The Chaos and the Calm

Poetry by Rose Staveley-Wadham


October 2016

These Five Years

Now that you’ve gone
I remember you in gentle pictures
Funny little vignettes that mean
Nothing, and yet they are everything
At least to me, the way that you
Sounded on the phone.
Sometimes I’d forget that you were
A Londoner, but then you’d call and
Say ‘hello darling,’ and I’d remember
What a charmer you always were
And how we’d leave you for a moment
To come back and find you with
Another lady on your arm
Although you did love only her.

But these memories are so brittle
That when I try to touch them
I worry that they’ll shatter,
And how can I put you together again
After five long years?
I can still see your face and hear your
Voice, but it doesn’t stop me from
Missing you, and wishing that you
Were back here, because you believed
In me, and I have no faith in myself.
I can catch your face but not the love
You showed me, the kindness, and the pride
That gave me a value and a worth
That because I was your granddaughter
I could do anything, the world was mine
And you would do anything in your power
To let me have it, and to make me thrive.

These years have been hard years
But I hope you still would be proud.
I didn’t know where I was going
For so long I was lost, I needed you,
But you weren’t there.
I craved the kindness of your words,
The warmth of your voice, and I think,
I worry, and I fear, that I do not
Live up to the person you made me
Feel I could be, that I could take on
The world and win, because you
Showed me how although your road
Was littered by potholes, awful obstacles,
You were able to succeed, and you lived,
Overcoming the impossible and I hope
That I can emulate your resilience
All of your calm and your strength.
And when I think on that you are more
Than just a picture, you are a talisman,
And your strength and your love still
Guide me, and all the dreams you
Held for me, they will be realised.
I will step into the mould you
Carved for me, and live the memories,
Me in you, and I in me.


Rose Maguire


The Bitter Winter

I am a creature of a bitter winter
I warned you my heart was cold.
And yet you keep returning
Yearning, always yearning,
But I cannot give you that which
You ask, for you ask too much of me,
I, who have been left outside too
Long, I’m frozen, immolated by the chill.

And if you think to free me
As if I were a victim of some half
Spent spell, I must warn you that
The winter comes with me.
You will gain no victory
No maiden to do with what you will.

But, do not mistake me,
The coldness that I harbour
Is no dragon, nothing so violent
Nor fiery, and so you cannot think
To thaw me, as the London streets
Grow foggy, remember that I am
A creature of the coming winter
The falling snow my throne.

You cannot think to have me
When you believe that because
I freeze, it is somehow my
Disease, like my frigidity is a
Curse, or something worse,
That in me is a dearth of
Desire, that I am not capable
Of loving, is it that which you fear?

Why yes, I have told you
How I am creature of the most
Bitter of winters, for so long I have
Been kept from the sun
And so not you, but only the holy
Rays of summer and their truth
Can restore me, heal me,
Open me up and show me
What it is to be loved
And only then I will emerge
From this bitter winter chill
A winter that you would prolong for
Me, keep me frozen in stone,
And so if you wonder why
I turn from you, think on this
And wonder, how the winter can be so cold.

Rose Maguire

Father Forgive

Father I forgive you
Were words he never said
But he never met his father
Because his father had already
Left, long before he went to
School or learned to walk
Before he learnt to crawl
Or counted his numbers, recited
His ABCs. His father had
Already gone, far away across the seas.

Father I love you
Were words he could not say
How could he, when he did
Not know who you were
What you looked like even
Or how you fought in the war
And lost two fingers.
You were shapeless, formless,
And all the while he was
Blameless, carrying on his
Young shoulders the sins
Of his many fathers.

Father I need you
I’m sure he might have said.
He must have wanted you
Although he could not admit
Abandoned, adrift, a young
Boy needing somebody who
Could protect him, a sensitive soul
In a bleak nasty world
And you rejected him, turned
From him, and never saw him again.

