NaPoWriMo Day 16: playing at life

Video games give a great reminder of lives

too short, and too easily run over;

these days, easily re-built or re-booted,

according to your app, or whatever’s closer.


Your avatar lives as though a real you,

ducking, diving, dashing – always a fight

to save your last life, as though those before

the last one didn’t count for nought.


Except the reality of play is a metaphor of real.

Why play at life, when it’s a fragile gift.

Here and gone in a heartbeat, it is.

Like a game, life’s time is swift.

NaPoWriMo 2018 day 8: the whispers of a tomb

Stand tall, stand true.

Find balance in what you do.

 My four diamond holes

to help find what you extol.

My three central blocks

to stay firm against life’s knocks.

The column at my core

to align with what you adore.

The security at my base,

to remind you to live with grace.

Tides come, tides go,

time shoots its arrows.

Stand true, stand tall.

One day you won’t be here at all.


the deceit of loss

A furbo fox slips through a net,

a chicken gets surprised.

A wily boss keeps staff on board

with an ever-decreasing prize.

A playboy fools again his wife,

who withholds the sex he craves,

in denial that his wayward ways

will help to cheat the grave.

The soul gets bought with cash or time,

depends on what’s for sale.

Life’s random cull will cut and run,

and blur success with fail.

A famous face suddenly lost, now

is odds to top the charts.

A eulogistic comedy face

is drawing the last laugh.

A poem: the breath between life and death

OK. So it was expected

that any breath could be her last.

I’ve sat with her so many times

as I raked over gripes from my past.

But what I’m still sitting with now

is the contrast between life and death:

one minute her chest’s up and down;

the next she’s drawn her last breath.

There was calmness in that in-between moment,

with sounds of her last snores and sighs,

as I sat in my ambivalent seat

making heartfelt, what-if goodbyes.

A poem: ambivalence for my dying mother

We’ve never been close

you’ve always resented that.

So you lashed out and used

the shaming sting of your slap

to keep me in my place.

Neither too clever or too cool:

I was only ever safe

as a perfect extension of you.

So now you’re close to dying.

It’s been a rapid, vicious decline.

My resentment for your blows is

twisted round some thorny vine.

I’d love to find forgiveness,

some sense your life was worth

all those prickly punishments;

that your purpose was divine.

Why some kinds of grief never die

My father died 14 years ago this evening: 10 minutes to 10pm on Thursday 11 March 1999. I don’t think there’s been a day gone by when I haven’t thought about him.

It’s worse in the early days, of course, when the thought flashes across my mind that I want to make that phone call to him to joke about something funny I’ve read in the paper or heard on the radio. And then I realise with searing pain to my heart that I can’t. Because he’s gone. Fourteen years down the line, the urge to speak to him is the same, and the pain of loss around his anniversary is almost as keen as when he first passed away.

I remember three months after he died, a so-called ‘friend’ said I should be over it by now. Be over what, exactly? The tears, the numbness, the inability to accept that such a mighty man had been snuffed from my life?

After the shock and all the fuss of the funeral and the sympathy cards, people’s interest wanes. Their life gets back to normal. But for a bereaved daughter there is no getting back to normal. There’s only the day-to-day getting through, and the renegotiating a life whose volume has been dialled down several notches. Whose colour is a few shades faded. Whose fabric of hope has been ripped to shreds.

So I don’t believe in ‘getting over’ grief. Yes, there are ‘stages’ of grief to be ‘worked through’ and the loss to come to terms with. Eventually. But I defy anyone who’s lost someone darling and dear to them to say that one day they’re completely ‘over it’.

Grief will always have a grip on my heart. But perhaps by remembering my sadness, by honouring my grief, I am keeping alive my father’s spirit within me.

why feeling iSad brings up all my other losses too

I’ve never understood widespread mourning for a public figure. Famous people die, and I think it’s sad, but I’ve never felt the loss before of someone I’ve never met, yet who has touched, inspired and enhanced my life in the way that Steve Jobs has.

I may change my skirt length, accent colour, heel shape, belt width or lipstick shade to suit the season, but there’s one thing I’ll never change, and that’s my Mac. I may have put up with a PC when I’ve had to, but its clunkiness, slowness and downright unsexiness has me sprinting back (yes, even in my high heels) to my thing of beauty: my Mac.

I secured my first job as a journalist on one of those square, tiny-screened Macs, which somehow made writing an article as an intern feel so Continue reading