On the anniversary of my grandfather’s death

Little bird tapping on the window (Edna Johnson)

Words get lost in her throat

like the days of the week

and the name of the man in the

picture frame next to a

little bowl of sweets religiously

offered to every visitor

still immaculately dressed

by Marks and Spencer

good manners, money and a tie

always went a long way with Edna

our land army girl. Her music hall

piano skills, her tall tales

the glint in her eye and her glee

as she tucks a tenner

into my palm to ‘treat yourself

dear’ are long gone

but this final time, I’m blessed

we eat crisps in the sun

and I’m eight again, sitting with

Alex, Zak and Dan watching

Batman on a Saturday afternoon

in the small TV room

while she and Johnny hold court

at the Anchor

until a little bird tapping at the

window brings us back

I wrap her tighter in her blanket

and wheel her inside
Substitution (Johnny Johnson)


Lost pieces

The first day after my granny broke

I held her hand

she whispered that

a man behind the chair

had scared her


the week my granny broke again

she held my hand

she told me stories

from the war

and talked about my Grandpa


the month my granny stuck

on shuffle and repeat

she asked about my dad

she whispered that

a man behind the chair

had scared her


stuck on shuffle and repeat

my granny sat

whisky-tonic in one hand

staring at the corner


she asked about my dad


I held her


time stopped when my granny died

I cried the day we buried her

now she and Grandpa lie side by side

they do the crossword together

Dia de Muertos

In a geriatric garden room

dozing with the nearly dead

we hull one hundred pumpkin pips.

The knife slides through the orange flesh

we carve the nose, a spooky face,

our spectators sit transfixed.

My entertaining ten year old

holds the prize aloft and captivates

the crowd, his cheeks burning.

As he charms them, I can only think

maybe he will relive this scene

one day with his own offspring.

And I will watch them, half alive

half of me already on the other side

as outside, autumn leaves fall.

Cake eaten and tea drunk

it’s time to hug my gran goodbye,

as we do, her eyes dull.

(Oct 2013 Dedicated to my wonderful granny x)