In Praise Of Unique

Before there was liberation

There was salutation,



Before there was liberation

There was sadness

Mixed with joy

And some tears.

Before there was liberation

There was angst

Filled with worry,

Too much noise.

Still, with the liberation,

Sadness, tears and worry

Don’t depart

But now they’re voiced.


For my beautiful daughter.

Heart of my life,

One of the seven.

One of the world.


For our children.

All children.

All unique.

Say Nuszing, Zey Are Leest’ning

I could share some things

But zen ah’d have to keeeel you,

I could tell you stuff to make your skin to crawl,

Adventures from ze vomen,

cloaked in meestery,

I could…

…But I’d be lying,

So I’ll tell.

It’s the patter, see,

You know that we can’t hold it,

it flows,

like the waaatter,


out from falls to sea,

it’s the stuff, you see, that keeps the world a-churning,

it’s the mystery of life

‘tween you and me.

It’s a little drop of heaven

of an evening,

it’s the tales still told

in company, we girls,

the pleasures and the griefs, bestowed in sharing,

anarchic heroines,

some self-belief.

Eet’s a leetle beet of sumsing I can’t tell you,

For to tell would be selling out my comrade and zey’d know,

She has spies, you zee,

I’ve seen zem, and zey’re fecking fracking

all ze plummets vorth fracking down below.

Zey ‘ave ears, I’ve heard zem leest’ning! And you vonder,

vhy every leetle zing I zay eez code,

Zose leetle buggers leezten, zey’re called cheeldren,

leetle fuckers vith zeir nose stuck eento mode

to spy upon ze mozers who are laffing,

Eet’s Friday, fock, I zink zat eet’z allowed.

Vhisper in ze hushest of all tonings,

zose leetle fockers leesten at ze doors.

Tell zose leetle feckers to quit leest’ning,

eet’s off-putting to ze vomen who’re in flight,

zose leetle bastards spy and tell all seecrets,

Zey’re my nieces and my nephews,

leetle shites.

I still love them.

But, honest to gawd!

I seenk our seecrets are zafe for one more night, V!

Nemesis – or my careless daughter

It gushed and flowed and entered every crevice,

It poured and pelted down relentlessly,

It flooded where it seeped, no malice, no, nor menace,

But source of life a nuisance still to me.

Or daughter maybe, with a careless handling,

Unshuttered doors and singing when I heard

The cascade, yes, a cascade, waterfalling

While I shouted and she heard not a word.

Bugger, damn and feck it, I’m tormented,

The rain it comes, then snow, and now this mess,

I’m buying an ark and sailing off, demented,

Water, in all forms, my nemesis.

Except bluey-geen oceans

and an iced glass.

Subprime Life

Youth’s energy became an old-age early,

Reminiscent of cruel winters long ago,

Hunter or be hunted as past primitive,

Weapons now quite different from long bow.

But spears still pierce and blood still flows aplenty,

Savages still scavenge, now upright,

Unvanquished beasts, unmarked by any number,

Missing link unmissing in their sight.

A broken chain, a steadfast reign of righteous,

Motion sensors marching endlessly through time,

Espy the life that seeks to live and end it,

Count its worth and value as subprime.

Count the cost of monsters who must judge life,

In pride’s self-justifying casting stone,

Wrecking, wreaking chaos. No limit. Children

Culled, guns and bombs, terror’s jaw-bone.

Never learning, never trying peace path,

Never caring but for selfish means,

Oh, hang heads, shame that’s neverending,

One child is worth more than all your dreams.



Toes Grown

There’s consolation and some comfort in the knowing

That streets I’ve walked upon they’ll walk on too,

That rivers I have known, they’ll feel in flowing,

Their gift of life transporting, they the crew

Forever destined to new embarkations,

New destinations, some far out of sight, 

Predestined in unknown determinations,

Forked with choices they believe are right.

There’s sympathy and empathy in feeling

That those who venture forth to find their route,

Deserve the trust and onward love they’re stealing,

Travellers whose first steps falter’d, as I put

A hand to hold, support the risk they took then,

Determined but with dainty, tiny toes,

Kissed in days I never saw when

New shoes would grow and feet would wander forth.

There are tears that now the door has opened wider,

While heart is closing round the children grown,

Seeking yet to hold a little longer

Even though they, like time, have flown.

