‘Atlantis’- Mark Doty 2003

I know the current wisdom:
bright hope, the power of wishing you’re well.
. . .
Which is what makes me think
you can take your positive attitude

and go straight to hell.


There are different ways to see ‘positive thinking’

Ignore the facts,
that you really are suffering from; a certifiable disease; a slow fall from a very tall cliff.
Stick your head in the sand and hope for the best in the best of all possible worlds. All you have to do is Think Positive!!!

Face it,
and instead of imagining; a slow fall from a very high cliff or a lethal disease; alter your downward trend of thinking, because this is where you’ve discovered a hell of your own making.

for example . . . . . .

Woman Falls

Think Positive

Woman falls in park from a fainting. She comes to just as she floats, gentle as thistledown, to the gritty path. She feels nothing. Surprisingly, the park is empty. It’s usually full of locals walking their dogs, everything from basset hounds, to short-legged Labradors to whippets and Alsatians. It takes her a few minutes to gather herself and get up. She breathes deeply and gets on with walking the dog, a collie who had only been concerned that she was not throwing his ball.

At home, she makes tea and feels guilty for not pulling her weight in the community. But she’s tired.
Her friend calls, the only friend she’s got.
‘Meet you in town,’ she says.
‘When?’ asks Tired Woman.
‘Three, there’s a good film on at seven, time to do a bit of shoppin’, have a bite, then see the film.’
‘ I’m a bit tired at the moment,’ she knows that 30 mins will tire her out. Any longer and she won’t be able to drive home.
‘Oh, think positive. You’ll enjoy it once you’re out.’
Finding that ‘thinking positive’ in this way, is destructive, Woman bucks up courage and replies.
‘It’s not a question of thinking positive, it’s a question of facing up to the fact that I am tired and simply don’t have the energy.’
‘Oh, it’s all in your mind. You’ll feel fine once you get out.’
Deciding to be blunt, Woman replies, ‘I fainted this morning, in the park, no one was around.’
‘Oh well, do you good . . . take you out of yourself.’
Woman puts ‘phone down. It reminds her when she was left a mile from home with two bags of groceries from the Chinese supermarket where they sell big bottles of Tamari not the piddling little ones like in supermarkets just because the ‘friend’ didn’t want to pay the toll bridge fee. All the magazines which ‘friend’ had passed on, Woman dumped in the bin by the bus stop.
Woman didn’t care if she didn’t feel ‘normal’ and able to take part in ‘normal’ activities any more and was sorry she had done so in the past. It had never done her any positive good at all, in fact, just the opposite especially the Royal Wedding street party, even though she gritted her teeth and ignored inner warnings, mental and physical. But on the other hand, Woman was glad she did it and survived, even though it took her 2 weeks to recover.
So now she sits in the sun with tea and a hot crumpet dripping with butter, and when it rains, she will sit in the conservatory with lemon and ginger biscuits and talk to old friends and family on the ‘phone and watch the blackbird nip at the mealworm
fat-ball until she feels like ‘doing something’ else.


All that is beautiful
All that is worthy of praise
Let these be the content of your thinking
St Paul


Writing Spaces



Desk in the N E corner of the dining/books room next to the French windows, conservatory with dog and cat and overlooking urban garden – relaxed and dappled, no hanging baskets.

On my desk – seven notebooks, scraps of paper (kitchen roll, envelopes, post-its) with scribbles, sometimes undecipherable, printed sheets of ‘how to blog’.

Books which change with use, ie Thesaurus, Concordia, Robert Frost, I Ching.

A ceramic mug with broken handle holding 11 pens, three pencils and 3 rulers – 1 wooden with Roman numerals, 1 see-through plastic (cobalt blue) and 1 metal (cerulean) all 12”/30cms.

Two hot drink coasters, designed and made by my grandsons – 3 active volcanoes with boy smiling and underwater with fish-hooks and whale.

Canon Printer, cardboard stage with cut out figures from a scene in my first novel. To remind me. Pen-pad, earphones for ‘Dragon Speaking Naturally’, speakers, digital camera.

Attached to walls and unused flat-screen are – post cards – BBC Writers’ Room, SOLLER in Spain, Haori with dyed rose design from the V&A, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, National Poetry Day October 2011 quote –

“I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness,

The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!”
Photos – gymnastic Hares at the Wiltshire Sculpture Park, Sammy, 5, painting a rainbow in the conservatory, and post card, very old –

We are unaware
of what sweet
miracles may come

Two, half imperial size, oil pastel drawings of the characters in my first novel, a framed photo of a starry window reflected above the inner arch of a church.

But when I write I could be on the moon/in the grand canyon/dreaming.

Room 2

S E corner upstairs, separated from party wall faces garden and a whole row of back gardens, all blossoming in the spring sunshine, no dogs barking, machines going, or barbeques.

Desk under window, difficult to see laptop screen because the desk faces the light so made a small blind. Loud music if I need ie Coldplay, Jan Garbarek, Tracy Chapman, Mozart. When the music stops – I don’t notice.

Easel, I paint here too, have plenty of books, paintings on the walls and an Ikea chair-bed for reading and for sleeping when the house is full.

I write anywhere, my first published collection of poetry was written and illustrated while lying on the settee, and when words are spilling over, I take a small, digital recorder about with me.

Words may sprout, they may not, mostly in the dining room close to cups of tea.

                                  Writing Space