The Time is Urgent

Inspired by Bayo Akomolafe

The Time is Urgent: Slow Down.

The time is urgent,
Slow Down.
Where is safety in reaction?
When every move is risk?

The time is urgent,
Slow down.
Take time to watch the swans,
Brood on fidelity.

The time is urgent.
Can we get there by plane?
Get where? To a place of safety
let it land. Slow down.

Too much talk of safety,
as if security arrived packaged
like in Homeland.
It becomes a jail, a stop.

Not a slowdown.
Life with risk eats chocolate,
remembers the cuddles
with a grandmother.

Her time is urgent
her reward comes soon.
Do not delay your love,
seeking material shiny dross.

The time is urgent.
There is no safety.
There is trust in love.
Slow down.


Image. Imagine.

Given a photo as a prompt at GCP creative writing group:

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Image. Imagine.

Distant hills shade violets to the sky
blueness emerges recording the world’s beauty,
far enough from the foreground of trouble or tenderness unknown.

Beyond that other beauty, stark and spare
engineered steel wands confront the air
Capture energy to power the world of desire.

Stood locked in dirt, bulldozed terrain,
undeserving of record. No landscape beckons here
Yet still beyond the frame the finger points. Unknown.

Do stars lie deep in som ehidden oily pool?
Do rainbows follow Fresnel arcs in glaur?
Did some bird find a place of peace just by the roadway’s roar?

Or did hedgehog, rarely seen, create a home from trash?
These people pointing need not ask, imagine,
They know, they see. I wonder.

Maybe he dropped the phone.

After writing, we were told what the picture was about. A younger child, playing with others out of the shot, lost his shoe, a “croc”, which was mud-stuck, irretrievable. So I was not so far off thinking about a phone.

Red Bowl

A prompt – “things you leave behind”… [some of you may know that last year I left my home on Block Island, near some of my family and grandchildren, and relocated to Edinburgh].

Red Bowl Left Behind

The people not here are not things, but I miss them.
Each associates, infiltrates dreamings
thoughts wittering into my waking.
Things can easily be left behind, their loss material, bearable.
I am loving, living, in a world where enough things
are still around, sparking the malarky of memory.

Little red bowl, Where are you now?
Made by a school girl in pottery class. Five dollars worth
Support for girl and class made you mine.
Your scarlet edge was hidden often
by that plethora of stuff overflowing
from the kitchen drawer of thingamajigs.

Little red bowl, how did you maker dream you
when her small hands slithered wetly on the clay?
Her bright eyes sparkled as that glaze
she painted on dutifully, as instructed
emerged from the kiln. Scarlet orange flickered
when the light caught it, brought blood rush of joy.

Too small for soup, you sat on my counter
maybe to hold a few mouthwatering cherries, or Easter candy
A kid-sized handful of trail-mix?
After your alternate career as holder for unknown keys
hiding place of rubber bands and that screw off the whatjamacallit
still red vibrancy was yours, you called attention.

Red Bowl, where are you now? Loved again, or landfill?
Now, I remember. Precious awakening, a left behind thing
of the underground, forever in my personal archaelogy.




Bird’s Eye View

Pigeon panics

I am lucky, my window looks across the road to a path
parallel to the street, and more travelled road beyond
and then the park, the meadows, space of trees, grass
more paths and people moving about their day.

The window restricts the view to its angle, my sightline
takes in the traveller from the left on the near path
tree shadows falling on soundless footsteps until
that person leaves to the right, to the wings of my stage.

Stage right, stage left, the entrances and exits
frame my day. I can hear the hum of cars now returning
busy about their business. I hear nothing of the conversation
of people passing. I can’t lipread, I follow the language of gesture.

I have seen companionship, leisure, pleasure, and rush.
Some determination, runners and cyclists and those returning
from shopping, each have their own focussed intent.
I dislike the headphoned, like parents and tag along children best.

Mostly I watch the trees. They own this stage, stand in it.
Sky and clouds are patches silhouetting leaf edges black
at stage right, while centre and left the shades of green
flicker from lime to forest, in summer weight moved by air.

There are birds I cannot see, except in a moment
their movement betrays their presence before camouflage
of branch and leaf returns and no amount of staring, waiting
patient gaze, brings the creature back for me to see.

Except for pigeons. Sometimes none, for hours they are
off somewhere minding pigeon business, vanished from view.
Then they return, pecking assiduously at the grass beside the path
and two or sometimes three, decide to spend time in the tree.

They land heavy on twigs that look too small, dip and sway
Clumsy settling to the rhythm, I imagine mild swearing more shoo than coo
One comes, bellyflops backwings quivering branch drops him
to a branch lower down. He sits fluffing wings, head tossed.

As if he meant to do that. Just a flutter,  a pigeon panic.
A lesson in practicality. Life’s balancing act.




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This is Neowise comet – I did not take this photo and can’t find who did, but thankyou. Stars and comets are awesome, inspiring. Science and imagination together, beautiful.

What can I leave?
I don’t mean to my children,
They live their own lives.

