the other woman

March 28, 2010 at 8:35 am (Uncategorized)

i can’t compete with the other woman

in his life

he yearns for her

in ways i barely understand

she offers pleasures indescribable

experiences beyond the physical

purely cerebral stimulation

never messy and unpredictable

he plans and schemes

how to manipulate her

adapt her to his own devices

she is

on his mind

when i irritatingly ask

what are you thinking?

they share a past

and a future

ongoing through her many and various


the shell of her predecessor gathers dust

but her essence endures


endlessly renewing


(she would never forget his birthday)

the focus of his attention

on her details

absorbed in fascination

with the minutiae of

her intricate abilities

her most intimate workings

she can be whatever

he wants her

to be

i can only be



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March 26, 2010 at 10:02 pm (Uncategorized)

the drive took over an hour

navigating unfamiliar parts

of the motorway network

but when we arrived

there was more than one long stay car park.

it’s a blue Polo with roof bars

but by the streetlights they all look the same to me.

then we see him loitering

he waves unobtrusively from the roadside

indicating the spot.

two anonymous cars parked adjacent

in the damp twilight

the dumpy and silent girlfriend

stands watching as

a large box is transferred from one boot

to another.

negotiations are made

money swiftly changes hands

no handshake

just a nod of acknowledgement.

doors slam

lights and radio on

as we pull away.

she smiles.

that was such a bargain.

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unforeseen (thirteenth draft)

March 26, 2010 at 7:32 am (Uncategorized) ()

Little did proud Mr and Mrs Babbage know

in their moment of elation

at young Charles’ creation

that the engines of his imagination

would spawn

this modern day revolution

a transformation

of our social relations

and communication

from the mere written word

and telephone conversation

to mass participation

with binary notation

a celebration of congregation

(ok, with frequent frustration)

so there is a distinct correlation

between his fascination

and experimentation

and our conjugation

so he is guilty by association

of bringing you

to me.

(The Poetry Bus this week is being driven by Rachel Fox, this link for how to join in, or her home page on Monday 29th to read contributions)

(Word taken from the lyric “in ways that are yet as of now unforeseen” from the Suzanne Vega song ‘Song in Red and Grey’)

(Now not sure if it is worse to put an esoteric reference in a poem and assume that people will be educated enough to understand it, or to add a little footnote and risk people feeling patronised. Anyway, will risk the latter and point out that Charles Babbage is credited as being ‘the father of the modern computer’.)

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we don’t need no education

March 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

You come in the morning and stand in a row

waiting to be told just where you must go.

Stillness and silence are the most precious virtue

without them the system will be forced to subdue.

Fingers on lips and arms folded tight

if everyone behaves nicely we really just might

… get to play a game

or sing a song.

Don’t try to engage or enjoy while you are able

when the bell rings it’s quick to the next on the timetable.

They give you gold stars, house points and the rest

but only when they judge that you’ve done your best.

They keep you in line with the promise and threat

if you don’t work your hardest you’ll forever regret.

… ‘Must try harder’

or ‘a good term’s work’.

They call it blue table but everyone knows

the thickies all sit there in the corner and doze.

And as they progress through the system it seems

that the teachers they meet will crush all their dreams.

They are steered on a course that keeps them in place,

dead end jobs with no prospects at the back of the rat race.

… or maybe hairdressing

and the army, of course.

Squash down your own passions, keep them inside,

nobody cares what you want, you’re just along for the ride.

Don’t try to be different or to do your own thing

learn to blend with the crowd, individualists won’t fit in.

And if you demand some freedom and kick up a stink

they’ll pile on the homework so you’ve no time to think.

(we don’t need

no thought control)

Just answer the questions and confound all the sceptics

so they can tick all the boxes for the government statistics.

The system works hard for society and state

that’s why it’s there, don’t try to escape.

And if you take some time alone to revive your soul

they will track you and hound you with the truancy patrol.

… Education Welfare Officer

then a PRU.

They dangle before you the promises of success

but what they ask in exchange must surely depress.

Twelve years of your life, shut up in a school,

(about as much fun as twelve years in a cesspool.)

So free your mind and your life, what would I advise?

why not try taking your education …otherwise.

