Blog of Oonah V Joslin -- please visit my Parallel Oonahverse at WordPress

where I post stories and poems that have not been seen elsewhere - also recipes and various other stuff.

and see me At the Cumberland Arms 2011

Thursday 21 December 2023

A Christmas Poem for 2023


Patterns of Christmas Past

How life is stretched now, seven decades deep.

All those glittering cards scattered through time,

shards of people past who rest now asleep,

memories needle sharp, picked out in pine

that pierce the past and make the future weep.

There is a santa claus in every year,

his sack packed full of bitter, sour and sweet,

who brings this rueful smile, that happy tear,

baubles we lost, traditions that we keep

alive. The Christmas jumpers that we wear

remind us our good shepherds watched their sheep

and looked in proudly from the frosty air

and wished us warm and snuggly in our wraps,

hand knitted, stitched in plain and purl, with care.

Oonah V Joslin ©2023

Saturday 16 December 2023

On Angel's Wings

On Angels’ Wings

first published in Static Movement

Gabriel floated on a favourite cloud, knitting with silver needles. He found it quite therapeutic, though it was also part of the job. When he’d finished knitting his wings, it would be time to call time.

It wasn’t entirely up to him when that would be. He couldn’t knit his wings any faster than he could get hold of the materials, and the yarn was spun on Earth. Mankind had started spinning yarns long ago when they’d refused the gift of innocence and needed to cover-up. Since then they’d rejected many of the best gifts on offer, preferring the packaging. They had discarded reason in favour of woolly thinking and had substituted vanity for truth, sex for love, fragrance for freshness.

One day Gabriel would take flight on wings of innocence, reason, truth, responsibility -- the off-cuts of ingratitude – all the stuff man threw away. These unwanted things would bear everything to its destiny. Heaven wastes nothing.

In the beginning there had barely been enough to knit with, but recently supply had exceeded demand. Increasingly, human beings seemed only to value things that brought intense sensation or immediate gratification. They no longer cherished a moment for itself. Packaging was paramount.

So Gabriel’s wings grew and shone ever more brightly day by day. They glowed white with all virtue – light and pure as the air that had been displaced by pollution. His golden threads came from the tones of sunsets never contemplated and fruits not forbidden but left uneaten: pleasures spurned. Soft grey tones were woven from dove’s breast, beneath which beat sacrifice and freedom now disdained in equal measure. Magnesium bright, his needles clacked and scattered light for all to see but so few looked to heaven any more and that was up to them.

Soon he would don his ceremonial wings and place the golden trumpet to his lips and shatter time. He would pull on the little superstring by his feet and all would unravel and return to the light.

The Archangel admired his new wings. He passed no judgments. The choice was not his to make. If a DIY universe is put in the hands of those who will not follow the maker’s instructions, the outcome is perhaps inevitable. 

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Halloween Greetings

Paws for Thought

I wish I could sleep

as a cat sleeps

all soft and paws

the whole being

an entity of pause

I wish I could sleep

like that – like a cat.

Thursday 2 February 2023

February 2023: Catching the Wind at Candlemas

My year never begins in January, remembered as the month in which my father died. This January my eldest sister Annabelle passed away too. Noel's half brother also passed on the same day.  

Annabelle was 17 when I was born, very pretty and she wore such lovley clothes! Clothes were elegant in the late fifties. I just about remember her wedding or at least my mother trying to keep me from disrupting it too much. I was only 3 after all! She was a very supportive big sister and on many occasions more of a mother figure to us 3 youngest siblings. 

                   Annbelle and Hubert on their wedding day with my Grandparents

My Grandmother died 45 yrs ago on 11th Feb. I know this because I had just left Ballymena to take my first teaching post in Cardiff when I received the news. In the photo you can just see Margaret, the bridesmaid and Esme was the little flower girl.

I didn't think of it as a great adventure. I was terrified really! Never lived in a city before! But I met up with Noel and we had our first date later that month and we never looked back. February is a welcome friend. It brings with it snowdrops and crocuses, if we are lucky, even daffs, and it's light until 5pm. I greet it with a smile of relief. It's not that Winter is over but it is beginning to be over. The yellow jasmine that has been in bloom since November, is now losing it's flowers and the nithering north winds pull at them, as if to set them free. 

