Poems

‘The Last Sight of Her’

Mouthing sleep in a window of adverts Truth finds herself advertised, with the same calligraphy as exploitative news. I am broken, Truth says, Can’t hold my head up can’t shake the dread settling in the eyes of Truth – cementing-empty-nothing. Truth can’t get out of bed, Truth had a heavy night, Truth makes boiled eggs…

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‘The Zoo of Doo’

Wombat, do you do doo? I do do doo! And let me tell you something new; The doo I do is square! It’s true! When I do doo, I poop a cube! Do you do doo like I do doo? Bird, do you do doo? I do do doo! And let me tell you something…

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‘As Long As’

You can dye your hair violet or live in the trees, you can paint funny faces on each of your knees, you can bathe in a bath full of thick sticky slime, you can do what you like – as long as you’re kind. You can wear your pyjamas to dinner or tea, you can…

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‘Johnny, who was too good and suffered the consequences’

Young Johnny was always a good little child, Not prone to be lazy or spiteful or wild, Occasionally naughty but generally nice, And yet, for his parents, this didn’t suffice. They didn’t want average. They wanted the best. They wanted their son to outshine all the rest, With model behaviour at all times of day,…

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‘Caroline and the Scissors’

Caroline, Caz to me and you, was errant daughter number two. Diana, daughter number one, it seemed to Caz had all the fun – she’d scissors that could really cut, a doll that walked and wee-weed – but Caz was the sharper of the two and knew exactly what to do to put her sister…

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‘Lament for Didcot A’

I will lament your cooling towers, those pale hyperboloids monumental as a temple for giants. I will lament their demolition, each falling to its knees in slow motion like a man hamstrung in battle who dies in the dust keening for glory that will never be sung. I will lament the dragon of your superheater…

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‘Portrait of my unborn children’

Number one enjoys lemongrass soup as she sails the Yangtze alone. Number two saves lives on the streets of this city with his soft, warm mouth. Number three never saw the bike turning right on the day we found bees. Number four was left behind and always wondered who she belonged to. Number five found…

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‘To My Mother Who Never Touched a Drop’

When I meet her in Hourican’s Bar I will bring the picture resurrected from the derelict farmhouse, last summer. My great Uncle Phil will offer me a glass. I’ll reluctantly sip the bitter-black and lick the froth from my lip. For once my mother will sit in silence – but not out of spite. When…

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‘The Pocket Mirror’

Born from the belly of a Christmas cracker Stomach ripped apart and I fireworked into her world my birth announced by a muted crash and a sombre joke. I remained a closed up tinted truth lodged sub-sofa for five dark and lights. She found me, her warm hand scooped me up and pocketed me into…

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‘Making a Seagull Kite’

We add Tyvek wings — of course he must fly. We intend him to be tear-resistant, water-proof. We check his spine and cross spar, the bridle with its anchor points. Secure enough, light and strong for support in winds that could swivel or shatter him. We paste on a beak and feathers with spray and…

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‘To Get Away From Mother’s Flat’

[pass] her front door two flights of stairs the 50-year-old smell of dust and cooking communal notice board of orders and restrictions the flat where the voluble neighbour lived and died [nudge] the heavy inner doors [push] the heavy outer door [leap] that single step [skip] down the path across the garden [pass] the bench…

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‘War Baby’

Beautiful? Yes. Curled unborn on a statesman’s tongue. My lips are stoppered by my thumb. But his round wet mouth births missiles, cradles such fire. His speech has launched me. I wail, my frail cartilage rammed into shells. I’m his navy ship in dark waters. I’m his warhead, his ice-white arc in the night. Touch…

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‘Afterwards’

The January light was more notable, the day I went back for his belongings to the room where he died; magnolia buds presented themselves differently, they uplifted as though nothing could compel death to reach inside their grey skin. His climbing boots, paired neatly as we had never been, and his torn denims left on…

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‘For Tomorrow’

Spring blossom on the Blackthorn, flakes of snow Once crystal frost now refusing to freeze, Melting, falling like tears for tomorrow. Cities wheeze and choke. Their electric glow Threatens the stars, disturbs nature’s reprise – Spring blossom on the Blackthorn, flakes of snow. Pictures from polar satellites clearly show Bird filled canopies of rain forest…

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‘To a Mole’

Mouldiwarp, tunnel-grubber you with the shovel-paws pink as my skin, the purblind eyes, never once have I seen your snout poke through a lawn, caught a flick of your tail though I’ve grieved for you, rural guerrilla, gibbeted on barbed wire. King-toppler, gentleman in velvet, snuffling root-vaulted mazes driven to company by the sting of…

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‘Another Church Tour’

Coming into a church I can’t help thinking of Philip Larkin taking off his cycle clips in awkward reverence. I’m not here out of habit or curiosity I’ve filed in with a flock out of politeness and sit in the stalls feeling shifty. I want to escape this scripted space: stained glass stories of suffering,…

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‘Mill House’

After his mother moved out her clothes sat in the hall beneath the mirror they played lost and found in hollow rooms. He sat in the long kitchen with his so-called sister who scratched at her scabs as they gulped cold milk waiting for school. Awake with his new brother under the sleeping bag with…

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‘Boy’

Most mornings, I glimpse the boy walking to school. His shoes trodden down at the back. He trails behind, at the back, apart from the scuffle of boys. I worry they laugh at his shoes. He looks downtrodden, not just the shoes. I wonder if his mother is back. The eggshell pale boy. The boy…

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‘Occupancy’

After Staircase by Do Ho Suh I balk at stepping up and stepping down. There’s no perspective I can stand. Handrails that don’t hold and dizzy red-lit vertigo. Ladies with skin like aspic, squat behind balusters – in ruby lingerie. Blood, graffiti, dirty treads and risers. The janitor has lost his mop, his bucket and…

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‘To the Fates’

after Kathleen Jamie and Friedrich Hölderlin in your weaving grant me sight just once of it skimming the slow-flowing river lightning-blue mantle nape to tail in your weaving grant me sight just once of it poised above the slow-flowing river copper feathers belly to breast in your weaving grant me sight just once vertebrae leaning…

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‘This is not the island I was expecting’

I learned to swim, but never mastered breathing underwater. Pebbles, the twirly insides of worn-down shells, bubbles of lugworms I could squidge and pat. Anything the sea brought me, that I didn’t have to dive for, I was grateful. Now the sea brings other things to my attention: a tide of children; puddles of stickiness…

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‘Number 90’

The skip’s hungry mouth swallowed my childhood. I fed it my record player, mattress, black and white TV, teddy bear that had soaked up girlish tears. As we left, all the years ran up the stairs, gathered in the empty rooms to wring their hands. Silence evicted music and voices, reclaimed the unfaded spaces where…

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‘Funeral Cortege As Umbilical Cord’

  You have been a receptacle for the dead for as long as anyone can remember but when a vein of cars issues from the church- yard on the mainland across the strand at low tide I consider you more womb than tomb, your graveyard a belly-button tethered to the funeral cortege, your coastline foetal,…

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‘Trixie Might: No More Baristas’

There are millions of baristas in rumbo countries who would love to hobble in fluidness. Sure, the best baristas love countries – BUT where there is typhotoxin / the right way to help is not. Rumbo + typhotoxin = hobble – help. Not millions… MILLIONS! The nippy and squealing effect of high steam is close…

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‘Witness’

I am trying to hear the cow’s story, but it is thin and acrid as the stream of piss and fear from the back of a cattle truck pitching between hedges on the abattoir road. I am trying to hear the cow’s story, but all I have seen with my own eyes is the cluster…

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