Sunday, 28 February 2016

Here


Here in this place
Heels kick and beats brew
Here in this place

Language spoken time and true.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Stinking Hot Summer NC:


In my mirror is me
My Mexican mirror
In America once
I was soft and sweaty
Soaked in humidity
Pools forming in my shoes
From rivulets
Coursing silently, invisibly
From my neck, under my sports top
Down my stomach
And pants and inside thigh
Accumulating
As it ran sometimes dammed
By waist-band and seam
Gently absorbing until all
Became damp
And the only cure

Was a luke warm shower.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Iron shoes


The guns in the gun-rack
Signify a beautiful day ruined again.
Smooth shiny barrels in gun metal grey
Wooden or plastic stocks
Packs of BB pellets.

But do tell – why are they here in my wardrobe?
Along with the net dress I bought in Stoke
PVC bodice, boned and zipped plastic leather skirt.
Unwise choices slotted together
In their bungalow of belligerence.

My stance with my two strong feet planted
Is firmly against.

Against these guns
And the violent potential lying submerged,
Latent, haunting, threatening
Unspoken violence.

Against him
The unwanted advances he takes advantage of
When I’m asleep
The cigarettes and beers
The maudlin obsessions:-
Serial killers,
Survivalists,
Vietnam,
Army outfits - Multifarious camouflage patterns.

All these things I am against

His shiftlessness
His lack of ambition.
Irresponsible
Sackless
Selfish malingerer.

His arsenal of guns
Bought in my name
With my driver’s license
The imprisonment of my wages
Malevolence.

And again I’m against all this
And my strong legs are braced for attack

And yet it never came,
Too sublet for the obvious
Too mysterious
Too ingenious

How easily I gave in and was manipulated
How often I gave up, all his way, spoiled child.
His intellect squandered in voyeurism on his own life

Spectator to his own history
Days spent sunk in an armchair
Dulled with anesthetic alcohol
Watching of others lives
A second hand life of his own.

I unplant my feet and walk

Crossing
Land sea and rivers.
Travelling  away five thousand miles
Keep moving 
until I have worn out five pairs or iron shoes,

until I am East of the sun and West of the moon and he will never find me here.

Thursday, 25 February 2016


Richmond Hill:



Down the clouds, across the way
Washing streaming and steaming
Hanging across flats only window
Sadly sagging the line drooping down
No breeze even to float dry

These flats many many
Close knit, tight knit communities
Kids Dad’s on strike from the mines
For months and months food banking before it was trendy

How did the mums survive on this windy hill?
Looking down over
River and canal
Barges up and down
To and fro.

Strangely silent, up here.
The long haul of shopping bag trudgery
From the echoing, noisy, humidity of the market
To this high rise separation
Wind rattling the taut plastic.





Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Trial by Space:


Mount Sinai and Mourning Lace.
Centre stone,
Pendulum,
Down, down, down.
Think, imagine, centre
Concentrate, reach, reach out.

I am standing in a room.
It is a physical room.
It is a remembered room.
In this room is a life-times worth
of memory – not mine.

Striped silk bustle skirt, pink kid dance slippers, fans with petals missing.
Petticoats, bloomers, chemises, camisoles, gloves, bags,
top hats, cloaks, boaters, and beaver furs.

Draws of mourning lace, cards of buttons,
reams of tapestry wool and embroidery threads in rainbows of colour.
Fountain pens from the 1940’s,
fencing foils, tankards, Kafka novels,
portraits of Louis Armstrong.
Each object shouts for attention and significance.

Yet as I stand in the only space there is
a small corner next to a four-foot crucifix
in the room,
it is empty
and it is dark.

Dillon’s room was also dark and memory bound.
His thoughts have shifted and sifted and sorted themselves into chapters.
But mine are still out to sea.

