Friday, 30 October 2015

The Return Of Invisible Things

The Return Of Invisible Things.

No-one is exactly sure when the angel disappeared. It may have been gone days or it may have been gone centuries. Some say it had never been there in the first place, but no-one is sure. Just one day as they stand by the bus-stop, the little girl that never speaks with her mouth, opens the hand that isn’t clasped in mammy’s and points to the empty space in the hedgerow where it had always stood among the remains of a tumbled drystone wall and ghosts of poppies.

Of course, stand isn’t quite right. It’s more of a stooping that the angel does. Or a leaning. Like the weight of itself - the weight of its truth - it pulls it earthwards, back to the sanctuary of clarts and the conviction of roots. Even its wings have consoled themselves among the twisting brambles and the necessity of nettles as years have grown themselves decadent above dead foxes and abandoned bones.

“Were it even there, that angel? Were it even an angel and not just a stolen statue from the auld manor house?” Someone whistles the words out. “The one that we burnt that St Swithin’s day, when the village turned itself inside out?”

A rook flies past, shrieking. The little girl that never speaks with her mouth looks away from the space that the angel had filled and lets her gaze go off with the bird. Over the rooftops and chimneys they soar - up into a sky filled with lazy clouds and not enough wind. Someone at the bus-stop drops a purse. Loose change scuttles away from the kerb and out into the road. A fifty pence piece gets stuck on a dandelion stretching skywards from an old drain. Someone yelps a bad word, then laughs. Another someone tuts. And the bus still decides not to arrive.

“The thing about departures, it’s their going.” Another someone mutters, “when the sand lets grains of itself rush out into the shallows when the sea clatters back in, no bugger’s sad, are they?”

The purse is picked up, and the change. All that remains escaped are those words about the coast. Someone shakes their head, shrugs themselves smaller. A blue tit snitters over the fence by the bus-stop, stopping and starting as it massacres greenflies from the shivering rose petals of a new gardener’s experiment with love. A car snarls past, gloating. And still the bus doesn’t come.

“Yer saying the angel’s like sand? It’s took itself waterwards? Were it hoping to drown the sorrows away? Like some tired auld writer plodging out and going away?” Whistle, whistle. “Yer daft if yer think there’s a connection between shifting things and lost faith. That angel that disappeared from there, it’s took itself off for some peace, I’m telling yer.”

Someone coughs and kicks their boot heel on a crack in the path. Three ants scritter out and run off to the bottom of the lamppost that holds the bus-stop in place so it can’t go gallivanting through the bright hours of nighttime when no-one’s looking. The little girl that never speaks with her mouth bends and lets one of the ants climb up to dance on her palm. An old woman with an apple in her bag watches, then smiles.

“Weren’t nowt there anyway, everyone knows that. Were just something the bairns made up to keep adults out of their heads. ‘Let’s pretend there’s an angel, got caught in the briars, that cries. When the bigguns ask what we keep gabbing to, we’ll point to the gap in the hedgerow and sigh.’ ” Whistling someone growls, “ ‘say it’s a secret only for bairns, only for certain folk. Say only those that are properly special notice it standing there.’ It were all just a daft, stupid joke!”

The words come out angry, like lions escaping a cage. Or unicorns mistaken for goat-babies and sold to the circus to diminish. The girl that never speaks with her mouth, she looks at the speaker and scowls. She lets go of mammy’s hand and she runs onto the road. Over the middle lines and the safety, out to the other side and the gap where nothing stands in the space that’s there. There’s just bits of sunbeams pouring down and flickering atop of the dandelions and buttercups, around the daisies and the midges. Flickering for the places where the confines of expectation break and the world’s allowed to be lovely, allowed to just to get on getting on.

“Come on lass, don’t be silly, the bus is on the way! Come back to this side of the road. Howay bairn, come back to mammy! Howay!”

The girl that never speaks with her mouth climbs onto the small pile of stones where the angel used to stand, bends down and shakes her fingers gently until the ant plops off her hand. Down it falls to the moss world, down it falls to the grass. Down it falls to the solitude and the glimmerings among the borderlands.

And the bus, it juggedy-jugs up the roadway, juggering and jaggering up, climbs itself from the downlands, until it sighs and stops. And the girl that never speaks with her mouth, she runs from the ant and the space that the angel has left. She runs back over the borders to her mother - pants her quiet and herself onto the bus.

