September Acrostic

Almost equinox, afternoons dwindle early into dusk.
Under bookshelves and in corners, spiders lurk and scheme.
Term starts, treading well-worn paths towards harvest, bonfires, Diwali, Christmas.
Unpredictable skies loom, but hesitating to store my summer clothes, I think
Maybe there will be an Indian summer” and hope, shivering.
Not quite ready for winter, I leave my coat in the cupboard till October.

DSC_0079

Words and photograph copyright 2017 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

My Husband’s Winter Song

I want to go down to Poole again
To the Sandbanks shore and the sky
To my dinghy grey and my sailing boat blue
And brisk breezes to sail her by.
To the ice cream boat and oyster man
Who trade in Swanage Bay
Or Sammy Jo’s at Studland Beach
(If the cruisers keep away).
Or sail up the river to Wareham Quay
Or anchor off Arne for a night
Or take a picnic to Pottery Pier
Or tack to the Isle of Wight
I will go down to Poole again
And sail at last in peace
If only at last the summer comes
And if the rain would finally cease

yacht

Words and photograph copyright 2017 by Paula Harmon (with apologies to John Masefield’s “Sea Fever”). All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Tripoli 1986

Wednesday 16th April 1986

Waiting, half consciously
for the next harsh sounds of fighter
to cross my sky,
a speck of black, slow moving,
catches the corner of my eye.
I, shuddered to sudden movement, see
a blackbird gently winging,
faster than seemed possible
to leafless trees, jaggedly finger-streaked on grey.
The bird alighting like a smudge,
so still and yet..
Is this the tight silence before the storm?
The blind, drugged blackness before the dawn?

Somewhere people weep
while others serve up a dish
made of retribution and revenge,
saying as their grace:
“it was the right thing to do,
we’d do it again. Amen.”
In the name of the many
the few decide to line us up
on the crumbling edge of war;
shaping us into an entity for the history books.
A few thousand miles away
eighty percent agree and thank us
for our co-operation;
while we enumerate the targets:
Freedom’s fodder
and wait.

Yesterday we shivered as we spoke.
Today, loosening our fingers we say
“Yesterday was terrifying”
but tighten our fingers again
as, hidden by clouds,
invisible machines
test their wings in waiting.

flaming

I wrote this nearly 31 years ago, the day after the bombing of Tripoli. I can remember what triggered this, as I looked up from washing up in a cafe and out of the window, afraid that the bombing in Libya would escalate. I’d like to pretend 31 years was before I was born but actually I was a very young adult starting out in life, despairing at what was happening in my world and potentially in my name. This may not be the best written poem but it was heartfelt. How sad that as my children enter adulthood, nothing whatsoever has changed and the threats they face in fact may be directly connected.

Words and photograph copyright 2017 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Four a.m.

Yet again, despairing, I wake at four
Hoping this time the lava of oblivion
Will overwhelm the vortex of my thoughts
Spinning in chaos at this burgling hour.

Outside from house to house invaders peak
Easing open windows, doors
Armed with picks, crowbars and ill-intent
Burglars sneak.

In nurseries, dream-fogged people creep
Feeding, rocking, soothing
Those soft and milky balls of want and fear
Burgling sleep.

Elsewhere, people pause in jaws of death
Frail pulses beat, hands clasp, tears run
Exhaustion flutters in vain against the foe
Who burgles breath.

And in my mind, these thoughts won’t cease
Fears, anger, confusion whirl with draining force
Worry forces entry into sleep
Burgling peace.

vortex

Words and photograph copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Candy Haikus

Apologies to all real poets and Haiku writers. These are from a prompt to write horrible Haikus about candy. Brought on a wave of nostalgia. As you can tell from the first few, I had a misspent youth whenever I had the opportunity.

As you can tell from the last one, any coins left in pockets because people can’t be bothered to empty them before putting clothes in the laundry, become the washerwoman’s (e.g. my) reward…

Marathons, spangles,
A penny for four blackjacks:
A candied childhood.

