Friday, 31 July 2015


Two poems this post.
The first is a reflection on an incident I saw while stood in a queue.

This arrogant young man in the queue in front of me,
is a good suit with dirty shoes.
Too good a metaphor to miss.

My mother used to say:
Clean shoes are the mark of a true gentleman.
But that was then.

I want to say: Think!
Before you speak those negative thoughts out loud,
grant them life to wound or to hurt.
But he's in full flow.

Perhaps in the next life their roles will be reversed,
maybe they are now.
One thing I know is that every petulant word we utter
adds to our karma.

Next time around he's going to need those broad shoulders.

Please do not think I am trying to say I am perfect. I am not. I have been that person in the past. I really do believe though that the best way to get through this life is by being kind. I have long discussions with a friend of mine in which we both agree that Kurt Vonnegut had the right approach.
This next poem is rather more personal.

59 years ago tomorrow
my mother gave me life.
She would always describe this event
as how I nearly killed her.
Bequeathing in me a particular guilt.
I could not explore until I was
much older than she had been at my birth.
When I did unpack it, examined every word,
I saw that I had been holding a piece of the fabric of life.
The sort of thing that just happens.
Yet it stuck to my fingers.
On certain days, like this one,
I hear her speaking those words.
Warwick Folk Festival was fun, despite two days of rain. It's well worth going to if you get the chance.
I leave you with Lal & Mike Waterson singing Bright Phoebus.


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  2. I was told similar by my mother, and I share your very mixed emotions.

    1. Hi Carol. Thank you. I have a brother-in-law who has a similar response. it's a difficult one, on one level it's a figure of speech, on another, to the ear of the child it conjures other emotions. As I say it was not until recently that I could begin to unpack the whole memory.

  3. Hmmm, I guess I probably should never say that to my little one! I had a very difficult pregnancy and had some really close calls. My little one absolutely loves her father dearly and favors him. We both think it's likely b/c he refuses to do the disciplining! Sometimes I will tell my husband how "hey I almost died for this kid," I can at least receive a kiss and hug from her when Daddy's around! She isn't old enough to understand but I should probably be very careful when saying such things. You've given me a different perspective!

    1. Hi MsMariah. Thank you for your comment and for offering another perspective. As you say for the mother there is the whole history of the pregnancy that the child experiences but does not remember. Then there is the casual remark, the social shorthand of the phrase, which the child may internalise.
      Words have such power. More, at times, than we credit them with.
      How is your little one doing? Is she sleeping? My first slept for 7-9 hours straight- the second one barely 4. But they are amazing.
      My youngest- all of 23 now is back for the weekend, and I'm just back from a festival. I'm looking forward to catching up with her this evening.