Monday, 31 July 2017

Keraunophilia’s Song

Keraunophilia’s Song

It's the lightning, the way it dances through the field.
The way it tickles the leverets until they are dead.
The way it hollows all the molehills into furrows.
Even hooks a cow inside the bellybutton of the mast,
becomes the creature's first and last jaunt beneath
a pylon's peculiar tummy. Now she's no longer in a hurry.
But her bones will know, and her volcanic marrow.
The way the ache in the landscape is kinetic, is kindling.

And the three bairns with their jam jars full of things
with wings that cannot sting, they will know too.
Skin is such a delicate thing; soft as moss on the throat
of an ancient oak, soft as breath as it abandoned its path.

There will be stories about the dogs; wolf hounds
behaving like stoats. All skittery and wary and tired.
The way they have now of existing inside their fur.
Haunting two homes smelling of ghosts, of storms.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Ghosts on the Bridge

Ghosts on the Bridge

There's a certain place on the bridge where, if you stop for long enough, you can see the whole world turning on the strands of a jellyfish wind chime in an abandoned bedroom's window.  The chimneys watch it, and the clouds.  Decades pass, pull thunderstorms and deathstorms in, then away.

He stood here, once, in the dark, listening to the ghosts caught along the cobwebs strung out between the flags of peeling iron.  Felt the whisper of the river as it passed below him, emptying itself into the sea, endlessly.  He remembered that woman, turned into a shell, the way she fit the curve of his palm as he lifted her to his ear.  How he tried ever so hard not to swallow her.

Somewhere in the belly of the city, the gallery sleeps.  Day spectres gather in the brushstrokes of centuries, snag their spelks into the souls of children wearing the skin of grown-ups as badly fitting finger puppets.  It's the silence that unsettles the most, how it slips from the frames, pads along the walls.  In the snoring cafe, a moth murmurs between the coffee machine and two lovers carved from a block of Frosterley marble.

I watched another woman kiss him once, in the kitchen.  Saw her fingers transform into tentacles, swim themselves onto the diving board of his skin.  The hacky microwave shuddered.  The peach pip in the ashtray turned away, embarrassed.  The photographs of his family blu-tacked onto the cupboards fluttered, closed their eyes.  I tied knots in my tear ducts, begged every dripping god of water not to betray me as that woman sighed through her octopus ways.

Lips are peculiar. Soft, like the pages of diaries conjuring faraway memories.  Hooked, like the briars on pathways abandoned by dreams.  On the outside of the library’s door, someone has taken a piece of the fallen cathedral and scratched initials into the wood.  It must have taken hours, this dedication to scars.  The was a bathroom once, in a derelict house, where the men from the mines used to go to fight.  Pieces of broken mirror lived in the sink with a family of bluebottles.  In the dark, they shimmered, imagined themselves fairies for a moment when the moon tumbled its light through the missing pieces of the window.

I’m tired of living my life in reflected things.  Puddles pursue me, the constant gaze of the neighbourhood cats throw back the image of myself, all bent and misplaced.  Rain on leaves has become an enemy, the metal on the hinges of gates laughs straight into my distorted face.  I am thinner than tracing paper these days, on the inside at least - see through and whispery.  Half-woman, half dandelion seed on the wind.

He wished once, on a passport and a ticket.  Tried to promise to relearn the forgotten ways of being a signpost, of becoming rooted.  There was no tree in his ancestry though, no lighthouse.  How can a whirligig bird convince itself it can be content without its wings?  Sometimes though, I feel the memory of him on the bridge.  How he stilled himself for a moment, folded his feathers in for once.  Allowed the zebra part of his DNA to bend in close, sniff the lass inside the shell as she spring-tided herself riverwards.  A finger puppet of undertow that swirled itself landlocked, became me.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Snow Globe

The Snow Globe
 
The room stinks of sweat. Years and years of it. I bet if I peeled the yellowing wallpaper back from the walls, it would be sweat underneath that’s keeping it stuck, keeping the sagging paper and crumbling brickwork connected together. There’s such a stench of desperation here, I bet if I closed my eyes and opened them fast when no-one’s expecting it, I bet I’d see it in a noose, swinging useless from the tired lampshade. Swinging as it hangs there, its dead tongue pointing at the closed door mouthing ‘Run! Run!’ Not that any of us would. Because we’re like the wallpaper here, we’re stuck. Not with sweat though, with something worse. We’re stuck with some sense of obligation. I can’t believe he’s made me come. More than that, I can’t believe I’m actually playing along. He expects me to sit with these people, these strangers, and pour out my problems. Problems only he thinks I have. I hate my husband right now. And myself.

‘…look, I don’t really see what the issue is. Yes, we’re here. And we’re all supposed to sit and pretend we think this is a safe environment and nod and share and be so fucking grateful that we have family that care, but…’

I zone out the whiny drone of his voice. Concentrate on watching his face instead. Every time he says something sarcastic, his upper lip curls. Not like a piece of paper freshly ripped from a jotter though, not that kind of curling, not soft. This is more the curl of a middle finger as it rises itself erect towards an up yours, determined and hard. Whenever his lips mouth the word ‘family’, the curl is accompanied by a baring of teeth and gums. It transforms the curl into a snarl.

A woman starts speaking. She’s wearing a jumper with a fluffy kitten crocheted on the front. It’s pink. I think it’s supposed to be sweet. But the woman inside it, she keeps grabbing at the cuffs. Then she’s grabbing at the kitten, and she’s pulling it out of shape.

‘…I’d like to go home, please…’
.
Her voice, it’s so quiet. The sound though, it clicks. It’s like balloons, rubbed on hair, all static and fast tuts. As I watch her fingers contorting the bindings of the wool on the jumper, pulling the kitten’s whiskers until they begin to mimic the rising of Cthulhu from its ancient slumber, I realise she’s dialoguing to herself in Morse. The pauses in her words, the insistent pecks from her desperate fingers against herself, she’s screaming out her anguish. But all that’s taken in, all that makes its way out into the room is her quiet. And no-one is listening. Definitely not the counsellor leading the meeting who just sits nodding his stupid head, nodding and nodding, as if that’s all we need.

I want to smash his face. I want to pick up one of the water coolers from the corner and smash it right into his face. Not because he’s evil. Not even because he’s further down the path of recovery than the rest of us, but because he’s trying to care. Trying and failing. We’re all freaks here, rejects. How can we invoke compassion in other people when we can’t even muster up enough verve to give a shit about ourselves? Then the typical shame rises through me. Reaches from my stomach, creeps towards my throat. Sits beneath the roof of my mouth, wanting to warble. A bird of self pity, caged behind the bars of society imitating my teeth. Because I’m not supposed to want to hurt anything, especially when that anything isn’t myself. It’s hard sometimes though, stuck in this angry world. I rub my eyes, count backwards from ten in my head, abandon the thought of water coolers and faces broken beneath them. My fingers know just where to push, just where to linger, how to rub. I reach the magic stillness of number four, sink down around it, become calm.

