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.

Cigarette ends – a poem

And if each of these was kissed

by someone’s anxious lips –

if each one held a moment

of comfort on a day

of grief or fear or doubt –

if each one was a gift

of friendship on a rainy

station platform, as the train

pulled out, heading for darkness –

would that be beauty?

This is the second poem for Mich’s prompt – actually sticking to the pictures she offers this time! Check out the dVerse poetry place. 


Beauty in ugliness – a poem

I am an expert in not seeing –
my eyes can slide from face to belly
without registering what’s between –
smooth as the cool glass in the mirror –

they don’t stop

I am skilled in the fine art
of ignoring. I don’t see the thin line
where the blade bit me. I don’t see
the surgeon’s skill

there is no feeling

that line marks me, scrawled across my skin,
but under it there is the beauty
of scalpel, needle, years of training –
all those years of study given to me

by his steady hand

and my clean cells linking binding,
their interdigitation, their blind purpose,
has its own beauty. My skin weaving itself
my muscles cleaving to each other

in a blue womb.

Mish is hosting at dVerse tonight and asks us to look for the beauty in ugliness. Sometimes that’s hard to do. 


Objects at rest – a poem

Whisper a lullaby now for the universe,
a song of cold spaces unfolding through eons,
a slow sliding movement of planets away
from the core, from each other, adrift.

Murmur a tale of the dying of light,
of the wandering stars that break out from
the tender embrace of their own gravitation,
to hang lonely, unloved, bleak and lifeless, but free.

Sing the unfolding of entropy, blooming
and spreading like virus across space and time
’til each atom is single, and spinning alone
in the deepening dark,

in the silence.

A poem for the Daily Inkling prompt – Objects at Rest. That made me think of Newtonian physics, which led me on to this poem – which, again, ignores the context of the prompt. However, I’m a poet, so I can do what I like. 

It’s also an attempt at iambic pentameter, for the dVerse prompt tonight hosted by Frank – a master of rhythm and rhyme. I tend to write in short lines, so iambic pentameter is really tough for me. 




My name is – a poem

I never waited in a tower for you,
or slept and dreamed of you –
not for a hundred years,

no way –

I never combed my hair,
and wore my prettiest dress,
and sat and sewed, serenely,
and hoped you’d ride up
on your charcoal coloured horse
and set me free.

I never danced in stupid shoes –
well, not for you. I never left
at midnight – not without you.

I never bit the apple:
I’m not crazy. I never wore
my shoes to shreds,
I never sat and trusted
that I would be rescued.

That’s not me.

Amaya is tending bar at dVerse and asks us to write a poem about our name. A forename, a family name, a nickname – whatever we like. I guess this is an anti-poem about my name. My name is Sarah, which means “princess” – of course.

And so the years pass and we wonder where the time went…

It used to be so simple –
said with a grumble or a laugh –
grubby hands at teatime,
dirty tootsies in the bath –

now you’re more sophisticated,
it’s the wrong boy sending snaps,
an insect in your cocktail,
a Starbucks slopping in your lap –




A quadrille for De at dVerse – just about squeezed that yuk word into my 44 word limit!

The forest for the trees – for Daily Inkling

Not seeing…

“That’s dirty!” mum said,

yanking her arm

so that, obedient,
she dropped the leaf

spilt on the grey tarmac


Matthew has set up a new enterprise at Daily Inkling – he’s creating a community around daily prompts (remember the Daily Post prompt?). I have completely ignored the brief, but I’m linking anyway. I’m such a rebel. 


Hot fat

hot fat smell is
warm carcoon as rain bang bang bangs
on the windscreen,

is window opaqued with steam
cold air outside
hot fat smell curling
fingers stroking
take your coat off

hot fat smell
is egg sunshine runny

hot fat smell is strong tea,
thin coffee,
sweet milk hot chocolate

Monday cold meat
hot gravy

2 a.m. motorway stop
empty service station
sleeping child
seeking comfort

hot fat smell
is reeling off the waltzers
is too much lager
is midnight rain on a city pavement

salty lips

hot fat smell
bus shelter

Gina is hosting at dVerse tonight, and asks us to think about the smells that bring us comfort. I’m not sure I’ve hit the prompt exactly, but there you go. Sometimes the muse takes you a little sideways. Anyhow, I’m not a massive chip eater (fries to my trans-atlantic friends, I believe), and I cook them at home maybe twice a year but there’s something about that smell when you’re cold and hungry and it’s just started raining…

The right one.

The ridge goes on for a mile, maybe – a great heap of grey stones, sea rounded. The stones are skulls, eggs, dinosaur bones. They are oven-warmed, air-chilled. They clatter as the sea rolls them. They are always the same.

Today, we spend time looking for the right stone. The stone that will sit, sun-warmed, in your hand; will fit perfectly the hollow of your palm. It will be smooth under your thumb, so that rubbing it will be a soothing act. It will be cool in your warm hand. It will be grey, sea smoothed, like all these other stones, but it won’t be quite the same. It will be the right one.

sun warms the cold stone
sea curves in, cools the warm rocks,
arching sky is grey

Qbit is hosting at dVersethis Haibun Monday. He wants us to write about one thing among many, to pick out the differences – in a swallow in a murmuration, in a fish in a shoal. I’ve chosen to write about stones on a beach. In fact, if you’re on my site, all you need to do is look at the picture at the top of the blog!


She slipped off her true self,
easy as a winter shawl,
went to him woman-naked

for the wanting of
his green eyes,
his clever hands.

He cherished her,
loving the dance
in all her movements,
and her sudden laughter.

The years passed, gentle
as a summer ocean.

He brought the sea home for her:
a smear of silver scales
on a black knife blade,
the wild smell on his clothes,

she loved the taste of him.

The years rolled, powerful
as a winter ocean.

She wondered who she was.
Those memories, of
ocean dancing – were they just a dream?

Some people dream of flying.

Earth became her element –
the four walls of the house,
the warm dough stretching in her hands,
peas to be podded, apples peeled.

The years roared, dangerous
as a storm-tossed sea:

the years took him, in the end,
dragged him down to the dark depths,
filled up his lungs
with months, weeks, days,
stuffed his mouth with time.

After they’d buried him,
she took the bundle down,
smoothed the soft skin
with her rough hands.

She went back to the ocean,
rocks painful on her
twisted feet. Said her farewells.
Slipped on the sealskin –
easy as a winter shawl –
let the waves take her

dancing again.

Bjorn asks us for narrative verse – a poem that tells a story. The dVerse bar is open for business!

Gaia’s dream


The world turned out of summer, and the land cooled. Leaves turned brown, and berries ripened.

High on the sacred peak of Mount Olympus, Gaia slept, and as she slept, she dreamed. She dreamed of small things – puppies, kittens, baby seals with big brown eyes. She dreamed of seedlings, pushing through the soil, green leaves opening in spring sunshine. She dreamed of eggs cracking, of baby birds in soft-lined nests. She dreamed of babies, mouths pursed and suckling, latching on to her great, bountiful breasts.

Far below the mountain top, two priestesses knelt before the sacred well.

“Milk again” one of them remarked. “And winter hasn’t even started yet. Spring is months away. Someone needs to wake her up.”


For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge.