Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Two Dolls in Knitted Nests

Once, my nanna took me and Yvonne to a jumble sale. It was in a church.  And I think what made it memorable was that my paternal nanna was not the sort for jumble sales, not the sort for church.  We must've been about eight or nine?  Maybe a wee bit younger.  And I remember the smell of the place.  Old, a bit damp, a bit dirty.  Old dirt, the kind that collects in creases and never really gets washed out.  The kind of dirt that defines fabric, reveals its story a little.  Of course, it being a scent, sometimes it's off putting.  Sometimes the stench keeps others away.  And I guess that's how stories don't end up being told, they stay trapped in those places that never feel sunlight, but always manage to hold onto the rain.

Anyway, at this jumble sale, there was one table that had allsorts of stuff thrown on top of it.  Literally as though everything had just been dumped there so that the ladies of the church could go and make sure the cake stall was pretty, or the vicar had enough sugar lumps in his tea.  I remember at the time being drawn to it, because when I squinted my eyes it looked like the fells.  It looked like the places we used to run away to get away from all the noise, from all the bruises.  And why can't a pile of discarded jumble not be as welcoming as the slopes of the fells?  We both started rummaging, through old skirts, through solitary shoes.  Leather ones, tan colour, buckled.  Creased like the lines on the faces of the women in the church.  More places, collecting stories.

Inside the mound of jumble, inside its belly, right in its womb, we found two dolls.  Tiny things.  Four inches long at most.  Plastic.  Big, wide, staring eyes.  Misfitting knickers, I remember that.  Their too big knickers, billowing around their plastic bums.  White, what else?  What was special about these two dolls though, they were each sat in the middle of this knitted thing.  Imagine a hanging plant pot, but made out of wool.  And imagine that someone has gotten carried away and knitted all the sides up as well.  So that the plant pot, this one made from wool, it's like a nest.  And there's a satin ribbon tying the tops together.  Pink.  Baby doll pink, the inside of a kitten's mouth pink.  Skin that's just lost a scab, that kind of pink.  And these two dolls, they're sitting in the middle.  Huddled in, in the dark, the two of them.  Separate but somehow together, sitting silent in the murk of fingered wool and abandoned dreams.

We bought them of course.  Peculiar treasure from the stomach of a church, how could we not?  They smelled too, the dolls and the nests.  Like spilled face powder, the one my nanna used to call rouge.  The one that came in its own circular box with its soft, soft sponge.  The one that smelled of things I was never able to really figure out.  And there it was, curled around these dolls.  Knitted into their nests by a someone we never knew.  All those stories, in the creases of everything.  All the forgotten moments - the loves, the losses, the dreams, the things spooling out trying to become could-have-beens.  Sitting in a mound of jumble.  Other people's discarded hope, building themselves tall, becoming fabric fells.

And those two kids with heads full of this numinous future where anything was possible.  Where death didn't dwell and the knitting pattern of DNA strands somehow decided everything would end up being alright.  Being good for two dolls in their nest.  For two lasses that hadn't started that treacherous descent into adulthood, not then. Not in those moments.  Not yet.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

thoughts from...(xi)

In some star-padded street, a comet chases its own tail. Behind the bins where Saturn's rings roll themselves square, a shy sparkle slinks along the cracks of the cosmos, avoiding light and anything else tinged with the lure of L words. This is real-life. A modern world full of anachronistic space architects too lost in sky-pie puzzles to move on.

Instead of twirling hair-ends, I twirl my heart. It looks a little like an etch-a-sketch experiencing that shaking stage. When I close my eyes, the clouds tilt in. Become more grains of grit caught in the troposphere of a tear duct. I cry daisies and dreams until my cheeks sleep.

Somewhere in the middle of the road, a fairytale witch dances on a packet of juicy fruit. She has broomsticked herself broken. A pigeon passes and beaks her up and is gone. Even the street where stars meet has its unfair share of conflict. I swallow quietly and slip into madlish again.

Do we dress like god for fun? Or Gorgons? Hissing our heads like some holy anomaly on a dreary noneday holiday? The kerbs have become contagious. Big breathing things with too many legs. They offer pockets and chaotic choices. I want to become an attic. Cobwebbed and cornered where wild things wrap shadows and shooting stars for the dark. I want to feed my soul spacedust and watch it glow.

The broken-beaked crow sends me moths. Powdered things without their wings. He is a magnificent masochist. And of course, I have an arrow ready for his heart.

Today, silence ticks like tourettes. I flick my feelings and skip home.

Write what you know

Distance, two ferrets on leashes, Northumberland Street.
Ghosts rising from spilled coffee and ripped polystyrene cups.
Lost Socks, always lost fucking Socks.

The Smiths, beef paste sarnies, hazy memories sharper
than knives - time. Always time. And clouds and clouds,
meadows. A headless mannequin through your window.

The first breakfast, Christ wearing a Hello Kitty skinny tee.
Me floundering on the threshold of your door after you're gone.
Your mam and the nun, strange familiarity. All of these books.

If you have a minute derision. Part comprehension in a takeaway carton.
The wonderful addition of Chris and Martin, flute-boys with wings.
All the special things in a pocket. Your death, always that.

November does this, with its deceptive softness;
barbed wire paying the toll of memories with autumn leaves.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Spoken through Static

Cars on the motorway guzzle the distance.
Grumbling machines that chew the silence
through a too-hot duvet as it begins its devouring.

'I think I might be lost...' Six soft syllables
defying the weight of the message they swaddle.
Wrecking balls on cranes; wings unfolding, away.

Your books breathe on the shelves.
Lines from Lorca lick a coldness into November.

Soft stings that spread from the read-to-death
spine of 'In Watermelon Sugar'.
Post-it notes wriggling their tongues,
tasting favourite pages in a battered
copy of the Book of Changes.

And this girl that cannot look at dice
without imagining your body rolling in a bedroom
where baby pigeons did a moulting
and you discovered other ways to be a lover
that didn't require a dictionary to decipher.

Loss. Like static, it whispers.
This clicking through channels
in search of the script of our lives.
Then the end credits, and this sound:
the slow, steady knock ghosting through
wood on a door giving in to a rotting
bathed in blue hues.

Flickering on/flickering off
through a lifetime - this haunting.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Untitled.

Last night I dreamed about a woman with a long neck.
She kept burying her voice in a half dozen box of eggs.
They were broken, oozing. And weirdly, singing.

This morning as the snow fell, I imagined scarecrows
kicking magpies down into her throat. Kept wondering 
whether their feathers would dissolve her as she choked.

Not the way love does that's being bleached in a drain.
More like when it's sectioned, its heavy brand of 'insane'.