My eyes want to close, shut down. I wonder sometimes, about butterflies. Whether they ever dream of retreating, furling their wings back into cocoons. Become a crawling thing again, become young. So much expectation, all that flying. And it never leaves, not once it’s here. I think maybe that’s why the snow globe called so loud. All of this, it’s the snow globe’s fault. That’s what they want me to admit anyway, but I’m not sure I can. Not if they want me to mean it, when I say it.

It’s such a comforting thing. Even its surface invites my spine to bend, to relax. There’s the potential for shaking, of course there is, but I’m happy to lean for hours, just staring in. I thought once, near the beginning of our relationship, that I saw the angel that sits beneath the dome, take off its face. I thought I saw it flitter to the bottom of the globe, settle there for a moment, contented. And then it tried to whisper. I watched as its mouth cracked open. I thought I saw the universe there, sitting between the chipped plaster of its miniscule lips. I wanted to close my eyes then too. And my ears. I wasn’t ready for the salutations or tribulations the plaster mouth would want to share with me. I was more self-absorbed at the beginning, more blind. An egotist of the Me! Me! Me! obsessed kind. It’s painful to admit that, but true. Like any good relationship, any long lasting relationship, it took us time, the snow globe and I, to begin to trust each other, to properly love each other.

That’s why I’m here, why all of these other weirdos are here, in this therapy group. We’re not right they say, we’re unnatural. We’re addicts of the worst kind, we’re addicts high on love. We have something to prove as well, that’s the diagnosis they throw out at all of us. Like we’re birds, in need of intervention crumbs. Goes against their theory though, if all we’re searching for is love. If we all believe we’ve found it, what else is left to prove?

‘…you know what I’m in love with, I spoke of it last week. I cried, remember?’

It’s Lip Curler again. The counsellor just nods faster. Nods and waits.

‘She isn’t just concrete, despite what the analysis says. Yeah, didn’t share that last week did I? My family,’ he pauses long enough for another lip curl, another snarl, ‘my family had a piece of her chipped off. Sent her away with a man in a white coat, in a sealed plastic bag. Off to some fucking lab to be tested, to see if she had some poison or drug in her composition. Something chemical that compels me to kiss her, compels me to love her…’

Jumper Clicker’s pecking at her face now. Like her skin’s become nettles instead of flesh. Dot, dot, dot. Dash, dash, dash. That’s what the tips of her fingers whisper as they nip their quiet screams out. Dot, dot, dot.

‘…of course the report got it wrong. Just concrete? Prejudiced arseholes.’

Nodder rotates his yeses through a sidestroke, until they become nos. It’s subtle though, and he stops himself before the negative takes over. Stops himself by opening his mouth and clearing his throat. Three times.

‘Urgh huh. Urgh huh…’

Like we’re too absorbed in our own misery to recognise something if it happens only once.

‘…urgh. Huh.’

Three times. Like the repetition bestows on him some religious resonance, some divine purpose. Three times. He even has us sit in a circle, the twelve of us. But he betrays himself with a chair. ‘I Am Special’, that chair says. Even has a cushion at the back, stuck on. A red thing, the colour of a weeping stigmata. Proof of his messiah complex. Now he’s preparing to preach.

‘Sephone, would you like to share with the group, why you’re here?’

Actually no. No, Mr. Nodder Messiah, I wouldn’t, thanks very much. There’s an agitation in the air around me, like it’s bending, shaping itself into something that isn’t just air. Like the angel in my snow globe has broken free to rescue me. Save me from this fa├žade, this pretence of fitting in. I wait and hope for huge wings to engulf me, carry me off, out of the room, before I feel obliged to reply.

But they don’t.

Instead, rapture comes in the form of a confession.

‘It’s his right foot. I’m in love with it. No other parts of him, just his foot. And that’s a horrible thing to admit because he’s my dad and I should love all of him, but it’s true. I’m obsessed with his right foot.’

The Confessor is beautiful. He’s Waterhouse's 'Saint Eulalia', made flesh. I bet if I squinted, I’d see flocks of birds floating around the dangerous brilliance of his long, auburn hair. He’s not dead though, but I get this strange feeling he’s just about to martyr himself.

‘He’s dying too. When he dies, if I don’t act fast, he’ll take that foot and I’ll be alone! I’ll lose the love of my life, to death! Oh God, I can see it you see, in his skin. Skin stretches as it readies itself, to let the soul out. Becomes like paper, like gossamer. Like yours…’

The Confessor grabs at Jumper Clicker’s fingers. She’s sitting next to him, cowering next to him actually. He cradles her fingers in his, looks down at them intently, swaddles them sacred in the baptism of his gaze.

‘I’ve prepared the instruments, I’ve bought a brand new saw you know. Its teeth are as sharp as sharks, just not as many. Why has no-one invented a multi-bladed saw?’

He lets go of Jumper Clicker’s fingers, and they fly.

‘I could have that leg off in seconds, even while he’s still alive, if someone would just invent a multi-bladed saw!’

His words are infectious, and they’re soaring, fast. Faster than Jumper Clicker’s fingers as they tempest themselves into her hair, ripping out bits of root and tiny flaps of flesh. Faster than Lip Curler’s tears, tears that are fair pouring down his face now. Faster than I can decide if I might be able to love The Confessor one day, more than I love my snow globe. Faster than Nodder Messiah can reach for his phone. Even faster than the circle starts turning and turning, each weirdo’s face melting into one another, melting and becoming a storm.

‘Oh God! They’re out there, right now! Out there, walking on her, stamping on her!’

It’s Lip Curler. He’s standing now, not even trying to wipe the tears that keep pouring down his face, pouring down his face and erasing it. Erasing the anger there, the sneer.

‘She’s just a pavement stone, for God’s sake, how can she defend herself from all of those soles! Dirty ones, spiked ones, ones covered in shit! Ones that don’t even know what they’re stomping on, the love of my life!’

The Confessor jumps up too, starts wailing.

‘I want to cut off his foot! I want to cut it off while he sleeps! I want to marry it, be happy! Why can’t I be happy? Why?’

Jumper Clicker’s gone Geiger. She’s sitting clicking and tutting, in her quiet way, but fast. It’s no longer Morse she’s dialoguing, but radiation levels.

‘I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to be done.’

Her fingers are still in her hair, dots of blood and skin confetti the tips, marry themselves onto her brow. She’s rocking. Backwards, forwards, backwards. The rhythm begs the room to register she’s nuclear, register she’s finally ready to go…

BOOM!

She stands, and out it comes.

‘Shut up! I’m in love with Silence and your constant whining makes her run away!’

The room inhales, fast. All the spinning stops. Then Silence pirouettes in.

