Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Remember how we used to have snow at Christmas, even in southern England?  Well, no longer.....but here is a snowy poem, and some photos of what might have been and what might be in another year.          Just hoping .... these were taken in 2009!

Snowy Night

When did snow last lie like this,
So fired with frost and ice-white heat,
Striking sparks beneath my feet?

Walking through the empty streets,
How calm and still: such dazzling light
Fills this lovely smouldering night.

The trees stretch high their glittering arms                                                                            
To stars laced through a velvet sky,
While rangy foxes hunt nearby.

Slipping by the crackling pond, past
Billowing quilts spread in the park,
See; soft flakes of snow wrap up the dark.

© Sue Burley



Sunday, 16 November 2014

     My younger daughter and her husband were due to fly home to Malaysia on Friday 18th July 2014, when we heard the devastating news that flight MH17 had been  shot down over the Ukraine.

    This is my resulting poem ...................................

Returning  Home

During the night
          the heavens ignited
with anger.  Lightning
         then thunder forced
the sky awake.

Your pale cheeks
       glistened with tears
silvery as the rain
       coursing down
the misted windows.

At daybreak,
the white-fringed daisies
gazed at the warming sun,
            the frayed clouds -           
and trembled for you.

We kissed, said goodbye
            face to face,
my eyes holding fast to yours.

            Then I gave you up
to the boundless sky, and prayed.

©Sue Burley 2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Sunset from St. John’s
Because dusk is settling over the valley,
the yews are etched black
                                    against a runaway sky,
their branches tossed by a mean east wind.

Here are the high lands of the sky,
with violet hills and knots of inky cloud
like wooded knolls:
                                    ribbons of pale grey
split the sun before racing west.

Gulls thresh and fall on the angry wind,
wings dipped in liquid gold
                                    and edged with pink.

Sue Burley

Monday, 20 October 2014

.... We are experiencing a few days of lovely warm weather here in the south-east.  The garden is not looking its best, apart from the nasturtiums which I planted quite late in the summer. 

They are beautiful colours;  orange, flame, fuschia,  gorgeous and heart lifting; I picked a few so I could have them near me indoors.....   here they are! Enjoy......


Monday, 6 October 2014


For all the world it was dust,      
a discarded no-hoper, crumbling
in a cracked, parched pot;
but saved by a glint of green
effortlessly threw itself into life
under soft autumn skies.

Uncurling leaf followed leaf
smooth as flecked marble,
shiny as leather, creamily veined.
Pressed for time, bud-furled parasols
set free flowers of crimson lake
to burst open all spring,
tossing back defiant heads
into the scudding breeze. 

© Sue Burley
(Published in "The Dawntreader", Issue 028, Autumn 2014)

Friday, 19 September 2014

...Having  just returned from a great holiday in Kuala Lumpur, where the heat is stifling, it was a relief to return home to find that September, at the end of summer, was still warm and soft....


If you were to say that May was the perfect month,
then you have forgotten September.

For just as you recall pale primroses in hedgerows,
the conkers drop  like burnished jewels.

And as you dream of an abundance of blossom,
lush fruit spills from the trees.

Then longing for the drift of a bluebell glade,
the maple flames and sheds a crimson leaf.

So, when reflecting on the sharp clean air of spring,
breathe in the earthy breezes of autumn,

and imagining drifts of creamy hawthorn,
sense the tawny fronds of bracken, turning......

because just as you were sure that May
was the perfect month,
                                     along comes September.

© Sue Burley


Monday, 25 August 2014

Here is some news for those who have been asking whether I've ever had a poem published!  Not one, but two poems have appeared in a magazine called "The Dawntreader", Issue 26,  Summer 2014.

As you can imagine, I am really pleased about this............................. Here they are.

6 Acre Meadow
Lush meadow grass grows
hustled by warm spring air;     
buttercups, sun bright, beckon –
dandelions disperse seconds,
clocking up time.
Crows in low gear, lift
cast on the may-scented breeze,
their wings ebony, flight fluid as the brook.