“Two nil I reckon for our black and white lot. Two nil or I’ll eat my hat. A goal in the first minute easily. That goal or I’ll even knit the bloody hat!”

And the bus, it juggedy-juggers, behaves all bus-like as it trundles away. While the girl that never speaks with her mouth waves from behind the glass of a window at an invisible thing present again: a returned angel bending with its hand outstretched for an ant doing pirouettes on some moss. An angel so happy and loved for itself, that it smiles and it smiles and it smiles.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

This Thing, Called Oh To Be In Love

This Thing, Called Oh To Be In Love.

I just can't handle it.
Our thumping hearts hold the ravens in;
now I'm waiting for something to fall from the skies,
but every time it rains, you're here in my head.

I can't get over the way you love me like you do.
I should be hoping, but I can't stop thinking
this world has only one sweet moment set aside for us.
Diving off a rock, into another moment -

I think I'm a banana tree!
This is where the shadows come to play,
born - to love you.
If I could learn to twang like a rubberband.

I'm hearing secret harmonies
pulling up the rhododendrons,
so don't become some background noise;
the grey of a ghost.

Are you ready? Hey, are you ready for this?
I feel I want to be up on the roof
across the water, across the land.
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?

Save me. Save me. Save me!
I've got a pin-up from a newspaper of Peter Pan.
I'll love you 'til I die,
Leave behind my Wuthering, Wuthering, Wuthering Heights.

Crazy, little thing. Called love.
Were you only passing through?


(A cento, made from Kate Bush and Queen lyrics)

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

The House puts on its Coldness.

The House puts on its Coldness.

The house has put on its coldness.
It swaddles in corners and between books -
an ice-cube cat purring shivers through cracks
where the stonework has given up fitting.

I listen as it re-knits its cardigan heart,
loosens the moonboot toggles of its attic brain,

allows frost thoughts to zip on their creaking coats.

It's too early for this, it's too bright today.
The spectre of summer still haunts the windowsills.
Outside, a sunflower tents the wind and tethers
its petals to prevent the unpegging of a gale.

But the house has put on its coldness -
that possessed prowl towards the glacial world
where the landscape will button its ghosts on again.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Witch Behind The Window

The Witch Behind The Window.

Once, upon a turning clock face, I roamed.  I planted seeds in the soft seconds, broomsticked through the moist minutes of clouds above their future boughs.  Over hours, the seeds became trees and rose, fruiting apples full of spacedust and stories.  On frosty middays, I’d carve words into their flesh as they flew and fell, then harvest them to the overlooked doorsteps of halfway houses that breadcrumbed in rows between reality and happily ever after.  I chimed the sorcery of smiles, watched the surprise as children inside ventured out and  bent, to discover a word:  ‘Magpie’, ‘Acorn’, ‘Gingerbread’, ‘Igloo’, ‘Catfish’.  ‘Hello’.

Then I’d go, become myth.  A shifting thing hugging hills, leaping twilights, swaddling map marks, kissing starlight.  So the apples would rot, slip their skins and words, allowing each story the space to tick out.

“White as snow, they said, when the found her dead after the truck dumped her…”

“Met through a dating site, apparently extremely nice.  Hasn’t spoken to her folks in forever because of that cape of bruises she wears.  Mr. Wolf he’s called, according to some old granny.  Probably take that with a pinch of salt…”

“Two of them, just bairns, lured with ever afters and love stuff they didn’t understand.  Straight off the bridge they say, holding hands.  They were always so sweet…”

And so I retreat.  Behind unwound pocket watches, behind windows.  A witch-thing from a past that misfits its telling, hag-boned and horrified as the stories toll through the cries of midnighted children.  Little more than a gloaming ghost, caught behind the confines of fairytale expectation and cold, grubby glass.




(image by Rui Palha)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Thoughts from...(xviii)

Thoughts from...(xviii)

Open windows leak the last of summer's recklessness.
Wind whomps in with tales of leaves and airborne pirates.
Anchors have become kites snagged on hurricane
remnants and archaic rich tea crumbs.
In a galeglobe, tiny vixens pin a harvest moon
with laughter ladders while mounds of ploughed thoughts
turn the fields of forever into burning equinoxes.

