This poem was published in South Poetry Magazine in 2015, during my eight years “on the front desk” at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. It’s an example of the many fleeting connections you make with people that somehow end up sticking with you.
A Man in a Bear Grylls hat
with those flaps that hang like beagle’s ears
comes to my reception desk where he hears
a woman ask for someone
called Miranda and he tells me
his mother’s name was Miranda
and she’s buried maybe fifteen plots away
from Diana Dors and Diana Dors’
headstone says “Diana Dors Lake”
because she was married to Alan Lake
He and I remember them and I say so sad
how Alan shot himself – and there was I
thinking he’d be married again within two years
The man in the Bear Grylls hat says
my Dad’s buried with my mum and Diana Dors
was my Dad’s pin-up girl and I tell him his Dad
would have had to get in a very long queue
for Diana’s white-diamond beauty and her pearl lips
and her body like a painting of pretty hills
and her smile that upped the mood like happy pills
The man in the Bear Grylls hat nods and I ask
how I can help. My wife came in last night, he says
I show him where he needs to go
DIANA DORS and ALAN LAKE at their wedding in 1968
Happy Wednesday from the United Kingdom!
Just occurred to me. When somebody snubs you or disappoints you or leaves you out of something you expected to be involved in, when someone hasn’t got the time for you, when someone doesn’t take an interest in what you are about and what you are doing, when someone is selfish or rude or both remember many great words and melodies flowed from the pained pens of writers who were treated that way.
Your own song is always and forever inside you and belongs to you and cannot be stolen by another person. It’s yours, your comfort and your support, no matter how long or short the lyrics, no matter how simple the tune. Just take a look at fine songs written by the best in the business and see how they attacked heartache head-on. Long after personal hurt faded and the river closed over the sadness and flowed on to better times, millions of other people all over the world are still helped and comforted by the sentiments in those songs. We can’t ever control how another person treats us but we can make our own music and sing our own songs and sometimes the words will spread and grow and flourish and take on a life of their own.
When a song reaches the ears and heart of a stranger and comforts that person, a positive, noble wonderful effect wipes out all negativity. It’s good to know that when our words reach people we will never meet or know, nothing will reflect us more accurately and honestly. How wonderful is that?
Dance like nobody’s listening, sing like nobody’s watching
and get on with the writing
This poem was published in Orbis Magazine
Two Weeks After the Accident
In A Town Like Alice
crucified Peter Finch
for stealing a chicken
You got hurt for stealing time
Your punishment was off the scale
Love’s alive in my tiny thread of blue silk
from your embroidered coat, in my relief,
in my turning of your gentle hands
scanning for damage like a camera,
like Virginia McKenna
when she found her man
at Alice Airport
Where will you be, my love?
My phantom man, my memory?
Will you be leaning on the bar,
red wine waiting for you to touch the glass?
Will you be walking through the square
or up the hill, towards the church?
Or in the car park by The Queen’s Hotel?
Or in the car park by the station?
Or in the car park anywhere?
Will you be carrying your guitar?
Will you be wearing that same hat?
Will I see the red-pink of your coat,
the one that lost a single, treasured thread?
I harden my heart for what’s to come,
for seeing spectres weave and wound,
for you will be everywhere
He was my Michelangelo
He was my big green sign marked GO
He was my priceless penthouse flat
He was my smile like the Cheshire Cat
He was my winning call, my bonus ball
He was my shiny bargain mall
He was the coins found down my sofa,
He was my Bentley and my chauffeur
He was my cue to lose the blues
He was my favourite bright red shoes
He was my very own cool rock star
He was my very own heart doctor
He was hot and sunny weather
When they’d forecast rain forever
I’ve learned to miss him in a measured way,
a teaspoon of him, once a day
People who say the missing ends
don’t know him, my friends
At almost midnight my sweet girl leaves
the house and, as she goes, unzips her softly coat
and drops it somewhere near the door,
and wanders to the wood where she will join
a gathering of her sisters in a pagan dance
and raise poor Pan as all the girls
meet naked, crouching in dead leaves,
their grimly altar piece the fallen trunk
of some great tree which, when strong,
stood on the bark-layered ground
and saw these girls choose dark-night sacrifice,
hustle it in blank-mind torture way
and bring it down with deadly ease
and slaughter it with greedy, shrieking howls
and shrills of pleasure as warm blood ran,
spilling on the trunk of that great tree
which, when strong, stood here above the ground,
and saw that death by bitten jugular was not enough
to satisfy the lust of these great girls
hence some poor fellow resting near was pestered
into consciousness, pushed and forced
to rise and rise from where he curled,
when all he wanted was to sleep and snore.
