For George


, ,

Memories are all I have now

But they are nowhere near enough!

Memories of lazy day visits, to your home

And the warmth of camomile cups

That gently touched as they rested

Upon the honeyed oak

Or sitting in the garden, your own private Eden

Complete with industrious bees and

Peaceful dovecote.


And if I could,

I would robe these moments,

In pure amber

And weave them into the

Fabric of Time.

So that the universe would always


That you were a

Dear friend of mine.

Dear George, you were a jewel in my life. You gave so much of yourself to all the things you believed in and your loving kindness will live on in my heart. George Saunders: Chair of Norwich Access Group and lover of the natural world.




For Mum:

My husband’s fleece wraps around me,
Like an enormous hug.
It smells of him, it smells of love
But the sleeves are not made
Like a woman’s would be, there’s just no give!
My wrists, so often in the sink, are bound
With cold wet fabric that chafes my skin.
I turn and roll them but the cloth clings tight
I pull them up, with all my might       but
They refuse to stay put and
Slide back down, into the greasy dirt.
His sleeves, only know days filled with office banter
Across computer monitors and desk jet printers.
Days that mercifully end at five o’clock, when he
Comes home and puts his feet up.
My wardrobe was once full, of clothes like this, with
Tight buttoned cuffs that caressed my skin
But even then, on holidays and weekends,
I’d roll the sleeves up on my mother’s cardigans
To scrub the floors and bleach the bins as,
I waited for one washing cycle to end so
Another could begin.
Mum was married on promises, pregnant
With dreams that were hard to resist
For a girl, the shy side of nineteen
I can still see her in the kitchen where,
She always lived; cooking, cleaning, and ironing
Dad’s stolid blue, Air Force shirts
How I remember the violence of the wet cloth
As it hissed and steamed, the collars and cuffs,
Stiff with starch and abandoned dreams.
Sometimes, on still evenings, when the dying sun splashes
Through the bedroom curtains, I can almost see her heart
Still beating on the sleeves she left,
And smell the scented perfume, she loved so much.
It’s then, in these precious moments,
I feel her gentle touch upon my shoulder;
As she whispers, “take care, my love.”
Right now, I wish that she was alive to see,
Her youngest daughter, writing poetry,
At her own desk, amid the chaos and the mess
Wearing her husband’s non-iron fleece.

Mary (Macdonald) Young: 18th December 1940 – 3rd November, 1999

A Girls Night Out



The darkened room is full of it, oestrogen, I mean

It wafts around us like pungent perfume,

And lingers on our glowing skin, our hair and everywhere;

On strappy bras and miniskirts, high heels and tight jeans,

Wine glasses chink, chink, with swigged beer bottles.

Mobile phones light up feminine faces; a laugh, a cheeky grin

For partners or babysitters left alone at home.

We’ve claimed our space between bar and stage.

Handbags arranged like prayer books around our feet

The all male band, don’t miss a trick as they play

Hard and fast, with our reptilian hips

But time skips a beat and all I can hear are the

Drums of our ancestors, dancing round tribal fires,

Naked and defiant, in their oily midnight skins!

Women! We were once like dinosaurs. We roared

Like giants, needing nothing from men but their sperm,

To affirm the fecundity of our sacred blood, Jesus,

We were gods, back then.

But men found the strength to turn away from us.

Covered and silenced us with Original Sin.

Some, made up shame full rumours about Eve’s insatiable desire

For more apples than poor Adam could possibly sire!

Never mind about losing face, we were busy, guys

Creating the human race! So we called a truce

And shrunk ourselves, bound our feet, became whalebone thin.

Served ourselves up on silken sheets and prayed to

A masculine god, oh yes, we knew how to please and

Men liked us better when we were on our knees!

Smaller, softer, almost invisible, like rare birds; we

Became trapped by nets of romantic love and sold,

With a single band of foolish gold that wound and bound us

By zealous laws; designed, to keep our claws in and

Drown out the battle cries of our warrior queens

Who lived and died, on their own terms

This isn’t the end!

There’s Cleopatra and Boudicca in the corner

(Pulling the cork out of their third bottle)

Putting the world to rights and reminiscing over battle scars

They’re soon joined by Joan of Arc, who has also

Brought the first female pope which could get confusing

Because she’s also called Joan, sometimes John

But hey, that’s another untold story that probably didn’t end in glory!

They both accept a large glass of wine and

Join in the dissing of Julius and Mark Anthony

Who could never agree on domestic policy, the kids

Or world domination, which, the girls think

Was really achieved through religious assimilation

(And some really dodgy taxation)

Sound familiar? It should!  What would the girls

Think of us now; how far we have come

Work, family and sexual freedom but I think there is

Still something missing, the option to just do nothing

But be ourselves.

We think we have changed, become more humane

And we’re not to blame for what happened, back then!

When, witches were burnt or drown and even our crowned

Queens were ceremonially wedded, bedded and then

Legally beheaded all in the name of Patriarchy.  

Today, our children are still sold into slavery

Possessed by gangs; drugged, raped, stabbed, and shot

As if life had such little meaning or worth!      

Women should be wailing in the streets, grabbing their hair

And tearing it out in great handfuls of pain while

Chanting the names of those they have lost;

Showing the world the horrendous cost of such senseless loss

But we hide our grief behind greedy cameras and allow

Others to tell our stories and sell them on global media markets

For just one day, then they are swept clean away, under

The saddest man made carpet, the world has even seen.

No wonder lessons are never learnt!

It’s World Poetry Day today so I thought I’d send this rant poem out into the world in the hope it survives! It started out as a fun, celebration of female friendships but the news of all the gang related murders that have happened recently in the UK bled into my words.

First Sonnet

Whimsical words truss up my tongue

While worrying whispers mess with my head

I’ve been trying to master this verse for so long

My failure wishes to pronounce me dead!

