• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 01
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Every time she went out in the rain the woman conjured an old man with a beard, from whose being and beard the rainwater descended.      It was always the same old man.       Was he a god? Was he God?      He appeared in the form of a human head only, with no other body to speak of.      He himself didn't speak.      But he suspended himself above her head much closer than a raincloud would've, as snug above as a speech bubble, as if she herself were speaking a human face out into the air.

Every time it rained, it was something to do with the ancient stranger.       She'd walk through the streets with no umbrella and no raincoat and people she didn't know would call out to her to tell her, it was raining, couldn't she see? she was getting soaked.      It made her laugh : as if she didn't know.      It reminded her of something she'd read in a biography of a French writer from the first half of the twentieth century whom she very much liked and who'd written about everything : music hall, aeroplanes, early fast-footage film, cats, sex, incest, earth, innocence.      This celebrated writer's old mother had shouted one day at the writer's even older father : look at you : even when it's raining right on to your head you have to put your hand out to see if it really is.

Once, a small boy offered her half a bit of old cardboard box he was using to keep the rain off himself.       She shook her head.      She thanked him.

I like the rain, she said.


A Prayer for the Aeons to Come

I will come back as a girl
I will come back as a girl
I will come back as a long haired girl
What I want I will have as a girl
I will have
a girl
We come from the water
Who is to know?
Will my face give me away
As my beard does now?
An old man sneezes
I will travel to the next century
To wear the face of acquisition
In the disguise of a girl
Will it work?
I will not be discovered behind her eyes.
I will wear an expression of deep satisfaction
As if standing on stage
Facing the world
And waiting for applause
A girl! I will come back as
A girl.



There is push and pull. Hands and fingers touching skin, hair, lip and fish scale. He wants to return her to the water, to the lick and glitter of the sea. He sees it as an act of kindness for one who is out of her element. Sitting tear-stained on the concrete harbour as she is, staring out, not sure how she has got there or how she can return.

But she does not want return. That is why she is streaming black-eyed as she looks towards the churning surface of her world, like an astronaut staring home from the moon. This was a goodbye as she waited for the change she had heard would come – tail to leg, fin to foot, scale to skin. This was that narrow no man’s land of time between one world and another, when she would become something else, something more. Another species. And never go back again.

One final shove and she is home. She feels the saltwater sting over the snags and rips of flesh, the small balloons of blood. Knowing without looking that there are the mouths of bruises over her arms and waist and breasts from the traps of his hands, the rough ropes of his fingers. She watches him and wants to tell him what he has done and that she can never leave the sea again. That there is only one time that it can happen and that was her time, just then, and now that moment has gone.

He watches the bob of her head on the water, knowing she would say thank you if she could, if her tongue spoke the same language as his. But it is not so. And so he takes the new, thin rivers of tears on her face for thanks instead. There is even the sparkle of sunlight in them, so happy is she now, so thankful and happy, so happy.



            At least with padded cells you are allowed to touch the walls, Julia caught herself thinking. She crouched a little lower in the hidden chamber of the cake.

            Her role was to burst from it when the saxophones hit their highest note. Special emphasis had been placed on the word burst during rehearsals, the rs rolled and palate-tooth pizzicato made of the ts: 'Knees bent, head down and then out you burst!'

           Julia made her breathing shallow. The cake's surface had started to sheen over with a kind of sweat and, disgusted, she tried to replace the close stink of chocolate with the smell she remembered of the rehearsal-studio’s parquet floors. The memories fell, slotted in: the foot-work required, the money involved, the dance master’s hands on her shoulders. The dance master’s beard grazing the top of her head.

           There was a tickle along the side of Julia's foot that felt like the beginnings of pins and needles. It came again, concentrated and small against her ankle with less traction than a breath. It transferred to her shin-bone. Perhaps it was cramp: maybe the saxophones would blare their note, she would slide the crest of the cake away only to topple to the floor in a stiff heap, gasping in a silt of sugar and marzipan, the rest of the dancing troupe Charlestoning around her in an afterbirth of sponge mixture and ticker-tape, her feather-headdress a discarded exclamation mark.

           The tickle became a rasp, accompanied by a localised roar of wings.
           The bee flew up from the floor of the cake directly into Julia's face.

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Rhea’s Revenge

You have made a litany of our lives,
husband, worthy of any myth. How
did they taste, I wonder? Each
small boy slipped down your gullet.
I trembled beneath your body as you sweated
out their sweetness, sweated in the next.

Take in enough water
to layer your pain,
you’ll need it on your lungs
to stop the sounds.
Imagine each son
weighting your gut.

When I finally release, I’ll haul you home
to prop against the hearth,
still wet from the sea. I’ll cook samphire
in tight shoals of butter and lime,
and offer it to your conched mouth, massage
‘til swallowed and watch your belly swell.

I’ll cut you
groin to teeth
bury our children’s bones,
the one black stone,
then feast.


Don’t Allow Your Mind to Wrestle With the World

Don’t allow your mind to wrestle with the world
Let the enzyme, opine dehydrogenase, catalyze the
Chemical reaction; (2S)-2-{[1-(R)-carboxyethyl]
amino}pentanoate + NAD+ + H2O L-2-amino
pentanoic acid + pyruvate + NADH + H+ . The world
is a monster in sheep’s clothing. Slow down the musical
cadence in the walk to the end of time. In the beginning
was the mind, and the mind was with God, and the
mind was not of the world, and the mind was God.
Don’t allow your mind to wrestle with the world
Let the product of the enzyme L-2-aminopentanoic acid&
pyruvate&NADH&H+ diffuse the memories of the
past, and the blur shadows of the future. Like a flock
of sheep commanded by the master, let the banal lyrics
of the world be engraved on the tombstone of river death,
And flow down the valley of the shadow of death, leaving
Diamond greyed metals shinning like the eye of a cat, the
Mind’s trajectory; transcendental source of knowledge
Solicited words of wisdom fed into the cells of the
Encephalon; in spite of a bloated tumor in the brain,
Bedeviling pain tantamount to hellfire, concludes
the world a pain in the ass. Don’t allow your mind to
Wrestle with the world, after all, there’s death!

