Category Archives: poetry

Sliced Essex Lion

Don’t press play above if you don’t like sweary bits!

There is something stirring in Framlingham, a merry band called A Slice of Life are set on bringing different and unusual arts to the town. I was pleased as punch to find that Luke Wright was going to be recording a programme (which will be broadcast on Radio Suffolk and Radio Essex on New Year’s Day). I have followed Luke for quite a while on Twitter and had seen odd clips of his poems online, then at Lattitude this summer his was the breath of fresh air I had been looking for. Luke curates the poetry tent as well as performing his own work at the festival and it was there I met the Essex Lion for the first time. I did wonder how Luke would manage the process of editing out the sweary bits for the Radio show but he chose his pieces carefully and this meant I heard several poems that I hadn’t heard before – it was a great night and well done to Slice of Life for bringing the unusual to Framlingham – keep it up!


Saponification – Sapoemification from Pieku to Soap


Lovely Veronica from Royston and Hayes sent me a soap [if you saw the earlier post you’ll see a theme developing here]. Not any soap, an enormous, fragrant, Hawaiian White Ginger soap, personalised with my name. When I say enormous I’m talking about 1Kg! Veronica had watched the progress of the pieku competition and decided to make a soap for the competition winner and would I like one myself? She asked what my favourite colours were too; so teal and mauve it is.  The camera doesn’t do great justice to the detail in the layering, including the glitter on the lettering and the Bray’s Cottage inspired pig. The soap came with full instructions for cutting, so I can share some out among friends, now the photo is safely in the can I’m looking forward to trying it out, it smells gorgeous.

I wonder if I can conjure up any soap based poetry……



Georgie, Porgie, Pudding and Pieku

This is one of those longer posts, so – feel free to skip to the bit you came looking for:

Pieku – Haiku on Pies, 0r Janathon 2012 – Thanks Kathy and Janathoners, or ‘Dispersal’ – a short story

Pieku – Haiku on Pies

You will find elsewhere in this blog reference to Brays Cottage, the Perfect Pie Company. One of my first ever ‘Pop-up’ assignments was helping Sarah on her stall, I’ve written a silly screenplay in the past too. This weekend has seen a little activity that has taken over twitter in a big way and I love the way that Sarah can take a batty idea and run with it – introducing the Pieku. It started when she asked me for the origins of the nursery rhyme Georgie, Porgie Pudding and Pie; I pulled out my copy of the Opie’s book on nursery rhymes and quoted back a few lines.  Then overnight my brain was clearly working away on the idea of rhymes and pies I woke up with Pieku forming; Pie based Haiku. I tweeted one to Sarah and she started a competition (it ends tonight – Sunday so get in quick for a personalised pie to the winner), they seem to be coming in at one every 10 minutes at the moment!

Here are some of the ones I have written – I try to stick with the 5,7,5 – cutting word and seasonal reference.

Knife through golden crust

Reveal inner soul, hearty

Blanket spread on ground


Wanton luscious pie

Mustard bit on side devour

Secret Valentine


Seductive mouthful

Jelly optional consume

Amatory gold


Hot crust raised up high

Chorizo filling warming

Not all pies are cold


If you have Pieku forming tweet them to Sarah @Brays_Cottage

Janathon 2012 – Thanks Kathy and Janathoners

Janathon 2012 has been a wonderful stimulus to get me moving again this year, but I failed miserably in the blogging and logging. Finally I think I’ve reached the stage where for me, as long as I do the exercise, I’m happy and don’t feel the need to log it all the time.  This is progress. I am really thankful to Kathy for starting the ball rolling and I have taken up running which is another new activity and paying dividends. Although, you’ll understand by the picture above why I haven’t run or swum today. I am also really grateful to the fellow Janathoners who encourage and support and dare I say it the PlankPolice who riddle me with guilt!

Dispersal – a short story

This is my latest piece of homework for the writing workshop I attend.  The task again was to allow the dialogue to do some of the narration, it is also designed to be read out loud for a ‘performance’ later in the year; let me know what you think…


The day I first visited here, a hoar frost was still hanging in the trees at mid-morning, thick fog had dogged us for days. Cloud Farm was boarded up and virtually derelict. When I opened the oak door I was disappointed that as it swung back it was silent, not the heart stopping creak I was expecting. It should not have been possible, but the air inside the tiled hall was even colder than outside. The door to the right led me into a large sitting room.  As I entered the room the only light was forcing itself through tiny holes in dark sheeting tacked up to the windows. I struggled to find my way to one of them, and tore at the corner of the fabric; it made an echoing, ripping sound as it split.

“Stupid girl,” I turned at the sound of the quiet voice, “put that back, there’s no light allowed in here.” I attempted to hook the fabric back into position but there was no way it would stay put.
“Sorry?” I said tentatively, “I didn’t mean to cause offence; I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here.”
“There isn’t,” said the voice.