And this woman in my dreams, her long neck full of birds,
is she somewhere in the marshlands, thinking I'm obscene.

An entity of memory dissipating with the changing weather,
a creature neither living, neither born from bone. All ether.
Just a dreamed thing reeling a song through the late afternoon.

Unexact, a few flurries, barely a filament blown from a finger.
Steam from a cup of tea,  a wisp of ghost cooling to wander.
A dreamed thing, a haunting. This reality unable to love her.



Friday, 4 November 2016

Antlers Keep Sprouting From Owl Boy's Head

The lad I love has gone and turned stag.
Which wouldn't be bad if he hadn't hoofed
off with a vixen known for its city skulking.

When we were bairns, he had this trick
he did with his neck when the grown-ups
weren't looking, this way of contorting.

A maths teacher adopted by otters
learned us about certain angels hiding
in angles on half-circles of plastic.

How objects can behave unexpectedly
after being stared and stared at constantly
over bowls of cold crumble and custard.

If I turned bird, I'd want to be a buzzard.
Not for the feeding, or even the soaring.
More for the fucking they do in woodland.

The way my beak would be able to worry
a stag hoofing off with a fox if it felt like it.
The way I’d be able to blind them if I wanted.

Without his moulted feathers only visible to me.
Without that neck trick. That way of peeking in
rooms from the back of a spine, even in the dark.

So, lovely owl boy, the one that's gone stag,
be wary of sudden breezes as you rut over fields.
The one plucked for velvet, she flies feral now.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Roads: How To Wander

And I think of roads, how they unfurl.
Huge lengths of wallpaper, sticking to feet
and tyres of cars. Cut and rolled tongues
of rubber whistling miles the way grandfathers
whistle the tired dog in from the backyard.

Outside, clouds collect themselves like nuns.
Their whimpled ways of hovering, of spreading
the way fungus does underground, wrapping roots
through clarts, through the hovel holes of history.
Unseen in their movements, invisible threads

with long-reaching limbs. Their mulching ways
of hiding, of bedding properly in the way a spelk
does through exposed skin. The way love does.
Its stalkery gangle - a field of dog daisies pricking
the eye with their spinning wheel need of worship.

And when the whistling's done, the dog doesn't come in.

And the roads remember all the ways to be roads again.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Stains Scribbled on the Soul

What if there's a name or a face
tattooed tiny beneath the creases
that hold the pieces of us together?


What if some deity painted
our destiny on with indian ink
when it was seriously drunk?

Then went off for a yorky pud
dinner at its mam's and forgot
to add map points to the places
where we're supposed to meet?

What if every stranger our feet take
us towards are lost to the same mistake?

Some God too into wine and we're fucked.
A face and a name, but no breadcrumbs;
that way home to The One overlooked by
the divine forgetfulness of a alchy power
too hammered to help with the details,
so we flounder from one to another for decades?

Origami entities made wonky
by the reality of destiny scribbled
on when the moment was wrong.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Borders of Water

There are certain places where I fit best;
the underside of rusted cans, the bottom of ponds.
I am the girl with a sea-glass soul, rubbed the texture
of ancient harbour walls. A creature of the tides.

Then you arrive with your fur, with your mountain ways.
As sure as a stag at dusk, comfortable in frost.
Regal in the rutting of things with hooves, with history.
A magnificent mythology of a man.

How can a lass buoyed out in an estuary
learn to swim the air where your antlers hook 

landscapes, reel in stars, net a whole solar system 
tame the way children do with frogspawn in jam jars?

Controlled by the shoreline, a constant sift of damp sand,

can a creature of water offer love to a man born for land?

Friday, 28 October 2016

Loss Is Haunting Here

Loss Is Haunting Here
(i.m Bart Wolffe)

You could say the streets are haunted.
Kerbs that behave with the constancy of rain.
It’s the going away that does it, the absence
in spaces where twinned-faces melt
into soft puddles. The pelagic depths of love.

And the ache of everything howls over the avenue.
A battalion of beeches bomb leaves of bronze
onto a town where the two of you once roamed.
Metallic entities corroding between street signs,
a rusted regret colouring the pathways with loss.

The heart is an open door that inhales your missing name.
Below the bus stop sign, the memory of a man.
A giant of a man, an atlas of words tucked in his hands.
Cupping a damp cigarette. A bright flame sparks out.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Self Portrait with a Severed Unicorn Head

The hair gets noticed first, the way it has
of floating even though it's already dead.
Like the life of it still sticks - tangled knots
that hobble a mythology to blandness.
The studied contempt of a neck.

It's virgin territory now. Chalk marks and blood.
Neither a tub of glue or pot of glitter in sight.
Just dead dreams, unsuturing hooves.
Unclagging to dullness on a canvas of skin.
A heraldry of ordinary. The rusting of years.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

From a Clock Tower

- The bins fill up faster these days.
- Baby pigeons sound like death in a head.
- Bells are bigger from the inside.
- When a bluebottle flops in from the gap at the back door then summersaults out the open window, the glass of milk I've just poured imagines itself a mead hall.
- Grendel ran off to South Shields because all the bags of fish and chips laughed.
- Present tense is allergic to ribbons.
- Someone's mam spills a pan of jam in the graveyard.
- Apples aren't the only fruit, but they grow jealous pips.
- When all the innie belly buttons sing, the sky invents stick insects and the spokes of umbrellas.
- The tap's dripping again. Drip-dip. Drip-dip.
- The pews in the church react to the postman so the psalm books rebel.
- Words are wonky and I still haven't met a parsnip that knows what I'm talking about.
- My teeth dream themselves comets.
- Somewhere behind a piece of chipped glass there's a grommet I picked from the ear of a flying whale. It smells of Tartar sauce.
- Legs on dead chickens look like love.
- Cardigans around the skeletons of buried dogs do too.
- Love is fluent in Doctor Who but it never opens its mouth.
- When the cat bangs on the window, the leaves of the Rowan frown.
- A little bit of port in a bottle doesn't understand the depths of the oceans.
- There are three hedgehogs on the cup of life. Lips love prickles.
- Last night's moon sent out an event invite but only the cows responded.
- I'm still waiting on a live video of Socks Murphy walking into a pub with a gaggle of angels singing on his shoulder that it's all been a darkly unnecessary joke.
- If commitment is measured in pokes, I'm already three thousand bruises ahead.
- Whoever says stream of consciousness is dead doesn't understand the Frankenstein Effect.
- It's July again, the time in the tower is ticking.
- I was a midge once, down the woods. A kid with a camera took my photograph and swore I was a fairy. So I bit her.
- I bit her and bit her. Fairy teeth in midges can hurt too.
- Strawberry seeds are nebulas when you squint from behind the right pair of eyes.
- Delicate little gems turn feral on the stems of hacked off unicorns.
- Gravestones chat in Braille, the magic of moss conversing with clouds.
- I once adored a girl that had worms, such a wriggly thing.
- I always get stuck on barbed wire fences when I obsess about boys.
- Hares have history the way Neville's Cross has history.
- When I grow old, I'll turn into a fox and the swift in my heart will weep for the ending and dive into the Top Pond.
- Sometimes a tree can be bigger than God with Its four brothers.
- I am infatuated with books and a wild man that knows the language of mountains.
- Monoglot makes me think of clarts and pits and running barefoot through meadows.
- I believe in the ebb and flow of folktales, how the tides can feed the myths of science. The seas of a tear duct never forget.
- There's a spook in the Clock Tower. An always twisting creature that turns the hands of time as it ticks. Its mouth with its teeth, gnashing. Gnashing TickTocks all day. All night.
- Radiators hold dragons prisoner, that’s why they boil in winter.
- I have an army of spiders in my hoover because I can be horrible like that.
- The Lady of Shalott sometimes sits on my settee eating Maltesers while she mends my tapestries.
- Delusions can be delicious, like lust swinging from lampposts.
- I like the dark, how it tempers shadows. I read once that everything someone loves can fit into the shape of Peter Pan’s shadow.
- I cut things out according to this, but his silhouetted elbow is always a difficult shape to fill.
- There’s a man with Red Kite wings that could have had me whenever he wanted. But he always preferred the straight lines of citie to the twisted ways of woods. In time, he’ll abandon love for kerbs. But the bumping that chases him will never stop.
- Today’s sky is a blanket that cuts out holes to let police helicopters through.
- People try to die in cornfields. That’s why Van Gogh favoured wheat.
- The crows return to the roof with stories in their mouths demanding I unthread them.
- These lines don’t make sense, I know.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Not Even The Police

...can save him. Or his two brothers in the water,
trying to be salmon, trying to grow fins.
It’s the waterfall, how it just keeps rolling
the river over his head. Some howling baptism
that just won’t give up. Can’t give up.
Even if there was some forgotten tap
waiting under the fells for a hand to find it,
a hand to turn it, time rushes on.

Its relentless flowing - over rocks, under bridges,
between riverbanks that cling with their fingers
of roots, their fingers of mud. But still that river
keeps galloping, keeps howling and thundering,
keeps rushing over cliffs with its grinding water-mouth.
Straight onto his head. His adolescent head.
His flesh of my flesh head.
And his brothers in their anguish, reluctant
to leave the water even hours later.
Chasing a helicopter with his body in it,
its flesh too small to hold his soul, so it lets it go.

His mother said he was going to be a giant.
Towering over the family in his gangling guise.
She showed us their photograph, all puffed up
and proud, a Blackbird nestling her beautiful brood
in her tiny fist, soft as a cradle. Soft as love.
The three brothers, arms linked in a chain.
The youngest at the end, unsure in his reaching-
to-adult skin. All of them smiling.

His gaze reeling off to the left, fishing for a future
outside of the frame, oblivious to the departure that will
hook and land him two months later.
Me sitting on the settee, in awe of his growth.
Tiny Curtis wearing the skin of six foot giant
over his bones, trying to figure how to make it all fit.
How to anchor into it, even as it flows towards death.
A lad with no scales or gills. Sixteen years old and gone.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Climbing

He tries to tell me the difference
between mist and fog, how the weave
of cloud tangles distinct in both.
I ask whether one is more a plait
and the other a ribbon tied in a knot
at the end. A red one probably, pulled
so tight that when the edges fray
they will still be tangled, remain together

like the mast lights at dusk, and the haloes
he keeps searching for on every moth's shadow
that patters against his father's darkened window.
He says no. It's more the difference between
a discarded summer sheet and a winter duvet.

How a clinginess will rise through a mind
distracted by time, and how it crumples us.
How it takes dandelion petals turned grey
and delicate, scatters them among the breath
of breezes. Scatters them like ashes.
And we have to wait until they catch and root
down because life is like that, he says -
the difference between mists, between fogs.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Magnification

I look for you in the night.
In the shadows from stars, I look.
Between wing beats of lost moths, I look.
In the mast's three-eyed glare, I look.

When a fox pads past on feet made from ether,
I look among paw prints she presses on low clouds.
In the closed heads of dandelions, I look.
Imagine the howl of your loss curling there,
budding closed with its need not to be heard.

On rooftops where ghosts gather, I look.
Among the roots of an upturned oak, I look,
seeking reflections of your thoughts among clarts.

When an owl glides past, I look.
When it swoops to the fence, I look.
When it hunts my gaze, I look.

In the pattern of its feathers I think I glimpse your lips,
open to a scream. Then the bird flies off towards the fields,
and I look, and I look, and I look.

All night I do this staring.
This staring and searching for you.
And even in the embers of this blazing,
I keep on scouring. Looking for you.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Being Mutant

You tongue the word in its mouth,
breed the teeth that gnash your palm.
It's not that it's all edges at all.
It's the curves of it, they way it has
of bending in. The way it has of settling.

It's a charcoal monster, mauling
the boundaries of sanity until it blurs.
This isn't a disease, but it's trying.
The licking of bone, the sucking of marrow.
A blush of bruises on an unmade bed.

And it's sneaky too.
Knitting peculiarities into DNA memory.
A raiser of ghosts, of course.
The bang in the strand of sinew
that tethers you. Softly now the detonation.

No-one loves you more than cells do.
Multiplying, malfunctioning, on and on.

Come and find me, poisoned peony.
Find me now and bloom. BOOM!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Darning in the Dark

 i

I sew the night backwards, unthread
from the places I once belonged to.
Everything is different in the dark -
snails on fence-posts swallowing stardust,
stems of old man's baccy raising shadows
through the steps and bends of a terrible dance,
next door's history walking itself upright again.

Even the air goes animal, sniffing past
on its foxwings and subtle swifts feet.
I hear the fields calling, knitting a yearning
through alleyways, over chimneys - looking for me.

  ii

Once I watched you kill a stoat with a shovel.
Stoved in its beautiful head because it dared
to scuttle through the sanctity of your garden.
The coal of your veins puffed out, made you
God even as your eyes filled with soot.
Those sightless things, dirtying everything.

Afterwards, you chucked it in the bin.
Laid to rest among dinted cans of half-eaten
beans and potato peelings going soggy.
This is what being Northern means to a man
devoted to woodbines and the wounding of things.

  iii

Sometimes I dream of its bones.
How they stitch together better than the bricks
of the place I'm supposed to call home.

How even its caved in skull mortars itself
together better than these familial walls.

But now it's little more than a memory
darned through the heart of a lass pricked
see-through by darkness and death.

A spelk in the scenery of a life tapestried
by coal dust woven with strands of ashes.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Hyenas

Hyenas.

They arrive even before the bleeding stops. And they're laughing of course, it's what hyenas do. But you're never actually prepared for the size of them, how animal they are. And no-one talks about them having wings, how when they reveal them, they dazzle.

Bright as black ice on a bend in the road you don’t see coming. Bright as headlights slashing through water. Bright as a scream. And fast, too. Air bubbles accelerating back to the surface, popping and panting as they savour their permanence.  Because even your lungs betray you in the end.

Their tongues are the lovers you've longed for all your life. But you haven't thought properly about the terror of their teeth. How they'll curve and fit the fear you emit. A marriage of macabre, a temptress of tearing - the bed of the consummation is your very own flesh.

They leave even before the bleeding stops. And they're crying of course, it's what hyenas do. They're never actually prepared for the taste of you, how animal you are. No-one knows about you owning wings - how when you unloosen them, they'll dazzle.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Moving Day

Moving Day.

You see it differently to the fence-post.
Like those faces on the clouds of daisies
that decorate the chaos of the soon to be
abandoned back yard for a start.

In the mouth of midday, the yellow
of their centres dissolves, falls down
among layers of perception no-one ever
properly comprehends. The upside drizzles
sunlight over their roots, blenches them dull.

The fence-post sees them dangling
below, married to mud. The way they allow
themselves an alignment for foraging among
worms and commitment before being separated
by the penetration of memories and shovels.

The beaks of sparrows spear them,
stealing pieces for nests - making miniscule
martyrs resigned to dying among the adulterous
air where roots cannot adhere, just divorce.

You see it differently to the fence-post -
that trace of a tree that tilts towards rotting
by the innards of a wall, tumbled by love.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Meteorology of a Heart

The Meteorology of a Heart.
(day 29 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

I remember the weather. The way the snow stalled in its falling, as confused by your cawing as me. How it stood to attention as you laughed. Like you were its commander, a controller of blizzards. Maybe the enrapture it felt for you was because of your freckles. Imagining themselves formed from sunlight, formed from warmth. That was when their sticking began. You laughed and laughed as they clung to your coat, your hair. Committed themselves to a melting on the tip of your hot tongue. Just more daft creatures quick to surrender to the dizzy exhilaration of being with you.

I remember the weather. How the butterflies battled the winds, battled the leaves. How the cemetery blistered at your passing - a fiery seepage infecting all the trees. Even the pathways politicalised themselves. Cracked and separated, unwilling to unite in the ache of your absence. The grave markers raised their fangs at the sobbing, snarled a gale through the bags of flesh that sagged in the pews.  The wicker coffin wept for what it was cradling. Wove itself mythological around a snuck-in spliff and the audacity of your soul as it unsutured. Became air and everything - the loneliness deflating my lungs.

I remember our weathers. North winds and sand storms. The drizzle of vixens, the blaze of zebras. Frost in the corners, keeping the cobwebs shivering. Sunlight kitted out in waistcoats, keeping the mountains shimmering. Thunder and lightning above fields of wheat, the unravelling of stalks beneath the continents of our feet. Battalions of angels rumbling the Transvaal. Dog daisies by the storyful, haunting the roots of a heart. The mizzle that saturates everything since the maelstrom of your death.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Ask the Harebells

 Ask the Harebells, they will know.
(day 26 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

“Daddy, where is my mammy?
My heart’s gone wonky on me.
It keeps banging, trying to empty.”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“Daddy, my eyes keep leaking.
Do we need to ask the plumber
to fix me, like mammy’s washer?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“Daddy, I cannae fall asleep.
There’s a strange noise on the heath.
Not wind, nor sheep. What is it?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“Why are we off to the woods
with your sharp, heavy shovel?
Are we looking for saplings

to pinch to put in our garden?
Won’t we get wrong for that?
Daddy. Where’s mammy gone?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“The clarts in my mouth make me choke.
The rain above’s unending, I’m sad.
Daddy, daddy, this ground’s so cold.

Why do you leave me here, in this hole?
Is that mammy you’ve laid me next to?
Mammy, oh mammy! Is that really you?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Periphery Visions, in Hindsight

Periphery Visions, in Hindsight. (day 25 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

'Maybe you thought it
was a bird',
or the ghost of one.

The spectre clacking
at the seams
of your cracked windows.

Its weightless bones wrench.
Anchor air,
memories of dust.

Prodding and pecking.
Persistent
little bastard, yes?

It doesn’t take a
sledgehammer
clout to remember -

a fleeting shadow
will work too.
That scattering glance,

movement behind glass,
rain-clouds. Loss.
Chirp the haunted home.

('maybe you thought it was a bird' originally written by Gregory Orr, in the poem 'The Hand: "Brightness Falls from the Air.")

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Song in the Key of Y.

Song in the Key of Y.
(day 23 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

That afternoon, excavating treasure
below the tumbled barn, before it burned.
You always drank life in double measure
even as your mother’s DNA turned
against her. Began its haunting through you.
Time flowed different back then, our mad hearts
oblivious, even though the winds knew
each comet caught was another false start.
Moments leak mundanely now you are gone.
It’s like I was the box, you the matches.
Without that kinetic spark, I’m no-one.
A dog daisy deadheaded from patches
of sunlight, of nourishment. Left to rot.
Dust of dead mem’ries, this need to forget.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Necromancy

Necromancy.
(day 22 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The ghosts are gathering again.
Spectres of auks ankle about, bringing
the mythologies, bringing the frost.

In a pocket by the threshold of what was
and what is, a child jangles treasure in its fists.
Plastic embryos cracked from Kinder Eggs.

Once upon a time, the sun was a yolk.
The sustenance of species floating like confetti
trying to figure the ways of the world out.

Imagine instead of a fistful of yellow Minions
there’s a miniature Minmi dancing from fingertip
to fingertip. Shaking its armour, waggling its limbs.

Somewhere across the ocean a Blue Whale
beaches, is buried in a field. Scientists sit supping
cuppas with biscuits as her bones bleed oil among soil.

Does mud hold memories? The clarts bairns coax
into balls to throw at walls, does it squelch sometimes
with remembering? Cry sometimes, for the ghosts

of creatures long gone from the sunlight, long gone
from the air? Buried in its always digesting belly.
The sludge of a tomb, the sludge a womb.