And she’s beautiful. I can appreciate why Jumper Clicker’s in love with her. She’s all curves and breath, all dandelion seeds and summer breezes, all floaty and unreal. Jumper Clicker sighs. It’s a wondrous sound, I envy it.

Then there’s foot falls out in the hall. A squeak of rubber against rubber, accompanied by insensitive whistling. And of course I recognise it. Every last annoying pollution of noise that reaches us, that pushes Silence away, I recognise it. And I want to punch it, along with him.

‘Hi, here to pick up my wife. Yeah, she’s with the love addicts.’ A pause. ‘Oh, we just want her cured, back to normal, you know?’ A laugh. ‘Oh, I wouldn’t go that far, she’ll learn again soon, I’m sure.’ The foot falls come closer.

That’s when the light goes out. I think desperation’s tired of hanging from the shade, and wants down. And because only we can get ourselves out of holes or nooses or miserable existences, desperation gets proactive and unknots. Walks itself off, off into some mythical sunset, where happiness lives. A part of me wants to applaud.

There’s rustling from the circle, a soft fumbling. All the addicts are reaching for something, craving connections in the dark. Craving connections from it. I follow, allow my fingers to delve into my pocket, the secret one I tuck into the space between my left hipbone and my hope. I pull out the snow globe. Something’s wrong though, because it moves. It shudders in my fingers, drops onto the floor. I hear it roll away from me, further into the dark. My husband’s squeaks are moments from the door.

Then something happens, something so ordinary that it’s beatified into profound. Nodder Messiah’s phone starts ringing, and in the darkness it flips to the floor, its screen illuminated.

And there’s my snow globe. In the small halo of light, there’s my snow globe, and it’s cracked. Tiny pools of water are forming on the floor between the phone and the snow globe. They’re all sparkly from the glitter that’s in there too, in there but making its way out. But that’s not the wonder, that’s not the joy. On the wall in front of me, the wall that has to tolerate the door my husband’s squeaky soles are reaching ever closer towards, there’s a silhouette of my snow globe. And it’s huge, it’s bigger than my arms at full stretch, in all directions. And in the middle of the silhouette, the angel sits. And it’s smiling, smiling and beckoning.

The circle starts to whisper, all the weirdos together, whispering and encouraging.

‘Go on, Sephone, go on. Go to your heart’s desire, go on!’

I’m on my feet, and I’m skipping. I’m skipping past the weirdos and I love them, every last one. They start clapping, start cheering. As the door opens and in walks that man, that husband thing, the angel reaches down and pulls me up. Up into the silhouette, down into the snow globe. And nothing else matters any more. Not the universe streaming out of its mouth and into mine, not the surprise on the faces of the circle or my husband, not the sound of the glass smashing as The Confessor stamps down on the snow globe with his right foot. Not even the sound of Silence, kissing all the cuts and bits of broken skin on Jumper Clicker’s loved-up head, adoring her whole-heartedly even though she’s three-quarters of the way towards dead.

All that matters is this; the sun and the stars in the snow globe, the fabric of feathers untethering me as they tie, the silencing of questions, the shattering of glass. Shards of me bleeding love without boundaries. My mind becoming water, becoming snow. Because finally, because properly, I find myself shaken beyond particles. Shaken until I’m broken, shaken until I’m whole.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Snowmelt

The boy with beetle feelers for fingers
says the sky is a spectre that haunts the land.
He claims in another era they were best friends
that used to kiss whenever the universe slumbered.

Then something invented grown-ups and kisses
had to stop. And the horizon got sad and snagged
itself in the mouth of a polar bear bigger than Earth.
Now, when the creature coughs, blizzards gust out.

Beetle feelers fingers boy also has a volcano tongue.
When he whispers stories to the listening gloaming,
my gaze flakes into orbit, flurries around the bright tip
of muscle as it burns. The snowball in my chest softens.

Dissolves into a tarn full of thought-fishes that waken;
swim themselves fabulous among the estuaries of a body.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Driftwood

The waves whisper, wend her forwards. Somewhere behind her, the harbour wall holds her parents together before the disintegration can tide, crest as screams.

“It’s a mermaid, a humpback whale. No, it’s Neverland, under the waves!” 

She says the words aloud to the slinkying gulls that try to tumble through the strands of her hair, imagine her treasure. 

In the estuary, ghosts of monks ankle about, ignore the girl and her going away. 

The sea tastes like memory on her tongue. In her lungs it lays itself out, becomes a moat of Barbie dolls that swaddle a castle of Lego. The drowning doesn’t disturb her, it welcomes her. Raises itself like a grandmother, a rocking chair surety of water that nuzzles her closer. 

On the horizon, silhouettes of oil rigs puncture black holes into undeciding clouds. The seabirds wail, on and on. 

Then hands nets her. Fingers of foam hook her limbs, hold her flesh like a balloon string. Water succumbs to air, retreats, and she’s back on the beach. Her chest heaves, her tummy loosens. She pants as her mother dances over, all smiles as she swings the girl’s yellow bucket higher than a Ferris wheel. 

“Look, Melia, look what one of the gulls just dropped into your bucket! It’s a starfish!” 

“Second star to the right…” she whispers softly as she takes the handle in her left hand, lets herself gaze in at the five fingered creature immersed in its bucket overbrimming with water. Sighs.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Unzipping

The Unzipping
(originally published in 'The Interpreter's House')

I know it’s over when the previous version of myself asks to be strung from the lowest branch of the big, old oak at the bottom of the park instead of remaining with me.  I have trouble unzipping her of course.  The years of being stuck in one place have made her hinges rust.  The one behind my left knee is so corroded I think we’ll never be able to be separated, but she urges me on.
    
“Just yank it.  Seriously, put the edge between your teeth and pull.  If that doesn’t work, maul it off.  I don’t mind if I’m left here a little holed.”
    
I feel sorry for her, this previous version of myself.  Already she’s so tattered there’s more air than sentience holding her together.  Her brain is a sponge left in the freezer among the forgotten spilled peas and carrots that have rolled behind the miniature mountains of frost I hoard for when the little Robber Girl comes to visit, which isn’t often these days.  And her heart, well it’s become a cobweb.  A dusty thing hanging limply in the cavity of her chest that occasionally flutters if the north wind blows hard enough and she allows it a passage through.  Although she isn’t a ghost, aspects of her have already become a haunted thing.
    
“Remember when you thought we’d go to the moon, to live?  What happened to that version of us, do you remember?”
    
She says this to distract us both from the pain.  I can see it on her face, how the creases by her eyes deepen as I pull at the pieces of us that don’t want to let go.  The way she billows inwards again, trying to cling to me even though she is the one that has asked to be left behind.  I have to stop before I can answer.  The segment of skin I have in my teeth falls away, floats for a moment like a jellyfish rising to the surface of the ocean, then pings back onto her.  Onto us.
    
