About sarahsouthwest

I'm now in my early 50s. I started writing again as a way of exploring the world, and feel that over the last 2 years I have really grown as a writer. By day I work with children and young people with mental health difficulties. I juggle my own two children, my work, my writing practice, generally managing to keep all the balls up in the air.


It was supposed to taste
of your childhood –
a childhood that I didn’t know –
I never knew you grazed-kneed,
talking excitedly, packed onto
that back bench, trapped
between a brother and a sister –

but instead, made something
different. You liked it. It was not
your childhood, rain on the windows,
warmth in the kitchen –
it was something different,
tastier, maybe, comforting
as the day fades, as the wind
rattles roudn the house –

warm cinnamon, half-melted butter
oozing off the fruited slice –
a new coziness. Isn’t that
how marriage works? We bring
our memories, make something new,
cherish the old. Relish this now.

Barmbrack is an Irish tea loaf, traditionally eaten at Halloween, with charms inside it that have various symbolic meanings. My Irish husband mentions it every Halloween, and one year I decided to bake a loaf for him. If you want the recipe, it’s here: https://www.irishexaminer.com/recipes/?c-recipeid=4079

I’m not a great baker, but this is delicious. It tastes nothing like my husband’s childhood memories, but it’s become part of our repertoire.

This is for dVerse. I’m hosting tonight, and we’re writing poems about food.

Another poem about rooks

My muse is black-feathered,
my muse rides on the wind,
dives skyward,
carousels thermals,
helter-skelters gravity,
embraces emptiness.
My muse high-wires on the topmost branch,
sees the world unrolling like a map,
follows invisible paths;
my muse is crone-wise,

A quadrille for De at dVerse. The key word is muse. Regular readers will knnow I bang on about rooks a lot. Might as well shame the devil – the rook takes her rightful place as my muse in this poem.


Your flower
a white handkerchief
fluttering in a flickering film –

your flower
open and beautiful, shivering
through wind and rain

saying nothing very much –
only that the world turns
that spring will come
that there is always something
some small light

some pale flower trembling

A poem of gratitude, for Sherry at earthweal. “Earthweal’s mantra is grief and hope.” 


Sometimes these are the best celebrations – the times you find yourself in someone’s kitchen, and somebody’s chopping onions, and somebody’s fixing drinks, and you’re talking and laughing, and it’s much later than you intended, and there’s nothing at all to celebrate, except this. This moment, right here right now.

cold beer

A haibun for dVerse – the first of 2022.

I’m a Silver Brancher!

I’m really honoured and delighted and thrilled to have been given the opportunity to have a Silver Branch feature from Black Bough Poetry.

Black Bough publish regular anthologies of imagist micro-poems (their Christmas and Winter editions are beatiful and moving and wintry and perfect), facilitate the weekly #TopTweetTuesday poetry-fest on Twitter AND have created a series of Silver Branch showcases for featured poets. I was so moved and excited to be invited to be a featured poet. Please look at what Matthew M C Smith has created here. He really demonstrates that editing is an art form in its own right.


Day 23: Christmas Eve

After Kim Moore

And on that day we threw away
our notions of what Christmas should be.

We turned away, that day, and embraced
new traditions; we gave each other books
on Christmas eve, and permission to read.

On that day we were completely selfish:
we did not answer the phone to my parents,
we did not wish merry Christmas
to the neighbours, or make a buffet
or prepare the veg. On that day,
we poured ourselves two glasses of red
and took our Christmas eve books
to bed.

On that day, we didn’t put
a mask on for our friends and listen
to the chatter about last minute
wrapping and going to bed at three
am and getting up at five. On that day
we wore brand new pyjamas
and touched warm feet against warm feet,
and on that day I untied the woman
dressed as a mother, who had waited
for a Christmas with her children
and she lifted into the air and dissolved.

She was only black and white.
And on that day I became colourful again,
and childish and stayed up all night
and the next day we laid red roses
on our daughter’s grave and ate
our Christmas dinner in front of the TV.

Thank you to Wendy Pratt for letting me use this poem. It’s taken from When I think of my body as a horse, a collection that makes me ugly cry. I find it immensely moving, and I wanted to share it for all the people who find Christmas emotionally complicated. It’s not all tinsel and jolliness. Wendy has published four collections of poetry and is widely published in magazines and journals. She is a columnist for Yorkshire Life magazine and was the first female editor of Dream Catcher magazine. She is the creator and editor of Spelt magazine. She is a great course leader, and you can find her here: https://wendyprattpoetry.com/ and on twitter at @wondykitten

Day 22: Secret Code

On a sparkled night such as this

time shines through prisms of crowded of stars.

Somewhere, a little window frames the vast

cruel winter’s eternal night,

on the sill a solitary candle

soft glows gold halo – beacon-bright.

Faint hope glimmers a gentle thrill 

from faraway-faraway yonder. Light spills.

Tiny flame passes through danger, dark ages of time,

from wanderer to wanderer,

from their hands –  to your hands,

from yours – to mine.

From hand – to bone – to star –

to dust-sprinkled shadows’ desolate hearts. 

Memory attunes to distant chimes,

long gone prayers, long gone times 

remembered in flicker, rekindled in spark,

secret code pulsing the dark.

Bleak. Bleak. Bright.

Bleak. Bleak. Bright.

Here – Safe haven – See –

The Light.

Rhona Greene, December 2021

Thank you to Rhona for this lovely poem. Rhona is an emerging human being trying to kilter, off balance. She/her. Dedicated follower of poetry. Is rón mé. Be Kind. Dublin, Ireland. She tweets from @Rhona_Greene.

Some people like a little background to their poetry, and some don’t. If you do like a little background, Rhona gave me this:

For a little background context you might be interested in – There is an old tradition in Ireland of lighting a candle in the window on Christmas Eve. The origins trace back to the 17th Century Penal Laws when the Catholic religion was suppressed and priests went on the run in fear for their lives.  The candle was code to them and others that this was a safe house and the door was always left unlocked. The tradition continues even if many now don’t remember the reasons behind it. It is still a beautiful symbol of an Irish welcome ‘fáilte isteach’ – ‘welcome inside’. 

We all deserve such a welcome.

Day 21: The Lighthouse at Two Lights, Edward Hopper

I need your light

These lantern rooms,
their clamshell lenses
beacons burning through
the dark

Years of whitewalled
standingtall under cloud-brushed
skies, a safe space, a shelter,
suffering storms, tides& anger

My daymarked times are over,
time spent in silence& night,
searching for remnants of resilience

I need your light 

For the solstice, a poem by Anja Meyer – capturing the craving for light.

Day 20: December in Bleakness and Joy

And now, the trees bare-branched sway
beneath the long night’s moon, roots cocooned
below the fallen snow—so we belay

our fears of endless night with candle flicker, delight
in twinkling glow and flow of wassail cheer.

Against the black-winged sky, the skeleton trees dream,
the flowers sleep beneath frost-gleam,

and we yearn for green–and sights unseen–

for magic or miracles, banish the tragic
with mirth and song,

learn the true wonder is love, and the joy, to belong

while our Earth spins and turns–
the pale blue dot, our golden star–
bonded with a balanced pull, as lovers are

as we know, too,

when we look up to glimmers, ancient bright,
then open our hearts to recreate that light.

Thank you to Merril D Smith for this poem of light and love and joy.