Poems

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.