Oatcakes. Stoke.

running down the backs –
for a dozen. One in the hand,
hot. And the comfortable heat

of the white paper parcel
pressed between arm and chest.

Did I mention the feel
of old cobbles, smoothed
by a million footsteps,
the hot, sour savoury smell,

the hiss of the griddle,
the warm knowing
that there would be melted cheese
waiting in a Pyrex dish

and Granny’s hands, big-knuckled,
turning bacon in the pan?

A poem about memories, for Laura Bloomsbury at dVerse.


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!

DIY building – for dVerse.

Beach house

We made a shelter on the beach that day –
do you remember? We walked the shoreline,
gathering driftwood, sea-smoothed, set it
just so, here and not there, building
our sea-shack. The undulations
of the wood let in the bleached
ocean light, and the shadows were knife cut.

Your gannet eyes peered through the cracks.

We sat, backs to the dunes, watching the sea,
the waves forming and folding. We ate yellow cake,
drank hot sweet coffee, warmed our cold hands,

until the tide turned, and the sea came in,
and we wound our way homeward through the dunes,

leaving our shelter for the waves to play with.

Sara McNulty has painted the bar purple, and is looking for poems about our dream homes. This isn’t quite that, but there may be something else later, so it will have to do for now. DVerse, always lives up to its name. Check it out. 

Bird:child:child:bird – prose poem for dVerse

They head east, ahead of the rain, a rattling gang with wings spread wide as innocence. They’re not one thing, not like starlings, moving in synchronicity, not like geese in their military formations; these guys are coasting, riding the sky like surfers, just cruising.

They head homewards in clumps and drifts, vague flocks and gatherings, and there’s always someone laughing, because it’s so funny, and there’s always someone threatening to spill into the road. Shoulders bump. Hips bump. Bags bump. Ponytails bounce. Heads lean in, because it’s so funny, it’s a secret. They are breathless with their own beauty.

These seagull kids are just spinning, cartwheeling, because there’s nothing as good as the spin, nothing as cool as this body: look, it can turn, leap, bend, and this movement isn’t ballet, it isn’t salsa, it isn’t ballroom, it’s just movement, fireworks under the skin.

Frank is keeping the bar at dVerse, and he’s asking for prose poems. Check it out. You’ll find something you love. 

Childhood memory – haibun for dVerse.


I am a whimsical child. I read fairy tales long after I should have left them behind. I like the quirky and fantastical. I adventure with hobbits and walk with elves, dream of dragons and strange, gnarled creatures living among tree roots. I learn things, too, from my reading and dreaming, and one thing I learn is the names of flowers – all from Cecily Mary Barker and her Flower Fairies, a delight.

Today, years later,  as I walk around the grey blocks of the industrial estate where I work, I am reminded of those books by the gaudy yellow gorse flowers flaunting themselves in the hedge. I grew up a northern girl, a townie, and didn’t really understand the old saying: “When the gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”. Gorse flowers were summer holidays, seaside and moorland. Now I live in the south-west, where there is  a constant taste of salt in the air, and I know that if you look hard enough you’ll always find a speck of gold, scented with coconut ice, like a kiss of sunshine on a winter’s day.

Flower fairies fling
Bright painted songs on  the breeze,
Dance fragrant dances.

This is, of course, the Gorse Flower Fairy, by Cecily Mary Barker. I know you know her work. And this is a haibun for dVerse, where Lady Nyo is keeping the bar, and surely serving up Shirley Temples. She’s asking for childhood memories.

This is a little bit of a cheat. I decided that this year I would try and keep my haibuns really and truly in the here and now, and use them as a bit of a record of the year, so a childhood memory as the first haibun of the year was a bit of a shocker! However, the gorse flowers I came across the other day made me think of that old saying – that  I discovered in the pages of the Flower Fairy Alphabet. I am REALLY good on English flower identification, thanks to CMB.

Microfiction – childhood – for Jane Dougherty

Jane Dougherty has started a microfiction challenge. I have been back to writing poetry for a few months, now, but this is the first story I’ve written, so I feel a certain amount of trepidation. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I have a 200 word limit.

Anyhow, time to dip my toe into the water of microfiction. Looks a bit chilly from here!


1280px-Alwin Arnegger_jpg

We don’t go upstairs to the attic rooms. Not since our last governess went away. We like it down here, by the fire, where we can keep warm. It’s so cold up there. We hate to feel cold.

We like to read. We read together.

No, we don’t like to play. We used to play with her – chase, and hide and seek. We ran all over the attic, in and out of all those tiny rooms. There are all sorts of things up there – old wardrobes, trunks, piles of photographs. It was fun, but now, we prefer it here, nice and quiet. We snuggle up close and read our book.

My brother thinks you have pretty hair. Our last governess was pretty, too, but mummy was the prettiest of all.

We do hope you’ll be kind to us. Our last governess was so mean. She made us do arithmetic, when all we wanted to do was read our book. She ran away from us when we chased her. She hid so well, we never found her.

Do you like to read? You can read to us, if you like.

It’s a ghost story.

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.