightly so.

I wonder if he ate pork in his year long stay.

I wonder if he counted the swine restored to sailors

or if he preferred not to know if any were missing.

I like to think he knew she bested him

with her roasted pork and crispy bacon.