I’m counting heads and reeling from the impact

Of emptier nest while four will still remain,

Pretending joy, acceptance of a life fact,

That children grow. And I still have this to feel again.

By Silken Threads

Unrivalled, the spinner,

intent on the task,


controlling the yarn,

Four to the left,

four to the right,

light foosteps,

spinneret charm.

Tangled the cables,

coiled for effect,

cushioned to nest,

to ensnare,

Sonar, so plucked,

message relayed,

advancement of mate

with a dare.

Captvity calls,

tightened the threads,

matured in

hungering thirst,

Escape impossible,

tho’ eyes all around,

serviced, betrayed

by bloodlust.

Filigree’d netting,

coating of tack,

a lick and a spit,

paint the web,

Ravelled in silk,

by finest cord bound,

anaesthetised, numbed,

not yet dead.


I lay abed, lazy, this morning,

My 7 year-old wrapped in my arms,

Answering myriad questions,

Curiosity, (her default position!),

Just one of her many sweet charms.

Questions and reasons for answers

Leading to topics anew,

Pride in her thoughtful responses, humour

At so young, so much known, so true.

I lay abed, glad of the chances

To inform inquisitive mind,

Not surprised in the least but delighted

Her queries help me to open and find

Fresh ways of seeing the present,

The past, the memories we’ve shared,

Future unfolding before us, my fruit,

My treasures not spared

In giving, receiving, in loving,

She warms right through to my core,

My youngest, my sweet little Anna,

One of seven I truly adore.

Hidden Gems

Dulled with hidden sparkle

Uncovered in the core

Polished velvet glove redeems

Golden glitz and more

In where and what

The earth conceals

In muddied waters deep

Gems revealed in sparkled form


We must not keep

The treasures as they surface

In the light of oxygen

Whose breaths we live


So life begins again

Posterior Afflictions

You know the way kids can be a pain in the arse sometimes?

Ach, don’t act it, you do so!

Aye, I know we all love them and think that a lot of what they do is pretty cute.

And that we use euphemisms to excuse their behaviour, saying things like,

‘He’s going through a very challenging phase’


‘She’s testing boundaries at the moment.’

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they can still get on your wick.

I’m not thinking so much about that age when they’re brand new and all kind of fluffy-haired, with soft skin smelling of baby lotion.

So, okay, sometimes they don’t smell of baby lotion and the sight ofanother loaded nappy makes you wonder what the hell they had for dinner.

But they’re not really a pain in the arse at that stage. Well, maybe a wee bit, at times, when they wake you up through the night and won’t go back to sleep despite the fact that you’ve offered them the crown jewels, if only they’d let you get a bit of shut-eye for the love of god.

No, not then. I can cope with that.

I’m not even thinking of the terrible twos that really start in their second year rather than when they actually hit two.

Totally misled us on that one, eh?

As whiny and crabbit as they can be at that particular juncture that’s not really their worst stage.

Granted, sometimes you have to drag them through a store, smiling fiercely at anyone passing, till you get them outside and give them a piece of your mind. The bit they’ve not driven insane yet.

That’s still within the realms of manageable because you learn methods to deal with it and they don’t do it again. Well, not too often anyway.

And there are always other shops you can go to.

I was thinking more about that stage they reach when they want a pet.

You know that stage? It goes on for years. Doesn’t matter what you say, how many different ways you say it, ‘no’ comes out sounding like ‘maybe.’

And then they’ve won.

They know they can get round you. And they’re not daft, you know.

They wait till you’re all relaxed of an evening, feet curled up on the couch, glass of wine in hand, bit of telly on.

Then they strike. And you’re caught unawares.

You’re really watching Coronation Street and you thought they said,

‘Would you like me to fill your glass?’ and you say something that sounds like yes.

And it did sound like it because you did say that because you thought they were the waiter.

Only they weren’t. And it’s out there now. And you start laughing at the funny mistake that was made.

Then you look at their wee disappointed faces and you say, ‘Maybe’.

That word, that one word out of all words, should be cut from a parent’s vocabulary at the same time as the cord is severed.

That word gets you hung by your own whatsits.

To cut a long story short, we got a dug. A dug, as in a dog.

A dug’s just our way of saying it.

And he’s quite cute. And everybody loves him. And they’re all fighting to see who can take him out for a walk. Kids are voluntarily getting out of bed before the school bell rings and going for walkies with poo bags in hand. walk. And everybody’s smiling and making goo-goo noises to a dug! Fights are breaking out at whose turn it is to have him in their room for the night. 

