Sunday, 27 December 2015

Play Time:

A lot has happened since that day
How can we tell you everything that has come to pass? No need.
The time will come for the unfolding, for the unbinding, For the loosing.
A piece I can tell you here and now.
It’s just for you so don’t tell.
We have to go over here by these bushes and trees. This is my house.
These branches and spiky thorns are the roof.
These trunks growing gnarly and twisted, these are the walls.
Here is the hatch,
see how I can stand here at the hatch just like mummy.
Would you like a coffee? (Just pretend, I don’t like it either).
Let me grind the beans.
Let’s pretend theses Hawthorne berries are coffee beans
I’m going to grind them with…
Let me see….
Oh yes with this stone for a coffee grinder.
The ground is hard packed soil.
Pressed down by tiny feet playing and running.
While others are spitting
Standing facing the wall for some misdemeanour
Holding hands with the nice dinner lady
The one with painted fingernails and beautiful rain mac who had her favourites
Playing kiss catch, hopscotch, skipping ropes.
Me and my friend Susannah, or Jude or Thomas were in the Hawthorne
Out of sight – in the safe house.
Until Miss Gledhill in a bee hive and 1950s suit that I thought was so elegant

Rang the hand bell for us to go in.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


Now trampolines, roasted strawberries, orange flavoured gum
Tyre swing and wood-chip puddles of blue-black
Water collected.
Like the water lying underground in
The tunnels of the closed pit.
“Where this car park now stands was the transport train underground…”
Tell-tale humps of newly turfed slag
Sit around the edges of the memorial sculpture
In black
Of two miners, shirtless at the coal face
Pick axe in hand
Just like Dad
In Derbyshire on his first day as a Bevin Boy.
One and a half feet high shaft – in on his belly
Pick axe over one shoulder
Till he hit the face
Only to find his pick was
Wrong way round
He had to back out
To the jeering of the ‘real’ miners
Turn the pick and
Shame facedly crawl back
The sordid beauty of the place
The scene of hard labour
Men going out of their minds underground
Pit fall, explosions, cave-ins
Injury, poisoning, black lung
Can the past interleave the present?
Sitting on the tyre swing in a spot
Once where a man two miles underground
In a dark tunnel stood
Praying for rescue
Risk high, ages tempting
Jobs few
Children many
Pregnant wife
Mouths to feed
Aged mother in bed upstairs
Tabs to smoke
Snap to eat
Mates to josh
Boss to hate
Overseer – head down
Ponies to lead
Canaries to carry
Work to do
Keep going till there’s no more going to keep
Shift over
Hands washed