February always feels like being set free. The sun just about warms our bones. So as I remember my sister, I'll heed the warmth and feel thankful and hopeful and share with you this little poem which really wrote itself from observation, (those are mostly the best poems!!!) and is therefore one of my favourites.

In February 1992 we made the first move towards living in Northumberland. I did regard that as an adventure! 

February is a time of new starts and who knows, after the covid doldrums of the past couple of years, maybe I can once more catch the wind.

Catching the Wind


Dainty, yellow jasmine flower,


                                                      tiny fairy skirt,


twisting in the twilight air,

                                                     quite the little flirt.


Toying are you with the dark;

                                                     finished with the day?


Darting this way, flutt’ring that;

                                                      can’t you get away?


Star-struck in the gloom of dusk;

                                                      I see how you’re pinned;


Caught there on a spider-line,

                                                       a lure to catch the wind.

First published by The Shine Journal 2007

Subsequently published in The Linnet’s Wings

Friday 30 December 2022

Goodbye to 2022

I haven't written very much this year, or sent much for publication but I will leave this little memoire from childhood to round off the year and wish you all a Happy and Healthful 2023.

A resurrection in raspberries.

As we spilled out of the town hall, ears tingling with carols, jollity followed us, trinkled along wet streets and trickled in rainbow hues down slushy gutters. Friends, strangers, even old enemies it seemed, greeted one another with Christmas cheer.

Church Street, criss-crossed in multi-coloured bulbs, glowed with pride, its shops festooned with holly wreaths. Even the Brother Archie’s plate glass window bristled with festive sprigs among the Stanley knives, glass baubles glinting out among saws and planes. All was a-sparkle of splintery tinsel and fairy lights. Outside grocery shops, recently cut trees awaited another incarnation, an indoor, scented life among the tangerines and puddings.

As light faded to a glimmer, a single gap in the commerce reined in all sound. The old churchyard lowered black, sucking the celebration from the street. In there was full of people so long dead, they were deaf to Christmas bustle and their dark absence made the lights seem all unreal. I quickened my pace past those wrought iron gates where no tomorrow ever comes. And soon enough the town centre dwindled to narrower streets and darker lanes, and I felt suddenly alone and hurried homeward all happed up in hope.

But I knew life would return to that dank place of runkled graves and dilapidated stones, whose illustrious names, time had all but erased. When the sun was once more at its height, a little taste of heaven would spring up out of decay. We’d walk there, and our eager little hands would reach in through the black surround of the old grave by the crumbling tower, and we’d fill our Sunday hats with soft, ripe fruits, and buy ice cream on the way home, to share the biggest, sweetest raspberries you’ve ever seen. Though, it might have scunnered some to know where we came by them, sure, the grave is silent and we didn’t have to tell. Year after year, this miracle occurred. I never knew his name, our benefactor, but I have never forgot the lessons in hope his grave taught:

True light shines brightest in the darkest times.

The greatest gifts are always freely given and received.

Each day we live’s a little taste of heaven.

Oonah V Joslin 2022

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Visiting the War Graves -- 8th November 2022

It is always our privilege to visit the grave of our friend Wojtek Jacobson's brother Andrej at this time of year and so once again we took a walk through the war graves at St Mary's Churchyard on this Autumn day and left a little tribute in remembrance and with thanks for friendships and to those who, like Andrej died far from home. 

There was evidence that the November service on the first Sunday had taken place, in the little candle that had been placed there. Pity it's plastic I thought... But then my own poppy was plastic too. 

Note to self -- must do better.

Monday 25 July 2022

July 2022 -- Not quite a 'fluffy kitten' story but it's close

We saw a whippet the other day at Newbiggin by the Sea disappear into a hole he'd dug in the sand and it kinda reminded me of this story which I humbly offer to anyone who would like the hell outa here!!!

Mungo’s Hole

A dull Winter’s day on a familiar windy beach is not the place one thinks of for the spectacular to occur. And certainly Joe had no expectations of the day; porridge for breakfast, sandwich for lunch walking the dog, the usual Monday leftovers bubbled and squeaked. He reflected on the down side of being a dog owner as he got blown along the beach in a northerly gale.

Mungo ran ahead, stopped and began digging in his favourite spot. It was a mystery to Joe why he did this but, if it kept him happy. Joe sat on a rock and dug his gloved hands deep into his pockets. It was starting to sleet.