“She turned to glass, I think.  We left her in that wheat field where those clumps of dog daisies were still growing, even though it was November.”
    
“Ah, yes.  In the frost, wasn’t it?  She said she wanted to glisten like that forever as well, even though she’d always hated the cold.  How easy was she to peel off?”
    
Not easy at all.  Parts of her are still snagged in my stomach like spelks.  I feel her sometimes when I’m in the bath, or waiting for a bus.  When my thoughts disconnect and float off into the sky, I can sometimes still hear her.  The way she had of dreaming big, dreaming hard.  I miss her, the girl we lost to the daisies and frost.
    
“Easy enough.”
    
The lie hurts me.  Hurts us both, but she pretends she doesn’t know what I’m doing.  She just goes on trying to shake herself off me, even though that piece behind my left knee is bleeding now.  I can feel the warmth of it, the stickiness.  I can taste it too, on my tongue.  The sharp, metallic twang of it, filling my mouth with an urgency.  Filling my head with memories. 
    
“Did you love her more than me?  Did she fit us better?”
    
I can’t answer.  The questions she asks, they’re briars, we both know that.  If I allow my thoughts the voice she expects, the words once uttered, they will tangle us.  Keep us in place as they creep and creep over the surface of us, over our flaws.  And the berries those briars would grow, they would be bitter.  More metallic than blood, more poisonous than departures.  We’d both end up stuck here, dying.  But she knows though, she can feel it.  And because she’s leaving, she doesn’t hold back.
    
“Do you know what they do to her, in the dark?  Do you know the monsters that torment her.  Throw clods of mud at her, trying to shatter her?  Do you know how often she cries for us?  Cries for you?  Do you even care?”
    
I bite her then, hard.  I think I even snarl as I rip at that segment of skin behind our knees, shaking it the way next door’s dog shook the hare it caught last summer in the woods.  Shook it until it broke its wild neck.  And even though it squealed, it never stopped.  Not until the blood filled its mouth and sent it mad.  The previous version of myself winces, but doesn’t stop.
    
“You are heartless.  You don’t know it because you try ever so hard not to look inwards, but I see it.  That space in your chest where the organ is supposed to sit, it’s full of darkness in there, full of shadows.  All the doors are locked of course, from the inside.  Because you’ve always been so afraid to open them.  Not for what would come in, but what would slither out.  You are a stain, a watermark that can’t be washed out.  And if the sunlight got in, if life got in, you’d die.  I’m being serious, you’d die.”
    
It’s free, the skin of her.  The ache of her, it’s free.  She falls away from me; a bundle of leaves, a lungful of dandelion seeds, a bitten apple gowk already turning brown as the rot sets in.  And before I know it, an army of tears march from my eyes, attack my cheeks until they sting with them, until they ache under the conquering spread of them.
    
I bend down, put my fingers under her armpits, lift her up onto her feet.  She’s so wispy now, this previous version of myself.  So see-through.  She’s like a sheet that’s been washed and washed so often it’s all but forgotten how to be a sheet any more.  Halfway towards being a rag, halfway towards being a ghost.  Still though, she manages a smile.
    
“You look different, from this side of the separation.  You look more solid somehow, more yourself.  Although I am surprised at the size of you.  I always imagined us to be a little thing, a cowering creature.  From this side now that I’m away from you, you look big.  You look like you could fight a wolf, and win if you wanted to.”
    
The tears ease.  I wind a few stray sobs back inside before they’re able to escape.  This anchors me, keeps me from wafting away on the breeze.  I don’t feel big.  I don’t feel fierce.  I feel diminished.  Lost.  As though by allowing this previous version of myself the ending it so very much wants, I have given away a piece of myself that I need.  An essential part of my psyche, discarded as if it’s a pasty packet carrying little more than useless crumbs for the birds, for the wind.
    
“I’ll miss you.”
    
When I say the words, they fall out of my mouth as though they’re marbles, roll towards her.  Three scolded puppies in need of a stroke.  She takes a few steps backwards, towards the oak.  Once the tree was struck by lightning.  A winter that no-one wants to remember, where many things burned and were turned into remnants of themselves, into ghosts with teeth.  The trunk is charred.  It’s a soft blackness that smudges at the edges of the park, at the beginning of the woods.  Blurring the boundaries of what is cultivated, what is wild.
    
She gasps as the first antler bursts from her head.  Screams once as the twigs twist from the tips of her fingers before covering themselves with a fur of moss.  I want to help her, take some of the pain back into myself, but I know it’s not allowed, not now we’re properly at the border and it’s opening for her.  I watch as she begins to stroke the lowest branch of the oak, the one that hangs in an arch down to the floor.  A few stray foxgloves sit at the base of it, wrapping their green leaves over the burned bark.  The purple flowers look like tongues of fire turned eerie as they sway in the breeze.
   
“Will you haunt me?”
    
Already she’s sitting on the branch, adjusting her limbs so they curl around the wood, become one with it. 
    
“Unlikely.  You’ll forget me, you see.  Like you did with the girl we lost to the daisies and frost.  Like you did with the woman we abandoned to the whales the time before last.  Like you will again and again before the hour arrives when you will lie your bones back down with the clarts.  With the furrows of memories that helped build you, helped root you.  And then, you will remember us all.  Every abandoned wish, every decision that raked one of us from you, all the pathways that brought you more into this skin you walk in now.  You will remember, and you will be glad.”
    
I’m crying again.  This time the tears don’t sting, don’t hurt.  They wash me clean, revealing this hidden layer of skin. One that feels the air again; how the breeze kisses it as it passes, how the spaces it inhabits have inflated, become fresh.  I feel light, like sunbeams through gaps in clouds.  Like fingers of air, pulling strings on the puppets of birds.
    
“Remember, don’t look back.  Like that time in the wheat field when you heard glass shatter as if it was a scream and you were afraid for a moment that it was her.  When you hear a bellow and you wonder if it is the shadow of a reindeer on your pillow with an arrow stuck in its chest, don’t look back.  We endure, always.  Every previous version of you does.  We’re the knots that collect in your hair as you dance.  We are the ache in your muscles after you have been thoroughly loved.  We are you, always.  But your present self needs to move on.”
    
I raise the cuff of my jumper to my face, rub the tears away.  And when I look back at the oak, the previous version of myself has already gone.  Untethered herself back to the woods, back to the wildness.  Where she’ll wait until I’m ready for her again.  When I’m brave enough to return.  Brave enough and ready enough to put on the vixen skin that’s been calling from the forest for me since the day I was born.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Declaration

The Declaration

The sound spools out, snags.
I watch the rowan bend down, frown
under the weight of it, the intent.

'I could love her, I'm sure...'
Six soft syllables as fierce as wolves.
My head becomes an armoured bear.

