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.