NaPoWriMo 21 – A voice from a fairy tale

Sleeping Beauty

We’re just the same age,
Her and me. Sixteen, I was,
A month ago. Or at least…
Well. You know.

She’s fond of me –
There’s not much laughter
For a princess, but sometimes
We giggle like two girls.
Two ordinary girls, I mean.

I did her hair up
For the party.
She is lovely.
A proper beauty –
Not just jewels
and gowns with her.
And kind.
And when she sings!

Anyhow. I did her hair.
I put the crown in place –
Me! From the village!
“That’s something to tell them”
I remember thinking.
“I held the crown”.
My little brother, Johnnie,
He’s the baby,
He’ll look up at me –
His eyes are bright, grass green –
He’ll ask me “Was it heavy?”

Except he won’t now, will he?

And then she left the room,
All glowing, sparkling,
Like a jewel herself.

And I sat down
Just for a moment, like,
To rest my feet.
Saw my face in the mirror
Like it was a pond.
I felt so sleepy.

After that, darkness,
And my dreams – kissing Jack,
My wedding day, 3 daughters
Running down a hill, and then my boy
A glimpse of my own hands,
Old and twisted, a blackbird singing.

Such sweet,strange dreams –
All gone now.
That’s how it is with dreams –
They shatter when you wake,
Like a glass bowl.
Shards everywhere.

I went down yesterday.
I had to see it. My old home,
Changed, like you wouldn’t know it.

An old man, all bent over
Hobbled up. “I’m your nephew”.
All gnarled and wrinkled.
Johnnie’s boy. And when I looked
At him, I knew.

Nobody else could have those eyes.


This was rather a special posting for me. The small primary school my kids went to had a tradition of kennings. In their final year there was a leaver’s assembly that all parents were invited to. Part of this was the class teacher reading a kenning about each child. Every child in the class wrote a line about every other child, and these were put together to form a beautiful kenning.  Each child wanted to contribute the last line, because that was always the most special. Or maybe that was just my kids? Anyhow, it was a lovely tradition.

I had always vaguely wondered where the idea came from, and now I know.


NaPoWriMo 19 – How To…

Be a Mother


First find your child.

This may be one you’ve grown yourself

Or one you’ve found.

A baby is the easiest place to start

But you can successfully mother

A toddler, a school child

Even a teenager.


If you can only find an adult,

This recipe is not suitable.

See alternatives

(Successful Adult Partnership; Mad Affair;

Supportive Friendship).


Next, prepare your heart.

Knead it to soften.

Remove all hard areas

(Retain: you may need them later).

It may bleed a little at this stage.

This is normal.




Love is the basis:

Apply liberally.

Add in a cupful of humour,

A splash of craziness,

Exactly 1 level  tablespoonful of discipline,

Plus guilt to taste (you may add more later).


Leave to develop.

Stir occasionally.

NaPoWriMo 18 – The language of childhood

Childhood was bilingual /Our mam says “Ay up”

Playground and classroom/I’ve forgot me dinner money

Strict demarcation/I’ve left it at ‘om

Classrooom was knowledge/I’ll tell thee summat

Playground was wisdom/Tha dun’t pick mother-die

Class room was orderly/Give us some spice, then

Playground was marauding/Yon bairn’s roaring

Childhood was bilingual/We were only laiking




I feel this probably needs some kind of explanation. I was brought up in Barnsley, on the South Yorkshire coalfields, pre-internet and all that. The local dialect had the kind of richness you get in a cohesive, fairly closed community. People used “thee” and “thou” (“thee” and “tha”); we lost the letter “h”, but gained the glottal stop as an additional and well used consonant; and there was a smattering of old Norse words in there, remnants of the Danelaw.

So the second half would run:

My mum says “hello”

I’ve forgotten my lunch money,

I’ve left it at home.

I’ll tell you something,

You don’t pick cow parsley.

Give me some sweets, then.

That little kid’s crying.

We were only playing.


It was an accepted fact that picking cow parsley would kill your mother, hence the local name.

My children have a different accent to me: brought up in Devon, their accent is broadly middle class, with a faint West Country burr. Their folklore is much more influenced by the media – the internet in particular – but I suspect it is no more accurate, but just as fervently held.


NaPoWriMo 16 – The dictionary of modern thought


Marriage is not a hostile takeover
Or an equivalence relation,
It’s more like the development
Of a conurbation:

My CD village is surrounded
By your vinyl city;
My teetering book piles
Push themselves
Onto your tranquil shelves.

Health care and education?
Total cooperation.
Restaurant development?
Intense negotiation.

We assume the lines of love
Are isoglossal, falter
At misunderstandings,
Pick ourselves up, re-group, continue
The building process we have undertaken.




NaPoWriMo 16 – questionnaire

What do the children dream of?

Their dreams weave and writhe their way
Along city streets, where neon lights
Hum midnight music

They twist and thread themselves
Through beach parties, where
The sea is tropical
And the beat is animal

They spiral up up up
Towers of glass, pointing to the sky

Their dreams are too big for this
Small house
They burst out of windows
Break down doors, raise the roof

Spill down the streets of this
Small town
Tumbling and billowing
To where the larks sing.

NaPoWriMo 14 – San san

Midnight Coffee

The midnight black of coffee swirled with white:

We lean together, sharing like old friends,

And talk of all the things we used to do.

We used to stay up talking every night,

Knowing that some friendships never end,

Drinking our midnight coffe with slow sips;

And now we talk again, my friend, it’s true:

This coffee tastes like midnight on my lips.