Jane Avery

My name is Jane Avery or Janieairoil or Janie or Prat, depending on who the speaker is. I am married with eleven children, (only four are mine thank goodness) and thirteen grandchildren (again, thank goodness, only one is mine!).

I’m forty-nine and in total denial that I will reach fifty next month. 

I have been writing poetry since junior school; used it during senior school to earn a smoke by creating personalised valentines, used it through my first marriage as a survival kit, and use it now as an outlet for joy or grief, equally.  I have had a few poems included in anthologies, and been longlisted for a competition I don’t remember entering.

I studied Creative writing with the Open University (how I got to meet Nigel) and discovered a love of not only writing, but reading poetry. 

Elizabeth Bishop, Stevie Smith and Dorothy parker, Maya Angelou and Simon Armitage are some of my favourite poets. Stevie Smith totally embodied by Paternal grandmother in looks and derision – I think she was hysterical.  As unfashionable as it is now, I could listen to Pam Ayers read for days on end – it was her rendition of Oh I wish I’d looked after me teeth that introduced me to rhyme and a love of storytelling.

Duty Calls

A plethora of errors.
Now we watch you pace and climb.
You’re wondering, what’s the biggest fear –
when duty calls, or these four walls?
You never asked – just nodded.
No, you never witnessed changes
of direction; chasing thoughts where
raw emotion
held us fast.
Too fast to pace.  Too weak to climb.
If only it were only
these four walls.

And yet

There was a moment
more than a moment
her lips almost lifted, but Almost was there -
strangling her words and her thoughts
in despair she looked up
and the cloud-lines were forming a word, but in whispers
she couldn’t make out
they wouldn’t be heard
Almost was laughing, she heard it, its words
‘go on – shake off the dust’
but knowing its purpose, she bit down hard
relinquished the words that were foaming and rushing
and placed them back under the pillow
not trusting
for Almost was weighing and sharpening its knife
it was waiting until opportunity knocked
though quiet, she heard it – and ran to the door
but Almost was waiting and got there before she could come to her senses
then walking on air, it patted the albatross
hanging from where her shoulders once lived,
but gave up the ghost
on account of, in hope of, and fear of, Almost.


‘Mine’ is what I want to say each time I hear your name.
Spoken gently,
or in anger,
or in passing, for it’s all the same.
‘Mine’ is what I want to say.
‘Here’ is what I’d like to say when someone asks where you have been;
just casually, as people do…
Like, where’s the arm on which you lean?
‘Here’ is what I’d like to say.
‘Home’ I dearly want to say to comments thrown indifferently,
about where you might hang your hat.
I want to utter, literally,
‘Home’ I dearly want to say.
‘Gone’. I never thought I’d say when off the cuff a neighbour asks
about the empty washing line, and all those feet that filled those socks.
‘Gone’, I never thought I’d say.

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