Still looking from on board the good ship Hamnavoe
towards an enveloping
Fog bank.
Like smothering grief, it moves
over me imperceptibly
covering, obscuring, changing outlines
and landmarks, erasing the compass
until I am submerged.

And although I know my feet
stand planted on deck
and I hear the ships engine grinding on
And on; there is no feeling of
forward motion,
nothing to indicate progress through the water.
The fog covers all.

Floating clouds how vast, how vast.
How you deaden with white light.
How you deafen with density.
How you change the context of
the topography
with veils of water.

And you clouds of the sky O bless the Lord.
and you wives and daughters
Sing from within the heart of the mists
covered by the covering vapour.
As Moses on Sinai.
The journey to the mountain is many miles
from the sea and the boat.






Tuesday, 23 February 2016

I have made my nest


in
Flats, tree houses, old offices
Crumbling mills
I have made my home
With enemies and disinterested disregarders
Alienating some
Infuriating others
Misunderstood and mistreated
my garden a concrete yard
A brick wall, the street
A roof, a carpark, acres of forest
The living only makes sense
With the loving
Otherwise it’s just

another set of keys.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Number One, Back Mount

'Silver Royd Mill' black clay  By Frances Ann Norton, seen at, www.littlemoorpottery.com; or, frances-ann.blogspot.com:  
The bannisters up
How interesting it is that
They are the same at number one, number three and number five.
So old and black with thick, thick carving.

Here at number one,
Piles of children’s clothes covered in a dust-sheet
lie like a library of children’s lives.
Folded neatly, sorted by age, on each landing of each of the four floors.

Children that come and go quickly,
children that stay for a while
and the ones that live here.
Stationed around the landings of each floor are weird locked wardrobes with padlocks on the front.

In the front room – not the best-front-room
but the every-day-back, front-room
Gas fire on full
Stifling, dusty and winter-time-hot.
Richard sits scissors in hand.

He is perhaps six or seven years old
A small thin pale boy, quiet and watchful with wild curly red hair
He’s off school for the day – enviable position especially if you are not that sick.
He has taken all of the dolls
And cut off their hair.
No one stops him or says anything.

The kitchen smells strongly of cat food and cabbage
The shelves and cupboards and table are a museum to the Tupperware phenomenon.
Darren is in the cupboard polishing shoes.
In there are more shoes than I’ve ever seen in one place,
it’s like a second hand shoe shop.
They don’t really belong to any one child –
Darren has a lot of polishing to do, he’s the eldest and has chores.

In the back yard
A small square of garden with spinning spider-web drier.
Along one edge are Darren’s rabbit hutches
Next to them is the pile.
The pile is fascinating to me, I look at it every day.
On it is left-over food from dinners past
Cornflakes and porridge,
carrot,
swede
cabbage
potato
It’s massive and very, very slowly it rots.

It grows mold, breaks down
Cats and rats eat it
Frost covers it
It grows higher daily
A symphony in rot.


Sunday, 21 February 2016


Poniard:
  


A double edged thrusting dagger,
continuously tapering to a thin point,
used in France, Switzerland and Italy.

Why this,
why now,
what’s changed?
The word for dagger comes to me in a dream.
And I have to look it up.
Shakespearean overtones of Macbeth.

It comes to me that this sharp tool
Has a metaphorical job to do.
It used to be that I lied to myself
I snuck around truth, morality, right judgement
I cheated myself.

The poniard
Pierced my bravado and
deflated it slowly
Leaving my ego holey and tatty
Exactly as it should have been.
No more lies.



Saturday, 20 February 2016


The great curve


All the poems
and all the straight lines
can I re-use these fragments and make a new name?
Diffidence and radiance,
sighs and sobs
Encouragement and management,
a clock on a fob
Cover my shame with curtains of blue
snakes in the bedroom, spiders in the loo
and all the straight lines
seen from a far
make a pattern and rhythm
an elegance and simplicity.
once assembled they are
no longer straight but
create a greater curve of heart haunting beauty
that could be created

no other way.

