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Visitation

All in white
descended on my doorstep,
in a cloud of cologne:
the amoretto, the deuce,
the quicksilver son
of Mercury.

Some spells
are an intercession.

Other poems about visits, hellos and good-byes:

Different rides

My heart was a rogue balloon

Pavement Writer

On a traffic island halfway across High Road, evening

The mattress turned over

In this place, I eat butternut soup

Winterreise: on the table – a glass of water

See @beadedquillwrites) (Insta) for photo’s plus some micro, everyday poems.

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Books are for sale on Blurb, including Jangle between Jangle, poems written during the London commute.

Palette of an overcast spring day

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Seen from the poet’s loft:
Red London bus, double-decker,
then a postal van.
Grassy yards where in the beds
Tulips, bluebells, wilder forget-me-nots
Now show.

A man in puffy jacket,
fluorescent against ground grey
far away.
A neighbour shakes a sheet
up to the washing-line.

Pigeons, magpies, parakeets,
finches, robins, full-bodied crows
frequent the rooftiles,
Conifer,
Wooden fence below.

Some say on such a day
The only colour to be seen
Is grey.

You may also enjoy these other spring poems:

In an English spring-time

Spring Wants

The first of two poems about blossoms

Supportasse Boughs

They’re purple but blue better rhymes

See Instagram (@beadedquillwrites) for more photo’s plus some micro, everyday poems from my recent trip.

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And do sign up for occasional emails from the poet’s desk on the website homepage.

On the secret beach

Photo: (c) poet’s own taken at the secret beach, Mauritius, Feb. 2022

When we’re not there
Or if we are
the waves
draw up resolve

To putter out on shore.

Great energy, momentum
Dissolves in frothy white.
The rest draws back
to charge on blue

To roll a course infinite.

After two years of serious COVID-anxiety, I flew to Mauritius. In the two weeks there I planned to write, read and exercise. I’d packed leggings and trainers to go running. In 30C heat and 85% humidity my willpower wilted. In the mornings, a cooler and more sensible time to run, I instead pottered around making breakfast porridge and then drinking vanilla tea on the balcony until finding my resolve. At that point I’d focus on what one should do on a beach holiday: go to the beach.

I’d take a secret route (over rocks and a hotel’s wall) to a secret beach. I can’t tell you where it is, or its name, but locals and long-time insiders know of it. It is beautifully scenic, with little shoals of fish that dart in pockets of the shallows. In the garden of one of the houses on the beach they keep chickens and a rooster. The rooster spent much time cock-a-doodle-dooing. For me, this was an unfamiliar accompaniment to waves breaking. I’m more accustomed to seagulls.

After the cyclone, I spied a dead crab spread out over one of the rocks. He did not smell too good, but by the next day all of him was gone. Coming and going seems to be a way of the shoreline.

On the beach and in the day-to-day I did so much staring. Yes, like an activity. I stared at the waves pulling up their energy and dissolving it on the shore; at the seemingly still far horizon; at tossing palm fronds; at a bamboo-framed mirror on my bedroom wall that resembled a sun with rays; at my feet and legs; at the sand; at the beige cushions on the sofa in my rental apartment. Sometimes you have to charge, it seems. Or dissolve.

See Instagram (@beadedquillwrites) for more photo’s plus some micro, everyday poems from my recent trip.

You can also follow on Facebook for updates on blog posts.

And do sign up for occasional emails from the poet’s desk on the website homepage.

Out of Office

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels

Talk with trees You won’t find the poet at the desk; it’s out of office time. On vacation, sabbatical, gardening leave, AWOL. Out of the cubicle of mind; in, instead, in long walks, lie-ins, in time with trees. I asked today if one could carry me.

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Sign up for occasional emails from the poet’s desk on the website homepage.

Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb, including Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written while jangling to-and-fro during the London commute.

New Years, New Times

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Necessary Work

Types of Necessary Work:
Getting up.
Going to work.
Eating breakfast; taking meds.
Watching for my eye to mend.
Watching as the candle burns.
Letting go to say goodbye.
Waiting. Letting a breeze
into the room.

More Types of Necessary Work:
Devising shapes with pens and 
Filling lines. New fonts
embossed on diary covers,
new years, new times. 

Necessary work finds a rhythm:
It’s necessary work to rest
So as to carry on
The necessary beat,
The necessary song
The necessary commute
The necessary job. The necessary 
tasks to pay the necessary bills.
The necessary ways that take
the necessary tills,
and toils.
The necessary hurts and the 
necessary pains, to be lived,
maybe lived again.
(For you, I hope not.)

It’s that day of the year when, as a yoga teacher I once had might say, many of us are already in the plane. We are thinking about the promises of the New Year, skipping through the motions of today, while perhaps looking forward to an early night or a celebration. For many of us, the thought is “Can it just be 2022, already?”

