Showing posts from January, 2016
Throw off the wet gloves After Anne Sexton’s Consorting With Angels

I was tired of the early mornings I was tired of the computer screen I was sick of the drive around the gyratory Day after day, after day Meaningless – days sliding by And I said to myself Where is the meaning in my stale existence?
And the answer came – “look up”. And as I looked up, snow fell like angel feathers And a voice seemed to say ‘Be playful’ When the snow falls it’s a game, a full stop. A clean slate as the Symbolists say It’s fun, let go of troubles Cares gone to the drifts of snow Climb inside joy Igloo up misery and distain Throw off the wet gloves of being a wet blanket, Live.

Time is a Patchwork Quilt
Time is a patchwork quilt The pieces are different times The peak is a lofty top And a nut The walnut is a maze Time is a watch in a pocket Threads hold the weave together And make the top-quilting patterns:- Wine glasses Feather Diamonds Tree of life Bowl of roses Twisted rope Like the narrative of a span.
And we are covered from cradle to grave.
Treacherous Ice of the Past:

The treacherous ice of the past With its black-ice unseen until Unwittingly stepped on and brought down Face to face with The unbidden, unwanted memory.
With its thin spots Unawares trod on and transported Crashing through into the Icy water of a past remembrance.
With its glacial thickness Capturing and freezing conversations Excruciating to re-live And experiences mortifying.


Why is everything so blue? Blue tint Strongest hue strength and lightness of blue All the shadows are blue violet The night sky deepest indigo Down to the horizon line Invisible next to the burnt umber of the land.

Winter Light:

The light is so subtle at this time of the year – the short light time. Softest of white grey, a stripe of pink grey and black to white-grey purplish tinge – tint. So soft it’s like a hidden ache, a twinge to make me briefly bend at the waist. The night comes so quickly, the morning dawns so late that full day-light is momentary. Swiftly to pass to another state. I’m tired of waiting for it to be light. It must be night if it’s dark, Nathaniel used to say, but sometimes it’s full dark with a moon,
in the morning.
You are my Rock 

You are my rock, my High Tower You are my fortress, my butterfly You are my rainbow, my quiet breeze You are my reflective rock-pool, my blue sky You are my soft day, my springtime breeze You are my mighty oak, my buttercup You are my front door, my safe house You are my full stomach, my rested head You are my job, my labour, my work You are my friend, my counsellor, my love You are a hazelnut in the hand Julian You are the inspiration of the writer Augustine You are the author of chaos to order on the first day
You are the potter, the sculptor, the artist.
These Boys Again.

These boys again Not playing shops today
No, today they have a five second Recording device
And they have spent the last half an hour Recording funny noises
Playing them back And laughing – giggly to each other
Lion king continues in fragments Mums chat Children laugh and run and bob and weave
There goes Suzanne who I have Seen for years since toddler group
Gang gang style going on with the boys New boy has joined them Glad to run off from hovering parents “Just can’t wait to be king” Grandmas Louis, Tiago, new boy.

This man
This man, once unknown, still unknown Aged three years older than I am Together we have braved, towns and cities. Our lives have twined together In accord for many a year
This man older now than when we first met The jobs and places he has worked Have kept us in bed, kept us on bikes And all the time at table together At pillow together
This man full of poetry in his head Not a sharer, not a talker A writer, silent at this desk The only solitude he can conjure In this tiny house
This man full of words, novels Poems, plays, writing, It’s all to come His genius cannot be
Underground forever.
The Veil and the Wheel: For Jane Eyre.

My strength My resolve is beyond all bounds. All Celtic curiosity Bent Concertinaed Up in my chest Crumpled  Stamped Down Hard And almost absolutely. How did I arise? Where is the horizon I wished so ardently for? Again it telescopes in and in And lands up On my doorstep The compass is redirected The true pole Magnetic North Revolves not around a distant ice-cap But burning white hot Around this man This son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob This mirage, this distorting heat haze Scintillating around this soul Making him imperceptible, opaquely glimpsed. Indistinct As though through fog. Do we ever truly see each other? First passion is another myopia, another veil. Wrought on a loom of steel weaving a cloth of milk thistle Not easily torn in the first heat of knowing. The second is a veil of my own making A mythological veil Of Golden Fleece qualities Glistening, entrapping in its bewitching curls and spirals A self-made maze of dazzling blind…
Dream Poem 1: Things have Changed

Things have changed and changed again And what was once the norm No longer is so Through this change the story moves on Inexorably.