(teachers leave

them kids alone)

(Notes: 1. PRU is a Pupil Referral Unit. 2. education otherwise refers to section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, where parents are responsible for providing education for their children “either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”)

(Based very loosely on John Taylor Gatto‘s ‘Seven Lesson Schoolteacher‘ in Dumbing Us Down – The hidden curriculum of compulsory schooling)

(Linking back and arriving rather late for The Poetry Bus)

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haphazard life

March 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I throw the dinner together

in a haphazard fashion.

Something from the freezer

perhaps with dumplings on top,

or left over bolognase

fashioned artfully into a lasagne.

And if the fridge is really vacant

there are eggs,

or pasta.

I intended to be so organised

but somehow I lost my way.

So we are left with strange choices,

the contents of the cupboard

the result of random wanderings

down supermarket aisles,

lots of tomato puree, peanut butter (smooth and chunky)

and some very old pudding rice.

Like the way I found you

and ended up here,

pure chance,

the haphazard result of

random meandering

down life’s aisles.

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March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm (Uncategorized) ()

She called that stubborn one Paul

and the new one this morning Jeremy.

Genevieve started it all,

naming hers

because they arrived so rarely.

Always boys names,

“because only boys are that annoying”

and you can call them after ex-boyfriends

said Mindy

then squeeze them out of your life.

(Thought process: conversation in the kitchen whist preparing panini, and I ran off to write it up.)

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the stella poem

March 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

She  was wearing Stella McCartney,

but there was something in the way she moved,

and I knew that,

though I’d been away so long

I hardly knew the place,

I would be sleeping like a log.

It’s beautiful,

and so are you,

I smiled reassuringly,

but do you think that money is heaven sent?

Living is easy with eyes closed,

she replied

but man, I had a dreadful flight,

and now today I find that you have changed your mind.

You made a fool of everyone,

I blurted out.

Does this mean you don’t love me any more?

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

she demanded.

You are misunderstanding all you see,

I say,

sleep pretty darling, do not cry,

for with every mistake we must surely be learning.

We are all lonely people,

she cried

where do we come from?

Can we work it out?

A noise came from behind,

but to keep my mind from wandering

I sat on her rug, biding my time,

for all we need is love.

(Linking back to The Poetry Bus, where the challenge this week involved reference to the two ‘Stellas’, but I know nothing of the other so was left only with McCartney)

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Meeting at the Station

March 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

There is a woman walking down platform 1.

She has been here many time before.

It is cold tonight, being January.

She walks steadily from one end of the platform to the other,

following the line of textured paving slabs.

Her shoulders are hunched,

and if you could feel under her jacket she is shivering very slightly.

Each time, at the far end, she pauses and stares down the track

before turning to retrace her steps.

The train is late, again,

nearly an hour.

The information board is blank.

Finally a bright light approaches and a train comes to a halt.

But it’s not the one she wants, though she checks all the carriages

just in case she’s mistaken.

On the opposite platform another train arrives.

A few students bringing home their washing get off the train from Bristol.

She resumes walking, to pass the time as much as to keep warm.

Finally, without warning, the one she is hoping for.

Heart pounding she pursues it down the platform as it slows,

scanning each door window as they pass ..

… and then she sees them.

Somebody waves, they are looking out for her too.

She smiles stupidly and waves as they all wait for the door to unlock.

There is that awful moment as the door opens;

who comes out first,

who gets the first hug.

She tries to hold them all at the same moment,

to gather them up in her arms,

but they are too big for that now.

The teenager is laid back and casual, ‘Hi mum’.

The twins; one nuzzles in tight, the other more keen to just get home.

And the youngest, pushed out by her siblings, pulls a sulky face

but relents and gets a carry to the car.

And they talk.

So much talk,

words tumbling over each other in the rush,

as if they need to say it all in the first five minutes:

what happened at school,

who got into trouble,

who had a row with dad,

who lost something.

Then; have I got the day off,

did I buy a PS2,

can we get such and such,

can we have this for dinner,

when are we doing that,

are we getting pocket money?

The weekend will not last,

trying not to watch the clock,

too soon they are gone again.

It is only in this moment that I can stop missing them.

(Written initially some years ago as a short story for the MATCH magazine, Mothers Apart From Their Children. I used to meet my kids at Cheltenham station late on Fridays. Fortunately that is no longer part of our lives. Now I just meet the youngest on her return, she still hates trains. The change from third to first person is deliberate.)

(Linking back to The Poetry Bus on TFE’s blog.)

(Just popping back to add a link to the most famous train poem, Night Mail by W.H. Auden, on Youtube)

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