Poem of the day

A Tisket, A Tasket

by Joan Owusu

Mama and I are sharing special moments

on the verandah.

A strange babbling streams towards us -

a big girl! a woman? (I'm not sure)

sways along the sun-strewn path from the back gate.


Mama, mouth slightly agape, stares at her

with silent questions.

At four years, I don't understand this

rare pantomime, but I know something's odd:

(now, I think she was hysterical, and about 18)

just laughing and crying, jabbering like mad!


Mama consoles and gives her something -

clothes? food? I'm guessing;

she becomes quiet - until - giggle, giggle, giggle -

she's off again!


I'm thinking it's not safe (she might be mad

and dangerous), but I'm sorry for her. Mama

can always shut the door quickly. Impatiently,

I'm willing for her to go - go on. Not go away;

that feels unkind.


She's made an impression on me, OK!


Her wild-woman shimmy, voiced into a cheerful

A tisket, a tasket, my brown and yellow basket,

bewilders me - it's funny - but I'm too awe-struck

and well-taught to laugh.

Mama mutters something about 'crazy' -

she's frowning a little, but not grumbling.


My tummy slackens when she shuts the gate

behind her. A soft fear lingers.

Will she come back?


Half a century later, I still see the red -

red, yellow, and other colours in her hair;

the red in her dress; the torn-woman's dervish;

hear the echoes, 'my brown and yellow basket'.


15 February


by Mimi Khalvati

If I am the grass and you the breeze, blow through me.

If I am the rose and you the bird, then woo me.


If you are the rhyme and I the refrain, don’t hang

on my lips, come and I’ll come too when you cue me.


If yours is the iron fist in the velvet glove

when the arrow flies, the heart is pierced, tattoo me.


If mine is the venomous tongue, the serpent’s tail,

charmer, use your charm, weave a spell and subdue me.


If I am the laurel that wreathes your brow, you are

the arms around my bark, arms that never knew me.


Oh would that I were bark! So old and still in leaf.

And you, dropping in my shade, dew to bedew me!


What shape should I take to marry your own, have you –

hawk to my shadow, moth to my flame – pursue me?


If I rise in the east as you die in the west,

die for my sake, my love, every night renew me.


If, when it ends, we are just good friends, be my Friend,

muse, brother and guide, Shamsuddin to my Rumi.


Be heaven and earth to me and I’ll be twice the me

I am, if only half the world you are to me.


14 February

I love

by Ian Hamilton Finlay

13 February

We Get Up at Four

by Judy Brown

We get up at four, sticky from sleep,

                                    so Colin can get to the market.

When he has gone, I realise it’s raining.

The tube of indigo watercolour is almost empty

which shows how bad the weather has been this summer.


At Waterloo Station, the platform indicators flap and ruffle.

Trains leave and arrive. At home, email piles up silently

like snow. In town it’s so hot, the smell of waffles

                                    fills every crevice.

Storms can sour milk, but ours is always cool and sweet.


Colin comes back, his yellow fleece soaked. He strides up

                                    and down the lounge,

electricity clicking like silver castanets from his fingers.

My paperbacks rustle as he goes by. Soon it will be Autumn.

We go to bed at nine, diving into sleep in half-light,

                                    so Colin can get to the market.


12 February


by Momtaza Mehri

11 February

I Shall Say What Inordinate Love Is

by Anonymous

10 February

Sea Hare

by Angela France

The Sea Hare slips from water-forms,

scribes patterns in sand with ivory shells


and seagull bones to light paths unseen.

She rides the storms on ribbons of kelp,


stalks waves when they covet slivers

of painted wood or steel mirrors for vanity.


She spins, with sea hare skill, tunnels that twist

and shimmer in blue, green, black; sequins


them with plankton glow to guide lost

sailors home to her green-lit halls.


The slow old river soothes to her whispered

challenge; he falls into her web of tricks,


losing each game to give up small swimmers

he would hoard in rooms of woven weed.