Sunday, 22 October 2017

Dream Poem 51; Arsenic green

A yard sale
In mums back garden
We have been preparing for months
Bits of kid’s play furniture and the like
We are using the back garden gate
to move things in and out
inside an old kitchen used for school dinners.

The kind with a gas hob
and huge oversized giant utensils,
pans and pots it is deserted and empty
and everything in it is cracked, faded, very used and old,
not in its prime,
from another time,
still serviceable but showing its age.

The whole kitchen has a feeling of faded glory and neglect.
Cavernous as if I am a small child
and it is a huge echoing room

darkened in shades of Arsenic green and cerulean blue. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Dream Poem 55: Keep Paddling

Teaching paddling, I’m teaching a small new group
We are in America
we drop the car in a car park and get an inflatable dinghy at the dock.
I’m in charge.
I paddle it to an historic part of town,
we go look round an old house museum and there are actors
dressed up in Victorian costume, we can ask them questions about living in the house.
There is a Dad in black and a top hat,
some children they sit on a stool and we can question them.

There is a protected bay near the shops.
We are in the dinghy again, I point out to sea,
it is really choppy.
Paddling around the bay we come out of the protected area
into what is now quite a wild wild sea.
I tell everyone to hold on.

It is very rough water and difficult paddling
but we manage to get through.
Then the sky goes suddenly dark
yet we haven’t arrived back at to the car park and our car,
I don’t know where I am going,
it seems to be taking longer to get back than I realize.

Floating are wrecked dinghies, old lockers and debris swept off the shore line
from the town we have just been to,
broken things float in the water
and I keep paddling thinking,
we are in the Atlantic now and very deep water and probably sharks and big fish under the boat.

but I keep paddling,
I’m in charge and I’m scared
it is fully dark
and I have to navigate all this floating furniture
in the dark,
I’m so distraught and anxious
about getting back to the car, I think to myself,

Just keep paddling.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Grief Like a Curled Fist 

Grief like a curled fist strike ready like an unfurled fiddle fern
And all it takes
Is the sun
It blossoms unexpectedly
Full of mirthless laughter
Furl your fist once more
I want to enjoy the sun
I want it to give me strength
Not suck me down into quick sand
I will stand on the edge
I will let it wash and ebb over me

And I will stand yet.


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

Language spoken time and true.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Icon gold

God is reflected in the gold and God is reflected in everything.
The fogbank and the gold
Gold of heaven
Gold of Ophir
Gold of infinite space

Mists of presence
Light of memory
Shadows of infinite space

The paintbrush on the glaze
The gold leaf, the size
Between the gold and the paint

In the water glass glaze
And the matt sheen gleam of gold

The forgetful reflexivity of gold
The infinite space and the true presence
How much longer will time rule my day and night
Show me a glimpse of that timeless place
Peace and rest.
In the gold.

Dream Poem 57: Inexorably

Preparation time alone.
I’ve been here before,
These places are familiar to me
As familiar as routine.
These people are archetypes, the children, the older people
I’ve met them before.

I’m outside
In the fresh air
Standing by the car waiting

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

I am standing up
I speak a word very loudly
It is full colour.

Like Water in Reverse

Leaves flowing across the road
a restless tide of maple coloured syrup.
Stray side wind
that whisks dead leaves into her arms,
Fills her cheeks and kiss blows them
across a zebra crossing in bright sunlight.

Down Swinnow Road she tosses the leaves up high
An amber murmuration
Hurled the height of a caramel sandstone rail-bridge
they catches the sun like golden confetti.
Honey coloured lentoid lights against the black of the bridge interior
all dark shadows under the pigeon inhabited vault.

And further along the road where the Merry Monk was
A torrent of leaves pour up a hill, like weir water in reverse

strong, flowing, ripulous ripples of russet, burnt orange and cinnamon.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Dream Poem 56: The Tunnel

We are invaded by the enemy
Suddenly life is turned upside-down.
A few people have time to run down to the cellar
and beyond the cellar is a network of tunnels and doors.

We are cosy under blankets on old upholstered arm-chairs.
We’ve been down here a few days when we realize it is very quiet upstairs.
I sneak to see what’s going on
and am discovered.

The soldier says he’s getting sonic readings of an area under the house.
‘It’s the cellar’ I say
and then think – why did I say that?
They find the cellar and I’m supposed to stay with them.