Do you think he could forgive
You, your young son?
Who believed he could fly
Who jumped out of a tree?
Because his faith was greater
Than his disbelief.
How he could have believed in you
Like you were something true.

But no, you stole away,
To where the grass is greener
Leaving a needy sapling
Who yearned for your warmth
And love, but you left behind
Emptiness, a guilt and a wrath.
Oh you, you did not know
What you did, and how your
Actions still shiver down the years.

Oh father, father, father,
I pray, stem his tears.
He is an old man now, as
You were, and the years, they
Are passing, and a bitterness
Sits on his heart, oh father,
Father forgive him, set yourself
Free, and maybe then, only then
You will finally be happy.

Rose Maguire

The Orchard

We will not pick apples again
I fear, now that the autumn is gone.
This is the last time we shall stand
In the old orchard, inhaling the
Drowsy perfume of the mouldering
Apples, fodder for the worms.

I remember the excited hubbub,
The swelling murmur, that came
At picking time. In this orchard
There was bustle, and life,
And industry, the locals, coming
And going, enjoying the feast
From the old trees that stretched
Out over acres, as far as the
Eye could see, or at least so then it seemed.

And when we returned
Ducking under fences, scrambling
Over gates, the apples still grew
But no one came to pick them
It was still, abandoned, the trees
Swelled with their fruits
But no one had come to pick them
And so the apples spilled to the
Ground, wasted, their goodness
Seeping back into the soil.

The orchard became ghostly
I could see the shades flitting
Between the derelict huts,
But I could still make out the boxes
That bore the name of our familiar
Orchard, I could glimpse the apples
Green and red and piled high
Proud and ready for selling,
But then I blinked, and they were gone.

We will not pick the apples again
Because here the past is more than
A whisper, it is a symphony of ghosts,
And here in between the trees they
Linger, whilst the orchard they cherished
Falls decaying, a travesty of ruin,
And I stand here in the stillness,
As winter approaches, I pick
One last apple, and it tastes all
The sweeter, after I turned
And left the old orchard
Alone to is everlasting slumber

Rose Maguire


Featured post

London Commute

Every morning is always the same
Confusion reigns, such you would think
These desperate souls were trying to flee
A sinking ship, or some other type of
Catastrophe, another Vesuvius,
A spreading plague of the modern age,
With the rage that they push
Elbows their weapon
Rucksacks their defence
They seize upon openings and they
Run, crazed, afraid, for they might
Let a minute slip, or heaven forbid,
Miss the next tube, or bus,
As if damnation were the risk
They took each weekday morning
How draining, how debilitating,
That the commute has become
A race for life itself, the survival of the
Fittest, leave all the children behind,
Give me that seat old man
You don’t need it, you’ll be dead soon,
I must get on this tube, I must be the first,
For the first will be first and as for the last
They will remain last.
This is no place for generosity
Here deep down beneath the earth.
Although we are exhausted we still
Push, and push, the train pulls up to the
Station and we leap from our seats with
Such relish, oh the weak, they must
Perish, the delight of the fight, the
Crush to train door, the platform,
Like some other type of hell it spreads,
The odour of sweat, and all undertaken
In profound strange silence
Not one word, the people are
Voiceless, whilst the engines of the train
Whirl, faceless, graceless,
They have no time to stop, no will to talk
The only will is on and on and on
Until the day is finally done
And morning wakes, the stillness breaks,
The stampede returns, and for peace I yearn.


Rose Maguire


Labouring under a distant dream,
And all the while the sky is brown,
Frowning in weary autumnal rage.
The equinox is dawning
The days fall longer, and the nights are darker.
Only the thought of hope drags me screaming
Through to the empty dawn.

It is always at the beginning,
And then at the end, that you find it.
How desperate I am now for it
But the days grind on around me
Relentlessly uniform, and still
Nothing changes, a weak little
Candle with its wick all shrouded
By wax, all momentum is lax,
Oblivious, as we twirl into the winter
And all hope is stranded like a starving
Army, forgotten and unrelieved,
Defending a hopeless bastion.