He was commanded by those great insistent girls
to make unspeakable acts that are beyond
the worst imaginings of human minds
and there will be the same demand tonight.
The moon sits highly in the woods, all cream
and yellow, staring at the party in the dark.
Featureless observing moon, she makes no judgement.
A bird wakes up and trembles in its hidden place,
quite well aware of what is making all the noise.
He knows my sweet girl’s ways and watches
as her dust-grey shadow curves to stroll away,
out of the wood, to leap and land and sigh,
dressed neatly now, back in her softly coat,
entirely clothed, my sweet familiar girl.
Her jewel eyes stare wide a moment,
then small lids meet, defeated by the night
and her meanderings and all her wicked stuff
I am very proud to announce that my story “A Girl Could Fall In Love With A Guy Like Jim” made it into the Owl Canyon Hackathon anthology for 2019.
More details on: Owl Hackathon website
Autumn 2019 Owl Canyon Press Hackathon Award Winners/ ISBN: 978-1-952085-99-4
Owl Canyon Press is pleased to announce the winners of the Autumn 2019 Owl Canyon Press Hackathon:
FIRST PLACE ($3,000)
“Among These Winters There Is One So Endlessly Winter” by Desirae Matherly
SECOND PLACE ($2,000)
“So Many Infinitely Precious Things” by Michelle Denham
THIRD PLACE ($1,000)
“How We Watch What Is Burning” by Emily Polk
The Reign in Spain” by E. Michael Brehm
“Made of Light” by India Choquette
“Rainbow’s End” by Curtis Clarke
“We Manifest How & When We Can” by Stu Croskell
“Rejoice” by Elsa Cruz
“The New Adventures of Rainbow and Friends” by Phil Dyer
“The best most excellent farm” by Carnegie Euclid
“Pack” by M.J. Fahy
“A Girl Could Fall In Love With A Guy Like Jim” by Jilly Funnell
“Everything Else” by Ella Kerr
“922 Fessler Ln” by Alex Lee
“Alms for Jasmine” by Arthur Liu
“Impossible Death” by Rebecca Loevy
“Jasaun and the Apple Flooshe” by Jeffrey Montanye
“The Cat Girls” by Aaron Muller
“Letters from Bahati” by Tyler Nelson
“Time’s Up” by Kate Osment
“Signs and Wonders” by Alex Pickens
“The Trans-Europa” by Henry Silvia
“A Plague of Angels” by Christian Smith
“The Pizza Boy” by Mary Spence
“How To Fake Your Own Death” by Emily Sperber
“Some Time Had Passed Since The Animation” by Thos. West
“SMILE!” by Elizabeth Wilder
When the Ride Ends: Autumn 2019 Owl Canyon Press Hackathon Award Winners
I knew that you were properly in love with me
when you asked me to edit that draft of yours.
My nervous pen spidered across the page.
Student doing it to teacher did seem very wrong
but I lectured myself. Instructed me to cool my boots,
suggested, hey, maybe they’re right when they say
a teacher is taught by his pupil. I have to admit
I wanted to believe all that from the back
of my smoke-damaged throat and from the dry core
of my over-wined liver. I stroked the pages. I noticed
your appendices included a mass of explanations
and at least one elementary omission.
I crossed through fifty-three words. I amended fourteen
inaccuracies that would have had the world reaching for her pen.
I gave the manuscript back to you. My skin damped with need
like when I kissed you on the Oxford train.
I watched you read. The tower clock began to chime.
Three millions years went by. Then you said,
How about you, huh? My new editor. Thank you. Yes.
I said I love you so much, darling, and you said, Yes. Yeah.
You turned your silver head in the direction of another woman.
I struggled to pull your eyes back into mine.
Your new gaze was iced by shards of impatience.
One last chime. Then the tower clock was silent.
Death came to collect me in 2008 and I was most put out
Antisocial git, I told him, you get lost
I decided there and then,
when death comes back, I will not be here
I plan to be in Menorca
Soaking sun, sea and sangria
So he’ll just have to wait
I may be home for Christmas
when I may save him a house call
by contracting salmonella
However, there is a possibility
my homeward flight will be delayed
and diverted to Seattle
Death has no imagination
He will wait and search for me
He’ll hang around the Space Needle
By then I’ll be in California,
boarding a flight for home
He will board with me, of course
like an unwelcome date
but really quite stunning
in that sexy hooded cloak of his
He’ll think he’s on my time, silly reaperman
but I will make his job impossible
I will simply fly away