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Day Poem

How can it be Christmas? This year Christmas is set on its ears.
The lead up, the preparations, the time of penance and charity.
I have been most unwholesome, unhappy, grumpy, sullen, angry,
and at odds with all things Christmas.
Grinchy Christmas tree, begrudging decorations, baking that has gone in the bin.
I want to be quiet,
I want to be silent, I want to be in myself with God.
I don’t want to party or be festive
I don’t want to party or be festive
I don’t want a load of nonsense chatter and small talk.
I want peace
I want to lay down at the bottom of a riverbed looking up through the green clear water
Up through the aqua ripples up to the sky
And watch as clouds slowly move across
And dawn parts to reveal full day and afternoon atomises into cool even
And the dew falls and the sun falls behind a green hill
Clustered with trees and the moon rises from the opposite side of the hill
And still I lie peaceful
Soundless, quiet and at rest under the water looking up and watching and watching.
Waiting and waiting
At last I see in a cave on the hill a refugee couple labour through the night
The hardest work, the most difficult, confusing, unknowable, painful work a woman can do.
She works all night, watched, guarded, kept safe by her man. And some sheep
A goat, a cow some chickens.
And at the end of her nights work she holds the fruit of her labour, a baby.
She has sewn soft blankets and coverings to keep him warm
and she holds him so close
Everyone is asleep now as dawn breaks, it’s been a long and difficult night.
Now the danger is over she snuggles with her son nestled close to her and she sleeps too.
The first hard work of life is to make the journey from warmth and safety into the breezy world so loud and bright and unexpected.
In that cave on a hill they rest. Gently neighbours call in to offer joy and congratulations
A coin for the baby’s hand, a dish of something hot for the mother,
A prayer offered, a blessing accepted, health and life given thanks for.
And the hill will play its part again later.
A seat for crowds of listeners, a gog at the stories and illustrations he will give,
The place of miraculous cures and healings and temptations,
The hill where a heard of swine all jumped off possessed,
The scene of accusation, torture and a cruel death.
But this hill with its cave is also the site of redemption, the place of the ultimate miracle
 Life regained and claimed
Feet on the ground standing on grass
Feet that were nailed
Now walking, living.
Not dead – alive, back alive again and walking up cloud steps growing larger
And more colossal with every step higher
until he encompasses the whole world in his heart
and he stands on the Milky Way with the planets as his halo.
And from my place at the bed of the river with a rock for a pillow and weeds for a mattress
Looking up and up and up at the shooting stars
And the Northern lights and the dancing sun.
I know that nothing is impossible for him.
And I am happy to accept a blessing of the season, and I am content to give thanks
For the season, and good will is restored.
Don’t lose sight daughter
Of the hill,
And the cave
It’s the beginning and the end of the story ad infinitum.


When I think of all the time
How many lives of the butterfly
Have I lived through?
Some only for a month some a year.

It means I must be billions of years old
I’m a dinosaur
A cave woman
A medieval princess
A Venetian boatman
A Polish farmer
A patriot of Paris
A Hills-man of Goroka
A sailor from Newfoundland
A farmer’s wife in Norway
A travelling medicine man in Wyoming.

The please and thank yous of this planet
Spoken out in intonations and
Guttural sounds – hand gestures
Facial expressions
Politeness of place
Forgotten to me now.

My travel through time and space has brought me to Pudsey in 2015.
I wonder – when I die
Will Malchus and Jonas (my guardian angels) take an arm each
And lift me out of my body
And gracefully glide upwards
And without fear or cold I’ll
View the planet as we circle it
Out of pure joy.

Seeing through depths of waters to the bottom
Seeing through every tree
Seeing through rock and mountain, village and cloud
Panopticon vision will be mine
Seeing through every heart into
The depths of each person

To their souls and greeting each one by name.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Our Lady of A and E – for C. H

Beads and chaplets, Our Lady invoked.
Novenas at nightfall, fall on our knees.
Angelus Bell – noon time sounds,
peal in the call to Mass – ring of eight resounds.

And yet our community, our extended family
we hurt each other
we harm ourselves.

This small boy so hopeful, so kind
so beloved of his grandma
serving at Mass in his Alb, now serving in his cell at her Majesty’s pleasure.

Our extended family.
The thoughts of one are the thoughts of us all.
The joy of one is the joy of us all.
The sins of one are the sins of us all.

We are responsible for each other,
we bear the burden of each other’s lives
not one of us lives in isolation.

The struggle of years.
Now she – not a mother yet mothers and fathers this boy.
How she – not a mother sits in A and E
with the bleeding boy.

How she  - not a mother
answers the cry for help at 2 am, 3 am, 4 am
and comes selflessly barefoot in her shift.
Bowed and burned out, bent with a mother’s care and concern
A mother’s heart pierced with sorrow.

How she not the one who bore this child
bears him up.
Mothers her own mother,
Mothers her sister,
Mothers her nephew.

Who will mother this mother?
Who will bear up and care for her soul?
Who will bind up her bruised and bloodied heart?
I will.
Please God You do too.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Orkney Crossing II

Woman on the deck, hair wildly blowing
Contemplative stands, the world around slowing.

Woman looks toward the sea horizon
Sea is quite still, the air around is silent.

