Poems

Her

You look past me with sprout green eyes,
pouring your dress from your neck
and smiling faintly, enigmatically.

I would like, very much, to hurt you.
Only this would quench the throb
of your existence and grind it down

like spice, gripping my throat, and
drawing my breath to keep it sweet
and moist within me.

Your shoes, even. What are they
but gaudy, glossy, glassy? You glint
and scintillate, an unmasked bulb

that cannot shoot through soil to
spring. I am autumn, I was first, and
I am waiting for you.

Mexico and him

All I do now is
wait for you
In this country of colour and dust
All I ever did was
wait
You loved her
You loved her mountains, 
her cities
You loved me
I thought.
 
Her voice 
I could not hear
like you
You thought that I would love her too
and you
that we three all would 
love
I hated me
with her
I could not see
her dust her colour
Not me.
Kathleen Kewley 
(1905-1987)

He asked me to arrange his flowers,
scrub his floors more like!
An irritating man, who called me Kay,
who gave me sherry, gin and it,
who took me dancing, and to golf.
I liked it all, I did, and him,
But once I had been Kathleen.
There were beaches and piers,
my sisters, and men, who never called me Kay.
Sometimes, when Kay is dancing,
or golfing, or just arranging flowers,
I see Kathleen in a mirror, or a glass,
and she laughs at me;
‘What were you thinking of, Kay?’
she mocks, ‘washing his socks, when you
could have breathed wildflowers with me.’
And I think then 
how I am contracted.
Overheard in a hotel one afternoon

I was seduced by what I do not know
But such seduction will beget rewards
A lump sum. What is this lump, so heavy
And desired? Where will you find it?
What’s more dot com has caused you grief,
I didn’t look carefully enough
How foolish could you be, my friend?
An older voice, a man’s voice, English,
Subsumes the lighter female voice,
How can someone talk like that?
Another sound cuts through the air,
Scottish, gentler, growing harsh,
You kept me awake till 4 last night,
Your bed squeaked as you tossed and turned.
Her voice squawked in return then stopped.
And wisely she said nothing.
I saw one financial advisor,
You’re not sleeping in that bed tonight
Who lies awake all night and thinks of sums?
Will sums spent on that bed help shut it up?
Why listen on if silence is a choice?
The voice will pierce the ear through all the noise.
Thomas Addison

My dog Jacob nearly died last month.
He waited and wasted
couldn’t speak to tell us why,
yellow white, his coat 
dropped, dust to dust.
We expected his death
and then they said, no, 
he shall not die.
For he has Addison’s disease,
which can’t be cured, but
with the help of steroids can
most definitely be endured.
Thomas Addison
a man of great intellect
with a gaze to the side and the ground.
Thomas Addison died by his hand
one hundred- and sixty-years past,
unable to tell his suffering.
Thomas Addison, you are remembered.
Reply to Shakespeare’s sonnet xvii – O! never say that I was false of heart

I think from this it’s very clear you strayed
While working on that job far overseas
It’s somewhat shocking, given I downplayed
My own pretence of virtue, worn to please
Our rather shabby bond. What makes you say
You kissed, but never loved? What lies come through
Your pale, misleading lips? Just know you’ll pay;
Your stain cannot be wiped while all you do
Is rant and plead. Your flame may well be lit 
But not by me; your number’s off my phone
So don’t go calling me again, I’ve met
Another love, without those frailties you own;
This universe has many more than you
And don’t tell me you didn’t know that too.
The stalker

I love you so, my darling!
Wonderfully, joyfully!
Your blue eyes
Heroic nose
These are all mine (and yours).

I love you so, most graciously,
With life and limb
My limbs are short
But may my life be yours
I love you with such passion.

I love you so, my love!
Devotedly, indubitably,
I love your smile
(It’s not for all)
I love you all I can.

I love you far too much, my love
Despite your gaze beyond me.
I love you – hopefully, sweetly,
Passionately, desperately, longingly,
Hopelessly.
The sea and you

The tide was out when we talked and picked up shells,
Damp sand squeezed through our toes and wrinkled back
where shining sea stretched into sun and past.
What we said is gone, but I still hear your voice 
when sun or water lights up bright in mist
or sudden shower, traversed by blaze.
I have walked too far from you, and seek 
the earth, the sand, where soft and firm you trod. 

