She descends in sunshine


She sits in sunshine
– not in her private room.

Communal lounge an open space,
fresh air filtering aging staleness,
curtains straining light, a translucent
membrane partitioning her internal
present from her external past.

She’s self-aware. She knows
she won’t remember my name.
She knows that facts are missing,
memories are slipping. She knows
she misses her sons, but how many
she can’t recall.

Her fingers fidget, nails immaculate,
shaped in soft rose enamel,
her daughter’s act of tenderness.
But she would never ask
her children to come.

We talk as others bleat:
baa-baa-baa single syllable
repeats – an adult child returned
to the babbling phase.
The sound fades as staff stall
his daily escape attempt.

We look on, as she looks on
this descent of man,
knowing her own trajectory,
mind falling in slow motion.

We talk of weather, the darkness and
continual rain. She doesn’t believe
in letting it get her down – we must
make our own sunbeams.

So here she sits in sunshine
– not in her private room.

A poem inspired by a lady in a dementia wing where I volunteer as a visitor for Age Concern. (Photo credit: Sunday Times)


It’s clearly a shell

(photo credit: Greenville County schools)

“It’s clearly a shell”
his voice sincere,
his face earnest.

I’d been begging for weeks
to be excluded from art,
to do something I was good at,
so I’d been sent to Mr. Hoskin.

Now he was reassuring,
now he was encouraging,
but with those words
“It’s clearly a shell”
I knew I’d won the argument.

I simply replied
“Sir, it’s my shoe!”

For some poetry accompanied by real art try Mike McGuire’s Fire Art

Gove is gone!


Sounds too good to be true,
perhaps the damage is done,
but Gove’s stuck in the loo
and from education is gone!

Britain’s most detested education minister (Michael Gove) has been demoted to Chief Whip. On his first day in his new position he got stuck in the loo and missed a vote. Read the full story in the Independent (photo from same article).

Unseeing by day/anxiety by night


“I imagined myself in Besel now, unseeing the Ul Qoma of the cross hatched terrain. Living in half of the space. Unseeing all the people and the architecture and the vehicles and the everything in and among which I had lived.” (from China Mieville’s The City and the City)

Aborting mindfulness,
I turn into my drive,
my eyes focus on the caramel
Kauri front door, its warming
wood so welcoming.

I unsee the verandah
with its deck all pulled
up from joist replacements,
while the side & back have
become one of mind’s
exclusion zones:
base board bare,
I can’t stand to stare at
the exposed piles –
it’s as if the house were
built on straws, and while
110 years of standing
still holds strong,
my imagination buckles.

Once through the front door
I unsee interior incongruencies:
the spare room that is spare
of anything but room,
the kitchen surfaces that
have yet to surface
from underneath –
last night’s dinner.

I unsee until bedtime then
night in its darkness illuminates
my thoughts with all that is
hidden in shadow.
Anxious awakenings –
it is not just the house that
is in need of restoration!

In China Mielville’s novel “The City and the City” two different cities overlap in geographical space, with residents of one city having to unsee the other city in order to fully exist in their own. While the novel may be a work of fiction, I wanted to examine what aspects of my own life involve a bit of “unseeing” and hence I came up with this poem.

Jobsworth University


At Jobsworth University we train
students to follow marking rubric schemes:
churning assignments out just like machines
requires little engagement of the brain.
We worry that they wouldn’t stand the strain
of rigorous academic regimes –
simply they regurgitate subject themes
without need of memory to retain.
Once we looked for originality,
now we reward mere checklist compliance,
favoring conforming banality,
no room for intellectual defiance.
I long for days of deep philosophy
where learning is more than commodity.

A Miltonic sonnet lamenting the state of higher education.