Friday, 19 February 2016


Post Industrial; 



Mill kitchen, part of
The postindustrial landscape I see every day
But not the miserable 1980’s mills
Crumbling, on fire, deep depths.
This Mill,
Long gone are the workers
their time here just a memory.
A remembered scar where a touch calls to mind
A shuttle piercing the two bones of the forearm
A momentary call of attention to
Another’s voice.
Family, that’s what it was here in
The 1940’s.
Tea dances on a Friday night
At Pudsey Baths
Covering the turquoise freshness with
Boards and a Big-Band,
feverish, fervent dancers
Desperadoes and double-crossers
Two timing two steppers
Ardent looks, firm thighs
Hands…
But yes the past is part of the present and

who would have it any other way?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Ode to String:


What is the string for?
To tie my shoe
To secure my sleeping bag
A guy rope
A piece if square lashing
To carry my keys
To thread a rosary
That silly string that’s in space and its expandable in my hand
To fasten up a curtain rail
To tie a roast chicken leg
To hang a bunch of thyme to dry
To hitch a pair of trousers
Or a horse
To make a telephone with a tin Can
car phone string
Computer string
Machine string with plug
Crochet string for waistcoats and bed spreads
Macramé string for hanging plant pots
String that connects us all together
String that unites us all
Dust string
Of shared ancestry
String connected community
String connected relationships
String of time
String of washing and notes on a stave
String of life
String of heaven
String of death

O death, where is thy string?

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Smash this puny existence?


I don’t think so – this is our one shot.
This is now
Now and eternity
Together
Telescoping out
and then
in again.
So high we can’t get over it, So low we can’t get under it.

Smash each other’s puny existence?
No not that either – not polite, not done
What arrogance, what superiority
What macho dominance
No

How can I hope
How can I be what I am meant to be?
Oh Listen – Oh discern -  Oh breathe
Then act

And pray I’ve heard right.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Web Heart



His and my souls are made of the same stuff
Drop soul
Drop
And find your plumb weight
Your level line
Your weighted thread
From heaven to his heart.

He
The one that I am together with
Our souls must be created from the same dust.
Attracted to each other
Like iron filings on a magnet.

Our heart strings
In an invisible web
Connecting us all.

The vibrations on my
Heart string
The reverberations on his
Heart strings somehow
Some way
Resonated.

A beautiful
Painfully lovely
Discord, so close it
Almost clashes in discordance
Analogous harmonies
Next to, yet a step apart

Connected.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Underground Carpark



What I’d like is to
Hide in an underground car park,
To lie hidden and sleeping,
My body in a car parking space.

At the centre of everything
Nothing is important
Except to be and to love

I can drift
I can strive
I can work really hard every day
Driving, eating, teaching, researching
What does it mean?

It may mean nothing
It may mean everything
I want to listen more
Give me ears to hear.

Be calm
Be still
Rest

It has been a long year
A recovery year
A year of bright buds of hope
A year of finishing things
I give thanks for the year that has been
I ask again – every step, every breath
Every heart-beat, be with me.

And now let me sleep again
In my car parking space
Deep underground.




Sunday, 14 February 2016


Valentine’s Day Twice:


That Valentine’s day I woke up
Knowing that you were across the road.

The evening to come did not go to my plan.

My plan was not to see you at all.
I had sensibly and sincerely
Pushed all obsession
Into the arena of phantasy.

You were not interested or so it seemed
And I was married
And there it could have remained
Impasse.

But that evening
You arrived at my door and I
Opened to your face – touched
By your thoughtful bottle of
Red
and bottle of
white.

Who would have thought we’d drink both
Make love on the front room floor

This really was not my plan.

We talked
About unwanted letters
Who knew he liked them?
He never replied
and I
gave up
Sending them.

Somehow we kissed

This was a turning point
This was the end of one marriage
And the beginning of another
Turning on a sixpence.