The drumming of the fingers: a Skipping Song

Knap, Burlap All in together girls, never mind the weather girls, Playtime, hay time Any time you weigh time Waiting together It’s always the way Time stands still While we tap our feet
And drum our fingers.
The Cleft Stone
In a cool dark damp ferny forest a water source springs up in the midst of the undergrowth. Without drama or shifted landscapes – there is water. It rises an evanescence erupts into the outside world.
It is unstoppable Unbearable pleasure Its presence denotes depth Deep sources unseen from above Grooved and gorged deep underground Collective potential Of life giving water.
Springing, singing, splashing up At this point in the forest floor under canopy and branch A woven house of tree, a high cathedral vaulted with branch And thatch of living leaf.
In this place, low to the ground, sheltered by fern and moss and leaf mould In this place, mythical springing Is the cleft stone It lies huge and silent Granite or something hard and softly grey, mineral that darkly glints. It is satisfyingly rounded and smooth Although I’ve never touched it. It is marked for my mental furniture.
This cleft stone Appears When my eyes close And my internal eyes close And the internal narrat…
Temps Perdu

Songs and wreaths Waterlilies in their fractal beauty Tessellated triangle quilts A gift of love, a gift of death Bring Veiled behind mists of misunderstanding This state suits it’s not time yet To remember To understand That comes when I become into un-time For now, times lost play-through My mind in memory Times forgotten resurface in the mist In visions from the past Dreams capture fragments In crystalline paraffin wax Murkily, creamily, warm still Fresh still Still so near and yet gone
When will this feel normal?
Dream Poem 11: sunset on snow.

There is an old man in the room It’s time to leave A night dress is great idea for a fancy dress costume It has snowed deeply We are going down a low hill- not steep It’s so beautiful to see the orange colours of sunset on the snow We travel down and down on the sledge Across the snow.
Shake it Back:

And how did the elephant get its trunk? An alligator got hold of its nose and pulled And pulled And pulled Sometimes I feel like I’m being Pulled and pulled and pulled. Family life – this way Mum – that way Sister – this way Church – that way Work – this way Friends – the other way Pulled and pulled and pulled My nose is ok so far But it’s my Spirit that’s out of shape So much so that I can’t remember what shape it should be. The Great Potter The Great Creator She fashioned my Spirit – Help me shake it back into shape.


Purple Zion Green Amazon Black Lebanon, White Ganges Yellow Farnham, red Beaconsfield Orange Whitby and Redcar Grey Glasgow The North Sea is Thallto Green The Channel is Indian Yellow The Irish Sea is very pale White Grey The British Isles are Brown.

Dream Poem 24: Shadow Me

The quivering woman in the depths of despair The camel coloured hare springing gracefully through the field “That’s mine”, I said on a factory production line  A sealed pack of white gleaming lard from Italy, with herbs on top and the thinnest streak of ham running through it. The thought of going on without him mad my heart wring with grief. Who are you? My mirror me. All the emotions and stories are inside out and back to front. The opposite of what’s going on, on this side of the mirror. Don’t worry about us, we’ve seen you before. You are all soft and gentle But we are hard like a lemon grater You don’t know how to speak for the fear in your mouth We speak freely and as rudely as we like – who cares? You smooth over and placate, We throw fire bombs of disaster among polite conversation. You’re a milk pudding, We distain like lemon juice. We curdle And part the liquid. We are the mirror you and do everything opposite to what you would do or say We enjoy i…
Saturday Night