The solicitor had warned me that that in addition to dereliction, the house was reputed to be haunted. He probably thought I was joking when I told him that was fine because I grew up with them.

I moved towards the voice, “You’re the colour of amber,” I said, she had the sheen and consistency of manuka honey, fresh from the fridge.
“You’re not frightened of me then?” she said.
I moved towards her, a small table at her side held a deeply grooved board with what looked like a single large marble balanced towards the end. Suddenly my foot landed on another marble and I started to slide inexorably towards her.

“Don’t knock the table,” she called out weakly. I resisted the temptation to put a hand out and instead drifted into her, landing on my backside with my eyes at her knee level.

“Oh my god, what happened to your legs? They are so tattered, they look chewed, are they sore?”

“Stupid girl; I can’t feel anything anymore. The damage was done after I collapsed; I was unconscious for two days before I died. The rats got me.” She seemed calmly philosophical about it.

As I attempted to get up, my fingers touched another marble. I lifted it as I rose and turned it in my hand.

“An eye,” I said, “Are they all eyes?”

“Yes would you mind picking them up and putting them in the rack?” she asked.

“Of course; such a variety, I like this one, a beautiful sapphire blue, how unusual.”

“It’s the only one that matches my natural eye colour” As I looked at her now though, she had no colour other than amber.

“Could you help me fit it?” she asked. I lifted the eye-ball up to her face; she had no temperature, as I felt for the outline of the eye socket.
“You don’t feel of anything, I can just sense differences of resistance, is this a bony ridge?” I asked.
“Yes just press the ball in and it should sit there.” For a moment, with her sapphire eye, she was complete.

Then she sighed, “Stupid girl.” The fog was clearing outside, more light streamed into the room and as the temperature lifted I looked at her.

“Your eye; it’s slipping.” It slid down inside her face and fell out of the bottom of her jaw, hitting the ground with a dull thud and rolling to the skirting board.

“Dispersal,” she said “When I warm up I start to melt away, it takes so much energy to rebuild myself when it’s cool enough…” and with that she seemed to dissolve in front of my eyes, and hers; trickling through the cracks in the floorboards. Just an eccentric collection of glass eyes on a side table remained.

I moved back to the window and let in more light, then saw the note pinned to the wall.
If you are reading this, Cloud Farm is about to become yours. Charlotte and I have lived peacefully together for nearly thirty years. She lives in the walk-in fridge mostly. Each time she retires there we agree when she will next emerge. We have had some successes. So far we have found the final resting place of four of the rats who chewed at her limbs and have garnered quite a bit of her form. We have learnt that two degrees Celsius is the critical temperature, any higher than that and she starts to disperse, any lower and she is too stiff to move. You must turn the air conditioning to its lowest setting and raise the fridge to two degrees for twenty-four hours before she is due to come out; check the whiteboard on the wall for the next date. On no account attempt to bring her out if the air temperature is above two degrees. There are still more rat bodies to find, or potentially the rats that ate those rats. Also her original eye; she lost it cutting wood, but taking her outside is so risky and the emotions so painful, we have agreed to leave that until last. You see, like all spirits she cannot pass over and finally release her particles until she is complete. At least her imperfections are physical, it is so much harder for those whose damage is emotional, they may never recover and remain here forever.

Look after Charlotte; she is essentially good, just damaged.

That which dies does not drop out of the world. Here it remains; and here too, therefore it changes and is resolved into its several particles; that is into the elements which go to form the universe and yourself. They themselves likewise undergo change, and yet from them comes no complaint. – Marcus Aurelis

For #12DCP folks this is my belated Ghost Story

Red Currents

The events of the last few days have left me, once again dismayed and confused about humans, life and how we interact with each other.  I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be close to events such as those in Norway, how to react, cries of ‘what must be done?’ – should anything be done, should we just try to normalise and move on?  Then there are the thoughts of hundreds of deaths around the globe which could be avoided, treated, prevented.  In the end yesterday evening I could not cope with all the confused thoughts in my brain.  I wanted to do something simple, I picked red currants, but even there the metaphors caught up with me – so I came in prepped the fruit for the freezer and listened guiltily to Mike Brearley, possibly England’s greatest ever cricket captain, talking from his autobiography about the 1981 test matches.  Memories of wandering around Torquay trying to catch up with the game; which as every bar and pub was crowded out with people watching and listening to the game was easy, people shouted out the scores as you went past. Of course nothing has changed in the world, but small moments of calm help.

A playlist here

Red Currents

Garnet berries,
Arterial blood, drips from bushes,
Gathering should heal,
Life and death are bitter-sweet.

