“Blackberries” and other poems by Amanda Baker


The heedless sun lowers its glass lid of shimmering air
onto the sweltering yellow green train embankment,
enclosing it in a golden dome of syrupy heat.

It is time to pick blackberries. They stand there proudly,
gleam red and black on their curved stems,
and flourish on the last patch of unbuilt land.

The vicious hooks of the thorns catch Ann’s memories,
drag her away from her safe green embroidered lawn.
So much ticking time and such precise planning it took her
to decorate her newly built garden just the way she wanted.
Boxes of white phlox and rows of orange coneflowers
provide the edge for her closely shorn grass.

Her bare arms sprout strawberry red scratches
as the wild blackberries evade their capture,
just as they always did 45 years ago and 1689.3 kilometers away.

Those brambles sprawled, both then and now, in a wild and abandoned profusion
over the peeling whitish pebble dashed walls of those new village blow – ins.
Blackberries wrote their parallel hieroglyphics on tender child’s skin,
as the village children in T shirts and wellington boots,
surrounded by midges and drizzle, tasted the sweetness of recurring friendship
in their shared eternal quest for jam made by mam.

But their roots were not her roots.

Ann was of the stock of imported exotics,
grafted in to predict the growth and decay of the Celtic Tiger.
She grew, alone, straight and true,
encouraged to go wherever her heart of tumbleweed brought her.

Not for Ann, the tangled thicket of cousins, second cousins and hangers-on
all held together by the shoots and thorns
of help given, help refused, pride, gratitude and resentment.

Unseeing, Ann crashed through that tangled bank of expectations,
tripped over the invisible tendrils of twisted gossip,
and snapped the intangible stems of a myriad obligations.

Uncomprehendingly, Ann watched in dismay
as her best coat disappeared high in the rampant brambles,
wafted there by the jeering laughter and anger
from the bruised and insulted pith of the neighbourhood’s kids.

Unconsciously, Ann did as her tumbleweed heart bade her
moved later, far, far away,
leaving those snagging brambles
to grow unchecked into an impenetrable maze of unseen connections.

She moved to that land of extremes, where motorways entwine each other like briars.

Here, between the freezing mountains and the baking sea,
the rich humus of forty thousand shades of potential
combined with the clear stiff poles of duty to one’s own chosen goal
helped to embrace and support her twisting, pale green soul.
Here, she could grow, spread and propagate
pick the red-black blackberries to her heart’s content,
and enjoy the bursts of sweet friendships and inspirations, both old and new

– on the other side of the fence.


Mum’s         Pre.  Work. Out…

Why so much hassle before I go?
Water drought plants and swing that hoe.
Feed two dogs bouncing for their walk
Cuppa tea with hubby and a grand old talk.

Why so much hassle before I go?
Wash clothes clumps, hang them rushed, any way so
Scour dusty cupboards, make kids lunch
Chop bendy carrots, add nuts for crunch.

Why so much hassle before I go?
Turf kids out of bed, I told you so!
Milk’s not manky, now pack your bag!
while eyes roll, sigh, mums; nag, nag, nag.

And so I stumble, bumble and mumble on the train
while strands of life overstretch my brain.

Fronds of friendship

Gusting gales of inner loneliness
sweep through my etiolated soul.
Winds of anxiety whoosh past my house
scouring out my empty goals.

Towers of talent teeter over me,
catching all the creative light;
while I huddle in my scratchy smelly blanket of doubt,
smother my head and give up the fight.

But ferns of friendship unravel their fronds
and break my whistling sadness.
Sand, waves, cliffs and birds slide past our train
as we furtively carry the fish of madness.

Friends’ philosophy and laughter nourish our roots,
support our shoots, making us all a bit dafter;
over cups of tea and the occasional beer,
now and forever after.


Love and Machinery in the age of Mod Cons

HOOVER sucks up desolate crumbs of desire,
ELECTRIC KETTLE boils up bubbles of leaping love,
TOASTER hope flickers and jumps, agile as fire,
ESPRESSO MACHINE excitement seethes and surges to freedom above.

DISHWASHER removes the cruds of excessive nights,
TUMBLEDRYER dries and fries sweaty emotion.
WASHING MACHINE restores the freshness of former delights,
MICROWAVE warms and rehashes old notions.

FREEZER keeps the freshness of memory, preserved on ice
REFRIGERATOR only thaws and drips to keep its gumption.
OVEN gently heats and gives love time to rise
STEAM IRON of passion flattens every obstruction.

So much technology, dedicated to lovology
Generates enough hot air to scupper meteorology.

© Amanda Baker


Dr. Amanda Baker-Frommholz, whose preferred stage name is Annjoba, is an Irish performance artist in progress based in Berlin. As a former scientist, a current teacher of Biology and English, and a qualified animal physiotherapist, she is constantly struggling to find her inner voice. Occasionally,she finds it with the help of her children before she mislays it again along with her keys, phone, and equanimity.