Monday, February 18, 2019

dot . . . dot . . . dot . . . 

It’s been 3 months since I posted here but I was in lacklustre form long before that. Much of 2017 was taken up with J’s shock breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemo, radiotherapy, recovery - but that was hers and it was not my place to write about it, even tangentially. But when it was my turn, with most of 2018 taken up with my own (double) cancer fun and games, I was still hardly able to write. I was in no state of mind to bother much with blogs, social media, haiku. 

I didn’t want to write about cancer. Perhaps I thought that I could keep cancer and haiku in separate compartments ... but I hadn’t realised just how intrusive cancer is, how utterly all-consuming of time, energy, concentration. It’s a huge thing, always there and in the way, between you and the world. And when the thing that absolutely dominates your life is something you don’t want to write about, you stop writing. 

Perhaps I thought that after surgery I would simply recover and then be able to put it behind me, that it would be an intense, high stakes, one-off hospital drama with a clear cut resolution. Whereas, it turns out, the cancer had spread, it’s incurable, it’s going to be with me for as long as... i.e. it’s been reformatted as a (hopefully) quite long-running convoluted family drama - but probably with increasingly ridiculous and desperate storylines, eh. 

It’s been 12 months since my initial diagnosis and there are small signs of a writing Spring. I’m hesitant and awkward, yes, but from time to time the brain mist shows signs of clearing. I’m interested again. The metastases on my lung are stable, which is good but a new tumour is growing, with some enthusiasm, where the right kidney used to be: retroperitoneal is a word I’ve had to learn. However, I’m being lined up for a spot of radiofrequency ablation, RFA, which should take care of that. And I still haven’t had to start drug treatments - so I should be around and in reasonable shape for a while yet.

I still don’t want to write about cancer. But I’m not going to be able to keep it in a separate compartment and it was unrealistic to think that I might. Actually, I’ve never liked writing about myself at all; haiku at least allowed me to do so obliquely. It may take me a while to find a way back in that works: although cancer does not, from my experience of it so far, lend itself to subtlety.

We’ll see. 


Sunday, November 18, 2018


you’ve reached sixty

your move, cancer    

 click to enlarge 

digs out

the leaf pit

to the depth of

several autumns

cuts a foothold

to get out


washes hands in

the glossy darkness

of the rain barrel


no doubt she thinks you finicky

but her imprecision

with requests & instructions

drives you crazy


waiting for the bus home

you watch a leaf

bump against your boot


starts to get anxious

that our house is just a home

and not ‘a curated space’


she asks the museum guide: what’s the lemon about?

Friday, November 09, 2018

storm clouds

you’ll look the ogre

in the eye

[waiting for results of CT scan]

after the poets

have wafted past

you start

shoving autumn

into sacks


a decent likeness:

my reflection in

the gallery window


tick boxes

with coffee but

without pen


not recognising the witches

because it was dark

(and they were witches)