I didn’t. I’m not stupid. I had weans. Why the hell would I want something else to wake me up in the night? If it’s not the Jackman or some vague resemblance to him known as, ‘ma man’, I don’t want to know.

We’re a complete family now, the kids would have you believe. We have our very own Lassie. Only she’s a he and he’s a Border Collie. But you get my drift.

There are smiles broader than a Hughman fan when confronted with him, on their doorstep, in their dreams. I’ve heard.

Except that all of the italicised paragraph should have been written in the past tense because that was two years ago.  And now no one wants to be bothered any more when it comes to the going outside in the rain bit. Or the last thing at night bit.

Or the please feed that animal bit.

Then the pain in the arse raises its ugly head again.

Do arses have heads? Well, my arses do.

And not one of them wants to walk Mutley anymore. Not that we called him Mutley, officially. That’s just what I call him when he’s being the pain.

And he gets called that a fair few times in any given day. So I suppose it’s kind of his nickname with ‘Peeta’ being his dress-up Sunday name.

So, between the barking of Peeta in the early hours of the a.m., and the reluctance of any of my brood to drag their behinds from bed, I’m aware of a lot of aggravation in my nether regions.

So, yeah, the pet years are a big feature in the posterior affliction.

But it doesn’t end there.

You know the way there comes a time when your kids start to leave home (if you can get rid of them and persuade them that independence is a good thing) and you get an office to yourself because there’s now a free room?

Then, you know how sometimes they want to come home for a while and they look at you like, ‘Well, you’re my mum, you’ve got to’?

And then you let them move into your office because there’s a singlebed in there and nobody sleeps in that room. Like it’s a spare room! And not my little refuge for wordsmithing.

Or whatever you call it.

That’s quite a big pain in the arse, right there.

But do you know what adds insult to injury in the arse hurting stakes?

It’s when said daughter returns with a kitten in tow that she nurses like a baby.

Except when she’s at work or going out.

And then many hands are offering to nurse said kitten and feedhim.

Till they go out.

And then do you know who gets to look after and feed the wee bugger?

Aye, me.

And I’m not a cat person.

I’m not even a dug person.

I’m only barely a people person.

That is a pain in the arse. Especially trying to stop the dug from eating the kitten.

And stop the kitten climbing the curtains. Dogs don’t do that. Why do cats do that?

And climb on your bed and try to walk across your shoulders when you’re writing in bed because you’ve lost your office?

Yeah, so, pets are an afflicton but not nearly as much as weans sometimes.

Anyone want a dug? Kitten? Wean? Just askin’.


Do you believe in laughter held in truth,

In knowing that words spoken find their mark,

That a look, a touch, the gentlest hand may form

A smile that grows within, ignites a spark?


Do you believe that gladness grows inside,

Overflows to others open to

Receiving joy as recompense for living

When its trials and labours overwhelm and threaten you?


Do you believe that hurting ends in time,

That inner worlds are balanced by all love,

That questions yet unanswered cause a thrill,

Their discoveries a golden treasure trove?


Do you believe that somewhere inside light

The heart of matter hides a great reveal,

That nothing happens without cause effect

And perceptions make our own world feel what’s real?


Do you believe that logos is the word

Or that words alone confuse a greater thought,

That lips that speak the lies betray the way

And sometimes guidance dwells in what’s not sought?


Do you believe in fairies and in trolls,

In monster lochs where hidden depths conceal,

Do you believe in equine wings and angels,

In many wondrous stories though unreal?


Do you believe in suspending disbelief

To enter into fantasies that pleasure

While still inside you know factual from dream

But recognise you owe some childlike measure?


Do you believe that living is worth living,

That each breath you take admits a purpose here,

That nothing’s yet decided or completed

And that only you can change your greatest fears?


Do you believe in worlds you find in books,

In scenes unfolding on the movie screen,

In comic superheroes who astound,

Unveiling attributes too rarely seen?


Do you believe the essence of all stories

Conveys some truth distilled to purest form,

That much of what we honour most in tales

Are aspirations we would wish as norm?


Do you believe that children hold the key,

That complications thwart our best intentions,

That simplicity and innocence are essential to all meaning

To underwrite and clarify the best of lessons?


I do.