a tritina for my enigmatic muse

You fragrance the warmth that resides in my heart.

Your heat is implicit in my aromatic words,

and yet consistency’s missed from your promised bouquet.


I dream of wild lily to spice your bouquet.

I pray for pale rose to prod my yearning heart

into blooming, creating a garden of words.


You hide in the trees, whispering the words

I need to capture and show in a scented bouquet.

Speak louder, please: help me speak from my heart.


Let me express my heart in a bouquet of ardent words.


My response to Day 7 of NaPoWriMo 2016: write a tritina

my creative heart

inktuition creative heart

my creative heart has been

beating but not seen,

patiently not known,

hoping, lying in wait

that one day, like this,

I would notice its pulse

and take heed of its sounds

listen to its beat,

see all its signs,

act on its guidance.

Create, at last,

what makes it sing.

A full-hearted swing

at life’s infinite joy.

(pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/cuteimage)

in the grip of my saboteur

inktuition ballerina

My saboteur grips his fist

around my waist

and shakes me.

I’m a ballerina to his giant,

his fingers and thumbs

all flesh and fear.

My head becomes his,

my voice his own,

with an added twist of rage.

As he flings me round

I’m dazed and thrown

his wrath has been uncaged.

What wakes him up

is a critical word,

a sigh, a lie, a frown.

He will crush what isn’t liked.

Work smashed, hopes burned,

darlings end up drowned.

He makes me collude

in destroying

all I have created.

Every rhyme, every verse,

every colourful phrase

he shreds until he’s sated.

My ballerina frills

are ripped and sad,

The dance is forever seated.

My pointes won’t twirl,

my spins won’t charm,

my life force feels defeated.

My saboteur thinks he’s saved me

from the shame

of mocking failure

But as I sit amidst the harm he’s done

I begin to wonder

what he’s there for.

(image courtesy of sattva/freedigitalphotos.net)

A poem for my love of writing distractions

How can I distract myself? Let me count the ways.

It’s amazing how I can usefully and helpfully fill my days.

My sink is super-shiny, my rubber gloves worn out.

My fridge has no more mould, just freshly prepared trout.

That old shed of mine, with boxes of old books,

is now a spider-free den; a children-friendly nook.

The piles of beauty sachets in my bathroom cabinet

now languish in the bin. They give me no regrets.

The stray strands in my eyebrow, the split ends of my hair

are now all clipped and neat. All are gone, I swear.

The clothes from years gone by, that I promised I’d wear again,

are stuffed in plump black sacks, going to causes humane.

The oven’s clean and spick, dried-in dribbles gone.

Anyone would think I’m a domestic goddess reborn.

But every writer has to go there,

to a cave-like, darkened gloom;

to that wibbly-wobbly place

before you move from womb to bloom.

So when the deadline’s there

and you’re picking up the pace,

remember to give some space

to creativity’s ultimate grace.

A poem pleading for the right to journal privately – at whatever age

My response to recent reports that a mother shared her five-year-old daughter’s journal online (fearing that she was sharing sad thoughts with paper, rather than her mother) is this:

My diary was always mine, unless spying eyes stole

my secret-est thoughts from the heart,

or spied my flaws, my dreams, my holes.

 I always write to heal, never to share or flaunt

my shadow stuff that’s too far too delicate

to bring to public taunt.

I’ve written daily words from at least the age of nine

from the clothes of Charlie’s Angels

to the depths of Freud and Klein.

So spying on a little girl’s words leaves me frozen with self-doubt.

I can only think of one grown person

whose probing left my craft in drought.

So as I tense for the critic, hoping for the praise

that moment of potential brilliance

gets lost in a fearful malaise.

So, mothers, for creativity’s sake, don’t censor your girl’s every move.

Leave her to find her voice,

through pen and page her groove.

Poem: The Creative Escapee

Your boss is always right, she says,

As she wields a pen of heavy red

That bites and wounds my worried words,

And my former self-belief goes blurred.


Your boss is always right, she mouths,

As my typo sends her humour south.

I hang my head, gut full of shame,

Have all my creative leaps gone lame?


Your boss is always right, she shouts,

As my brain cells begin to cower in doubt:

Is my work that flat, that nondescript,

Does her critique always have to be sour-lipped?


Your boss is always right, she yells,

As I reflect upon this straitjacket hell

Of rigid rules, of constant digs.

A model of how you can’t forgive.


Your boss is always right, she screams

Hysteria’s norm? That’s what it seems.

A dumbed-down doer is all she wants,

But there’s more to me than a size-12 font.


I may type your amends

With intentions well meant

But you can’t reach the real me

‘Cos I’m a Creative Escapee.


So yes, the boss is always right

But the red pen certainly doesn’t delight.

What rules my world is being in sync

With my authentic guide of true-self ink.

When too much criticism cripples creativity

My heart goes out to the artist who painted the first ever portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge. Paul Emsley’s work of art, on display in London’s National Portrait Gallery, has been slated by the media and the critics. One even called the painting ‘rotten’. And that criticism cut him deeply to the point of making him doubt the value of his work.

An article in London’s Evening Standard, Mr Emsley says the reaction to his portrait of Kate has been like a ‘witch hunt’. He is quoted as saying that some of the words said about the painting were vicious and personal, and “I’d be inhuman if I said it didn’t affect me”. He added that there came a point when he “doubted that the portrait of the duchess was any good”. But he has coped with it by going back into his studio and “getting on with it”.

All artists, whether they use a paintbrush, a pen or even a pair of ballet shoes, express themselves through their creativity. And that creativity can get crushed when some people believe they’re in a position to tut with superiority or wag their finger with self-righteousness. The act of creating can be fragile. And the door to the creative unconscious can be slammed shut by unthinking, unfeeling criticism.

Mr Emsley just got on with it. Not everyone can just ‘get on with it’ when they’ve had the kind of criticism that cuts to the core. But it’s the act of continuing to do what you believe in that encourages creativity to come out of hiding. Plus, Mr Emsley I’m sure can take some comfort from knowing that the postcard of Kate’s portrait is reportedly one of the fastest selling ones in the gallery.

If creativity helps you live longer, let’s give more freedom to our inner child

I do love psychological research that tells us how to live longer – especially if one of those behaviours or qualities is what I do already. So I was delighted to read on Psychology Today a report on a study that has evidence to show that being creative can help you live longer. (Well, at least among men, anyway).

Basically, the study of 1,349 men over 18 years shows that being open to new ideas and being willing to try new things can lengthen your lifespan, with a 12% reduction in mortality risk.

How does creativity help? It basically exercises the brain to keep it fit and it helps to reduce stress levels (or at least helps to manage stress better and make it less daunting). Creativity is recommended throughout the whole of life to cope better with the onset of aging, and our thoughts and feelings around it. (Who doesn’t feel better after having externalised our stresses through painting, writing or even dancing).

When you see kids playing with paints, being clever with crayons, and lacking any kind of self-consciousness when they sing, dance and play, I often wonder where that innocent sense of playfulness and creativity goes when we grow up.

Let’s bring our inner children out more often and let them have a play. I think that the creativity the researchers talk about is also related to a sense of fun and a feeling that life is still full of wonder and curiosity, no matter what age you are.