Recently in Poetry Category

46 Mum Roses.jpeg

My beloved mother, Joyce Olivia Mary Hudis nee Board, passed away on 15th October, peacefully asleep and in the presence of loved ones. She had just recently turned ninety. I wanted to share this poem in wrote for her ninetieth birthday, in commemoration.

Daughter of the Sun

Daughter of the sun
Bonnie and happy, good and gay,
I, your hardworking Saturday's child
Salute you.

How shall I speak of ninety years
Twenty-six known only through family tales
Stories shared at dinner table--
Great-grandfather's top hat, green with age,
Buzz bomb in Camberwell phone kiosk?
What do I know of your Loenine mysteries?

I picture that August day
Nineteen hundred and twenty five.
Horses clip-clop down Skipton Street,
Criers call, "Cherries, ripe cherries!"
"Any old iron?"
Emmie thinks she's had a surfeit of greengages
Such terrible colic.
Quick, quick, waters are breaking
Head is crowning
It's a girl!

Did they name you Mary for Blessed Mother?
Joyce for the joy you bring?
Olivia for your grandmother the tealeaf reader
Who claimed to have the second sight.
And Joe so excited he mixes up the names
And you are forever JOMB.

I picture you clinging to your father's hand
Marveling at the candles flickering in church
Bandaging your dolls and giving them medicine
Doing Knees Up Mother Brown
As Terry plays piano.

I imagine that day
At Chelsea polytechnic,
The shy Jewish boy who won your heart.
Your love story sings
In my genetic code.

Imagination fades into memory
Julian Villa, the flowering currant and the lilac bush
The gooseberries and raspberries
Vicky and Mosby curled together in their basket.

I see you reading Jeeves, Agatha Christie or the BMJ
I see you weighing babies
Embroidering, tending your roses.
I see you stirring strawberry jam
And apple chutney,
Making Christmas pudding,
Listening to Mozart with your feet up,
Sipping a cup of tea.

I see you singing Golden Slumbers to little Katy,
Bringing Ros home from the hospital
Walking slowly, heavy with your son.

We fold sheets together, make lentil soup, go hiking.
You read The Hobbit to me--it's thrilling.
And then there are the Magic Pill stories--
Olivia finds pills in a secret bureau drawer
And we're transported to the Middle Ages
Where your girls save knights and rescue princes.

Driving to Suffolk with a cat basket
A new life--Christchurch Park, the Tower Church,
Walks on the saltmarsh
Rowing on the Orwell,
Holidays at Colle Diobhain.

Later, I glimpse your life in snatches--
Marmaduke warning me off the bed
Magnus romping in park,
Visiting grandchildren in Donegal and Wales.
Shot through with ginger cats, tawny dogs
And glowing redheads
Your life shines with your cheerful, generous spirit.
Daughter of the sun, mother of mine
You warm me still.

For more about Joyce's younger years see Living Witnesses Part 1: The Evacuee and Living Witnesses Part 2:The Medical Student

45 Mum Alak Sada.jpg

Alandi Ashram's candlelight vigil for the children of Peshawar was held on Monday 22nd December, the seventh night of Hanukkah. We chanted 108 mahamritunjaya mantras and also shantadurga mantras. It was a deeply moving event.


A hundred and forty five candles
Each a mother birthing in pain and hope
A child reared with love and care
Each a youth full of promise
Each a pool of blood on schoolroom floor
A wooden coffin
Each the tears of fathers, mothers,
Siblings, cousins, grandparents
Each a family rent with sorrow,
A city, a nation, bereaved.
And above them all
The menorah
Speaking of truth that conquers falsehood
Light in darkness
Life triumphant over death
Hope in desolation.
Shalom, salaam, Shantih.




I Can't Breathe

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The All-Nite Images / Flickr via Creative Commons

I can't breathe
Beneath the crushing weight of bodies
Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Jimmy Mubenga and so many more
I can't breathe in the stranglehold of police brutality
I can't breathe as long as our girls, our Nigerian daughters, are still missing and it's been eight months now
I can't breathe because I'm drowning in mothers' tears

I can't breathe the stench of Mexico's mass graves
I can't breathe because I'm being water-boarded to make the world safe for democracy
I can't breathe because black lives have never really mattered to the world
I can't breathe thinking of my ancestors in slave collars
I can't breathe because I'm choking on tear gas
I can't breathe as long as liberty and justice for all means liberty and justice for some
I can't breathe if I keep silent
So I open my voice and speak,
and shout the outrage
Calling for a world
Where all of us can breathe.

