The China Doll

The china doll’s head stares blankly from behind the glass, eyeless, expressionless. The effect is uncanny and the hint of reproof from its sightless eyes unnerves me, neither one of us wanting to give in, but the doll has already won. Lidless and unblinking, the holes left where her eyes should have been have already forced me to turn away in irrational fear that I might be turned to stone as the doll stands head erect, open-mouthed, fingers pointing upwards as if a whole army of dolls waits for her orders to advance. I have to turn my back.

Wherever I turn other faces stare impassively, imprisoned by glass walls. I had always longed for a walking, talking doll to act as my childhood companion but instead I had been given a knitted rabbit which developed moth holes and shed its stuffing, leaving a trail behind us wherever we went.

Now I feel relieved that I had never been given such a pink plastic, yellow haired mannequin, whose unblinking stare has become the stuff of nightmares. I have experienced dreams where adult faces stare down at me, talking, lecturing while I stand silently pleading for forgiveness. Now here she stands before me emotionless and relentless in her admonition.

The child in me quakes and walks away, and I await the sound of smashing glass, the creak of long unused joints and the pattering of plastic soles on shining floorboards. Then I hear a voice murmuring “Mama”, and I begin to run.





Head high the grass had grown

Burying us in summer’s profligacy

While we drowsed under sunlit skies

Cloudless in their blue permanence


Summer lasted forever

Its promise fulfilled in sun soaked days

When freedom lay all around us

In brown baked endless time


Crickets sawed above our heads

Leaping in untimely flights of fancy

While airy thistle down floated

Through sooty midge flecked clouds


We scratched our bloodied legs

And scuffed where camomile’s heady scent

Marked the end of summer days

In the mournful music of rattling seed


We had drowned in liberty

Fasted in the freedom of carefree days

Until time’s demanding bell

Stirred our lazy limbs from blessed reverie




Washed by tides

With sheep eye pleading;

Lit by shards of sunlit sand

A silent echo, lone and lifeless

Drowned by time in desert lands                

A watcher wary

Wandering, wondering

Spots the stony eye of time

Petrified and isolated

Tumbled from its grave of lime

At ocean’s edge as tides uncover

Bony rocks to lie unseen

The life that stalked

That swam in oceans

Silted from an ancient seam


On Guilt

Guilty pleasures looming large

Against a backdrop of good advice

Leave red wine stains on the self esteem

Of those whose pleasures are termed a vice

Life’s little treats, like booze and eats

Lend light to grey in winter’s shade

When gloom pervades the joyless hour

And bills must wait for another day


Now doctors and professionals

Will lead us to confessionals

Reminding us to go and run and play

Deploring sadly lack of will

When smoking kills in winter chill

And vests prove insufficient shield against the day


Then guilt surrounds us

And pleasure confounds us

And one more drink is what we ask

It’s fair, it’s correct, and due for respect

But insufficient for the task

Be slim, be lithe, to stay alive

Be prudent, be solvent, be safe

Avoid sugar and fat

But there’s no fun in that

When one more chocolate is all that we crave




Writing Rhymes

I’m going to a writing group

The boldest step I’ve taken

Through bravery to slavery

My freedom now forsaken

With biro tip

I let words skip

And hours pass away

In images, analogies

And woven words at play

In silken nouns

And deft pronouns

I let the rhythm drive

The thoughts that come

In sighs like song

When words are set alive

In perfect tense the past recalls

Imperfect memories linger

Alliteration, fast and fierce,

Falls from my aching finger

With adjectival phrase delightful

Adverbial clauses fight

In lengthy pauses for writing’s causes

And space on a Tuesday night


When Velvet Night

When velvet night draws down a blind

Against the smiling moon

The cool warmth of that silver eye

Reflects the heat of noon

As visions swim through memories

Of vivid lucid light 

The eye now reads in sunlit glare

The story book of night

The pages torn, the ink that spilt

The fractured theme of day

The voiceless sounds

The faceless names

The mind’s mystique at play

Through lidded eyes

And sound stopped ears

The visions fade too soon

And faces drown in moonlight

As darkness fills the room

Variations on the lines of Ozymandias


I stood upon a silvered strip of land

Which fringed the edge between the sea and stone

And saw embroidered golden threads of sand

Wrap softly where the barnacle had grown

I saw myself give out a firm command

I wondered if the seas themselves had read

The thousand tales of empires and those things

On which our ancient histories are fed

When from the mist a legend should appear

With power in the hands of noble Kings

And men stood by in awe and deep despair

As rocks and sand told stories of decay

When land lies levelled, stripped and bare

And kingly power is gently lapped away


Leaving Home

Leaving Home

 The day I left home came as a surprise to me.  I had gone shopping as usual, parked the car by the railway station and had just put my coins in the parking ticket machine, when a train came in.  As I struggled with the machine I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, the people standing on the platform, chatting, staring into space, reading newspapers.  Now the train had gone and the platform was empty except for a sole figure standing, as if waiting for someone still to arrive.  The figure stood for a moment, looking up the line as the train moved away.  It seemed as if they were hoping that someone would appear, leave the train, walk back down the line perhaps and offer a greeting.  But of course no one came and the person who was waiting turned and left the platform.

I stood, still watching and waiting.  I had a vision of those people who had filled the platform so recently, having been eaten by the train, digested and disgorged at some destination further up the line, far away from here.  I saw them still reading their newspapers, or drinking coffee, or staring out of the window or chatting to friends, while silently moving away, up the line and out of reach of this place.  I saw myself sitting among them, smartly dressed, briefcase open on the table, reading my notes for a meeting; or looking forward to a shopping trip or a visit to the theatre, going anywhere but here.

I felt in my bag for my purse.  I looked out my credit card.  I wondered about the cost of a ticket.  I pictured myself alighting in the big city, stepping swiftly along the platform, my heels tapping smartly as I walked with assurance towards the exit, looking for the way out.  Would the children miss me, I wondered?  They hardly seem to notice me now they are growing up.  A hasty greeting in the morning as they rush to school; a grumpy nod when they come home, looking for food but too busy with their own lives to sit down and talk to me.  They wouldn’t miss me, not until they had to get their own meals.  And would he miss me?  Probably, but he’d soon get over it.  He knows how to use the washing machine.  He’ll manage, I thought.

I looked down at what I was wearing.  I’d stand out like a sore thumb in the city in my jeans and fleece, but who would notice?  I went over to the ticket machine; “out of order”.  I looked at the timetable; next train in an hour.  I wondered how much was in my bank account.  How long would it last in the city?  I went up to the ticket office and half-hoped that there would be no one on duty.  But there was.  She looked up at me, through the strengthened glass and waited expectantly.  “A single toLondon, please” I heard my self say.  My voice came out of a place I didn’t recognise.  Was that really me, asking for a ticket toLondon, I wondered?  Still feeling that I was in a dream, I stuffed the ticket into my purse, deep where I couldn’t see it.  My purse felt hot in my hand, so I pushed it into my bag.  The bag knocked against my thigh as I paced the platform. How long could I wait, I wondered?  Eventually people began to arrive on the platform.  A crowd milled around me.  The train arrived and everyone pushed past me.  I stood, sweating, my heart thumping in my chest, my hand gripping my bag.

And the train left.  I watched it as it moved smoothly up the line, waiting as if to see myself safely seated in the rear carriage.  A silence fell around me.  Then a footstep behind me and a voice spoke.  “Were you waiting for some one, love?”  The porter looked concerned.  “Are you are ok?”  “Yes, I’m fine, thank you”.  No, I’m not waiting for anyone, I thought.  I’m just watching myself, leaving home.  And it’s comes as quite a shock, really.