In the water, I think I ought to keep going

Who knows where it will lead?

Perhaps the words will start flowing

If I prick myself harder and learn to bleed!

I know I’m no Shakespeare, Auden, or Frost

But I have ideas and a real need to write.

Now I’m finding the words, the battle’s not lost

I’m so close now to winning this fight!

Because these are my words and this, my first Sonnet

Poor as it is, I’m happy to own it!

Loving Kindness: New Year’s Eve Meditation, 2018



As one year ends

And another begins

I count my blessings

On a pendulum that swings

From one extreme to another.

Yet, in that moment in between,

Life and death, the drawing of breath,

I find myself in stillness

Of the precious moment.

Where there is nothing but the universe

To hold my loving kindness

And return it without conditions.

The Buddhist Metta Bhavana meditation

Wishing everyone a loving and peaceful 2019

For Rupert

Life is not linear!

And it’s never clear or

Cut and dried like flowers

                              On a grave

And when our life breaks, as

It so often does

Memories bubble up

And float like shards of dust,

Lightly settling on,           the

Uneveness of fate.


I can’t claim to know you

Now, we met long ago.

Our Dads were brothers then

                                Not so close,

 But for just one day,

We played like true cousins,

Hiding under blankets;

Giggling with ourselves.

Remembering is hard

I know and that’s okay.


I will remember for

The both of us because

I still feel your love,    like

                              Words through rock,

It grew within my bones.

I make no judgement

About your life, the things

You’ve done or said. To me

You will always be my

Coz, bouncing on the bed,

For cousin Rupert Abercrombie

“I’ve often thought about Rupert, throughout the years and wondered how his life turned out. Very recently, I learned, right out of the blue, that he has leukaemia and may not have long to live.

From the little I know, he’s had a hard life and has many physical and mental health issues; which makes this, much thumbed, memory so very precious.”

The Urban Garden


, ,

Sitting in the garden on a late September afternoon

The diluted sun paints shadows on my skin

Its wrinkled layering becomes a moon landing

For flies, exploring the craters of brave new worlds

They tickle me with their spidery feet.

A grey squirrel hangs upside down to eat

From a bird feeder, like a circus act

On a high wire with no safety net, he swings

And flicks his chatty tail at angry birds, singing

For their supper before the night descends.

While mumbling bees stumble in and out

Of crumbling blackberry bushes

Drinking up before the Moon calls time on

The supping of their favourite liquorice wine

And she thumbs them all home.

Along roads of spangled streetlight,

They grumble and groan, with sore heads,

And fall into their waxy beds.

Then sleepy hedgehogs come out and snuffle

Their way through the moon soaked grass

Tracking truffle snails over frozen trails

Of broken glass; looking for an early breakfast,

With their quick, black button eyes.


They stop dead,

Behind the muddled garden shed,

And curl into their itchy chestnut coats

To hide from a swarthy fox, sniffing round the bins

For urban street food in compostable linings or

Sugary treats which she paws with her soft velvet

Stockinged feet; disturbing nocturnal ants,

Lined up like trolleys outside a shopping mall.

They scatter like skeletal bees until someone shouts

“Can we have some order, please!”

And as I rise to go back inside my humbled house

I get to thinking about my own small place,

Within our constantly evolving universe

And then, it dawns on me, like some giant switch.

There’s no real difference between any of us

We are all made of exactly the same stuff.

And I am consumed, with love.



Retirement Party at The Rose Tavern


, , ,


The early September sun splashes against the sulky sky.

Its light lingers upon the iron-rod road, where cars are parked

Nose to nose and wrought iron gates are closed, against

The fast approaching night


We drive, like evening snails passed rows of houses.

Homes to renters, buyers and doer-uppers

Where half-closed curtains offer up brief glimpses

Of ordinary life, with TV flickers and weekday dinners


The Rose crouches on the corner of Rupert and Trinity.

Like a magpie in a sparrow’s nest. Its naked windows warmed

With laughter; not quite happy ever after but good enough

For a workday evening down the pub


Twenty years of hopes and tears separate us,

Our lives and careers steering us over different paths

Still, we fit together, like long lost magnets.

The ghosts we share, resting gently on our shoulders.


A rising moon, so full of madness shines upon our

Empty glasses that once overflowed with youth and fire; now

Lovingly stoked, with stubborn friendships, that will not fade or expire.

But will follow you through yet another doorway marked, ‘Retire.’


For Christine Isaacs and friends who worked with me at the Vauxhall Centre (A social service run Day Centre for disabled people) in Norwich, UK during the 1990’s


24 September, 2018






I can’t remember hearing the dawn chorus

When I woke up in pain that day.

Or if the sun was shining through the threadbare curtains


I can’t remember the colour of the

Blood soaked bath towel I held between my legs

Or how much mess I’d made in our second-hand bed


I can’t remember the slam of the rusty car doors

When we drove to the old hospital site

Or how many traffic lights made us stop


I can’t remember the name of the midwife

Who told me it would be alright

Or how I managed to climb onto the hospital bed


I can’t remember how many doctors were called

In to watch your untimely birth

Or their faces as they saw you silently slide from my womb


I can’t remember how long I had to wait

Until your brother followed your slippery path

Or the pattern of the blanket, they wrapped you in


I can’t remember how long I lay there alone

As they whisked his limp pink body away

Or how many new born cries I heard from other rooms


I can’t remember how I got to the special baby unit

To see him through unforgiving glass, his raging body full of wires

Or who placed your brother in my arms to slowly die


I can’t remember when the night reclaimed that day

How I must have moved through the treacle of time

Or how I walked back into our home, without you both, in my arms.


For Amy and Carter Young-Brooksby born and died 12th September, 1994