High up on the landing

there’s a little window

for no reason at all

It’s too small to let light into the hall

and I rarely notice it


But today I did because it was broken

I allowed a few reasons

through my head

But none of them led to a plausible answer

so I gave up


I might never know whether

it was a misguided bird

one of the boys who play out there on skateboards

throwing a stone or other missile

or an air pistol aimed at the bird

But it’s broken


There are problems

fixing it will be expensive

and I have no money

so it stays broken

letting in sound

letting heat escape

What if it falls out or in and

I lie in bed and worry about storms and high winds

at three o’clock in the morning

the broken window metamorphoses

into the Whole of Life

A small broken window is now

Money problems

Heating and noise problems

Small cracks may become bigger and shatter completely

My life will be broken

An insignificant useless window sums up my life

and I cry at the smallness and futility of it all


It is now five in the morning

and I pull myself together

I am in awe of the power of three o’clock in the morning anxiety and

step-by-step apocalyptic imaginings





Just a passing moment

A breath of air on my face

reminds me of something I can’t quite recall

and the moment has passed

Looking out of the window a cup of tea in my hand

a quick flurry of snow and then gone

Catching someone’s eyes as I pass them in the street

a connection a recognition a nearly smile

A wren in the garden I thought was a brown leaf

left over from winter blowing across the path

On a dark grey clouded day

a break shows me enough blue sky

The cold smoky familiar smell of a November night

crowds my head with memories

then gone for now

The sweet moist smell of cut grass

Leaves in autumn

Raindrop Racing down the window on a wet afternoon

An old song pulls me back

Glancing in the mirror above the sink I see my mother’s face

My daughter looks at one of her children and I see her father

A passing moment of a memory allows despair to wrap me up

and I try to let it pass

How much of life is made of passing moments

All the emotions in a brief encounter or thought

The lives of my children

My life

The earth is millions of years old

I am a passing moment

My friend asked me out one night for a drink

work colleagues she said it’ll be fun

after introductions I sat down

and saw you

just a little tingle inside

when someone moved you came and sat beside me

we talked and laughed and brushed hands

later you walked home with me

came in for a cup of tea and stayed

for the next six months we loved

and I told you secrets about

why I get scared

and you comforted me and promised

I was loved

and I loved you

for the six month anniversary

we went to that pub again and sat at the same table

and brushed hands

and tingled

you went to get some drinks

but you were gone too long

I found you round the corner kissing someone else

I whispered Happy Anniversary

and left

Walking home I promised myself

no matter how much I tingled

I would not trust again for a long time

and I cried

The Beginning

On a dark icy February night the sea moves slow and sluggish

There is no wind and the air sharp

catching-back-of-the-throat sort of coldness makes shivering a necessity

There are no night-walkers or stragglers on the narrow streets and

the houses stare out towards the dark rolling water

only a few lights shine from the sea-front façade and

the lighthouse and harbour wall frame the scene

backlit by the winter moon

There are people on the beach

What are they doing

this laughing shouting hand-holding pair

lip-kissing nearly lovers

lost in this new love and the taste of each other

After a boast at the party

he is up to his waist in the February sea

and only Ireland stands between them and the Atlantic

The landscape holds them – this is a moment

This is one of those life-changing moments

she holds her face between her hands shakes her head

and falls in love

Now a choice has to be made and

there will be pain but

in that precious joyous passionate moment she decides and

pulls him from the sea

and holds him

Barbara 2009

It was not a waste of time

our love

It lasted such a little time

then died

But I remember every time

we loved

and the pain of every time

I cried.

I cannot forget the times

we shared

Nor will I regret the time

we lost

And for all the lonely times

I am prepared

I’m glad our paths in time

were crossed.

That was our time and that love was true

I would not change that time or love

Would you?    

November 2007  

new boots and pantisocracies


I had drunk so much coffee I was shivering as if something
inside of me was about to go off I stopped to stare
out of the window watched a plane fly over so loud it frightened me
reminded me of the fear of a nuclear attack which is as real to me now
as it was when I was a child

the phone rings telling me I can get solar panels and later another
about a new boiler paid for by the government the government.
the one that doesn’t care about people dying from poverty
and humiliation old people who are starving can’t heat their homes
single mothers who have no one to look after their children

while they are working unable to progress past sixteen hours
people with learning difficulties whose families can’t cope with them
at home with no break the nurses who get paid less…

View original post 164 more words

This poem is for my beloved granddaughter Anna. I wrote it a few years ago when she was about 12 or 13. She is now 16 and is a wise and clever young woman. When she was little we used to play for hours – acting out fairy stories. Anna was always the main character and I was everyone else! She memorised the whole of The Sneetches before she could read and would recite it back – using all my intonations! (we must have read it about a million times!) We would play Bunny Foo Foo and I had to protect her and shoo Bunny Foo Foo away. I have so many memories with Anna and so many of them are around story-telling and make-believe – hence this mythical poem.

For My Anna

Old Mama-Anna sits by the fire
knitting all night and all day,
but Old Mama-Anna never seems to tire
click click her needles say.
And the endless wool is wound around
and she hums an endless tune
and that tune has a warm mysterious sound
the music of sun and of moon.
Old Mama-Anna is knitting through time
she knits every story
she knits every rhyme
she knits every life
and she knits every death
and she whispers the patterns under her breath.
There’s Once Upon a Time
In a Land Far Away
and Happily Ever After
there is joy, love and fears,
pain and wipe-away tears
and singing
and dancing
and laughter.
Old Mama-Anna sometimes looks young
and sometimes she looks very old.
Her heart is full of the songs she has sung
in her mind all the stories she’s told.
Old Mama-Anna belongs to the earth
to the stars and the darkness beyond
and she was there at the moment of birth
and she will take us back when she’s done.

