‘And loss, strangely, can attune you to what is beautiful about existence, even as it wounds you with what is awful.’ — Ryan Vandeput

‘I thought that love could last forever. I was wrong.’ — W. H. Auden

Ode to Barry Island, by Max Boyce

I remember Miner’s Fortnight when I was just a lad,
We’d go to Barry Island, the weather always bad
In a brand new shirt and shoes that hurt,
The one’s mam saved to buy
To go to Barry Island on that last week in July.

We’d catch a Western by the square, my bucket in my hand
Then all the fuss to get on the bus and we always had to stand Then I’d be sick
And my shoes I’d kick,
The one’s mam saved to buy
To go to Barry Island on that last week in July.

They’d put me by the drivers seat for me to ‘av some air
And my mother’d say, “He’s never this way,”
She’d come and comb my hair
Then I’d see the sea and I’d want to pee
And if I couldn’t I’d cry
When we went to Barry Island on that last week in July.

Our caravan, “The Waters Edge”, 10 miles from the sea!
And we’d drag the cases over and we didn’t have the key
We couldn’t light the gas lamp,
I’ve gone and marked my tie
When I went to Barry Island on that last week in July

I’m on the beach, It’s Sunday I’ve got a friend called Russ
I’ll ave to buy another bucket, Left mine on the bus.
I’ve cut my foot, It’s bleedin
My cousin says, “You’ll die
And we’ll bury you in Barry Island on the last week in July”

I’m going to the fair tonight, my bucket full of o’shells
The weather forecast’s settled now,
with dry and sunny spells
I’ve brought Mangi a present and I’d wave the see goodbye
My mother’s found my plastic mac
and the weather’s nice and dry
Aye, that’s how I remember Miner’s Fortnight,
when I was just a lad
I went to Barry Island and the weather always bad.

~ Max Boyce


Some mornings you wake up

and you’re not sure how you’re here

but you’re here,

with your morning breath
smothered in sea salt,

with so much sand in your bed

you could build an army of castles.

On these days

your skin smells of survival,

and if you quiet your mind enough

you can still hear your lungs

choking with every crash of a wave.

But you are not in water


And, look at you:

when the ocean chewed you up,

when she broke your bones,

you taught yourself other ways to swim to shore.

Look at you:

you have survived what scientists

haven’t even discovered yet;

things that have not been named.

Look at you:
you are the result

of holding on even

when you were too tired to.

And have you ever seen anything
so beautiful?

I wish I could remember that first day

I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand – Did one but know!


Fragile as a spider’s web
Hanging in space
Between tall grasses

It is torn again and again
A passing dog
Or, simply the wind can do it

Several times a day
I gather myself together
And spin it again.

Spiders are patient weavers
They never give up

And who knows
What keeps them at it?

Hunger, no doubt,
And hope.

~ May Sarton

My friend Carla wrote something I relate to, and in such a beautiful, eloquent way:

“We all fear intimacy and yet crave it. It’s like a hot sun and we’re lizards.. leaning both in and then away, sun to shade. It’s a dance. Usually men lean away when in fear and women reach out to steady their own gait.. In the dance, one relies on the other. If the pursuer stops.. the distancer reaches out. It is with this same flickering that we connect with the universe. We all need a mix of sun and shade. Closeness and distance. The more we’ve been through, the harder it can be to allow the light in.. to trust the dance.”
~ Carla Siqueland
~ http://fbl.me/carla

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

I Keep My Snowman in the Freezer

I keep my snowman in the freezer
Just behind the pies
He likes it there, he told me so
I can see it in his eyes.
I made him on a cold, cold morning
When the snow was fresh and deep
Now he sits in the freezer
Near the fish that we got cheap.

I keep my snowman in the freezer
And look at him each day.
If I’d left him in the garden
He’d simply have melted away.

But now he’s like my Grandma
Living somewhere safe and nice;
He’s in a frosty, snowy palace
On a throne of coldest ice.

I keep my snowman in the freezer
Near a lump of frozen beef
And I’ve got a treat for him in August:
I’m taking him to Tenerife!

© Ian McMillian


Slip through the letter box with messages:
Some bland, some more intense, some aching with
Bereavements, wives abandoned, loss of jobs.
The annual contact on a patient card.
‘See you next year’ some say and quite forget
Before the ink is dry. A plaster patch
That leaves no sticky mark on minor wounds
However much the cover faces please
With coloured art or kitsch or nearly art.
One threatens every time in wiry script
‘This is the last card I shall send. I am
Too old now’. Still it slides into my hand.
And there is one that comes anonymous,
Unsigned, the postmark adds its mystery,
A smudge, a ghost behind this paper mask?
Perhaps there’ll be a few to tuck away
After the show, in an old envelope,
Fingered at times because the sender once
Carved hope into a fraction of your years;
Or others will imply ‘I am still here’ –
A comma on your page a life ago.