Things I tell myself…

This sunrise will not be the last.
See its dragon-breath set afire
the horizon and morning sky.
Pull back the curtains. Don’t leave
this room in endless shade, lacking air.
Swallow the coffee. Feel its slow burn
bring you back to life. Don’t let this
be the last thing you remember.
Feel the dog’s satin-soft ear
against your cheek, his gentle
breath of sleep reminding you
to inhale inhale inhale
for one more day.

~The H Word~

Fear Not My Darling

We wait together, you and I

as night falls, light dies, extinguished

day’s death never grieves us

illuminated in moon’s torchlight

we navigate night’s crippling darkness

find shelter in its blank canvas

and feast on fear, you and I

swallow bitter disappointment until

satisfied enough to try again.

~The H Word~

Tomorrow is always another day (with audio)

Each morning arrives like clockwork
lightened with love the sky opens up
offers new hope like candy   take a handful
stuff pockets with endless possibility
it’s no-one’s fault we tend to waste it
fail to embrace its blankness   insist
on carrying forward yesterday’s garbage
such a waste of a new beginning
maybe tomorrow will be different
maybe tomorrow we’ll take that sweet
potential and decorate our day with fresh
perspective   hope that others do the same
welcome this gift we are given each morning
regardless of whether or not we feel
we deserve it.

~The H Word~

Poems from ‘The Water Engine’ by Ankh Spice

I have been impatiently waiting to share poems from The Water Engine (2021), Ankh Spice’s debut collection published by Femme Salve Books, but I was struggling to pick only one or two and kept changing my mind about which ones to share. This is one of those collections that immediately takes up residency in your chest, it snuggles beside your heart and let’s you know it is always there for you whenever you might need it. And the poet is pretty darn special too. I first encountered Ankh’s poetry on Twitter and was, for want of a better phrase, blown away. His ability to capture a single moment alongside the entirety of the universe and everything in-between is outstanding. He gets to the heart of what it means to be human; how we treat one another, and this wondrous earth we call home. How our relationship with both can be flawed and joyous and more often than not breathtakingly beautiful. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of this collection for yourselves, you will not be disappointed, and you can purchase a copy via the publishers website by following this link – Femme Salve Books.

Ankh is a poet from Aotearoa New Zealand and is obsessed with the sea and believes our natural environment along with those old stories we don’t even know we know, mingle in magical ways to shape the human beings we become, and that sometimes we’re allowed to notice it happening. His poetry has been widely published with nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He is also co-editor at IceFloe Press and a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine (Spice n.d.). Ankh is also one of the most genuine, humble and kindest people you will ever meet and whilst I have not even met him, or know him personally, I had the privilege of attending the launch of The Water Engine and it is one of those experiences that will stay with me forever. Alongside the other poets and writers in attendance, the love and respect and care for one another radiated from the screen despite us all being scattered around the globe. I am delighted to be able to share a couple of his poems tonight for those who have not come across his work before. I hope you enjoy!

‘No (thing is) right’ by Ankh Spice

Who told this calm day
it had any right
to reel delicate and radiant
when I am dissolving hard

Who said
that when a person falls
to pieces, there must be noise –
screaming, sharp edges

The only sounds here are distant:
the quiet, ordinary tide
and a long, soft keening –
the wounded ape in me
calling, calling

‘I mean how do we balance at all’ by Ankh Spice

At centre you carry the weight / I don’t mean
a heart but yes chambers liquid
with iron / I don’t mean blood I mean
restless and betrayed only by being
magnetic / your core invisible
to something on the surface
otherwise / I mean a heart is a constant kind
of collision / I mean momentum
dizzies us / sure as a slow leak
in the moon. I mean we tide.
I mean our being off-
balance has flow-
on effects. I don’t mean
to be dense / I mean if your heart
was different this whole life thing
would collapse. I mean fragile.
I mean, it is.


Spice, A. (2021) ‘No (thing is) right’ & ‘I mean how do we balance it all’ from The Water Engine. Vermont: Femme Salve Books, 49 & 55

Spice, A. (n.d.) Ankh Spice – SeaGoatScreams Poetry: About [online]. Available from [22 April 2022]

‘Seabed’ by Aoife Lyall

The second poem I am sharing tonight may be small in stature, however, the emotion and tenderness it manages to capture in those four short lines is ginormous!

‘Seabed’ is from Aoife’s debut collection Mother Nature (2021) published by Bloodaxe Books. You can purchase a copy of Mother Nature here. Aoife was born and raised in Dublin and now lives in the Scottish Highlands. She has been shortlisted for the Hennessy New Writing Awards in 2016 and 2018 and her work has appeared in many literary magazines. Aoife has also been guest editor with Butcher’s Dog Magazine (issues 13 & 14). As well as writing and editing Aoife also teaches poetry, writes reviews and mentors, you can find out more about Aoife on her website here.

Mother Nature “explores the tragic and tender experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood, from ante-natal complications and the devastating pain of miscarriage to the overwhelming joy of healthy delivery” (Lyall 2021). It is an incredibly emotional collection that constricts the heart but also floods it with hope and joy.

I hope you enjoy the poem I have chosen to share.

‘Seabed’ by Aoife Lyall

When you fuss, your father turns
from cliff face to cove and curls
you into him, his steady breath
the swell that brings you home.


Lyall, A. (2021) ‘Seabed’ from Mother Nature. Hexham: Bloodaxe Books, 48

Forward Thinking

Nothing good ever comes
from living in the past,

spend too long looking back
you’ll miss the best parts,

worry about what’s up ahead
you’ll overlook what’s important.

