Free gift in every packet –

it might not be what you expect. Anticipate delight, or fear, or that bright tingle of desire that sets your fingers splaying –

in that anger you spilled
over the kitchen floor, there is
the seed of change –

rise up and use it. Breathe in deep and roar. Build roads and bridges, use your strength, haul on the rope, tighten your grip. Don’t let go –

 and in that weight of fear there
is some love,

as if they’re sisters, love and fear, arms linked, flip sides of the same coin of passion, an old coin, warm in your hand, sticky from sitting in your pocket –

and in that great, grey,
overwhelming grief, you’ll find

somewhere in that cloud, that blocks your sight and leaves you groping, hands out, blinded by loss, reading the air with your fingertips –

a memory of joy.

Hold out your hand.


This is for Amaya at dVerse. She asks us to take something we previously posted on a past 11 September and play with it. My original poem was published last year Free gift in every packet – for dVerse – and it’s here in italics. It was interesting to review an old poem. 



Haibun for dVerse – feel the fear

It’s hard to say what I was so afraid of. It’s hard to imagine what I was so afraid of. I was five hours’ drive from home, with one of my oldest friends, in a smallish room, with pictures lining the walls, and friendly people sitting at tables. We were sharing a bottle of wine, white wine, that we had brought with us. My friend smiled confidently at the master of ceremonies. She knew him well. “Ah, no” she smiled, in answer to his question. “I’m not reading tonight…

But my friend is“.

So perhaps I was afraid that nobody would listen. That they wouldn’t like my stuff. That they would realise I’m not a poet at all, I’m an imposter. The wine tasted sour in my mouth and I struggled to concentrate on what anyone else was reading. When I was asked to stand, I winced, but I went for it. I opened my mouth, and listened to the words spilling out:

“I used to think that poetry had to be about something big and important, but now I find I mostly write about rooks…”

And off I went.

the wild bird flies free
sunlight breaks through rolling clouds
a flower opens

Toni at dVerse has asked us to write a haibun about overcoming a fear. I did my first poetry reading last week, while staying with a friend who is a confident and seasoned poet and performer. It was terrifying, and then it stopped being terrifying and was great! I had committed myself to doing a reading this year. I might even do more…

Change haibun for dVerse.

In that moment, as he lowered his voice and leaned towards me, as he gave me his bruising words, in that moment, I changed from being myself to being someone else. My body became a public thing, my health became someone else’s responsibility. My breast became the place where my enemy lurked, stealing from me – my future, my happiness, my content, my ease. I changed from being visible to being invisible, hidden behind a mask of diagnosis, investigation, medication, prognosis. Words I scattered freely became darts that caused me pain. My children became sources of fear and anxiety. All the other changes led on from that moment. The scars, the skin that aged overnight, the hair thing – I’m a blonde now, not a brunette. What stays the same? Love, I think, the love that holds us in place, that feeds our selves, that keeps us taking one step after another, that reaches out and intertwines with the fine threads of family and friends and home. Love that reminds us that there is always morning, there will be a morning, the sun will rise.

Even in the dark
There is the promise of light
Birdsong calls us home.

NaPoWriMo 11 – a little twist…


The light on the garden
Is grey, but the trees
Are hazed with green –
Promising leaves – and
The daffodils are
Still dancing.

There are 2 bullfinches,
Ink-scratched in the
Crab apple, and the
Ransoms are white
In the green, and the
Bluebells are
Blue, blue, blue.

The rooks fling themselves
At the sky,
And the camellia’s
Crazily pink.

There is nothing to fear.