Poems about Sanctuary & Comfort

That saltiness in the air, traces of iodine,
ozone, rotting kelp. Today the sea is roaring,
offshore winds rip sailboats across the bay.
Wetsuited surfers find their adrenaline fix
in ten foot walls of water which break
into chantilly cream, dump them and split
their boards if they miss the right time,
the sweet spot on the wave.

Yachts and trawlers head for land –
in the storm they’d sink like doughnuts
dropped in a fryer. Within the harbour
even dinghies are secure. When seagulls
can be heard again above gentle wash
on shingle, the boats will set out.

Lost, beside myself.
‘Samaritans. Can I help?’
We talk and I’m home.

When you seek refuge, what do you truly yearn for?
Peace to pervade the ever-running mind,
Silence to rest, to find some quiet time?
Comfort to ease, a blanket to relieve the pressure,
cozy company, a place to find some pleasure.

A guitar to sing your heart out,
overlaying strummed chords with wept melody
praying your prayers in tongues unknown
peace found in long pauses profound.

Or maybe, further, it’s simpler:
paper and pen, though preferably,
a journal softbound, and lined –
ready to host your delicate thoughts,
for them to nest and recline…

Some think refuge is home, yet
home has grown so many times,
I refuse to restrain it to one place.
Sanctuary can be found no matter where –
safeguarding me from true and utter homesickness;
I stop my heart from being bound to

Change 2
one sole place.

Nomadlike, I tether parts of my life to
new rooms in old decor,
new buildings among landscapes fresh,
the familiar washed away in a sheen of change,
for it is the one constant that doesn’t fade.

All I want is to feel safe for a second

not scared or teased or laughed at.

All I want is for Mum and Dad not to cry 

at night, or be attacked, hurt or scream.

All I want is a home, a real home, to belong

even if we share, some place to call my own. 

All I want is not to be hated, put down or afraid.

I just want one day where I’m not terrified.

All I want is to live and be allowed to be myself,

and my parents be themselves, not hidden, scared.

All I want is to not be so hungry all the time 

my belly grumble and shriek, like a banshee.

All I want is to be allowed an education 

to learn about the world, be open to the wonder.

All I want is to be me, is that too much to ask?

To be free, happy, to be a child again.

All I want is freedom to have some sort of life 

to have opportunities, chances and experiences. 

All I want is what you have – and take for granted.

Am I so bad, wrong or foreign? To be denied a life?

I was trying to describe you to someone
and was transported to a holiday to Malta.
Walking to Valletta, a walk that was the opposite of urgency.
There were monuments and shrines along the road, I stopped each time
and honoured the fallen and their families. At that time my mind was a desert
I thought I was hungry but was dehydrated. That walk was a freedom song, a path back to myself. The sun bleached my hair, the rhythm of my steps, soothed me. I remember trips to Liverpool, Fuerteventura, every road I’ve ever taken back to myself and every new path I want to explore. When I say you are everything to me

you are all the places I want to exist.

for the mind’s
God Given
something the hands taught
a stark
and the sway
of oranges
the sharp
of lilies
glowing in
stained glass
the organ’s
and no
the spring’s
that all is
a wind world
a whirlwind
the soul’s

St James’ Church Arlington

I imagined you falling overboard,
washing up. Exotica
sitting dazed on the edge
of the pier
wearing voluptuous black
and gold. Versace couldn’t have
dressed you better
but as mist lifted I saw
you were no casualty,
no shark’s head nor
white whale’s bones
but a mother’s longed for child –
conceived and made, carried
to the water’s edge for baptism
in a chain cradle.
Every night, wave songs
and whispered haiku
lull you to sleep
as you stay always
black and golden and round,
safe from the sea.

When the world gets all too much
I find sanctuary in cake
Climate change, disasters, floods
Put on your apron, bake

Tranquillity in custard tarts
Solace with a scone
When life’s overwhelming
Just put the oven on

Find refuge in kindness
In the touch of a hand
A friend who listens

Loneliness is cold and brittle
Look for a place of belonging
To shelter from the storms

You see a welcoming smile
A door opening, a sanctuary
The warmth of acceptance

There is refuge in our words
We carry them in our stories
Within moments of life

Put them onto paper
Parade them high on banners
Give voice to justice

Tell of amazements
Trust in shared imaginations
Fallen skylarks fly again

A small child runs, unhindered
Into arms held wide and hopeful
Such is the refuge of love

in the downpour, we huddle
like penguins
under a candy-striped umbrella
that reminds us of sunnier days
we share this moment
similar strangers seeking shelter
our feet are soaking
stood in the same puddle
but we laugh together
at splitter-splatter pitter-patter
it’s good weather for ducks

When memory was less than three feet from the ground
the secret places were not hard to find. There’s one
beneath the table, the Dutch wool cloth
a useful camouflage. Nobody could find you there.