It's the shape of them too, as they hang
in the air. A battalion of thunderclouds caught
in the filtered light of your beautiful face.

A halo of mumbling exits my throat,
weaves a shield into the silence, clangs.
I think of swords buried with kings under fells.

Your brother told us of the myth of Endingsia.
How her tears were so salty the oceans claimed her
and the sky never got over her absence

so it fished the sinews of her from the depths,
yarned them into clouds. Knitted the first snow storm
from the memory of her, froze the world.

The seven year old girl that still flames
in my stomach opens her mouth, roars a blizzard
of ash over the embers of us, ignites.

For a second, I see the could-have-been-happy
shadow of our future selves walking the hallways
of abandoned libraries in other countries.

Feel the weight of the jetsam we would have salvaged
from the wreck of other people's lives, lost loves.
It sinks now, anchors down among the tides

of your breath, whirlpools inside those five words.
And then it's gone. Just one more dream gnawed
in the jaws of a voracious and unsettled world.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Fox Girl & the ancient art of Hackles

She sparks in, promises lightning.
Like the shock of electricity to your tongue
is enough of a storm to bolt me from your heart.
I would feel sorry for her, but don't.
She is a new tower block built in the city
while the marrow of us is a temple in Japan
held together without screws or mortar
out in a forest born from a mountain.

It’s the pendulum swing that defies earthquakes,
pure tectonics down to our foundations.
This is the religion of the laws of attraction
that prowl the back alleyways, turn wild -
and the moral? Never bring a blown light bulb
to a samurai fight with a creature raised feral.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Berry Picking

Berry Picking

I watch her pick the faces of the siblings I never had from a blackberry bush at the bottom of the beck. The briars ride the water like kite strings. My mother has a gas mask on, but her eyes have fallen from her face and are growing from her palms.

“This is David, he would have been my favourite.”

The words come out all wrong. They skim the water as midges before dissipating among the dying back daffodils that bully the banks. My thoughts fill with bluebells and empty jam jars.

“Here, which one do you want to eat first?”

She climbs out of the water, lugging the huge waltzer cart of her skirt in her lips that have somehow slipped off her face and are buddhaing around her belly button. I want to run away but my feet have become two clumps of dandelions going off to seed.

“You can’t have David though, he’s going in a crumble for supper, he can be my very own Custard Boy that way. How about Emily? She isn’t ripe yet but your stomach is strong, she shouldn’t kill you, not if you chew her properly.”

Next door has let the wolves out early again. I can hear them among the trees, sniffing for fallen comets and half-empty sausage roll packets. I tuck the hem of my red jumper into my knickers, check my pockets to see if there’s a forgotten woodcutter in one of the corners. There isn’t.

“Agatha would suit you best. But she’s hairy and I’m afraid she might stick in your throat, end up haunting you as you choke.”

She’s standing in front of me now. She has brought half the beck up with her. I watch three pike swim up her left thigh and there’s five families of water snails hibernating between her toes. She doesn’t notice of course, her hands are too full of berries with all the faces of the siblings I never had on them.

“Don’t tell your grandmother about this. She thinks all my babies need to be left to grow feral. But how can I allow my David the horror of ending up in the guts of some river rat that doesn’t even know what it’s nibbling on? I can’t have that, not for my very favourite never-arrived son.”

A shoal of jellyfish start breaching in my stomach. As her fingers minnow closer, my throat closes up. I imagine a bear on my tongue, wonder whether its claws can save me from the torture that’s approaching. I wish she’d at least take the gas mask off, let me look into her empty eye sockets as she poisons me, the only daughter that made it into flesh, remembered to breathe.

“Open your mouth, show me your teeth. When was the last time you were at the dentist, my love? Did they file your canines again? Now, my child, promise not to bite. I think Freddie might wriggle some, when you swallow him down.”

And then, before I can stop myself, I’m running. Down on all fours I go. I feel my hips dislocate, my spine elongate. The bones in my shins, they fracture before knitting themselves back together. Then my belly is furred and I’m hugging the ground with a badger skull stuck between my shoulder blades.

“Daughter! Don’t do this! Don’t go animal on me, not now!”

Foxgloves start raining from my fingers as I’m running. The flowers barricade the pathway as I scarper over it. My toes leave trails of wasps as they press into the clarts. The air is whispering in guttural buzzes and growls. I feel the pure animal strength of myself, and I’m awed.

In a moment, I’m in the meadow. I see a curlew with the head of a woman sitting in one of the hawthorn bushes. She nods as I pass, starts crocheting clouds from the feathers on her breast. A boy with dragonflies for eyes tries to snatch me in his teeth as he sits on the fence but I’m too fast. I’m all gusts and weather fronts now, a creature carved from air.

The landscape laughs under my feet. I feel the very bones of it giving in to the giggles.
And then I’m over the gate, soaring over it actually. My heart has imagined itself a swift, grown its very own wings. And then I take off. Up, up I go. Higher than the chimney pots, higher than the mast.

“Daughter! Daughter! Please come back!”

But the threads of Arianrhod embroidered through our DNA mean before the words can reach me, before the blackberries can bleed me, I’ve already flown myself away.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Ode to Lurpak

Ode to Lurpak.
(day 28 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Ah, butter!
Couldya be better?
Even in batter
never a quitter.
Dieters stutter,
grow fatter.
But your taste
It’s just ace.
Stuffing a face,
bursting lace.
If this is a race
you’re the winner.
Slavered on dinner,
hours grow thinner,
daylight does a runner.
When you’re spread
thick on good bread,
hunger will nod.
Properly fed.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Expedition to the Cavious Plato Region

Expedition to the Cavious Plato Region.
(day 26 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

They flitter, these prihysteric creatures.
Wrap themselves around metal shrubs
covered in peculiar blooms of pigeon poo.
(we believe our ancestors harvested those to sculpt
statuses for the Gawds on their church of PukeBack.)


“Under the Likeroscope, they shimmer a little.
Possible descendents of the Meyer Effect?”


In their natural environment, we believe
the lifespan was considerably shortened
if manufactured for the Friday-night Tribes.
(Vicious specimens. Splatter enemies with Kebabian Vomit.
Love siblings with liquidised apples thrown into eye sockets.)


“Often resembles a pair of wings stuck together.
A pocket at the summit where a head once was?”


Something textural about them. Almost bookish
when looked at in low light. No spine of course.
But there are ghosts of words sun-gobbled on their skin.
(an early ESoulReader perhaps? Primitive of course.
Unable to withstand a sustained barter with Lucifer.)


“A scent of warm fields and worked muscles lingers
in their corners. Tickles nostrils, makes saliva glands insane.”


Believed by the Bullshittian Acolytes to be part-angel
due to the whispering they will often do when left in a room
with a window open to let the wind mumble through.
(we laugh at this. Every advanced mehciety acknowledges
windows are merely the egos of cultureless communities.)