Nothing changes, but my dreams
They fool me, and taunt me
But they also teach me to believe
They sustain me, hurt me
Like any lover worthy of the name.
And although each day they seem
Ever more distant, slipping out of
Sight beyond the yawning grave,
I stick my finger nails into them
And grasp them, tight,
Don’t leave me yet, don’t leave me,
Keep me through the night
And when we wake in morning
I’ll be one step closer even if
It takes me a million miles to catch
Up, I will catch you, and make you
Real, and you will be no more the
Phantom flicker, words on the page.
I will breathe life into you
And in the morning, you won’t fade.

Rose Maguire

The Rebel Disease

They say love is a rebel disease
Yes it cannot be put down
The barricades are strong my friend
It will not give up now.
And when you ask me, can you
Stop loving? Could you control it
When it comes marauding
Coursing through your blood
Unbidden? You think I can
That I could somehow prevent it
This pent up fury
A madwoman’s curse, you think it
Easy to stand apart, to stand up
And be separate, as if loving were
But a switch, I’m tired now, lets have it off
Oh if it were only so, that I could walk away
And bury it, but they were quite right my friend
Love is not a rebel disease for nothing
Revelling in its rebellion it will not be
Placated until it has vanquished all
That stands in its way and that means me
And you, anything that stands in its path
Until when its fury is spent, depleted,
It rends us both apart, and that is why
I hide from it, set up a shelter and cower
I cannot let it happen, I cannot let it take
Hold, and so my friend I turn from you
Even when I want you, and want you
Love is a rebel disease they say
And it will take us down, and down
Obliterating all that can be found
And all that was good between us.
So you see, it is no wonder that I

Shy from it, love the rebel disease.


Your Voice

I catch your voice like the
Buzzing of a bee in summer,
Humming, whispering sweet
Danger, and I freeze,
Almost paralysed with a
Desperate kind of thrill
That eddies through my blood
And tells me that although
All is done, it is not yet forgotten.

I catch your voice, but your
Words don’t touch me.
Instead, only their tone
Lingers, the last true note
Played by an ancient organ
Hanging in the still air
Of an empty church
Bereft of an audience.

It has no beauty
To me it is deadly, like
The dirge of a bomber
Ploughing through the
Clouds on a sunny lazy day.
Just the timbre, the flavour,
Of your voice is enough to
Take me back and imagine
What might have been.

I don’t have to see your face
To feel the sensation, and
The air is giddy with it,
As it ever was, trembling
With the secret between us
That must remain secret.
This is a love that could never be
Ruined by its own potency
And so, there will be no respite
For one such as me.

Rose Maguire

It Is Not As If The Rain Is Bitter

It is not as if the rain is bitter
Nor my tears, not that I ever
Shed them for you. Could I
Have loved you, as I had
Wanted, but there’s something
About this rain, so refreshing
And the little love between us
Lies perishing under its
Lashing distaste.

Could I have loved you?
The rain around me grows
Harder, filthier, pouring
In generous torrents, spilling
Into the mirror glazed lake
With a gentle venom
Licking my skin and waking
Me to the impossibility
Of our half-hearted sin.

This rain, this cold October
Day, brings me back
To my childish self
Sheltering in the fishing
Hut, waiting for the shower
To pass, but it has not passed,
It cannot pass, this storm on
My heart, I remember when
Things were simpler, when
Love was love and unconditional
And not some fleeting phantom
Fancy, disappearing with
The rolling clouds departing,
Clearing the lighting sky.

The rain has gone, and the
Wind has changed
And still, I am mourning.
But the rain has gone,
The day is clearing, the
Sunlight peeps, bringing
A gentle warning, love is
Love when it is warming,
I’ll close my eyes, and wait
For spring, wrap up my heart
In wool and keep it safe, hibernate,
Until we can emerge in the
Cleaner clearer light of spring.

Rose Maguire



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