And the ghosts are gathering again.
The haunt of questions, rattling the world.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Creatures Without Wings

Creatures Without Wings.
(day 21 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Nothing's that fussed about the drowning.
The drops of wax imagining themselves islands
before the waves erode them don’t care.

The air in the child’s lungs
does its abandoning before worrying
overmuch whether skin is suitably equipped
to imagine itself able to act as an anchor.

The jellyfish don’t care.
They’re too busy trying to avoid feathers
unexpectedly backstroking among them
that try to tangle knots in stands of stingers
that have never had day-dreams about hair.

Maybe his father’s statues shudder
at the precise moment the child doesn’t surface.
Try to walk themselves outside to sunlight
on marbled legs sculpted so perfect
they imagine themselves invented for life.
But that’s coincidence at work,
not sympathy. Not empathy.

Only the whales actually notice.
As that tear disturbs the roof of their world
allowing the body its doorway to tumble through,
the humpbacks rise and breach, together.

Not to escape the dead weight of feathers
or the agony of inevitably netted to mythologies
of children on flight paths, soaring towards death.
Just as creatures without wings, able to fly.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Twig-bender

The Twig-bender.
(day 20 of NaPoWriMo challenge)


The Twig-bender’s at her visiting again. She lands with strands of wolf-hair hanging from her teeth, the breath of polar bears snuggled in the seams of her ice-skirt. She’s immense in her arriving. Pulling clouds down to the ground like they’re nothing more than cans of pop, shaken until they fizz up and go off. She doesn’t notice though, simply starts winding the horizon in until it becomes little more than a discarding thing, loosening miniscule ponds from its slackening skin. A defeated dog, utterly shaken.

The Twig-bender’s an artist at heart. She wraggles edges of forests until they’re tamed, paints the yoller of fox barks among the dusk of country lanes. She’s an embroider of buildings, occasionally unstitching chimneys from roofs and onto streets knitted with frost. She leaps among live electric wires, agitates them up until they behave like eels trapped in a bucket before they break, and coax early babies out of the dark tarns of wombs. She is the space around whales as they breach and blow, encouraging a love affair between water and air.

The Twig-bender is mercurial. Coming and going on the whims of weather fronts. She gusts through cities and out to the coast where she’ll whip up force tens, hooking fishing boats to harbours with empty nets. And as the morning yawns itself awake, the debris of the tides are her idea of a final love-bite. She is a creature of kismet according to novels, a forager of Diamonds under the guidance of MacDonald. She is where the wildness goes in summer to re-skin its heels while it yearns for winter.

Elemental enticer, the knitter of auroras.
She’s born with the secrets of snow-shaking rooted through her jaws.
Ask for her name now, and listen. She'll howl.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tips to Coax a WG Lucas Creature

Tips to Coax a WG Lucas Creature.
for George.
(day 19 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

First, check your pockets for feathers.
Discard any that are distinctly gull -
you don’t want to worry him
into an unsettled scarpering.
Owl plumage is preferable,
but a few jackdaw wing-feathers will do.

Arrange them in patterns over thresholds
of antiquated doorframes in any city
that has rejected the 21st century.
Construct the quills into models of apples
or hats if you’re feeling adventurous.
Telescopes have been known to work, too.

Increase the likelihood of a sighting
by preparing Jelly Baby sandwiches as bait.
In desperation, replace with Liquorice Comfits
but be prepared in those instances for a wait -
the WG Lucas is a peculiar creature,
capable of hiding in tailored suits if spooked.

Dress your heart in works of art;
Waterhouse, Rossetti. Never neglect Millais.
A smattering of Cornell boxes will go a long way
in tempting the creature to consider an extended stay.
Novels and comics are his breadcrumbs;
sprinkle Gaiman, the Brontes, a wee Rupert the Bear.

Always appeal to his anachronistic nature:
put Bagpuss in your pocket next to Doctor Who.
Add a slice of Kerouac to an Empire Strikes Back,
shake them in your bag to see what that might do.
Think like a daguerreotype or an attic dweller.
Keep in mind at all times, WG Lucas’ are border haunters.

Lastly, and most importantly, this lass would
likely advise, just love him truly for what he is -
An artist, a luminary,
a writer, a wondrous mind.

The co-creator of Claudia and Tarin,
two bairns of brilliance. A best friend.


(Dedicated to my best friend, the artist WG Lucas)

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Departure of the Swifts

The Departure of the Swifts.
(day 18 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It was the silence that mattered.
The realisation her singing had stopped
along with our laughter.

That scurrying through wheatfields  
on legs so brittle the crows were unsettled 
wasn't enough to reinflate hearts
that had already gone 'pop!'
and began their giving up.

Survival didn't birth masterpieces.
It was the labour screams of a closing cage,
the bristle of brushstrokes that annihilated trust.

Above the sirens and the thrum of fists
that walloped our songbird, daring her to burst,
a mournful twittering bruised the dusk:
The song of departures bleeding from the throats
of a handful of lingering swifts.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Cul-de-sac of 'Everything's Normal Here'

The Cul-de-sac of ‘Everything’s Normal Here’.
(day 16 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The mimicking weather ruffles the petals
on the seeded dandelion's star-charts.
The treehouse nebula spits at the moon,
touches its nose when the ambulance appears.

Crows waltz with two-headed stick insects
while the mermaids on the fishy green prepare
a stolen bathysphere to scry among the seven
solar systems for the Brontes' reunion tour.

Stories and daydreams carry paint cans
and bleach - 'after the eclipse, sing the jellyfish',
that always graffiti on the moss witch in the glen:
‘Everything is normal here.’

The antlered hat brigade leave their cobwebs
for the smell of vinegar on fish and chip paper.
The deaf woman with a devil in the jar on her
mantelpiece finds clouds and clouds. Always clouds.

And the rowan's budding now;
'why don't you love me back?'
it whispers to the Oldhatisaurus
that blusters past carrying all the drowned

children that haunt where the three waters meet.
The ghost of a unicorn reading Skellig
guards the giants that snore under the fells.
This is where abandonment begins its dissolving:

On a postcard full of falling apples -
a crayoned 'hi' scrawled on the back.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Ma Moonlow & the Late Snow

Ma Moonlow & the Late Snow

It's the snow that shows her.  The way it whispers as it passes the daffodils, the way it giggles as they shudder.  And she follows, listening.  The dead dog that haunts the ditch, it sniffs and shivers as her cape touches its left paw, the ones the kids chopped off just to see if it could still run.  It can't of course, not now.  Spirits of dogs stuck in ditches, they don't do that, not any more.

The stone hare with half a head, watches from between the privet and the burned beech tree.  Even on evenings etched into freezing, the scent of fire still lingers in the neighbourhood.  The bones may be gone, and the family.  But the air has ways of remembering, just like she has ways of remembering.  That's why she follows the snow.

