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Don’t judge a book by its cover

Or a person by the skin

For though the cover is dusty and worn

A treasure trove hides within.

My hands are a little bit shaky,

I need glasses to help me see

And it seems that the world I have helped to shape

No longer listens to me.

An old person! Yes, that’s what I am,

I stumble and I forget,

But I still have a lot I can offer,

My time isn’t over just yet.

My shaking hand still rocks the cradle

And brushes away a tear,

My tired eyes still read the fairytale

While holding my little one near.

He smiles as he runs to my open arms

And for me that is more than enough

For a little child’s eyes never see the years

They only feel the love.

By Catherine Turner

    A madman lives quite near to me.

    He shouts and rants and raves,

    And everybody fears him

    For the way that he behaves.

    With matted hair across his face,

    His filthy rags awry,

    A glint of madness in his eyes,

    He screams at passers by.

    He shouts that we are evil,

    That the end is drawing near,

    And women scoop their children up

    And hurry off in fear.

    He tells us we’re all murderers,

    Who constantly wage war

    And so many of our leaders

    Are just rotten to the core.

    With bulging eyes and foaming mouth

    He screams into the air

    That we’re drowning in corruption

    And yet no one seems to care.

    Then his screaming turns to sobbing

    And the tears run down his face

    And he rambles incoherently

    Of how men fell from grace.

    How the rich can dress in splendour

    While the poor remain unshod.

    How mankind has turned from heaven

    And now, Money is their god.

    Again, he turns to anger

    And his fists beat at the air,

    How half the world is starving

    And the other half don’t care.

    How man destroys the habitat

    Of everything that lives.

    ‘The parasite supreme’

    Who always takes, but never gives.

    …………………………..

    I sat and watched the news last night

    From North, East, South and West.

    I thought about the madman’s words

    And put them to the test.

    Now I worry for MY sanity,

    For in so many ways

    I’m starting to believe so much

    Of what the madman says.

    Copyright John Marsh 2012

From the day that we are born we’re encouraged to conform

And to grow up in the way that we’re expected.

So we don’t step out of line and we never rock the boat

For we fear that if we do we’ll be rejected.

We hide our inner selves and put on a masquerade

And live our lives as others think we ought.

It all becomes a habit, from the time that we were born

That’s the only way that we were ever taught.

We accept what we are told and our minds are so controlled

Our freedom is the price that we are paying.

And the judgements that we make, the decisions that we take

Are a product of those games that we are playing.

Do we ever stop to ask if the things we’re taught are true,

Or are we just perpetuating lies?

Copying the people who copied someone else

And seeing things through other peoples eyes.

It seems an awful shame that we feel the need to fit

In a mould that other people have created.

It’s as if we live a lie from our birth until we die

To conform with what society’s dictated.

So teach your kids to think things through before they tow the line.

To question all they read or hear, and they’ll just grow up fine.

No need to play a part in life that isn’t really you.

Because it’s what you’ve grown up thinking you’re expected to

Strip away those false veneers that you have taken on.

Unfettered by convention now, the goose becomes a swan.

And only now we realise that it was such a sin.

The masquerade had ne’er displayed the beauty that’s within.

Copyright John Marsh 2012


Think of me when the morning sun, rising

as it has done for ages untold,

from the hills in the east, works its magic,

turns the sky and the bay to pure gold.

In that shimmering moment at daybreak

I have watched and my heart’s taken wing.

Transfixed by the beauty that morning

and sunlight on water can bring.

How fleeting that moment, how fleeting.

It is gone in the blink of an eye.

But it’s printed inside of my head now,

those hills and that sun and that sky.

So if ever you witness such beauty

with the sky and the sun and the sea

and the hills and the morning sun rising,

and it fills you with joy; think of me.

Think of me when the hedges awaken

and  the spring turns the browns into green,

and the countryside wakes from its slumber

and the signs of new life can be seen.

When the bluebells all carpet the woodland

and their perfume lies sweet on the air.

When the gorse adds its yellow to hillsides

that are green with new grass I’ll be there.

Where the burn tumbles out of the hillside

or the river flows down to the sea.

Or the loch, like a mirror, reflects clouds and sky

look around you for there I will be.

On a cold and damp day in the autumn

with a mist drifting in from the sea,

If you hear the sad call of a curlew

echo over the bay, think of me.

Think of me when you see a red sunset

settle over a blood red sea

and a white-breasted seagull is calling

the way that it once called to me.

And you see twilight’s shadows are stretching

ghostly fingers across the lawn

and the bats spread their wings and the nocturnal things

all take over the garden till dawn.

When the moon, rising up in the heavens,

bathes the sea and the sky and the land

In a silvery sheen, think how often I’ve seen

silver sky, silver sea, silver sand.

If you picture a beautiful garden,

nestled close to the side of the sea,

full of birdsong and flowers. I spent happy hours

in one such as this. Think of me.

Copyright John Marsh

This beautiful poem was written when John’s marriage broke

up and he went travelling and had to leave his home and garden 

by the bay in Scotland.

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The little town of Banjo Bay sits proudly in the cove,

Welcoming her sons home from their toil,

Her harbour filled with laughter, her streets bedecked with love,

A place for growing up and growing old.

The scarlet dawn awakens to the song of Mrs. Jones,

Four and twenty children has she bore,

And every time the father says ‘Enough! The final one!’

And every time the mother says ‘One more?’

Three sets of twins and three of quads then six, who came alone,

And every one is loved as is his right,

Every mouth is filled, every head is neatly combed,

And every rosy cheek is kissed goodnight.