Despite the 2020, too/ two/ part II jokes, an abiding hope is that all in all the year to come will be a better one for all, in all manner of ways. My go-to message for birthday and Christmas cards is often along these lines, “May the year ahead be filled with all good things.” Of course, realistically, we know it is unlikely for a whole year – especially a whole decade – to be without trials and even tragedies. But celebratory card greetings are not the socially acceptable place to reflect on the width and breadth of life. Like the classic happily ever after ending in a candyfloss fairy tale (or contemporary K-drama) such greetings are a fictional parallel universe where we can indulge in all is good, all is well. Even the end of this poem, unlike What is it even all for?, ends with a fairy tale ending for you, dear reader: the poet’s wish is that you will not have to (re)live life’s necessary tilling, toiling, hurts and pains.

Such a candyfloss life or marshmallow world doesn’t make sense, of course. The sentiment is what counts. I wish for you that things will be good, better, best. As I wish for all of us that 2022 will be good, better, best. May it be a year of happily ever after for humanity and for the planet.

This poem is in Necessary Work, an unreleased collection that BeadedQuill still has in the wings and has no steam to typeset. In the meantime have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written in 2018 while jangling to-and-fro during the London commute.

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And

From an original photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels
a poem to be paired with With

And, another word –
verboten in excess,
the Creative Writing Rules
would warn.
And then another thing
And, and, And, and.
Dandy and, 
Like but, not to be 
ushered in at sentence starts.
And so for years, and 
carefully was placed or
 erased.
But now the rules are weaker.
Butands, andbuts
Buttons, and boîtes,
All found in these small words.

15/03/2020

Today’s poem is a companion to With. Both poems are about a personal rebellion against recommended creative writing rules. Don’t end sentences with with. And don’t start sentences with and and nor should you use and in excess by using it to tag on extensions and meanders to your primary thoughts. Of course, I have an affection for these two small words. With and. And with.

There is a third word in this list of to be used correctly words and that is but. Like and, it should not be used to start sentences (with). In the poem, you can see how the association with but finds its way into the playful end list:

But now the rules are weaker.

Butands, andbuts

Buttons, and boîtes,

These three little words are little buttons as they attach and close the gaps between meanings and sentences. And they are little presents that add an extra thought (And then this other thing happened…) or swerve the original direction (I had planned to, but…) or bring in the possibility of open adventure and movement (Let’s go with).

Don’t do this in your homework, kids. You may have to wait until you are the final arbiter of your writing style.

This poem is in Necessary Work, an unreleased collection that BeadedQuill has in the wings. In the meantime have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written in 2018 while jangling to-and-fro during the London commute.

You can now sign up for rare to precious newsletter-type emails from BQ. Sign up at the bottom of the website homepage.

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Having accomplished

Photo (altered) by Andrey Grushnikov from Pexels
There is that lull
Where you can’t unhook
from sinkhole hours lost
to nothing with nothing
to show for it.

Having completed no task,
cursory to dos
eating, basics, coffees, two
evening closes in
and mad-desperate panic
of IS THIS ALL YOU LEAVE?
will be your watching gong
of dervish disappointment.

17/05/2020


With a book token I was gifted for my birthday, I bought Four Thousand Weeks (by Oliver Burkeman). The title comes from the calculation that if one lives eighty years, one lives four thousand weeks. (I find this calculation as terrifying as the estimation one will spend 80,000 to 90,000 hours in the Day Job in one’s lifetime.) Four Thousand Weeks is about how one may, or may not, make best use of this time. In some accounts, it is identified as a time management book for not managing one’s time. What I took from reading the book is, you will do what you will do – and will not do what you will not get around to doing.

Which is an apt start for this Monday morning (25th October 2021). I have a week’s leave ahead of me, during which I intend to accomplish All Manner of Things: 7,000 word output for a study deadline, Korean language homework, exercise, bleaching and washing the white towels and getting a stain out of some linen. There was this post that in my mind I’d prepare for a 10am posting; here we are nearing midday. Usually I join an online writing group for 7am(ish). It was during that slot I was planning to write this post. I slept through and would still happily be resting my aching self under the duvet, only – really – it’s nearing midday.

This poem is very similar to What is it even all for?, which was posted back in March as Airtime will be of little use. Of course, we get things done day-to-day, week-to-week. It astounds me though, that I and so many of us, have this ability to sidestep the big project. The “big, hairy, audacious task” as time management lingo might call it. It’s no surprise that a whole industry, which in turn can morph into procrastination, has ballooned around setting out to conquer your BHAT to do.

