I placed each stone

carefully chosen

cemented with tears

as a child

slave of my desire

to escape


Each angry word

and stubborn silence

added another layer

year by year

until I was closed in

surrounded by walls

stained with the blood

that dripped from

my ripped fingernails


Day upon day

I have lived in this cell

of my own creation

by my own volition

keeping the outside

world at bay


Now I am unsure

how to live without walls

that have grown so tall

I feel small and lost

within them


I long to break out

to fly free

but I no longer know

how to be just me

alone without walls

how to allow the

waves of the world

to come crashing through


The walls are old

the stones are cracked

the mortar crumbled

I can see daylight

and it scares me

Yet I know the walls

need to come down

before they collapse

and become my tomb

Saint Drogo

What does it say about Starbucks and Costa that the patron saint of coffee house owners is also patron saint of unattractive people?


Poor Saint Drogo

He didn’t ask for much

just his hair shirt

and occasional self-flagellation

whipping himself in penance

dressed in ragged remnants

to punish himself

for the death of his mother

in childbirth


Yet after nine pilgrimages to Rome

he came home with an unforgiving disease

that gave him such unsightly deformities

that the locals built him a cell

up against the church

where they could hide him

so that he didn’t scare their babies


He survived on water

barley and the Eucharist

hidden from sight

barely seeing daylight

from penitential pilgrim

he became reclusive anchorite

I wonder if he dreamed

of tending flocks in fields

of feeling the sun’s warmth

or whether he felt this was

the ultimate punishment

for the crime of being born


You don’t listen

You don’t listen

I open my mouth

and words come out

but you don’t hear them

I see your head nod

as you read the paper

and crunch your cornflakes

but not one word penetrates

I wait and wait

for an acknowledgement

that will never come


You don’t listen

no matter how much

I am hurt

you take no notice

of a single word

It’s like I’m talking in Tongues

or my voice is pitched too low

maybe I mumble

You recognise the rumble

of a motorcycle engine

and can name

the make and model

but when I genuinely

need to talk

you take a walk

or fake an interest


My heart aches

I’m in pain

and I tell you again

and again and again

that I need you

that I want your support

but from the moment

you walk through the door

you tune me out


You don’t listen

You don’t see my tears

or hear my fears

that this isn’t working

I don’t know

what more I can do

to break through

the wall between us


You don’t listen

but maybe

you’ll hear the violence

that silence can bring

when you’re alone

and maybe

you’ll notice I’ve gone

but by then

it will be too late

because I’ll shut that gate

behind me


You don’t listen

but maybe you’ll hear

the sound of your own voice

when it echoes through

the empty rooms

where I used to be


Lower world journey

I ride the

drumbeat like a horse through

the ancestral cave


where ancient painted

figures flicker in the firelight

I descend deeper


into the earth

feet crunch on bone as

shadows claim me


I step into

the lower world where the

white wolf awaits


His blue eyes

wild and wise meet mine

and he leads


me into untouched

forest where faeries peek from

the thick undergrowth


Huge oak trees

bend and twist root and

branch with mistletoe


white with berries

draped like mantles upon high

over wizened bark


I glimpse antlers

stood proud upon Cernunnos’ head

The god hunts


Naked, deep in

the verdant woods, his eyes

aflame like stars


He chases the

king stag in majestic joy

through the trees


Elders greet me

Woad tattoos on cheek and brow

Golden torcs hung


around their throats

The white wolf watches as

the dance begins


swirling painted bodies

beneath the crescent moon before

the drumbeat changes


calls me home

My spirit flies on wings

of raven black


above the wolf

above the forest with hills

at my back


into the cave

spiral up through the darkness

and out into


the world I

left behind, and my body

upon the bed

I remember Saturday

afternoons at the cinema when

we were children


Zorro and adventure

Pretending we were riding horses

When walking home


We took our

fantasies from TV shows or

movies we saw


We played Robin

Hood in the park or

Cowboys and Indians


Back then we

always wanted to be the cowboys

never the Indians


I broke my

Best friend’s little finger when

I was three


I hit him

With a toy gun because

I wanted to


Be the English

soldier in a game of

Japs and English


My childish values

coloured by Hollywood and seen

on the screen


But now my

childhood fantasies have faded and

historical fact has


replaced the scriptwriters’

ideas of right and wrong

Now I would


be Native American

fighting for my family, my

freedom, the land


upon which I

lived, battling the oppression of

the white man


I see now

how easily led we can

become by propaganda


Fed lies and

half truths by media and

Government from childhood


If I could

be so biased at three

year old that


I lash out

in rage when I couldn’t

have my own


way then no

wonder there is still prejudice

among the ignorant


who never read

a book or learn the facts

and gain their


information from the

TV news or talk shows

Now I am


steeped in reality

cynical to the extreme and

careful in what


I choose to

believe. I don’t take anything

at face value


I have to

question, check the facts, look

deeper than Hollywood


or the Daily

Mail headlines. I am not

a child anymore


She doesn’t know

who she is anymore now

that he’s gone


For thirty years

she’d been wife and mother

given her life


to their family

Now the kids have left

so has he


She couldn’t remember

how to be alone with

herself if she


had ever known

The house was empty now

She was empty


He was lost

He had given up everything

to be carer


to nurse her

feed her, bathe her, even

when she forgot


who he was

His life had been her,

day and night


twenty four hours

seven days a week until

he became nothing


His life had

purpose while she drew breath

but not now


His grief is

not just for her but

also for himself


He doesn’t know

who he is anymore now

that she’s gone


Each of us

can lose ourselves sometime in

our lives as


We play roles

become parents, partners, carers, workers

and the parts


we play somehow

take control of our souls

until we forget


who we are

and then when those roles

that we play


are taken away

we become bereft as we

are left behind


We don’t know

who we are anymore now

that they’re gone

For a moment

You caught me unaware

When you asked

What time the bus was due

Your hair framed those blue eyes

And the pattern of freckles on your cheeks

And for a moment I could not speak

But then I smiled and replied

And that was the total of conversation


But for that moment I was vulnerable

As your presence slipped past my walls

And you reminded me, without another word

That I was human

That I could feel if I wanted to

If I allowed myself to let someone in


For that moment I was snared

Caught in a fragment of memory

Of burnished copper hair

And how the enchantment

Of a beautiful stranger

Once changed my life


For that moment you reminded me

Of my weakness for red haired women

And how easily I could fall

How hard I could be hit

If I let my emotions

Run out of control


We sat on opposite seats

You caught my eye and smiled

As you pulled out Wanderlust magazine

I became lost in thought

As I listened to Aerosmith

And the bus pulled away

But your hair would distract me

And from the corner of my eye

I saw your head begin to nod

And with eyes closed, you slept on

When I stepped off the bus at my stop


I never learnt your name

And I’ll probably never see you again

But for a moment

Just for that moment

You caught me unaware

And reminded me of the joy

That can be found

In the presence of beauty



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