Sleigh Bells and Alarms

They told him to move on:
“It's the childhood market.
The youth demographic.”
Still, Santa kept watching
Kids as they dropped teddies
For ambitions, failures,
Jobs and partners, lawyers,
Kooks and widescreen tellies.
He would crawl down chimneys
And listen to dreams, sobs,
Curses, threats and begging,
Before saying, “Rudolf,
Are they not still seven?”


The Ark Secretary

“Of course it’s lovely to know they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour,” the professor grumbled. “But one expects a little more analysis from future Church leaders. Give it fifty-one percent. Have we signed ourselves in for lunch?”
    Mary mopped at the desk with some tissues. “I don’t think so, but I guess they’ll assume...”
    “Email to Japheth. Mary and I will both be in for lunch today as usual. Sorry about the short notice, exclamation mark.” As she tapped at the keyboard, screen-reading software kept track of her spelling and punctuation, repeating it aloud. Period. Exclaim! It was like having a bossy and more holy colleague. The professor had not inquired whether she was a believer at her job centre interview (“Office assistant needed for a blind professor of practical theology. Must have good sea legs...”). She assumed he didn’t care, so long as she could spell hermeneutical and Isaiah.
    The Ark lurched and more rain spattered down from the ceiling, just as a speaking clock announced that it was 12pm. The professor spoke a command in Ancient Hebrew and the wire security door to the aviary extension swung open. Mary caught hold of a dove – it was easy, they were all very tame – and opening a porthole chucked it out, against a blast of rain.


I didn’t know what to look at;
the dripping woman who tempted my lips,
or the old man who tempted my dreams,
or the deep black that tempted my fear.

I rotated the photograph, this way,
then that, flipped it over, still
I didn’t know what to look at;
like voyeuring a naked neighbour, undecided
about what to ogle the longest, or receiving
an anticipated letter, and not knowing
what to read first, or watching the evening news,
and not knowing when to stop crying.

And then I saw it –
the creator’s fingerprint,
the photographer’s breath,
and I could see no more,
only hear.


From Polonius In His Dark Heaven To Ophelia, Pulled From The River

     Why did you do it, Ophelia?
     Was it really because of me?
     Was I so poor a father?
     Sixty summers before I held you in my arms,
     and then I had to be father and mother to you.
     I never knew the levity of youth -
     it was buried with a like intensity
     in your mother’s grave, and I
     just a dried up husk left behind.
     I must have always been old to you.
     Afraid, I gave you words in place
     of a mother’s comforting embrace -
     empty words to deal with the likes of Hamlet ...

     It is too late to speak of Hamlet:
     it has always been too late.
     My life surrounded by men,
     my thoughts shaped for them.
     Perhaps, if I had known my mother ...


The Path of Least Resistance

She dips into the alcove of the jewellers behind the placard, asking for gold. She stands opposite her target and observes. Every day for the past two weeks, same time, she appears.

First impressions of the shop across the road weren't great: the cluttered window display; the glass, plastered with stickers on the inside; the horrible handwritten request for rare albums; "Vinyl Spin" sits above it all in chipped, faded letters. The "n" has slipped away from the "spin". It is crooked, like the smile she remembers when, as a child, she'd run to Him in fields of wheat and sunshine, arms open.

Today it is raining.

He is absent and present in her head. Perhaps He doesn't exist at all. She fears if she walks across the road, she'll be soaked before she arrives. And she'll approach a stranger, elderly and bearded, and her memory will pop like soapsuds disturbed from dishwater.

She concentrates on the conduits of rain, trickling down the glass, each line mapping the path of least resistance; sometimes two droplets join and gain momentum. When the gold-seller tires of her loitering outside of his premises, she'll move off without objection.

She'll break her cover but won't find the courage to cross the road and burst back into His life, arms open. She'll pull up her hood and hunker down. She'll try to keep her mascara from running although rain and tears work against her. She'll turn her back on Him and keep walking the other way. Easy.

Besides, the man who inhabits her memories is nothing but an embellishment. Perhaps He was never there at all.



Drops of water fell from the beard onto the head of the woman. She had not moved now for a short time, her complete attention on the small pot on the table in front of her. Her hair was already saturated, the shoulders of her over-cloak sodden and her hair piece had been removed and was now clutched protectively in one hand.

The ceremonial make-up reverently applied each morning now ran from each eye, the ritual decoration now dragged down and across her cheeks to under each ear. More a marking of facial war paint than sacred expression. This only made her look more threatening.

Suddenly flicking back her head to keep her hair from under her collar she looked up and fixed her stare on the Dran seller who took a half step back. The smudge marks from her make-up knitted venomously with her sneering eyes and half curl to her lips. Sheltered under the awning the Dran seller quailed into his jacket.

"I will not pay you that, it is too much."

The Dran seller shuffled around, his morbid tone of whines and wheezes mixed over the rasp of his leather wrapped feet on the cobbles as he shuffled in his discomfort. The threat of her cold nature and lofty position in the city was magnified by the smeared facial make-up.

"It is the price 'Ahmla, no more can I benefit one of your nature. It is beyond me. My forebears watch over me and will curse my actions. You know the family is the only Dran family here and the ties with the long gone never pass."