Warning – Illustration Friday

Based on Jenny Joseph's poem - Warning

The topic for this week’s Illustration Friday is ‘Warning’. I didn’t even stop to look for other poems – there could only be one; beloved of women of a ‘certain age’.  Warning by Jenny Joseph, encourages misbehaviour and I will always say we have no money for butter. Sadly there is no Red Hat Chapter in Suffolk – perhaps we should start one……

The Undersideness of Leaves

If you have Spotify this playlist accompanies this post

Today was a working day for me and not one that I could inject much exercise into for a variety of reasons.  I took the dog for a walk only slightly longer than our regular one, so the most I can claim for Janathon is 1.8 miles.  It was windy and having suggested to @JonMWelch that he go fly a kite (in the nicest possible way) I started to wonder if it was the right kind of wind for kite flying.  Cheerily singing ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ as I walked I felt really upbeat. Then I started to think about my Suffolk 365 Picture of the day – could I capture the wind in a photograph.

The wind was evident; clouds scudding across the sky, grass stems bent nearly horizontal.   I started to think how the wind is like an emotion; you see its impact, the effects created by it, but not he wind itself. With the photograph in mind I realised the main way I could capture the wind was by the effect it was having on the few evergreen leaves on trees and bushes.  You could see their undersides.  Then I started thinking about the word leaf and how the plural is leaves.  English is a curious language, before long leaves had turned in my mind from parts of plants to departures of one kind and another.  By the time I was home I was fixated on the concept of the ‘Undersideness of Leaves’ – here is one take on it.

The Undersideness of Leaves

Shiny cuticle
Protective shell
Outward self


Dulled underside
Canker, rust, spot
Hairs that sting


Miner, explorer
Consuming, growing
Replete, leaves

Phenomenon – Illustration Friday – The reach of my arms…

The topic  for Illustration Friday is Phenomenon, there is a wonderful poem by Maya Angelou called Phenomenal Woman, take a look and you will see why my woman has long arms and wide hips. I also learned from Lynne Clark aka @josordoni that there is a pattern of Loetz glass, called Phänomen, hence the design for her dress.

Sneaky – Illustration Friday – A Smuggler’s Song

Illustration Friday - Sneaky

Illustration Friday this week is ‘sneaky’. I have spent some time in Orford and the weather is thick and foggy at the moment. As I was taking pictures down at the quay the sounds of voices were carried across the water clearly. “Yew gotta go Kareful ther’ buoy, thas a lot of bewt yew gort there.” Reading ‘Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay’ by George Ewart Evans there is a fantastic section about smuggling. One Liney Riches referred to in the book kept sheep, he would run them over the tracks where the smugglers had taken their haul and prevent the excise men from tracking the route of the wagon. So my thoughts have been with sneaky smugglers, ancient or modern and I have cobbled together my impressions from the images and sounds around the quay. The light from the window might be someone shining a warning lamp or ill-advisedly looking out when they should know better. If you like poetry you might like Rudyard Kipling’s ‘A Smuggler’s Song‘.

The Paisley Stoater

Illustration Friday - Stoater

Over at Illustration Friday the topic of the week it ‘Paisley’.  Regular readers will know I am fond of poetry and Paisley being in the heartland of the great Scottish bairds I thought I would find some worthy ancient verse to share. However, in my travels I found a gorgeous poem called ‘She’s Just a Stoater’ by Peter Thomson.

I have clad her in a tartan skirt; if only it was longer it might prevent her from getting erythema ab igne, a condition I used to see a lot years ago.  I picture her sitting one side of the fire while her old man sits the other side. She has developed erythema ab igne (Granny’s tartan) on her right leg, the smoking won’t have helped her circulation.  He probably has a tartan leg on the left.  I presume she pawned the ring, but she wouldn’t have received much cash for it as it was not pure enough gold, hence turning her finger green.  Still, she probably bought some coal and fags with the proceeds.  I have to admit I have no idea what a “HAWN’-N-CAN” is, in the poem; I’ve assumed it is a handle-less bucket that she is off outside to fill with more coal.

One thing I do know, he loves her; after all she’s a stoater.  I think this calls for music – Link to Spotify playlist here

Choices – Japonica Glistens Like Coral

Back on the theme of choices, in this pre-election period; possibly the most difficult thing for me to understand is war. When I don’t understand things I tend to look to poetry, art, literature; basically anything other than political rhetoric to try and gain perspective.

This morning the japonica is in flower.  Japonica makes me cry when I think of the poem “Naming of parts” by Henry Reed.  For me the poem is about the physical and emotional unpreparedness of the prepared and their essential fragility no mater how tough they are.

However, I also reflect on the poem “First they came“, attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller.  I don’t know that I am any further forward in assessing the rights and wrongs of the current disputes, wars and disturbances.  I do know they can have a tremendous impact on individuals and communities.

Difficult choices.  You can find out some of what your MP has or hasn’t been involved in voting at

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