A Masked Ball in Venice

Un Ballo In Maschera ( A Venetian Masked Ball)  a Sonnet

Fingers of mist poke smoke up dark canals,
Lamp pools of light casts shadows all around.
Tall, shady shapes slink out from bacchanals.
Cloaked folk walk slowly past, without a sound.
Gondolas slide by, murky water laps;
Masked lovers touch, kiss in the bright moonlight.
Casanovas woo, laying lady traps,
dancing, drinking, making love this night.
Around cloistered courtyards, masked figures wait,
In marbled rooms, veiled Courtesans make fun.
Lute music wafts from the Doges estate,
The Venice Carnivale has now begun.
Guilty gente decide what their fate will be. 
Hoping all their sins will wash out to sea.

1 An Opera in 3 parts by Verdi.
2 The Doges(pronounced dozh is the equivalent of a Duke or Ducca
[3] gente f (plural genti) – people

Chinese Meditations - a Sestina

Information on this picture and the background to my poem follows the poem
Meditation: elements and seasons. (a sestina)

Tread soft and mindful steps into the wood
Dragons awake and set the east on fire.
Sun’s warming rays strike deep, damp, cold dark earth.       
 Incense scents the air, voices chant. Metal   
 pings bronze bell, disturbing temple water                           
 bowl, ripples spill and freeze in frozen air.

This sacred space with blossom scented air;  
finds azure dragon in an aspen wood,
stopped to drink and rest by clear still water.
Distant smoke twirls from an apple wood fire.
The harbinger of spring takes flight. Metal
tangs temple bell waking new springtime earth.
Bright vermillion bird descends to earth
from a sunrise sky, its wings beat warm air.                          
Temple priests praise Mars for summer birds. Fires
lit for solstice with incense, and spiced wood,
smoulder in bronze stoves for prayers. Metal
tings brass bowls creating rippled water.

Yellow dragon drinks from the temple water.
Saturn calms natures growth, soothes troubled earth.
On crisp white mountain tops he hears metal
clinking temple bells. Curtains of damp air
wash moss, helping ripen, pine and beech wood,
trees sigh as priests chop logs for sacred fires.

White tiger roars in blowing autumn fire,                              
twirling swirling leaves that drift on water.
Maples pave a golden path to the wood.                                           
Priests clear temple grounds of windswept earth
and acknowledge scents of autumn in the air.                                   
Temple bells ring out, brass against metal.                                                                                                                                                                             
Black tortoise, brings in ice. His cold metal                                                  
sword seals sacred temple gates. Priests light fires
of scented pine for burners warming air.                                                       
Winter dragon swims through frozen water,
to pray safe keeping for the winter earth,                                                      
mindful and still he prays in sacred woods.  

In incensed air, temple priests light small fires
of cherry wood. Holding bowls of metal,
struck from earth, they bathe in sacred water.

copyright Diana Leighton May 2012

Qiu Chuji (Chinese: 丘處機; Taoist name 長春 meaning "Perpetual Spring", aka Kiu Chang Chun or Ch’iu Ch’ang Chun, 1148 - 1227 AD) was a Complete Reality School Taoist and the most famous of Wang Chongyang's seven disciples, or Seven Immortals. He founded the Dragon's Gate (Lung Men) School of Taoism, one of the 7 branches of the Northern School of Complete Reality Taoism.
In 1180, Qiu Chuji came to the Dragon Gate Mountain (龍門山) in Longzhou (隴州). Seeing the beautiful scenery, quiet surroundings, natural caves, and springs and hearing that immortal Lou Jing of the Han dynasty once cultivated himself in this place, Qiu decided to settle here. After selecting a cave as his residence he went on with his Cultivation and Refinement (修煉) for 6 years, using the methods inherited from his master, Wang Chongyang.
Qiu Chuji read and studied Taoist scriptures carefully. He found a phrase in the Book of the Inner Landscape of the Yellow Court (黃庭內景經) that read "if staying awake day and night, one achieves perfection and can remain unperturbed even under lightning and thunders". Qiu forced himself not to sleep at night and finally succeeded. Henceforth Qiu never lay down at night and rested simply by Sitting in Meditation (打坐) and Entering Tranquility (入靜). He left Dragon Gate Mountain in 1186.

