Dementia Choir

A poignant guest poem today from (soon to be) fellow Maytree poet Aziz Dixon.

Dementia choir
 Who you are
 I cannot say
 nor why we came
 to sing today
 but I was ten
 when I joined the choir.
 I felt the music breathe
 through me.
 Today I cannot find
 my words
 but still
 the music sings in me.
 I know we came
 to sing today
 because you care
 for me.

Aziz Dixon draws on local Pennine and Welsh landscapes and his sufi experience. He has been published locally and online in the north of England, Wales and internationally. His work featured in Best of Bolton, November 2017 and Burnley Creative, September 2019. His first pamphlet is forthcoming with Maytree Press.

Walking with Wolves

A winter’s tale today from my good friend Anne Veron (a.k.a.) Steward, fellow member of Holmfirth and Meltham writers’ groups (and with whom I also share a publisher: Maytree Press). A surprise encounter in the forest ….


The sky faded from ice blue to silver with fine brush strokes of grey vapour
echoed by the body-warmed billows of breath from the sturdy ex-bus driver, Steve and his eight year old granddaughter, Emma. They were rustling through the crisp carpet of leaves under giant beech
trees on their familiar Sunday walk in between a mighty lunch and a teatime spread.

“Can we take some of those holly leaves home, Grandad?” asked Emma. “We made some like these dipping them in glitter at school,” she added.

Steve laughed. The glossy leaves were edged by frost, “Those wouldn’t be frosted for long in Grandma’s house,” he said.

“Shall we take some magic cobwebs, too? They would be lovely on the
Christmas tree.” said Emma, pointing at the great filigree cobwebs stretching among the bushes. She knew really, but they did like to pretend.

“And bottle some dragon’s breath?” she said, breathing out a massive cloud into the so-still air.

“There’s no dragons here,” Steve said, “but it is one of those days… The air smells of wolves.”

“Wolves, Grandad?” asked Emma. She couldn’t help peering into the misty edges of their path to the fragile outlines of the silver birch standing knee deep in crisped bracken. She thought she saw a swift shape threading its way into nothingness. She pointed but Grandad was lost in memories.

“Oh yes, Laurie Lee wrote that. Cider with Rosie. ‘The air smells of
wolves’…You’ll read it one day. That was about 100 years ago when people
still had memories of wolves. Just this sort of day, I think. We don’t get them
often these days, but …yes, sniff hard.” He made a deep inbreathing and then a noisy outletting … “Ahhhh. Yes, definitely the air smells of wolves today.”

Emma played the game. Her breath drew in and noisily out, her eyes shut. Her eyes opened to huge, “It does, it does. I can smell… something… grey… and a bit hairy.”

“Yes, that’s it! You got it first time,” he said, “I got a trace of deep cave.
That’s where they live, of course.”

There was a high keening that drifted into the woods. There was no way that anyone could tell how far the sound had travelled in that thin-air day. Steve looked at his granddaughter’s startled face and reached for her redmittened hand, “The dogs in the boarding kennels are a bit noisy tonight,” he said, a little too forcefully.

“I thought I saw… a something …back there,” Emma said, pointing the way they had come.

“Someone walking their dog, I expect,” said Steve, but they started to stride out a little bit faster. There was a rustle and deep throaty coughing call that made them stop in their tracks. An elegant bracken-coloured deer picked its way through the trees ahead, followed by another and then another, their ears turning and flicking, their nostrils wide, tasting the air.

They were gone in an instant. Steve and Emma just looked at each other. Beyond speech.

“Guess what was in the woods, Grandma?” said Emma as she unwound her fluffy scarf in the toasty warm kitchen.

“Don’t tell me,” she said staring an accusation at her husband, “that wolf story again. He gave your mum bad dreams with that one.”

“No…well…yes,” said Emma, “but we saw deer in the woods. Really!”

“Well, I bet the wolves had chased them there. A winter treat for you, Emma,” said Steve.

Grandma threw a dishcloth at him.

The Caravan Beyond the Universe

Here’s a little bit of fun I wrote at Meltham Writers on Thursday. Harold and Mabel’s holiday is not turning out as they’d planned ….


Harold awoke and turned on the bedside light. On the wall opposite, the hands of the clock were spinning round at a remarkable speed – anti-clockwise.

                He nudged his wife. “Mabel, either we have encountered a discontinuity in the fabric of space-time, or the clock urgently needs some new batteries.”

                “What did you have to go and wake me up for? Of course it’s the batteries. It’s just like that time you told me the earth was being swallowed by a black hole, but it turned out a bulb had gone. It’s the middle of the night, Harold. Turn the light off.”

                “It’s not.”

                “Not what?”

                “It’s not the middle of the night. My watch, which appears to be functioning normally, tells me it’s quarter past nine. It should be broad daylight.”

                “But it’s pitch black outside. Ergo, Herbert, your watch is not functioning normally and it is, in fact, the middle of the night.”

                “Either that or I was right first time and we have gone through a rift in space-time. I think I’d better check – it could have a significant impact on the rest of our holiday. Have we got a torch?”

                “Oh, for Goodness sake!  It’s in the cupboard next to the sink.”

                Herbert walked into the kitchen area, retrieved the torch, and then opened the external door of their caravan.


                “What is it. I’m trying to get to sleep.”

                “I think you’d better come here.”

                “Shut up, Harold. Come back to bed.”   

                “No, really, Mabel. I’m being serious. You need to see this for yourself or you’ll never believe me.”

                Mabel huffed and puffed and reluctantly put on her dressing gown.

                “This had better not be another one of your daft ideas, like that portaloo you thought was a Tardis.”

                “Don’t take my word for it,” replied Harold patiently. “Look for yourself”. He opened the door again and shone the torch beam around in all directions. “As you can see, there is nothing whatsoever visible outside. No other caravans, no trees, no ground, even. No nothing. Nor ….” He now switched off the torch “… are there any stars, or any moonlight, even though it was a full moon last night. Just blackness. There is literally nothing outside. Our caravan is now the entirety of the visible universe. All the rest is gone. So, incidentally …” he pointed the torch at where their Vauxhall Astra should have been “… is the car.”

                “Oh Harold, you’re getting carried away again, like when we got lost in Blackpool and you thought we were in a parallel world. It’s probably just foggy.”

                She took the torch from him and shone it around.

                “Hmm,” she said, seeing nothing to refute what her husband had said. “Must be very foggy indeed. Look, I’m going to sort this out once and for all.”

                She tightened her dressing grown around her and lowered herself out of the caravan and onto the first step, then the second, and the third, then … nothing. Her foot could find nowhere to plant itself. In desperation, she knelt on one knee on the bottom step, waving her free leg about beneath the caravan. Still nothing. Mabel returned to the caravan with a look of utter surprise on her face.

                “You see,” said Harold, with an air of quiet satisfaction, “We have passed through a rift in space-time. This caravan is our universe now. We are utterly alone.”

                “Oh well,” said Mabel. “Bingo will be off, then. Might as well go back to bed.”