Victoria of dVerse poets has set the challenge to write a lai this week. This is an old French form: a nine-line poem that uses a rhyme scheme following this pattern:
The lines with an “a” rhyme use 5 syllables;
the “b” rhyme lines only have 2 syllables.

Quite a challenge to convey any sort of meaning within such strict parameters but I gave it a go anyway!


Listening to the rain
Soothes my weary brain
At night

I can only feign
Sleep, the night’s refrain
Till light

Morning brings fresh pain
Of thought once again
For spite



Took our kids to nursery
This morning
Smiled at their happy faces
As they played away
In the sand pit
Sat in the front row
At our daughter’s concert
This afternoon
Taking photographs
As she played away
On the violin
Her look of concentration
True and unflinchingly honest
Had coffee with our neighbour
This evening
As I waited
For my husband of eighteen years
To come home for dinner
Working late again
I shrugged
Or maybe
She said
Playing away


If a cake is bland,
No amount of pretty icing
Will make it taste good,
Said the H.E. teacher.
Make the cake rich and spicy!
Add unexpected flavours and
Surprising textures
To tantalise the palate!
Your icing will enhance it.
Her speech was as long as the Clyde
And as dull as a poker.
As the bell rang for interval,
I couldn’t help wondering
What flavour those fifteen minutes
Of fresh air would be
If they were icing.

Aleppo doesn’t sleep

Ottava rima written for dverse poets challenge. This form is written in eight-line iambic stanzas with rhyme scheme abababcc.

a table and a chair, upturned
remains of last night’s supper
an empty grate where fire once burned
a half chewed leather slipper
an empty place – a lover spurned –
like verdigris on weathered copper
now let them come and bullets spray
we’ll live to see another day

not so lucky, our poor neighbour
a humble man, his pregnant wife
for she had just gone into labour
when soldiers came and took his life
her child they silenced with a sabre
her throat they slit with rusty knife
so it is for far too many
their lives worth less than half a penny

Made it


I had no power to be your twin,
to make a bright new sun stream in
or let the longed for end begin.

I could not get inside your skin
to bear the pain, with just a grin,
of life so worn and paper thin.

You had the power to draw me near
and whisper, knowing I would hear
your disappointment and your fear.

You never loved me like a mother
but chose instead your love to smother,
leaving me to find another.

Not knowing love, what did I find?
An ace controller of the mind,
Who took my life and robbed me blind.

I had no power to wriggle free.
Was this how love was meant to be?
Always a twig but never a tree.

If you could see what I’ve become,
Perhaps you’d smile or raise your thumb.
Shame you’ll never know I made it, Mum.

B – 1


Today Barra weeps
As a young life is lost to them
A happy life
Excited for her journey south
Planned months before
For how long
Was her extinction planned?
Will this senseless striking out
Of innocence
Ever end?
Today the world weeps
At Barra’s side
We will not be cowed
By cowards
And sheep
Today Allah weeps with the world
For this was not His bidding


In memory of the victims of last night’s Manchester suicide bombing attack.

They came to see you
To swim in the cool lake
Of your voice
A mild May evening, sky blue
Exams over, time to take
Time out and rejoice
The blast came out of the blue
It was no mistake
This was death and destruction by choice

Night lovers

as wide as the cosmos

your eyes seek me

across the gulf of night

fingertips like tongues

of fire flicker along

familiar paths

setting the world alight

the devilish drumbeat

of a love that knows

it can never be silenced