A for Annie is the first, the second B for Brad,

And C the third is beautiful Claudette,

Then D for Daisy, E for Eve and F for Ferdinand,

And thus they travel, through the alphabet.

A hard life hers but happy and no other she desires,

With spark enough to take all life may bring,

Contentedly she stirs the pot upon the cheery fire,

Each scarlet dawn awakened as she sings.

A farming man is Mr. Jones and happy with his lot,

Providing for his wife and swelling brood,

His vegetable garden fills the ever-bubbling pot,

So never will his children want for food.

His herd of cows give up the milk that growing children need,

His sheep give up the fleece that keeps them warm,

Fresh laid eggs from happy hens and apples from the trees,

Oats and barley gathered in the barn.

Waving fields of wheat supply the flour for the dough,

Snuffling pigs provide the breakfast feast,

Self sufficient Mr. Jones no other life would know,

The little farm has everything he needs.

From ‘morn till night the busy farmer ploughs and reaps and sows,

While Mrs. Jones is left to do all else,

Cooking, cleaning, shaking beds and washing dirty clothes,

All the while a-singing to herself.

Soon she will be bouncing yet another on her knee,

The family crib waits in a tiny room,

Tomorrow she will go to town, a doctor for to see,

To turn the sweet Yolanda in her womb.

For unlike every other who was born with ne’er a hitch,

Yolanda is a baby in a hurry,

But Mrs. Jones is confident that though the babe is breached,

No cause has she or Mr. Jones to worry.

Now there upon the cobbled street the ailing wife we spy,

For sweet Yolanda can no longer wait,

In haste, back to the little farm her stumbling footsteps fly,

Where Mr. Jones is waiting at the gate.

And there, beside the little gate, delivers he the girl,

But near to death his ever-loving wife,

No other child will follow sweet Yolanda to this world,

For sore the damage done to give her life.

The evening tide rolls in upon the golden, sandy shore,

As Mr. Jones a silent vigil keeps,

Little faces peer around the creaky bedroom door

A-watching o’er their mother as she sleeps.

But when the sickened reaper calls he finds no soul to claim,

For on the little farm the tide has turned,

Against all odds the roses bloom upon her cheeks again,

The pot is stirred, the cheery fire burns.

But all can see, that changed is she, the spark of life she lacks,

No longer does her song bring in the dawn,

Only tears of longing for the little baby, Zak,

The baby who will never now be born.

No morning kiss to send the farmer out to till the soil,

No loving arms to hold him as he sleeps,

Sad is he to see the love they shared so badly spoiled,

But thankful he, his tortured wife he keeps.

Tide on tide roll in upon the shores of Banjo Bay,

The baby crawls, the woolly sheep are shorn,

The wife scrubs out the heavy pot and clears the toys away,

The husband ploughs the field and sows the corn.

A life that isn’t perfect but a life that could be worse,

The tragedy behind, but not forgot,

But tragedy is never far, it waits to cast its curse,

And now it comes to twist the strangling knot.

The evening star shines down upon the narrow, cobbled streets,

As sweet Yolanda wakens with a start,

The fire of fever burning on her pretty, freckled cheeks,

The drums of hell a-pounding in her heart.

Along the alphabet they fall, as would a pack of cards,

Mrs. Jones in torment kneels to pray,

‘Dear Lord above reach down and save the harvest of my heart,’

‘Take the devil’s pestilence away’.

‘How wrong was I to weep and wail and shun a loyal man’,

‘To worry for a child you cannot bring’,

‘When every blessing you could lend was here, within my hand’,

‘Heal them Lord, and ever will I sing’.

The evening fog rolls in upon the gently waving wheat

And shrouds the empty streets of Banjo Bay,

Many a prayer is said this night on many a bended knee,

Some are welcomed, some are turned away.

The citizens of Banjo Bay stack up the bales of hay,

For all must help to bring the harvest home,

Singing as they swing the scythe in glory of the day,

And singing there beside them, Mrs. Jones.

And now beside the rusty gate the happy farmer stands,

Listening to she he calls his bride,

A-singing to the children who will work this blessed land,

And every one is present, A to Y.

copyright Catherine Turner

If by Rudyard Kipling

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If you can keep your head when all about you

are losing theirs and blaming it on you

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

but make allowance for their doubting too

If you can wait and not be tired of waiting

or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

or being hated, don’t give way to hating

and yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise

If you can dream and not make dreams your master

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

and treat those two impostors both the same

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools

or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

and stoop and build them up with worn out tools

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss

and lose and start again at your beginnings

and never breathe a word about your loss

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

to serve your turn long after they are gone

and so, hold on when there is nothing in you

except the will which says to them hold on

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue

or walk with kings nor lose the common touch

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you

If all men count with you but none too much

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

with sixty seconds worth of distance run

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

And which is more you’ll be a man my son

Rudyard Kipling- 1895

The first star of the evening

through a misty window pane

Prompted me to whisper

that old childhood rhyme again

I didn’t wish for beauty

for all beauty has to end

I didn’t wish for friendship

for she was my truest friend

I didn’t wish for money

for I knew a Mother’s worth

Not even for security

for this I’d had from birth

I didn’t wish for guidance

for she taught me wrong from right

I didn’t wish for love

for I had known it all my life

The wish I made was for the thing

I thought I’d never ask

For what I knew must happen

I hoped would happen fast

Through a misty window

in a room of sterile white

My crying eyes looked out

upon the first star of the night

The saddest star in heaven

that I made my wish upon

The star that made my wish come true

that last long night with Mom

copyright Catherine Turner 2001

Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight

Alfred Bester