Poetry: my oldest literary friend

I have been writing poetry since I was about eight years old. It was my first conscious creative output. As a child I mostly wrote about things which moved me or affected me on a deep level, often based on events from history or current affairs. I would have my little book with me as a young teenager and write about things which piqued my interest, including some men surfing and the power of the ocean (during a beach holiday), prejudice and discrimination, Christian themes and nuclear way (it was the age of Ronald Reagan and I hate to say it, but the chance he would get confused and launch the third world war seemed rather likely). MY whole life has been punctuated by art and literature (pardon the pun). I wrote sporadic diary entries and poems throughout my troubled twenties.

I think my poetry muse much have taken a long holiday between about 2002 and 2010 as very few odes emanated from the pen – or MacBook – of Jeanette. In 2010 I got quite unwell with my muse and creativity’s constant friend, mental illness. I wrote some poems for a competition and it got me going. I have recently written 30 poems in the month of April for the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) event. I have shared a select few of my recent poems here. Some were published and others not. I rather like them, my little literary friends (and no, poetry isn’t hard. The only kind of writing I find difficult is novels. Everything else requires about the same amount of effort as getting the bus to work. I know, it’s completely unfair but I struggle with other things – promise!)

Monday (written about being hospitalised for mental illness in 2011. It won a competition – yay. I spent the prize on books)


I put on my suit – armour against the sword of daily life

I took the bus to work

Thoughts passed through my mind

of awful and inappropriate actions.

I swiped my card. The perspex doors gave way at its bidding and I was in the lift

I got out at Level 5, walked to my desk and logged on

The emails made no sense

I took myself to a private room and called Kathy, my capable clinical manager

“Go home” she said

but I was determined.

After what seemed no time my Manager was driving me to see Kathy, concerned.

The world seemed to close in – there was no future

Kathy was concerned as well – worry etched in her features.

A trip to the hospital


I escaped. Kathy gave chase.

Police walked by

I looked longingly at their guns

but what sort of public servant would that make me I thought

A dead one.

Kathy leaves me at the assessment unit

In my suit.

My make-up perfect, jewelry matching my clothes

Work shoes newly polished.

There is no tomorrow I think, at least, not one in which I want to be.

The psychiatrist – young, cocky, male – sends me to PSU, the locked ward, for my own protection.

I arrive that night

In my suit.

“Do you work here?” asks an intern

“no” I respond gloomily. “I’m just a well-dressed patient.”

Outside the rebels storm the winter palace and the sky explodes,

Inside I’m safe, medicated and confused.

The world goes on around me, unaware and unconcerned

When I grow old… (this one is published in an anthology of poetry by people with Autism)

When I get old…

When I grow old I’ll complain at length about the ways of the day

to anyone left long enough to listen.

I’ll wear stylish clothes



perfume – something suitably musky

I’ll eat at the best restaurants

Go to the theatre

the opera

And secretly smoke


And only let my closest confidantes in on the secret.

I’ll watch adaptations of Agatha Christie

and every program on the ABC on a Sunday night.

I’ll tell my friends and family that I don’t drink

then sneak the occasional sly glass of wine

only publicly partaking at Christmas

I’ll reminisce about my long-gone youth

(not all the stories will be true).

I’ll live in a crumbling mansion.

I’ll not-so-silently judge the youth of the day

And I’ll push into supermarket queues

Thinking I have lived long enough to garner such a privilege.

I’ll be a legend

A survivor

A historical character.

Sometimes I think I can hardly wait

until I get old.


Mum (from my latest effort which is currently begin judged – so no-one plagiarise it please!! 🙂

My mum is not the average mum

She never gossiped with her girlfriends at the school gate

She never wore heels

or make-up.

She did have three lipsticks from the 1970s – a pink one and orange one and and sort of melted brown blob

She didn’t ever watch rom-coms

She stopped buying music in about 1963.

She never talked about being a lady

or using your feminine wiles

(whatever those were).

She tromped around the garden in gumboots

and a jumper from he dark ages.

When I was little there were lots of books

Little kid books

Christian books

then books we could read by ourselves.

One day my mum read a magical book from her childhood.

It was precious. a treasure.

She only read it to us once to keep the pages from falling out.

It was from the ancient history that was my mum’s own difficult childhood

She read it as if preserving her fragile history

Stopping its few good memories from disintegrating into crumbs.

Mostly my mum’s idea of calming reading was the book of Revelation.

At 10 I knew all about the whore of Babylon

But I’d never watched Mary Poppins.

My mum had a word for every occasion

a logophile

(ironic that one needs to be a logophile to know what one is).

In a sea of Englishness she sported an Australian twang.

England was always too cold.

too windy

she’d set up a vivid orange tent on every English beach

We never got lost

We’d see the tent’s toxic hue and come whirring back like homing pigeons

If pigeons liked dribbly ice cream and seaside rock.

As I got older my mum transformed

She was now my best friend

In the absence of friends my age.

I could tell her anything

I’d stand behind her and brush her hair

Hundreds of times

Thousands when measured in days and months and years.

Whenever I was in trouble she’d be there



Some time after I gained for myself a label


I went through adulthood the lone labelled person in our quirky Purky world.

It was almost a sleight – why just me when others in our midst may benefit from a swipe from the label machine?

One Christmas I was home

My mum comes up with unknown intent

She thrusts a card into my hand

‘I want the assessment. Give me the label’ it read

Clinician visited

Label attached.

My mum, my friend, my champion all along is now in the club –

we are in it together

The same

Our perfect club of two within the larger club we’ve been in all these years.

Our labels bear the same name

‘Thank you mum’

My past and me (another from the competition I’m in – I love this one)


I am your success story

Your example

Your role model

You pay to hear my wisdom

How can this be?


I am broken


A lost cause

Example of what not to be

A cautionary tale

A mistake

A fallen thing

A tragic thing



Yet here I am.

I look back

I find that other I

There she is

There I am

‘Come with me’

I reach out my hand down the years

Connecting, just.

I hold her

I am you

You are me

She buries her sorrow in my chest

And we become whole.

Tragedy and triumph together

She is with me and I am with her


Not fixed but learning.

I hope you enjoyed those. I really enjoyed sharing them.


Me signing something – hard to stop me once I get going. I’ll sign anything that sits still long enough 🙂

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