Haiku

Solitude is bliss;
Isolation living hell –
Why
Am I
            Alone?

I am not a poet – I am a storyteller. But, I thought I remembered writing just two poems. The first was the haiku above – and it still seems relevant to my deepest feelings.
This is the second….
A few days after my husband’s death, a care-worker asked, as all the professionals had asked, what did I want or need? I could not answer him but, as soon as he had gone, I was able to write my answer:-

What do I want?

What do I want?
I want someone to stop the pain,
To tell me that everything is all right,
That he will soon be home again,
That this is all a dream.

What do I need?
I don’t know – I’ve never been here before.
I don’t know what helps or who.
I know I need help
But what does that mean?

What do I want?
I want to be held and comforted –
Preferably by him.
I want to talk about what happened.
I want…
                to feel better.

While thinking about this page I discovered a folder of some poems that I have no recollection of writing…. I make no claims for their quality, but they clearly felt important to me at a difficult time.

A Place, A Person And A Thing

A Place?….
On Exmoor…
A place where two waters meet
Deep in a valley
Shrouded with trees
Protected by leaves
From the threatening rain

I stand
Flanked by two dear friends
On a bridge over the waters
Playing Pooh-Sticks

An important day?
No…
An emotional day
My birthday

A birthday with no RoughTor
No card
No present
No husband
Just two dear friends
Caring enough to play Pooh-Sticks
On a bridge where two waters meet

Suddenly we turn to each other
‘The trees want to be hugged,’ we say
Each feeling the same alien impulse
I’ve never hugged a tree before
But now
The three of us
Leave the bridge
And each seek out a tree

Mine is on the bank
Close to the bustling stream

As we hug
The tree and I
A thought
Unbidden
Enters my brain
‘RoughTor wants to give me a stone
A stone for my birthday’
‘That’s silly,’ I argue
‘The water is full of stones
How can I tell which one is mine?
I’m not going to get my feet wet’


But the thought persists
‘RoughTor wants to give me a stone
For my birthday’
So I look at the ground
Around my tree
Not a stone to be seen.

Again I turn to my hugging tree
Again comes the intruding thought
‘RoughTor wants to give me a stone
For my birthday’

Frustrated I look down at my feet
There I can see
Just the edge of a stone
Quite large
Buried deep
Tucked under a root

‘It can’t be that stone
I’ll never be able to dig it out
I don’t want to break my nails’

But I bend to touch it
Pushed by
Some feeling
Some force
Some faint hope

And the stone rises easily
Cleanly
Into my hand
No mud
No dust
And I hold
In my hand
A heart of stone
Perfect
Life size
Divided
Into two
Anatomically correct
Chambers
By a beautiful
Band of quartz
And the voice in my head
Says
‘Happy Birthday!’

The Tintagel Dragons

How many dragons live in Tintagel?
You don’t know? I’ll tell you.
           There are three.
You haven’t seen them? Of course not!
You no longer see through the clear eyes of childhood.
           Children can see.

Why do you think the Old Post Office roof
Curves in that comfortable way?
That’s where he sits, the Tintagel Dragon
As he watches us pass by each day.

He may be a youngster, little more than a baby,
Merely a thousand years old.
But he’s big – and he’s heavy. No wonder the timbers
Are bending under the load.


And who is dragon number two?
The Materiana Dragon.
She’s his mother, of course,
But she’s rarely at home,
Now that her son’s nearly grown.

You might find her asleep in her bath
Lying off Port Quin Bay.
To you she will look like a cluster of rocks.
Show a child and they will probably say,
‘Ooh! Look at that great big dragon!’

And who is the last one, dragon number three?
Who could that possibly be?
Haven’t you realised?
Don’t you know?
Can’t you guess?
The third Dragon is
Me!

Poetry Homework

I hated being told to write a poem for homework. I simply didn’t know where to start – so my mother stepped in to help and between us (well, mostly her) we created several poems that made it into the school magazine.

Conversation Piece

In a steamy deep equatorial swamp
In the heart of darkest Africa
Watching their lively children romp
In the hot turkish bath of the jungle
Two female hippopotami
Lay wallowing in the glorious mud.
One said to the other, “So hot am I
That, somehow or other, I don’t know why,
I can’t help thinking its Thursday!”

Barnaby Brown

Barnaby Brown was bold and brave,
Of that there is no question,
But his temper was short
Because, it was thought,
He suffered from indigestion

He quarrelled with all his closest friends,
‘Til they heared with concealed elation
Of a voyage he planned
To a distant land,
A journey of exploration.

He sailed away to the great unknown
On the staff of some organisation,
And he now and then wrote
A bad tempered note
From the fringes of civilisation.

He set off one day for cannibal-land,
In spite of a premonition.
At last his friends learned
That he’d never returned
From that fatal expedition.

Barnaby Brown was chiefly known
For being so disagreeable,
But his friends all denied,
When they heard how he died,
That his end had been really forseeable.

A few words appeared in the local press,
And from these I quote verbatim:
‘We regret,’ it said,
‘Mr Brown is dead.
‘Something he disagreed with ate him.’

The Sea

The sea is a mirror of glass
Reflecting the sun and sky
And ships
As they pass by.

The sea is a field of corn
Waving in the breeze
And all
The ships are trees.

The sea is a herd of horses
Angry and uncontrolled
Above
The seagulls scold.

The Strange Young Man Who Lived
On The Top Of The Mountain

Lost and cold and very tired
I stumbled through the snow,
When, high above, I gladly saw
A cabin window glow.

The youth looked kindly down at me
(for he was very tall)
But for the hat upon his head
He wore no clothes at all!

He took me in, and gave me food,
And sat me by his fire:
At last I dared to question him
About his strange attire.

“Oh, that,” he said, “Nobody climbs
To this tremendous height.’
“But why the hat?” I asked, said he,
“Well, some day someone might!”

Metamorphosis

At the bottom of our garden
Is a jungle full of tigers.
Nightly you may hear them growling
As they prowl amongst the bushes.
You may see the grasses quiver,
They are hunting for their dinner.
Unsuspecting of the danger,
Busy with his nightly business,
Runs the prey of these two tigers:
Suddenly a tail is twitching,
Moves the grasses very slightly.
Terrified the victim trembles,
Stares behind him fascinated,
Shaking in unholy horror,
Dare not make a dash for freedom.
Then the tigers start a-growling,
Spring, and pounce upon their victim.
At that moment, in the distance,
Suddenly a voice is calling:
“Puss, puss, pussies, come for supper.”
Then the tigers stop, distracted;
And their victim, once more breathing,
Runs like lightning to a mousehole.
Then the two disgruntled tigers,
Disappointed in their hunting,
Turn again and wander homewards.
As they saunter through the shadows,
You may see them slowly changing,
Tabby cats, no longer tigers.

Entomology with an “A”

Entomophilous experts one night went forth
To East Ham from wherever they happened to be
For a unique entomoid display from the north
Dug up from a cavern beside the Mersey.
Teenagers of Britain thronged there to study
With Danes, Norwegians, French and Arabs
The strange strains of these swinging scarabs.