I live now where I never see the sea, 
or hear the gulls, l never smell the air 
that stroked my face, the salt that made me breathe,
and makes you live again. I walked there last
when sea was curled, when tide was high and life
was hidden far beneath the stones, the seaweed, 
shells, and you. I listened, but your voice was gone 
I see the light beyond, but you I see no more.
Shoes

Cracked leather, stretched to feet
that once wore stockings. Even new, 
they stepped on roads that ran with dirt.

Dusty shoes, faint polish lingers on those
stubborn shoes that will not wear
my feet, that know I am not her.

Her feet were narrow once
and slid through stockings,
caught on skin, caressed and darned.

No comfort then, just shoes that chafed,
and rubbed at flesh, were worn again,
then walked with pride, the heels rebuilt.

Later cuts were made to spread the leather
around that ageing foot, which dropsy swelled
and each step spoke of age and pain.

What happened to your shoes at last, when
they were laid aside? Did you look at them once more
and see your youth, the carelessness once worn
without a thought that age would come?

Or did you turn away and think no more. 
She was as ugly as a blue winter day 
I’ll chum you up there, cackling, 
to see Sigmund Freud, no less.
My dog can fly, you know, 
the smell is rank. We breathe him in.
‘Put your seat belts on,’ he snarls
and taste your packaged lunch.
He laughs and slides his hand into his glove,
the softness trembles.
No deathly good will come of all this.
Bright sun through net curtains.
Beautiful Miranda

Beautiful Miranda
gave not a fuck
alas she had no truck
with being kinder.

She had red hair
but never washed it
she had a child
but never hushed it.

The child was dead
she never bore it
she could not love
she was a harlot.

Beautiful Miranda
was a drunk
her house was full of junk
spread out around her.

Sorrow was her bed mate
from the start
despair came far too late
for poor Miranda.

Beautiful Miranda
died too soon
life devoured all hope
and Death surrounds her.
In Remembrance

El-ec-tri-ci-ty
Say it!
Say it so you won’t forget
but I will.
 
White and gentle
care and cotton
hold my hand
all forgotten.
 
Which am I?
Giver or Receiver?
I never knew
or cared.
 
Counting back
I never got there
shrieking noise
was all I heard.
 
What matter was it?
Grey transcended
I thought too hard
too late.
 
Currents passed
blankness stared
I couldn’t see
or know
 
where I was then.
Was this the place
where I had been
before?
 
And where were you?
You went because 
you knew  
I would forget.
 
I am now
as I was then
better
but forgotten.

Lucy

Soundless you ceased to be,
Oh my daughter.
Unliving
A shell of a life
A sigh with no start.

Is it better
To live, twenty years and more,
To long and to yearn,
To lose the distance
That will never come?

Or did the pulling darkness,
The lack of time,
Beguile you more?
I never saw your face at all
My dear, dead child.

My daughter
All this you will not know.
You will never walk
Through dark nights or bright days.
I will never know.
To a psychiatrist
 
To you, I am a brief moment,
A problem, if not solved, then put aside.
My anguish is interesting to you,
But cannot touch you.
To me, you are hope,
You will say the forgotten words 
That will mend the frayed thread
Of my existence.
Trembling, I wait
For what never comes.
How can you say 
What you do not know?
I look into a mirror
And close the sides,
And see green reflections,
Endlessly. 
DNA

A poem warning of the dangers of ancestry testing & the consequent risk of ill-founded doubt 
(with thanks to Sylvia Plath) 

Daddy give me a break 
Won't you? 
Daddy what will it take 
For you 
To see 
That I am a part of you? 

What do you see when you see me 
Daddy? 
Is there any way you can free me 
Daddy? 
From you 
And all that has come from you? 

I never thought Mummy would stray 
Daddy 
The phenotype is a giveaway 
Daddy 
Your DNA 
Was to blame, don't you think? 

Daddy this gives you a thrill 
I see 
Daddy who will you kill? 
Not she. 
Is there  
Someone you think it could be? 

You told me it’s all a big hoax 
Daddy 
That my genes come from the Big Smoke 
Daddy 
So what 
Can be bothering you? 