Why hadn’t anything exciting ever happened to him? 
What happened about that millionaire lifestyle, glamorous girlfriends, fast car? 
Where was his dream job, his winning ticket?
How had his life collapsed into this – retirement nothing?
Bloody dog. Bloody January. Bloody wind.

After what he considered sufficient digging time, he got up, pulled his hood over his woollen hat, happed his long scarf closer around him and prepared to turn into the razor sharp, sand-blasting wind for the trudge back, and he whistled for Mungo to follow him. Only Mungo had disappeared completely in the sand.
Mun-go!” the last syllable climbed into the wind and was whipped away by whatever universal forces. “Mungo!” he barked sharply.
Nothing for it then, but go fetch him and put him on the leash. But when he got to where Mungo was – Mungo wasn’t.
There was a hole. A huge hole. A bigger-than-Mungo-could’ve-dug-in-a-lifetime hole, but no Mungo.
Mungo?” Joe peered into the hole.
There was no sign of the dog and the depths of the hole looked bright, bright and bottomless. Unfathomable.
Joe wandered up and down the beach, the dunes, the rocks, calling, whistling, calling. Eventually he went back and looked down the bright hole and sat a while at the edge with his feet dangling over the side, wondering whether to commit. But the tide was turning and where the hole was, would soon be covered by the sea, and he had to do something.
Who do you phone about a bright hole and a disappeared Staffordshire terrier?

Can you take us to exactly where this hole is, sir?” asked the police.
Are you quite sure your dog was still in there?” asked the fire service.
Is it a hazard to the public at large?” asked the environmental agency.

Yes, yes and yes.

As they questioned, the tide was encroaching.

By the time they all met up at the hole, the sea was streaming into it like a huge waterfall with rainbows forming at it’s top, lifting spray high into the air. They cordoned it off. The hole was investigated, as far as it could be investigated. It was indeed bright when the tide was out and seemingly bottomless, and that was that until some days later and the phone call came. Soon after, the press arrived at Joe’s door, cameras, flash photography, the lot – and Joe was still in his pyjamas. This was not the moment of fame he had envisaged.

New Zealand, yes.” FLASH! “Apparently some fishermen.” FLASH! “Yes, I’ll be flying to Dunedin as soon as I” FLASH! “No – he was just digging. He likes digging.” FLASH! “Of course. Tremendously exciting.” FLASH!

Joe was all over the news – in his pyjamas. The headlines didn’t mention Joe, however.

Cornwall to New Zealand in a flash! 
HOLEY MOLEY – Dog Gone Amazing.

After that the phone didn’t stop ringing. Morning TV. Chat shows. Radio interviews. Dog food companies – they all wanted a piece of the action – offered to pay his fare to New Zealand, first class of course, for an exclusive photo shot of the reunion. Joe turned a lot of them down – unless there was mention of money of course. And after all, he had to conserve his energy for a very long trip!

Mungo, in the meantime, a little confused but no worse for the wear, was being utterly spoiled by his hosts and he didn’t turn down any offers. He had mysteriously appeared atop a water spout south of South Island, was rescued by some fishermen who took him to Dunedin where he became the centre of attention.

The water spout appeared with tidal regularity and, now the hole was of real interest to science, the entire beach was cordoned off. There was even talk of militarising PROJECT MUNGO as it was now called. According to financial forecasts

This could be one of the most exciting transport systems ever discovered.”

It was a potential goldmine. People were already buying tickets to be first through Mungo’s Hole. And maybe there were other such places worldwide just waiting to be discovered.

As he packed, Joe was thinking how he could have done without all this excitement at his age, let alone having to traipse all the way round the world. Well, whatever happened, from now on Mungo was staying on the lead. No more digging.
Bloody media! Bloody dog!
Still, there was a bright side. At least it was Summer in New Zealand. He hoped it wouldn’t be too hot. He wondered what sort of food they ate there? Maybe he’d like it. Maybe they’d stay!

Joe got to thinking on the long flight. How strange, a day with so little going for it, can turn from a familiar walk on a windy beach, to a conduit to the other side of the world. To have unearthed something so mysterious, something so undefined, was a miracle but perhaps not the miracle it seemed. Joe found he didn’t want fame, money, fast cars or women. And if this was excitement he wasn’t in any danger of liking that either. No. He just wanted Mungo back.

The End