"Oh my little lostlings, why prick yourself with this searching?  Come home now, my babies, come home…"

But they don't.  They're ahead of the snow, drawing it forwards through the pockets of streetlight, drawing it forwards through the shadows too.  Until they reach the last garden, the one the locals say is haunted, the one where the windows reflect it too.  And there they gather, her little lostlings, watching and watching the snow.

“Ma Moonlow, why don’t they call for us?  Ma Moonlow, why don’t they come?  It’s April in their minds now, with the snow falling and settling, they should know…”

It’s the breaking of course, the calling back to the hurting.  It’s difficult, it’s distressing.  And some of the fleshlings in the neighbourhood, they’re adept in their unremembering.  Kindling and longing, they’re too consuming to maintain.  Like daffodils dying in glass vases, a mantelpiece murder taking days.

“Dear lostlings, it’s the tidal ways of the fleshlings, I’ve shown you this before.  Remember the old stories of the boats that imagined themselves whales?  How each of them failed to return to the harbour, failed to return to the air?  It’s the same with these fleshlings.  It’s their charm, their protection.  The forgetting is their salvation.  Forgive them, my babies, please try…”

Across the street, a curtain in the window of a warm place awakens.  Small fingers search the boundaries of stars and planets crocheted on cotton, find a crack in the alignment of darkness reflected.  A face, bright as sunflowers, bright as scarlet fever, eclipses the glass.  Its little budding mouth flowers to a silent gasp.  Then a blizzard of breath, an obscuring.  A palm in its rubbing.  When the swirling stops, the lostlings have fled.

All that remains is a halo of streetlight, dissipating flurries of snow.  The trail of a cape on a carpet of white dissolving back into a puddle.  And the howl from a dog that’s already dead, another lost-thing still seeking a home.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Phantasmagoria

Phantasmagoria. 
(day 14 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The ghosts of adolescence begin their slumber.
Softly now, we trawl and tend the wild hooks
time demands of our papier-mâché skin.
Thought-nets trawl and raise a ghost of November.
How I wish time would stop fishing these nooks,
the beaching of leviathans that spectre a heart.
Discard the monstrous catch - the conjoined twin
of death and life. Chewed paper haunting the tide.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

4Tunes Cookies - aka iPod Divination

4Tunes Cookies - aka iPod divination.
(day 13 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

i - ‘silent all these years’ (Tori Amos)

when days go mermaid
the laughter in life’s throat turns
to salt - her drowning.

ii - ‘peter pan r.i.p (Kula Shaker)

ageless, uncaring
Neverland of a dead thing
her thesis - its hooks.

iii - ‘playing with the boys’ (Kenny Loggins)

nettle’s neighbourhood
reality’s roughing it
with stings - girls play too.

iv - ‘you’re a wolf’ (Sea Wolf)

it’s how the wildness
creeps and sniffs until it sticks
like rumours - she turns.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Sporadic Mentions of the Imaginary Woman

Sporadic Mentions of the Imaginary Woman.
(day 12 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Alcove with lost owl - eating his shoelaces, 39
Alnwick - cow tipping in Barter Books, 17
Ascension Day - holding onto his eyelashes, 11

Boxes - thrown-away objects, love’s neglect, 42
Fallopian tubes - his anticipation of blood, 25
GOD - trajectory of washing-up bottle rockets, 13

Hoppelstiltskin - waskery wabbit, his jeans pocket, 69
Jamjar Smashing - the frogspawn disaster, 6
Magical Mystery Tour - the invention of that bag, 1

Narnia - two doors that talk with strange dialects, 73
Newcastle - the euthanasia of his last unicorn, 104
North - always and always the waiting. He doesn’t come, 40, 50, 75

Rabbit Skin - the fur he dresses her in, 202
Storyteller District - apple days when writers sing, 167
Weetabix - washing the art with clouds, 51

Yelverton - the ghost that cannot be exorcised, 39
Zebracadabra - pining for the day he concedes she’s real.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Building Materials

Building Materials.
(day 11 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It’s the graveyard that does it.
Hoarding bones of dead poets
as faded tourists ghost through.

And the dog daisies with their loudness.
Yollering to the sky as the sun mortars
behind the bevels of the fells’ spine.

Golden can be a cliché. Instead
imagine butter on a blade, steaming toast.
A sky full of that, begging a demolishing.

And the quiet, how it chisels
through the trees, through the grasses,
over the lake. Sculpts you.

A wrong turn may be the right one
when the world’s a beautiful bucket.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A Book Spine Poem

Book Spine Poem
(day 10 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

At the back of the north wind,
sightlines settle where the wild things are.
The girl on the landing knows stories
from the beast to the blonde.
This is the art of being normal -
treading lightly, hunting unicorns
along the crow road beneath
the plough and the stars.

Sidereal - landmarks writing home;
the living mountain, a voice recognition,
birdsong on the seabed, breaking dawn.
If nobody speaks of remarkable things,
gossip from the forest will raise a leviathan.
Familiar and haunting, its fearful symmetry
coaxing the silent weaver for the fire eaters.
No one belongs here more than you.


(prompt was write a poem using titles from your books)

Friday, 8 April 2016

Dandelion's Dread

Dandelion’s Dread.
(day 8 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It’s the yellow that hurts, the blush of bruises
waiting to seed in an abandoned back field.
Even horses avoid them, and the windmills -
sliver blades chopping clouds, away and away.

In the kitchen, the kettle keeps cowering.
It doesn’t scream any more, just simmers.
Like the back door does, and the wallpaper.
Whispers of a cultivating, arranged in a row.

One, two, three, four, five.
Once there budded a life, alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Until it's weeded to death, again.

Pissy-beds, Pissy-beds - please, stop that smiling.
Pissy-beds, Pissy-beds - beware your deadheading.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Orbits Of Affection

The Orbits Of Affection
(day 7, NaPoWriMo challenge)

I’ve watched mountains nuzzle with clouds
then abandon each other to leer at a hare
mad on spring rockets - a furry space-ship.

The same sometimes happens with friendship.
Tight as an ant farm, then loose as gnat clouds
cursing and orbiting around a planet of hair.

These are the ways of affection - the heir
of such a storm-plotted relationship
may thunder or dissipate, being from clouds

or a ship sphering clouds. The anchor of a disappearing hare. 


(prompt was 'write a Tritina')

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Apple Stuck In Snow White's Throat

The Apple Stuck In Snow White’s Throat.
(day 6 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It happened like this, I promise, no lie.
I was up in wor tree, contemplating the sky
when out jumps that nutjob that pretends she’s a witch
(don’t tell her this, but the pips call her ‘emo bitch’).

