Broad and majestic – poem for dVerse

We crossed the Shannon, heading west –
“the broad majestic Shannon” we said,
and laughed. I bet you know the writer,
you with all the facts right at your finger tips.

What does majestic mean, then? Slow,
smooth-surfaced, disregarding
of the common things – a thirst for coffee,
hunger, needing a wee, the trivia
of travelling. We were heading west
to bare our faces to the wind and rain,
and so we crossed the river, a frontier
between one way of being and another,
like every river, barrier and connection –

rivers make good borders. Here the Tamar
marks the edge, we cross it, and we always say
“how different it is here, can you tell?”.
Our family jokes, not funny, but obligatory.
We’re heading west again, towards the sunset
and the great obliviating ocean.

The dVerse bar is open, and we’re looking at all things majestic. There’s only one thing comes to mind when I hear the word “majestic” and that’s the River Shannon in Ireland. This poem isn’t really about majesty, it’s about rivers, and the crossing of rivers, and all that symbolises.



When you live here, you start to recognise the local names; local families. The Beers, the Griggs, the Heywoods, the Petherbridges. If you’re not one of them, or related to one of them, you’re not local. Beer is nothing to do with drink -it’s from Beara – a sacred grove. There are a few Bearas around as place names. Ancient remnants of pre-Christian beliefs, still lingering in my neighbour’s name.

the tree has long roots
thrusting deep into the earth
apples ripening

A haibun for Frank Tassone, who is our dVerse host tonight. We are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and thinking about what it means to be indigenous. I’m an off-comed-un, not a local here. There are families that have been here for generations, which is about as indigenous as it gets round here.

Happy families – Pop poem for dVerse

A pop poem for dVerse – Victoria is hosting this month’s form for all, and we’re looking at pop art. I think you can see what I’ve tried to do  here.

Yellow breakfasts in a yellow kitchen sunshine family smiling laughing sunny-side up reaching for the marmalade reaching for the mustard with smiles as bright as bowls of custard we’re so happy in our family sunshine yellow sunshine happy Sky blue mornings made for running round the garden playing with water laughing joking water spraying rainbow making summer skies are always cloudless we’re so happy in our family sky blue happy summer smiling
Grass green afternoons we’re all sorting our recycling teamwork smiling podding peas and stealing some chopping veggies we’re so healthy so delighted with our garden neat and tidy we’re so happy in our family grass green happy garden grinning Warm red evenings on the sofa firelight flickering eating pizza watching movies all plugged in to our devices lots of snuggles cosy cuddles we’re so happy in our family warm red happy turn our faces from reality all we need is this nuclear family

Now – poem for dVerse

Use the good china
let your hands linger
on the smooth, cool curves
of each translucent cup

light those candles
wear your prettiest dress
set the table with the silverware
the fragile glasses
you’ve been treasuring
don’t let your pleasures
gather dust

A quadrille for Merrill – the word tonight is “set”. Set off for the dVerse bar, poetry on tap…

Deprivation – poem for dVerse

She always offered food
instead of love
when we craved kisses
we got cake soft
sweet light-as-air
as yellow as an egg yolk
sugar sweet too sweet

or crack-faced cookies
chocolate studded
clinging to our teeth

she fed us well

we ate
shame faced
knowing we didn’t need
this sweetness butter sugar eggs
in all their varied combinations
sharp shards of toffee
apple tart soft raisin studded dumplings

our stomachs ached
and we swallowed
hugs and kisses and cuddles and
warm pats on the shoulder
and brushed hair and smiles
and cosy fireside chats

gulped them down
as muffins fairy-cakes
toasted tea-cakes
dripping butter

we would have eaten her


Lisa (Jade) is hosting Poetics for dVerse tonight, and we are writing poems inspired by food.


Caterpillar summer

One summer we kept caterpillars – nothing special, the green ones that attack cabbagess. Maybe I got sick of killing them, the green mush between my finger tips. Maybe I thought it would be educational. We kept them in a propagator, fed them cabbage leaves, made sure there was water in there. Not many survived. A lot were attacked by some predator that ate them from the inside. The smell of old cabbage was vile. We persevered.

Finally we had a few chrysalises. We took the clear plastic lid off the propagator, and left the base tray open in the outside toilet over the winter. We forgot about them.

One spring morning, I went out to feed the cat, and opened the door of the outside loo. There were the butterflies, finally hatched – white-winged and fluttering. I called the kids and we admired them, and then let them fly away – to lay more eggs on more cabbages, I guess.

souls soar in spring
butterflies soak up the sun
green leaves unfurling

Kim is hosting at dVerse tonight, and our haibun theme is insects.

