Monthly Archives: November 2021

Every Day I Promise Myself – poems

It’s a great pleasure introducing this month’s poet: Rachel Davies. We met through poetry workshops in Manchester many years ago.

Rachel Davies has had several jobs including nurse, teacher and head-teacher. She thinks retirement is the best job she’s ever had because it gave her time to pursue her poetry. She is widely published in journals and anthologies and has been a prize-winner in several poetry competitions.

Her debut pamphlet, Every Day I Promise Myself, was published by 4Word Press in December 2020 and she is currently seeking a home for her second pamphlet, Mole. Rachel is co-ordinator of the Poetry Society Stanza for East Manchester and Tameside. She has an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in contemporary poetry, both from Manchester Metropolitan University. Originally from the Cambridgeshire fens, she now lives in Saddleworth with her partner and two cats.

I hope you enjoy my selection of four poems from the pamphlet.

Alternative Mother #4
Jean

For fun, you push me round the lounge
on the Ewbank till I beg you to stop, teach me
hula hoop, two-ball, how it’s good to laugh.

You soothe my knees with Germolene,
say a hug helps, say it’s alright to cry.
You know the healing power of a biscuit.

You hand-sew my wedding dress,
stitch into a secret seam a blue satin ribbon,
a lock of your own hair, all the love it takes.

You take my daughter out, keep her
for bedtime stories, forget to bring her home
so I worry she’s followed the rabbit down the hole.

You make me dance, even on those days
when the music died in me. You teach me
the euphoria of champagne.

You bake scones so light they float down
to your granddaughters like hot-air balloons.

Alternative Mother #8
Ted

Sometimes dreams can be nightmares.

You wanted most of yourself to be buried, to become
an enrichment of the fenland soil you loved so much,
your heart and lungs to be thrown into Whittlesey Wash
to feed the eels you knitted your nets for.

Oh, you were generous. You gave me some peonies once,
dug up from your garden. You shook the soil off though—
that soil’s worth three thousand pounds an acre you said.
I looked for the smile but there wasn’t one.

One night your skeleton grew out of the earth like a myth.

Breaking the Line

The blood red sky
sheds tears. Fresh milk
curdles. Now I know

my heartbroken father
left the house with
chisel, mallet — after dark

he’s out there hammering
like a minor god. Grief begins
to surface from the cold stone.

To St Ives, a Love Poem
Halloween 2014

Even though November is a black dog sitting at your feet
and your beaches lay crushed under the weight of mist

and your shoreline roars at the passing of summer
and your white horses rise on their hind legs

till your fishing boats get seasick; even though your trees
shed tears like baubles and your shops drip gifts like rain

and your cobbled streets and narrow alleys wind
around me like a clock and your posters announce

Fair Wednesday as if all other days are cheats
and your bistros display fish with eyes wide as heaven,

scared as hell, and your railway bridge yells
do what makes you happy and it feels like a tall order;

even though your choughs are impatient for pilchard
your huers won’t see today from the Baulking House

still you open your arms and kiss my cheeks in welcome.

On the bright side, there’s always:

Credit: Geralt via Pixabay

This week I’ve been going through my files and folders with poems, deleting old ones that aren’t going anywhere, finding forgotten ones, losing others because I changed the title but not the filename – you get my drift.

Here’s a sort-of-abecedarian list poem. What would be in your alphabet?

On the bright side, there’s always:

avocados and the alphabet, a
bridge over troubled water and
chocolate, Fairtrade or not,
days which travel at their own pace into
evening and other
favourite places like Venice, beaches, the
glorious counter tenor voice of Andreas Scholl,
hairdressers who waited for us,
ink to waste, as the poet has it,
jazz, all that jazz,
kilograms to worry about,
lessons that return until learned,
maria, martini, marina,
nautical miles and naughty but nice.
Oh, let’s stop, there is a
picnic bench with a view, think of
questions, the certainty of death, taxes,
rescuers in anoraks, accompanied by
sniffer dogs, so we’re fit again to
tango, show us a leg or two,
uniformed bouncers taking them off,
victory which will be ours and
whiskey or gin, double measures, that
xtra mile we will go.
Y, the fork in the road and Frost.
ZZZ, a comfy bed for a rest.

Lighting Out, poems to answer the dark

Beautiful Dragons Collaboration

A parcel arrived this week. Friends in Manchester sent on poetry magazines and books. Among them was my copy of Lighting Out, poems to answer the dark. In the words of the editor, Rebecca Bilkau:

‘We won’t speak about the dark times we’ve had, or the dark times that might come. This little anthology is about reclaiming the stage for the bright stuff … resilience, hope, spidery optimism, pardonable puns, rare and shameless clarity. Think of it as a route map, made by 80-odd poets, to Light Out of the blues, the shadows, the virus, the storm and binge TV. Shine along, oh do.’

Lighting Out is the tenth publication in the Beautiful Dragons Collaboration: ISBN: 978-68564-902-9. A year ago I started learning Swedish on Duolingo, just for the hell of it. I got to a 292-day streak with the encouragement of that little green owl …

Flying with the little green owl –
my 95-day streak with Duolingo (Svenska)

Vintern är den vita årstiden.
Winter is the white season.
Keep going! Practice makes perfect.
Författaren skriver på ett papper.
The author writes on a sheet of paper.
Good effort!
Barnen har många leksaker.
The children have many toys.
Don’t give up.
På lordagar tittar jag alltid på tv.
On Saturdays I always watch tv.
Great work! Let’s make this a bit harder.
Vi går ofta till museum.
We often go to the museum.
I believe in you.
Hur många personer är det på stranden?
How many people are there on the beach?
Awesome! You’re working hard and learning new words.
Jag lär mig långsamt.
I am learning slowly.
I’m so proud of you.

Table 64 – a poem

Credit: Pexels on Pixabay

This week my friend Valerie celebrated her birthday. We met 30 years ago on a residential week in Spain. To celebrate our friendship, here is a short poem in which we’re together. Bowler’s is a very large indoor and outdoor carboot sale location in Manchester.


That Generation Game is a tv game show in which teams of two family members, but from a different generation compete. The winners see a conveyor belt with goodies wobble past. No worries: if they can’t remember them all, the studio audience will shout to help …

Table 64

We carried the plastic crates and cardboard
boxes into Bowlers at bloody six o’clock.
The locusts, proper traders, picked items
from the piles we carried, threw us
pound coins and a few fivers.

The early flurry was good and then it was
like the Generation Game in reverse:
suitcases went, a pile of books, glasses,
a wok, costume jewellery, some cuddly toys.
We sat back in our folding chairs like regulars,
holding off sleep.