And she’s cackling and dancing, screaming like a divvy.
Going on and on about this lass that’s far too pretty
that lives in a commune with dwarves - oh gawd, what hell!
(I got the impression they’re all polyamorous as well).

Then that nutjob, she nabs me, doesn’t even take my leaf.
And before I know what’s happening, I’m fighting for my life!
There’s poison, dead worms, lecherous shining, a fight.
Then I remember bugger all until that pretty lass takes a bite.

And that’s when I find myself proper stuck in her throat.
(I’ll be honest, at that moment, I really couldn’t cope
with the darkness, the wetness, her gulping tongue -
was like being groped by Red’s wolf. Gawd, those fangs!)

Then this shaking, this choking, her breathless. A falling.
Then just quiet, a silence. The terror of being pie-filling.
Hours pass, days, months. Maybe even years.
When you’re stuck in a fairytale’s throat, it’s hard to bear.

Then along comes this fella, trying proper hard to be a dandy.
(to be honest, at this point, even a woodcutter would’ve been handy.
But he’s a prince clearly, because continuity, you know?
How would Walt market the franchise if every commoner had a go?)

Then it’s all snogging, and tongues - a ton of soft sighing.
(and gagging. Snow White, in reality, she was seriously cockling)
And out I pop onto the lass’s chest, shrivelled better than a prune.
Then the cheeky wench’s up, brushing me off her evening gown.

And something else; when we fell, she was dressed in dungarees.
Not that fancy frock made from silk. Someone redressed her, geez.
So while she slept with me in her mouth, some pervy bugger thought
to tidy her up - and have a quick grope? - until a prince could be caught.

That’s the story, I swear, of that lass and her teeth.
How I was stolen and forced to abandon my berth.

So when you next think of Snow White, her terrible plight -
remember the apple that was kidnapped. That terrifying bite.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Girl Who Sneezed An Orchard

The Girl Who Sneezed An Orchard.
(day 5 for NaPoWriMo challenge)

‘Livvie, my daft lassie, stop swallowing those pips.
You’ll end up growing apple trees down in your guts.’

'But mother, my mother, I’m in love with this fruit,
when I reach the gowk, it’s just still not enough.
So I munch and swallow because they’re so tasty.
Surely they’ll leave my tummy as easy as toffee?’

Poor Livvie is silly sometimes, it has to be said.
When those pips start sprouting her heart fills with dread.

‘Oh mother, my mother, what have I done!?
My greed’s got an orchard rooting in my tum!’

‘I told you, my daft lassie, I did! Didn’t I say
you’d regret all that gobbling one of these days?’

But Livvie doesn’t hear, she’s already run through the hall
in search of the forester that sometimes visits next door.

‘Api Etoile, my love, if I make you snog a Johnny Voun,
would the babbas you’d create make horticulturalists swoon?
Or a ménage between Galarina, Mutsu, and Schmidtberger?
Would the scrummy pies you’d flavour taste so much better?’

‘Help me, fella! I’ve swallowed twenty-five gowks!
If I don’t get these saplings out, I’m seriously gonna puke!’

Livvie is lolling and rolling by now -
her poor wee legs as steady as intoxicated cows.

‘Please, fella, please! I’m  in trouble, I swear!
All these pips inside me, I’m seriously gonna hurl!’

And she does, but not expected. Not with a barfing.
Instead her wee nose begins twitching and itching.

On and on this goes, then suddenly she’s sneezing.
But the forester’s a wise fella - he grabs for the Kleenex
for the achoo and achooing that he knows is approaching.
Quick as a Pandora, he whips out a soil-filled box,
catches all of Livvie’s snots as they expel and explode.

‘Oh, fella, you’re good…’, she whispers after she's finished
‘From now on, I reckon I’ll just gobble boiled, soggy spinach.’

Monday, 4 April 2016

February's Bones

February’s Bones.
(day 4 NaPoWriMo challenge)

They don't pronounce it.
Like the offering of tongues
to that twisting is an invitation
to another slow blistering.

It’s a kindling month -
old diaries behind radiators
know it. Shadows of hares
in hallways do too.

And the fox bones of course,
the ones stalled in a falling.
Interrupted divinations mounted
above bookcases full of collapsed classics.

And the outside, with its always creeping.
The steady knock-knocking of gone ghosts
rooted to memories. See-through snowdrops
pressed between inked pages. The texture of skin.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

A Letter To Noc (a beluga whale)

A Letter To Noc, The Beluga
(day 3 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

A boy with barnacles growing
from his dreadlocks once told me
that scrimshaw held in certain light
will conjure the song of whales
to thrum the heart line on a palm.

The same boy once ate pages from a book
because they were full of photographs of ghosts.
Eerie creatures blowing bubbles immortalised
in stalled moments, pages petrified on 'pop!'

And just the other night, I heard an owl outside
play-acting at being your twin. It did a woo-wooing
through panes of glass, straight to my saline heart.
But its song wasn't correct, too full of air and night.

It's the immersion that matters, not the drowning.
To a lass raised on whalebones strung from ceilings,
boys with belugas diving through their bodies are heady.

So, dear Noc, when you told Miles Bragget
to get out, I can appreciate the sentiment of that.
Because love can be a leviathan, when it blows.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Family Portrait

Family Portrait 
(day two NaPoWriMo)

Ragged mostly, in sepia. Like the age
of it matters, its real rough texture.

But it's all a trick, the making of it.
A few cold teabags, an aunty's oven.
A slow baking really, then a rubbing.

And a waiting of course, for development.
Add a handful of words, scrawled on the back:

'The wonder of a rainbow - why spoil that?'

Friday, 1 April 2016

When the sky crumbles

When the sky crumbles - A Chain Lune 
(day 1 for NaPoWriMo challenge)

When the sky crumbles
allowing
weather fronts their fists

I remember you.
Your fastness
on a space-hopper

that Easter Friday.
Even Shep
couldn’t work up to

a proper barking.
Just a ‘woah!
Woah!’ in his slow throat

in time to up/down.
A bobber
for the fading moon

raggling the branch
of Da’s beech
and pollarded dreams.

This remembering’s
a downpour.
A proper drenching.

When the sky crumbles
allowing
memories their fists.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

What Came With The Lightning

What Came With The Lightning.

They said it came with the lightning. The rain had already given up, but the sea couldn't. Not while the tide was lost to its raging. Clashing and dragging its debris to the shore like it was a foot. Like it was a foot full of polio and couldn't hobble straight, that's what someone said outside the chippy anyway.

