Poem: Prelude

Prelude

Night folds,
a clasp, snapped shut.
The moon, a bone-cold handle,
drags whole oceans black
in one stiff move.

Grass shivers.

Crisp packets, startled
from their homes
of gutters and bus shelters,

throw themselves, in stark blasts,
beneath the wheels of passing cars.

A strip of bunting jerks free.
Its tail-end flaps erratic
against glass fronts of shops.
Bricks and mortar look on.
Foxgloves drop their lips.

A mass of cracked plaster
does nothing

to allay the fate
of each ruddy stone,
that crumbles
beneath the weight of another.

Poem: Dead Body in the Bath

Dead Body in the Bath

Her hair floats in the water
like old roots. Her piqued nipples,
defiant, jut up from swollen breasts
to linger

on the surface, coddled
by soap bubbles. Her right arm hangs
over the rim. The tips of her fingers
stiffen.

I turn to the mirror,
see myself in it, clouding over.
Outside, I hear muffled voices,
drumming on the door.

Prose Poetry: The beginning

The beginning

The beginning is a crack expanding outwards.
My mother spills me, soggy over NHS sheets.
The edges drip and curl and the nurse minds to fold me like a scrap of paper or an old letter, creased and crumpled as if to say, ‘let me put this away for you, in a cupboard or an old drawer.’
I am tidied inwards.
All the blood and the afterbirth stays on the sheets.

Poem: Young Girl at the Drop-in centre

Young Girl at the Drop-in Centre

She turns up most days in ripped neon tights
loose-buttoned tops, shorts and scraped back hair,
flicks cigarette-ends at cars without a care
and laughs, teasing the boys and fuelling fights.

Today she slips through the glass door, bites
her lip, shrinks into a battered plastic chair
stares out the window as if we’re not there
and chews loose wool-ends, hair bristled as rice

straw. On one side a freshly swollen cheek
is turning purple. She shifts back and fore,
avoids eye contact. Her trainers draw a maze

in the carpet. She looks up, as if to speak,
but stops herself, turns her eyes to the floor.
Nothing to do, but throw away the days.

Poem: Thoughts

Thoughts

I have loosed
each happy thought
up into the air
as helium balloons.

They trickle away
from me. Free
in their infancy,
unspoiled.

I know as soon
as they rise in me,
weightless, they
are not my burden.

So I send them away
to flourish,
to move in the opposite
direction.

Gravity pins me down.
I know I can’t pull them
to the ground
turn them in my hands

as a butcher, looking
for signs of rotten meat.
For spoils.
I watch

the bad thoughts
spread as cancer,
let the meat turn as
I feed and pull them in

Each stagnant pound of flesh,
a mirror, shows me –
this is you.

Pressed

Pressed

I felt the air getting heavy,
as if life was
pressing me down.
Between the sky
and the ground,
I stood no chance
so I let them take me.

I spread my petals,
those rubied edges,
perfect and crisp
turned my neck, slightly,
ready
to be pressed for posterity
between the wood
and the paper.

As the last slip of light
yanked away from me
I knew I couldn’t bare
those bolts being turned
tighter and tighter. So
I pulled out the screw,
the loosest one I could find,
and did away with it.

I woke up slow, rattled,
pressed my toes
against the crook of the stair
as one by one
I began to descend.

Things I don’t say

Things I don’t say

I’ve written in blood,
in foot-high letters, on the wall
of the hospital smoking room:
where flakes of paint peel, where
there is a waterline of nicotine
a foot wide and thickening,
up to a ceiling, blank
as the faces of the night-staff
and starting to crack.
I’ve upset the other patients.

I say I don’t care.
I’ve said it a hundred times:
a lie as dry as my tongue.
I’m at it again and prickling
for someone to see the truth.
I don’t fucking care. Fuck you all.
My eyes, sharp, as I write.
My lips, pursed throughout.
I don’t make a sound, just let
the words dribble and merge.
I always wanted to find my voice

though, I never thought it’d be
quite so knifing and full of spite.
Never wrote in red, but I always did prefer
the black over the green or the blue. ¬
Docile, I submit to the nurse: sit still as air
as she stitches me in, as I fold
my feelings back in and hope
she approves. This faceless nurse
who wraps those bandages tight, never
looks me in the eye

but is looking me in the wound
as if she knows that is me in there.
So she pushes me further in,
binds me up in that white gauze
until the ruby stains do¬n’t leak through
and she can send me away, to sit
in the plastic chairs, with a discharge sheet
and A Letter to my GP
and no idea what I will do, as I wait
for someone to come for me.

Spoils

Spoils

The words I choose
are bruised and stifled.

I peel them
from the woodchip walls;
their dry flakes creep
beneath my fingernails,
lay roots and burrow.

I unfold myself as ribbons,
razor edged, uncoil
from spools in pools of red.
Trickled loose, unravelled,
naked as a bobbin
that clatters as it falls
and rolls among the remnants:

tattered threads,
strewn across the floor.
Words purged from the page,
poured from the blood-ink
and laid to rest.

There is no more.
No contest.

Rupture

Rupture

She stirs
among the grasses
still green
and wet with dew.

Aroused,
her petals flush,
uncurl, exposing
sweet nectar.

The incubus,
on impulse, plucks:
stem stripped
from suckling root.

He leaves,
ruby petals and pollen
embedded
in the air.

My Child

My child


is five, dreams of fire,
marches the garden path,
hits sticks together.
He knows the power

of dead wood
and chants,
half nursery-rhyme,
half prophecy.

I see him,
as he meets the gate,
spins on his heels, retracts,
back down the path.

I know that someday,
maybe too soon,
he will march,
right through that gate,

striking his sticks
into full flame
and he will set this world
alight.