My head is heavy with chapelfeet and undeciding.
A dormouse has stolen hope's handles so everyone is stuck.
The spider of sensuality cuts her legs with not belonging
and falling rowan leaves.
Her ball of beautiful is fading, becoming a nothing below
the memory of July and jubilation. Comets have caught
themselves shattered between trunks of oaks and soaring myths.
All around, the garden groans.

Reality is rigged; a too heavy die with not enough spots.
When it's thrown, dead dreams get up to dance carrying
wasted babies addicted to rust.
Scarlet cannot be fed, her neverhere ghost gulps
the want of walls in another house where Sadman Urt
smokes ghoulbines rolled by fingers of forgotten foxgloves.
All the rooftops growl, pattering tiles obsessed with crows.

Somewhere, a decision bleeds.
Powdered choice blows like ground-up paracetamol.
Pieces of lost poet decipher the moon with lozenges
and unoriginal, non-committal imagery.
Its shattered soul halos illogical ideas with librarian
liberties and unwanted groupies.
A crack in the cushion of creation eclipses itself with albion
accents and settling crumbs of iridescent apathy.
And no-one can stop the flow.

As I turn towards tumbling,
bonfire smoke animates a chimney history
unrehearsed in madlish and cold bones.
The sky swallows embers and all that’s left
are ash aspirations and arrows shaped like albatrosses
and cloud-choked whales.
So I take my silver melancholy and roll home.






(artwork by Katie, at Assorted Unrelated Dreams)

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Ghosts Of You

The Ghosts Of You

There are places where the ghosts of you visit;
the bottom of a matchstick box glued to a dusty moth.
A lining of silver that blinded a still to be painted whale.
That place in the corner where our indecisions cowered.
The hem of those torn-to-laughter patched together jeans
where the seams of us unravelled thoughts of forever.

Even lampposts know your ghost;
the steady way you'd fray and delay the parting
with a song from your pocket to the breadcrumbs of us.
Fence posts had no chance, being stuck in the muds
of the everythings you would and shouldn't do so you did.
A king wearing his crown of never being pinned down.

Now the streets are haunted by your absence.
The chameleon of the city replaying these memories;
a cigarette tip of a comet streaking Northumberland Street.
An unexpected accent turning a bus-trip to misery.
The spectres of windmills turning shadows at dusk -
blading the ache of distance through a landscape of loss.

Leaf Declarations To The Wind

Leaf Declarations To The Wind

Outside, the night is grinning. A purple-spotted horizon leaps for metal masts and kippered dreams. Behind the ghost of a drizzling shed, two moonbeams yawn and stretch. Next door's dead are dancing again; bright bluebells on a knitting pattern, six puppies yowling cartwheels, the way the gate just knows.

Somewhere, a century sleeps. Skittered histories count the monstrosities, backwards now - like hope. A billion dandelion seeds stalk the fields. And the foxes do not come. In a moment on a clockface, this undeciding could be home. Could be contentment in an instant, but the heart's heathen, so it roams.

Memory's turned violin; a plucked place of diminished choices where bones become a pendulum mis-beating wrong decisions, 'bar dam, bore dom'. And all the map points are wrong, like licking sunbeams in the rain in the hope a calmness will flame after the burned branches are gone.

And outside, the night's still grinning while the gate in your soul just knows. Just knows and goes on moaning, the way his name does when you're alone. And no other melody matters or dances past the persistence of loosening leaves; all this knitting of frost into love songs for the ears of Autumn - for the wind.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Vixen Thing In Need Of Wings

A vixen thing in need of wings.

There was a time when I wanted to collect the bones of things. The insides of birds, the spokes of rusted wheels, the pieces of falling clocks as they burst on chipped tiles on a hand-made table made special for second-hand jigsaws that never worked.

It wasn't for the working of things, but the hidden pieces. How things were made up of themselves even though they were separate. Like mushrooms between the spaces where trunks had decided not to grow.

I dreamed about spores, about roots. About systems of language hidden in mirrors, and below the cracks in attic joists. I wanted to become feathered. A thing made of sinew and bird’s-eye views. I imagined drilling my bones, to let the air in so wind could rush through the places where the spaces had grown.

All the clouds were mad-things from God's cellar, full of the scent of angels and every little decision still to be taken. Tumbling thought-confetti still waiting to find a home.

Mostly I wanted to roam. I envied the bones of saints in gilded caskets, moving from island to altar to island. I closed my eyes looking for witches in the places were fish were furious with the lure of mythical DNA. The days divided like blown eyelashes with wishes attached like leeches.

