Monthly Archives: June 2012

Nursing Home and Nice Roses

The Iceberg roses are beautiful this year.

My┬ámother had a hedge of them in her garden: a mass of white billowy pompoms. I’ve got more than I probably should have in a tiny garden and the delphiniums have taken the brash hump and pushed their way through.

We took a huge bunch of roses to put in my great aunt’s room when she moved into the…

Nursing Home


We put her there when we couldn’t cope,

when she’d tired you to bone.

Not meaning to.


Three years she stayed with us,

snug in that arm chair where she could see you in the garden

and wave,

her hands arthritic gnarled, veins creeping proud violet.

She had her things:

silver hair brush, remote control, Woman’s Own, a box of toffee and

I sat and brushed her hair sometimes and brought her tea.

You heaved her unable body and cleaned her and smoothed on the cream that stopped

the red sores, acid-burned into her skin.


We should have cried at the hallucinations,

the loose-lipped rabid talking without pause,

but she spoke of your childhood:

shoo-ing the geese from the yard, high pitched,

talking gently to the cows

broom in hand, arms outstretched

asking me to close the gate behind them.


We didn’t like sending her away.

Even just for a weekend to your sister

so that you could

just breathe

and sit.


You paced in her empty room and nettled your conscience

and burned cigarette ends into your guilt.


But your colour came back

and your eyes widened to clearness.




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Moving On

I knew that today would come, eventually. A hot electrical whiff. A strangled wheeze and then nothing. Dead. No overlocker. Not a stitch more. Sod’s Law that it should happen slap bang in the middle of work overload. I rang the nice chap in Deptford, the one with the capacity to mend anything, and he just laughed (it’s 22 years old) and he was right, it’s cheaper to buy a new one. But that’s not the point. This heavy, cumbersome, often damned annoying piece of hardware’s been with me everywhere: tiny 1930’s flat in Belsize Park, bigger flashier Victorian conversion in Hampstead and 1960’s concrete house in Blackheath. It’s had a major role in so many frocks for so many people.

Sad. I don’t really want a different one.

It arrives tomorrow.


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It’s one of my fears, anorexia. One of the things I fear for my daughter as she enters teenage-dom. Fortunately, she has a healthy relationship with food: she likes it. And she has a fast metabolism and plays a lot of sport. I know how quickly things can change and the day she refuses cake I shall worry.













I noticed it that summer term.

There was a warm spell and we opened the classroom windows to let in

whispers of grassed air from the playing fields.

Old leaded glass panes held by red sandstone mullions.

We took off our sweaters

and I saw them,

speared shoulder blades sprouting like wings through your shirt

and your neck sparrow-like and snappable,

your head held up by thin bone and sinew.


Always at the front,

your pin-thin legs coiled one round the other under the desk,

hair curled behind your left ear

always gold-glossed like sun on a wheat field.

Writing. And writing.

And always right.

Others thought you odd but

we were friends.

I knew your liking for nice things:

for poetry and words and the smell of libraries and good perfume.


And then the swan’s down cheeks and avoiding games.

And the blue mottled skin on the backs of your hands.

And the shape of your white bone skull through near-translucent skin.


I didn’t know how to help but

I wrote to you in that drab room,

letters full of gossip.

To make things normal.


They wouldn’t let you wash your hair.

Food then shampoo, they said.

But you couldn’t eat what they wanted you to eat

So your hair became moused and dull and thin.


It was months before you came back.



Filed under oddbods, poetry, writing


This is for Sally.

And for all women plagued by middle-aged bristly chins.

Not mine. Mine’s been zapped by a lovely lady with a laser gun. Could handle the hot sting like tight elastic bands being flicked but it was the sulphuric whiff that really made my eyes roll.

Smooth as the proverbial baby’s……




flick bit scrat scrat flick pick

trying between fingernails to get a grip

no tweezers

on the tube

they can’t hear it,

the addicted insect click

can they?


give up


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I promise that I’ll stop at this… more meat poems….


Tripe Stall


She had a nice face the woman at the tripe stall.

A powdery-old coloured-in face: pink lips, green eyeshadow

all the way up to kohl-ed brows,

no hair there, just pencil marks.



I couldn’t see on top of the counter

but there were small wooden forks and a bottle of vinegar.

Just malt. Brown, nostril pricking malt.

I could see the bottle’s nubbled glass bottom.


I liked that counter: it leaned inwards

so that I could lean on it, forehead resting on its cool surface,

and be closer to the

honeycombed pieces of stomach

bleached fake white.

Fanned like concertina-ed paper decorations,

shivering in thick felted layers.

I wanted to touch it,

to place my palm flat and sink my hand into its cold deadness.


There was always a pie too,

heel and shin probably,

and a tray of black puddings,

skin stretched and dull half-polished

over cooked blood and nuggets of fat

like the black leather collars my grandfather used for his bulls.

I liked and the way the water boiled fatly around them

and the way they burst open at knife point

spilling innards.


I liked leaving a disc of breath on the glass.


Filed under oddbods, poems, poetry, writing

Meat Market

My grandmother was a butcher before she married my grandfather. A red-headed, glamorous butcher. A dichotomy. Handy though when it came to killing pigs on the farm and boiling trotters and making black puddings and sausages and brawn and a myriad of other unfashionable pig-products. Ever eaten a pig’s ear?




a fly shivering blue on curds of fat


heaving thud of meat on stone

head gone

skin gone

just peeled flesh

dark brown-red grained muscle

like striated ripples of rock on a cliff

cold dry fat thick against rump

ribs open reaching vacant

knife thin sharpened against stone

cleave between bones

crack bone from socket

glossed hip sphere perfect in hand



Filed under oddbods, poems, poetry, writing

Blog Joy and a Gong

Does anyone else not like Fridays very much? Much as I love my family, Fridays mean that the week-end’s looming and that means NOISE and FILTH and someone STEALING THE MAC. Peace shattered. Squeezing out a half-poetic words between domestics.

But today, Friday, I’ve been given a Liebster Award by the lovely and scarily talented Cricketmuse! Thank you!

I’m really thrilled (and yes, I do have fewer than 200 followers and a fine and talented cohort they are too). So now I have to pass on the blog award so here goes:

Redwater Ramblings

Eve’s poetry is a joy.


Really good writing, inspirer of escape from (my) poetic wastelands and reliever of homesickness (it’s a northern thing),


Why didn’t I think of this?


Ceramicist and poetry nut. A marvellous combination


I know diddly squat about golf and I’m not really bothered about changing that one, but I know a wise old bird when I see one.

It’s still Friday, but quite a nice one…..

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