“Changes shape when ripped. Bleeds crumbs, tasty ones.
Can be scrunched into a ball by a fist. Best tested with lips.”


The unprecedented decision has been reached. We’re taking
an expedition of our greatest Thunkers to the desolate region
of Cavious Plato. Wish us reactions by the thousands. And shares.
(being a Thunkerist, it’s dangerous. Many are lost to the whims
of self-obsessed thoughts that no Upgraded System forecast.)


“Eh? You’ve woken me up to look at what?
Something from my ancient society? Something profound?
Something you discovered in several thousand plastic
containers with lids? Oh, you daft, idiotic lot. Don’t you realise
what you’ve got in your mouths? They’re a herd of discarded
pasty packets, the ones made famous by Greggs.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Wizards of Odd

Wizards of Odd.
(day 24 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

A double-jointed child is doing backflips
on the spine of a salmon turned cloudy.
Everything’s blue - the sky, the ship, the Freudian
slip that’s there on the paper centuries before
the man is born. Mother eats father from the prongs
of a fork she’s carved from living whalebone.

Jonah’s the jester juggling the sun and a wolf.
Someone’s added a Rubik cube to the back of his head.
Not God. They’re off filling the brains of monks
with ideas the leaders discovered on mushrooms dried
by melancholic moonbeams in the throat of the North Wind.
It’s grand sailing lives on the backs of dead centuries’ hands.

On strands of Ivy drawn eerie, angels make bowling balls
with heads of unicorns. Horns and feathers tickle the air.
A seven foot bat unstrings violins, makes them into boats.
Sailors dressed as albatrosses row them to the fat side of the moon.
Distant stars stand sentry, belligerent bouncers of the solar system
that refuse entry to anyone acting ordinary. Rocket their arses away.

A satyr sticks rose petals up the nose of a naked woman
with the horn of a narwhal sticking out of her stomach.
There’s a pandemic of peculiar illuminating all the paper.
Mother Nature’s on the margins, licking stamps for Postman Pat.
All the wheels have fallen off even before they are invented.
The cogs have turned into warthogs that will be roasted for supper.

And there’s all this laughter wearing the wings of old dialects.
It raves around like a squadron of starlings weaned on Ecstasy.
These are the memories of the holy ones that sculpted society.
Manuscripts of magnificent weirdness housed in museums.
Such gregarious ghosts. What a hilarious haunting they've left,
penned in those spaces where a blankness would have spread.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Alexander's Band

Alexander's Band.
(day 23 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Rainbow.
Tristimania leveller.
A Horizon hugger
that pegs brains still.
Nature.

Reflection.
A mirror.
Internal attention pools.
Tarn of your thoughts

doubles.



Saturday, 22 April 2017

Lent Lily

Lent Lily
(day 22 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

From the back of the bus, someone coughs,
starts saying a prayer as we pass the church.
Not for the dead there, or the religion itself,
but for the daffodils that are on with their dying.
Chewed back to earth by the molars of April.

I remember my fist full of paper, the dry
texture. How it felt alive as I scrunched
it into a bud, the blooming it did when it hit
the back of the fire, petalled up the chimney.
How empty my fingers felt afterwards, how old.

The flowers have shaken off their yellowness -
little blots of custard, the kind made properly.
Turned crispy now, singed ears on tortured toys.
Battalions of them that rasp the air to a shuddering.
The burned tongues of early Spring, desiccating.

At the bus shelter, someone’s mother drops a tin
of beans. It rolls and rolls, forgets it has to stop.
Among the empty crisp packets and stubbed out tabs
that make a universe of litter on the grass verge,
a solitary daffodil shines. Nods its head as I pass. Smiles.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Post-it Notes for the Dead

Post-it Notes for the Dead.
(day 21 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

If you were alive, I'd send you a blank page
and a Starbar. If you’d been born a football,
I would not kick or deflate you, ever.


I’ve never fallen out of my shoes twice
in a row before, but I’d be happy enough to try
if you promise always to laugh and laugh.

This need to knit our histories into the pattern
of distance and dreams. I will not let go
of the wool though, or drop a single stitch.


And when age advances and we become
nothing more than the story of jumpers
tucked away at the back of the drawers,
I'll remember the sound of that laughter.

Me, the dog, three unsleeping horses
and an atypical bird in the fog, hunting ghosts.
All origamied inside the folds of a Saturday night.


No wonder I want to hold onto those unconscious
moments the same way Linus holds onto his blanket.

Another Sunday morning, another rain-drenched day
stretches forward like a leering old man with a walking
stick and an opened packet of Fishermen's Friends.


I need a wolf in my pocket with my dragon I guess.
So if we ever need to, we can burn it all down. Howl.

And along the edges, my Happy Pill.
A little island of wonderful with its spooky
accent and Saturnian imagination.

 

Midnight musings scribbled down.  
Questions for the stars. The moon.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

What time is it, Mr. Wolf

What time is it, Mr. Wolf.
(day 20 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Days dissipate, become dandelions
chewed in the jaws of a fist, muzzle off. 
Night-time wears its wolf suit now.
All the clocks are wound to feral time.

The solitude of sheets grow fangs,
gnaw dreams to shreds. 
Next door’s dogs stride in beats of threes. 
Long shadows prowl the spine of a playground
spectre until everything freezes.

DINNER TIME!

Memories scatter faster than bairns
being terrorised by the tongues of bells.
The walls of the bedroom play at statues.
A spider kisses the windowsill, loses a leg
to the ways of being gone with the moon.

Distance is measured inside the space it takes
silence to howl. I knit a cloak of my words,
hood them through the forest of my thoughts.
Imagine grandmothers with footsteps bigger
than Jupiter. All the bones of the dead chant.

Three o’ clock.
Nine o’ clock.
DINNER TIME!
Again and again.

The pack life of history howls through the marrow.
And I retreat, become another little cub denned in the dark
coaxing her animal coat out, tagging the furs of her ancestry.
Drying the pelt of territorial intent. Learning how to wear it.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How the first Unicorn arrives in Geordieland

How the first Unicorn arrives in Geordieland.
(day 19 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

In the beginning, there was just nowt.
Not even an egg and tommie stottie stuffed with sand.
Just aal this nowtness streaming out and out.
Me Ma, she said, ‘this life of ours is proper shite.’

And me Da, well he wasn’t aboot thank gawd.
One of those fellas that’s clever with his fists.
Reckons he’s all the way to proper hard
especially when he’s utterly pissed.

So in the beginning, the nowt got aal lonely.
And a bairn from ‘round here, they imagine ponies
instead of unicorns (until they get horny).
Anyway, me and the sis, we scarpered to the bookies

with one of those new fivers every bugger
keeps trying to wash, and we stuck it on a pup
called ‘Opportunity knocks’ cos it wasn’t a quitter.
Then we went back yem, took a wee nap.