Life happens in the moment.

I’m not saying it’s easy,
I’m not saying I’ve achieved it

but there’s a reason
it’s called the present.

That life you’re looking for,

it’s right here.

Depression Interrupted

For days I’ve felt your presence    lurking
just out of sight    hidden in shadows
growing in strength as my mood darkens

tentacles of torment twitch    aching
to touch    a low hiss escapes cruel slit
of a mouth    back arches    skin stretches

shivering with need   ready to pounce    any
minute    now    my melancholy state
the nourishment you crave    and for a moment

I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes    lungs
freeze    inflated    space between us    closes
nothing I can do to stop this    until  

you’re interrupted    a hopeful sound somewhere
in the house    seems to travel through time
to where we are now    is it music or laughter

or both    who can tell    you flail on the floor
lips curl back in pain    there is joy in this home
you cannot control    like a slug bathed in salt

you fold in on yourself    this will not be the night
your misery prevails    the shadows devour
what remains of you now    I go to the source

of that magical sound    who has managed to save
my life once again    without knowing how close
their mum came to the end.

~The H Word~


‘At the Clootie Well’ by Lynn Valentine

Happy Sunday poetry people! I’ve had a couple of days off from posting and I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend so far. My Friday consisted of a day of reading then dinner and drinks at a friends house, which was lovely. Then yesterday, I spent pretty much all day reading again, hah! Because, why not?

As I missed two days, I’ll share more than one of my favourite poems/poets today, so sorry if it feels like you’re being spammed! Normal service will resume tomorrow.

On Friday I was delighted to receive Lynn Valentine’s debut collection Life’s Stink & Honey in the post. It arrived around 9.32am and I spent the morning feeling love, loss, yearning and hope. By the end my cheeks were damp with tears but I was in no way sad. It is a beautiful collection published by Cinnamon Press and you can buy a copy from Lynn’s website here, or via Cinnamon Press here.

Lynn’s poetry is primarily concerned with childlessness, family, her working class roots and the impact of poor mental health. She lives on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, their dogs and a mountain for a neighbour but her thoughts are never far away from her adopted city of Glasgow and her home town of Arbroath (Cinnamon Press).

In 2019 Lynn won a place on the Cinnamon Press Mentoring Scheme and in 2020 won the Cinnamon Press Literature Award leading to the publication of Life’s Stink & Honey, her debut collection. Also in 2020, Lynn won the Hedgehog Poetry Press Dialect competition which resulted in the publication of her Scots language pamphlet A Glimmer o Stars (Cinnamon Press).

The poem I will share today is featured in both A Glimmer o Stars and Life’s Stink & Honey. In the former it is given in both Scots and English, so I will share both versions for you. Locals will know the Clootie Well but for those who do not, Clootie wells […] are found in Celtic places […] and are linked to ancient healing traditions. The rag or cloot is dipped in the well and tied to a tree in the hope that a sickness or ailment will fade as the rag disintegrates (Forestry and Land Scotland).

Recently all of the ‘cloots’ were removed from the site (to mixed feelings from the locals) due to some of the material not being environmentally-friendly, so if you want to bring a cloot and tie it to the tree, you must ensure it is small, appropriate and biodegradable – pure wool or pure cotton are best for the environment (Forestry and Land Scotland).

I hope you enjoy the poem, in both its beautiful forms:

At the Clootie Well

We knottit oor wishes roon the well,
tyit them a tae the trees, white fir a bairn,
blue fir a cuir. Wir nervish gaggles
ringin at corbies croakin in the auld oaks.

Nane grantit, nane lastit, the reid
runnin, the blackness takin ower
us baith. You awa by simmerdim,
me an ma belly emptie.

Noo they’re clearin the woods,
takin awa the sheets, the cloots,
even a pair o drawers.
A think the last wid mak ye laugh.

A wish a could still ca yer Mither,
see yir heid turnin roon at ma call,
some grey efternuins I dauner,
echo yir name in tae the well.

We knotted our wishes round the well,
tied them all to the trees, white for a child,
blue for a cure. Our nervous giggles
ringing at crows croaking in the old oaks.

None granted, none lasted, the red
running, the blackness taking over
us both. You away by midsummer,
me and my belly empty.

Now they’re clearing the woods,
taking away the sheets, the cloths,
even a pair of pants.
I think the last would make you laugh.

I wish I could still call you Mother,
see your head turn round at my call,
some grey afternoons I stroll,
echo your name into the well.


Cinnamon Press (2022) Life’s Stink & Honey [online]. Available from [10 April 2022]

Forestry and Land Scotland (n.d.) Munlochy Clootie Well [online]. Available from [10 April 2022]

Valentine, L. (2021) ‘At the Clootie Well’ from A Glimmer o Stars. Clevedon: The Hedgehog Poetry Press, 8-9

Bottling It All Up

If I could bottle this moment,
this belief in myself, more powerful
than any doubt I could ever feel
I would keep it there on the dressing
table beside perfumes and sparkling
jewels knowing its worth exceeds
anything I could ever own and on days
when doubt pins me in place, under
duvet, under grief, under darkness
so dense I fear I will never escape,
I would open that beautiful bottle,
inhale its strength and determination
remembering that no matter how hard
some days can feel, they are fleeting,
merely a moment and that the next one
could just be the best of them yet.

~The H Word~


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