Monday, 1 April 2013

First Day of NaPoWriMo

It's the first day of National Poetry Writing Month where poets are challenged to write and post a new poem each day of the month. Here's my first, inspired by a true story on the radio.

The Locket
A true story
I didn’t catch it all,
tuning in part way through the mother’s story.
The words so intimate,
I felt a guilt in listening
to each glistening word,
hesitantly spoken
accented with the emotion
only those who have been broken
truly know.
It condenses to this:
Her son died for a five pound bet.
Not a drunken macho dare
To dodge motorway traffic
Or stare down a bull about to charge
But a jokey, blokey challenge full
Of chutzpah, livin’ it large with
the invincible confidence of youth.
That he, with no more than
five pounds in his pocket
could travel the world
in the time we take to circle the sun.
A handshake, and the challenge begun.

He becomes his own Jules Verne;
Emails, his homing pigeons return
bearing stories of high jinks,
laughs explode
at every fresh episode
and all the while
photos of him, with that smile
living well, the tropic climes
making his complexion glow
and keeps Mum warm
as she counts the days
until his return.
He’ll be back soon
in his own room
and the world will again be centred
as she hears his adventures
in his own voice.
Then, the news
heard in a daze.
On the last phase of the trip home
a ship goes down.
All souls  drowned.
Her world dissolves
in the acidic haze of grief;
the death unresolved.
Disbelief in the ascendancy:
with no body to repatriate
an empty bedroom
is his only legacy.
To give herself something to hold on to
she placed a photo of him and that smile
in a simple locket
to keep about her in purse or pocket.
It looks gold but isn’t.
His image is what makes it precious
and she promises to never let him go.
Time heals, they say
whatever life deals, they say
and at times of distress
we need to  keep moving
use smoothing distractions,
periods of action
to keep ourselves sane
and the pain at bay.
So a visit to London is suggested,
planned and delivered.
Theatre, sight seeing
a walk by the river
All working its magic
Until, blind panic;
Her handbag left on a underground train.
She can stand to lose money but not the locket and chain
the only part of him that really remains
and as the police patiently explain her chances
she feels she has lost him all over again.
Fast forward eighteen months
and literally, out of the blue
a call from London police
brings unexpected news.
An unknown boy  took his life
whose history is one of law-breaking and strife.
As the police look for clues to his last state of mind
the locket and chain is an unexpected find.
Who knows why he kept it
perhaps some sixth sense
told him not to ditch it
or sell it to a fence.
Perhaps that smile
worked its charm one more time.
Mum doesn’t care
she just says “It’s mine”. 
Now twice since that first time
the locket’s been lost
and although at the time
she was counting the cost
each time it seems
to know its way home to Mum
and she feels closer than ever
to her forever lost son.
The minutes it took to hear this story unfold
stood still as the message soaked into my soul.
It’s true but it’s a symbol, allegory and trope
that when things seem lost there is always hope.
and love will find you.
Love knows the way home.
I don’t know your story.
The chapter you’re writing
might be tragedy or glory
Love and hope, like that locket, will find you
when you need it.
It’s on its way home.
Open the door when it comes calling
and make it your own.


  1. Wow... This touched me deeply. Thank you.

  2. Splendid! Thank you for your retelling. I hope somehow the mother gets to read it.

  3. Many thanks for your kind words. I'm so pleased the story that touched me, is touching others.

    Best wishes