When I checked the teletext, cor blimey we’d done it!
That mangy auld whippet had actually gan and won it!
Me big sis of course, got herself in a proper geet flap.
Started sticking pins in this auld, unfoldable map

ganning, ‘we’re moving ter the moon now, nah Scotland,
Cadbury’s massive factory, the one proper down south!
we’re ganna really start living now, wor youngin
we’re ganna seriously start having a proper laugh!’

And she’s jumping aboot like she’s got worms in her arse
and aal the people on the bus are gowking at us as they pass.
And me I’m just embarrassed, coz I haven’t washed in a week
coz the leccy money got spent on whisky again. Aye, neat.

And we gan back in the bookies and the fella behind the desk
he starts tutting, ‘you’re ganna have’ta leave, canny pets.
Yer just bairns yer nar, and the law doesn’t allow it.
Aal these youngins nicking from their folks, I abhor it.’

Then me Da, he comes stumbling out of the Auld Club.
Sees us through the window liek, comes in fer a nose.
‘Hinnies, what yer deeing in here, get yourselves yem!
There’s dirty fellas aboot that’ll wanna take yer to their dens.

And that auld git that’s ahind the counter, he’ll rob yer better
than uncle Harry does when he’s on a coke bender.
What’s that in yer fist, wor Jen, have yer been betting?
Get yourselves yem now. Gawd I’m proper stotting!’

In the beginning, there was just nowt.
By the end, there was more nowt as well.

Except for this tiny unicorn that’s started whinnying
in me brain as we're dragging worselves back yem.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Hare Sighting

Hare Sighting
(day 16 of #NaPoWriMo challenge)

I think I see the hare again.
I know you don’t care any more,
but I think I see it creasing choices
over the furrows of a ploughed field.

Maybe it is just its shadow?
A blot of memory in a tear duct
levereting up to haunt me.
Maybe it is just its ghost.

Remember when you loved me
the most? More than pen nibs, more
than crumpets. More than oblivion
fished for below fathoms of whisky bottles.
Those bastard oceans, reeling you to drown.

How I hate the smell of the gloaming now.
The reckless reek of night stumbling in.
The punch of darkness into fences -
how the press of it still summons bruises.

This is the last time I will write to you.
The last time a landscape will whack me
weak with the scab of something skittering
the wound of your indifference wider.

I will make a ferret of this obsession.
Sic it on every memory that mauls me.
Leave lacerations over the love knots
that once bound us to that massacring.
The Gordian glimpse of a hare, haemorrhaging.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Crossroads

Crossroads
(day 15 of #NaPoWriMo challenge)

The words pause, arrange themselves
pigeon-toed among the trenches
of your teeth, hunker in.

It’s the light’s fault, how it stutters -
an April afternoon bright with Tourette’s.

By the middle of ‘The Visitations’,
Simmonds’ moon is back to eating
its own heart out, again.

The front door unrolls its tongue, coughs.
You wonder whether the act of slicing

your own head off with a cardboard
marker from Barter Books might invoke
some sense of belonging into your neck.

Once, there was a child who’s spine
was composed from a column of horseshoes

his mother had stolen from a stable of unicorns.
The woman bled herself with nails at his death. 
Watched the stardust of her blood dissipate his ghost.

Your thoughts become the restless shadows
of snowdrops at three a.m in a noisy cemetery.

It’s the rooting down that’s unsettling.
The pressure of belonging, the gravity of it -
a feather on the crosswinds, undeciding

the trajectory of a life lived without wings -
pigeon-toed among the trenches of not fitting.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Five Clerihew

(day 14 of #NaPoWriMo challenge)

 

The wife of Humpty Dumpty
attracted everything numpty.
But she still threw out her whisk.
Thought it hilarious, the risk.

  ii

The hubby of Emily Bronte
was all the way imaginary.
A Heathcliff on acid.
(maybe she loved a good bastard?)

  iii

J.M Barrie’s pen
scribbled Pan all Zen.
But his character was a bugger,
grey-haired all the mothers.

  iv

Dear poet Crispin Best,
come and live with me in a nest.
Don’t think of it as stalkerish,
more an exercise in mutual dorkish.

  v

Dear poet Rebecca Perry,
your Beauty/Beauty I would marry.
But the law still walks a backwards path
so I’ll settle for reading it in the bath.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Bitten

Bitten
(day 9 of #NaPoWriMo challenge)

It comes with the snow on its soft, soft paws.
It sniffs and it sniffs, always this sniffing.
Until it re-finds you, rattles your doors.
Up on hind legs, it laughs. Oh that laughing.
Worries your loose threads right to your stuffing.
Oh no, the horror, the torture! It’s real!
On to the ravaging, barking. Woofing.
Licks you, gnaws you, starts softening its meal.
You fall, hopeless. Love can be a ferocious deal.

Friday, 7 April 2017

A second-hand book brings a comet to breakfast

A second-hand book brings a comet to breakfast.
(day 7 of #NaPoWriMo challenge)

A cross of daffodils, crocheted on a card.
A camera lens, scratched by a kiss from God.
Juicy spring water, its attempt at lime flavour.

The steady spaces between Venetian blind slats.
On the shelf propped in front of Miss Peregrine’s

children as they hunt for unicorns dusted with pollen.

Boxes of Star Wars figures - a tongueless Jabba
the Hutt. Those decades past bring and buy adventures.
A quest for more space. That need of far, far away.

A pipe cleaner centenarian four inches in length.
Its bone china face haunts the detachment of an attic,
scares dust motes and the stories of  broken-in spiders.

Then the comet appears - that hare-lipped lassie.
Wonderfully heavy with the orbit of her stone baby.
And words gravitate from a page, arc into a heart.
Meteor the organ open again, remind it to work.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Threshold of Loss

The Threshold of Loss
(day 3 of #NaPoWriMo challenge)

The door hinges creak, the tap drips and drips.
I hear these voices in soft moments as they pass.

The crows, live wires. Another perplexed wasp.
A space in my ear canal distorts as it reopens.

Dead music starts singing a soliloquy to lost love.
This is the mix-tape death plays now, on repeat.

- The rasp of a tongue over cigarette paper.
- Laughter that thrums inside skirting boards.
- Morrissey on helium, plucked like a kite.

- Hamsters in attics clattering dead mother’s wigs.
- Telescopes tuned to the waltz of a waning moon.
- Baby pigeons on a balcony pizzicato-ed  by gulls.

- The ghost of ‘True Blue’ that still haunts the landing.
- The shriek of a key as it turns into this unloosening.
- The way footsteps can make an orphan of a house.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Recipe to make a Fox Lass

Recipe to make a Fox Lass
(Day 2 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Preheat the woods to flourishing.
Add books upon books to the pot
of her head when it is nicely soft.
The more the better. Stir and stir.