I miss you – poem for dVerse

This phone’s a graveyard

of dead conversations,

an old handbag

where love rattles

like a dusty sweet. I mean

I’m sad and lonely

and I miss you

and my heart’s

a screwed up ball of paper

with a half-written poem

scrawled across it.

Bjorn is hosting at dVerse tonight, and he’s looking for metaphors. Not similes, oh no – the hardcore version. Get over there and read some poetry – or write – or both.

A cage in search of a bird…Kafka for children

There once was a cage
that longed for a bird –
it was lonely and sad,
it was empty and bored;

So it thought of the things
that a bird ought to need,
like a soft place to sleep,
and some water and seed,

and a perch it could perch on,
a swing it could swing,
a mirror to gaze at,
a bell it could ring

and a door that could close
and keep out everything
that might threaten a bird,
and could keep the bird in.

Then along came a bird,
and it looked, and agreed
there was somewhere to sleep,
there was water and seed,

and a perch it could perch on,
a swing it could swing,
a mirror to gaze at,
a bell it could ring,

and it saw it was good,
but it still shook his head,
and it hopped, and it flapped
its wings, and it said

“A cage is a cage
and the sky is the sky
and I am a bird
and a bird has to fly”.

And the cage gave a sigh.

Then it thought and it pondered
all day and all night
and it thought of a way
it could make things all right

and it took off the door
that kept out everything
that might threaten a bird,
but would keep the bird in.

Now the cage has a bird
that goes flying each day
and comes back at night
to talk and to play

and to tell it great tales
of the things that it’s seen
and the sounds that it’s heard
and the places it’s been

and it sits on the perch
and it makes the bell ring
then curls in its nest
and softly it sings;

and it always comes back
from the places it roams
for a cage with no door
has become a fine home,

for a home is a home
and the sky is the sky
and a bird is a bird
and a bird needs to fly.

This unholy mash-up was inspired by Amaya who is hosting dVerse tonight. She gives us some quotes from Kafka and asks us to use them to create a poem or story for children. I chose “I am a cage, in search of a bird.” from The Blue Octavo Notebooks – once I saw that, I was hooked. I’ve channeled Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) here, I think. I’ve read her books over and over again in my time…

I initially wrote it with gender, but I have un-gendered it. First time round, my cage was a she and the bird was a he. I wonder if that would be a different story? How about if the cage was a he and the bird was a she? But maybe it’s confusing to have two “it”s? Feedback is welcome.

It is, of course, a story with a moral, like all good children’s stories.

Heat death – poem for dVerse

The extinction
of the last light
will leave us
in the dark

we blew out each candle
each flame
each lamp
and now we reach out

fingers touching
tip to tip
and we whisper our fear
in the cold
and endless night

Quadrille night rolls round again. Linda is behind the dVerse bar tonight, asking us for 44 -word poems including the word “extinction”.

Pilgrim – poem for dVerse

Such a small boat
to set sail in, so far
across the world,
such a small cargo
of faith and hope
and not much else

and the white petals
drift like sea-foam

and such a small boat
leaving a small town,
the water shimmering
beneath the bow
and not much defence
against storms
except that small cargo
heavy with hope
weighted with faith

and the sea foam
drifting like white petals

and all the while
gazing for the horizon
and someone vomiting
and always the sound
of someone praying
and the sound of a child
sobbing, and the call
of the sea-birds
and the stink of the hold
and the salt pork
and the cracked skin
on your hands,
held up always
in supplication

and the sea foam
and the white petals

and the homecoming

Lillian is hosting at dVerse tonight, interrupting her holiday to tend the bar. She’s in Province Town on Cape Cod – head over to see a fantastic video of a whale watching trip, and some great holiday snaps. The Pilgrim Fathers landed there first, but didn’t care for it (why???) and moved on.

Interestingly, my local town has a tradition of building ridiculous bonfires, and over the next couple of years the town Cavaliers are going to be finishing off a replica of the Mayflower. You can see what they are doing here:

They’ve built various other things in the past – HMS Victory, the Great Fire of London, a castle, the local church (the one that was blown up in the English Civil War). They raise loads of money for charity. They put a huge amount of work in, and it all culminates in a massive bonfire and fireworks display. They do it in a spirit of love.

Our next nearest town, Bideford, was the port from which the first colonists of North America left to establish Roanoke.

This poem was inspired by those brave people setting out in those tiny boats to travel crazy distances, and it’s a little link between me in Devon and Lil in Cape Cod.