I step out in the morning without concern
in spite of a lack of winged guardian
watching over me,
nor do I hang from my keys
the preserved limb of some furry friend
to ensure protection against the evil eye.
The power of the four leaf clover
is a mystery I am content to live without.
Coins stay securely in my pocket
when I pass a wishing well,
and shooting stars are safe from unreasonable demands.
I glibly walk under ladders
take the number 13 bus
and seek out the frequented routes of black cats.
My fingers remain firmly uncrossed
at the prospect of the lottery draw,
I accept the mathematical odds against success,
it is pure chance.
When observing the twinkling lights in the sky at night
they are but burning balls of gas
in far distant galaxies.
Luck is not with me
nor does fate deal me cruel blows
and karma is just the haphazard happenings
in a random universe.
God neither provides
nor does he vent his wrath upon me,
the benign smile of Buddha
is merely a smile.
I do not ask for help
or feel obliged to give thanks.
A truth more frightening
is that the world is unpredictable chaos.
is in control.
( I lump all superstitions, beliefs and religions in together, they are all part of the same human need to find an explanation for things that happen. Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, ‘bad things’ don’t happen, ‘things’ just happen, it is human beings that apply the labels good and bad to the events. I hope that I have managed to have a little poke at everyone, so nobody feels singled out for criticism or persecution.)
the image haunts me unexpectedly
when I catch sight of it
though it does not bring tears to my eyes
like the first time
a bruised child
trying to make sense of everything
a careless parody of teenage love-hearts
with names entwined
this one is broken
brutally torn apart
the words mum and dad
Linking back to ‘The Poetry Bus’ driven this week by The Bug
Breathe and sweat,
and breathe and sweat
then relax and wait
nothing to do but wait.
bare and clinical
alien smells and echoing noises
linger in your unconscious.
A groan comes up
from deep inside
your animal instincts
guide you through the shadows
of unfamiliar sensations.
Time stands still
hours flash by
but minutes drag
holding you in the moment
of each contraction.
The room around melts
into the background
nothing to look at
looking at nothing
concentrating hard on
the strength inside
to take the next one.
and contracting muscles
are all that matters now.
The pace intensifies
you are surrounded
alone in a crowded room.
And just when you think
it is unbearable
that you are too exhausted
to go any further,
it is ended.
For the Poetry Bus, driven this week by Pure Fiction, the prompt being to write about ‘transformation’. I went for momentous rather than simple.
This week’s prompt on the Poetry Bus is to write about school. When I lay thinking about it last night I thought about just keeping my head down so as to avoid the temptation to make sarcastic comments about the nostalgic sentimental claptrap that is likely to be spouted by growups who’s memories have glossed over the harsh reality and think back to it as a time of freedom before the evils of wage labour. But the anger I continue to feel at the destruction of my daughter’s self-confidence and esteem during her time in school brought me back to the day she was allowed to leave (you can pop back here to one of my early Poetry Bus efforts to see how angry). We had just got back from spending £42 at the ‘uniform event’ because the new Head had decided to stamp her mark on the place by going back to the 1950’s, complete with blazers, ties, those knitted jumpers with the stripy trim … and knee length skirts.
An extra three inches of skirt
An extra three inches of skirt
will make us all better learners,
will increase our sense of belonging,
will be more ladylike, modest and demure.
Do that tie up
Tuck that shirt in
You’ll never pass your exams
dressed like that.
and remove that makeup,
we all know it hampers learning.
You’re not here
to express your personality.
Cut your hair
Grow your hair
You can’t come in here
with hair like that
and distracting to your classmates.
You are not here to make you mark
but to learn what’s what.
Homogeneity is the order of the day.
Those extra three inches of skirt
are so you know who’s in charge.
(My only consolation is that the kids still resist … I love to see the girls at the bus stop in their too short skirts, like two fingers to the system.) (And oh yes, my son was removed from class for shaving his head!)
