I write with a writing group, as well as on my own. I have read my poems at Bedford's Ouse Muse open mic sessions, and as part of Bedford Poetry Company's themed performances.
In 2016, this poem of mine won third prize in the Bedford International Writing Competition.
Stuck - to dad - with Araldite*
*Warning: avoid contact with skin and eyes
Withstands rough handling - fills uneven breaks
When Sunday service fell, you rose and swore
By Araldite – the king of glues. You scoured
The house for lame and leprous furniture –
Dicky handles, wonky legs – things insecure,
Firm in your faith that glue could set all right.
We bonded, as you conjured tools with sleight
Of hand – matchstick, lid for mixing glue in,
“That’s the resin, epichlorohydrin.”
With tongue protruding, you’d unscrew the cap
And squeeze a tear of honey out. I’d gawp,
Kneeling beside you on a kitchen chair,
As you then milked the hardener tube and stirred.
Now my finger strokes an old plate’s amber veins -
Soothing all that’s come unstuck with what remains.
In 2018, when my mother could no longer retrieve the names of the flowers and trees she loved, I wrote this poem. Two years later, I dedicated it to her memory.
For Barbara 1924-2020
Speedwell – you held my hand, taught me that name –
The traveller’s blue flower winking from the verge.
You opened up an atlas with japonica,
Norwegian spruce, and showed me agapanthus
Africanus bursting into sheaves of sky -
Like heaven on earth. You discovered faces
In the trees for me – Wellington’s nose and
Coastlines shaped by branches in two languages:
Quercus, salix, fagus, pine of the pinodeae.
But now, gone ninety, these names are moving out
And even this evening seems a world away:
All that you cultivated’s overgrown,
Landmarks gone. You won’t be long yourself, you say.
Speed well, mum, speed well - wherever you are going.
The following poem was first published in 1991, in the poetry magazine Spokes. In 1994 it was included in an anthology of poems on infertility and childlessness, 'If Not a Mother', compiled by Clare Butler.
We live at the end of a cul-de-sac
And, until life slowly realised the metaphor,
That just meant a more open aspect –
Now soon to be closed by a housing estate, and,
Ironically, the disfigurement of the cul-de-sac.
We can still look out over the field
Where the hectic wind inflames our trawling thorn
Which bursts fitfully with blooming plastic
(Our hedge chokes with terminal litter)
Caught like so many mad flowers in its throat.
The furrows run away from the house
And menstrually disappear in a green labour,
Contrasting oddly with the red and childless house
In which we count the days of our confinement,
Conscious of how inwardly things have turned out.
Our cul-de-sac is one of two parallel roads
Which will become a crescent when developed –
Whose metaphorical translation makes us laugh
To think that by the field is cropped brick red
We will have literally grown out of this.