Do birds dream?

I wake to a bright morning
surfacing from unfathomable dreaming.
My mother long-dead was driving the car
Very determined and refusing my directions.
Here is the sign I said,
Clear here, this is the way.
I am too anxious she said, and drove on straight.
I knew we would be late
The plane to Glasgow would fly without us.
While my sister sat in the back
and said nothing. Nothing.

Weird anxieties and discrepancies
Fold and refold. Why Glasgow?
I recall acres of concrete while
a few feet away from unseeing eyes
wintry sunlight strikes the window,
catches a few stalks of left-over marigolds
in the plant boxes that stretch along the deck.

I blink. A bluebird is standing in the end box.
Scratching, hopping, he covers the length.
Assessing each box. Considering possibility.
Usually he flies when I move, today I am still.
Each feather gleams its own particular colour.
After he decides to fly the sparrows come,
searching the leftovers. It’s another day.

I don’t know if birds begin their day with dreams.
I don’t know if they know their beauty.
Let dreams belong in sleep. Begin the day.




November 2018, wrote this for my other site My World, Your World, One World


We are celebrating, huh,centenaries-clipart-1918-armistice-2
Commemorating, remembering,
Marking a day one hundred years ago
With songs and poetry.
Even lunch, Sandwiches and soup to come.
Keep warm while we walk and talk,
Able to walk and talk.

Afraid to name the shame
That in this hundred years,
there has been No Armistice, No cease,
No space to cry disgrace,
No Peace. This day remembers war,
And those who joined to take a part.
They fought, not peaceful.100

Crying sorrow, mourning loss,
People praise brave patriotic warriors
with words like honor and respect.
The greater loss lies hidden
to speak of it forbidden because they went to war,
and so more follow, armistice broken,
crying voices silenced. Dead.

To grieve those graves
I have to break with honor
Own the shame of conflict.
Let pity stir, listen
Hear the voices call,
no, not now, not again,
Not in My Name.



Near Drowning

Inspired by Beth Taylor and Faye Benedict to engage in Memoir writing, not to mention some sunny days in the past week and good swimming, I found myself remembering a very different beach. When I was nine years old, my sisters and I were caught by the outgoing tide at Castlerock, in the North of Ireland. Sadly, there are often drownings on this coast, but we were fortunate, all rescued, and forever after have respect for the water.

Near Drowning

I am swimming
There is only me and my body
And water. No-one else.

Each breath is breathed in fear
Salt wet wild water
Does not care where it goes
Following wind and tide it throws
Cold slaps on my eyes and into my nose
My mouth is shut tight against it

I need my arms and hands to swim
I cannot wipe my eyes
I remember to close my fingers
So my palms and hands are wide
to make better paddles.
To push the water.

I count, one, thrust hands arrow forward
Two, turn the palms
Three, pull the water.
All the time kick, then breathe.
My arms are tired.
One, two, three.

Breathe, push, pull, kick
Arms ache. Push, Pull.
So long. So much water to pull
Water in eyes doesn’t matter.
Eyes see a short way to shore. Push
No change, ever the same distance. Pull

Want to see sand. Push
Just water. Pull.
I cannot feel my arms. Push.
I cannot feel. Pull.
There is a man with black hair.
In the water in his clothes. Push.

It is a tweed jacket, tough wool.
Pull. He holds my body
The cloth scrunches rough against my face.
Thank you arms.
Rest now trembling, trembling.
Thank you, man.

I wish I remembered you.
I remember the rough weave of your coat.

It should be added, all I actually remember is all about ME. What I have been told is that my older sister, Veronica who was ten, and could swim a bit, held on to our youngest sister Irene, and so saved her. They were both swept quite far out, before our mother was able to reach them, and bring them both in to safety. I don’t know how to write about Veronica. Today she would be getting one of those children of valour medals.

Helpless Discontent

Alongside the glitter of the sand
where tiny quartzes sparkle
Discontent rides strong
No hiding, it flaunts openly under the sun
As much on display as bikini clad bottoms.

As if this day which should be enough
is wasting, watching and waiting for comeuppance.
Today I cannot stop the tide of shoulds
with their follow-on words be full, gratitude
As if beauty could do a job beyond just being.

Come on rippling water invade the sand,
drop weed, slip tide higher on the beach
take this warm skin, see the air between sea and sky
between colors, green and black and gold.
You don’t tell me of joy and life’s becoming.

Not happening here.
Today I can’t forget the where
There where children have been caged
There where the ill despair and then enraged
Find themselves jailed by bars or poverty.

Sometimes I think I wait with glee
for sea to rise and take this hedonistic summer joy,
drown it with my deep despairing helplessness.
So in  some future now unthought
Creatures will talk of the mythic beings.

The Beachers who lie in dark sand hollows
Watered graves unmarked by quartz or spark of life
Once walked as if they owned the rights.
They chose forgetting, entitlement
Forgot to rise for shame of blames I am remembering.


We talk over the long long miles
Splintered by time zones and crap internet
I begin my evening
He, dear one, past the end of day, should sleep.

Through buffers and disconnects
Our talk is typing talk
Each phrase comes in bright blue
Apple’s choice for i-message.

I, I read between the lines
text telling me of you
Long long messages spell longing
Slow fingers make odd matchings

Conversations where reply to the earlier
text where we listened readerly
is sometimes not yet winging in time
with next thoughts being fingered.

We R not text talkers
with abbreviations, twittering,
We are two with lives that ebb and flow
Now together, known,
Now apart, as they should be.
My son, dear one, not gone but grown.

Past Present Future

A prompt from Jackie Kay’s Fiere, “and child in that back garden waving at this steam train” – hence this poem arrives writing itself

Past Present Future

Railway lines were always built
as straight as the engineers could make them.

Regardless of the local communities passed by
even when now and again they had to bend
or wind around the base of a hill.
After all, that’s what the train is for:
to take those in it, or the quantity of goods
or cattle carried
As far as wanted.
In a much shorter time than the horse
ambling along the canal bank
or clopping the lane that then was
more or less all grass
and certainly grass up the middle.

So the attention of the magnate
and the engineer, and the platelayers
and eventually the drivers
is always ahead, along, arrowing
to a future, and so they miss it,
the future, the one waiting to be.

There is a child there in that back garden
Waving, waving as the train moves steadily
steaming unsteadily puff puff
Going there, going there, going there
as the hand of the child flies
Left Right, Left Right, See me, see me

At last the fireman rests his shovel
Glad of the chance to take his cap
And wave while the sweat dries.



Emergence, a wreck?


Photo from one of Armagh’s cathedral sites. There are also some of John Hewitt’s words there, a more hopeful and generous perspective.

When I saw the title with South County
My mind reversed the words.
From a childhood place
I see Armagh, the county south
of my own county,
A place of orchards and apples.

Small hills topped by two cathedrals
Both called St. Patrick
Looking at each other across the town
Glaring rather. Or ignoring.
More, I am the high point here,
So long as I pretend you are not there.

Emergent intolerance and ignorance.
Trouble. I wish I saw a change.
I think I see the brittle ribs of hate
Slipped a little while under the sand.
The cathedrals on the hills still stand.
Waiting. Watching. Ignoring their arrogance.


When I write poetry I think I am often simply exercising “free association”. Is this is why prompts enable me to get around to it? The prompt on this occasion, here in USA, was in a “South County news report” with a headline “shipwreck buried under sand emerges on Charleston Beach”