September Blog

Well I only started this blog a month ago and I can't believe how many views I 've had! I find it amazing that so many read and enjoy my poetry all over the world. I realised that when I posted poetry to the site that I was sacrificing entrance to publishing and competitions but then I thought I'd rather have people read it than being stuck in the dark depths of a hardrive or moulding folder somewhere. Plus it gives me the incentive to keep everyone amused. So thank you to everyone who reads it:-)

   Poetry is my therapy and helps during the difficult times of my clinical depression. But I am a happy, optimistic person and am now looking forward to the second  year of my Advanced Creative Writing course with the Open University. I am almost at the end of my BA(hons) in Arts and Humanities now, my last year being the study of Shakespeare in text and performance. I always said I would complete it byt the time I got to 60 and I am one year out being 61 in January!!!!

Human Metamorphosis

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly." - Richard Bach

She was wrapped, trapped in her duvet..
For days she did not rise,
surprise with sighs and lies.
In her mind she was a butterfly.
She just lay in her duvet,
day after day.
But while she was dream weaving;
she was scheming about leaving.
Her metamorphosis was due,
and no one had a clue.
She just lay, day after day
When they broke down the door,
there was no trace of her
any more.
She had taken flight,
sometime in the night.
All that remained
  torn and stained,
     was her old duvet
and quite crisp
like a


The picture is courtesy of Rick Bosman. Rick very kindly let me use this photo of a 1 metre sculpture he made
this is his site

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world -
 the master calls a butterfly." - Richard Bach


She was wrapped, trapped in her duvet..
For days she did not rise,
surprise with sighs and lies.
In her mind she was a butterfly.
She just lay
                          day after day.
But she was dream weaving;
scheming about leaving.
Her metamorphosis was due,
and no one had a clue.
She just lay,
                   day after day
When they broke down the door,
there was no trace of her
 any more.
She had taken flight,
sometime in the night.
All that remained
torn and stained,
was her old duvet

 and quite crisp
 like a

Copyright Diana Leighton March 2012

Hunting on a Saturday Night


Picture is of a wolf courting couple

Hunting on a Saturday Night.

It’s Saturday night and they’re all on the town
The boys hunt for girls and the girls hunt for boys
Towering heels click on pavements of stone
The girls all whine that there isn’t much choice.

Then four hours later, money well spent?
Fall outs break out and bitching is rife
Everyone’s pissed at a nightclub event
The atmosphere’s thick with a sense of strife

The hunting gets serious; testosterone rises.
She wolves use lipstick and perfume to tempt,
the males that are prowling snaffling their prizes.
The females just sneer and show their contempt.

Soon they are circling, the music gets louder
daring each other to join in the dance,
who will be first of the baying male crowd there
to grab the first female, and not leave it to chance ?

And suddenly silence, the hunting is pausing
The rules have been broken reaction is swift
Wolves are now howling a fight has been caused and
bottles are flying, there’s blood and there’s fists.

The she wolves are watching aroused by the action
of the dogs who continue their hormone lit fight.
The females are bored there’ll be no satisfaction,
so get ready for  hunting next Saturday night.

Copyright: Diana Leighton March 2012

My Mother's Hair and Chemo.

This is a picture of my Mother,Rose Florence, aged 18
She had beautiful auburn hair.

When I saw her shock and grief; I knew

the time had come, and true, chemo,

 like a thief, stole my Mother's crowning glory.

The treatment itself had its own back story

of coloured chemo jewels in various hues;

poisons fizzing in senescent tubes defying

the explanation from the nurse who was lying

when saying to her ‘this will be good for you’’.

Marks & Spencer’s coffee lounge – of all places!

At the time it felt watching were a million faces.

And the shock of it, while eating lunch,

when all her hair fell out in a tired, dyed bunch.

The chemicals poured on it over the years

Didn’t matter now as she sat there in tears.

The auburn hair dye money washed down the drain,

Is worth nothing now she’s in such emotional pain.

Swiftly clearing the table and scooping up hair,

wishing upon wish no one would stare or care.

We went straight to the loo and out came a comb.

(there was a minor panic when she thought she'd left it at home.)

A birthday present, a silk scarf, now became her hat.

Then very softly she mentioned that -

(while glancing at her new skinhead look), 

 there was in her cat diary address book,

 the address of a wigmaker quite close by,

and 'would I drive her there?’ Meanwhile

we talked about styles, and this and that,

and also how a wig would be her new chemo hat.

A brown wig? A blonde wig? Straight or curly?

A short style? A glam style ‘ooh darling’- Miss Hurly?

But 70 we agreed, this was an elderly age;

so she chose a grey granny wig ( these were not all the rage.)

Then we silently drove home to comb out the rest,

and put in the garden for birds to make nests.

Years later I found my mother’s hair

with her wig in a bag, labelled handle with care.

Sad remnants of her crowning glory

And  a sad reminder of my Mother’s story.

copyright Diana Leighton January 2012