Saturday, 8 November 2014

This thing called Poetry Space

I wonder why
I started this thing called Poetry Space.
And then
an old lady in her hospital bed,
lost and confused
breaks her silence
and the bodies of the drowned
are looked for over and over again.
A tear falls,
and tiny fingers soft as silk
suture an open wound.

Two readings by Poetry Space poets yesterday and I started to write in prose what it meant and then a poem took over. This is for Sylvia Perry, and  Beverley Ferguson and for everyone in the audience yesterday at two very special events celebrating A Kindness and Flowers in the Blood, both beautiful collections.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Last Meal

I keep wondering what meal
is gonna be your last,Dad.,
Today it's cauliflower cheese,
Susie's special with broccoli and egg,
soya milk, herbs.
I've boiled and melted, stirred
and baked while you, tipped back
in your big old chair, slept, open mouthed
brown blanket keeping in warmth
The dish is out of the oven now
bubbling like a living thing                     
in its white ceramic shell,
and I know that if this meal's
the last you have
you'll  suck  your lips,                     

tell St Peter it was good.

© Susan Jane Sims

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Ode to the Wye

I paddle in your core                                      
and as I float you whisper
of  a long ago birth,
high in the purple mountain
Of Plynlimon,

and how you cut like a knife
through  sand  and limestone rocks                        
to make a valley.
You murmur of your journey to adulthood                                                                          
widening as you found
your way down to the ocean,

how you became home to the otter
and the kingfisher,
and a spawning ground
for lamprey, shad and salmon.
You tell me tales of battles
fought for your soul                                       
and how my kind made
artificial borders                              
along your length.

 How folk built castles
and cottages and lived
on your abundant wealth.

You speak of mines
and acid rain      
that threatened to spoil you.
And all the while I drink you in:
your calm clear water easing my worries;
your fast tumbling heart
thrilling me        
more than any fairground ride.

© Susan Jane Sims

This poem was published in Landscapes on the Edge : poems of the Wye Valley and Welsh Borders, eds. Margot Miller and Sue Sharp. Fineleaf books, 2010. The poem is unusual for me as I rarely write landscape poems.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


 a heart becomes,
 to head off hurt that picks away at skin.
 We turn stones and send life scurrying,
 up, down, through a mountain.
 The voice cries, open sesame.
 We gather stone upon stone upon sparkly stone
 to fill our arms. The hole we leave, as wide
 and scorched as grief.

Susan Jane Sims

This is a very recent poem and written in response to a prompt on the Blog 52 hosted by Jo Bell.The prompt was to choose a word from a given list and write an Assay poem. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Staying Alive

The days drift on,
with nothing much achieved;
for my father, for myself,
just growing older.
These scales we’re on
weigh heavily on my side.
I give him my hours, my minutes, my seconds
and like a small child with no thought
for the parent
he takes them greedily,
his life shadow lengthening.
What if I can’t outlive him?
What then?
What if there are no more years left
to tumble free?

© Susan Jane Sims

This poem was written last Summer at a Second Light residential writing retreat in Worcestershire. The theme for the week was time.

Second Light is a network of women poets. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

At the bus stop

she was chatting on the phone   
telling her friend that
he hasn’t  seen the kids for weeks     
that she’s been coping alone    
that she worked six days a week
and it was all too much   
that she hated him  she turned away  
lowered her voice   I don’t find him
attractive now   he makes me feel sick  
she lowers her voice  still further   
he says he loves me 
wormed  his way in for coffee
last time he brought the kids back 
tried to touch me
I told him where to go   
now I don’t know where he is

© Susan Jane Sims

I have included this poem here as an example of how inspiration can come from anywhere if you keep your eyes and ears open throughout the day and your notebook handy. When I overheard the above I just happened to be on my way to a writing day with Bath Poetry Cafe. Wendy French was a guest facilitator and reader. This poem arose out of the session with Wendy.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Bringing Flowers

If  Wordsworth were to bring me flowers
I’ve no doubt it would be chrysanthemums
with pretty heads growing old
on sturdy shoulders.

They’d last the full seven days
like it says on the label
and their loveliness would slowly
fold into the ocean that sustains them.

 ShelIey’s hand  would grip the stems
of half a dozen blood red roses, thorns and all.
And they’d live scandalously for a few short hours

then die a swift dramatic death.

Susan Jane Sims

In  February 2012 I was invited to be guest poet at Words and Ears, Bradford on Avon, (an open mic event organised by  Dawn Gorman and Helen Murray). The above poem was part of my set.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Kill

For Emily Dickinson

The surprise is
that we are shocked
at the viciousness of the kill

and the coolness
of the killer
after the act.

Watch the lioness at rest
the satiated sleep
the playful cuff of a cub’s head
the carefully retracted claws.

watch the lady pinpoint her target,
stalk, and strike.

It’s the covering of tracks
the washing of hands
the desire to be clean again
that marks out a human kill.

And it’s in the aftermath of rage
that we spot hope’s feathered edges
and reach.

Susan Jane Sims

Published in The Listening Walk.(ed. Sue Boyle) Bath Cafe Poets 2013

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Promise

mum promised
we’d go and play bat and ball at the park
we were all set    two bats and a ball in a bag

and a bottle of made up orange  then jill and her mum came
and i cried     still wanted to go to the park    still wanted to play
bat and ball with mum

we all went    four of us    it felt okay    sort of

mum sat
batted words back and forth with jill’s mum
i played with jill    drank squash    it felt okay    sort of

i don’t remember playing bat and ball
with mum    ever

From Irene's Daughter, Poetry Space Ltd. 2010

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Being Irene's Daughter

My memory holds
the days
of being Irene’s daughter

the cosy winter coming home from school days
when I lit the fire while
mum cooked crispy breast of lamb
to eat with my fingers

the after the orthodontist treat days
when we came home
with half-coated
chocolate biscuits from Lewises

the brave radiotherapy sickness days
when I did the ironing
and mum, strong spirited as always
supervised my creases

the wedding preparation days
choosing my dress
and hers on a glorious
rain- drenched Saturday

and best of all

the exciting new mother days
when mum passed on
her wisdom and delighted
in cuddling each new born child

Susan Jane Sims

This is another from my pamphlet collection Irene's Daughter. Poetry Space Ltd 2010 After my mother died in 2008 I started writing about what she'd meant to me. This one focuses on childhood and memories of early adulthood, leading up to my marriage at and ensuing motherhood. My mother loved having babies around.

Lewises refers to a department store in Bristol's Broadmead  that existed during the sixties and seventies. They had a lovely food hall. They also had a store in Manchester I believe. There was no connection with John Lewis. For anyone with a historic interest in these things the site was subsequently occupied by John Lewis, then Bentalls then I think House of Fraser, and now Primark.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


I have just made an egg sandwich with soft white bread,
sliced the egg with the orange plastic egg slicer
I found in Mum’s drawer. And I’m back there,
the seventh of the seventh, seventy seven.
That’s a palindrome the doctor said
when he called that morning to check on Mum
post cancer treatment. Later when the nausea settled
I had made her a sandwich much like this one,
the egg slightly warm. Noticed that the Christmas cacti
was blooming out of season.

Susan Jane Sims

Published in Soul Feathers, an anthology published by Indigo Dreams Publishing to support the work of Macmillan Cancer Care.