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Thursday, July 28, 2005

when the days fray - poem

When the days fray,
and unravel into shapeless billowing things
that bloat and shrink as they will

when hours slip off their tracks,
un-cog a little,
run askew, gather minutes here,
discard them there

when clock-sharp boundaries,
previously marked with regimented beats,
now haze and fade

when actions, once habitual, ordered, fitting
into well-timed schedules,
now distend to vague expansions,
indefinitely infinite

when momentum is misplaced,
and focus loosened,
and you are drifting unremembered;

then anchor in, claw back that shape
but not until this fluctuating
fluid sense of time
imprints itself within you,

some echo of the infinite retained
as antidote
to future’s possible restraints.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The light beneath the bedroom door - poem

The blade of light that
stabbed beneath your bedroom door
the last few nights is there again. Let it slice
across your vision
a moment longer, then close your eyes
against it. Turn your back.
Curl into the empty space
beside you, the second pillow
blank, full. Turn your back,
let sleep come, your darkness.
But the light
beneath the door remains;
reminder of your daylight differences.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

butterflies don't live in here - poem

this is my bicycle
red and shiny
I got it when I was six.
this is my swing
under the big cool tree in our garden
daddy hung it on the branch there last summer.
this is my dolly
she sits on my bed in my room
in my room
my own room
there are too many here
I have to share
I've forgotten for how long now
they don’t tell us
don’t tell us when we’ll leave
my teacher doesn’t say
only asks us to draw pictures
always pictures
of home and now

but I don’t draw about now
the walls out there are too big
and I can’t imagine them enough
and the sick people too sick
maybe smell worse than the farm
and when the dead dog was under the hedge
there are the men who hit you
if you cry on the street when you’re hungry
and mummy and daddy…

no, I don’t want to draw about now
so I’m drawing a butterfly in our garden
our home garden
on the flowers that are there
with my swing and my bicycle and my dolly
who is happy but alone.
just my garden and the big smiling sun and the sky
wide wide blue
and my yellow butterfly
all outside the big walls
all safe because butterflies
don’t live in here
only us
with yellow stars
on our dirty clothes

Thursday, July 14, 2005

when you first heard - poem

and the room folds the air
into too-small pieces
dry, gasped on insubstantial moments
impossible to breathe
lungs fight
mind tilts and spins
on an axis unfamiliar
hands clutch the edges of things
holding them together




feelings spray out
colouring the too-thin air
with red and sound
the weighted drops splash down
congealing into rusted
staining pools
seeping shock to corners
pain permeating fabric
all the air sucked out
by grief

Hotel Room Tuesday - poem

January, steeled to dark, presses on the glass
immense and outside.
Curtains wilt against it,
damp fingers in,
its grey touch on her face his lips their
exhaled breath mists a sheen that surfaces
the flowered walls,
peels them back
and clings where skin meets skin,
the borrowed bedclothes rucked
winding round their limbs,
binding, with a permanence unmatched outside these walls,
this room,
this every Tuesday afternoon
routine that slides them on its rusted tracks
to what?

Unspoken thoughts mock
locked in separate same-thinking minds
makes them cling
with fingers
printing flesh and this last memory of touch
to heart - mementoes for those mundane moments
stretched between the days of being
the days of not
and others there.

And January presses in

reminds them.

Valentine's Dinner In - poem

she lays the knife and fork
where he’d want them
the tablecloth his mother gave them as a wedding gift
the best plates.

the wine is chilling
a good one – a few quid off,
she forgets the name
she’d like a glass, a sip or two, to steady her
and concentrate her thoughts on making this
a special night.

she’s made his favourite
all afternoon yesterday planning it
all morning today preparing for it
preparing to leave the house
the shops only down the road
make-up knowledgeably applied
so no one can tell.

she’d like a glass of wine
ages since she’s had any
delicate against her tongue
softening in and blurring
hard edges
instead the vodka’s doing that
the alcoholic burning numbs her tongue against
the lemon, grapefruit zesty notes the label promises
wine isn’t enough now

the rose
the only one remaining of the six
takes centre place
he bought them
for her
a gesture of something
the day after, the day after
Sunday dinner
this time the gravy was too thick
he’d said
the stain of it, still dark
ingrained into the kitchen wall
despite the bleach
the bruises, yellow
this time

the door slams and he is home
the vodka downed and glass thrown in the sink
she waits
he stands there gently smiling
chocolates, a teddy bear
held out like rare things prized gifts
despite the fact they both know
they were on special at the garage

he tells her she is beautiful
and then
his fingers vice her throat
the fingerprints –
the individual lines and whorls –
themselves onto her skin
she feels them, ridged and grazing
his mouth bruises onto hers
I want you
the words rough, serrated
her ear
she nods

has to
and glances at the clock on the wall behind his head
there’s time enough; the dinner won’t be spoiled
this time
and if she does this
maybe they’ll taste the wine
the lemon tang of it
filling her mouth and
he’ll say he loves her
if she lets him do this – enjoys it.
but she has to.
better this –
his hands penetrating and unbuttoning –
than punching.

he loves her
the words tangle in her hair
sighed out
as he holds her
pressing her against the wall
he loves her
she knows that, doesn’t she?
yes, she says,
she does

sand and tide - poem

And it creeps up like a wave in a tide when watched from the shore,
there and back
and there
and back
till it's at your feet and you're
sinking. Sand. Can't lift, toes
the feeling's soft; invites you
in, accepts you
but it's not to be accepted;
don't. Too late, you've been
pulled in and held
by the grip of it
the yield,
edged in and cooled
till it's all you can do to remember
the being free,
the air.
And you're in
sucked down
and down
and ankle
knee, whole
It has you.
You're trapped
and it's much too late.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

periphery - poem

Peopled with the ghosts of the living,

his days take on a shape he cannot own.

He cannot print himself upon them,

is drifting on the currents stirred by others.

His heart is not the centre,

his words float on peripheries,

his will; moulded by unseen hands

whose fingers deftly tune those thoughts

to frequencies he cannot pitch. He wears

his disengagement


beneath his skin,

behind his eyes,

flattened deep,

within his skull;

a single membrane permanently stitched,

fixed, blood-fuelled, beating.

Pays for it with glass-clear gestures,

a camouflage that emptily refracts

those lives he doesn't understand.


the nothing

he no longer feels

to even less

into sleep - poem

Fall away into sleep
Fall away down the steep-sided ease of it,
Leave and retreat this
Too bright glare of things said,
Things felt.
Silent and seamlessly slip beneath
The comforting weight,
The pressured relief,
Let it close in and hold you,
Let all the lies and jagged thoughts
That barb and tear the brain
Release them
Slide into the dark space between days,
The silent void
And rest.
Rest where the dreams can’t touch you
And the light fades
And the moments pause suspended.
Fall away into the deepest part of it
And heal.