Category Archives: writing

I want a shell…

Once I thought it was strong and good
to drift naked through the world
making a virtue of vulnerability
a naturist beach of honesty
And I thought it was weak and timid
to crave a shell to hide my softness

Yet the wind is cold and the salt sea bites
and seagulls hungrily circle
And everyone needs a shell at times.

I want a shell that is light as a bubble
that does not weigh down my dancing

I want a shell that is strong as diamond
that protects me when beaks attack

I want a shell as transparent as crystal
with curtains I can close and open

I want a shell that fits me perfectly
that neither cramps nor outpaces my growth

I want a shell that allows my light to shine out
and still protects it from being drowned

And I want a shell where I can sit and sift
all the wonders of the worldwide ocean.


This poem is a response for the call from shoretags- the hermit crab poetry housing project, which Dana (from mygorgeoussomewhere) has been working on. It kicked off a poem which develops some themes from earlier in this blog (e.g. my posts on masks and fears) about getting the right balance between protection and openness.  The poem started with just the last 6 stanzas… which do rather stand alone, but I felt it needed some sort of prelude to put all that in context.

The lovely photo is blue shell, originally uploaded by peteypatriot.


The room in my heart

There was a room in my heart
its walls stained by the tides of tears
and the jagged graffiti of hurtful words
its floors sagging from old expectations
and cluttered with the lead-grey jetsam
of our broken hopes.

I spent a year cleaning the room in my heart
Scrubbing the walls with shredding tissues
soaked in the tears and snot brought up
from the deepest secrets of my heart.
Separating out what was mine to repair
from what was yours.

Now, outside the room in my heart
Sits a bag full of the clutter that you
left behind you, said you did not own.
If you dare to open the zip, you’ll see
the parting gifts that my hands have made
from our love’s flotsam.

Your private door to the room in my heart
has vanished forever. So you’ll have to imagine
how freshly the colours gleam. How the walls
(stripped back to stone and plastered anew)
are damp-proofed and caressed with sun.
But not for you.

For the room in my heart is at last swept clean.
And its new door is ready to open.

A few days ago I sent my last message in the recent e-mail exchange with my ex. Gently, and affectionately – but also firmly, having set my boundaries and said what I needed to say. Which actually was surprisingly little!

I’m now pretty sure that he won’t respond. Which is absolutely fine with me. There was very little chance we could regain anything meaningful. What I wanted was to express some things I had been unable to say at the time. And feel that I had brought the messiness of last year to an appropriate end. An end that is fitting for the spirit of the good times rather than fraught with the pain of the bad times.

For several hours after I sent the message I felt a deep sense of peace and joy. And this poem tries to capture some of that feeling.

What I have learned

To spin across a floor, without falling
To know how hard loss can be.
To hear my heart saying yes or no
and then act on what it tells me

To trust that my words know how to sing
To act on what must be done now.
To face cruel silences with tearless eyes
and a quizzically raised eyebrow

To tell my story with my own words
To be more content with my lot.
To act on what I believe is true
and challenge what I believe is not

To smile and catch a stranger’s gaze
To remember that hurts can heal.
To adjust my bike’s brakes to ride safely
and dance tall in high heels.

This is a list poem for the Miss Rumphius’ Effect Poetry Stretch, based on some of my recent reflections about what I have learned in the last year. Which also fits rather nicely with ReadWritePoem’s first anniversary.

No, really

It’s amazing the world
hasn’t ended yet.

No, really. It is.

It seems that, so far, the fates
were always looking away
in those moments when I fail
to be perfect.

(They can’t be paying much attention…
so I suppose there are a lot of other things
they’d rather watch)

But I’m sure one day they’ll be looking on
At just the moment when I do something
stupidly human.

And the sky will fall. The seas will boil.
The hearts of everyone I care for will break
And the whole wide world will stare
and laugh.

No, really. They will.

Another readwritepoem prompt – this time to face your fears and do it with oomph!

Returning home

Grey skies
Peanut butter, earl grey tea and baked beans
Damp air
Not needing to use lip salve all the time
Tropical fruit is expensive and underripe
English apples are in season
All my things around me
Hard water that doesn’t rinse my hair
Exorbitant transport costs
Friends to meet – and meet again



If you walk at all, walk gently

For I am no longer the tigress
who surrendered with a growl of bliss
nor she who spilt her golden fur
to warm your careless feet
exposed her kitten belly
to your sharp-nailed attentions
and emphatically not she who slunk away
wearing your guilt as her own.

For now my eyes see through you
my claws know the savour of blood
and my purr has the edge of a growl.
Take a wrong step, and you’ll swiftly learn 
how poised I am – and how hungry
to taste the sweet wrath of justice.
And if I smile, you should never forget 
that my teeth gleam as bright as my eyes.

So walk gently – or don’t walk at all.

Sometimes an prompt coincides perfectly with what’s going on in your life. Which was exactly the case with the picture above, part of the Yorck Project’s collection. I came across the image at the Miss Rumphius Effect Poetry Stretch, with the challenge to write a poem inspired by it.

And on this occasion inspiration came rather easily, as it arrived not long after my ex got in touch with me after about a year’s silence…

Day and night



turquoise swishes across saffron
a sussurating oscillation
as we dig for starfish
crisp cotton melts and clings
to my zaftig ebullience
bladderwrack crackles underfoot
senses seasoned with salt and desire


under the moonless sky the ocean
is starred with amethyst luminescence
meteors zoom past, illuminating
an ethereal path we could take
your fingers embrace mine with a tingle
like the sensuous fire of chillis
my body remembers resilience

After a month of being too busy to do much writing, I’m back with time to write again. So here’s a poem inspired by the latest ReadWritePoem prompt – based on the wordle cloud above.