Still cagouled against the incessant rain outside
she tucks her capacious handbag between her feet
an umbrella and walking stick added encumbrances
beneath the tiny table.
She arranges the contents of her tray with precision:
scone first, sliced and meagerly buttered,
tea in the pot stirred then poured
the ritual neat and meticulous.
She drinks and eats, and nothing more,
no purchases to peruse
nor interest in her fellow patrons,
unremarkable and inoffensive,
but strangely out of place
amongst the affluent shoppers
with their beige linen jackets and
She is still there as we leave
finished but sitting,
the price of a seat in the warm and dry.
This week’s poetry bus challenge offered several options and I sat musing about what is the first thing I experience when I wake up, or rather am woken up by my alarm, and it led me off at a bit of a tangent. The first line of Auden’s poem came into my head and became the title.
Stop all the clocks, shut off that incessant din
deliberately jarring to the dormant nerves,
like an infant’s urgent cry,
and dragging from the depths of sleep
reluctant slaves to time.
Curse the man who came up with the notion
that we should abandon natural rhythms
of waking when rested and sleeping when tired,
but instead be bound to mechanical devices
that count and dictate
our comings and goings
our ups and downs
our eatings and sleeping.
Curse that luminescent green
flashing from the corner in the dark
demanding your attention
smugly judging you for the dissipation of your life
as you try in vain
to cling to the vestiges of that haven
Missed a few weeks on the bus, some interesting voyages, that I had ideas for but not the time to put into words (or pictures as it turned out). This week we journey with Delusions of Adequacy, with two possible prompts, to be funny or poignant, not sure I have managed either.
all of us
cups of tea in hand
chatting in the yard
waiting for the second van
telling bad jokes
sometimes they kick an old football
back and forth
like kids in the playground
it’s all just casual
but I position myself
next to you
your voice vibrates
in my head
the scent of you
sets my nerves on edge
and I catch a trace of your smoke
from your lungs into mine
The Poetry Bus this week is feeding the pixies where the challenge is to folow, or alternatively not follow, or reinterpret, a sign, and see where it took you. The idea immediately brought to mind the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken (which apparently he come to dislike because it was so popular and always requested at readings), the idea that paths that you take have unforeseen and unpredictable consequences. This was my choice yesterday evening, we followed a familiar route and the signal dictated the consequences, sometimes even small consequences matter.
we take the footpath to the old stone bridge
crossing the railway by the sheep field.
looking along the straight empty track
you notice the signal is down
a train is on it’s way
so we wait to see it pass,
and while we wait
up against the stone parapet
in the evening sunshine
and I find I had forgotten
amongst the mundane routines of life
this perfect pleasure
the warmth and taste of you
with a delicious thrill
of potential discovery.
this quiet path
leading nowhere very much
takes us where we need to go.
The Poetry Bus driven this week by Kat at Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes, visit for more thoughts on the destruction this week of a rather bizarre statue. Mine is an instinctive gut reaction.
gone in a conflagration
God has taste after all
This week’s challenge for the Poetry Bus was to write on the more general category of ‘flora/fauna’, which I suppose left it wide open for people to do what took their fancy, though nicely in keeping with the season. We have been cutting the grass this week so I was thinking of times when I was young and always feeling annoyed at my dad for cutting the grass and chopping down all the daisies. So here is my offering, and a homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins ‘Binsey Poplars’, of which I am very fond.
Daisies, only yesterday scattered across
the lush expanse of un-mowed lawn
All chopped, chopped, are all chopped
their petals heaped amongst the verdant mulch
not spared, not one
for small girl to frolic in fancy and
festoon herself a fairy queen.
O if he but knew what he did
when he mowed and trimmed
cut down those fragile blossoms
the dreams of childhood
so transient, in wild abandon
she who bedecked with garlands
would dance among the saplings
now stands forlorn.
After-comers cannot guess the beauty
that might have been
the spinning blade wipes clean
makes neat, pristine
Daisy chain, a daisy chain
sweet delicate daisy chain