Softly on cotton wool wings, fog bank rises
Veiling the shore line, offering disguises.

Think, pray, stand, centre, look inside the dark
Be one, spirit rising, soul rested lark

The sun on the sea refracted, dispersed
Thoughts, sorrows, memories traversed.

North Sea beneath us, stark, cold, and placid
Fog bank envelopes us, scatters thoughts torrid.

As soon as its come, its vaporised
The sun reappears, clear skies beheld. And we dock.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Orkney Crossing

Silhouette and illusion,
ongoing conclusion.

Gratefully here,
myself to endear.

The post and the gate,
It’s never too late.

Tightly embraced,
love can’t be replaced.

The islands fog bank,
genius prank.

The horizons quite gone,
behind veils the sun shone.

With my hand reached out,
erased landmarks rubbed out.

Memory wiped clean,
blank slate from a dream.

Amnesia mists,
contemplative gifts.

Peace at last.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

One year On (rhyming version)

One year ago today we sat on the stair
You in your dressing gown – the stair was our chair.

I came in as usual but I knew something was wrong
The lights were all off you said “He’s gone”.

Just as simple as that
Just a plain fact

I knew straight away
Not merely gone for the day.

Not over at Jim’s in Scarborough
Not down the club in Armley.

The long walk from which we do not return
Happy Valley, Valhalla, Heaven’s Gate not spurned.

How odd, how circular, the day of his birth
Should turn out to be the day of his death.

Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end
And from our hearts on this anniversary

All our love we send.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

One Year On

Death is weird like that.
Snatched Dad unawares one night.
Heart, cramp, fall, lights out.
The shape of him on the carpet

after he had gone told tales.
No poem

I don’t know what to do with myself
Its poetry time and I have no poem
In my heart right now
Not that my head knows about.

It falls, it falls light silent night
And my heart falters in my chest
As I look on with wonder
Creativity on the hands of others

It’s a wonderful thing

Think I’ll encourage it.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Sleeping Child II

How sweet it is
To see your face
Under my covers.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Sleeping Child

Ancient, anonymous, powerful
Ancestors from the past
Show themselves through
The skin of my child
So pale the blue rivers of his veins
Can be seen
Like floes under ice packs.

Come to the surface little one
Morning is come darkly
Midnight blue, moon black
And yet here it is and
Time full here to be up and doing.

So still and quiet expression is inside too
Face is at rest
Wake awake
Be alive to the day
To hope
To daydream
To laugh
Then your spirit is on your face
But now
Its inside
And your face floats on the stream of sleep
Drifting, bobbing
In the tide of unconsciousness.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Naomi (in Tanka style of poem)
'Engaged Trinity' view 2 (porcelain, )  By Frances Ann Norton, seen at,; or,

What a long day turned
night by the end of it all.
Spit of blood and mucus.
The waters came out, mown hay
was the sweet smell, meadow green.

That wasn’t the end.
Look down a tunnel, its long
deceptively far,
exhaustingly arduous.
Terribly tiring and hard.

Am I going on?
Forgive me Naomi
In the crook of my
Arm you lay so beautiful
Serene, calm, ready, alert.

As if you knew what
lay in store, perceived quietly
with strength stoical
the length of the ward, the time
in the theatre, the tubes.

All of this is gone
Forgotten like your first step.
Now its skinny jeans
Just skimming the neat scar line you don’t see 
it's behind. 
Naomi Girl

Naomi girl,
Confident as a conker

Shiny, whole and 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

My House C/O The Cobourg Tavern and Inn

 This is the flat I lived in In Vitro
From the maternity hospital with my sick mother
I left the flat as a tiny, tiny baby
So Aunty Susan could rear me for a few (six?) months
Till mum’s back healed a little.

O tiny cry
O small defect of life
O hand
O head
O heart

Where is my baby?
where am I?
The mother undone by birth.
The baby whisked this way and that.

O hand, O eye, O mouth
Sensible from birth of the order
And priority of others.

