Balance Sheet


if time were money
we’d bank on death
taking an interest
in our capital sum
the years drop
like pennies
pounding us down
by uncherished day
by unremembered second
our taxing lives
moment by moment
to a zero balance
our last breath

A Constant Reminder


If I’d Only Listened

My grandmother used to say:

“A place for everything … and where the hell is it?”

She was a rugged Rhondda woman who kept an immaculate house with rigid routines for dusting and hoovering, doing the dishes, scrubbing the doorsteps and polishing the knick-knacks in the front room every Sunday, never fail. Her assembly-line approach to domestic chores would put Henry Ford to shame. She hated it when things got out of place. “Where’s that gone now?” she’d say and complain of having to “Waste time looking!”

To be fair, her fastidiousness was pragmatic rather than obsessive. I remember the relief and satisfaction in her voice when she settled down with a cup of tea and said, to no-one in particular “Now that’s done.” She was house proud, but not to the extent of Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard.

“And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes.” – Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood

sun decoration garden bike child


I’m a little less organized. It goes with the territory having healthy, happy kids running round the place. Round and round and round. The flotsum of clothes, shoes, toys and craft materials drift from room to room between bouts of salvage.

I can’t blame the children though for the tumbles of papers in the office. They rarely come into the studio. I can either blame myself, or put responsibility where it belongs.

“By sloth on sorrow fathered,
These dusty-featured Lollocks
Have their nativity in all disordered
Backs of cupboard drawers.”

  • Robert Graves, Lollocks, Poems 1938-1945

My implausible deniability is simple. The Fair Folk did it. It’s just one of the risks of living in woodland.

The French Connection

I am carving out a little structure amid the chaos to keep me on track with my writing. As a starting point I’ve borrowed an idea from French cuisine, mise en place, everything in its place.


Begin by gathering a few simple ingredients:

  • a notebook
  • a pen (working)
  • a small table
  • a chair (optional)

Locate the table in a well trafficked area with plenty of light. Place the notebook on the table. Open it carefully to a blank page. The pen should be positioned on the page, aligned to a major axis or set at a jaunty angle. Good presentation is important, but inessential.

Finally, a chair can be placed at an inviting orientation from the table. For poetry, this is optional.

Add coffee to taste.

Making a Meal of It

I’m set up. My notebook is open and visible out of the corner of my eye. It is unfussily present, ready and receptive. Every time I take a screen break I walk past it. When I come back with a fresh tea it’s there, pages open, ready for words. I have nothing to prepare, nothing to schedule. I have no excuses. And every now and then, as I’m walking past, I pause for a moment and write.

I’ve found my consuming inspiration.

Dance Happens Anywhere


This video reminds me that dance can happen anywhere, even in a bathtub.

This is the five hundred and twenty-second video in Nadia Vadori-Gauthier’s series of daily one minute dances. Each of them briefly beautiful.

Habits are hard to form and easy to break. But sometimes simply moving can be an invitation to grace. There are so many points in the day when we are alone and waiting. Waiting for the kettle to boil. Waiting for the coffee to brew. Waiting for a guest to arrive or for clouds to give us shade. In each of those moments, alone and unobserved, we can choose to dance.

Chris Baty: “No Plot? No Problem” | NaNoWriMo


A bit of inspiration for NaNoWriMo. Chris Batty the founder of NaNoWriMo talks about the genesis of the movement, and about his new book, “No Plot? No Problem!”, which gives advice for writing a novel in thirty days.

StoryWonk Nano


Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens give advice and encouragement for NaNoWriMo 2014 participants in this series of short podcasts.

A Novel In A Month? It’s Totally Normal!


I just watched a Google Talk by Steve J. Martin describing ways in which small changes can produce big effects in persuading and influencing others. Communicating positive social norms seems to be important.

One example is HM Revenue & Customs, the UK’s tax authority, which wanted more citizens to pay their taxes on time. Rather than threats and television campaigns, it added a line to its letters. Appealing to herd mentality, it said a large number of people pay before the deadline. The result? Eighty-six per cent of respondents paid on time compared with 57 per cent the previous year. (Source: FT)

I’m thinking about how I can use this to help me get through NaNoWriMo. I’m going to try participating more in the forums, mixing with others who are trying to hit their targets. I was quite solitary in my last few attempts, and didn’t make it through to the end.

I’ll tell you in a month whether this change of practice helps me keep the momentum going. And in the meantime I’ll keep telling myself that it’s normal. Totally normal. Everyone does it.

BTW Steve’s book, which he co-wrote with Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini is “The small BIG: small changes that spark big influence“.

Churchill Beach


this summer I learned
from this little curve of a bay
that opens up beyond an arch of leaves
that shade the bench where I tie my bike
threading a snake through a loop of wrought iron
that may itself have been cast from pigs
native to my hen wlad unforgotten
reminded by this landform’s similarity and difference
that to know a place cannot be done in a day

the tides here throb like the ring of two bells
their notes chasing around the headlands
to echo from stone to stone
here doubled
here silent
and always shifting
muffled and mute
or cracking fierce at the window glass
to set your teeth on edge

the rocks themselves are bland
a dull continuity of form
lacking the frills
of synclines folded and refolded
to mark the crashing of plates
complex as pasta
or as a micrograph
of a sectioned katana
that was worked
and reworked
and quenched in a peasant

and yet the bay teems
clams squirt in mud
and every upturned stone reveals a crab
as if this here were my Cambrian
bivalves and brachiopods anticipating
the crushing weight of trees
for hundred million years
or ten
until a new ocean erodes the risen land
undercutting cliffs to show
secrets in limestone

each day I swim
each day is different

this side
hidden at high tide
boulders rich in barnacles

this side
a tough chain of rock traps sand
a gentle slipway between groynes
overlooked by arbutus
auburn as my ancestors
who also stood defiant on cliffs

my skin maps the shallows
I perfect my cartography
with ankles and knees flagging way-marks
with slivers of dermis

and always the threat
of boats in the channel
zipping along in illusion of idyll

in the water I feel slick as spit
like the skin of the seal
that barked round a corner
to answer my morning cough

the smooth slope of this weathered bed
tilts to dawn sun
spring and summer
warming early
when tides conspire
to dip before noon

this incline is perfect
to open my hips
above folded legs
and allow me to sit as I dry

I see the sequins on water
and feel the odd droplet
almost at random
break loose on my skin and slide

the waves shift
with each turning tide
or each forceful thrust of a boat

for moments here I am not
for moments here I forget

and then


come home to share yours

Eerie Dance Short – Prêt a porter – L.reducta dance project


Halloween is close. Here’s a treat to get you into the mood for something uncanny, an eerie dance film choreographed by Xanthippi Papadopoulou and performed by Marianthi Kalaitzoglou, Eirini Thanasouli, Stella Malioufa, Tzortzina Seralidou and Stelios Nalbandis.

Book Launch – An Irish Doctor In Peace and At War

An invitation to a reading by Salt Spring Author Patrick Taylor.

An invitation to a reading by Salt Spring author Patrick Taylor on the 28th of October 2014 at Salt Spring Island Public Library to mark the release of his latest book, An Irish Doctor In Peace and At War.