Do you want me to be unique 
Daddy? 
Does doubt give you all that you seek 
Daddy? 
Just know 
I am perfectly me.
Lithium

Lithium!
Element and traitor
What do you want of me?
You soothe my tongue,
belie my mind.
 
I see you
stretching through the years
spread soft like butter
white chalk hard
What are you?
 
A two-faced mask
stealing feelings
You take all I have
and laugh at it
through tears.
 
Metal, we are one.
You have my joys, my sorrows
you make the night kind
and the day that follows
unremarkable.
Retrospective yearning for middle age

You slouch in your chair
You are old
You are forgotten
You dribble slightly
Your trousers gape
 
Keep away from my baby
who is young
who smiles at me a
wet wide smile
whose nappy binds
 
We leak and age
then age and leak
a peak of dignity
wells sometime in between
for most 
 
You never knew that middle
age could be so good
which meant that you 
forgot
old man
 
Living on

A flame in the flesh
sears and holds that
which looks away.
The sea, the sky will never reach
the voice which cannot speak.
 
Douse that fire
leave what is left of
me to fate.
A hand grips fast, from far away
a voice speaks silently.
 
A pilot flame
burns on behind a
darkened mesh.
The fingers soften and leave
The voice is lost in a choir.
 
Drug death sonnet

The road was all awash with mud and slush
when past the grim-faced doors we pushed our feet
We knew why we had come, and through the mush
we saw the one we sought wound by a sheet.
We cared not for his fate, or how he died
or who his mother was, or if he loved,
all this was nothing to us, he had lied;
Black lies that meant we stood with him and shoved
him, when he drank that drink so still and green.
He smiled a little then. His fear was not
when he would die, or what his death would mean
but dread of senseless suffering, withdrawal and of rot.
The scent of death was on him, all the way
Through life, and dying a relief that final day.
 
 
Call me Steph
 
she said, gazing, lips apart,
she didn’t like him all that much
her mother loathed him though
and that would do
 
his house was weird and deep
and dark and clammy
but the drink was good
rows and rows of shiny bottles
 
she sat there on his knee 
suckling, fingers trailing in his 
black cold hair as she
reached for another
 
his voice was gentle
aren’t you hungry?
he touched her lips 
you must eat now
 
she tossed her head
hands sliding on the glass
his hand on hers
and hers on his
 
afterwards she lay
he left her fruit
six seeds she ate
to quench her thirst
 
and then she drank again
a dark warm wine, and slept
Seph, he said, Persephone,
stay with me
 
 
 
 
Resilience and the Lady

You said I was resilient, and you smiled;
I never understood quite what you meant, but
thought it was inside me, deeply furled,
then one day I looked inwards, and saw
nothing.
 
You had made me think I was a hero,
a modified St George without a sword
You told me I had courage in my guts,
and weary though I was you said - do more!
When I said no, you said that others could
and that the fault was mine, and I was
nothing.
 
You said we need resilience in this life,
that I must nurture mine to make it grow
so you could make me do much more than now.
And then I turned around and looked at you,
You want me to do more, I said, to work myself to
nothing.
 
This is your resilience. You do not care
for me, you only want to squeeze out what you can
and then replace me with another, saying sadly,
she had no resilience.
But I am not St George
I am St Georgina, and I’ll never slay a dragon;
You will not need me now, for you are
nothing.
Dead Toad

Dead toad on the road
Where were you going?
Who did you hope to meet
When everything stopped?
 
Toad you are forgotten
No-one mourns you
What spawn you have begotten
Think not of you.
Frog

Frog, your legs were long, symmetrical and brave
And also dead
Your arms were crossed across your breast
You looked at rest.
 
What creature killed you, Frog,
And left you there?
A sacrificed amphibian
On a cold, stone stair.
Sour

My mind is soured
Like pickles caught in teeth
Lingering past the taste
And spreading doubt.
I hate the cloak I wear
Of clinging knowledge
I hate the doubts I feel
And they are me and you
And you.
No longer do I taste of milk
Fresh and sweet and pure
My thoughts are long fermented.
I will never know quite where
But the road to death
Is paved with stones
Cracked by uncertainty.