Wednesday 4 March 2020

Poems, Spring 2020

Fire Contained

Quick flurry of birds
out of tree
signalled the explosion
then the smoke - 
grey and black and billowing
and the machine -
the metal body 
of tractor
before our very eyes
and the eyes of neighbours
and their children. 
Some cars passed 
unwise as it was to risk 
going so close 
to the guzzle
of parts and petrol.
As we ran
I pictured scar tissue 
and a vacancy appeared 
in my chest 
just had we spoke
about all that had been given 
just as soon as 
in that moment
all could have been taken 
Now I burn logs 
and candles
fire contained
is a beautiful thing
as are most things
when contained. 


On Both Days Mist

The day imbued
with mist shot in streams
blanketed beings
dressed as mountains
and all the gradients 
of a landscape 
stacked up 
and contoured - 

the pitfall at the break 
of a sentence
half thought 
left out of its shell 
suffocates in thin air 
wriggles senseless

the germ of it, forgotten
the root of it all 
into network 
dug bled and tuned
worried through
and sodden


all down and through 
the curves and skirts
- river of thick mist 
replacing estuary
seabed made instead 
once again

and moss laden tree trunks
with bare branches 
reaching upwards

I forgot it was winter
I forgot everything had died 
everything had gone to live

so mild has it been 
so popping with colour 
with roaring sunsets
magenta blood clots 

and clouds mottled 

like pattern on wings


Like a Drill

the dread is like a pip
the dread is like 
the metallic sting of a whip 

the tongue so rough

as it sandpapers knots


Hospital Cafeteria

Cream walls
anaesthetised in gloom -
a sticker on the back of a coffee machine - 
‘Please be warned 
this contains a substance 
which is banned in the state of California 
due to birth defects and 
reproductive complications’
I digress
I fill my mouth with plastic
I regress
into a child 
(oh wasn’t she big for her age wasn’t she sturdy couldn’t we all trust her to uphold herself carry herself strong and upright and wisely and wasn’t she clever wasn’t she forceful wasn’t she in charge couldn’t she lead the way couldn’t she be alone hold forth build castles kick them over without crying weren’t they sand wasn’t she pretty in her own tied up closed off nail and barack kind of way?)
Where to put the sadness? 
Where is the dumping ground?
(she eats an ice bun and the icing is white like her cap like her cap which stops the hair from falling astray into breakfast and all very reasonably priced all very fair)
Smell of burnt and jam it is currants it is a toasted teacake
Where to put the sadness!
I suspect this is such a place
for such a suppository 
one of those places
like a tip like a bonfire heap like 
an ocean floor
We sit in orbit around plastic tables made to look wooden 
and everything is clingfilmed 
- torsos and sandwiches  -
the only thing half-real is steam rising from cups 
(which are cardboard)
Grey hair and spotted scalps
thighs and bottoms 
like volcanoes (just as profound and unsteady) 
A man with tattoos on his face
catches me staring
Now I must look down and seem -
(I wonder how much is transparent?)


Spring Roll

wrap me delicate
in rice paper gossamer gauze 
so my organs become 
sweetheart cabbage 
splinters of carrot radish ginger 

dip me in dark salt 
liquid tang
almost unbearable
almost too strong

then I can
swim in your mouth
drown in your stomach 

I am only small

I am only so small


Predator and Prey

I once flew
as both predator and prey
I chased the shadow
of that which hunted me,
the black space
swept across the field
and fear travelled
in the same way
across my heart,
tracked eternal
across forest and plain
never to be
alone again,
in solitary pursuit


Heart & Lung

Let me stay 
in your feather-down heart
and chest. 
Let me be a curled-up
a cactus, 
a dawn just cracked -
let me be 
thunder just clapped,
a womb freshly woven,
a trickle
of saliva
at midnight
or a slug. 

Let me assume
the role of nature
let me give you more
than anticipated
and less
than we agreed upon

in that agreement 
I sensed
the warmth
and promise
of a bedtime breath; 
like dough rising
under damp cloth
by fire expanding
in a glut
of celebration;
a testament
to the lungs
and their steady