Cottage Down the Track

For the (fictional) series, "Edges"
Narrator's voice

Cottage Down  the Track

A dog barked from the secluded home
tucked between forest and water,
protesting at being left while its people
set out on the track to the market.

A Spartan dwelling, one might observe,
but cosy enough, and very private, away 
from society's harm. Not for the gregarious,
it could suit the hardy and self-sufficient. 

On balmy nights the sound of the sea
would be sweet reassurance. Although
they can't grow all they'd like in sandy soil,
they can grow enough. And they fish.


The startling reunion began with tentative talk
gradually replacing initial mistrust. After all,
there had been other loves of the heart, other 
memories and losses. There's no going back.

What there is, is the action called "going forward".
They haven't mastered that art, perhaps won't
in whatever time's left. But they have chosen
to journey the next part of the adventure together.

They don't believe in or expect the fairytale
"Happy Ever After". But they have learned there are
Guardian Angels, even for recalcitrant lovers,
and they're willing to take some new chances.

After Long Silence*

For the (fictional) series, "Edges"
His Voice 

After Long Silence

"Oh, darling!" I say in my heart,
"is it really you? This is a miracle!
This is all things marvellous." But
out loud it's not like that. No basking 
in each other's smiles ... or arms.

Her face freezes hard after the first
blank surprise, disbelief. She is not
the slightest bit glad, but rather, is looking
shocked to see me. I start towards her
and she recoils. Then she's laughing –
but bitterly, thinly, no hearty warmth.

It's clear she perceives me as intruder.
"It's been too long," she says in parting.
"I don't know you any more." Non-plussed,
I pick up a stone, add it to the old cairn.
She can't fail to mark the action
or it's meaning. She stops, hesitates, 
then slowly bends to reach for one of her own.

*The title also belongs to a poem by William Butler Yeats about a meeting between old lovers. 

Turning My Back

For the (fictional) series, "Edges"
Her Voice 

Turning My Back

The burden of solitude can become 
habit, then preference, then pleasure.

Is it even possible to regurgitate
old words of connection long unused?

We'd need to learn each other
all over again – and not as before.

He seems earthy, savoury: basic and useful as
a root vegetable. A potato, perhaps, or a turnip.

Yet he reminds me too of mahogany, coated
protectively with beeswax and turpentine.

I, on the other hand, could use a refurbish, 
a polishing up. I feel raw, almost crude.

Whereas he has a burnish. How is this old man
able to gleam like that? (Despite ropey arms, grizzled hair.)

I am more like a saggy couch, I think, if we're furniture –
faded, and probably not even comfortable any more.

Fear is a spur, turning me sharply aside from this ... what?
Opportunity? I distrust fairy tales and happy endings.

Yes, a strange coincidence, to meet here of all places.
But I'm spurning, not buying it. It's been far too long.

Sharing with Poets United's Poetry Pantry #419

Making a Pilgrimage

For the (fictional) series "Edges"
His Voice 

Making a Pilgrimage

When I would rendezvous with her,
it was island, oasis, outside of time,
between the worlds. We were complete
in each other, free with each other,
uninhibited as creatures of fur or feathers,
wild and playful – and happy, happy!

How much further now, to that place
deep in the forest, that place where the trees 
merged, closing out the hostile world? 
It seemed to be all turning hostile then.
I was seventeen, and beginning to burn
with passions both political and personal.

On the verge of owning the world (we believed)
and planning to remake it closer to perfect,
in fact we retreated from it, to each other
and to our sanctuary. We raised a cairn of stones
back from the surge of the tide, hidden
from beach or path.... I know it must be near.


Stones in a Forest

For the (fictional) series, "Edges"
Her Voice 

Stones in a Forest

We made a cairn of stones
where we used to meet,
so as to declare our love forever,
fair and square. We thought
it could be a kind of signal beacon –
a little like sending up flares
if we ever lost each other.
So we spared no toil or skill to make it
lasting – that we could always find 
and would always return to.

Somehow, we became careless
and lost each other anyway,
straying too far from our stones
and off across the airy blue 
in different directions. Now at last,
decades later, bearing old memories 
like invisible flowers to leave by a tomb, 
I come back. Well, I did swear to, 
then, when this was our secret lair
and we were foxes. I need the farewell.

Sharing with Poets United's Poetry Pantry #417.


Washed Up

For the (fictional) series "Edges"
Narrator's voice

Washed Up

They share a story, these two,
who were lovers briefly, once,
and since then have travelled far.
Where they have been, what done,
they cannot know of each other – 
it's been so long. But sometimes,
when she combs her hair, does she
remember him running his fingers
through it, and under its fall on her neck, 
before drawing her face gently to his?

Of course she does! And prays 
to Mother Mary that he is well,
wherever in the world he may be.
As he too, staring out at the sea, 
doing his own remembering, fervently
wishes that she may be happy 
somewhere (sigh). A foghorn blares
across the bay. He startles 
out of that old dream, shivering,
and puts the memories away.

