Photograph by Stephen Rowland
Photograph by Stephen Rowland


it takes a bit
of determination
to unwind the wire
and work off the
of gilt
but then
held between
the thighs, the
rounded top needs
no further pressure
from thumb tips or mouth
to gently rise, with a shout
the froth springs as it spangles
my skin and sings through my veins


Photograph by Dan Rowland

Mum’s Magic

Mum’s a juggler of dates and plans,
plates and pans all go up in the air
to be caught in her hands that do dishes

it’s mum who can make a wet morning shine
when it’s mucky outside
pancakes are suns and lemons are moons

in the sizzling fat of the tossing
and twirling deep yellow of batter
and the curl of the butter, cascade of fine sugar

the drizzles of syrup and milk
frothing white as the cumulus clouds
mop up the misery of moping indoors.

But – there’s a monster
who jeers and who leers
from the mouth of the mask of the mummy

who shouts in her mending of squabbles and muddles,
flour on the floor and mud in the sink
and everyone melts.

Mum in a miserable puddle wants tea and a cuddle
someone to sit on her knee, to nestle up close
and not want the marvel of spangle of balls in the air.

Now she’s dropped all the balls, she’ll try a new guise

for Mum the magician
has marvellous moments
a magical Mum is a must for the home

out of her hat come socks and pyjamas
money on Monday, medicine
and music

magical mum when she looks in the mirror
sees only the back of her head
for the razzle, the dazzle

the speed of her life
ensure she is always just one trick ahead
moving much faster than light

with a quick sleight of hand, she puckers
and pulls at the rubber of the skin
of the mask on her head

she yanks it right off – Abracadabra –
there’s the mum of the moment
with a smile and clean floor and white sheets

she’s a fresh face for each day
but peel them off as she may
what’s beneath is still only

a mask.


New Angel Wings by shadavar-stock on DeviantArt
Original photograph: New Angel Wings by shadavar-stock on DeviantArt

A pair of Wings to fly with

‘Reach up high, onto the high shelf!’

I had to fetch a stepladder, brush my hand
over cobwebby planks; but the whole cupboard
was empty as Mother Hubbard’s.

‘Try again’, you said.
Still nothing.

‘You’re not looking properly!’
and there it was.

But how could something so infinitesimal
be what I’m looking for?

When I shook it out, I knew what it was:
a pair of wings
just my size.


Harley Davidson & Chopper Wallpaper, Published by adam
Original photograph: Harley Davidson & Chopper Wallpaper, Published by adam

Out of the Blue
(or The Real Hell’s Angel)

You roar up on a Harley Davidson,
leathers all patched and grazed,
skid to a halt, dust flying,
strip gauntlets from muscled hands,
wrestle off your helmet
and push sudden ringlets
golden out of your eyes.

The girls scream, but you seem not to hear,
turn your heaven-blue gaze on us,
and shrug great shoulders out of your jacket
so your wings unfurl until they tremble
above your head.

You take our hands, and the touch
is so soft it’s electric.
And then you lead the way:

the girls aren’t screaming any more,
nor the lads scowling
as we all fly off haloed – on Goldwings,
Harleys, and Norton Commandoes:
feathers instead of leather.


Photo by Dan Rowland
Photograph by Dan Rowland

 Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

I hold up my chin
as Mum fastens the buttons
and ties up the hood of my red shiny mac.

‘Tell Granny we love her
and give her these cakes and these flowers.
But beware in the woods.’

Red is the light of the day on my head
through my crimson umbrella:
a shield from the footsteps of rain.

Daddy holds out his hand
and I take it – the path is all
slippy and sloshy with wet.

The quicksilver bole of the beech
is the pole of a tent and the pattern of leaves
on the grey of the sky is a roof.

I am cold, my legs bare.  But I do as I’m told
in the wet and the rustle
and the grunt of the whispers of the wood.

Granny caresses my cheek and my hair:
‘You look pale dear; your lip trembles
and, oh your hand shakes.

The wind in the trees should bring
roses of joy to your skin,
when you walk with your daddy,

You’re safe with your daddy,
he’s so big and so strong with such a sharp axe,
and he loves you so much.

Photograph by Stephen Rowland

Take Care Once You Start Writing

You are about to enter a danger zone
Wear protective clothing around your heart
Take off your shoes

Drawing by Jill Gibbon
Drawing by Jill Gibbon

Writing can seriously damage your sadness
Writing can seriously damage your nightmares
You are in danger of achieving your dreams

Once started you won’t be able to stop
Nor will you want to
And others might catch it too

You are in serious danger of learning you’re alive
You are in serious danger of laughing out loud
You are in serious danger of loving yourself

If it gets in your eyes, consult your loved ones
If it gets in your mind, cancel your therapist
If it gets in your heart, hold on tight