It was the lightning though, that brought it. Like the rasp of it, the stab of it, it pulled the creature straight from its bed, and clattered it onto the shore. Dumped it there then disappeared, before it could even die.

"Don't look, bairn, it's alright. If you divvin't see it, I promise yer, it'll be alright."

But she did. With her big lighthouse gaze, what else could she do? And she knew even before they got up properly close to it, that it wouldn't be able to survive.

"What is it, Da? And why's it here? Is it because the sea's scared of it too, so it's banished it to up here?"

This wasn't new to her, the vomiting. Half-eaten whales, deformed seals, bits of forgotten seacoal, none of that stuff was a big deal. But this thing, it was different. It had a face just like her Ma's for a start. Well, if she could remember he Ma, and if her face had been all scorched and bloated like that.

"It's a mermaid, Da. I think it's drowning. I bet that's what happens to them, when they're thrown onto the sand!"

Da poked it with the toe of his boot. It didn't move. A wave came in, snarled around the creature, snapped at the bairn's toes. The water was cold and breathy. Like it had whoofed itself straight from the mouth of a snowman, straight from the mouth of the North Pole.

"We have to put it back, Da, we have to put it back. It'll die out here on the causeway, it'll die!"

The sky started crackling. Like a bowl of cereal but turned up to ear-splitting. The bairn bent down and pushed the palms of her hands against her ears. And then the other noise started, right in her head.

"It's my time, little-one. It's my time. I asked the sky and the ocean to let me come here, to die. Take your Daddy now, and walk yourselves back home. I need this moment in the storm's heart, I need the solitude so I can leave and never have to return."

The rain jumped onto the bairn’s cheeks, then danced upwards, into her eyes. It anchored the hurt in her heart. Anchored it so much it capsized into her tummy, then sunk into her feet. As she watched, it flew from between her toes and out towards the creature. Then it started turning in the air, just above its head. Turning like a beacon, turning like a meteor streaking through the sky.

"Come on, Da. I need to go home. I may not want to, but the need's all that matters now."

She put her little fingers into her Da's big pocket. It was warm there, like a bird's nest waiting for its babies to wake up. The tips of her fingers touched his old handkerchief. She pulled it out and looked at it. One of the corners had an embroidered M, done in a fancy stitch with buttercup-yellow thread.

She traced it with her thumb, and ran back to the creature. She bent down and tied the handkerchief around a few of the strands of seaweed that grew from its head. Before she stood up again, she kissed the cloth, right atop the letter.

"It was my Ma's. We used to call her Meadowhead, because she loved flowers. I can't really remember her, the woman that was my Ma. Goodbye, Mermaid, I'm glad you decided to come here. Even though you have to leave straight away, I don’t think I’ll ever forget you. So for that, I have to thank you.”

The bairn ran back to her Da as the lightning began scribbling again. In its kisses and lines, the electricity narrated through the sky. It told the tale of a mermaid, of its death on a shore. How its arrival was a haunting. How its departure was about love.

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Borderland.

The Borderland

When he comes home, he smells of the city. It teems around him, making the hairs on his arms stand up like carousel horses, all leery and slow in their turning. He laughs at the leaves stuck on my face.

"You're such an anachronistic wee thing, aren't you? It's as though some ancient woman locked in an attic dreamed you up. Aw, sometimes you're so incredibly cute."

There's coffee conspiracies in his beard. Choca-mocha-something-or-others. Blended until they're diluted and flat. That's what the city does, but I'm too unsophisticated to comment.

"So, what have you done with your day, apart from kissing a tree?"

He's not looking at me when he asks. Too busy checking the newspaper that he reads on his tablet. He's the perfect preserver’s dream, no massacring of forests for his love of current affairs.

"I followed a fox, down the field. The one that leads to the churchyard. You know, where we made the snow demi-gods, back when you cared."

"Hmm? That sounds nice..."

The city never leaves him now. It's like the roots of it, they've leached into his bones. Once upon a time, he wore antlers instead of a tie. He knew the language of moors, the patience of fells. Now though, everything has to be fast. And I could appreciate that in a hare way, but it's not. His is the fastness of wires, the fastness of memes. The speed of indifference in electronic thumbs-up. And it disconnects the slowness of me.

"He'd lost the vixen he loved, the fox. He said she'd woke yesterday morning, pulled on a woman's skin over her fur, replaced briars for a Blackberry phone, and slunk off to the city on a bus..."

Outside, the Beech tree starts moaning with the wind. A solitary stoat in the Bluebell wood stands up, sniffs her nostrils northwards. The skull beneath the cairn clenches its dislocated jaw as three freshly murdered moles hang on the farmer's fence, singing.

"I know you don't believe any of the auld wives’ tales, but there has to be a balance. Even in forests of cities, with their concrete trees and their office-eyed viewpoints. So this evening, I'm leaving you for that fox. I've already regrown my vixen teeth, so stay away from me or I'll bite."

"That's lovely, pet. Could you pass me the charger, it seems I'm a little flat..."

But I don't and I can’t. My fox paws aren't designed for that, neither's my fox heart. I leap onto his knee and shatter though the kitchen window. Back out into the borderless world, back out into the wildness.

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Disappointment

The Disappointment

...flies in on its albatross wings, wearing its triceratops-unicorn disguise. It's tricky like that, with its gaping mouth full of teeth for the grinding of dreams.

It's a not-what-it-seems creature. When it says it will screw your brains out, it means it. Down comes its claws when you imagine you've found the door to your destiny. And off with your head it'll lop.

Until you no longer believe in anything, because you no longer think. You become just one more reactor in a field of reactors. Following and slobbering, waiting for the world to go 'boom', but it doesn't.

Because the Disappointment doesn't include that, just a plodding and plodding along. Until all of the bright wishes dim the way of dinosaurs and myths.

Become fragments of bones in neglected museums.
Become the ghosts of epilogues haunting unwritten books.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Moon As Chewing Gum

The Moon As Chewing Gum

I thought when I was young
that the moon was chewing gum
and that's why I wasn't allowed it.

And I was told (before I became old)
that swallowing pips would cause a world
of apple people to grow in my stomach.

Except it was a tummy back then
and something I was friends with. Before
it grew its distance, grew its folds.

I've watched people wear their skins
as though its a warning. 'Do not approach!
Toxic if touched! Retreat, repeat! Be gone!'

And sometimes that pip's the forestry
of their lives. Trees of distance propping a sky
of solitude up until the very last drop

of living leafs these messy mythologies.
About moons being bubbles from forbidden
sticks of gum that dare a jumping from mouth

to thumb to endless escape and freedom.
Something too wild to risk a swallowing.

Something so wild in its always gallivanting.
Enticing and inviting in its orbiting, on and on.