The shiny baby grand, its underbelly vast enough
to shelter you and all your friends, had hidden dangers –
the corner at the treble end has cracked
a few small heads.

The cubby-hole beneath the stairs was best,
though full of scary things: an old gas mask,
your dad’s pre-war canvas rucksack,
humpbacked in the gloom.

My small, terraced house
doesn’t see the sun rise
until it sneaks over the red roofs at the back.
A long-view sunset eludes me; more homes
huddled across the street block the western horizon.
It’s only a small loss; compensated for
by the delight of proximity to bustle.

My house measures the seasons well;
one day in late afternoon the sun,
as it shifts further westwards,
streams through my front window,
tells me spring has come.
My own private Stonehenge.

I’m quiet here, my street is tucked well away
from the Harrogate Road, but I’m just a short walk
to centre of things; plenty of coffee shops
for meeting friends. It’s the sort of place
where shopkeepers remember you.

Loneliness is a rare visitor,
so much less painful
than sharing loveless space.
This little house embraces me.
My urban village
holds me close.

This is my place, mine alone,
You won’t see me, you won’t hear me but i’m there.
This is my place, a place to breath, while all around me chaos has rained.
The mirror, lies smashed on the floor
The chair, on its side the ripped, pieces of paper my master plan, thrown on the floor, shredded discarded the good ideas, rubbish just rubbish.
Its warm here , its damp, its my special place.
Its too warm really and the dampness is emerging from my tears, droplets that cascade slowly down my cheeks.
Wetting my face caused by me, me me the shear frustration of me
Not being able to do what i want, not being able fulfil my dreams , to put my thoughts into words. It’s wrong all wrong.
A rubbish plan only fit for the bin
It was written wrong.
Useless, good for nothing.
I could hid here, but i won’t
I’ll rise again,sore like a Pheonix, Whoosh because i can do this, i can start again, I can go on.
The warmth from the cover that covers my head encompassing my whole body until I am right again,
The real me, the one who is calm, unaffected, unafraid, the one who wants a future, the one who can carry on, the one who can face the day.
The one who seeks refuge in words.

Content warning: domestic violence

‘Tell me the truth, I know when you’re lying.’
You lit matches, flicked them into my hair, set it
on fire. I put my head under the shower, you held
it there, turned up the temperature. My husband,
my torturer. Stomach knotted in dread, I prayed
this wasn’t the night you’d go too far, I’d end up dead.

There’s darkness, evil, deep in your bones, origin
unknown, a behaviour inherited, or learned in your
family home? We met on the internet, I don’t know
your history, believe what you tell me. I’m now the
victim, you trying to kill your demons, any scapegoat
will do, not sure what I’ve done to anger you.

I shudder as you pause, eye up the knife block on the
kitchen worktop. Your fingers curl around the handle,
eyes gleaming like a mad man possessed, you admire
the sharp shiny blade. I race for the door, knife pierces
wood, embedded inches from my head.

I run to the neighbours. She gives me tea and sympathy,
asks if I have family close by. I was born ten miles
away I say, an only child, parents dead, just me. He’s tried
to drive my friends away, isolate me. They offer me refuge
from my tormentor, I sleep in the spare bedroom.

Next day, I take the key from under the plant pot.
Pack my life into black plastic bags. My neighbour
helps, working quickly, scared you’ll return from work
unexpectedly, make a scene, threaten me. I ring my best
friend, after months of no contact, time falls away, like
it’s only yesterday since we last spoke. She picks me up.

I can stay with her until I get sorted. She never liked him,
she said, a sixth sense told her he was trouble, messing with
my head. My friend is an angel who took my hand, guided
me on a journey through life’s quicksand. My new life,
fifty miles away, feels like a different world. I pray for the
ones still suffering, living in fear of their tormentor, those who
need a helping hand, on their journey through life’s quicksand.

Some things cannot be unseen…
Atrocities committed, pain caused, betrayal suffered, abuse endured.

Some things cannot be unread…
Depths of depravity, trust broken, position neglected, power abused.

When techniques fail, and information seeps through ignorance and avoidance.
When methodology breaks, and information seeps into the unconscious.

We attempt to assimilate, to process, to understand
but we must not for…
We cannot comprehend, we cannot relate, we cannot compare.
We must box, tape and store away, forgotten in the dusty depths of grey matter…not indexed.
Or neglect to form memory but discard immediately before an impression is created.

Darkness dissipates to enable light.
Despair disperses to enable hope.
Feel the security of those arms of innocence tighten like a lasso bringing us safely back into the fold.