I carry a donor card
It is possible a bit might live on
Thought about which bit
does not bear thinking about
Most seems somewhat timeworn

My thoughts. Philosophy of Life?
Sounds messianic, though I like the notion
Remembered in posterity for a new religion?
I would need disciples
Who would ponder and wonder the writings.

Translated into ones and zeros
My neurons travel through dark space
Converse with light waves, neutrinos, Higgs’ bosons
Leave the dust of body behind.

I curl round Andromeda
Skip across to the Pleiades,
Seven Sisters, sparkling, sterile stars
I return, bring dying Earth their message
This is your Posterity







Happy Lockdown

What makes me happy?

I am happy. It is always the little things.

A child wearing a rainbow jacket is too far ahead on her scooter.
She stops. Waits.
I can almost hear her sigh as strolling chatting adults catch up.
Vast memories of my childhood, my children, all the world’s children
Wait beside her in an idle moment of gaze.

One of those micro cars passes.
Smart, probably electric now in its modernity.
In the fifties there were two stroke three wheelers
My then boyfriend drove one.
Tardis like. In its cramped space there was enough room.

Observation, seeing, being able still to see with gratitude.
The big things as well as little things,
The ordinariness and extraordinariness of nature.
Within the myriad leaves of a tree hear the song of unseen bird,
from the slope of a mountain, see the magnitude of sky.

To walk out, in sun or rain or hail, snow, wind, mind blowing.
There was another lock-in once, just for a day when Hurricane Sandy came.
Safe, happy, listening to elemental rage pass by.
When morning came the harbor’s granite slabs from the East side
were beyond the West breakwater on a re-sculptured beach.

Sun-glittered. Free. Happy. No question.

To Those in the Future

This is a companion poem to What Will I Take, both were written during Grassmarket Community Project Creative Writing Group, when thinking of future: what is to come. The prompt was “write a letter to those alive in the future”. They did not get a letter.

To Those Alive in the Future

After I go,
The future is yours
my loves.

I think of messages,
to you, my loves.

Tell myself,
make it simple
for you, my loves.

Stop with the conditionals
Stop with the doubts about my wisdoms,
my regrets and foolishnesses.
You know them, my loves.

What can I say that will help you, my loves?
I know my loves.

I trust you.


Future: What will I take?

Thanks to Jess and the Grass Market Community Project Creative Writing Group, for motivation and prompt: What will we take into the future?

What Will I take?

I have to remember the people
who changed me,
who met me and listened.
There were some who insisted.

Changing. Never completely easy.
Sometimes I am dragged to the new place,
like a toddler screaming in frustration
and fear of losses.
Other times, a companion in exploration
emerges adventurous, opens curiousity.

I find a flower, open to springtime sun
smells unforgettable, always forgotten.
One day the scent wafts by on the breeze.
Those long gone souls are here again.

I bring them.



At Grassmarket Community Project writing group, we were given an unusual word as a prompt: defenestration. This word was defined for us literally as “the noble art of throwing out of the window”. We were told the word had been used recently, in a metaphorical sense, regarding the Professor whose scientific understanding had encouraged “lockdown” as a policy to limit the spread of the  COVID -19 pandemic. And then he and his female friend had broken the lockdown, so he had to resign, was defenestrated. 


A noble art, I am told
I find contradiction.
Surely Art is creative, not destructive?

An art, I am told
an action, throwing.
Throwing out, to remove
the object thrown.
Disregarding the window
which is collateral damage,
the object thrown is gone.

Me. A professor. Not destructive.
Creative, possibly self-actioned,
now shamed.
Better to go than stay
Then see whomever I want
Love whenever I want
They will stop watching me
Which is another want.
The contradiction
of being important
is not being free.

Me, ordinary Joe or Jean
Workington man, Accrington woman,
Now living in Scotland
Finding importance in words
Communication, not professing.
Windows for outlooking
where trees spring to green life
invite goodwill
regardless of the wish to
defenestrate metaphorically
or literally,
Some folk down south.

My venom doesn’t fly
to scientists or politicians
inadequate for position
I would not want to try to do.
My venom flies to the others
Reporters, communicators
Already out and about
with microphones and cameras
Kuensbergered enquiries
of Jean from Accrington
and Joe from Workington
and a Geordie Glasgow guy
as if they were interested
Sham, no shame
Glassed in their own world
public relations propaganda
I would defenestrate.

Me, grassmarket writer
known to some, part known to few
Where the antonym of defenestration rules.
Come in. Yourself. Welcome
Any art, any part.



Instructions during lockdown. 


Taken through my window


Obey instructions. Then stop.
Let the world talk to me
in conversation.

What do you think you will do today? she asks.
Wake maybe, I answer.
She is positive: Wow, nice job, I like that.

Thanks world, I like the way your sun shines
On one side of that tree summoning bright green,
sharp to my eyes, the other side rests shady.

My eyes need light to see the shade.
Thank you sun and tree.
I am just in my greening says tree, it is spring time.

 Oh tree of light and shade and bird’s song to the sun,
Grow well today. Tomorrow will come.
As I listen to your world, I wake to sing.




This poem was written to the prompt “instructions” in the Grassmarket Zoom creative writing group. I was reminded of Mary Oliver’s brief words, in Red Bird, “Sometimes, 4”:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.