The sinkhole in this poem may refer to that moment in a day, or when you’re reviewing your week, when you realise, there is no time left to make significant or minute inroads into your BHAT or SmaTs (smaller tasks). For me, that’s usually 11pm. At 6pm, I convince myself I have another 2 to 3 hours to accomplish a few items. The most dangerous is the mornings, when I’m convinced – at 7am – I’m going to Get Stacks Done with my fresh brain before 9am or 10am. My aching, tired self protests and it takes a lot to overcome this do otherwise.

Yet, as Burkeman suggests, here I am having done the thing I was going to do and having not done the thing I have not done. The October 2021 blog post is complete and 600 words of study writing and a short jog are still on the list. I have resigned to being underprepared for tonight’s Korean lesson and have had my first cup of coffee for the day.

This poem is in Necessary Work, an unreleased collection that BeadedQuill has in the wings. In the meantime have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written in 2018 while jangling to-and-fro during the London commute.

You can now sign up for rare to precious newsletter-type emails from BQ. Sign up at the bottom of the website homepage.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

Things you do with things

Photo collage by BeadedQuill

The sun comes up,
the sun goes down, what
does the sun do in the 
middle of the day?

Answer:
It stands in the middle 
of the sky.

25/01/2020

I am preparing this blog on the day of the autumn equinox 2021. At 7am-ish, the big, white moon was still in the sky already blue with morning light. I took a moment to log the scene in my poet’s files: the sun had risen in the East, on the far side of my loft, while that white moon was descending to the horizon in the West, where I stood looking out over my Juliet balcony at the face-brick, 1930s tube station and that hovering moon.

In my online yoga session last night our teacher shared that it has been the season of a full moon and the Harvest moon. Paired with the autumn equinox, this makes for a time of review and change. I read somewhere else that this is a season for nostalgia, for stoking over the memories.

The poem in this post is a funny little one. I really wrote it in September 1989 when we went on holiday as a family to Betty’s Bay. I compiled, as children do, a diary of the trip. I found the notebook in a box of papers when I was in Cape Town at the end of 2019 and decided to courier it, along with a few other sentimental keepsakes, to North London. The little Croxley Exercise Book includes: daily entries; drawings of the animals and plants, a mermaid and the house we stayed in; a comic strip about a fight between my parents; maps; activities like a crossword and a series of “riddles”, this sun poem being one of them.

For some reason, when I read the riddle page (after reading about brushing my teeth – that resulting poem perhaps to follow), I burst into a fit of teary laughter. I know that as an eight-year-old I was not writing about the movements of the heavens, but the thirty-eight-year-old me imposed an adult’s interpretation. The other riddles are also amusing when read on multiple levels. (And the detail that each is followed by “Answer” amuses me, too.)

You eat rice with a spoon. 
You eat cut up your vegtabels (sensible spelling I would say) with a fork, 
What do you eat with a knife?
Answer

Fish swim, people walk, what do 
Butterfly’s do? 
Answer

Sun may come out and the clouds may 
come out what other two
things could come out?
Answer

Answers on page 25

The answers on page 25 are headed “Answers to pages”. For those of you who are avid Morning Pages (or general pages) writers, any “Answers to pages” would be quite the welcome find. Returning to the riddles, the answers are:

Oranges
Fly
The rain could come out or the wind. 

There we have it. Oranges are eaten with a knife. Butterfly’s (sic) fly and beyond the sun or clouds, it is rain or wind that could come out.

My time capsule notebook currently lives on my bookshelf between an anthology of Chinese Poetry in translation and Petra Müller’s “Swerfgesange vir Susan en Ander”. Perhaps one day it will have outlived its harvest and be sent to the fire (it deserves an end more symbolic than mere recycling). For now, I still page through those back leaves and note how much of that eight-year-old still endures, and how much has changed. Or, in this season of shift, it is to contemplate how much might need to change.

In the extract below I can hear my work email voice and the responses I now send on WhatsApp to a degree that’s uncanny. I still love garden spaces and need an annual pilgrimage to the sea. In this season of harvest reflection I wonder: how much are qualities deep-seated “for a person like me” and which ones need to be felled in preparation for a new season.

A little say about Betty’s Bay
Betty’s Bay is really a
lovely place; it’s got the
sea and flora which 
makes it perfect for a 
person like me.
I enjoyed the botanical
gardens the most.
I also enjoyed the
sea.
I am looking forward this
time and sincerely hope
I will enjoy it. 

“Things you do with things” is in Necessary Work, a forthcoming collection of BeadedQuill’s 2020 poems. In the meantime, have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a recent mini-book of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London in pre-pandemic commute times.

