Poetry

You’ll find samples of my poetry on this page. From time to time I offer a free collection of An Old Man from India and Other Poems to readers who subscribe to my mailing list. If you sign up to my list and this is your preferred e-book, please let me know.

She Slept Unafraid

She loved with a passion
that requires courage,
her heart a tiny bird
in her chest

Not for her
the robotic focus
of suited men
and painted wives

Or the false gods
of screens and cables,
the trappings of
human endeavour

Instead, she ran barefoot
through fields
and slept unafraid
under the stars

She read poetry
into the early hours
tangling her limbs
with mine

She never grew old
though lines spiralled
like cobwebs across
her face

Her irises were as clear
as the day she tumbled
into my life
and my heart

On the day she died
I held her in my arms
Azaan rang out
from marbled mosques

Church bells chimed
across hallowed oceans
the Raabi bent his head
over the book of the Jews

We sat in the fading light,
my name a simple prayer
falling from her lips,
each syllable a jewel

And I knew I was loved

ENDS

Making Home

We went back
to bright city lights and siren calls
bleak rain over stacked chimney pots
where the big clock stands
proudly amidst carved buildings
of yellowed stone
sticky pubs and well-trodden streets,
in which the street lamps
cast familiar shadows

We travelled back
to the rhythms of my childhood
of parental love
and my grandmother’s food
the constant beep and boom
of the television and telephone,
sprawling networks of goodwill
chiselling away
pieces of our time

Easy to slip into
the patterns of youth
when self-determination seems
an unachievable fantasy
to be buffeted instead
by the storms of others
and forget to thrust our spear
into the ground
on which we wish to stand

I mourned the distance
before we left,
love scarcely tangible
with an ocean between us
Cables and distorted pixels
a poor comparison to touch
What I would give to always
sit at my grandmother’s feet
and welcome back
the ghosts of the past

Still that home is not mine
My home is the one
we created together
brick by brick
kiss by kiss
the circle of your arms
the meat of your feet on mine
underneath the cotton covers
when we sleep

I dream of the third child
we may have,
if the stars align
I think of the home that will be ours
when we move again
And my heart is sore
for the places we have known
I miss the blood and sweat of the city
the clean mountain air and snowy peaks
though we are still here

That little Vietnamese place
with the benches where we used to eat
and our friend sweated out the spice
Our favourite park with its hills,
small like a jewel,
where we walked with him,
the one we loved
and saw the city skyline
if we squinted

The bridge in Eastern Europe
where we picked up the watercolours
and I kicked off my shoes to walk the cobbles
Or our first home together,
above my father’s workshop,
where we’d hear the call of the men
toiling below and my culture
made me feel a hussy
between the sheets without a ring
though we were bonded by love

I think how funny we are
with our need for a place of our own,
a door to close and lock,
when some have only a cardboard box
in a shanty town and a future
that dissolves through their fingers
And it’s not important, place,
or having four walls
to call ours away from the storm

Except it is.

Until our health goes
or our heart.

ENDS

An Old Man from India

An old man came from India,
scooped up his savings
to visit his new grandchild
The baby, quiet and soft,
suffered from an ailment
that marred its first days

Still the man beamed,
his heart filled with gladness
that the child was there,
a gift, a fighter
he planned to lift up
with his own hands

There was exhaustion
etched on the faces
of the mother and father
Fear cast a shadow
that threatened to
blot out the light

The old man could not protect them
so he walked in his helplessness
as he would at home,
where the streets were dusty
and the vapours drove away
the clouds in his mind

He paced the asphalt streets
in the land of the brave
A poor man praying,
a grandfather seeking
to renew his courage
on that lonely walk

And they came, with enforcements,
with sirens and loudspeakers
But he didn’t understand
their words, their manner,
Or that he had given reason
to cause alarm.

Alarm!

Slaves to concrete, pixelated screens
and hidden tools of death
The man from India
never imagined
he would be condemned
for walking on the street

Or that in the midst
of his very human battle
suspicion would settle
around his shoulders
like a dark mist
he could not pierce

Because of his skin colour
Because, he walked

Tell me

Guardians of the peace
in the land of the brave,
how is it you arm yourselves
to fight the old man,
the troubled boys and the homeless
without first considering
your own flaws?

Use force if you must
but first take a moment
to understand that
poverty, misfortune,
alien ways and DNA do not
automatically make an enemy

He walked.
He will not walk again.
And one tragedy
became three.

ENDS

Loving You

My love for you is burned
onto the pages of my journal
It pools in the grooves
where my pen has pressed
The past in a capsule

Let me savour the man I knew –
the one hidden by cares
I’ll hold the memory of us
on my tongue
and let it mellow there

In unguarded moments
we buoy
Interlaced fingers,
lingering kisses I want
to keep in a glass jar

By night our feet are magnets
Lumps of flesh melting together
Warmth that spirals up
to where my heart is
And yours

I mourn for the day
we will be separated
by a force greater than me
I will rip the cries
from where they are buried

And try to follow you

ENDS

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