Mixed Messages – dVerse

once, they said we could have it all –
the partner, the career, the children
we could be superwomen all day long
immaculate, capable, professional
the mother, the lover, the corporate boss
all superlatively and effortlessly achieved
the house, the car, the long-haul holidays
yes, once, they said, we could have it all

and then, and then
we were vilified for wanting a career, and
for wanting to leave our babies at nurseries, and
for making someone else prepare the dinner, and
we were penalised at work, we were penalised at home
whatever we did – we were wrong
the back-slapping testosterone board-room, boar-boorish doors were closed
the mothers at the school-gates-club
raised their collective eyebrows at parents’ evenings
as the strange apparition of the ‘career woman’ made her appearance

and then, and then
the childless, the husband(or wife)less
were dragged through the biting, back-biting, tight-lippedness
un-natural, bitch-in-the-boardroom, frigid, husk treatment
damned if you do what they want
damned if you don’t
damned every which way but young, blond, legs-up-to-here and easy to please
we are our own worst enemies, and
we listen too much to the media, and
to the politicians (who listen too much to the media)
we listen too much to our inner bitch voice
you know the one, the friend who nobody wants
can we turn her off?
only if we work harder than was ever expected
of the mother-lover-corporate boss –
only if.

Mixed Messages


It’s that time of the month, the last Saturday, where us poets can leave whatever type of poetry we like at the dVerse bar – yes, it’s Open Link Night! Tonight, Mary is our congenial barkeep – her first time on OLN, so be kind, don’t wave money in her face to get her attention or reel off a long list of drinks. All in good time!

This piece of mine was something I was working on for submission to an anthology, but I decided to go with something else instead which was more fitting. I only half-finished this poem, so this has been buffed up a bit and chopped around. As is common with my work right now, it’s a little political! I obviously have issues I need to get off my chest.

Please pop over to dVerse to see what varigated delights await you. No two poems will be the same, that’s for sure. Happy reading, all.



Codicil – (Not quite) Trifecta Week 94

Below is my (not quite) offering for Trifecta’s week 94 challenge word, which is ‘mask’. As you will see from the Trifecta blog post, the challenge is to write between 33 and 333 words of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or prose, based on the 3rd definition from the Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary. This week the 3rd definition of ‘mask’ is:

a: a protective covering for the face


c: a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation

d: a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

As you will also see, I decided not to go down that road, because something different offered itself up whilst I was journeying into the office this morning – it falls within defintion 2, relting to concealment and disguise. I enjoyed writing it, so here it is. I also smashed through the word limit – but hey, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Please check here for the other entries who toed the party line!


– Codicil –

Watch her now, in mid-tirade. Impressive, yes? A woman of a certain age who has clawed, scratched and bitten her way to the top. Anyone who stood in her way surely regretted it.

Her world, the stage of the Old Bailey, the number one court in the land. She has chosen murder, rape, the most heinous of crimes, as her home. And she loves it, gliding down the tiled corridors, wig in hand, wheeled case stuffed with evidence lists, case law, closing and opening speeches. It is where she belongs. Juniors vie for her attention, yet quail when selected by an imperious prod of her crimson nail. She is terrifying.

And yet, watch her now as she collapses through her front door in the minutes after midnight. Her make-up has faded, her hair has pulled free of its chic chignon. Much of her work, the gossip of the law, takes place in the pubs that cluster around London’s Inns of Court like washer-women around a pump. In her twenties and thirties, she had thrived on this extra-curricular frenzy, gulping down rumour and Shiraz like a baby at the breast.

Watch her, now she is home, now she is just the woman who has realised too late that all she really wants is a husband, two kids, a dog and some goldfish. What’s the use of a family home without a family to fill it? Who needs limited edition this, designer that, original the other when they can’t welcome you home at night, or miss you when you’re not there?

Look at her as she regards herself in the mirror, frankly appraising the high cheekbones, the flinty eyes, the fulsome lips. She fumbles in a pocket, pulls out a glossy square of paper. A photograph? Her eyes slip downwards, shy of her own scrutiny. Her face dips and she hooks a stray curl behind her ear, a regular, unconscious act. Then with a swift twist, she releases her hair and it tumbles down her back, uncharacteristically wild, black stranded with silver. A softness appears in her expression as she glances at her reflection again. She slips the piece of paper into the corner of the frame, touching it with her fingertip – a gentle mannerism.

Her coat is thrown over the bannister, heels kicked off, black jacket unbuttoned and she sighs, as if release from these trappings is ultimate relief. Now turning sideways, we can understand.

She caresses her stomach with one hand, and then the other. The mask slips once and for all.

“Hello, little one. Welcome home.”