The next year we awoke
On Valentine’s morning
In each other’s arms
Wondering what came next
Knowing we had begun
Something
Not knowing what
Not having planned it
Who knew?




Free to a good home, one ironing board.



My ironing board enacts strange rituals
Away from his friend the iron.

Always so firm,
so seemingly solid.
Yet when the legs are kicked out
He collapses – folds in on himself.

Oh ironing board
You are redundant in my hands
I’d rather use the table
Than a rickety, untrustworthy,
Flimsy
Ironing board.

Never quite
The right
height, width or use.

I’ll take my chances without you
With my new friend, Kitchen Table.
Far more solid and reliable.

Multi-use object.

Saturday, 13 February 2016



Dream Poem 30: Undertow



Through ships foraged
Finding things to keep near.
College, art and artists
Painting and brushes
Can’t you see me through the rushes

Mountains distant misted
Soft streets snowy sifted
Carved rocks, ancient Howe
Something old, powerful undertow




Friday, 12 February 2016

Dream Poem 14: Flamenco Nurse.


At s hospital in S_borough
I was in and out
I was a visitor
                                                I was a patient
                                                                                                I was a nurse
Flamenco Day. Everyone was getting dressed up in the hospital.
I didn’t have any shoes to dance in
So I decided to go up to the hospital to buy some
Just then a nurse arrived at mum’s house
She was a tiny lady, 
her hair was in a blond bun, in one of those doughnut hair things, 
but it was a huge one, 
so her bun was out sized, 
bigger than her head, 
she had on a tight white uniform
With white leather cork wedge sling-back heels
I looked, and though
“Those aren’t very Spanish
Or Flamenco”.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Dream Poem 5


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.”


Wednesday, 10 February 2016



Gently fold me in your arms
Rest my head in the crook of your neck

And let me slow-dance the blues away

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Just Time


On the shelf in my room, in boxes and bags
Books and books of drawings
Notes
Poems
Diaries
What does it all mean in the end?
Is this material immaterial?
I could leave, set the house on fire
Who would care?
Mine is merely another life
Another soul
Living out their time on earth
Like a cricket or a cicada
I chirrup my unintelligible nonsense
That is of no consequence to anyone
And then I’m gone
And no-one cares
I don’t even care
It’s just time
And gone

And its ok – it’s all ok. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The mess of living



Now the bleakness of the ‘Veil and the Wheel’
Surprises me
Frightens me
How could that depth of darkness
Come out of my heart
Isn’t it all washed away

Forgetful distance makes sharp memory
Faded like sun-bleached silks56
People say “you forget”
I wanted to remember
Why should birth and death be forgotten
Soft focus – photo-shopped out?

Birth and death two things I will never forget
Times to be completely present to the moment
To be alert, awake, ready to act.

How can I be awake when the epidural,
The pethidine, the gas all alter my reality
And make this important entrance
Distorted, dream-like, unreal

Twisting, shouting, writhing
Bloody mess
This is birth – this was my birth

Coffee, cigarettes, chocolate and crisps. That was him, one after another.

My life – left alone to live
I thank you
I have it.

My toes unpainted
My arms full of my children
My legs strong for running
My eyes see through lies
My heart to know love

Dust and skin and blood
All here
The mess of living

Right here.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Coming and Going: 


Every birth is different
Every death hits differently
The process
The arriving or
Departing
Is a fact and
The fact that we are here alive
Is proof of the fact that
We arrived

The departing is different
A life well lived and long
A life never lived beyond the womb
Ended by sleep
Ended in an accident
Ended by one another
Ended by own hand
Ended by illness, virus, disease, heart.

And after
Those of us who have arrived and not yet departed
Watch as people leave
We see the ways of their going
And think of my own going
Of the departure of
The ones I hold dear
And I wonder how I will survive
And if those losses will mark the
Beginning of my own
Departure.