Sift in some violent incidents;
DNA disasters, familial blood.
Backslap until feral, threaten the
drunk fist. Repeat and repeat.

Add a decent splash of whimsy
to temper the coddled melancholy.
This mixture is prone to splitting
so handle gently. Knead and knead.

Sprinkle with death. A little poison
helps the development of her crust.
Add a few drops of unrequited lust
at this stage, roll out. Cut and cut.

Lastly, spread with a thin layer of friends.
Let the love she feels for them sink fully in.
Dust with sugar to sweeten the belonging.
Then the cruel part, bake until burned.

When she is casseroled long enough to hurt,
cool until frozen. Your Fox Lass is complete.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Negative Space

The light’s different again. It’s away with that thread it has in March, the one being pulled by hares. The horizon sits higher, like the ache of its spine is torturous, like the very bones of it need a realignment. The seasons of a body, they know it too. Winter is dying the way love is dying. It clings on with its claws, but they’re split. They’re ragged in their uselessness, still too afraid in the giving up, so you give them a push. Something learned in Cruelty 101. 

In a faraway bedroom, Pre-Raphaelite paintings are committing suicide on a windowsill giving in to a rotting. Rossetti’s ‘Day Dream’ has hagged itself horrid. The book on Morris’ knee has turned into a harpy that screams and screams until the room dreams of running away. Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ is chopping down fabric trees that are unthreading from the curtains spun from the spindle of Siddal’s depiction of ‘The Lady of Shalott’. They’re too damp of course, too almost done in their drowning. So the trees stick, and Ophelia just laughs.

The bathroom of your head, it's haunted. Bits of broken moths blend themselves insane along the skirting boards, dredging up dust, dredging up dread. Sometimes everything feels halfway dead. Halfway gone to not giving a fuck, if only there was a surety in that. But not giving one, it’s a lot like love. Numinous, ethereal, wispy - a bit of a pussy. Weak. Like sunlight through mist on a morning in November. Like sunlight in a bathtub, being drowned for the arsehattery of artistry.

Once, there was a leaf that imagined itself a whale. A humpback whale in a shoal of books. A battalion of books, all waterproof and ready to battle with the army of apathy. But the books couldn’t swim, and the humpback wasn’t a whale, but a leaf. A leaf on the wind, imagining itself in that other world. A world where it believed it could fit, the poor delusional leaf that was already dead. Dead and gone with its future of decay, calling and calling, a siren on the wind.

No-one listens. No-one cares. People are velcro discarding their hooks. Trying and trying to commit to this grabbing, this sticking. This futile way of mattering to something, anything. And the ghosts, they gather. Like dandelions gather. Like midges do, in the haze. Like love - fuck you, you prick, go away! And all the little matchstick girls, all the little sisters, all the Briar Roses in the garden, all the little Gerdas, all these lost children with the weight of their broken tales with no map back into Neverland. No map to unchain them free. And no-one listens, no-one cares, not to these lost little lasses trying to grow into wearing their misfitting fur.

It’s the negative spaces you see, they way they have of remaining hidden. The way they have of tripping your eyes until you’re not really sure if you’ve seen what’s really in them. A hobbled fox, a three-legged hare, two witch sisters covered in velvet. The head of a stag singing from above a mantelpiece, its mouth stuffed with lost Socks, with regret. A ship in the distance, made out of eggshells and lollipop sticks, sinking into a horizon of longing you refuse to acknowledge, because you’re scared of what it will mean. Scared of where the paint strokes will take you if you allow yourself to believe these things are real.

Monday, 27 February 2017

...Then The Skin Rises Up

Fox-gone and forested,
a pollarded promise catches
in a throat rubbed raw from crying.

Rubbed raw from trying, an antlered tinge.
The rut of regret bellows out, words worn
down to a slackness - skin hoofing bone.

A lone memory, soft in its shedding.
Hands held around a glass of cider;
cupped afternoon light, a tilt of gold.

Laughter leaked out, a sieve of intimacy
that danced with dustmotes unsettled by
the brilliance of a thrown-back head.

An astronomy book disguised as porn.
The lurid positions of a waning moon.
Constellations of contentment plotted

out properly in an orgasm of extraordinary.
Disguised among seams of stale cigarettes
streaked through spilled kisses of whisky.

The pity of strangers pattering in, like rain
to this moment - a betrayal by goosebumps.
The unexpected eclipse of, 'never again'.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Pull out the Better Parts

Snow, the lean of castles into sunsets.
Like how an otter can be a metaphor
for the love of sisters. Don't drown.

Vinegar, a bitten lip. Darkness lit up
on the breath of an owl. Questions about 

birds, whether feathers have accents.

A boy with a knife able to slice pig throats
quicker than glasses of water photographed mid-fall.
Winter through the hills, how it winnows.

Footprints at dusk. Tiny traces of rooks.
Snowdrops in a churchyard, a bone white beauty.
The grace of subsevience, to mud.

Stolen spoons that chisel an unexpected room
inside a heart familiar with bathyspheres
and depths. Dead whales in the blood.

An estuary of everything, squelching roots.
The invasion of river rats. How the gloaming

shivers shadows to entice starlight out.

Spelks that stick in, that ache. Like love.

Cuts that kiss knees, scab over. Like love.
Clouds that collect everything. More snow.

How the weight of it births up a blizzard
in a head. How even in a watching, this thaw.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Night Swimming

The sky is saturated.
In the next village, a girl
puts a puddle of pond in her pocket.
My heart is a goldfish dream. It leaks.

Last night as the hoarfrost left,
an owl died - not yours, thank god.
One of those born from a barn
behind the pylon of peculiarity.

The one that electrifies these fins
that wriggle underneath my skin.
The ones always swimming
and flipping, for you.

Someone's nanna once said that Elvis wasn't dead.
That the King of Rock & Roll had abandoned Graceland
for a glass bowl on a table in a kitchen with too many cups.

That he discarded his quiff for the circling, watery bliss
of back-finning through a place where sound swims slower;
hooks in deeper. Penetrates scales like buoys.

We laugh. Go home that night and fuck.
Imagine whales singing from jam jars on dusty shelves
belonging to some matronly deity adept at bread-making.

And if we eventually visit her, we'll watch 'Love Me Tender'
bubble through water that always turns cloudy on tuesdays.
And because of that slowness, how sound swims through water;

memories of long-gone fathers
crooning little things never said
or done from storm-wracked rooms
in far-out-to-sea houses where love

learns to drown inside nets of broken songs
singing from hinges of wardrobe doors
in corners full of darkness and air.
Until shoals of fish wearing skins

of little lost girls, learn how to paddle
through shadows without fear of lit fuses
reeled from fangs of dynamite monsters
that explode the soft ponds of living to pieces.