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Prospero’s Daughter

She had partied late into the night
Returning home to her father's side
The memory of his brilliant light
Was too much for a girl like her to hide
Playing dumb was perhaps the only way
His ancient mind might not consider
That she was the one who sparked the day
And had grown tired of being prisoner
The monster was right in his confession
And so she must begin her mission.


Ocean to drop

She told him to give her his tears. Give her the tears he’d been weeping for decades. Tears, she knew, that were about her, engendered by her, which used to hang in his beard like shivering diamonds, then disappear. Perhaps it was their constant disappearance that did it, in the end. Their reminder that attrition is the only certainty, mountain to mote, ocean to drop. And when he did give her his tears they fled into her eyes like released hostages - not quite glad to find home, questioning what home is, what the source was, back then.

final strand

She fought a good fight. For him. Of him. Due to him. For herself.
For a while there she was hanging by a thin hair.
Just a strand.
It was after all his genes in her genes. She danced a good dance round the strands of their shared DNA and she could hear him cheer her on. On and on her grandfather time. Tic toc sweet dear, from this you can, you will,heal. As she turned to walk away from this fight well fought she realized her genes had nearly forgotten him. Not a trace of him left in any cell.
And that is after all how time heals us by our chiny chin chin.


Alfonso and Thessaly

The poster appeared overnight as though the hands of midnight carefully plucked their expressions from the moon. Their complexions were milky white, superimposed on an obsidian backdrop, silently commanding the town’s attention. We all stood, mute, observing the identities pasted on to the disused garage wall.

The Amazing Alfonso and the Tantalising Thessaly for one week only!

A grandfather/granddaughter act none of us had ever heard of before, but an act we were all dying to see. They had revamped the disused garage with fantastic fairy lights and glowing candles which illuminated our way into their ethereal kingdom.

I saw Thessaly first sitting at a silver table shaped like a coin. She looked beautiful; her wet hair plastered to her face, mascara streaming down her cheeks like dark claws, her mouth the darkest of buds. She spoke to me in hushed tones as though her voice was not her own, a gift she had inherited from an elder spirit. She gestured for me to sit and took my palm, tracing it with her fingertips, her mouth, and finally, her tongue. She showed me the future I could have if only I wasn’t afraid to let go – the things I could achieve, the wonders I could see, the amazing man I could be.

Suddenly she disappeared before me like she was a dream, an invention of my imagination, a ghost I wanted to cling on to and call my own.

Then Alfonso appeared, the old man whose beard resembled a tangled fishing net of hopes and wishes curling into a loose hook. He spoke in an ancient tongue, the tongue I like to believe the old Gods possessed, and showed me how to move chairs with my mind, how to turn lights on and off without touching them, how to raise the dead.

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Sightings In Secret

I wished you were a woman
that way we might have had a chance
at understanding each other
but instead you came down on me like thunder
with your heavy cloud face.
You tarried so we tried to communicate
with each other in secret
and dreamt up aliens that could hear us
when we cried.

I waited to feel the ecstasy they described
the one they said with certainty I would feel
when you were to finally hover over me
to pour your fluids in my eyes
so we might believe we are members
of the same planet that orbits the same way too.

Be a woman, would ya?
Let’s press our cheeks together
so we could feel how soft they are.
Look up!
There are no clouds
only spaceships in the sky.


Sometimes My Words

Sometimes my words run
down my cheek and I
need assurance they're
the ink of poetry.
Men are baffled and afraid
of feminism; but Whitman
confides: " You are not one jot
less than I am,    you are ultimate
in the right," * and I thank Walt
and work on, using a compass of
my own to voyage as I please.
All the watch- stars are women
and I am free. I carriage myself
where horizon fires lick the sea,
galaxies merge and I deliver a
cosmos that is mine.

* From " A Woman Waits For Me", by Walt Whitman

the germinator

you were not the young rain
that slid into the raw roots
of my mother,
but the single swirl of sunlight
to penetrate her shriveling petal of logic,
heal the stem of reason
where the viscous hint of my being once lay and ergo,
bewitched every sane blossom that might have bloomed
in me into brilliant buds of artistry

a veil of nettles is draped over magnolia moonlight,
a feverish curtain; you are near.


One and Other

An old man knows
what youth was, and is,
but a girl with white teeth,
red lips and wet hair
can only guess about old age.

A brow may be seamed
like a stave, its music faint
but complicated, rich.
Or it may be a blank sheet,
a piece of fine linen, stretched tight.

A beard tells a story, it
signifies. It is a skein of days,
a combed book, time written
in strands of hair.


Water and Empty Space

Your cells are crying, Stella.

Sloughing and peeling, like the slick pull and spring back of an snake, making its way across the desert under the watchful eyes of Time. Or maybe the snake analogy is wrong. It's more like the slow absorption of the sand from the shore.

- It's always about the water, isn't it? Why is that?

When you look for life outside of your planet, that's what you look for. That's all you are. Water and Empty space. Reasoning holds you together. Your cells are fighting for their lives in every of your so called seconds.

-I'm scared of what lies beneath that surface.

Because of what you might find?

-Because it may be endless, that's why!

Bless you, with your human faculties.

All you can do is find analogies. These meanings that hold you together - they are limited as the sandbox that dwells beneath your feet. The inner and the outer space, fighting for that tension. Through the recesses and plains of the galaxies.

The tension, Stella, is all of you.

Harness it. Use it well.


Benetton Launches New Wise Umbrella

Tom bought me one of those new wise umbrellas, but I'm unsure of where or how to use it. Does it only speak when serious decisions are to be made or is it like a constant nagging mother?

I had visions of the umbrella castigating me whilst I browsed the trouser section in a clothes shop:
'You? A size 14? I don't think so, I really think it would be wise to head to the outsize section. Let's not fool ourselves.'

And I would dutifully do as the wise umbrella told me, secretly fuming at its correctness and knowing I'd never get away with setting foot inside a cake shop ever again.

Women everywhere are changing. They've stopped seeing men and applying make-up, the wise umbrella is revolutionizing the psyche of women. Recently, passing through Queen's Park, I saw a woman standing in the rain, tears were streaming down her cheeks and I wondered what the wise umbrella was saying to her?
Was it compelling her to read philosophy? Or advising her to head to the nearest psychoanalyst? To forget her high powered job or that she was a terrible mother, or maybe it recited poetry like a thoughtful lover?

I looked down at my folded wisdom umbrella, not at all sure if I was ready for its insight. But curiosity got the better of me. As I released it from the tight wrapping, it opened its eyes and blinked. Grabbing the sturdy handle I launched it into the air, up and over my head.

Six months have passed and it has never said a word to me.


Unknown Grandfathers

I so wish for ancient grandfathers.
Venerable with literary gravitas – linking
their poetic lineage with my frail capacity.

Sending thought waves from the grave.
‘Do your really want to use that word?’

Impatient with my choice of subject.
‘Too hackneyed my dear – find your voice
and listen to your wise relations’.

Looking like Tennyson or William Morris.
Poets etched by hard worn lines.
Skipping generations and landing
up in my small mind – bewildered,

by my little talent – they had
been lead to believe I had a presence

and was a Poet Laureate – a name.
Well our surnames begin with the letter ‘D’
so surely that’s a start.

They cry vexed tears from the other world
and baptise me with their disappointment.

I promise to do better and make them proud.
They sigh and vanish – vaguely mollified,
but still shaking heads and beards.


Mr Newson

I know he is there so close I can smell the tobacco smoke on his beard.
In my darkest moments and deepest sleep I am aware of his presence.
It is many years since he passed, I was just a child..
I barely knew him
So why?

I remember his eyes, blue but rheumy with age.
His hands almost transparent with purple veins standing out from the stretched tight skin.
I remember the peppermints he kept in a tin.
By his chair.
He would offer me one and I would shake my head.
Too strong for my childish taste.
My Gran told me when he died, she sat me on her knee and that was the first time that he came to me.
I have never been afraid.

Many months may pass between his visits.
He brings me no answers.
Reassurance or Retribution
But I am strangely calmed and quietened.
For a few brief moments.



Looking down on the subject
I see a long pointing beard
flow from my chin
caress the space above your head
and I wonder.

Should I kiss the top of your head
or would that be construed paternalistic?

You are off on another whirlwind
seeing the world like a fireball.

I wouldn't dream of stopping you
your reality and mine are seperate at times.

We coincide in cartwheels of joy.


A_ or N_

To break through with indifference was what he sought after; what consumed him. He wanted his attempt to go forward with carelessness, but he knew he was already implicated in being there. Were all puzzles just a part of bigger puzzles? Slowly the dust continued to drift in the air, still hanging in the lack of movement through space, unable to settle, unable to lay on that which it names. He began to fixate on the motions around him, yet his fixation never fixed to any single point in the way one watches rain outside a window trickle down, until it is lost by the eyes. Ever so carefully he began to turn around, his gaze upwards to the source. For a brief moment he stood, half blinded, half paralysed by the dust gliding divinely through the air, never ending, never beginning. He wanted to merge with the light, to disappear into it and radiate back into the eternal nothingness that hung over every moment. His skin burned as every pore burst, his hair fell out as it stood on end scorching itself to be scattered away into the subtle winds. The table broke the silence throughout the room as his body positioned itself on top of the surface. His body rocked the table beneath, the wood splintering and buckling under his feet. As his hands grasped around the edges of the clock the table finally gave way, leaving the body with no foundation to support itself with. His legs swung like a pendulum forcing his fingers to grip tighter onto the clock as he slipped on each side, desperately hanging on, before a loud snap preceded his crash onto the floor, bringing the clock down, as it still remained shining its twilight into the room. Read more >

No More Sweating In The Dark

Well it was a beautiful start, my plastic bed
and my parents whose skin was a canvas to
their pumping organs and how it shone grey
in places. And from then it was the wooden
road out to the sea, the people who sat on
that rickety promise, their narrow eyes when
peeking through the green floorboards. Then,
of course, the accident caught on camera, but
I don’t remember the community centre’s floor
being that yellow, or being led out to the stacks
of tyres. I remember it being dark in the daytime.
After that, I’ve tried to live right, run when I need
to run, chew my food properly and buy vegetables
from a man who can guess the weight of carrots.
Where I live we look out of the window and see
our neighbours bending low to look at their children.
Apart from that, I remain the same, but I remember
it being easier to cross bridges, it’s hard to see it all.

free fall (a haibun)

all you need to do is look. unravel the layers, like you would, an onion. first, the tears. then the translucence of emotions. silence. and slowly, laughter that curlicues around nothingness. spilling itself like gentle rain. until everything is awash. anew. like tomorrow that you see it today.

souls speak. they do. all you need to do is look.

laugh lines…
a crow tucks some meat
beneath its feet


Losing the game again

The fear is, of course, that this is
how we will end up: tears running
into my Tolstoy beard, lamentations
that the painter and decorator
didn’t get my ‘Dorian’ right,

while you – and the sneer that snared
me, the wit that speared me,
the kohl that subdued me – go
on and on and thrillingly on.

You keep tweeting about your plans
to dye your mane again, a murky
shade of attention; and I can’t tell
you my one wish: just to hold
your new hair back from your face.



Sat forever in the underworld, she had no idea why Alex had used his grandfather, suspended nude from an infinitely long thread, as bait to fish her back out again. As his saliva hit her cheek and he cried 'grab the beard you daft tart!' she remembered why she had thought it prudent to top her beautiful wasted self in the first place. As the old man was yanked by his ankles back up to surface, she screamed after him to call his grandson a useless twat.

He is Her

A hair's breadth.
That's all that separates them. Unseen, except on occasion through the slight subliminal window of dream, he is there. A parallel of her, her future and past, her always.
A wiser version. He walks with her. Cries tears that are her tears. Feels the pain, the fear, the love she feels.
They grow together, silent partners in life.
Perhaps one day they will meet.
All she need do is look up.


Life, thus far, has been a series of long drawn goodbyes, lived in a constant state of departure. Life blows hearts to bits like dandelions, and we wear sadness like our skin. The night after all is just the sky turning over in its sleep. And somewhere in time, we exist.
I am not a very religious person. Lord knows I am guilty of having not wanted to be alive. But I do believe in rebirth. I turned twenty this year but I have always felt ancient. I probably died an old, old man in my previous life and I have carried that age with me. I feel most antique when I am standing in the rain, as if I had just been born - wet, dripping and alive. As my eye liner disobeys all boundaries, I am wide awake in the world of the dead. I see another life but it is a nostalgia for the tedious. It has been centuries of existence now and nothing has changed.

Life still blows hearts to bits like dandelions and we still wear sadness like our skins. The night is just the day imprisoned in a restless sleep. And somewhere in time, we exist.



if you were still here, I’d slice off the tip of every finger, including the thumb, in the face of my words dying

if you were still here, I’d sever my leg and toss it in the tip, with its knee high sock still in place - the femur full of sarcasm and wit

if you were with me my eyes I would pop, one by one from the skull to enter the crackling darkness where memories on motorbikes do burnouts and dissolve – no need for clubs then

in the stillness of letting go, ears closed over with needles and thread, I would give every piece, every last inch of my shell to have you hear,

but oh

there are no wide arms for my body or lined palms to collect up my soul and if only brings with it all the irrevocable weight

of knowing


The Quality of Santa

You’ll be an elf, they told Linda. Linda wasn’t best pleased. This was all because of last year’s summer-fair hotdog debacle. Now Linda had been demoted. Linda was an elf. She wasn’t going to take this lying down. She made bunting. She made 125 identical snowmen adorned with glitter gel scarves and black coal buttons she’d pressed with the hole punch. I don’t get it, said Norman, her husband. Linda shooed him away from the table. Your dinner is in the oven. No one will notice, he says. I will, she replies. She watches him hover in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil. I don’t like chicken drumsticks, he says. He eats them anyway.

Linda buys new boots – knee length and cranberry leather and gets her hair blow-dried. She decorates the gazebo at Wood Leigh Primary School with her bunting, fake snow, real holly stolen from the neighbour’s garden and premium fairy lights (not coloured; they look tacky). She wraps fake presents to surround the school office armchair.

Santa arrives half an hour before the fair begins. He shakes Linda’s hand limply. His complexion is gaunt, his eyes brown. He isn’t even fat. The girth is all concentrated in the gut area, his legs long and gangly so he looks like a stork. Linda scans down to his feet. Black wellies. Linda isn’t happy. She sees the silhouette of a child waiting by the gazebo entrance. She steps outside and ushers the child in. Santa speaks with an accent. Santa is apparently a bit East End. She glares at him to deepen his tones, to laugh from the bottom of that beer belly with all his might. He doesn’t even try. The child doesn’t even notice. But she does. A little effort for the sake of the children? Alright, treacle. Well done for being a good girl – my chief elf will send you on your way, cheers. Linda reaches over to give the child their 99p shop present. She gets a whiff of bad breath and gin.

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a thought otherwise

how do i make her
believe that he is still around;
his epilepsy did not cure
with the burning away of his bones
he still needs me to wipe his
miserable wounds, he still needs me
to file his pension papers
for sustenance at God's home...
Look at his head just
above my khol eyes
-a chandelier of frost
in stormy darkness, he, my
playtime Galileo... Mother
he is your dad I once wanted to run away with!

Is It Here?

I offer them suffering. Put it in their way as an option, something to be chosen or ignored. Though the choice seems never to occur to them.

Instead they wonder how it is a beneficent soul can place such strife before them, allow such pain to be a part of things.

All I can say is joy is there for the taking. I offer this too. I watch them as they seek.

“Is it here?” they ask, holding up a glistening trinket to the light.

I say nothing. And my silence feels like pain.

“This then? Look at this!”

And they parade, naked and proud mesmerised by youth and beauty, recoiling in horror when time reflects a figure in the mirror they can never accept.

The grate their teeth and curse me.

“Everything collapses in on itself. Back to a single point.”

But even this they don’t accept, though it offers some relief if they would care to dwell upon it.

And I can only wonder at the golden-haired child, graced with vitality and beauty, as she weeps in the rain, slumped in defeat at an elemental assault she surely knows will pass.

I could say something. Have the sky reveal itself, a cerulean blue.

“Look at this.” I could say “Feel this”

Read more >


In my weakness

It is apparent, the breath you send after me
marked like morning dew, pearly like sweat
it comes off you without second thoughts
I can tell it is your only weapon, you are the first and the last man
Weakness isn't your strongest feature, not one you'd admit to
don't hide it, it is sweet- you grow on me,
despite time weaving its claws into the folds of your face
I know you since birth
You will never admit you care for me,
You watch me, I feel it
the gaze that lands on my shoulders, yours unedited.

I don't know if it is boredom or if it is your word
your first, that becomes me
the human out of the details, add water
deduct salty tears, but raise enough space
for other body parts to grow like shrubs
save space for figures of speech
to line letters and create scenes that look
like the beginning, the middle and the end
of a long series of chapters, heading nowhere.

Read more >


A life measured in a tear

A face weathered by time gazes blankly into mine.
Lines etched into flesh like the rings marking a tree.
Each a tale to tell, a life to unfold be it ever so old.
In ignorance I smile giving hope in life's last breath.
A face young yet to walk those lines, endure those tales.
A heart wanting to care to share yet reality is a lifetime away.
A hand held a tear touched. If only it could tell me what it knows.
Why with that one touch can I not see all those eyes have seen?
With one touch why can I not feel what that heart has endured?
A veil of tears separates us when a lonely heart needs me most.

Releasing all that holds me in this body I wish to travel inside his.
To travel the roads those feet have walked and those hands have felt.
To feel every muscle ache in remembrance; its life, loves and loss.
To flow through each cell in his blood recalling every second of its life.
Memories, dreams unfulfilled, events never to be forgotten.

My tongue tastes the salty bitterness shed from those final tears.
Just for a second I imagine your spark only to shed my life's tears.
Together let me travel with you our tears on my tongue.
Let me take you back to where it all began.



The old man is not of the sea
but she is,
long ago he stole her coat of many feathers
her smooth selkie shift
she needs it to swim or fly, away from him,
from all of them
men who are not quite human

who forget as always why they steal
the magic caul
or why they hide it, always in darkness,
the unwanted twin,
they hide the light that danced on fetal skin
and doom is on them
they drown in their own ignorance

but she too is doomed, to search so sad
for second sight
the membrane that clung behind her ears
the veil of tears hung on a tree
like dead leaves after the fall
so many mixed metaphors:
how to pronounce this word met-em-psych-osis

he does not know, nor she, but together
they live the loss
of all things rent and torn from faces
- torturer's marks on a placental trace -
nowhere to swim back, to or from,
no coat and no Hellespont
not even this story, her search for grace


Dry Fountain

Buzz of erratic emotions guided strands of sterling wicker,
behind her ears, where his hope cavorted,
bracing for their journey to eternity. He wished her weightlessness, a freshly mowed meadow,
her own kingdom. It was time, the nurse
repeated. He agreed: time to leave the rocky
forest of life, time to be more than a shadow
of pain. If only they were in the same boat,
he could have taken her hand and - along with
his lost sleep - rowed back to the beginning;
no tide, no current. I T I S T I M E
announced a ghostly gust, a plaster on his wound.

Two lives

An old man cries over lost youth,
the girl he almost wed,
his children that never were,
the words that went unsaid.

A young girl dreams and smiles,
her life is full of laughter and fun.
She can’t yet see the clouds of tears
that will obliterate the sun.


Beware my friends

Men have no teeth
women have teeth

I sip sustenance through
frayed lips nestling in my beard

Women have teeth
framed in scarlet to lure their prey

A line of bone bodies, rooted
and ready for the kill

The clench and crush, the lingering
grind to savour captivity

Before the final swallow



He looks down on her from above,
Wet from the rain, naive, a child,
What does she know.
He has wisdom, he knows all.
He is the Father,
All Heaven is his,
He is the creator.
But she will go her own way,
Oblivious to his teaching,
Make her own mistakes.
She has free will.
He is powerless until,
one day she reaches out.
She needs him,
He welcomes her,
back into the fold.

Charles Darwin Looks Down At Her And Her Isotopes

What you’ll never know is that…

And she starts writing, cursor blinking on the seventh line of a half abandoned notebook. Dreams merge kleptomaniacally at focal points where sleep is the fulcrum, insomnia – the key. Words suddenly start drooping and wilting in a jaundiced quarter plate. There lies in abundance, a penny-rich lie. She wonders about the efficacy of the hyphen in the previous line. Her thoughts are sometimes as insignificant and as futile as this.

Gulp. Gulp. Gulp.

She's reinventing time travel in words. Her forty[sic]. Miss Mondegreen.

Miniature. Such a profound word for a world so tiny. Almost a Taj Mahal. The ‘n’ could be a tomb, a mausoleum flanked by the two 'I's as minarets. Life is all about balance and then it gets shorter. If you see what you saw then the game gets over in a jiffy. Sometimes, she can feel veins growing like roots in her body; tentacles in her brain, stemming a new thought, planting an emotion, then uprooting it. Just like that. She's living her life in recess, in intermission. Some of her is bound to spill over in the dark, under the seat, where no one can see. In her prescription there is no cure for silence.

Read more >



Not knowing her father, she has lost him
again (the kind of man who will not stay).
Just long enough. After, leaving at whim.
She thinks of her lover’s hands, and what may
have been. A relationship will not be.
Her father is myth, like mermaids (never
to be found by naïve girls) or by she
who is looking. Seek and she shall tether
herself to him. She saw him once or twice,
her father. It is not quite the done thing
to talk about him now. Sometimes small mice
scurry out from under her bed, now kings
of a domain supposed to be for her.
She thinks of him and it is as a blur.

Science sucks

Grandpa hides his Viagra, we know not where. He hides it well, the old rascal. So far we've failed to foil him. Although there's no point in it, really, for he's already spent the inheritance gambling and whoring since grandma died.

I guess we're after him because we're jealous. I, for one, wouldn't mind bedding Cleo, his younger girlfriend. She used to be a model for ladies' mags, back in the 80s, in black and white.

A while back she stopped modelling and just copes with grandpa and his constant cheating, his casual smoking and daily drinking. She didn't count with Viagra, it fucked her life.

Grandpa has a strong heart but science sucks.


The Stalactite Song

In some rock formation processes saturated dripping solutions
like tears build sediment columns to the cave roof, growing strong,
which takes patience, patience I have: I could wait here for months
or however long it takes in this cold void as you create me. No really, go on.
I have all the time in the world.

Time and his Muse Sheeba

A cool evening in November. She waited at the door, checking her watch. It was nearly eight when she saw the headlights turning into the side road. Oh, she sighed, how long it's been!
The tap was running in the kitchen. Her brow wore beads of perspiration like shining pearls, she was always nervous at times like this. By now the car had entered the driveway, she could hear him getting out, feet on the gravel outside. She was just inside, out of view, behind the gauze curtain, holding her breath.
It trickled down in a kind of downpour now, the sweat of her brow that had built up and run amok, drenching her face, her neck, her hair. He was at the door.
She closed her eyes. A green field full of yellow flowers loomed up, she was running hand in hand with her little brother. A big plane flew overhead. The man in the car had come to watch them play. He stood far away, outside the field.
Now she opened her eyes one last time to look at him. He hadn't changed. Shivers ran down her spine and she disintegrated in front of her own eyes.
When they came to take her away the next day, they wondered how she had managed to do this.

Together, sing like birds in a cage

Will the men come with guns?
Will they run at the door like
Scalded skin on water
Will they shout and scream
And demand our stolen cards?
Will their words alone flay the
Hair from my head,
Will they let your tears mix with mine?

These men have fingers that
Grip like rat-traps, but
Between you and me, is each other; you, my
Pretty flower, arching toward the sun
Reviving in the rain,
Even, through the cracks.
We shall laugh, together, brightest and

When they rebuild the fractured city
After the steel-capped feet have marched
Through the resistance,
Widened the streets, to their distracted
Pomp and style, demolished those places;
The street where a smiling boy
Tightened a purple ribbon in
My hair, or the market
Read more >



“I’ th’ commonwealth I would, by contraries,
Execute all things [...]”
Shakespeare, The Tempest II.i.

Mother! plague of angels in the house – thinkin stranglin,
oh shit, applied bakin soda remedies instead, witherin
final refrigerator angels cloggin language
like they’d free us from known it’s true further
Father Zeus airdrops party favours, fractures syntax,
gettin the glitter out of war where we’re struck stuck livin,
sex existin, plane to sea. Mother, our cities! cold
called on Aphrodite, AIDS worker, to blonde bond us
again with triage ties of love. Maa! Thinkin writin.
Turned over a new leaf to indict science silence
siloed whiteness witness; was a portal, no paper;
near as narnia, fell in; this darling darkling plain!
It’s rainin in Ilium. There’s somethin classic
about this situation which eye must not, nor heart,
articulate, though bearin it, we do, and have sung
songs whose vibration slips the mascara from those gods,
though a man lookin down on us dogs us with kind thoughts
he kind of attributes to us as tributes to him.
Mother! plunge your tongue where ever with brokenness we’re deaf-
en’d defend
fed. Take apart our part. Launch in sighted
darkness our pack of languages, fluid as hounds,
all ready: bathed: riteful: already intending chase:


Before us, they remain

CHRISTINA ( smiling ) Father, I've done it so well many a time before. Falling. I once thought that if I learned to recognise the signs, I would find a way to stand tall. And finally I see them―miles away Father, I see them before they even reveal themselves―you would think it's gotten better now, yes, you would think so. What does it really do for me, nothing? No... It does a great deal. I anticipate, then faster, faster than before, I precipitate!

FATHER Precisely, Christina. ( bends over her ) It is just so. ( Takes off his coat and puts it on her shoulders ). Heading nowhere fast and knowing so, trying hard, so hard to be more, more than they expected, even more than you anticipated...

CHRISTINA No, Father. You don't seem to understand. Once, dreams were sketched from brewed exotic flower petals. Now running water cleansed the lie and quenched our thirst.

FATHER Exactly, Christina. ( bends over to protect her from the rain ) That's it. You once believed in potions, elegant elaborate designs that could transform your fate.

CHRISTINA What is it Father, what do I still fail to see? I have abandoned hope, it is repugnant. I have forsaken beauty, it is obscene. I have changed my name, my language, my country, my address, my hair, my face, my philosophy, my men, my story.

FATHER You still hang on to friends, Christina, to family, to me, to love.

CHRISTINA But Love's not Time's fool, you said that Father.

FATHER Not me, Christina, it wasn't me.

CHRISTINA You said it was all about the journey.

Read more >


Sometimes a cold blooded murderer

Or most times,
I think of bottle openers –
The bottles they open
As women’s heads
Popped open by a head opener.
I’ve never used a bottle opener.
I open my mouth,
Put the bottle between my canines
Split the head without any trouble.
Or most times,
I think of bottles
As women. But really,
Biting them open
Seems kinder than popping them open.
Firstly, biting can be useless, sometimes –
Things can be difficult to bite.
Secondly, popping
Makes things fizz.
Well, sometimes.


God! Those lips and eyes -
so artificial.

The hair, at least
is real.

She’s drenched in parentage,
as are we all.

We may creep clear, deny, conceal,
but lineage is always



Analysing Your Brain, And Mine; A Self-Exploration

I think it’s very revealing to look at a picture and see where our mind takes us.
Sometimes in the happiest of places but most times in the darkest corners.

Who is that man?
Why is it raining from his beard?
My face looks like that in the morning when I forget to take my make up off the night before.
(I typed “forget” to conceal my lackadaisical disposition; conceded)
She looks happy though.
This is a weird picture.
I like that it’s black. I like black.
The wrinkles on the man’s forehead scare me a little. To think we all will grow old one day and precipitate from our facial hair.
It’s an odd thought.


The Library of Tears

Dear Clementine,


Winter is coming and I cannot leave my Welsh cottage, the mountains. I mourn the loss of Albert. Yesterday, I met a bearded man in a café. I was sat in my usual spot, drinking frothy coffee, reading the paper. I suddenly began to cry. The man turned to me, offered a tissue and this is what he said,


“Tears are a river which carries words, pushed by undercurrents; an implicit battle between water and stone, between day and night, between what we wanted and what is. Flesh unarticulated. Each drop contains letters, sentences, potential paragraphs. Tucked inside every single falling sphere is a turning wish of saying, a transparent secret unsaid. The tears tumble and they carry the words. Bidding. Flowing. Seeping from your heart. You are weeping a library of tears.”


Be well and kiss the baby,


Aunt Dorothea.


Rain drops run my mascara

   I landed in the dirty water that puddled in the gutter of the old brick street. The rain poured relentlessly and I had no umbrella. My hair flattened against my skin, trails of black dripped down my face from my mascara, and my feet were freezing and soggy inside my ruined pumps.
   An old man with a long white beard rounded the corner across the street, a big black umbrella sheltering him. With a glance in my direction, he saw me sitting on my knees in the gutter and rushed over. He leaned over and helped me to my feet, surprising me with the strength of his frail body, and insisted he’d walk me home.
   With one hand on the umbrella that protected us from the rain and his other arm around my shoulders to help keep me warm, the old man distracted me from shivering as he talked about his grandchildren.
   When we stood at my door, he handed me that big black umbrella, and said, “I hope it treats you as well as it has treated me.” He smiled and walked off into the downpour.


‘I got a bird that whistles. I got a bird that sings.’

Was it the Mayflower she sailed
When was heard an unfamiliar call?
Hermione’s song was innocent no more,
Having tasted the waters for her kind,
No more in the heartbreak spellbound.

The chain is broken -
All is absent thought of her -
The door of the cage has opened.
The human hummingbird
To the delight of all has flown.

Hermione sings of the freedom
Nowhere to be seen
But in her dream
The feather-winged woman
She believes herself to be

Making her way in the universe.
Now the wild-minded heroine
Spinning over oceans.
Hermione on the horizon,
Rising as the moon.


The Note

Dear Dad
By the time you read this, newspapers will have emblazoned my name across their front pages and my You Tube video will have gone viral. Twitter will have shut down my account and no doubt, Facebook will too. I can picture the surprise on your face when you recognise my handwriting on the envelope. When I did reach out to you it was always by phone or a few words in an email which you'd later chastise me for. Your surprise will morph into shades of disappointment and hurt before you walk into your bedroom away from prying eyes because you think sadness should be kept private.
Later, you'll process how I was the child you dreamed of with the string of As, house captain, tennis captain, my double first from Cambridge. It'll always be a scratch of the head moment for you as you wonder why and how I turned away from everything. The job in the City, the salary, the too-good-to-be-true boyfriend. Well, dad, the truth is, that this life was too good to be true. Nothing seemed to mean anything to me anymore. I was more shell than anything else.
Then, one day, I met Mariam. And she made me believe, told me things that made me feel as light as the air against my skin. Then I met the others. We are all women, empowered by a mutual goal. We're not lost souls, we're not subjugated. We're better than those so-called Jihadis beheading their way across the Middle East. Read more >

Under A Cloud

My life will be short. Everyone's is. We just don't accept it, until death crooks an insistent finger. I was a good Catholic girl, always. Straight home from school, homework done, teeth brushed twice, in bed at eight. Unquestioning, unbending in my obedience.
The All American Girl, lined up for a Valium-cushioned suburban dream.
But a monster raped my sister, she is dead inside.
I have tracked him for months; the patience of a saint.
Sorry God, fuck you.

You document with images

We forget some things and others we remember.

One photograph you have not taken haunts you.

One night in casualty, I held a boy.

Standing on a beach and watching the incoming tide.

Tasting gin once and repeating the same.

You cannot get black or white out of your mind.

His name is in writing.

The moon waxes and wanes.

Cocktail bars remind me of paintings by Blake.

You hide as much skin as you can.

You know your own history.

I wash myself without soap.



Work quickly, man. The stench is suffocating...

"Mr. Blake, sir...?"

But what a study this is! Every inch a weighted, aged Urizen in profile. Such definition to those deep, barren tributaries. Canyons etched by reason's searing course! The form and fall of the beard can be addressed in a few bold strokes. We cannot stay so wretched, sir. Immortality is nothing if not well groomed. My compliments to the Keeper for such a find. It is more than exact...

"Mr. Blake, sir...?"

A great compass shall be grasped in those slack and knotted hands. Nets to snare. Tomes of brass and gold shall lie open beneath that grave, implacable stare. Laws to counter sin. Great architect! Look not so downhearted, 'tis an elevation - an elevation! Here, some lustre to that fallow crown. There, some flesh to those veiled bones. Now we increase the form! How Atlas would envy these shoulders...


And from those shoulders to the daughter's form. Ardent, doting Eleth. Can naught persuade her from his side? What a cast she has found since she fell from the stars! A model of constancy. No treatments or flourishes. These strokes will follow her. Youth will do its own work...


Read more >