Writers who have influenced me…

I read a blog  post which asked the question, which writers have influenced you, and have been thinking about it, off and on, ever since. The suggestion was to write, or share, a ‘response poem’ – or whatever you like really. So here’s a list…

John Donne, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, Henry Lawson, Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath, Lalla, William Burroughs, Charles Dickens…

And a poem that name-checks Walt Whitman…


Dear old Uncle Walt!
Do you think he will come
to the wedding?
Will he dance? Will he sing?
Or recite some burning poem?
I want to see him
dancing at the feast
Youthful and wild, with lilies
in his hair
And he will bow and then the bride
will curtsey…
And laughing every one pick up
the cup
And toast a prince of poets
in the garden
One hour of madness and joy
that  will not end.Page from"How he died" altered book

Friday Poem: Sensed


It’s now eighteen years (!) since I first saw Nirvana Unplugged on TV, and had My Life Changed Forever, so here’s a poem inspired by the concert.reflect

Feel – mohair, steel strings
the weight of beads
Smell – milky tea, cigarettes, hot wax
Hear – voices, whispers, hands touching
See – lights, darkness, closed lids
Taste – oh yes
the cello, the lilies: perfect taste.

There is the still point
under the lids
beneath the finger tips
Here is the secret undisclosed
sweet spirit
in these ordinary things.

While the poem describes aspects of the Unplugged in New York concert, it also refers, if obliquely, to Buddhist ideas of Nirvana. I wrote it before the unedited concert footage came out on DVD – I wonder if I would have made a quite different poem if I’d seen that first?art work

Dear Kurt,


Dear Kurt,
I miss you, me and several million other people. There’s a lot to miss when you’ve never physically met someone, but know way too much about them. Miss your smile, blue eyes, freckles, changing hair colour, forthright opinions, fuzzy cardigans, skinny legs, pop sensibility, beautiful dreadful voice, tuneful scream, sloppy perfectionism, 0p-shop/thrift-store dandyism, droll sense of humour, tea-drinking, wild  pronouncements, your beautiful hands, the way you smirked to yourself when playing “More than a feeling” instead of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” All these things are recorded for posterity – otherwise, how could I know these things about you to miss them?

If you had made some different choices in your life, if you hadn’t given up, so much of my life would be the same. But, if you were 46 now, instead of a ‘fallen hero’, would you still dye your hair with Kool-Aid? Probably you’d be going grey, thinning on top. Can’t imagine you losing your taste for thrift-shopping, whatever your bank account was. Nirvana would have broken up while you all did your own thing – I guess a reunion would be on the cards around now. You would have enjoyed working with all sorts of people, making ‘weird’, uncommercial music, doing some producing, promoting outsider artists…I can guess that, because you did most of those in your life-time, or talked about it. Maybe you would have grown out of the slanderous/entertaining broadsides at rival bands, or maybe not. John Lydon hasn’t.

I could go on.” In Utero” is now twenty years old. I’m saving up for the box set. I wonder how different it would have been if you’d had a say in it? It’s a great album, with or without you in the world. I don’t think much about “if only”, it’s a waste of energy – that’s one useful thing I have learned. However someone died, it’s no good trying to wish them back – just remember how they were with love, and acknowledge their failings (because everyone has some) without judgement if you can.  So, Kurt, I miss you, though I never knew you. I’m glad you lived, glad your boy-genius talents leaked out into the world for so many of us to feel connected, elated, validated by your music. Sorry it didn’t work so well for you…

Peace, Love and Empathy,


Friday Poem: Infant

That baby again...


Soft tender helpless bundle
Casing of a soul
Newborn caterpillar angel child
I want to hold you here against my skin
Beside my heart
Sweet little grub
What glows behind your eyes
Is old as God
So perfect in your still unfinished state
My soul salutes you
Cradled on my breast.

Next week, I plan to post something not about the joy of babies, but for now…my grand daughter isn’t even two weeks old, and already she’s growing, learning, and changing every day. Childbirth is ordinary and commonplace – thousands of babies are born every day all around the world, and yet each one is unique and wonderful and a minor miracle of nature.

Sleepers, Awake!

“Awake! awake O sleeper in the land of shadows,
wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love…
Fibres of love from man to man (sic)…
Lo! We are one.”

William Blakesleeper


I’ve been spending a lot of time lately holding my days-old grand daughter, watching her sleep, watching her waking up. She stretches and squirms a bit, opens one eye, just a slit, and closes it again, goes quiet, squirms and stretches some more. If she’s windy, there’s a grimaces that promises the smile that will appear in 4 – 5 weeks time. Her little mouth puckers, her tongue comes out; she’s getting hungry, but she’s still not really awake.

Finally, both eyes are open, she’s ready to be fed, and if it doesn’t happen, her face screws up and she lets out a wail of protest. All babies are much the same…

This morning, I woke up with a stretch and a squirm. I opened one eye, changed my mind, dozed off again. It was the demands of my bladder, not my stomach, that forced me out of bed. No-one will bring me breakfast, but I won’t cry, I’ll get it myself. A lot changes as we get older and learn to communicate and do things for ourselves – but the waking-up process seems to stay the same!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Inside

Here’s the tea tray, with tea inside the pot, which I enjoyed while I waited for my daughter and her baby to be allowed to go home from the hospital – a lengthy process, as it happened!Tea tray  Here’s Juniper, snuggly wrapped up inside her blanket.

Juniper asleep in her cocoon

I’ve been re-acquainting myself with the art of smocking, and I put grub/bullion roses inside the centre heart.

Grub roses inside a heart

Maisie lives inside, with her two cat sisters, and now, Juniper.


I found this healthy little milk thistle growing inside the gap between the window pane  and screen.

Uninvited plant Here’s the bed I slept in(side) back in Aberdeen over two years ago. For some reason, which I haven’t figured out yet, I took photos of every bed on our ‘Trip of a Lifetime’.Inside the Olympic motel, Aberdeen Wahttp://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/photo-challenge-inside/