This is another poem in the collection which is slowly accruing. The poems in the collection are about my brother. He was a marine and national standard tri-athlete before he contracted Multiple Sclerosis, and he is bearing his situation with stoicism for the most part.  I am finding it harder.




One vulnerable man – the veteran perhaps,
a cluttered flat, black sacks of crap –
old papers, soiled pants, sweet wrappers.
Three neighbours, like Furies, sitting
on the stained sofa, pecking and fighting,
filching whatever they can.

Now whisk in his “carers”, who do not care –


who come at odd times, and ask him what

he needs and, when he tells them that he’s fine,

pencil a quick note in his file, smile and

leave, trailing righteousness as such men do.

Finally: weigh out the forces of life, of death,

season the mix with a handful of dust;

pour it slowly into an earthen pot, and stew.



Area C – Palestine – Day 9

And today we are asked to write a nine line poem, of which the most famous version is probably Edmund Spenser’s choice for his epic Faerie Queen. I will admit to a bit of cheating. I have taken some lines from an existing poem of mine about Area C in Palestine, and I have NOT followed Spenser’s rhyme scheme to the letter. But the poem  has nine lines, so I don’t feel so bad.

The caw of a crow, a clatter of stones,
a crackle of static, disquiet of drones,
constraining with cruel and callous practice,
curbing freedom and limiting access.
There’s water on tap for the occupier,
but we must pay dearly for all we take.
In Area C, behind the barbed wire,
hearts open up to a constant, dull ache,
deep as the wound that a razor blade makes.


Because of the Picture – Day 7

Again, I have not followed the prompt unless it be in a very random way. The suggestion was to write about something found, the place it was found, and a little about it, the poem to be about luck and fortuitousness.

Well, this poem is about something found, an object and an idea, but as to luck and fortuitousness – not much of either, except that I think that the idea or understanding attained through the found object is perhaps lucky for the finder. I leave it to the reader to decide.


Airbrushed souls of
the lost are spread
in layers on
countless pages
thumbed and creased – stained
by fat fingers
torn into fragments,
blown down city streets
swept up, hauled off,
pulped. Souls tagged
and shared and “liked”,
and tweeted, and trapped.

There is no recent picture
of the veteran. There is
a faded photo I’d thought lost,
but found it yesterday –
the veteran at five years old,
in black and white.

His soul looks out of candid eyes.
Eyes now turned dark
which do not meet mine.
Nevertheless, although
his body has mutinied, I know
his soul remains his own.

“In spite of the picture?”
“Because of the picture.”

Day 4 – the riddle or enigma

Today,  we are prompted to write a poem containing an enigma or riddle. I am writing a sequence of poems about my brother, a former marine and athlete, who has contracted MS. Before he was diagnosed, he was very vulnerable, depressed, and being exploited by a neighbour who had taken money from him, promising to show him how to kill himself by using helium from one of those gas canisters they use to inflate party ballooons.

I thought I would write a poem to Helios, creating an enigma by references to mythology and heliotropic flowers. It began with a lot of refernces to the sun and noble gases, but in the end, I decided to cut most of that out and just tell it like it is, just not naming the gas. I guess this means the poem isn’t really an enigma or riddle, but I can use it in the sequence of poems, so that’s okay.


The veteran rests on crumpled sheets.

Legs numb, he shuffles five feet west

to let his carers through the door.

He’s decades from the days he ran

through fields of gold, his lungs on fire.

His life drags on, devoid of any grace;

pain will increase, it can’t get less.

Best opt for sleep, leave sad snail’s pace

behind; let others clear away the mess.

Now, noblest element, is your time.

Suicide simple via an online search:

rubber piping, plastic hood and you.

Hood slipped over his head, a soothing hiss

ushers in a sweet and final peace.