Dusk

In the hum, alert and tired,

A mind swims. Morrison

Sha-la-las from tinny old

Pub speakers. Heavy-ringed

Hands rest on scratched leather arms.

Crumbs nestle into cracks in age-

Faded upholstery. Once

Proud Patterns, too tired to try,

Sag and fray under the long

Weight of time. And in the low

Buzz, wired and slow, a mind swims.

Daydream

I would like to hide today:

Put my adult self away.

Find a place that’s still and dark:

Crouch on mulch and crunchy bark,

Underneath a veil of leaves,

Watching insects, chewing sleeves.

I just want to hide today:

Find my own safe space to play.

Here, where no grown-up could stand,

I would build my own wild land:

Among the dappled spots of light,

Nature’s toys would talk and fight.

Star-crossed stones would say their vows,

Pine cone friends have angry rows.

Leafy dragons, breathing flames,

Pick their prey and play their games.

Spider baddies lurk in caves;

Ants take orders as their slaves.

Earthworm spies would tell the queen

All the mischief they have seen.

In the midst of all this strife

I’d be happy with my life.

Ladybirds would climb my arms and

Flustered birds sound shrill alarms.

I’d lose track of time and space

In my damp and cosy place.

So I close my eyes and go.

No one else will ever know.

Rush Hour

Scuffed and tightly-filled, keeling

Over, heels propped up to support

Bags on knees, screens, tapping fingers

Nails bitten to white jagged cliffs

Or long and smooth: rendered strange

And cold by time and money.

 

Sandals play glass slippers: cracked,

Betrayed by earthy brown between

Caked, painted gold. And, in thick air, the

Hiss and click of headphones plays a

Nuanced soundtrack like an itch.

Urban heat: dark rounded veins shout

 

Angry calls and foreheads weep.

Holding sticky rails, old friends have

Happy rows and, with sweet noise, earn

Bitter gazes from the tired. Foot

Squeezed rucksacks, grin like thirsty

Dogs and jostle handbags: over-friendly.

 

Rocking to and fro, stumbling,

Graceless in our work-creased day clothes,

We are held together: jumbled

Bits and pieces in old drawers. But,

Like keys and crayons muddled:

Each, when found, will open doors.

Dammed if she didn’t

Slowly building mute frustration:

Will it ever flow again?

Sometimes words come swift and giddy;

Sometimes no ink in my pen.

 

Hours that turn to days, unanswered

Questions from my twitching hands.

Over time, wild space reserved for

Writing falls to life’s demands.

 

Nestled in warm breeze and scratchy

Grass, I sit and feel the page.

Now, on mud-cracked basin, flows a

Stream released from my mind’s cage.

 

Like the fractious cry that soars from

Tiny lungs first tasting air,

Words, cascading, flood me with

Relief from hope’s expectant stare.

Sports Day from a Distance

Coloured noisy shirts

That jostle brightly:

Sugar strands

On wet icing,

Trace the long stemmed field

In well-worn wheels of

Summer sports.

 

In every hard-pressed heart

A different song is sung:

One that moves

Light feet or knows

The beat of mournful drum.

Young ankles turn on

Dried footprints.

 

But just for now, from

Far off, their sunny

Sport brings smiles

To tired faces:

Pale and lined from endless

Office hours. Their gaze

Rose-tinted.

 

For some, this light will

Blow out here, but not

For all. A

Bold white spark is

Thrown on restless kindling;

Nervous legs will come

Again soon.

 

Feet, unused to trainers,

Will regain their bounce

And eyes that

Lost their starry

Faith will glow once more.

Happy memories

Open doors.

Mat Leave

Watering can, little shoes,

April sun, baby blues,

Wet socks, soggy flowers,

Tired eyes, long hours.

 

Chubby cheeks, half-formed words,

Drone of cars, songs of birds,

Deepest love, smothered rage,

Silent protest, mother’s cage,

 

Eager eyes, sticky hugs,

New to nature, eating bugs,

Scraped knees, mummy kiss it,

‘When it’s gone,’ they say, ‘you’ll miss it.’

 

In fresh air, short of breath,

Should he nap? What if: cot death?

Filled nappy, teatime tears,

Guilt, resentment, shameful fears.

 

Fences, hedges, walls divide

So many of us trapped inside,

Feeling we are not enough,

Scared to say we find it tough.

 

I find it hard. How do you find it?

Do you ever wish you could unwind it?

Do you cry on cold baked beans

And plug your babies into screens?

 

Join the club. Come and share.

There’s others like us everywhere.

When we hide our fear and pain,

Depression smugly smiles again.

Underground Poetry

To burst through the blank:

It’s harder now.

Quick full days that laugh

At slower life

And suck the spark,

In thrall to life’s quick call.

 

To find the thought space:

Long moment where

Noise fades and my eyes,

To finger point,

Find their click in

Dream haze of writing ways.

 

On hot London tube,

With resting heads,

And all the world in

Smells of spice, dry

Smoke, leather and

Old flat seats. My mind, at

 

Last, can nestle in.

It’s sweeter now:

For long empty wait.

I write the old

Inkwell of tears

And heart spring joy of art.