This poem is about how things were when I was at primary school. I’ve changed the name of the teacher but he could be one of thousands. We no longer see his harsh methods as either acceptable or effective but when people were brought up in such times and did as was expected of them did it make them bad people? I don’t really think so.

Mr O’Brien
Sir to you and me
Had a strap

A collection of straps
Different colours
Different lengths and widths
All stung outstretched hands
When Mr O’Brien spoke
Everybody listened
And he drank warm milky coffee
With skin on
And he had seahorses

Mr. O’Brien

Stood straighter than straight
He had two pens for marking
Red and green
Hard and soft
Red crosses stung hands
Green a chance to correct
Good! Meant good!
In any colour

Mr. O’Brien
Taught right from wrong
Imposed his discipline
With fairness
In an old fashioned
Outdates, discredited way
Mr. O’Brien was never wrong
And he drank warm milky coffee
With skin on
And he had seahorses

Mr O’Brien
Taught what he knew
Knew what he taught
Held his beliefs firmly
Led by example
Cared deeply
Seldom showed it

Jack O’Brien
Was an old man
With steely eyes
Age set free a thin
Wry smile
And bent his once
Rod straight back
And his hands shook
As he spoke
and he spoke of the past
and the pupils he taught

When Jack O’Brien spoke
Everybody listened
No more straps
And he drank warm milky coffee
With skin on
But the seahorse
Were gone


Yes I can do romantic – wrote this one for Maggie 

Happy Valentine’s Day XXX

I’m awake
Not un-sleeping
But awake
More awake than ever
Awake to today
Awake to tomorrow
Awake to life
Awake with your voice in my ears
Awake with your smile on my face
Awake with your hair in my fingers
Awake with your fragrance in my mind
Awake with your taste on my lips
Awake with your wonder in my heart

You may sleep
Wrapped in my arms
Head on my chest
Breathing shared air
Skin under my skin
Scent on my body
Warmth by my side

I’m awake
Watching, dreaming
Hoping, holding
Shielding, protecting

I’m awake
Don’t ever let me sleep

Not Like the Rest

A true story, very sad and a reminder of how society (government really) can let someone down. This was the ultimate failure of “care in the community”. It still happens.

Young, slim, pretty 
Shiny black hair
In satin waves
Freshness of youth
Delicate features
Fragile like the mayfly
A shy nervous smile
Flickers briefly
She looks much like the rest
And she walks and talks
Just like the rest
She tells me her story
Reads me her poems
Glimpses a future 
Inside she struggles
Stresses and worries
Insecurity, plagues her like locusts
Eating confidence, consuming spirit
An empty bottle, beached
On life’s shore
Forgotten, a lonely, abandoned lamb
To face her wolves
And she hurts
“What about me?”
“What about me?”
“How should I feel? I don’t matter”
Not like the rest 
Doctors diagnose, plan intervention
Prescribe medication, a hospital bed
Nurses monitor and report
Administer the treatment
Provide some care
Nobody really listens
Nobody really knows
Or understands
So she remains
Hospitalised, medicated
Pacified, stabilised
Tranquilised, desensitised
Monitored, protected
Contained, controlled 
How does she feel?
She can’t explain
Then how could she
Doped and drugged
Her feelings blanked
Smothered and flattened
And they
Can’t explain
Then how could they?
She doesn’t look ill
She carries no mark
She wears no badge
They say she’s recovered
Finished her treatment
She’s not so sure
They send her home 
Parents plead
A mother knows
She’s not ready
She’s still hurting
She still needs help
Her bed’s allocated
Her budget’s spent
Her resources gone
Released, discharged
Just like the rest 
Her care in the community
Her one brief day 
Of freedom
They came too soon
Unwittingly created
A torment too far
On a bridge
She pauses
No samaritans
No witness
No mothers arms
She’s gone
A solitary column inch
She didn’t matter
Not like the rest

And did those feet?

Here’s my newest poem. I’m not what you could ever call a patriot, I’ve always felt that it is people that matter, not a state. This poem says a little about how I feel.


And did those feet in ancient times?
Well did they?
Did their walking
Their fighting
Their belief
Bring us here?
To a land of boom and bust
A land of us and them
A land of me, me and me
And did those suffragettes
Fight for our excesses
And did those soldiers
Die for our bankers
And was democracy
builded here
for the haves?
And does the state protect
The have-nots
And like the small child
Asking forlornly
“are we there yet?”
There could only be one answer

Weaving Words – Rochdale

Weaving Words is Rochdale’s creative writing group meeting in the Wheatsheaf Library at 5.30pm on the second and fourth Monday of each month.

The next meeting is on Monday 9th January 2012 and will be held in the room by the Maskew Collection upstairs in the library. The theme for the meeting is “New Life” and you are invited to bring along something written on the theme to share with the group.