©Sue Burley

Above Ringmore

At Ringmore, All Hallows stands proud
above the deep-cut Devon lanes.
A tractor, fat tyres higher than a man
pulls silage uphill between steep hedges.
Sheep drift clouding the falling fields.
From the churchyard the sea glints pewter
in the cleft of the valley, the soft air full
of  sweet mown grass; a faint taste of salt.

Above Ringmore, cornflowers bunch in jars,
guard headstones with epitaphs in curlicue script,
mourn dead babies and wives gone too soon.
“The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away.”

At noon sea mist curls in drenching our faces                   
wrapping the ships out of Plymouth, sinuous
between the laurel’s salt-scoured leaves;
summer seems past yet this is only June.

Bells ring from a distant tower,
the air so still for once, the birds silent.
The earth moves through us; we turn our backs
for the last time, fearful that it might stop


Sue Burley

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Aceh, Sumatra – 26th December 2004

There is always
calm before a storm.

This day dawns fine,
but six miles deep
the sea floor heaves.

Divers near the rocks
see fevered shoals
burst in disarray

and those who watch
the sea recede
just stand and stare,

their thin cries seized
by rearing cliffs
of foaming surf.

  * * * *

Among the lost,
a tiny girl dragged
by waves,

half drowned;
tossed as debris
on to remote shores...

then ten years on,
found; a gift held fast            
in her mother’s arms –

and grief  is quenched by joy.


© Sue Burley

On 10th August, 2014, it was reported that Raudhatul Jannah (now aged 14) was returned to her parents, after being recognised on Banyak Island, approx 25 miles from the West Aceh coast.



Saturday, 5 July 2014

... there was a long, hot summer during the 50's, when I was friendly with a girl living at the Manor House, (next to St John's, our parish church.). We spent hours playing in the semi-wild garden which runs down to the Hogsmill River; and hugging her pet rabbits.... (poor things.)

...this poem evokes some of those memories ........


Out of Bounds

            it is summer again,
            and we lie on our backs
            in the grass, squinting
            at the sun seeping through
            the outstretched arms of the cedar.

            Long warm-hearted days shine –
            the meadow shimmers with heat
            and daisies fleck the long grass.
            We leap down the tumbling field
            to the river; it whispers ideas.

            Here is the crimson rose
            scrambling over the shed; its
            soft scented petals flutter in
            at the door.  Time loiters -
the church clock strikes five.

We know the incense of cedar
breathing over the garden,
the sun slips behind the mulberry;

soon our purple-stained  hands
will give up their secret.

©  S.F. Burley

Friday, 13 June 2014

.... here's a poem dedicated to those (like me), who find rainy days in summer difficult...... and find it hard to appreciate the benefits rain can bring! Remember .....rain is as much as a gift as sunshine!

Rain in June

There are ways and means
to lighten life’s dark side,
in spite of the grey veneer hiding
what is the certainty of a blue sky.
Birds tune up their repertoire anyway,
don’t seem to mind – so why should I?

Rain murmers then makes up its mind to shout,
hurtling down gutters, turning roads to rivers.
Seeds sprout headlong, regard it as a treat,
meat and drink, and grow stronger for it;
so when push comes to shove,
mind - why should I?

Swifts swoop in from the heat of Africa,
glossy black, sieving flies from the air.                                    
It’s water off a duck’s back to them;
and the first glowing rose unfurls,
accepts with grace the drenching,
mind – how could I?

© Sue Burley

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

... Moving on to Summer in the Garden - May 28th 2014

Because of the mild winter and plentiful rain, everything seems to be early and twice as tall and abundant as usual!  I don't have a colour scheme, but I like colours to be varied, and in summer to be as bright as possible. 

To me there is no such thing as colours clashing in nature!  Very proud of the foxgloves, especially the pink ones.  These make me think of the New Forest  - sun dappled woodland and the tall spires thrusting through the early fronds of bracken.   Beautiful......


Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Larch

I ran to see the larch again
up on the gentle wooded hill
and let the sweeping branches trail
across my cheek and through my hair.

Each little tuft of needles stood
fanned along those curving boughs
a tender green, and in between
starred buds pricked out in dusky pink.

This is where we sometimes met
beneath the larch’s graceful veil,
the coltsfoot gleaming at our feet
like burnished coins, a treasure trove.

From here I watched the melting mist
unravel from the dripping groves;
then thought I saw you pass close by
but choose a different path instead.

I slept against the whispering larch,
the sun burnt up the hours till noon
and as the larks soared high to sing,
I knew you would not come again.

©Sue Burley

Sunday, 6 April 2014

 Sunday 6th April 2014

"Consider the lilies of the field........."


I've really been looking forward to this Spring!  Winter dragged on doggedly;  wet and gloomy with hardly a flake of snow or a crisp frosty day to lift the spirit.  The flower beds solidified into a waterlogged mass.  Surely no plant could penetrate this heavy clay. How wrong was I?

Day after day, I scrutinised the bed outside the french windows, waiting for a sign that winter was over. The first to appear were the golden cups of the winter aconite, complete with their bright green ruffs.  Snowdrops were next, their sharp spears piercing the earth; and with the first watery sun, opened their shy hanging lamps.  As these declined, the miniature daffs, some with orange trumpets, trembled in the breeze.  Even primroses, wan and feeble at first, eventually burgeoned and as February turned to March, broke forth into their palest lemon glory.

Today, I have been looking at the patch of  delicate white wood anemones,  and the bluey-purple of the winter wind flowers. And bluebells are on the way, (though I have only the Spanish variety). 

For the home-grown variety, take a stroll to 6 Acre Meadow. They are to be found along the path adjacent to the sports ground. Not quite flowering yet, but should be in a couple of weeks........

                                                                                Bluebells are out now ................................

                                                                        the show is over now - until next Spring!



Sunday, 19 January 2014

Oil Slick – The Prestige

(The 'Prestige' oil tanker spilt its load on 13th November 2002
of the coast of Galicia, Spain)

There would be some prestige
in accountability
or responsibility,
when the sea heaves black poison
in waves upon the shore.

There could be redemption
in repentance,
but not in indifference
as miles of golden sand
are besieged with curdled oil.

There should be sympathy,
but it’s doubtful
and won’t come from the powerful
made rich by black gold, while fishermen
shocked pale, scrape their living clean.

But there is certainly anger
for the gasping cormorant,
tarred and feathered;
and the small crab, black as pitch
lying fossilised in someone’s palm.

© Sue Burley 2002

(A recent news report states that ‘The Prestige’ is still leaking oil
off the north-west coast of Spain, 4 years later- 2006))

13th November 2013- A Spanish court acquitted 3 people blamed for the sinking of The Prestige oil tanker in 2002, finding no-one responsible for one of Europe’s worst environmental  oil disasters.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New Year, and I have been trying to turn out a few things, and found the following scribble. By the way, I know there are spelling mistakes! (It has improved since then!)

Susie Richardson – 10½ years old

Lives in Church Road
Old Malden                            
quite pretty with a pond
a “posh county” (We arent!!)
Us and the rest of the country.  (Been to Brieton and London) but nowhere else
The United Kingdom             
Us plus Scotland, Ireland and Whales
The World                                    
Large, round, lots of sea, spinning, sometimes night, sometimes day
Goes on forrever. If you look up – there are stars, sometimes the sun and moon
but only if there are no clowds    
The Universe                                
Lots more space – whats it all about, does it end somwhere?  Over the rainbow?

That sent me off thinking about eternity, AGAIN, all these years later,
(tho’ a favourite train of thought!)
Are we actually in some kind of giant bubble?  Musings only please- not scientific data!