Friday, August 30, 2013

Sea whisperer


A grey sea today
Thin-lipped and lazy

All the more I find
the outer edges of
my shoes suddenly salty.

Leaning in to listen
all the better
to hear the sea's whisperings,
to see the fish surely sleeping,
within the unassuming grey.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The morning after

My first blog post here on OWW was dedicated to the April rain that broke the long summer drought. How times change...

This here BIG brolly is sunning itself on our lawn, also sunning itself after a mighty storm came through in a rage yesterday and continued all through the night, taking out our hot water, as we discovered this morning. Sometimes you can get too much rain, too fast and for too long. At the end of the winter here, it now rather feels that way.

Even this well-endowed brolly failed in the face of the wild weather when I took it on an ill-advised walk to the beach yesterday and made it only as far as the edge before the brolly said: 'Look: if you're fool enough to head out into that wild weather, I'm not!' and promptly took off in the opposite direction. And fair enough too. I captured it with a considerable amount of undignified scrambling, given that it's practically bigger than me, and brought it home. But this morning, when all had calmed down and I'd come to my senses, I decided the BIG brolly, having been through a lot, deserved a nice leisurely sunning on the grass, where it still stands pleasantly propped, as if to say: 'That's more like it.' And quite right too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Knotted cross

Crosses, crosses everywhere
Not the knotted swing that inspired this poem, but close enough.
The original is presently out of reach, due to heavy rain...
I see them in my sleep
An omnipresent moon to stare
Only edged with attitude and grief

An alienated atheist
Bears His burden brave
No pay-off for her penance
No promise to be saved

A simple swinging rope
Knotted up and down
A bar of driftwood snagged across
Hangs too low to the ground

Crosses, crosses everywhere
I see them in my sleep
Walking, running, singing, swimming
Swinging out of reach.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


It's a horrible word and an unimaginable thing to have happen to any creature, but our cat TT is today having her tail amputated and it's kind of a big deal for the family (and her) although we're assured she won't feel the loss in any sense.

TT Simmonds (with tail)
Here she is, our mother cat, together with the tail in question, on the night before the op. She is our mother cat because she gave birth to a daughter nine years ago who we also have, called Trixie. The daughter was born soon after TT was in the accident that broke her tail and, as a consequence was the only live-born of her kittens. Poor old TT, like her human mother before her, had to have an emergency caesarean. Quite the family cat saga, you could say.

The tail looks okay here but it has no feeling in it, we are told, and when she walks around it drags on the ground collecting all sorts of unwelcome matter, some of which scratches the tail and leaves it in a right state. We probably should have seen to it years ago but somehow didn't have the heart, though clearly that was more for our sakes than hers.

So let's hope it all goes to plan and our brave mother cat, sans tail, will be as good as she ever was, no harm done, and continue to be a valued member of the Simmonds family. At the vets she is registered as TT Simmonds as if just another member of the famdamily, which is not far from the truth of it after more than ten years.

Update: All's well on the TT Simmonds front. She came home last night, sans tail, brighter than ever, looking rather more like a rabbit or bob-cat than she did previously, but all the more distinguished for it -- we think. I'll leave the image to your imaginations, for now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The still

I like the still air inside,
Ringing gently in my ears

A tall door stood ajar, without anguish
Stoic and still, as if for my personal relief

Resists the push of the Past, the pull of the Future,
Neither stopped, nor started, like Time itself

Walls work well too, keeping the wind out
Stuck with crooked pictures, like ungainly growths

Cut clean through with windows, like wounds,
Filtering all and sundry in and out, day and night, like - just now - the cat

Uncomplaining, a computer chair wears
Its thick blue skin like a straight-jacket

Tough and tolerant, turns my way,
Encouraging, not insistent

All the while the inglorious floors endure
With scarce a single creak, only to be cursed in the cleaning

Never mind the desk top. Talk about chaos calmed
Or, better still, don't.