There are regular workshops with those currently planned including;

23rd January – Chinese New Year – by Julia
27th February – Poetic Forms- by Sam
26th March – Fictional Monologues – by Maggie

All are welcome and details are also updated on our Facebook Group “Weaving Words”

The beige and the greys

I was having fun fun thinking about at the way that older people tend to wear grey and beige and had the idea that Littlewoods, BHS and Greenwoods were pushers getting the older generation hooked on those colours – so here it is, another case of thinking too much:

There’s a new drug in town

Unscrupulous dealers skulking

Behind pseudo respectable facades

Littlewoods, Greenwoods, BHS

Pushing the beige and the greys

When you walk a little slowly

See a little less clearly

Hear a little more quietly

They’re on to you

Chasing the grey dragon

Advertising, peer pressure

They’ll do you a special deal

An offer you can’t refuse

Half price on pension day

Vouchers at the bingo

You think you’re in control

With defiant splash of colour

You think you’re one of us

Once bitten you’re hooked

You’re one of them now

Insidious beige and greys

You’ll blend in, fade away

Another lost generation

Colourless, powerless


And the dealers move on

Regroup and adapt

To younger victims

A beige hoody in Topshop

Grey Kickers in JJB

Don’t give up

Fight for your brights

Resist the bland

Dump the dealers

Don’t be colourless



Big Print

Ever noticed how when you get to my age you need to hold things further away to read them, and then the text gets too small. There are two solutions bigger print or glasses. Of course sometimes we just try without either. If I wear my glasses I can’t see anything more than a few feet away so for poetry performance it has to be the big print:
Squinting, me?
I don’t think so!
It’s not me
It’s just the light
It’s too dim
Wrong sort of bulb
My eyes are fine

Reading at arms length
I don’t think so!
It’s not my age
It’s just the print
Poor quality
Wrong type of paper
My eyes are fine

Using big print, me?
I don’t think so!
It’s not me
It’s just the font
Big by nature
Default style
My eyes are fine

Got a prescription, me?
I don’t think so!
It’s not my eyes
It’s just the optician
Has to say something
Earn his pay
My eyes are fine

Giving in, me?
I don’t think so!
It’s not my eyes
The glasses?
They look cool
My eyes are fine

Going grey, me?
I don’t think so!
Can’t see it myself
My eyes are fine

Through the Door

This is a poem about teenagers growing up and that stage where communicating with them becomes more difficult and less frequent.

I lived filled with your music
loud clear and bright
thoughts shared
differences aired
worries eased
growing beside you
but everything changes
and change hurts sometimes
and your music fades
the granite patinated strings
stretched out of tune
your door now closed
herald’s crisp tones dwindled
to ring-ding empty echoes
silent and cold
feelings locked in
unshared, withheld
seeking a reminder
a remnant
one last taste
licking the sardine tine lid
cutting my tongue
blood affirming life
so we keep talking
talking through the door

Poetry without a safety net

This is a poem about performing poetry – the need to hold the audience , to make them think. It is also about the feelings of trepidation and ultimately the satisfaction of a successful performance.
Here I go again
stepping out on this tight-rope stage
thoughts and feelings exposed
vulnerable through my own words
and they watch
and they listen
Oh god, I hope they listen
and I look down
no safety net
you should never look down
The rope feels slack
swaying under panicky feet
and I watch their faces
do they smell fear
can they see it in my eyes
will I loose control
crash to the saw-dusted floor
of mediocrity
and I look down

Deep breath
the swinging rope is my trapeze
the fingers of my words
struggle to hold their minds
to keep me flying
soaring through their time
and I look down
no safety net
you should never look down

I’m loosing it
falling to earth
my carefully chosen words
drizzle, randomly
spinning from a rambling mind
but I think they hear me
they fall silent
they know how I feel
They’re with me
I breathe out
and I look down

Can I make them laugh?
or cry
or stop to think
Am I any good
Does it matter?
Here I am
This is me
Centre stage
In the spot
The ringmaster
In control
And I look down
No safety net required


This is a poem about the problem faced by writers when trying to produce something to meet a deadline – the blank paper becomes a challenge or a barrier to be overcome.

The shuffled-in seat creaks

Chosen pen poised, black ink
Scrap paper scribble scrunched
Broad nibbed blotter doodles
Stark crisp paper stares back
Offers nothing, not a jot
fresh ideas gone stale
and the clock
The clock ticks, always ticking

Its not too hard, just words
Five thousand, just numbers
Use smaller words for speed
Big numbers, little words
Less to write, less to think
and the clock ticks

Nothing doing zip, nada, zilch
uninspired brain empty
Changes wrung
A different pen fine nibbed
Washable blue for black
Different paper lined feint
Pastel blue or beige
and the clock ticks, always ticking

Knowing just what to say
Wondering how to say it
A title perhaps, or
“Introduction” wrote big, stares back
Challenging and strong
Condensed intimidation by
A single bloody word
And the clock ticks

One more armchair coffee
Bourbon biscuits nibbled
Ginger nuts dunked
Cold water splashed face
Cool fresh air under
Unhelpful darkening skies
Words evaded, delayed
The clock ticks, always ticking

Two more words, together
“The End”
Start and finish found
How to stretch the middle?
For four thousand
nine hundred and
ninety seven words
“The End” stares back
The clock ticks

Willfully blank blank paper stares
past cereal bowl remains
light through still drawn curtains
and the clock ticks
A non-writing writer
Stares back
And the clock
Always ticking