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.

This is the question.

What is the purpose of your journey?
is it business, or pleasure?
is it for the purposes of strange adventure?

is your journey really necessary?
will your soul shrivel without the sight
of the great blue ocean? will you really
fade away without the touch
of the desert air?

have you travelled here before?
have you packed advisedly –
sensible boots, cloak of
invisibility, sunhat? did you
pack your dreams yourself?
or are these someone else’s cast-offs?

This is for dVerse, where Bjorn asks us to ask questions. It was inspired by Welshstream’s contribution. Welshstream is here.


Why do I write the way I do? Haibun for dVerse

As I write I explore a landscape that changes around me. Sometimes I follow narrow paths that lead me to strange and fantastical places. Sometimes I struggle to clamber over fallen rocks, looking for paths that have been shattered and hidden. I see a temple on a distant mountain, and start making my way there, but find myself distracted by a silent pool, or a particular tree. I start to walk about my garden and end up diving into an ocean wave. I want to explore what it would be like to be a tree. I want to visit a silent world of dark roots. I want to fly with rooks. I want to dance on a moonbeam. And I’d like you to be there with me.  I’ll try anything – give me a form and I’ll have a go. Give me a prompt and I’ll roll it round in my hands a few times, until it gives me a new path to venture down, a new scene to describe. I want to live a thousand lives, and take all the roads I couldn’t follow.

Evening grass is green
morning grass is pale with dew
soon there will be frost

Toni is hosting at dVerse, and wants to know why we write the way we do. I never think of myself as having a recognisable style – though I probably do. And I’ve just realised that my haiku probably says much more about me than I intended it to…but that’s poetry, isn’t it? 



I am but a minstrel, a singer of songs.
A righter of wrongs.
And I sing to make my mistress happy.
And I sing to bring her peace.

When my voice and my lute
do not suffice,
I unsheathe my sword
And I become….

The most boring man in the castle,
with your humming and strumming
and endless “fal-lal”s –
such a shame all the dragons are dead
or I’d pack you straight off on a quest,
but instead I must just nod along
as you sing your ridiculous songs,
and wish that I wasn’t so bored,
and that I had a bloody great sword!

Apologies to Charley, who gave us the first 2 stanzas as one of Jilly’s September bricks.


Words – casting bricks.

Words, once set free, blend in the wind
breathing a timeless existence;
Some grow wings to fly to heaven
They ask gifts for the gentle tongue

Breathing a timeless existence,
words illuminate our soul
Memories do falter in time
consequences of words live on.

Some grow wings to fly to heaven
But some stay rooted in your heart,
Send out new shoots and soft green leaves,
Impossible to pull them out.

They ask gifts for the gentle tongue,
They give their own gifts to the world,
The fruit they give is the sweetest,
It grows sweet in the warmth of love.


Another set of ripples for  Jilly. The first two stanzas are Imelda’s. 

Ghosts at my table

I have previously blogged this, but I’m doing it again for Jilly’s Casting Bricks challenge. I did a poetry reading the other night, and read this, and somebody commented that it ended very quickly, just as they were starting to get into it. I tend to write pretty short poems, but it struck me that maybe I hadn’t actually finished this, just stopped writing it.

there are ghosts at my table tonight
I write, not mentioning that
my table is a pale rectangle
of wood, so that perhaps
you picture your own table,
round, white, plastic –
or a dark mahogany oval,
and your ghosts are
the dark ring left by
a wine bottle, the last time
you had dinner with
a long lost lover,
or the scorched place
where you set down a pan
too quickly, the day
you heard that news
about your sister, while mine
are the assorted stains
and scratches left by my
children as they leave their
childhood, not quite ghosts,
waiting to fade.

Vernal flutter – response

Awake my soul into a dream
A dream of robins’ poetry
Whereon tickly fluff of dandelions rhymes
And in silken crepuscular rays the verses stream
I hear a heartbeat
Dripping warm dewdrops of mead
Into the wind
Into her melodies of angelic sweet

And how will my soul sleep again
While the sky throbs eggshell blue
And each cloud is a wish, a whisper of time
And my heart’s song is a sunset of crimson rain?
I sing my heartbeat
Waiting for nightfall to soothe
Me into rest,
A twilight lullaby, achingly sweet.



Lots and lots of links. The first stanza comes from Colin the Pescetarian Poet who has posted it for Jilly’s September Casting Bricks challenge. The challenge is to take a posted poem and create a response that forms a complete poem. Colin says he wrote Vernal Flutter when he was much younger, and has translated it from the original Chinese. I wanted to respect that youthful, lyrical feel, and have tried to recreate his rhyme scheme. I read elsewhere that he was trying to capture the butterfly feeling of excitement without mentioning butterflies, so I’ve tried to make a poem about coming down from that feeling of excitement. I didn’t read the original as an anxious poem, so what I’ve written is more about those heightened feelings you get when you are in love for the first (or second, or…) time. 


…is all those white things
that I never caught –
that butterfly that danced
away across the garden,
that white cat that
stalked off, disdainful.

…is a pearl, dropped
in a tide pool – I lost it
as I looked for it – swirled
up sand and mud, hid it
from myself.

…is a white castle, on
a distant hill, but every path
I take doubles and twists,
leaving me here, alone.

…is a white rabbit
that I chase down endless
midnight tunnels.

…a diamond, that fell
from a ring I always wore.
I’ve searched for it,
but haven’t found it.

The insomniac’s cry. Another mix of metaphors for Bjorn at dVerse.

Love letters

She writes a love note
every morning.

Starts with the warm embrace
of fresh-cut bread,
all smeared with butter kisses,

adds shreds and shards
of green reflection,

then the main event – firm flesh,
or the salt mystery of cheese,
or once a week, a more exotic whisper,

tops it with red hot passion,
neatly sliced, and the sweet
memories of summer, spooned
from a glass jar.

She writes a love note
every morning,
seals it inside
a plastic envelope

she sets it by his place,
so that, at lunchtime,
when he opens it –

he’ll know she loves him.

This is for Bjorn at dVerse. It’s an idea I’ve played with before, and I’m not sure it entirely meets the brief. He wants us to develop metaphors. I guess this is an extended metaphor with little metaphors inside it…


She reigns a muddy kingdom
of frogs and slugs and snails,
where rainbows dance in sunbeams
and raindrops dance in pails.

She rides a silver rainhorse
with bells on either rein,
she rides him to the storm clouds
and then rides him back again –

she reigns a muddy kingdom
where puddles catch the skies,
her smile is bright as lightning
and there’s thunder in her eyes.


Rainy days over at dVerse...rainy but upbeat…!

The gryphon – RTMM

Alice remembers this gryphon.
It jutted out from the tower –
pastiche, of course, some
forebear with a fantasy.
Alice has sympathy with that,
and with this gryphon,
reduced by time and weather,
features blurred. She strokes
his face, gentled by erosion.

Alice is not a sentimental
woman, but this gryphon
watched over her childhood
games, her intense
imaginings. She cannot bear
to leave him here,
in this yard full of
statues, chipped,
greying marble –
an angel with a missing hand
pointing a stump
to heaven;
a nymph, punished
for some long-forgotten
crime, her nose chipped off;
a lion with a rakish look,
hindquarters crushed.

Alice is not a sentimental
woman, but she shudders.


Riding that mushroom again.