Tag Archives: Poetry

The New Amazons

These are the new amazons, warriors for an age when battles are fought over inches and ounces, ground held firm with a will power you cannot understand and they cannot explain.

Every day when the killing fields is the  site of last resistance,  their own bodies. offered up, suicide bombers all

New bones map out a skirmish won, an enemy routed, another stand made.

The scales record betrayal, defeat, the spirit is strong, but the body weakens, turns tail, offers surrender when all that is required is a tactical retreat….a re-grouping….a re-arming with weapons of mass distraction.

The enemy creeps up in the night, pitches camp, lays siege to the body.

Bared, ready for morning inspection with eyes sharper than a sergeant major and a tongue more vicious too.

Everything must be checked, double checked, you’re in this army now.

The front line moves, an inch here, an inch there, movement hides the cost, becomes just a to and fro, meaningless battle lines with no clear winner…..dug in, all over by Christmas

A war of secret attrition, where the scars are buried deep, not displayed on special days for the curious, the non-combatants,  and those who fell at the first hurdle try not to stare, try not to feel a tiny frisson of envy, a sense of missing out on something big

Mummy, what did you do in the war?

There are no victory parades for these ana warriors, no wreaths of Flanders poppies, no awkward silences, praying that your phone won’t go off….not now.

But, just for  a moment, I imagine them, the ranks of girls, for they are legion, arms whipcord thin, collar bones as sharp as the creases in a demob suit, knees buckle under the weight of banners, but these are the ana warriors, spartan in their stoicism, shrugging off the costs of war.

To save the village we had to destroy it.


The last Ping! Of 2013

So, 27th December 2013 and the traditional post Christmas Ping! cornucopia of music, performance, poetry and more……
If you live in Leicestershire and love/are faintly curious about spoken word events and fancy a very supportive environment to try your hand at reading your work to audience…..come and check it out.
The last Tuesday of every month @ Duffys Bar on Pocklingtons Walk in the city centre.
This may or may not be a selling point…..but you can usually hear rubiesandduels read something.

And some ( sadly not great quality ) pics from the post Christmas evening….an evening that celebrated queer culture, metro-sexuality, traditional Indian music, jazz and the spoken word.






New Walk Museum, Leicester – Poetry and Art inspired by words

I have to admit some personal interest here, all the poets taking part in this exhibition are colleagues in writing @ Leicester Writers Club and they are all writers whose work I admire, so I was interested to see how their words had inspired artists from the Leicester Society of Artists.
It’s a well put together, easy to follow exhibition, with work from the poets linked to the art pieces they inspired.
Some thought provoking work and within enough genres and styles to provide something that most people will like or perhaps more satisfyingly, take strongly against.

It’s easy to forget about New Walk Museum, particularly if you live in Leicester or to see it just as somewhere to take small children to stare at the dinosaur….but a new hanging of some of their rather good modern art collection, the always pleasing Picasso ceramics and about to be opened new gallery of their Victorian art and often interesting touring shows, means that perhaps we ought to get there more often.

Exhibition details below…


And a few sneaky photos too.







Watching the swans with Shane McGowan – fragmentary writings

Years ago, my mother moved to Bray, a seaside town near Dublin and looked for a property to buy. My brother, always a man with grand designs at heart, discovered that the Martello Tower which guarded the harbour was for sale and campaigned, hard, for my mother to make it her [ and his] home.

Later still, I found out that the tower had been owned by a member of the U2 management team and loaned to Shane McGowan for  recovery and drying out.

My mother bought a bungalow.


I am standing with Shane, safe in the shadow of the Martello Tower, built to warn the invaders, the interlopers, that others might come, blown across the grey sea, with their own plans to take this poor land.

We are watching the swans, Children of Lir, huddled in the harbour, buffeted against the jetty. Their plumage, snow-white, bone white against the customary grey, brown of the Irish sea, interlopers and alongside them, other outsiders. The yachts, playthings of the playboys of the western world, or at least the western coasts.

These yachts belong somewhere else, somewhere with azure seas, skies that blend, fall from other shades of blue into the gentle swell, not this landscape of hard lines and cold breezes.

Shane discourses, poetry, womanizing, the arts of falconry and warfare.

And we walk in the footsteps of poets and warriors, taking the waters, but not the water of life because Shane is drying out, drying up, moving towards  the years of silence.

I learnt to swim in the other harbour, concrete wall built to trap the sea and in water so dark that we could not see the bottom and so we learnt to swim, a lesser terror than sinking into water we knew had no ending, no sanctuary  for feet, clenched in cold, searching out safe harbour.