Tell me true – you are Grand at Grandways Grandmas shop with mini trolleys of single portion tins of beans and tuna. Shoplifting in the cheapest supermarket in Leeds Store detectives have hands on you For a bag of cheese and onion Seabrook crisps “It’s a code thirteen” over the tanoy A small pool forming under the feet Of the elderly gentleman Who is crying and confused.
The checkout girls in overalls In all the wrong sizes. Mr Yellow, wishing He’d popped to William Hills at break time A roll of fivers from the cash wage Packet already half spent Small square brown envelope Ripped and burning a hole in his back pocket.
The aisles of the cheapest of everything Bags and bags and palates of white sugar White sliced loaf, gallons of squash in neon orange.
No bar codes or electronic anything Number punching all day Type it in correctly Or I’ll have to change the price on the next item
“price please Val” Waving groceries in the air Waiting for Val to run the aisles Looking…
Construction lines like scaffolding Build and criss-cross in my mind’s eye. On paper, in drawings and paint. This room once so forbidden taboo strictly keep out, no admittance Do not enter, keep out Yes this room – is now mine.
But I feel like Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch When her old croc of a husband dies And she is left with a promise to ‘complete my life’s work’ She enters his study and is overwhelmed by bundles of papers, scrolls and books.
I too am engulfed by the scale and breadth of objects amassed in that one room. Like Miss Havisham surrounded by her decomposed wedding feast of fifty years I am encroached upon by photographs of ‘jolly japes’ from the 1950’s.
Like Mrs Rochester my addled desire is to take my revenge by a small pocket fire. Just to eat up these useless things. Taking care of business.
Unfortunately Miss Havisham and Mrs Rochester died in the small flames they desired for a small amount of -Just for fun revenge -“I’ll show you”, revenge -“This will t…
Room, (after floating clouds by Hsü Kan).

‘Floating clouds’ in the window of the room, ‘How vast, how vast’. The panes of old glass, have moved and distorted themselves. What have they seen through the age of O’Donnell? Transforming to distorting mirrors as if by magic each sundown. Like Little Nutbrown who pulls a ball gown from a Sweet chestnut shell and changes from Goose-girl to Queen. ‘Would that I could send you a message through them’. How would I do it? A paper aeroplane? A text message? Does your white angel robe have pockets? Perhaps I could take a seat in a cloud like a number 28 bus and wait for my stop in the sky to personally give you my message. And what would it say? ‘Thank you’ written in blood? ‘You are welcome’ sewn with beard hair into your hankie? Bin it! Throw out all useless messages. How can I even begin to express all the pent-up things I imagined saying to you but did not. By the time I could speak to you as an equal you were not the same. You had change…
Dream Poem 10: In Italy 

In Italy With alleys, palazzos and fountains And shady doorways. It rained shoes one day A gift. My friend got two pairs of crocs, size 8 “Why is it” she asked “This pair is fine but this pair make my toes bleed?” Through the alleys and the doorways I was being pursued by someone And they meant me no good But I managed to give them the slip
Going down an alley to a palazzo.
Dream Poem 5; Rag and Bone Poetry

I have to go to fulfil a task My task is to collect a poem on a post-card and Perform a piece of ballet. I’m in the rag and bone shop to collect my poem from the Irish trader men. It was very difficult to get the poem right. My ballet performance was not well received. “who does she think she is? You can’t expect to do a performance when you’ve only just started. We’ve been doing this since we were children.”

Yes it’s there, yes its real No I’ve never been there. No I don’t know anyone from there.
One day in 1989 we went on college residential to NY City. NY is NOT North Carolina, oh No, It’s capitalized, it’s a hub, a port, statuesque, self-important, vague, corseted, and knowing. In this place I met Papua New Guinea for the first time. A most unexpected meeting.
It was a cold February day, so cold I had to buy an extra jumper and hat So cold I thought I was going to throw up walking there Then Metropolitan Museum – Grand, Vast It eclipses nations and gobbles them up Asia, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and here in this room named after a millionaire’s son (who died there), the Oceanic rooms.
I must have seen this work before, but didn’t have eyes to see it really, I must have encountered this culture at British museums but in small fragments as part of other collections. There is was a vast array of never before seen items, as if from another world. Warrior boats to seat 100 men…