Sunday, 3 July 2016



The light in here is filtered and rarefied,
Shallow as a puddle
Something distant and obscure as stars

In here every opinion
Has a small lie
Stitched in its seams
There are half truths

Let me be clear
I can’t be clear.

So don’t go out onto the busy street with only an image
Comprised of labels, brands, judgments, expectations
And someone else’s ideas
Or any other symbol of social class.

Don’t seek to underwrite your pure thought
With clauses that determine the perimeters of your conversation
Framing the dialogue between you and your world
Conceding only what you should say for advancements sake
Or even a stranger’s brief and inconsequential view.

Your real message unfolds from the grammar of your soul
Like the damp and delicate wings of the monarch butterfly
Who flies 2000 miles along ancestral trails
In search of its homeland

We have copied and pasted so many codes
Into our fibres
We have lost our mother tongue
The language of trees rooted in the lived lives of our kin.
Ancient voices have grown mute as ghosts within us.

Abstractions seek to define transcendental absolutes.
But perhaps the truth is found closer to the earth
In fragments of pottery, wartime letters
And all the infinite distances between us.
Truth is a collection of things, papers that keep scattering and reshuffling.
One page cannot reveal the whole book.

So don’t keep pressing the dimmer switch.
Let’s walk out of our doors
Dressed in our essence
The threadbare dawn light of our being

I dare you
I dare me.

Let’s clothe our words simply
And with kindness
Dress for the weather, comfort.

Let’s laugh too loudly and bare our broken smiles gladly,

There will be no re-runs
We will walk this path
But once

May those that follow
This trail behind us
Not become lost.

Gone to seed


I followed your voice to the brink of
Or dreaming
Or both.

The memories of those precious years quiver in the silence of this afternoon.
We spent them like coppers
Our pockets brimming
Never realising their value
Those days, so hard, so full

Little bodies, soft as blossom in the Spring.
Hands folded into mine like origami butterflies.
I never knew paper could take wing and fly.

One day I didn’t recognise you anymore.
You were like a stranger on a train.
Someone I felt slightly intimidated by.
I never knew you could pass me by.
Be something so foreign and strange.
You would come over, make tea,
Sit down like the tectonic plates had not moved apart
And the poles hadn’t shifted beneath our feet
That day when hours turned over the earth
And buried the memories of years beneath them.
Can memories take seed? Can they push down their roots? Can they find their way back to the light?

When I saw you in town, you would speak in new tongues, languages unusual to my ears
 Thinking I would understand and I would pretend to understand.
I used quiet words from the old country to tell you it would all be okay in the end
You would pretend to hear
But your eyes had already migrated to another continent
And for a moment I wouldn’t know my name
And I would feel old and faint as a pencil line.
The pain trembled like a winter tree within my belly. Well hidden.
Because the truth would only scare you and you can’t catch a butterfly without wounding it
So I just watched as its wings bruised the sky beyond my kitchen window.

 That spring, the buds all blossomed  just as they always did.
I wonder, are those years we spent sunk into the ground or cast into the sky?
Are we dancing on the edge of the roof or the brink of our lives?

I followed that small voice, that can’t be found in the fire or the thunder, or the wind... though sometimes that is where it leads.
 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
This no man’s land is not forsaken
Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world
There was a place where all tears would be dried and the waters would still.

There would be oil for the mourning.
Ripe wheat not empty husks,
So I’ll put down these stones;
Plant them like seeds in this dust.

Thursday, 9 June 2016


You walk the mossy verge between worlds
Child/woman dancing in bracken and briar
Still wondering what you must pack for the journey.

You found her there by the bare roots of your feet
Soundless and dark as earth
A fledgling, suspended between fall and flight.

You cupped the baby Jackdaw in the bare nest of your hands
One woven piece of fabric, your bitten fingers, it's naked quills
All brittle, awkward, hope and expectation.

And something in her manner said "it's time to spread your wings and seek the sky."

Friday, 6 May 2016

And the Flowers Grew

And the flowers grew from between concrete and the tread of a thousand footprints
that could have crushed them 
but for some unknown grace or sheer luck.
Can we know these things?

And the flowers grew from the winter 
her husband died, how he tended the Irises
Planting Daffodil bulbs to bloom
come Spring.

And the flowers grew  
from shallow dirt tracks and stealthy light 
when there was no one to see them
in the colourless night.

And flowers even grew from the compost
of all our old failures.
Awakening those abandoned allotments;
making them green again.

And the flowers grew from that patch of earth we dug over
to remember Eliyana
that Summer they blossomed yellow and bright 
as a child's smile.

Monday, 25 April 2016


"I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means. "I survived"."
"Lil Bee" from the book "the other hand" by Chris Cleave.

The scars on my wrist are most visible because they are unusual. They defy the social category I fit into at first glance. Yet they speak of a suffering in my past that somehow brought me here, to where I sit today: The place where you find me.