We never expected to find this sea swimming pleasurable, water so cold it would

” knock the very breath out of ye”

and in homes where the threat to

“knock the very breath out of ye, see if i won’t”

was commonplace, the sea held no fear for us. The cold a rightful punishment for almost pleasure, our catechism re-inforced

“Who made the world?”

“God made the world”

I wonder what Shane looked at,that winter, when the sea and sky met, bands of grey and brown and white, dirty white, another shade of pale, a million miles from the plumage of those swans rocked against the winter waves.

I wonder if he looked out to sea or turned inward, inland.

Th Italian chipper, our reward, wrapped in cardigans and our anoraks, our knees and lips blued by over immersion in the sea.

The chips, our reward for childhood bravery, child stoicism, we ate them, huddled ourselves against the constant winds, hot, greasy, somehow more delicious the colder we are.

And then, we walk past the Amusement arcade, because nice children don’t go there, licking the tang of salt, sea salt, chip salt from our fingers as the purple fades from our knees, our lips.

I am standing in the shelter of the Martello Tower, taking refuge from a storm, one eye on the horizon, grey and brown and white.

Watching for interlopers.



Autumn writing workshop…..rough draft piece

With huge thanks to Carol Leeming and the other workshop participants at yesterday’s writing workshop, a very rough draft of a season prose poem…..


You fall into mud
Held fast

Feet of clay, quite literally, boots of sticky, viscous clay….weighing you down
Everything else is movement, shimmering, blowing, dancing in autumnal gales,
While you are stuck in mud.

This is the start of the end, the end of everything,
Death of grass.

Plans slip away,
Sucked into the mud

Light slips away
Clock ticking
Tick, tock, tick, tick, tock, tock……tick.

You move, ungainly puppet,
Feet slip sliding,
Slip, sliding away

And your hand grabs at desperately at manes, whilst incurious, moon eyes regard your unsteady paces and they sure hooved judge you and find you wanting.
No longer an adequate herd leader.

Later, they stand at the gate,
Arses turned against the wind,
Heads lowered,
Still as if planted,
Growing in the mud,

Solid against your sloppy progress.

The herd follow,
Threaten to trample you into the bloody mud.

You shout,
But your voice is lost, grabbed from you by a gust that sneaks up, steals sound.

You want to wave your hands, re-assert your place….push the horses away,
You know that this movement will unbalance you,
Speed the descent
The terrible inevitability of fall.

Mud stained.
Mud shamed

No way to hide that you have fallen,
Are falling
Into fall


Getting my writing mojo back

It’s been a little quiet here @ rubiesandduels over the last couple of weeks, so apologies to those who have come to expect regular new content.
I have been struggling with a terrible lack of inspiration and feeling the dread oncoming winter.
So, in an attempt to shake myself up, I am off to a writing workshop this afternoon, hopefully, I will come back re-energised and full of new ideas.
I’ll post anything useful or that seems worth sharing later.


Hunger 10 – Postcards from Pro-Ana

It’s all about the figures, the figure
Heaviest weight, current weight, goal weight, ultimate goal weight, secret goal weight
BMI of 17, 15, 13, 11
Numbers going down and down and down

“I can fit my hands around the top of my thighs”
“Who wants to join me on a 7 day water fast?”
“Help me …I’m binging on brocoli”
“Where can I buy size 4 trousers in the UK?”

Pictures posted at lowest weights
“They hospitalised me just after this one, god I wish I was still this thin”
“You look so hot, I want to look just like you”

Girls so thin they look as if they could snap in two at any moment
Collar bones
Elbows that seem bigger than the arms that they support
Hips don’t lie, but almost tear the skin with their new definition

Postcards from Ana
Postcards from another country
( because that fat wench is dead, a long, long time ago)
Postcards in another language

Safe foods

UltiMATE ana



UGW……always UGW

“Is it better to restrict and exercise or to fast and rest”
“How can I look fatter for my therapist appointment”
“help me to enjoy feeling empty”

And in the photgraphs, the girls
white skinned, bruises easily
smokey eyed, but not made up
hair thins and falls

( “I love when my hair starts to fall, it’s like I know I’m doing it properly then”)

bones break, crumble
and cold, always cold
bony wrists jutting from underneath 2 and 3 and 4 sweaters, even in summer.

New Thread ” Do you want to be seen as beautiful ?”

And the answers……..

Other wordly
Broken & fragile

I want to look so disgusting that people will never come near me, ever again”

And the diets, the constant diets
200 calories a day
Tasty meals of less than 50 calories
Rice cakes

Help me – Im binging on raisins
Help me – all I can think of is food
Help me – my mom noticed i’m loosing weight

Help me stop eating.

Help me stop.

Help me