They see themselves, each of them,
as old and wise – poor scared children
breathing, separately, the rarefied air 
of their refuges along this lonely shore.
He plays guitar. It's more immediate
than the piano he learned as a boy.
As for her, when she wants to tear a hole
in present reality, to find her own soul,
she sketches tiny pictures with charcoal –
a leaf, a gauzy dragonfly, a quick fairy....

Linking to Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Treasure, on the basis that the poem speaks of these characters' treasured memories.


Transforming Into Hermit Crab

For the (fictional) series "Edges"
Her Voice 

Transforming Into Hermit Crab

Messy, sporadic, surreal ...
you might describe my life so.

For me it has its own music:
it is a flute, or a chiming bell.

I hold it sweet and very tender,
a small thing I nurture and cherish.

I see in others’ eyes they think me wretched.
By this I can tell that they don't see deep.

I am myself. I don't heed their scorn,
nor does it damage me or constrain.

I walked out of their world. I meant to.
Instead I have this universe here.

It may appear I took a header and fell –
it was head-first into Paradise.

My splendid isolation is rich with life,
even now scuttling around me unseen.

This inlet is a meld of plants and oh,
many creatures; how could I feel alone?

The secret is, I never see myself
as aloof, superior, apart from all this.

A Homecoming

For the (fictional) series "Edges"
His Voice 

A Homecoming

I was just a whelp
when we first came here,
the best part of fifty years ago.

Can I sever
this old man from the child
I was then, tasting heaven here?

My daily bread
suddenly became manna.
I still wish we'd never left.

Now that I've found again
the exact blend of elements
in unchanged perfection –

there is also terror.
It's the same I felt then
when we went away, lost from here.

I send up prayers
to a God I no longer believe in.
"Let me stay. Let me keep it this time."


Things I Must Not Say

Things I Must Not Say

He shows me the poem
with which he hopes to persuade
a beautiful young woman
to fall into his embrace.

It's hilarious,
even a bit frightening
as he threatens, I mean promises 
to explode with violent passion.

How can I tell him –
what she really wants is someone 
who doesn't think his dick will drop off 
if he does the dishes?

Deepest Love

For the (fictional) series, "Edges"
His Voice 

Deepest Love

Rinse away the grey
from my heart, blue ocean!
Tip out the sludge
from my soul, upending that
as the swift surf tosses me
when I'm careless or cocky.

I savour your salty kiss, dear sea!
Who needs mistletoe? You give me 
drowned weeds, intricate shells,
the weathered ribs of dead ships,
jewel-like fragments of glass
with the cutting edge smoothed.

Whimsical, skittish, moody,
even downright dangerous – 
still, you have never hindered
me from living my truth. Here
with you, I am free to be silly
or wise, stormy or placid ...

I am, perhaps, a reflection
of you, my true companion.
I drink you in, mother's milk. Or 
am I becoming other? Apparently fish, 
to disport in the shallows. Then 
shall I turn, dive, sound the depths?

Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #414


Finger Painting

Finger Painting

Because I had jubilant splashes
of wine-red, purple, tangerine, mauve,
I could fling them at a page –
my hands wet and gushing,
my arms dripping, up to the elbow.

Because I had paints made from plants
and dyes mixed from various muds,
and huge flat leaves and plaited reeds,
I could sit or stand or lie full length
creating chaos, covering it with patterns.

Alone inside my engagement, enraptured,
I swished and swirled and scraped and piled
colours on colours, on reed or leaf,
shaping them this way and that
with my will, with my hands … like a god.

Prompted by Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Colourand based 
on the poem (at that link) The Art Room by Shara McCallum.


Leaving Singing

For the (fictional) series, "Edges"
Her Voice

Leaving Singing

The one who is missing,
the one we are missing,
sang her song of goodbye
quietly, before dawn
when no-one else was awake to listen –
except one, and he, misunderstanding, 
thought it a piece of flim-flam.

Did she finish, or simply
trail off, unwilling to utter 
the final words, reluctant
to fill the space with anything
so irreversible? Did she perhaps
catch a glimpse of that one
dismissive listener, and quail?

No, it was just 
that her prison doors opened
at the moment her song began,
and so her spirit lifted
off and up, out of the body,
immediately: the song's completion
hidden, beyond the veil.

Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #413


Saint Patrick and the Snakes

Saint Patrick and the Snakes

So he ran the snakes from Ireland?  
So they say.
A jolly fellow, was he?
Raise your glass!
We can toast the lovely Saint
with happy unrestraint –
but as for me believing
all that Blarney,
no, I'll pass.

Did not the snakes of Ireland
slip away?
Were all the Druids butchered
See, I think all that's as maybe,
for where the woods are shady,
aren’t the Sidhe still roaming 
wild and free –
and aren’t we?

The Pagan “snakes” of Ireland
sneak to play
between the trees in moonlight,
cloaked in grey,
and underneath the hill
you might hear the singing still –
except it’s very secret.
But we never
went away.

At "imaginary garden with real toads" the weekend challenge is Blarney Me – anything about Ireland and/or St Patrick's Day. Well, as you see, I have a bit of a quarrel with the saint. Now, I don't have any Irish ancestry that I know of, and have never even been there, so I also don't know if there are any Pagans in Ireland nowadays. But I'll bet my bottom dollar there are! 