Maybe it's a slightly overgrown but well loved garden lawn or maybe we are eating fish and chips beside the sea as the tide clamours and the children giggle over the waves, wherever it is, I'm truly pleased to meet you. In truth I'm overwhelmed that I made it here.

Yet the scars mark a piece of the map that was once my life. Far from the happy smell of salt, and sea foam, cut grass and "roses round the door". They mark a torn, frayed corner where land is hardly visible. In truth I believe it is actually a part of the ocean and the lines mark a raft I made as a child. A humble ensemble, something I probably tried to copy from a picture book I'd read. A few sticks tied together with string that's all. Some left over’s, scraps, and a longing ache of an imagination that could take me to some far away, once upon a time, long lost land.

Truthfully, I'm not sure exactly what lies beneath the scratches and watermarks on this corner of the map, all I know is they were a part of the journey I had to take. It has taken many years to see that these particular scars are beautiful. And that now, at last, I am able to know the relief and liberation that comes with not being ashamed to wear a sleeveless dress. These days, as I have recently discovered to my delight, I don't find myself, half- consciously trying to cover them with a watch or bracelet before leaving the house. I have come to realise that somehow these scars speak truth.
Sometimes they speak a hard truth, the kind that seems dangerous to except or even discuss in polite conversation, and people get angry with their simple silence as if it were an accusation, without realising exactly why.

Sometimes it can be uncomfortable when I catch the glance of some stranger, or friend surprised and scrutinising discovery of their existence. Yet somehow, deep inside me, I know that they and their truth should not be covered up for the sake of social convenience. They plainly and without prejudice tell of what they know, for it is all they can do. In the trembling yet pure voice of undulating whitened lines etched in skin they form words that say how "life can open furrows, life can wound and these wounds can scar, but don't be afraid to look, to feel, to recognise the beauty cut deep through silent suffering".
On occasion, they whisper these lines so softly they become poetry, maybe even a prayer.


The scars on my shoulder, arm and ankle are more obviously beautiful in an aesthetic sense. There was pain in the making of these scars too but it was conscious, it was deliberate. The child's raft was drawn into a sailing ship, with mast and rudder and stern. And another piece of the map was drawn in symbolism instead of the hard, uncompromising, truth of pure scar tissue. Roses, thorns, a Phoenix, a wolf, and a dream catcher circling my shoulder protectively with the words of an Native Prayer. "You cannot harm me, You cannot harm one who has dreamed a dream like mine"
reciting the story that fashioned it in every shaded curve and etched line. This scar was visible on purpose. With the visible embracing of the scar, the translucent lines that lay beneath lost their sting.


Of all my scars, the scars on my stomach are my most favourite of all. They remind me of the five babies that have grown beneath them. These scars grew on the outside of me as my children grew within me. These scars speak of love.

There is no magazine or TV show or human being alive that will ever convince me that these scars are ugly. They are wounds of love and their story is retold everyday in the voices of my children. Their laughter and tears and every little foot that pressed and pushed. Yes, they are the footprints of my child, one by one, making their way into this world. These scars speak of life not death. They articulate the secret of love itself. How love is equal to sacrifice, how sometimes the measures of love and suffering are the same.
They tell the secret of the scars within and without, outside and in.
They embrace the whole of my story and transform what once traced outlines of destruction into fleshed out colours of creation.

They cry out "I survived "
They laugh "I lived"
They whisper "I loved"

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

For A Moment

For a moment I draw you into my arms,
Like a warm bag of millet seed
Nestled in the crook of my heart and the light falls so quietly,
Without judgement
Nor past regret
On your weightless, curled lashes

Monday, 29 June 2015

Forest Dawn

Roots tickle earth, leaves soft 
as a foxes ear unfurl
from bark chrysalis.

Whale-like shadows, immense 
as a child's dreaming 
Move like glaciers
Through the waking forest.

Bird song blossoms
in an empty sky.

Shop Walk

When you got your license suspended for drink driving
We walked across three fields and a wood
To the shops in town
Three times a week.

I loved those walks in Spring and Summer
When the ground beneath us transfigured
From primrose to bluebell
And cow parsley laced the hedgerows.

I would pick bunches to take home
And pray all the way
They would not wilt
In the heat of my hand.

There was a stream
With steep banks of red mud
And I was always afraid to jump.
Yet somehow I always made the impossible leap
To the other side.

The final hurdle was the cow field.
Their sad-eyed staring
Solemn and knowing
Sods of earth, steaming
and hissing with flies.

We trod swift,
And with sacred reverence
Through their territory.

I don't think we ever talked
Or if we did, I don't recall.
Yet, for once even the failing light
Foxes, frogspawn and swallow flight
Seemed with us
And on our side.