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.