Since people often ask for 'Ma's meal blessing' --here it is!
Some of you might like to use this non-denominational blessing at your Thanksgiving meal.


May the Earth be blessed that bore this food
And may they prosper who grew it
May the hands be blessed that cooked this meal
May all grow strong who eat it.
May the hearts and wills of humankind be moved
To feed the hungry of the world
And may all come to eat the bread of life
From Wisdom's table.

June Haibun

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Torrential rain
Crushed poppy petals
Blood on paving stones.

When I see the magnificent blooms beaten down, their glory cut short, sorrow of a thousand mothers wells up in me.

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Silver Gelatin

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They are elders now

If death has not yet taken them.

Hair is grey

Lines crease their faces.

They have birthed children

Buried loved ones

Toiled and laughed,

Yet always innocent

Always alight

Their radiant childhood greeting us

In silver gelatin print.

Wayne Miller 1948.jpg

Cherry tree blossom Русский: Цветущая ветка ви...

Cherry tree blossom Русский: Цветущая ветка вишни Latina: Prunus cerasus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lilac breeze
White petal shower
Bees in cherry blossom.

Bagpipes skirl
Dancing together
Cherry and chokecherry.

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The olive oil soap's from Selem's shop.

He's Libyan,

We brought roses when Gaddafi fell.

But it speaks to me of Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

Saffron, turmeric, cardamom

Isparta Rose and Queen of the Night,

Saudi women smiling through their veils

As we buy atttars side by side in Arifoglu,

Rainbow sheaves of headscarves

Buckets of leeches

Sunlight on the Bosphorus.

Pink Island Rose is Caldey,

Helping Mum across the sands

Boat trip from Tenby Bay

Spray, gulls, tang of salt and seaweed,

Sea thrift, gorse, lavender,

Monks in white choir robes

Chanting and bowing.

Chuckling Goat sebon llaeth gafr

Oatmeal and Honey

Is Ceredigion and the Cambrian Mountains

Tramps across muddy fields

Rainy walks down winding lanes,

Ros the Poet with her green wellies,

Tony bringing leeks from the polytunnel,

Sunset at Blaepennal Church.

Packed in straw, the rustic soap

Was probably an illegal import.

And Mysore Sandal is Sadananda

Coming home with a crate of mangoes

A bag of lychees

Four jars of pickle

A sack of rice

And twelve bars of soap.

"I hope I didn't spend too much," he says.

Lathering in the shower

Hot water on my back

Fragrance of rose and sandalwood,

Journeys relived

Memories recaptured.


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The Christmas Tree

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It is older than me

The little raffia tree

With red wooden berries.

No live Christmas trees

In wartime London.

It means so much to her.

Every year it comes out

Lovingly tinseled.

The little fairy--

A plastic baby doll--

Still wearing the lace tutu

I made when I was six.

Ragged but still here

The tree speaks of survival

Against the odds

Victory over darkness

Light reborn.

It reminds her too

Of the years of bombs, ration books

And blossoming love

Years that for her

Are redolent of Christmas pudding

Hanukkah candles and kisses.

Blackout years, foreshadowing magical births,

Livy, Katy, Ros and Nick,

Tiny hands fashioning

Papier mâché cribs

And clumsy lace tutus.

Gifts hidden in raffia fronds.

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Solstice 2013

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In these days of deepening dark

Curtains drawn at four o'clock

The house littered with dismembered reptile corpses

In these days of wet brown bracken

Muddy boots and early snow

In these uneasy times

Of shortages of Kleenex, coriander

And bendy wooden snakes

The Lord of Misrule walks our halls.

And she who must continually blow her nose

And he who cannot cook without coriander

And she whose world is safe

Only when peopled with friendly snakeys

Gird ourselves against the darkness

Call upon the light

And with song, with wooden spoons

With Punch and Judy puppets

Invoke the Prince of Peace

Invoke the one

Who comes with healing in his wings

Bringing with him tinsel and mince pies

And a wealth of Kleenex, coriander

And bendy wooden snakes.


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