Contemplating My Friend Yasoda

Contemplating My Friend Yasoda

The lady of laughter
and practical kindness
has gone from sturdy to frail
in just a few months.

We think, when we hear,
"This many months left to live"
that they will be lived as normal.
Instead, dying's a progression.

In December I visited her at home,
in January at the hospital,
and in February the hospice.
She was smiling every time.

I gave her a bracelet of honey calcite 
labelled For Happiness. "A bit ridiculous,"
I said. "You're the happiest person 
I've ever known." Then I filled it with Reiki.

Her children thanked me as I left.
One of her daughters was cuddled up
next to her on the bed. The window view
was full of leafy trees. The day was balmy.

Last year we gathered for lunch
at the Rainforest Café – at a long table
outdoors, twenty or so good friends
feasting together on the bank of the stream.

I was sitting directly opposite Yasoda.
She threw back her head, laughing free –
but later patted her belly, muttering
about the hernia she thought she had.

I remember the time I said to her,
"Whenever someone's in need,
you're always there." She smiled, 
a trifle bemused. For her, it was just normal.

When our "wisdom circle" studied the book 
on the various origins of our souls,
it was clear to us all, she was Angel
incarnated here, still being of service.

This poem has no easy, obvious end.
As I write, her life hasn’t ended yet.
And even when it does – which now we hope 
may be soon – for us, she will not be ended.


Yasoda at the Rainforest Café, October 2017

Message received today:
Our Beautiful Yasoda left this Plane of Existence yesterday (Saturday 17/3/2018) at about 3pm.  She was surrounded by Her Loved Ones and had a Peaceful & quite Beautiful Passing.

She will be greatly missed by many but is now free from pain & safe and happy in the arms of The Divine. 

A Truly Beautiful Soul whose Heart Shone Always. 


In the Presence of Fear

For the (fictional) series, "Edges".
His Voice 

In the Presence of Fear

That first howl,
beyond the circle
cast by the fire,
seemed to crowd
or herd us,
no-one saying aloud
the sudden fear,
though all cowering.

The sour smell
of our sweat
brought us down
to the truth. 
This place, renowned
for certain "incidents",
shook with power.
Out there was 
no kitten's miaow.

Once we faced
our desperation – strange,
there came clarity
and sudden courage.
We built up
the fire, huge,
and took turns
guarding and sleeping
all night until
moonlight faded and
fresh day flowered.

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #412

That Moment When ...

That Moment When ...

you’re reading
a book she’d have liked
and thinking,
when I’m done
I must lend … then it comes back:
two days gone, she died.

Another shadorma for dVerse MTB




What is that 
phantom I discern
through the fog?
Can it be…?
Yes! It’s that shadowy form
(whisper): shadorma.

At dVerse, in Meeting the Bar, we are invited to try a shadorma, a syllabic form with rather mysterious origins. 

Thank-You Letter

Thank-You Letter

My dear friend,
I wanted to thank you

You gave me a bookmark,
do you remember?

You chose it thoughtfully,
especially for me.

In beautiful writing, it says:
"My soul is tranquil and at peace."

And I realise, ever since,
it has been.

You are a worker of magic!
I should have known.

You tell the truth
and you give love.

Those are both
essential requirements

for good magic
that really works.

Bless you!
– Love and kisses.

Written in response to Karin's request, at "imaginary garden with real toads", for epistolary ("Dear") poems.


Still Coming For You

Written for the (fictional) series, "Edges".
Her Voice 

Still Coming For You

How is it that they who are younger
leave sooner? And look older, too,
for years before they go. The loud call, 
"Look, I've decided I'm elderly now"
must be attractive to waiting Death.

I'm not opening my mouth to say
any such reckless thing! If children
play unheeding, and my vow as guardian 
is that they be safe and free of worry,
this means I too must remain safe.

How proudly so many 
march over the precipice,
wowing each other with their daring –
or in some cases resignation –
as if there was no crash at the bottom.

The possibility of Death, it appears,
cows no-one. Do they think they'll go 
in a blaze, a shower of beautiful sparks
like an exploding rocket ...
not grasping how fast it burns out?

We who are left plough the ash
back into the earth. At least it's good
for something. New crops come up. 
Clown-faced scarecrows keep guard.
Death withdraws, murmuring, "Later".

Shared at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #411

Afraid of Grief

Afraid of Grief

It’s late at night (I suddenly notice)
but how can I go to bed –
to be alone with my thoughts
of my friend who is dead?

Instead, I’ve been reading
other people’s poetry;
I’ve been answering emails
and playing on facebook.

Earlier, I watched that show
we both enjoyed – stopped short
a moment, as this night she wouldn’t
be watching with me (in our different homes).

I watched it anyway, and even laughed.
I raised a glass of red.
“Watching it for you, Nan,” I said. 
But this time, I couldn't text her.

Then I went back to crying. Then
I started reading other people’s 
poetry, and answering emails and.…
It’s late. I can’t go to bed. 

RIP Nan Doyle, 26 August 1941 – 14 March 2018