Today, tomorrow is not another day,
While the still holds all patiently, perfectly at bay.

Monday, August 12, 2013


In equal measure, I think, I am in awe of and despair over  
the creeping creping of my skin...

At once mourning and marvelling at the easy egalitarianism,
The superb stealth of the ageing process,

I am mesmerised by the happy horror, drawn by the fascinating flirtation;
The fait-accompli of my forearms and hands, shrinking and kinking
While one snores.

From crinkle-less silk that never needed ironing,
To crinoline crepe, that seems to make a point of it

As if disdaining the very notion of drip-dry, silken youth
Suddenly too smooth for its own good.



To the young
It means something new
Something slick,
Happening and hip

I like that; it shows grit;
That youth is not entirely wasted
On the young

Until I get sick, then
I need the word to worry and
To woe.
To show its age;
To keep tabs on the plague.

I caught this bucolic bug
In exchange for the sweetest hug, the sickest kiss, from
The youngest person I know:
Ironic bliss.

Friday, August 9, 2013



Pop it in the pie hole
Chew the spiteful gristle
Swallow the salty tears,
Taste the sparkly spittle

Puff it up with pride
Whipped cream, like love, tells lies
Today's tasty disguise
Tomorrow's torment hides

While dreams of thinner things
Behind the gassy grins
Are shovelled in like Flynn
Safe and sound as sin


Where the furniture of my childhood still lives
Broken bits tucked into crowded cupboard corners,
Of decades darkened drawers

Waiting for yesterday, or a knowing nail
To prise open the purpose of all that past,
To put together the pieces, to make whole the hand


In the land where birds cry out in need of counselling:
'O Oooooh, O Oooooh'; 'Mwa-ha-ha, Mwa-ha-ha'
And politicians mimic the madness, like a gaggle of gormless gatecrashers

Where bush: thick, monotonous and unruly,
Covers the coast like pubic hair
In need of regular, wholesale grooming by fire

While the yoke centre gapes, stretched thin and dry
An open wound of rock and dust - the colour of rust -
Painfully pulled end to end on the rack of the outback

Where all the world's suns come to set:
To sink, to rest, to forget -
Where the furniture of my childhood still lives

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Poem on a plane

Channelling Icarus

Cattle class they call it,
But cattle live on wide open fields
Until they're belted in, shoulder to shoulder,
And shuffled off to the slaughter...

Luggage, like petulant children,
Resists being stuffed into overhead compartments,
Long-armed flight attendants, masters of the internal eye-roll,
Provide patient, patronising assistance.

Bach in F does his best, meanwhile,
Tugging at the thin strings of fast-falling rain, like fears
Racing down the night's window panes,
Failing to find the traction of courage on the slippery, see-through surface

Of flying too far from the sun, too deep into a black-suited oblivion
Forever below zero; forever frost-bitten
Trusting blindly in the tricks and tempers
Of man-made wings and obediently armed exits.

Bach now heavy breathing in my ear
Whispers and weeps bitter-sweet warnings from the past,
Ignoring nothing of the present, as the engines exert their urgent thrust -
I should have been born a man, for all this feminine fuss.

Swimming in the dry sky now, as smooth and surreal as emptiness
Shaking, in turbulent turns, like a baby between hugs
My fleshy flying hands resting on the page beyond the glass,
Reflect a warmer, other-worldly age, and class

Descent means it's nearly over -
All thirty-eight thousand feet of it,
Should the night loosen its grip and let us slip through its flimsy fingers,
To fall gently, the weight of a thousand men.

A young choral singer now hits an improbable note
Holding us up, like a heavyweight puppet,
While the engines grind down the gears of my fears
Pushing and trembling against gravity's great greed for speed

Delivering us to Earth with a thankful thud,
Brakes roaring a masculine bravado, like birth in reverse,
And me now wondering, what was all the fuss
How could I ever have thought of walking into water, weighed down and wingless.