Animal Therapy

Animal Therapy
Last time I was sick I was in my bed,
too ill to move even for the water
and the tablets, just an arm’s reach away,
feeling like death, if death had feelings,
unable to do anything but pray
to a god I don’t believe in to help,
to make it go away, to let me sleep,
at least until the pain’s a little less—

when I heard the patter of paws approach,
and the slight impact of the cat’s landing
on my bed, watched her sidle up to me,
putting her face in mine to sniff me out
before curling her warm body up beside
my chest and purring in time with my heart.



Sunrise in summer: a parting aubade

Sunrise in summer – a farewell

a parting aubade
in the indigo pre-dawn,
together we wait

birds chime a warning
the sun is coming, with it,
time to say goodbye

the butcher bird calls
orange fills the horizon
a last parting kiss

light slowly gathers
seeming anti-climatic
night gives way to day

in the clouds a glimmer
of the night fading away
of the sun rising

Clouds shimmer in sun
orange and purple and bright—
my wondrous night done



The bulk of my poems, no matter how I try to avoid it, tend to be focused more on the maudlin side: full of melancholy, angst, lovelorn laments and ponderings of existential despair, all of that fun stuff.  But beautiful poetry doesn’t always have to be dark, or so I try to remind myself.  This Valentine’s Day I thought I’d delve into some happy memories and see what diamonds I could find.

So fall all you crazy lovers out there, this one’s for you.


Falling again,
against my better judgement,
light as a feather
leaden as lead,
into your wide open arms
no thought, no choice, just one word,



“A new dawn” From Nina Simone’s Feeling Good

With every New Year we give ourselves an emotional opportunity to begin anew, to bind ourselves with resolutions, aspirations and prognostications of a better, idealised self to live up to throughout the year. Whether the new self becomes inspiration for change and self-improvement or fades as quickly as a New Year’s Day hangover; it remains emblematic of change; as Nina Simone sings, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good.”

But I’m just not feeling it. After a rather turbulent time the New Year has been less about celebration and much more about finding focus. 2015 was a year tainted by grief and regaining my emotional equilibrium has been a long process. January has been a time of introspection. I have been spring cleaning, not just physically, but mind, body and soul. This poem, inspired from Nina Simone’s song Feeling Good, is about that process.

A New Dawn

Birds fly high into the dusky rose sky,
stars shine down in mournful song—
the sun is dead, is turned to ash—
and my mind’s a confused cog;
don’t know what to expect,
can’t cast aside this old wound
can only learn from what’s been done,
what’s been given was never meant to be;
this old world, this bold world—
this world will eat me alive.

Birds fly high into blissful skies,
my heart weighs me into the ground—
it’s time to clean out the old, comb out the fog.
Birds fly high toward the dawn
their song sings ‘freedom, freedom’
I watch their journey with envious eyes
and wait for the day my sun will be reborn.

The beach from day to night

Sand hot under feet,
sun a fire blazing in blues,
the water beckons.

Surf still and shining,
waters seem filled with diamonds
glistening on skin.

the sun bows its head
shows a golden path on surf
stretching into sky

on the horizon
the sun becomes a star
I could pluck from sky

The moon soars above
ocean now inky black
and reflecting stars

Footprints in the sand
the only sign left over
to say I was here

beach vignette

Ink Stains

fountain pen

Ink Stains

A blot of ink stains my sheets,
I notice it on another sleepless night:
tossing and turning, thinking of lines
while my skin turns luminous and clear
so that my veins become a web of blue on skin
and I realise they are filled with ink, not blood.

Ink stains my brain, leaks into everything
until every thought becomes a poem
and every secret, every piece of me is written;
I realise I have made my life a poem,
though everything I own is marred by ink stains.

Roald Dahl Day – By candlelight

Today marks what would have been the 99th birthday of children’s author Roald Dahl, celebrated on the 13th of September as Roald Dahl Day.  When I was a child Dahl was one of my favorite authors and has had a lasting influence on my own writing.  I think the stories we read as children help shape us into the adults we become and in Dahl’s books I found stories full of both humour and pathos, stories that showed the best of humanity in a child, a kind teacher or a reformed playboy, stories that inspire a gentle and nurturing spirit, a love for animals, admiration for those battling against much stronger odds and joy in the eccentricities of life.

The prose poem below, By Candlelight was inspired by the short story The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.  Please feel free to share in the comments your favourite Roald Dahl book and how it has influenced you.

By Candlelight

candlelightHenry sat quite still and stared in to the candle-flame. The book had been quite right. The flame, when you looked into it closely, did have three separate parts. There was the yellow outside. Then there was the mauve inner sheath. And right in the middle was the tiny magic area of absolute blackness. He stared at the tiny black area. He focused his eyes upon it and kept staring at it, and as he did so, an extraordinary thing happened. His mind went absolutely blank, and his brain ceased fidgeting around, and all at once it felt as though he himself, his whole body, was actually encased within the flame, sitting snug and cosy within the little black area of nothingness.

(from The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl)

The candle flame looms, incandescent, bright yellow shell quivering in the stillness. Inside, a solid orange thumbnail holds the flame’s shape and below the purple centre hovers about the wick. The flame draws everything into it, including me. I see myself inside the flame: a glowing ember of thought, a salamander piercing through time. By candlelight I see myself, half a lifetime ago.

I look into the flame and see my own eyes staring back in fierce concentration: trying to control the candlelight, to find ‘the tiny magic area of absolute blackness’ like Henry Sugar in the Roald Dahl story, searching for the key to unlock my mind, a desperate attempt to save me from my own consciousness. Back then I still believed I had magical powers.

By candlelight I see myself, half a lifetime ago, find so much changed, even more that has stayed the same. I see myself more clearly than I ever did at that time. I see now how all my angst would dissolve into nothingness, how all the hurt and fear dominating my every thought would fade into something much further away, and life would go on, not unscathed, but undaunted.

I stare into the flame with fierce concentration. If I look hard enough perhaps my future self will look back, fifteen years in the future. Perhaps I’ll see myself at this moment, in between worlds, in between hearts, in between states of being. Perhaps I’ll see myself more clearly than I ever could now: I’ll see that there was a link after all between my different worlds; all this heartache and confusion will fall into the smallest part of me, rather than the biggest; I’ll make sense of everything, find that I was in the same world, the same heart, the same being as I needed to be. Perhaps my future self will look back and see that after all I did possess a type of magic.