With love from Nana

Relationships are important – friendships, family, lovers, acquaintances. They are complex things these relationships. Good and fulfilling if they work heartbreaking and damaging when they don’t. We can learn from them, grow within them, say hello to new ones and goodbye to old ones and try and repair the damage from ones that leave us for whatever reason. We are attached to our relationships sometimes with strong ropes sometimes with fragile threads that need care and attention often. When they work they can be joyful and life-giving. When they end the pain and sadness can be almost unbearable. But we somehow go on, making new ones nourishing the ones we have and living without the ones that have ended.

A stone I accidentally kick into the water
splinters the moon just like
a picture of you fades and vanishes for ever or
a love that was real twists around and denies me or
a connection stolen and broken by the hands of a care-less thief
a joy dies and
a sound of laughter disappears
a look a recognition goes unrecognised and ignored
a smile turns downwards or is just not there and
a touch – gone and
a breath breathed out
But some memories stay and comfort a little
in the lonely times

May 2015

My father never came on holiday with us nor did he ever take us on holiday. We always went on holiday with my Mum and sometimes my Grandmother came too. I have lovely memories of a holiday in Crail, a small fishing village on the east coast of Scotland so when I was on my Round Scotland Trip to Put Myself Back Together Again I decided to visit Crail.
I had been to see my brother Peter and his partner Claire in Auchterarder and had said to him that I was thinking I might go to Crail just to see what it was like now and to remember the holiday. I would have been nine, Peter four and Philip maybe about nine months and that was one of the holidays that Nana came on with us. I remember so much about that holiday. To be with just my Mum, Nana and Peter and Philip and without my father was a joy and a freedom.
I left Peter’s in the morning and drove towards the east coast down through St Andrews and then I began seeing the signs for Crail. I started to have a mixture of feelings. My brother Philip had died in 2002 so I knew seeing Crail and remembering this holiday was going to be difficult. Philip had just been a baby in 1955 and thinking about that started me thinking about how much I had loved him and how much I missed him. The end of his life was so sad.
I found a little hotel and booked in. Then I set off to find the harbour and the beach and hopefully the little street our guest house had been on but as many of the streets looked very similar I didn’t hold my breath! I knew that we could walk down the street and there were some steps leading to a path that ran beside the sea and that before we got to the steps there was a street to the right that led to the harbour. Eventually I found the street and tried to recognise the house but I couldn’t. I walked down towards the steps and it was just as I had remembered except there weren’t as many steps as I’d thought but that’s always the way isn’t it. Everything seemed bigger and longer and more of when we were young!
I thought I might go down the steps first and walk along the path. Between the path and the sea there were rocks and I had a sudden image of Peter and me climbing on them and Mum calling for us to be careful. In the distance I could see another beach but I decided not to go right along but to make my way back up the steps and look at the smaller beach near the harbour. I climbed up the steps and sat on a bench about halfway up and looked out at the sea. This place was so full of memories and I cried for all that was lost. My Mum, Nana and Philip are dead now and the missing is terrible.
I finished going up the steps and walked towards the harbour. There was the little beach and the steep hill behind it. The sea was dark blue and the perfect horizon with the paler blue sky sitting on top of the sea. The sand was not fine but not very coarse and there were some rocks. I remember us climbing on them as well and playing in the sand. There were sandwiches for lunch, juice and flasks of tea, an apple and biscuits. The sun sparkled on the water the way it would have done sixty years ago. The waves will have made the same sound as they made now. So much the same, so much changed in my life.
I was a little girl who was being abused by her father and yet I could play on the beach and swim in the sea and laugh with joy. My Mum was also being abused and she could laugh and care for us and take us on holiday to Crail full of sun, sea and love. How did she do this? She was loved by my Nana and Pappy and grew up safe and loved. This gave her, I think, a base and a strength to ‘deal’ with what lay ahead. She was so strong and loving. She kept me alive. But then she would say I kept her alive.
I bought myself a beautiful little coffee cup with a thistle design from the Crail Pottery and a wee jug to match to remind me of it all. I am so glad I went to Crail and felt all that I felt. I’m glad that I had all those memories even though some of them were sad. This was what this Trip had been about. I was gathering up bits of myself trying to stick them all back together in a new arrangement. Time for change.

I walk down the narrow road
between the neat pastel-painted cottages
down to the harbour and the small crescent beach

We run down the road and onto the beach
me and Peter excited impatient
Come on Mummy come on Nana
Philip in his pram clapping shouting

I step onto the sand
I walk to the edge of the sea
and stand looking out
I turn and look back

Peter and I run down to the sea
screaming we run in and out
splashing laughing
I turn and look back
Philip sits on a towel
waving and shouting

I want to run to that baby
put my arms round him
whisper ‘it’s all right Philip
I’ll protect you
I won’t let him hurt you’

I turn and look back
through the shimmer
Philip stands leaning against the rock
waving and laughing
I whisper ‘I’m sorry’

If I went back there would be two brothers
leaning against that rock
I’d stand alone at the sea
Just me

I wish I could talk with you both again
Right into the night
I want to play our music and drink the wine
And share our stories
And talk of that time

Born a Baby Boomer

in an only used on Sundays front roomer baby

but rumour has it I made a dramatic entrance

as I was forceped into that front room

and our symbiotic discordant screams

ricocheted round heavy curtains and dark furniture

But I was made a good girl

a well-behaved with knees nagged together when I sat sort of girl

didn’t speak till spoken to polite girl

seen and not heard quiet girl

sweet  smiling guarded part of the wallpaper girl

abused and beaten afraid of life and shadows girl 

ready to break loose growing girl……….ready steady ……