Freezing sleet, frost, snow
flinging forward an icy arch.
Winter’s army is on the go…
Watch the stormtroopers march!
Water freezes in the blast –
set in a cruel film of ice.
While rime-coated grass
yellows in the crusted vice.
Birds huddle – feather-ruffled heaps
of shivered misery – on bare branches.
As spear-sharp winds make it weep,
the bruised sky howls and blanches.
Car sliding on rinked roads
perform slo-mo comic dances.
Or become coffins – as their loads
of late commuters take chances.
Freezing sleet, frost, snow
flinging forward an icy arch.
Winter’s army is on the go,
watch the stormtroopers march.
This poem was written after the discussion about bringing in women’s carriages on trains, due to the rise in reported incidents against women. Then someone suggested a creep’s carriage – and this poem kept running around my head this morning while I was trying to edit. So I let it loose…
They say women should be herded into
separate carriages for their own good.
To keep them safe from the slimy creeps who
won’t leave them alone to travel in peace.
Why don’t we pen up the vile creeps instead?
Give them vomit-curry coloured tickets
showing their creep-class status, to be led
by guards straight to the creep’s carriage.
Who will qualify to travel creep-class?
If you’ve ever groped, stroked or touched, then in
you go. Let’s ditch words like bother or harass –
if you’ve unzipped your fly to have a wank,
you’ve applied for creep-class. Shouted ‘fuck!’
loudly, watching the old bag’s face as she shrank
into her seat, while grinning with your mates –
you’ve complied with creep-class T’s and C’s.
Rating a girl’s tits or her face, demanding dates,
taking pics and posting them online – I’m pleased
to say you have fulfilled the terms that rates
you as entitled to travel creep-class.
Have a journey full of fear and heartache.
A long straight stretch of road lies
between Kitwe and Chingola –
dull grey, smelling of sticky tyres.
It slices through the blood-red
Zambian soil like a machete cut.
Heat coils off its dead surface
in roiling curls, tasting of tar –
slicking bodies in metallic sweat.
But in the smoking distance
sweet, blue sheets tease,
full of cool, clean water.
I watched for long, thirsty miles,
expecting that this road –
laid out like a lifetime before me –
would reach the soft splashing thrill…
We’re in Ringwood Church and running late.
Pews are packed with broad-brimmed hats
and shop-sharp suits. While hiding behind
the choir stalls, Mona and me fumble
into our bridesmaids’ dresses.
Kneeling on the icy flags and frigid with fear
I’m threading stiff arms into a
Cartland-pink froth of lace.
But my vest shows, high over
the scalloped neckline.
And it’s too late. Heavy doors thud open.
The organ plays ‘Tip-toe through the tulips’
A candy-floss vision of net, sequins and feathers,
Tania advances up the aisle. Clump – clump – creeeeak…
Her size 10 Doc Martin’s squeak at every third step
as she drops a curtsey to the congregation.
Mona and me scramble out in front of the altar.
Tawny eyes narrowed,
Tania’s gaze razes me to ashes.
“What the fuck jer look like?”
I flick away Mona’s hand seeking mine,
hoping Tania will blame her – not me…
On waking, I run to tell Mona,
giggling with relief it’s just a dream.
thirty-five years on – whenever
Life leaves me church-chilled and craven,
wishing someone else was to blame –
Tania Honey’s Wedding
still slips through the cracks
of my forgetting.
Church of St Peter and St Paul, Ringwood.
Loss-leached to brittle sticks,
my bones want to crumble.
Instead, they drag my
sad-sagged body through
the motions of a pointless life…
My lips are tired of forming
words to tell the space where
you should be, of things that
would matter. If you were
here to know and care…
My bed is a huddled heap of pain,
crowded by the cold acre of space
where you used to sleep.
While I yearn for your warmth
to melt my frigid longing…
My soul is frozen shut –
locked in an ice-gripped vice.
While I wallow in slo-mo torpor,
drugged useless by need of you…
…because you are gone.
Syrup-thick African nights stroked
my skin, bathing me in
Pupil-black African skies sprinkled my way
with pearl-sweet shafts of affection.
Blood-rich African earth powdered
my feet with silk-soft smoothness,
pillowing my walk with unconditional
So why am I stranded on this northern shore
skewered by winter’s blast?
How come I am cornered under
the stained-orange glare of a bleak
plane-streaked sky? Why are
worm-filled clods of cold mud caking my
What did I do so wrong to lose
my African nights?
As we all gape at the marvellous photos and amazing discoveries NASA has revealed about Pluto, I thought I’d post this poem I wrote a while ago…
Tell them back home that we’ve made it-
While we speed
through the vast
night of Space
faster than a blur…
Tell how we’ve threaded
through asteroid fields
to gape at the swirling fury
of Jupiter’s Red Spot…
Spill handfuls of dust
from Pluto and Pan
through their fingers,
while spinning tales
of our travels…
For all those still stapled
to our small rocky planet –
still yearning skyward
for escape –
Sing of the rainbow-wrought
wonder of nebulae
and the lethal, taut-edged
awe of event horizons…
As the blinding glare
of Rigil fades behind us,
We thrum to the core
of our atoms
with the beat of being back-
Stardust to stardust.
To all Earth-bound exiles
of hopeful dreams,
Say that we carry them with us,
against the blackness
like the coma of a comet…
Tell them back home that we’ve made it!
Photo of Pluto released by NASA
I wrote this poem when my children were in the throes of teenage angst. Now those days are now behind us, I’m relieved to report that ongoing gritted battle between us is history.
Blood- stained stems spiral
with sappy springtime love.
Heart-shaped leaves frondle
over sticks and stones –
billowing in green pillows
across the garden. Clasping
strong young growth in a
snugly lethal grasp.
Madonna-white bells nod
sweetly as I tear through
massed tangles of stems
and blanketing leaves, to
reveal the maggot-pale,
mangled plants beneath.
My teen-smart offspring with
wary eyes, and sharp replies
rip through my pillowing love –
blood-warm and snugly tight –
the bindweed in my children’s lives.
Monday, 16 September 2002
I’m a bad mood mug.
The clay that made me
came from a pool where
a cow was stuck fast,
mooing till she died.
My shade of green
gives tea and coffee
a bilious hue.
My handle crushes
fingers, pinching hands,
and slopping hot drinks.
When your best friend gave
me to you as a
you wondered –
for the first time –
Does she really like me?
I bounce when I’m dropped.
There’s a scratch on the tap
where you tried to crack me.
When I’m in the dishwasher,
something else gets chipped.
you dare not throw me away.
So I squat in the
corner of the cupboard,
toad-like and repellent.
comes to stay.
As a young woman, I enjoyed walking alone at night looking at the moon and stars – until a scary encounter stopped my nocturnal wandering. I wrote this as an expression of my frustration and sadness that I no longer felt safe enough to do so…
You send forth your milky
sweetness. Your silvered completeness
flowering for me to see.
You beacon the black night –
rounded in your contoured clearness,
powered to pull the sea.
You throw your welcome wide –
weaving spells of magic madness,
creating wells of tragic sadness
for those stranded in your tide.
You’re feared by the male mind –
your allure and maternal mildness
mistaken for a pretanatural wildness
by those who’d scorn womankind.
Oh Mother Moon, me and mine
are shuttered and trapped,
muffled and sapped,
our answering tune
strangled to a whine.
So, I shall never see dew-jewelled grasses
dance silvered, and gleaming in your milky tide.
For I am afraid to take the chance-
I press my hurting head,
against the chilly pane,
yearning for your silky touch –