But always it was the air, the adventure of balloons let go of too soon. The line of a meteor in the dark above ruined castles and skulking badgers. I sometimes thought I had a bat-heart stuck inside a fox soul. A vixen thing in need of wings and a wind to take me away.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Distorted Starlight

Distorted Starlight

I remember seeing the reflection
of your smile caught in a cup
of strawberry cider gone flat.

It had roses on it. Three chips
mwah-mottled its lip from the girl
with a camera trying to fly on
blackcurrant and vodka.

We laughed about wings on arses;
the madness of malteser-mouthed
angels attached to dislocated shadows
with not enough thread.

Now you’re dead, memories distort;
a bit like reflections in cider gone flat.

Cups with chips are thrown in the bin,
oblivious of comets chasing rainbows
above frost-fingered leaves reflecting sun.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Season's End

Season's End

Silence strains inside a brain;
a diuretic terror leaking every hour.
Outside, seas of leaves batter themselves
beautiful inside tides of unloosened September.
Everything sails in a blizzard of blueness.

A forgotten snail saunters on,
dragging its shelled history wallwards.
What lies behind are glistening trails and severed stems;
another endless summer suiciding inside oven aspiration.

Chimneys call to chimneys in crowlish;
wheels worry kerbs and undrown worms.
A van passes by wreathed in Hamelin history.
But there are no pipers here, just roads gone mad;
cul-de-sac rats mapscratching their cartography
over dust muffled paths of prosaic melancholy.

Next door's fence has turned sylvan.
Foxes and stoats abandon their turned-to-stone
existence inside a peppering of autumnal luminance.
Butterflies stain the spaces between substance and ethereal;
delicate winged-things oblivious of beginnings
and the unbending quality propped around death.

Clouds collect themselves intentional;
yesterday's corn rattles golden stalks,
a lascivious lament to the dying days
of a swift-stippled, youthful era.

On the horizon though, the Pennines keep singing.
Old, rooted royalty crowning the north's boundary.
Constant as sunsets and the ache inside bones;
older than the Moirae, and still continuing on.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Rumour Of Whales

The Rumour Of Whales.

A pod is spotted heading down from the Highlands.
Like the thought of another accent is luring them.
As they cross the border, the language slips -
loosening around vowels as consonants tighten.
They swallow meaning that sticks in their throats.
Dives down through their Atlantic hearts, then hurtles
out to a narrow knot of northness trying to fray.

They say a whale remembers the way bone remembers.
A fractured forgetfulness that breaks among tides
and a pelagic ache of shorelines and horizons
beckoning and breaching away, again and again.
History is horrific like that, a hvalsalen of moments
strung together on hunts and hooks until they're extinct;
a curio of decisions flensed to dust and skeletal regret.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Late Bloom

Late Bloom.

It comes as the frost yawns.
Five yellow petals opening to a grey sky
that wants to strip dreams down to bones.

Funny how a flower buds words
towards the rendering of tallow.
It's the boiling of thoughts, the staying
solid at room temperature, the light.

How sometimes a feeling takes root
in the pit of a stag's stomach as it ruts.
And the clouds collapse into evening mist
and swallow the beast as it antlers an oak.

And no-one wants to remember the monster
that haunts November. That bitter time of year
for deer and sunflowers that arrive too late
on spindly stalks expecting to smile for July.

A deadheading can be described as murder.
Five yellow petals become drippings from fingers
under a grinding grey sky, stripping down to bones.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

On Being An Angel

On Being An Angel
(i.m Francesca Woodman)

She wears her life around her neck;
a hand-me-down camera, the lure of a noose.
In shadows she knots moments,
records pleasure in ten thousand painful
poses - her monuments to hurt.

She co-exists in blurred time
and black and white.
Loops herself ethereal via yearning
and long exposure.
She screams a silence that soars
from a pair of wings that don't fit her.

The mythology develops in darkness,
is exposed onto paper.
Her boundaries ghost between solidity
and the realms of eternity.
Until only the leaving can free her.

Out from the loft window she steps.
The memory of a moment shines as she leaps;
‘Then at one point I did not need to translate
the notes, they went directly to my hands’.

Hands that become wings in a tumbling -
hands that blur with a falling woman as she soars.


(photo, Francesca Woodman, 'From angel series - Rome, 1977, Sept')