Dublin Launch – reconnecting with friends

I launched my book No Spare Life: one woman’s journey through cancer in the Irish Writer’s Centre in Dublin on the 10th Dec. last. It was a day I will hold close to my heart. A day I wasn’t sure I would see. My family turned out in force and some friends I hadn’t seen for some time. Thank you everybody for making it such a memorable day. A celebration.


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Busy Dying

I used to listen to people going on about stuff but
time is precious and I don’t anymore.
I used to live in Germany
I used to remember the reg. no. of my car
I used to be more organized about paperwork
I used to get paid on Fridays – money in my hand
You rarely see actual notes nowadays.
I used to be in a folk band and sang Hard Times
I used to collect bits and pieces in an Old Curiosity Shop
biscuit tin. I still have it, full of treasure.
I opened it recently to place a square
of my mother’s granny print apron in it.
I used to live in the city
I used to listen to advice from friends
Now I listen to my own gut which is much happier.
My head is too.
I used to be a child. Some days I can still sulk.
I used to believe in The Waltons, The Little House on the Prairie,
Flipper and Tammy.
I used to look at the news, bought a newspaper everyday
but it’s all bad stuff.
The beautiful simple, seeing otters at the lake, isn’t news.
I used to chew Wrigleys gum
I used to know where I left stuff
Now I lose it all the time
Keys, pin numbers, beloved animals, my parents and friends
I’m still losing them.

I used to have two breasts, now I have one
I used to think the remaining breast
Should be in the middle of my chest
I felt unbalanced.
It took a year to accept this “new lookˮ.
I knew I was going to be okay when one morning
I was about to shout
“Has anyone seen my prosthesis?ˮ
Wouldn’t that be shocking funny?
I rolled back onto the bed and laughed.

I used to be busy dying now I’m busy living.


This poem was published by Bloodaxe
Books in their 2015 anthology
Hallelujah for 50ft Women edited by
Raving Beauties

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Grace Notes

Sunlight drifts across the garden
resting at the base of the spruce tree.
A threshold of light in an otherwise dark corner
I stop what I am doing and watch for a while.

It’s there again today – the Light
Solas, Licht, Light.
It’s there again today – Light.

Let us celebrate that we have reached this day
though it may have been borne of uncertainty.
Let us gift wrap it in grace notes, love, hope
and tie it together with golden heart strings.

I’d like to shine a light on medics, nurses,
beloved pets and the kindness of strangers
who breathed life into our souls
for they are the other half of our story.

Let us be grateful that we are given the grace
to take each step we need to take as it comes.
We are not given the grace to see
the bigger picture or the future outcome.

It’s there again today – the Light
Solas, Licht, Light.
It’s there again today – Light.

Look at the shoulders of the person in front of you.
Imagine you could lift the weight of their pain
and let the light into their lives.
Urge them to rekindle dreams, create new ones.

Risk opening the front door everyday
for there will be many doors to open in the future
and sunlight will drift across the threshold
stop what you are doing and watch for a while.

It’s there again today – the Light
Solas, Licht, Light.
It’s there again today – Light.

Performed at Light the Night, A Ceremony of Light & Hope, The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo.
Music by Klaus Harder.

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The Word

My mother can’t say the word.
Her generation calls it the “Big C.”
She looks at me and tells me
“You can’t be that well.
You’re only putting the good side out.”
“I am well, look at me.”
I smile, hold out
my summer frock
and twirl around
in the way she used to ask me as a child whilst trying on an outfit
she had made for me.
“Are you really?” she ventures softly.
My sister says
“It’s everywhere now
what happens if I get it?”

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