Spittly Gobstopper:
Spat out wet and examined.
Slurping through rainbows.

Dry out licked toffees,
Wrap them with tongue-stuck-out care:
Gift for my sister.

Oh Flying Saucers:
Rice paper glues my palate,
But my tongue fizzes.

Opal fruits are wrong
When called Starburst. My childhood
Winces in anguish.

Laundress collects coins:
Lazy family pays for
Housewife Pick ’n’ Mix.

fair.jpg

Words and photograph copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Who Makes Me Fear?

Who makes me fear?
I says the terrorist
I with my gun
I want to blot out your sun
I make you fear

Who makes me fear?
I says the stranger
I might lie in wait
With a heart full of hate
I make you fear

Who makes me fear?
I says the gossip
With my stash of half-lies
I ensure the truth dies
I make you fear

Who makes me fear?
I say the press
I fill up editions
With unfounded suspicions
I make you fear

Who makes me fear?
I say the “friend”
With social media posts
I scare you most
I make you fear

fear

Words and photograph copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Dancing in Amber

autumn-4

Flame haired girl peeps from the forest
with her hazel eyes, warm in her dark orange dress.
Amber glimmers secretly
from her ears and throat.
Leaves crown her:
gold and yellow, jasper, topaz and garnet.
She looks through misty skies at empty fields,
the crops gathered, the soil dozing.
Berries like fat beads glisten in hedgerows,
rowan and hawthorn, pyracantha
and gorse and heather range like flame
across the moorlands.
The sky darkens earlier and earlier.
Soon, all will be dark, and cold and lonely for the sun.
But for now,
the Spirit of Autumn watches us,
crowned in leaves.

Words and photograph copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon.
All rights belong to the author
and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Kitchen Haiku

Hungry teenagers:
Spurn gourmet, demand junk food.
I weep as I cook.

Keep your head down low
Get outside quick and breathe deep
Dad’s frying chillies

Would it count towards
My five a day, if I ate
Vegetarians?

Dishwasher broken!
Husband! Disembowel it!
Mend it or wash up!

[2 hours later]

Bother Drat Bother
Dishwasher completely dead
Guests come tomorrow

Exotic cuisine
Without right ingredients:
Optimistic Dad

The scent of orange,
Cherries and almond essence
Recall Gran’s kitchen

Tell me to do it
To cook just like your mother
And I’ll add hemlock

bowl

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Loneliness

Loneliness isn’t only
the friendless room,
the fading tombstone name,
an empty bed, or no-one to sit with.

Loneliness can be trying too hard,
trying to be loveable,
trying to fit in,
trying to show your gifts
when you’ve forgotten what they are.

Loneliness can be feeling you’re out of step,
a panic before starting to speak,
missing the sharing of silence and pain,
hearing yourself boring and silly.

Loneliness can be feeling
cut off from someone else’s life
or shut out of their heart
or not being able to share
the truth in your own.

Loneliness can be slowly
failing to believe in yourself,
losing confidence,
becoming touchy.

Loneliness can be
wanting to move on,
because you’re too tired
to keep trying so hard.

lonely

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

In the Sun

He stands, lithe and supple,
His bronzed limbs glisten in the sun
He brushes back his hair and smiles
King of the beach
Walking like a lion to the water’s edge
Confident in his clinging shorts
Aware of the eyes of women on him
He breathes deep and his chest swells

She poses on the beach towel
Buxom, her full breasts tanned and billowing
The curve of her hips enticing
Queen of the beach
Sashaying like a leopard to the water’s edge
Filling her bikini with allure
Aware of the eyes of men upon her
She stands and poses, hand on hip

They stand together, King and Queen
Seeing themselves beautiful.
Let them dream.
Hide the mirrors.
No-one imagines themselves
Middle-aged, plump and grey
That’s not what holidays are for.

summer beach

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission