Thursday 19 December 2019

Poems, Winter 2019


I ate chains for breakfast,
so past any semblance of amount
and how things should be
it was all but piles of pebbles
and more edible substances
such as bread torn and dipped
into marmalade,
husks of corn
or I don't know -
or some such
compostable relics.

When we made potions in the garden
it was mud and tore-in petals;
the bathroom was toothpaste and shampoo
overflowing the sink
with their clean volume.
Somehow ordinary materials
such as bark such as baking soda
took on life-giving qualities
or if not life-giving,
promising alteration
at least.

I wish,
I wish there had been sparks
or apparitions.

All of that,
all of my actions
were sponsored by wish.
And where now are the fruits?

The proof -
in rich mangroves,
baskets full and toppling,
stored up from the harvest
of our unequivocal dream.


My grandmothers fed me

Grandma Jean
Welsh cakes (home-made, misshapen, with chewy half-burnt raisins, all dusted white with flour, sometimes too dry, best were fresh and warm from the oven)
Liquorice bears (Pandas to be precise)
Chocolate ginger biscuits (shortbread dipped in dark chocolate, with a crystallised cube of ginger)
Pasta bake (under-salted, plain, crunchy round the edges)
Turkey curry (always after Christmas – plain, under-salted, watery yellow)
Sandwiches cut into small triangles (tinned salmon and cucumber)
Watercress salad (served dripping wet from its rinse, weighed down by cherry tomatoes)
Darjeeling tea (near-white weak, with soya milk)
Honey-soaked apricots (dried apricots soaked in boiling water and honey, kept in Tupperware in the fridge, served with porridge)

Baba Rosa
Cherry slatko (jam with a paint-stripper sweetness, served straight from the jar with a spoon, to accompany afternoon coffee)
Noodle broth soup (an appetiser before lunch – salty stock with floating puddles of oil and chunks of carrot)
Roast potatoes and peppers (salty, greasy, good)
Kafa (Turkish coffee boiled with generous spoonfulls of sugar, drunk from small cups, thick sediment of grounds at the bottom)
Watermelon (size of a small planet, dripping with juice)
Cherries (dark-purple red, full bowl living as still life on the table)
Rakija (brandy made from plum, pear, grape, any fruit, a cure for everything, like a river of fire down the throat)
Lav beer (never quite cold enough, thick urine amber)
Plazma (aimed towards children but enjoyed by all ages, in biscuit or cereal form, claggy sugary wheat, with Bambi as its logo)


My grandmothers were chameleons

they learnt how to shed
and walked without shoes
through snow,
and war,
to school,
leaving but a trail of footprints
to their now ancient



Four identical
tennis rackets,
square shelves and
Japanese screens.
Books that promise Joy and Wealth
in equal measures.
The light, late November and grey,
the morning, still,
promising frozen hands.
Gracious, evasive, honest when needs be
- these are the clothes I pull across my body
after my shower of cold air.
Records leaning to the left,
essential oils,
a singing bowl.
The slats are closed
- what day is this? 



Chinese pear
with elephant skin,
colour of grey-green
in a paintbrush jar.

I pluck doubt from the tree-top,
sift sand through the letterbox,
I reach out with shy tentacles.

You rummage in my purse
and draw out a pocket
bled and tuned
like a leak
streaming through a keyhole.



Wake me up when it's tomorrow.
I want to see that greasy sun-face
I want to see the ocean, the stars,
I want to drool on gingham
and scrunch paper napkins
into messy rosebuds.
Give me a chance
to be a star
give me a stage.
Give me a soapbox, a signal, a lemonade stall.
Let me stand for my country and
orate everyman's lost ventures.
Let me be dumb-deaf and profound
let me colour every space in between.
Let me lose, let me wallow.
Let me be at least one or two or three
let me be four
let the whole town roar
let me tear the carpet to shreds
let me bray
let me sizzle on my knees
let me pray.
Let me in, I beg of you,
what more could I ask
what more could you give.

Let me bathe
let me lock down
let me simmer and cajole.
Let me light-hock and ham-nail
let me fathom in the board room
and crack knuckles on my breakfast.
Let me lounge
let me percolate
let me titter and tatter and teethe.
Let me thaw at midnight
let me spasm at dawn.
Let me lug let me teeter
let me spool out in jewels.
Let me value the price of a single sitting
let me lap it up
and marvel.
Let me choose a card
let me turn it like a pro.
Let me trick you into redemption
let me lie for you
let me wait.
Let me foxtrot let me boogie
let me go all night long
let me swallow.
Let me fuss let me fix
let me rile let me twist.
Let me furrow let me live
let me glide -
and be nothing more
than an imprint on a footprint
on the snow.
The surface now is calm.
Let us pray with our hands and feet and fingers
Thank God for gloves
Thank God for those underground networks
Thank God for worms and warmth and song
It is so still
the light so yellow.

Let me in
let me be there
when the clock sticks us all to tomorrow.
What a joy we can count it to exist.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Poems, Autumn 2019

Body of Water

Rowan berries
and most of the moon,
awash with layers
of river-rush -
notes of seventeen or so
clean pitches -
of glass
and quenched thirst.

Stem thick as
autumnal fruit
as the old tree
growing sideways -
spreading its branches
like a shade of mould.

You could wear the
reeds like ribbons
in your hair -
so thick and green
and begging to be picked.

You get the sense that
this water connects
glacier to swamp
in the same way that
this arm is an extension
of unwritten will
poured down rock
and gathering at the navel,
down at which
with my ancestors
I gaze.



As if I Am a Map

As if I am a map
I am to track
each decline and ascent,
each pothole, plain and forest,
each groove where foxes sleep
bats claim ballrooms of sky.

As if I were not human
I am told to find patterns
as if it is simple,
as if it is cold as bone.

Chants move me,
such as,
it is better with the windows open
it is lighter when the moon is here
the hardest wood succumbs to rot
and beetle-shells make dye

morning and dusk are but shades
a rose speaks the violence of the heart
and when you crunch a stick
you must pray with your feet.

As if there were such a thing
as favours
and investment through planting,
I must present
all manners of evidence
all routes to existence -

the tundra
the mire
and the depth.



Cobwebs hang like cotton tails,
the farmer's son cries
with no sense of scale –
this could be war.

Reeds planted headstrong
with their banana-skin insides
like another kind of cotton
a wetter kind, of sugar.

A young girl
threads her fingers through mine
and leads me
down this path
so familiar
it could be a dream

and the air inside becomes the sky
just as grey and bright
and open.



Light gives way to storms,
the kitchen abuzz
with wholesome distractions.

The needle pierces the eye
and sews us conscious.

Ink becomes a smudge of nuisance
- antique blot on thumb.

We curate starvation
as if it alone will feed us
and become incrementally
more barbaric, and serene.

Less and less
I see the world
as an open picture.
I know now
it is all reflection.

What is real -
I ask daily, and over, and over.

I have friends who encircle
my patch of grass
and sometimes we have a picnic.

The road becomes
oh so lucid
in the dream in the cavity in the earth.

(Rail tracks become ski slopes become hill).

When I'm living I am not thinking.
How to live with the thinking.

The black spot
plunges down -
a dying star,
a parachute.


You Caught Me at Breakfast

The last flight of a wasp
slow as jam
falling off a spoon.
Light inside becomes butter
and there is a smear of rainbow,
a film of cloud.

A door slams -
the reverberation,
its solid clang,
is how I imagine
the realest
and most tangible thought.


I Could Disappear

The more I explore
the more I crumble
becoming as thin as spider legs
at the seams -
unmoored as I am
from the dinner table
so that I float like a satellite
in orbit
like a dancing teapot
capturing the glint of the chandelier
on its way out.



I let my tongue roll
over kiwi and
words slither off
like the long vowels
I once drew out
under morning sheets.

How I recount
those devastations now
from my sexless tower
of river rocks
as big as plates
and kingdoms.