There’s Nothing Pink About Cancer

There’s nothing pink about cancer
though there’s a whole rainbow of pain:
skin scalded by radiation,
and orange with betadine stains,
the needle bruises, greens and blues
slowly yellowing as they fade,
the scarlet of an angry scar,
and the black of a sunken vein.
There’s nothing remotely pastel
in stark choices that must be made –
which body parts to sacrifice
in the hope that some can be saved.
And it’s not just for princesses –
their princes can also be claimed.
In horrible equality,
all are hairless, sexless and drained.
It gnaws at families, and friendships,
till only the strongest remain.
No, there’s nothing pink about cancer;
it’s cold, and it’s cruel, and it’s grey.


Book Group

Each month we arrive for our regular date;
there’s wine in a bottle and crisps on a plate,
but we can’t begin yet because somebody’s late –
let’s have wine, and then start on the book.

There’s discussion of husbands and children and lives
(slightly confusing for those who aren’t wives)
and gossip about those who haven’t arrived,
before we can get to the book.

Now another whole bottle of wine is gone,
so our hostess puts the kettle on –
‘Anyone fancy a strawberry scone?’ –
and we still haven’t got to the book.

One hasn’t finished – don’t tell her the end!
One thinks it’s the best book that ever was penned.
One hates it – she’s passing hers on to a friend –
but at least we’re discussing the book.

Now the wine is all gone, there’s no food left to eat,
so a date is arranged for the next time to meet,
and we make our goodbyes as we sway down the street –
maybe next time we’ll finish the book!

Dream Kitchen

Why dream of a kitchen like those on TV?
(Gemstones on a work top? Give me jewellery!)
In my dreams, a kitchen is not about looks –
but filled with food memories from childhood books,
where Alice ate cake hoping she would get big,
while a cat watched a duchess pepper a pig,
where Narnian badgers baked marmalade rolls
and a much-loved bear had a small smackerel –
and a hobbit found himself hosting some dwarves
who ate all his food and then juggled his forks.

But, my ultimate kitchen fantasy?
A kitchen where somebody else cooks for me!

Almost An Ocean

Then along comes a moment
that’s empty, a vessel
for something that someone should say.
But without a remark
which will anchor it fast,
the moment is drifting away.

And the inches between us
are almost an ocean,
and almost as awkward to cross.
This thing that we’ve started,
the water’s uncharted
and we’re both afraid we’ll be lost.

So I search for a word which
can carry the meaning
of all that I want you to know,
but deep down I’m really
not sure what I’m feeling –
it’s too far for one word to go.

And the inches between us
are almost an ocean,
but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
We could both reach the shore,
and that’s got to mean more
than maybe being left high and dry.


This lion once lay by Britannia’s side –
on a ten pence I wore the crown with pride.
But now that’s the only place I’m complete;
on the two pence – I’ve got no feet.
The twenty pence is even worse –
all you can see of me is my arse!
On the five I’m just a head and a tail –
the whole design is an epic fail.
(A coin without a number in sight?
Even the euro could get that right.)
Oh, sometimes you’ll see me, rampant, alone
or with the unicorn, guarding the throne,
and (rarely) a trio of lions, couchant –
but most days a dragon is easier to spot.

Across the currency we’re scattered;
Britannia’s lions, her pride, in tatters.

The Joy Of Trucks

Using public transport
is more often trial than joy,
but today behind me on the bus
I heard a little boy

sitting on his mother’s lap,
face against the glass,
calling names of vehicles
whenever they went past.

Cars, he didn’t bother with;
he wanted things like “truck”
“ambulance” and “caravan”
or “double-decker bus”.

Then we stopped by a building site –
his poor brain overloaded.
So many names burst out of him,
I thought that he’d exploded.

“Forklift truck!” he screamed with glee.
“Lorry – cement mixer!
Caterpillar truck! A crane!
Van! Bulldozer! Digger!”

It made the whole bus smile.
And me? I wished I shared his luck –
to have a child’s uncomplicated life,
the joy of trucks.

What’s In A Name?

I know a girl who’s bored to tears with temping –
finding something more exciting is her goal.
Admin simply isn’t sexy!
Sad, but true – she finds this vexing,
and so she’s looking for another role.

She thought she’d try to be a trolley dolly,
serving meals and duty free aboard a plane –
till she heard if you’re a man, then
you’ll be called a wagon dragon
(which is, you must admit, a cooler name.)

She next thought she could be a llama farmer,
for the job title alone would raise a smile.
Then she met some – it’s a fact that
she’d be happier with alpaca –
they’re calmer than a llama, by a mile!

So then she thought she’d like to be a fluffer,
pulling bits of fluff from tracks for subway trains –
but she found that also to be
work off-screen in adult movies
(‘preparing’ actors – no, I won’t explain!)

But, though she finds herself still trapped in admin,
now the company’s been brainstorming job names –
and they’re calling her position
‘workplace processes technician’.
Sounds better – though the pay remains the same!


Yes, of course I’ll baby-sit all weekend.
No, it’s not a problem, not at all.
Two days and nights – the time will simply fly by!
Sure, the three of us will have a ball…

Yes, I’ll try to help you with your homework.
Yes, I’d love to help you draw a train.
I’ll check no spiders lurk behind the toilet,
then I’ll watch you play your Minecraft game.

No – it’s time to turn off the computer.
Yes, that is exactly what Mum said –
and now it’s time to put on your pyjamas.
Yes, I do know when you go to bed!

Why is it so hard to put on trousers?
Please, will you stop wriggling – for me?
No – don’t wave your bare bottom out the window!
No, the neighbours do not want to see!

Let’s go walking to the park this morning –
Mummy says you always like to go.
Yes, we’re going – you’ll love it when you get there…
Now you don’t want to leave? Told you so!

No – put down that massive water pistol!
Please, don’t push your brother off the tree –
I don’t want to have to tell your mother
we all had to visit A&E.

Yes, of course I’ll let you text your mummy
“I love you” (awww!) – you can use my phone.
(And when they’ve finished, I’ll text too. My message –
“Please, please, tell me – are you coming home?!”)


Some people babyproof their homes,
with cupboard locks, fireguards.
She took a more direct approach –
she babyproofed her heart.

It has no shiny surface
where a child could fall or trip.
There are no nooks or crannies
for a chubby hand to grip.

It’s not she doesn’t like kids
(though it’s true she needs her space) –
she loves her sibling’s offspring
so she knows that’s not the case.

But she will not bring a child into
a world so full of pain –
babyproof she’s always been,
and ever shall remain.