There is now an email sign up at the bottom of the BQ homepage. Please do add your address to receive very occasional emails.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

Another correct map

Stephen McKay / High Road / CC BY-SA 2.0
From the tube station,
exit left to the High Road.
Pass the fruit and veg stand. 
They are already selling daffodils 
and the asparagus looks fresh.
Turn up the High Road,
cross, and cross, to where
the bicycles stand.

Stop. Turn ahead. Wait for a break
In traffic. (I have seen people and 
cyclists hit.)
Cross, twice again:
Now at Baronsmere (You’ll
know by the billboard; corner-shop – left;
chemist – right.) go straight.
Stay on pavement, right.
First right.
Third right. You’re there.


Yesterday evening I was walking home and took a moment, as I turned past the pharmacy, to snapshot the corner shop opposite. It’s been closed for some months now, covered in torn, graffitied posters of the liquors it once offered for sale. On Saturday morning, after meeting a friend for a coffee and collecting an order, I again took a moment. This time, under the awning of another corner shop in the neighbourhood, I took in the low table of luxurious orchids, arthuriums and bromelias. These were not your usual scrappy £8.99, plastic-sleeved bouquets. Had I forgotten it was Mother’s Day or something?

From this point at Kentucky Fried Chicken I must make a choice. Should I cross the road? On the other side is the second-hand bookshop, the tempting window of a charity shop and a few cute coffee places, one of which I follow on insta for their cake and pastry updates. On the KFC side is the youth arts centre, a grocer-deli that has an ardent local following and the Thai eatery that I love for its disco fish tank and attentive service.

The last third of the High Road is my favourite section. At the four-way preceding while waiting for the lights to change, I may pause to look up at the stucco and decorations of the late-Victorian buildings (I presume, thought must check), take in the sky (grey, clouded, sometimes blue), glance at the other pedestrians waiting to cross, log Domino’s and the gastro-pub on the corner, perhaps there will be some red buses on the roads, too. At these moments, I’ll think, yes, here I am living in London.

I’m now intrigued to pick up a copy of a new art book from Laurence King – Think like a street photographer. (Seen on insta, like so much of what tempts my consumerist urges these days.) I like the idea that the poet may also be a notetaker of the street.

For more street snippets see


Today’s poem is in Necessary Work, a forthcoming collection of BeadedQuill’s more recent poems.

In the meantime, have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a recent mini-book of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London in pre-pandemic commute times.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

A correct map of 29 Columbine Road

Photo by Jan Segatto on Unsplash
would include the corner honeysuckle hedge
and two houses with high walls.
Not ours, at first. 
When did it change?

A pink hibiscus in the corner bed
is where the hiding-place might be.
Two white-yellow oleanders 
each side of the gate, their 
seeping white sap not safe. The 
wet path, too, when it rains
the tiles can crack
your head if you don’t walk carefully.
	
For a photo we stood on 
that path:
Granny, Grandpa, Dad and 
me


Lately, like yesterday near Regent’s Canal, I have seen honeysuckle all over the place. If I am able to I’ll sniff it to gauge the strength of scent and see if it will take me back to a lost time.

One’s childhood home inevitably is the site of full-bodied memories (1). And these memories often include the senses beyond sight. The weight of holding my sister as a baby with her bald, slighty fuzzy head beneath which there was a hole where her skull had not yet fused. Fried fish fillets and Smash (processed mashed potato from a packet), Margaret’s chicken and vegetable soup, sharp Granny Smith apples (I can’t eat Granny Smiths anymore). The endless soundtrack of Umhlobo Wenene (the isiXhosa radio station), yet still not understanding most of what was sung or said, piano students playing Dozen-a-Day or that unmistakeable opening of Für Elise, but never the (more difficult) middle section. And then there is scent.

When I was five or six, I used to play under the honeysuckle, or in the nook with the hibiscus tree on the opposite side of the garden. Back then, I wanted to capture heady, sweet fragrance of a happy summer. For some time, I was determined to make honeysuckle perfume and tried milking the flowers for their sap. The next attempt involved fermenting brown flowers in tiny bottles. (I have subsequently found out from friends that they, too, tried perfume making in their childhoods. Perhaps it is a right of curiosity passage like school volcano projects in sit coms.)

None of the methods worked and I have not yet found a commercial scent of honeysuckle that matches my memories. Instead, I must wait until the summer when nature makes a limited season available, not unlike that lost time.

(1) A friend kindly gave me a copy of Giuseppe Tomas Di Lampedusa’s “Childhood Memories and Other Stories” to share the vivid memories of his family’s old palazzi. This nostalgic read will surely conjure your own memories of first places.

This poem will be included in ‘Necessary Work’, a forthcoming collation of poems. In the meantime, have a look at Jangle between Jangle This a collection of verse was written while jangling to-and-fro across London during the commute in 2018. Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook. Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.