Heaven Has No Fences – dedicated to the memory of the 800 migrants who died this last weekend

this poem was written six years ago, but, in the light of the tragic events of this week, has a renewed resonance for me. Rest well.

Heaven Has No Fences

In our world……

The sky is blue bolted and stilled,

spring washed and not yet

summer stilted.

I lay in the garden

gazing across the Bay,

a chiff chaff summoning, bell like trilling,

unwittingly willing to add thrill to

a Sunday evening revelry.

Earlier, we walked along the Nevern,

woodlands pin pricked by wood anemones,

bolstered by wild garlic

and the first blue bells creeping skywards.

Nothing untoward until

an owl, a tawny streak,

chased by a furious blackbird

disappeared, chastened perhaps

into the green tented, splintered tree tops. 

In your world…… 

Dawn, presumably, could not come too soon

as you fought your way to the side,

galvanized by the hope a passing cargo ship

might provide.

The Mediterranean, at one point

a moonlit, blank canvas,

the next moments, a swirling scramble,

angry abstract patterns, peopled by those

in extreme, ultimate, unimagined distress.

And beyond…… 

I must confess,

a shared sense of hopelessness,

the frustration that our two worlds can be

so far flung, heart strung,

devastatingly beautiful

and one almighty mess.

The awfulness of what drove you on

the headlong rush to emigrate

is likewise tough to contemplate.

In part, I too must bear the burden

for these casting votes of carelessness.

Life, the casual combination of magic and loss,

toil, sweat, leisure, excess

the daily, weekly, yearly struggle,

the explosion of the senses.

Can leave my mind muddled, confused,

my values and principles

shadowed, huddled

assaulted by the restless flow of news.

But one thing, for me,

remains as clear as morning dew :

heaven has no fences.

Mediterranean migrants

13,500

Migrants rescued 10-17 April

1,600

Feared to have died attempting the crossing so far this year

  • 35,000 Migrants have arrived from North Africa in 2015
  • 218,000 Estimated to have crossed the Mediterranean in 2014
  • 3,500 Migrants died attempting the crossing last year

Source: UNHCR


A poem for Epiphany

Alarmed, perhaps, by clarion bells,
The kingfisher lets fly
its gift of jewels.
The sunlight slips
In sheets of fire,
Pillowing our morning bed.

The Three Kings have passed us by,
Somewhere between Bethlehem
and the South Tyrol.
But we have Venice once more
And the magical, moated, bird sparkled morning
instead.

May I wish you all a peaceful Epiphany and a very Happy New Year.


Italy is – or, Carpe (enjoy) Capena – a poem reflecting our recent holiday in Capena,near Rome (www.casacapena.com) Helen researched for her upcoming WW2 novel and I, well I tried to capture the spirit of the visit, including the huge contrast of ancient and modern. Hope you like it.

CAPENA 2013 034CAPENA 2013 029

Italy is:

Sunlight slicing the morning apartment
Gracing the piazza too,
Streaming over the crimson and cream banners.
Caressing cappuccino coffee cups,
And lighting the way for the young baristas to be
Who are hawking cups of rosemary water,
Whilst bric a brac trembles in the spring wind.

It’s Antonella’s pasta with fennel
And basking in her salted, amber glowing cellar,
Graced by Roberto’s gentle, courteous conversation
It’s Crodino, Americano, cat motifs, cornettos,
And Enrica’s charming welcome.

It is you and I dozing alongside the Tiber
As it flows greenly by,
Kingfishers calling,
A chestnut cob rolling in a dust bath
Amidst the sylvan spring countryside.
Smoke whisping through the olive groves,
And a farmer raking fresh mown grass.

It is forcing ourselves up vertical cobbled streets.
Sipping lemon soda on a tiny terrace.
Being amazed at the crazed musings and meandering
Of medieval planning.
A Moroccan lamp catching the sunlight
Above a dusty wood bandaged and padlocked door.
Madonnas and St Francis sitting serenely in relief
Above ancient archways.
And it is pistachios purchased in the lee of history.

Italy is lakes and splendour
Fettuccine and ravioli consumed
High above the water,
Local white wine honeyed and soft.
The Italian Airforce museum, and
Planes hurled aloft.

It is gambling with hectic traffic in Tivoli.
The mossed water delights of the Villa d’Este,
Intense, green chiselled pleasure gardens.
A bride, beside the Cypress pencilled skyline.
Wild cyclamen, purple flag irises,
Gargoyles, monumental architecture,
Dwarfing statues and confusing the gods.

It is Hadrian’s Villa
The insistent clamour of modernity,
Juxtaposing
The silenced weight of the ages,
Muffling the shadow stained ruins.
Pierced by the delight of children, untroubled by time,
Yet to become their own slight slice of history.
The might of erstwhile empire
Captured by omnipresent electronic aids.
A terrapin floating serenely in the great pool
No carping about the past there.

Italy is an ice cream diet.
Being woken by words at 5 in the morning,
Grappa fuelled brain stumbling.
An early evening promenade,
A carousel in the park,
Evening’s silky silence, punctuated by footballing children
Twisting, tumbling.
The gossip and smoke of their elders.
The riot of oranges, artichokes, tomatoes
Pastries, flatbreads, pizza slices and olives.
Wine stained plastic bottles
Peroni filled shelves.
Hustling bustling restaurants,
And a woman gently selling Chinese novelties.

Italy is:

The curling call of the hoopoe,
Pining in Farnese woodland.
The sonorous symphony of church bells,
And the threading road
That laces up to the Palazzo Farnese,
Cluttered and steeped with mourners,
Gathered, sombre coated and 10 rows thick
Though not for that, once great family,
Now extinct,
Who left us frescoes and blue gold maps of the world –
The impressions of exploration –
The vulgarity of GPS yet to be discovered.

It’s you in new Ray Bans,
Gracing my movie,
Dreaming downstairs.
Giving me,
As only you know how,
La Dolce Vita.

It’s life, vigour, the weight of history
For this one week
It’s the street where we live
Carpe Capena
Pot planted and balconied,
Lamplit and almond blossomed,
Monastic, mosaiced and modern.

It’s the joy of today,
Of spring and of sunshine
Balanced, cushioned and unclouded.

Italy is – a holiday.

Find out more about the wonderful novels of Helen Carey – http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk