13 May 2015

Renewal


Mothballed and hidden away
under layers of dust and must-infused blankets,
in a confined, air-tight space lies
her boxed-up wedding dress
with its hand-made folds of pearl and lace.


But who’s that opening the window?
Letting in the air?
Allowing a lavender breeze to weave its way
through her lonely corridors?
Giving her a sudden shiver?

Who’s that shaking her dress from its secret place,
carrying it into the garden, under open sky,
and pegging it out on the washing line?


She watches silently as it billows, white and magnificent.

20 April 2015

A Gentle Passing

You know the wind is changing, don't you?

Did you feel that softest ever breeze? No?

Perhaps you heard a little silver rustle,
saw the quiver of the fragile early blossom on the cherry tree?

Or was it the sudden subtle scent
released into the delicate sky,
that recalled a million memories of her time with us,

made you realise she had passed this way.

This last day of Winter is full of sorrow,
but on the morrow, we will see 
the first day of Spring. 

27 May 2014

Slow Waking

In the deep dark of first morning
the colours lie:
plum purple for grass;
an oil-slick-black sea,
with mirrored-moon eyes glinting
as they open and close 
on the undulating swell beneath.

Your boat bobs and weaves,
your hand in the water, 
dredging up dreams.

Slack halyards slap and slap, 
as the pendulum swing of the boat lulls you. 
Head heavy, you're half-anchored, betwixt and between.
Sails down, you drift, 
not wanting ever to reach 
the solid inevitability of land.

28 April 2014

Lost and Found

Reluctant hands lag behind the hour.
Recalcitrant arms beg for more
Time.
The nurse gently tugs at the bundle she won't let go.
Mascara runs as he's prized away,
to be someone else's son.
The hands of her clock dragged in this moment
to a silent
standstill.

For years her choice of lipstick is fixed after this,
stuck in shades of Provocative Plum, Ruby Woo and Pretty Please.
Shimmering centre stage,
the 'good times' a protective gloss;
Not ageing as she should.

Decades later he seeks her out.
Clocks start ticking in her home once more.
She hangs up her party heels,
settles in to the sofa
and feels ...
the years flow back in.

She's all ears for him; lips parted (in soft neutral shades), her attention rapt, she listens.

The soft tick tock of the mantle clock
ushers her back to life.

24 February 2013

50 Shades of Woman

Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I'll begin...

Rip off the cellophane!
Unwrap the reams
of blank white paper
fresh with dreams
yet to be written.

Imbibe the smell 
of the ink-jet stream
as the lines of type
crisp and clean
emerge in words
telling a tale
that beguiles, enthrals
- a foretaste of all
the escapades, 
the clandestine missions,
the foiling of schemes,
the snaring of brigands
that you envision
in your future,
your very own 
Girls Own Adventure.

But as your body swells 
into rounded curves,
a changed narrative starts to stir.
You sell the film rights.
You're cast on the couch, 
your languid form 
now draped in a shroud
of vivid red satin -
you're scarlet with shame
as the story's re-written
for the male gaze.

Cut! Call the scriptwriters! Let's rework this ending.

15 December 2012

Everyday musings: Seventeen

I'm very conscious this is my son's last Christmas living at home - he moves out next Summer.  (Well, that's the theory at least!)  This knowledge colours every moment he's still with us.  I have such a strong sense of how I need to make the most of this time ...

Seventeen

Bags packed, parked
in the hall
by the door.
So much luggage.

I look at you
knowing soon
you will reach for the latch,
take your baggage
with you.

Looking back down the hall
I recall 
we had this carpet laid
soon after you were born.
Now as I stare
at the threadbare square
on the stairs,
feel the floor draw 
my heart down
through my hollowing form,

I see you
prepare 
to step out
into the bracing air.

9 December 2012

                          


                            BLOCK

The    foundations    are    sunk    deep.
They   cling   to   archaeology  beneath.
Consent    for   fresh   thinking   denied.
Application    for    the    new,   nullified. 
Only      the      antiquated     protected,
the   status quo  preserved.   The  solid
unmoving   structure   remains  despite
its  lack  of   merit.   It  blocks  the  light.
Refuses to  make  way  for  tomorrow's 
skylines.  Until  this  imagination-deficit 
             brings us all to ruin. 



8 October 2012

Soft Landing


Each of us holds a corner.
Can barely look the others in the eye.
Flap-flapping of unfolding fabric.
Summer wind finds voice in this white cotton,
disturbs the air: we pull it taut,
beneath the failing sky.

Our soft-toed shuffling deafening in the silence,
we brace ourselves for the coming squall.
A giant handkerchief. Collects our tears.
A hint of rosemary shrouded in the weave.
We look skywards as a speck appears.
Prepare to catch you as you fall.




26 August 2012

The Garden

Veiled by muffled strain of radio song,
water fall and garden breeze,
the silence softly speaks.

Sensed in registers we cannot hear,
a high-pitched hum -
   fainter than an insect's buzz,
   more hushed than meadow's crickets.

Curtains dance on breath of Summer.
The silver murmur of a TV screen,
mute but still tuned in,
whispers legends of a royal domain
before our toil began.

All knowing recedes to ether.
You call to us in cool of day.

18 April 2012

Unidentified Regret

You awake with a start,
your heart rushing blood
to the drums in your ears.
A dream half-remembered -
spectres' trails that
let the chill in

while the ghouls on your landing
lay traps, wrong-foot you,
trip-wire the stairs.
False-treads, ghost-risers,
bones jolt and clatter
on steps that aren't there.

You reach out to clutch
what's beyond the stretch
of your fingertips.

The stench of a clown's breath,
yellow teeth leering,
paintwork peeling,
repeats from your dreaming.
The promise of fun
sugar-spun pink,
melting to nought
on the warmth of your tongue
before you can sink

your teeth in.

And the aftertaste is bitter.

Lillies

The sounds of Summer hum.
We hear the heaviness of perfumed breeze
and bees bestowing kisses
on our soft petal necks, our wrists,
the secret hidden place behind our ears.


Iris, jasmine, rose,
warm scents of spicy musk and bergamot.
Abundant in our blooming,
we're radiant in pinks, yellows, golds,
with hints of star anise and orangeflower.


This heavy curtain opens
onto memories of gardens past.
when God walked near
and Eden's promise not yet spoiled
saw suns rise and stars set
and only turquoise crystal waters fall
in cymbal crashes; songs that say
'Refresh! Renew! And see the angels dance!'


He walks among us, now.
Delights to drink our heady fragrance in,
hungry for our presence.
We are God-made, complete, then
distilled to purity again.
Be bold; unfurl: be beautiful!
Exquisite lilly: no need to gild or spin.

29 December 2011

Violin Practice

The honeyed skin of your violin winks back at the sun
as it calls a mid-summer greeting through sitting-room window.

Glint of topaz catches your eye ... entices you!
You pluck your songstress from where she reclines,
always in arm's reach, held close by,
...and you play!

Her song fills the house: faltering occasionally, always beautiful.

Meandering scales draw a veil over humdrum
domestic cacophony in other rooms:
missing keys; coins lost in sofa cracks;
one-legged poltergeists stealing socks;
and clocks with minutes in such short supply we run anxious, breathless
from one to the next.

But here, before this sun-warmed window, time stands still.

4 December 2011

Seed

At the end of the Summer
they bury me,
deep in the dirt,
six measures under.
I hunker down in my
earthen bunker.

Under clay and peat
as the first frosts fall,
ice-powdering fields,
I tuck in deep -
retreat into myself,
dug in beneath

and - Oh! - breathe in the loam,
the warmth of the clod:
dark molasses aroma,
spiced earth sod,
honey and ginger and orange zest
feeding my core in this time of rest.

I will lie here muted,
muffled, blind,
curbed in this hush,
just marking time
till the first green flash pierces the soil
and we continue around this mortal coil.

Then, I'll reach for the sun's rays -
and ache for the sky.

18 August 2011

My Cup of Tea

Afternoon tea on mint village greens.
Croquet and cricket and camomile breeze.
A gentleman's greeting - hats tipped in the City
This is my England, my 'cup of tea'.

But clouds have passed over this English idyll
and spores of greed taken hold in the shadows.
Our once-pleasant land is green-sick with fungus.
My tea doesn't taste right; its flavour is bogus.

Green is the colour of money, of greed.
Green is the colour of 'me, me, ME!'

We exchanged bowlers for the red-braced and brash,
who made a mint while the nation's soul crashed.
The Bull's turned septic, the Bear's inflamed.
I spilled my tea and it's burning rage!

Green is the colour of money, of greed.
Green is the colour of 'me, me, ME!'
But our cities are blazing orange and red.
Definitely not my cup of tea, I said.

Feather

Gift of life barbed
as you count the days.
Aged by decades,
your spine crescent-curved
and white-tuft edged,
the wind whispering through your hollow stem.

We cling on with fingertips,
nostalgic for your strength,
remembrance of glossy plumes,
knowing in a heartbeat
the breeze could blow a final kiss,
with a last breath send you spinning,
propel you upwards with a final pulse...

24 June 2011

Death Cycle


Mothers torn: we are born.
We rise up from the ground and we shout.

We fall into a dream and we scream, 
silently but with gusto.

With the wisdom of a sage
we take this secret to the grave,
and weep, gnash and grind no more.

Fairweather Friend

Unmoving, she stares.
Unblinking, she dares
to fake affection.

You're all too aware
from her doll-like smile
of the way she defiles you,

her inflated sense
and lack of feeling
sending you reeling

until you bury reason
and hide the truth
in the dirt.

She turns her mouth to a perfect 'O'
feigning empathy as your emotions show,
running wild within, spilling over.

She proffers a hand in friendship.
Desperate, you take it,
while knowing all is not what it seems
- and plastic seams snag your skin.

But you're in too deep.
Cold comfort this,
but comfort still.

4 June 2011

Tuning In

Three crimson jewels blinking in the dusk.
The furthest point on my horizon
window-spied from my enclosed suburban bedroom.

Night-glinting, towering presence,
showering precious gifts of sound and vision
across the town - to anyone who will watch or listen.

Rubied sugar spun in webs dew-drenched with thrill of 'new',
ephemeral yet tangibly connecting hearts and minds.
Alternative connections to binding family ties.


Despatches from the Edge

His suffering spews onto the canvass.
Heart-stopping reds, ochres, oranges
seared through the centre with eye-bright magentas.
Breath-taking lines crossed expressing a life lived in hard-edged extremis.

Wretched up from his soul,
it hangs in isolation
decorating chambers' hall.
And beneath, acceptability snakes through blinking architraves
opening and shutting as the briefs, gowned and wigged in black and white,
circumnavigate the truth,
tie it up in knots of pink to make a case.

They file into court,
join men from unfamiliar lands
kept tidily apart 
by architect plan,
by carved edge
of box, bench and stand.
And in the dock: a solitary man.


 The privileged whigs 
own priceless originals
kept in the dark 
(their value quadruples).
The jurors take pride in
paper-thin copies of Greats;
flayed nerves caged
against the flock of suburban wall

Selves defined in these extreme endeavours of another.

In print, the human tragedy reduced to rant:
"EVIL MONSTER
BRUTAL  MURDER HORROR"
Shockwaves from this demonising tirade
force distances the size of deserts.
Dissassociation to disguise
a dirty little truth:
who's in this picture?

But we deny
any link or tie
and hang this monster out to dry.

14 May 2011

Whitewash

Dedicated to my children

You lose yourself in a picture book,
delving into a sea of words.
Splash of blue as you dive in - cold on your skin.
Feel alive on the waves, come to life in the pages.
Precious gift.

Ride your white horse to school.
The great adventurer, heir apparent, 
your talent harnessed.  
Overwritten.  System control.
A manageable drone.
Employment fodder for the capitalist machine.
Treasure trove of dreams layered beneath 
municipal emulsion.



"Far away is close at hand 
in images of elsewhere."
Graffiti spied on the daily commute 
from A to B,
at the end of the line.
Assigned now to previous life.
Today you have 'purpose',
rail-rod straight.
To deviate is to waste time and money.
(And that's never funny.)
God forbid that you make a mistake. 




The graffiti’s painted over now.
But that won’t stop you...
There are paths more true than 'A-to-B'.
You start with T.
Meander to M.
Journey through N, O and P
then skip back to D, just for the hell of it.
Just as you feel...
You celebrate the unfettered joy of getting lost.

And to the state, herding us into polite, manageable submission, as worker drones for the great machine, you say: 


'Get lost!'


9 May 2011

Milk

Crimson ooze flows
from open wound.
Slash of cochineal
congeals on tainted psyche
Your innocence robbed,
experienced far beyond your years,
an unstaunchable rage
has aged your young heart.

Hurt spills out,
takes you by surprise.
You cry over it.
Stains your sleeve.


Heart pounding
stone pavements,
you take your leave
and you run.


Run away,
run for cover,
run a company,
run for president,
run anywhere but never dare
to stop and stare.


But one singular promise sustains you, never leaves
and this arctic freeze melts,
your bloody seep turns
into a scarlet banner.

You're running still,
but ribbons stream behind you now,
shimmering in the vermilion sun.

7 May 2011

Mother

A heart given to others.
Desire expressed in everyone else's favourite treats.
Sausage for Adam.
Parsnip for Phoebe.
"Did you remember your sister's birthday card?"
Your soul never resting till you've taken care of
everyone else's needs.
Our worries your worries.
Our joys your joys.

And your voice?
Too quiet for our family;
too easily spoken over.
But your heart speaks,
and its words are warm and womb-like.

24 April 2011

Easter Song

This heavy heart
is on the move.

Every shred of regret
all set to vacate this place,
this unsafe harbour.

Dark emoting
stopped.
Feather-light, floating
up.
Buoyed, on the warm Spring air.

You pluck at the strings
and this shabby heart
skips a beat, delights to speak,
to sing, Spring's song.

26 March 2011

Sunshine

You came in through our window,
ushering light in behind you,
and made this place a house of dreams,
again.

We drew up a chair for you.

For every job to be done
you found that element of fun
and sent it soaring

You made yourself at home in that chair.

A box of tricks for all occasions:
if we needed to arrange
a minute's adult conversation
you'd give my angels sticky sweets
to quieten chattering cheeks
and peace would reign.
Briefly!

As you left
you gave back the keys to our house.

And that chair?
That place where you used to sit?
It's still warm.

28 February 2011

Take Time





A poem in five parts, reflecting on our relationship with Time and how it affects our very identity.



Part 1, Quicksand

Emergent from the womb,
we take our first breath caked in plasma.
Ever after stuck in gloop.
Each step forward sucked back twice the distance -
our insistence to return to this placenta.

Always harking back.
Retreat to Past, the old familiar.
Even memories coloured black
won't loose these stultifying ties that bind,
this blinding by our choice of sick nostalgia.

Sands of time contaminated.
Flow clogged, coagulated.
Time stands still.


Part 2, Mistaken Identity

Stage set in mind's eye.
Scenes from the past replayed,
some over and over.
Life performance captured on cerebral celluloid.
This loving labour of the brain
lying at the very heart of us.
Picture perfect: past, present,
future definition. Sense of self.

Or brain trickery:
scenes that never made the grade,
memories never made,
lying on the cutting room floor.
Events too mundane.
Details missed. A truth too painful.


Part 3, The Gift

Late February night in London.
A silhouette of Everyman, 
      glanced as on so many nights before.
But this time an image change. 
     A new shape made out in the dusk:
head bowed to hand-held.
Oblivious to his surroundings, 
     inwardly inhabiting a different space.
Everyman is everywhere but here and now.

"Just look up!" my heart shrieks.
This is the moment.
This is the place.


Part 4, Spin

Hamster wheel begins its descent from Monday through Friday,
weighted down by the pull of the mundane.
Work. Sleep. And work again.
Labouring. Spinning.
Work and sleep.

Bottoms out Friday: rest!
...for a while, then
cranking up slowly, cogs turning heavily

up through Saturday, higher through Sunday. Pause...


at the top.
The sweetest dread at Sunday, midnight.
Spinning stilled. A silent moment,
hushed with longing -
and a wish: to spin no more...

before 
plunging towards Monday,
wheel dragged down by its own weight.
Hamster reeling.


Part 5, Future Perfect

All the days of my life
stretched out before me
in octaves of highs and lows,
in black and white.
Oh but to ignite!
To light the touchpaper!
To set free the melody
on musical notes unseen,
not yet ordained.

I stand on the edge of time.
My stomach flips when I look down.
Don't have to think of it;
continually on the brink of it -
just drink it in!







The Silver Collection

Four poems telling the story of the 'exhilarating risk' of opening yourself up to another.


The Beckoning Sea

Come down to the sea my love,
Sunshine and salt will kiss your skin.
Come down to the sea my love,
See soft bleached colours of blue, gold, green.


Come down to the sea my love,
The shells will sigh on the shore.
I will feed you treats at the water’s edge.
Strawberries, chocolate and more.


Saltwater’s touch will tighten your skin.
You taste of the ocean deep.
I will kiss your brown skin and drink you in,
You’re silver, and mine to keep.


Come down to the sea my love,
Where the ocean green and blue
Will wash away our striving,
Revealing just me and you.



Snarl

Idle Sunday morning chat.
Sweet talk in the bedroom,
gently swapping notes on future plans,
our hopes and dreams.

Then out of nowhere
a misplaced word sours the air.
A flash of anger -
we both lash out.

Mean words hit their targets hard,
then fall to the floor,
take root,
    grow tendrils.
        Creep round our ankles like trip wires,
trapping us again
- our downfall every time.

Choking foliage wraps around our bodies.
You and I entangled, snarled.
Suffocating, unable to move
until the green monster weakens its hold
and sets us briefly free.

A whisper falls from your tired lip:
'This place.
This place.  Again.'


Thin Skin

Pin prick pierces the skin.
Ice cold touch of surgical steel
- and the burn, as it discharges its fevered load
into the streams of rage beneath the surface.

You in a white coat
administering the medicine I need.
Relief from symptoms of confidence.
With care, lowering the mercury of my self-esteem.


The Deep

Our love begins in the sunshine –
tastes and smells of the beach.
Emotions run fast like white horses.
We’re surfing above The Deep.

Plunging beneath the surface -
underwater, an altered view.
We’re swimming: eyes open, love swelling.
Limbs like wings we soar in the blue.

***
Our love is like the ocean -
beautiful, fathomless, deep.
There are storms that leave us stranded, apart,
but hidden treasures restoring our hearts.
This is our love to keep.

***
With young ones, the storms come,
tossing sweet romance aside.
Stranded alone on an island strange.
No way back, so strong the tide.
[whisper] No way back, so strong the tide.

Tide turns.  We find ourselves coming round at the water’s edge. Dredged up.  Hurting.  Skin torn by barnacled reefs.  Blinking in the unfamiliar daylight we are lifeless cast-aways.  Limbs heavy as iron on the sand.  Can’t move, so flattened by the ocean’s rage.  Subdued, but at least alive. 

Waves lap at the sides of our bodies.
Current building – stronger – faster!
Pulling our weight away from the sand.
Dragging us back to the open water.

***
Our love is like the ocean -
beautiful, fathomless deep.
There are storms that leave us stranded, apart,
but hidden treasures restoring our hearts.
This is our love to keep.

***

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mfxtDKCXEA8/THGtZogSnaI/AAAAAAAAABQ/Yj4jVOPWbjw/s200/Deep+sea+creatures.jpg


We drop suddenly, further and deeper
down to the depths, The Deep.
Deep down here the creatures are strange,
where daylight is out of reach.

Long, tendrilled faces, pulsating light, 
perverse to the people above.
Gelatin-bodied. Transluscent. Weird. 
This low-oxygen love.

Can’t return to the surface.
Can't return to the shore.
Have to keep plunging deeper and deeper,
and further than ever before.
Further than ever before.

***
Our love is like the ocean -
beautiful, fathomless, deep.
There are storms that leave us stranded, apart,
but hidden treasures restoring our hearts.
But this is our love to keep.