What he meant was quantity is not what we desire, one man is sufficient, unless he is a liar.

8282959_f520I used to love my mother
but then I got too old.
She didn’t want to feed me
Because I felt the cold.
My feet and hands were purple
which she told me was wrong.
I couldn’t change the colour
so had to change my tongue.
I used to love my father
Until he went away.
They said he’s with the angels
and small girls ought to pray.
And then I loved the cat we had
And all four kittens too…
Until my mother got fed up
and sent them to the zoo.
I said I am disheartened
Life is far too hard…
or else I’m hypersensitive
and must become a bard.
I loved a Spanish waiter.
A young man from Peru.
I loved a lot of others–
No more than ninety two.
That is just an estimate
An average, a norm.
It’s what I told the doctor

When he filled out a form

He said to me,You err,my dear
And I mistook his speech
I thought he meant he loved me.
But he just meant to teach.
What he meant was quantity
is not what we desire..
One man is sufficient
Unless he is a liar.
And in the darkness of the bed
What matters is their smell.
Some men smell like honey..
much more I cannot tell
for though these men pursued me
I had such poor eyesight
I didn’t  see them properly
especially at night..
I was more keen on Wittgenstein.
and whether I am real..
Maybe I’ve gone crackers

And don’t know  I’m surreal

I don’t want any lovers now
for love brought so much pain
I’d rather be a jellied eel
than fall in love again.
But friendliness and welcome
Are what we humans need…
And cats and dogs and willow trees
Which don’t make our hearts bleed.
One man is sufficient
And necessary too..
Without my own sweet husband
whatever would I do?
He listens with his heart and soul
And he is never harsh…
He likes to hear me singing
Across of Southwold Marsh.
He likes to take the ferry boat
Across the River Blythe.
But now I hope the ferryman
will not yet arrive..
We have to cross that river
We have to let life go…
We have to be untied and freed.
We think,but do we know?
In the silvery moonlight,
Time gets her own  way
In the darkness of the night
Time will have her say.
Time has come and gone again
And so the hand descends
So I bid you fond farewell,
We have reached the end.
Oh,wrap me up dear mother
in my winding cloth
Take me in your ancient arms
for I have had enough.
I’ve loved and loved and loved again.
I’ve puzzled and I’ve pained
but all I want’s a writing tool
To write down words again

The Hummingbird Nest

I bring you a hummingbird’s nest, woven
from seed-down, thistle head,
bound with lichen and spidersilk,
shaped by a mother who presses her breast
against the cup, uses her rump, chin,
the curve of her wing, who stomps
her claws on the base to check it’s
windproof under this leaf porch.
The male gone, she works alone,
hurrying back and forth thirty times
an hour, before the eggs come.
She lays them in a home small as a nutshell,
the rim turned in, the sides pliant
so they’ll stretch as the chicks grow.
Little mother, I’ve read your file
filled with letters to the mairie, begging
for a place where we could live together.
I know now how hard you fought the powers,
like a jeweled dart stabbing at their door,
before you fell prey to the jungle mantis.
Instead of flowers, I leave you this nest
on your grave, in case you make it
from your migration — only a wisp
of feathers, no flesh left on your bones.

I see a light fuzz of hair


  • I see a light fuzz of hair on your head

    like the softness of just opening leaf buds in spring.
    The chemo is over,and you wait relieved and letting that
    take you for a while before you start to face the next stage.
    Will your Spring turn to a warm enchanting Summer
    or has the cancer,as they say “spread.”
    Just for now,you’re in that lull
    so in three weeks time you will not be
    arriving for another session of drugs
    and days of sickness.

    I see the light fuzz which reminds me
    of how the cat’s fur grew back after her surgery
    and she,being unable to reflect or question,
    leaped from the fence top onto next door’s kitchen roof;
    no thought in her mind of stitches breaking.
    How beautifully the patterned fur returned
    and the vulnerable skin was covered again.
    Oh,to look into those eyes and see you dream
    about mice that live behind the shed
    and how you sat watching for hours
    and how you were alive till the very last moment.
    Then , all of a sudden,you were gone.

    Pray it will not be so forthe fragile,loving human
    now waiting and living,hoping for what you took for granted…
    a “normal” life span Or maybe just three quarters of one
    would be satisfactory;would be a beneficence
    such as trees feel when the sap turns and begins to flow back.
    bringing life out of the darkness of earth and soil.
    And another Summer comes at the right time
    and we find it,shall we say,satisfactory?

Fear of poetry





It strikes me now as singularly and politically prescient that Harrison chose to express his determination to write poetry as a form of occupation: he declares he will “occupy” the “lousy leasehold” of an elite literary tradition.Harrison’s statement anticipates the contemporary Occupy movement, with its targeting of political and social inequality, exclusion and hierarchy. The occupation of spaces of power is an attempt to level the playing field, enacting change from the bottom up.

Harrison refuses to ‘squat’ in the space of poetry, a phrase that would acknowledge his unbelonging. He occupies; he makes the space his own. And what is more, having read the poetry of Tony Harrison, my 18-year-old self was no longer frightened of this supposedly difficult form with its metrical lines, suffused with metaphor and locked in rhyme. Instead, I was also determined to wrest back and occupy poetry.