Conditioned to silence
Conditioned to be alone
Extreme isolation and loss.

Here I am outside my flat
19 Queen Square
Now part of a Thai Restaurant.

Here is my window
A lady industriously moves behind
The lit glass
Rush, slush
Brush, shush,
Chop, click, sizzle
Back and forth she walks quickly.

Round the back – no change
Three guys in hoodies with bottles
The door painted black and Georgian
The top light showing the lit
Yellow stair-well up to our flat.

Above, the window is black and blank
Looking into the square.
Once as a two year old I went out with
Our dog George to the Cobourg Tavern and Inn
We two, our team
In we went, I saw a lot of
Men’s knees and crotches
Shuffling fag ends falling
To the wooden floor
Crushed by toe and heel.

Just me and the dog
Till someone saw. A woman.
And took us home.

Soon after it was time to
Move to Grimshaw’s house
But not yet – not till all the
Cherry trees in Queen Square
Covered the green green grass
In a flutter of pink tissue.

Giving the winos a lovely
Divan to rest on
As they drank
And I stood and watched with the dog
Till Dad came and shouted at the men

In swear language and marched me inside.
Dream Poem 4: My Foot is on the Ground.

My foot is on the ground.
Competition race
Crowds of people around

Swags and swaths 
and dark steep steps.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Massive Disclaimer Poem

I’m not a poetess but I want to be
I’m not an artist but I want to be
I’m not a musician but I want to be
I’m not a very good friend but I want to be
I’m not a very good mother God help me be better
I’m not the best wife, Angels protect me, I need to be, help me.

Bravado List:
I’m a fantastic mother
I’m an ace teacher
I’m the most attentive wife
I’m the most creative working artist
I’m the hardest working musician
I’m the persevering poet
I’m a distant but good friend – I have to be with all this other stuff going on.

Dream Poem 22: Married to Madonna

Elegant birthday
Cakes given shapely – he had to

Side step, saunter
A regular haunter

Get on with village life
Bubble bath bingo
The pain of losing her
With the
Fiddlers fool
A dip in the pool
Don’t mention Madonna

One time dance partner, people only
Prove harder
It was

One more dance
Proving my romance
It was his dark secret

Was not ill founded

Monday, 7 December 2015

Dream Poem 6:
Marble Cadillac.

They were alone. Their play things were toys of marble.
He had a Cadillac of marble
The size of a pillow.
One day we rescued him from his solitude
He put his marble Cadillac in our car
I was going to walk.
But decided against it
And called them back
And got in.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Dream Poem 7: Lines of Rain

On the embankment
On a path
I stood looking down at the beach and the sea, it was high tide.
As I watched, bands of scattered showers came in from the horizon line.
Just a couple of lines of rain,
They let their water go and played out quickly
Like music
Like someone practicing scales
The last one let its water go right by my foot
But I was not wetted.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Lake at Sunrise


Holy Moley broken crocks
Kitchen shack
Lost ribbons
Smell of a meadow
Pools of light
Golden day
Drowned, float free
Waves of power
First suitcase shut
An orange at dusk
Clouds of gold and bronze
A pea hen brown
A small blue shoe with three straps and a buckle
The shape of a diamond in a constellation
Tar clay
Blueberry mash
Whale skin deep
A spoon flickering with brandy
Toe nail pink and tiny
Lap-lap, lap-lap, lap-lap
The lake speaks in tongues of water and weed
Tongues of silt
The echo of a hull on the shore rock
Hollowly sounding
In the bell resounder of the curve of the boat bottom
Curve of the wood
Becomes a sounding board announcing
The edge
Where water meets land
The other.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

I've Been Here Before: Dream Poem 2.

In a car
In a playground
With older people. With children.
Driving older people. Driving children.
Preparation time alone
I’ve been here before
These places are familiar to me
As familiar as routine.
These people are archetypes
I’ve met them before
I’m outside
In the fresh air
I’m standing by the car waiting