The Chaos and the Calm

Poetry by Rose Staveley-Wadham


December 2016

The Chaos and The Calm

Take me far away to my island cave
Where I can sit with the sound of the
Ocean and the wave, leave me there
Where the breeze can tousle my hair
And I can breathe again, in my island cave.

Take me now away to my island cave
I won’t need a key, I will live perfect
And solitary, and entirely unto myself.
I’ll stand and see the chaos lapping
At the distant mainland shore
And I will stand assured of the power
Of the calm I find here in my island cave.

For it is quiet there, and I can be a
Slave to nature and her draw
Enthralled by the spray and the calling
Of the gulls. I need to be alone, to feel
And to see, to push my pen along the
Paper and create distant fantastic worlds.

I am here, here in my island cave
But I haven’t travelled far, not across
The seas in a flimsy rowing boat
No, I crossed the water by closing my
Eyes and found myself in a dream
Of wonder, I see thunder and I pull
A blanket over the raging clouds, here
I am the creator, of pictures and of words,
And I paint and write my island cave
Always surprised of what I may find in there.


Rose Maguire


They Sit by the Sea

Old couple, they sit by the grey sea
He wears a flat cap, and remembers
The victories, of wars won, the blood
That was shed, the cap proud on his
Head, he marched through France and
Now he sits in a trance, on the promenade,
His wife beside him, staring out to sea.

Old couple, they sit by the grey sea,
She’s bundled up as if she were facing
Siberia, but she had a lot in her,
What she survived, and lost, so much
Loss, children before their time, but she
Always had him, her hymn, the thing
That made her proud and strong.

They would always sit there, on that bench
Pockmarked by the gulls, and that
Was true love, enacted in silence, the
Blurring of the gusty winds, the brown
English channel, languishing towards the
Atlantic, theirs a love they could not sink.

But now, now, do you see them, sat side
By side? Where did they go?
Him with the thermos, her with the sandwiches,
Sustained by their memories, the beating
Of their ancient hearts with old joys stirring
They are gone, gone, he forgot what it was
To remember, and she was left alone, alone,
In some shoddy nursing home, no longer a person,
Just old age, that awful phase, fodder for
The grave, fresh for the mortuary,
Waiting, always waiting, and they didn’t let
Her keep his photograph, but she kept him
On her mind, knowing that when she got to
Heaven, she would find him there, sat on their
Bench, in silence, staring out across the grey sea.


Rose Maguire

Love Like Black Treacle

There’s something about his love that makes me think of black treacle
The way it sticks and clings, and seeps, slinking through every pour
And I’m never quite sure whether I should delight in its sweetness
For something always holds me back, this sugar is a dark one
I knew it even before this begun, that I could take it, gorge on it,
My teeth stuck together, bound by toffee, me, in his power
The threat of his malice and cruelty, seeping through to my thighs.

If I stop and think, I’ve never got a clear shot at his eyes, I mean
To look into them, to pull apart the curtains and peer, deeper, deeper,
Perhaps it is my fear that has held me back, or he holds himself from me,
The lace net drapes quiver, the blinds are rolled down, I cannot fathom
Him, and yet he holds me, frozen onlooker looking in, the family scene
Warm hearth, happy home, and yet there is no space for me,
He will not let me in, he stirs the pot, and the treacle thickens,
And I just want one more taste, please, let me have some more.

But his love is black treacle, it may stick around but it is still fickle
He’ll move on, spread it about, and leave me gormless, sobbing
Like an addict, mourning a treat that made me sick, pallid and ill,
Clutching at my stomach, I’ve over eaten, I thought lust was my sin
But apparently it is gluttony, this cacophony of indulgence, greed
And pain, me, standing in the rain, my hair streaming to the wind
Screaming with my tears, I fear he will never come back to me,
I’ll go cold turkey, I’ll get the shakes and then it will stop, end, and I
Won’t, no won’t want treacle, no, no more treacle, ever again.

Rose Maguire

The Flat Beside the Sea

I don’t want to go back there
There where my grandparents
Grew old, the flat beside the sea
The glorious rolling views, out and
Across, to Brighton and beyond
The white cliffs aching with the legacy
Of Vera Lynn and her songs.

But when I think of them, in their
Stuffy flat, the heating on, too hot,
Granny, losing her marbles, lost, gone
I don’t think of the bad times, the sick
Times, my grandfather and his poorly leg,
Throat, croaking towards the grave,
No, I do not think of the bad times, only
I cannot go back because of the memories
They are stuck in the walls of my mind
Vivid and potent, and every time I think of the
Flat beside the sea, I feel the warm fug, the scent
Of, what was it, gravy? I can taste the roast potatoes
Only the way that granny used to make them,
So crisp on the outside they nearly burned
But golden and melting on the inside.

I can see myself, the shadow of the girl I was
Sat, entranced, watching an old video
Of an ancient storm, I was enraptured,
And then, again, couched on the floor
Playing with the toy cars they had bought me
For they cared for me a lot, and it is more than
Nostalgia for more innocent times
It is the terrible sense of loss
That all of this is somehow gone from me
And I know that when I go back to the flat
Their absence will scream at me, although they
Have been gone for so very long.

And that is why the flat beside the sea
It is more than just a memory
The wallpaper, loud and gold and boastful
Is imprinted on my mind, and is as much
The fabric of my grandparents, as of their
Words, and of the time I spent with them
And to think of myself floating
Through the corridors they once owned
Stroking the old photos
Brings more than just tears to my eyes.

I cannot go back there
Because I want to imagine them there still
My grandfather, sitting in his chair,
Clicking his tongue like he always did
In disbelief, I think it was, and Granny,
A blur of a woman trapped in perpetual
Motion, the din of her emotions, the whirl
Of stories, the smell of her perfume, the whisk
Of her clothes, the clothes she used to make
I want to stand outside the heavy door
And think them just inside, and forget that
The inside is empty, void, they are gone
The flat is a memorial, in memoriam, gathering
Dust and staring out to sea, away, far away,
To wherever they both have gone.

Rose Maguire

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