I manage to get ahead and see the people out of the tunnel
“Get in. Get in quickly – they are coming”
They just manage to shut the door when the soldiers come up
and ask what I was doing
and I say, “I was just playing with my doll.”
It’s all very nerve wracking

but the soldiers don’t find the tunnel or my friends.

Dream Poem 38: My Eyes

My eyes open
Very wide
In surprise

How could I have forgotten this…..?

Dream poem 37:Train Journey

On a train
Partway there, there is a hold up between stations,
no one can get on or off.

We are there for days.

Some passengers are performing a variety show
I watch from my bed on the train.

Frankie has a jelly in the shape of a brain
and is eating a spoon of it.

There are all kinds of birds
All different.

Finaly the train sets off  and starts moving again

We are going to be ok.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Dream Poem 43: Boat to Bruges; Travelling by Swimming Pool

It’s a college trip to Bruges, I’m taking some students
our boat floats in a swimming pool which floats in the North Sea.
Buoyant and large and full of blue, blue water
surrounded  by grey-green water,
two different kinds of water.
One salinated full of sea life and vegetation
one sterile and chemical, bleached life less.

We walked on the beach, it was full of clam shells,
we had travelled by swimming pool across the North sea with an Algerian Captain.
The boat had sunk with all our stuff on it –
to the bottom of the swimming pool and we had all got out. 
But now there was no boat
and it was time to go home.
I stood on the beach looking and wondering but knowing it would be ok.

The boat was sunk
Yet I stood on the beach

“Everything has gone to shit” I thought
“The worst that could happen has happened”
Yet I have head space
To contemplate
To analyse
To come to a logical conclusion
Despite the seemingly gloomy outlook
I am unperturbed
Solid as a rock
I just know it is going to be ok.
I have become strong
I have gained inner strength
I stand, I’m calm
I know
I trust
I believe, I’m unshakable.

The water is beautiful and I’m ok
The boat has sunk
It is going to be ok
I know it is going to be alright.

Dream Poem 34: On a Roof with Authority Male

Houses mapped out in wire mesh below
On black boggy soil
I am on a roof looking down with Authority Male
As I walk
Each step has the precision and deliberation

Of a ballerina.

Dream Poem 15: Rock Around the Clock.

We are at a huge party.
We have to do an exhibition dance in front of everyone.
I went up to the DJ booth, and asked them for ‘Rock Around the Clock’
as it was jolly and people would know it.

When it came on
there was so much talking
we couldn’t hear the start of the music.
As we danced I rested my teeth on his scalp.

When the song finished I asked them to put it on again
But he was off out the door.
I left
Running down a green glass corridor
black with night.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Dream Poem 44: Gangland

I am in a gang, it’s a seriously bad gang. I can’t escape.
They capture my sister, she’s a nurse.
Soon they’ve grown bored of her and have a plan to dispose of her
by drugging her or killing her with drugs.

I know but I can do nothing.
I want to tell her to warn her but I can’t.
I know when she goes into the bathroom to get changed
into her uniform they will have put the drugs in there and
expect her to take them - to comply.

I know but I can’t warn her.
They would kill me too
I am in fear of my life
My life hangs in the balance
One wrong move and I will be killed.
We are enmeshed and the only way out is death.

But she doesn’t take the drugs,
she comes out of the bathroom and goes to work.
I ‘m so relieved but scared
knowing they will kill her, just later.
Part of me is disappointed she didn’t die and be released
and I’m ashamed for feeling and thinking this way
I’m ashamed for not telling her
and I’m ashamed for not helping her.

An older man is involved
he is so small like a child,
I know this is no good and they will soon tire of him and kill him too.
It all happens too quickly,
we are in a market place,
it’s so packed there is no room between one person and the next
they have him on piggyback.
He is doomed
and I see they have just told him.
His face is a mask of sheer terror and fright.
I am right behind him on piggy back.

He turns around and mouths ‘help me’
Ah God this is like pure torture to me what can I do?
He is in the hands of murderers
and I cannot help or I’ll be killed too.

As we pass each other I take his hand and I pray for him,
this is all I can do.
I see his cross under his shirt
I pray and I weep with frustration as I see him taken away.
His face turned to me in despair.
And I’m so angry with myself.

In the house at breakfast a new girl comes down from upstairs,
a student
I have five minutes alone with her
‘Leave now while you have the chance, go don’t look back’
but she does not.
She doesn’t know the danger she’s put herself in,
she is doomed unless she goes now,
but she doesn’t realize it.
I try many arguments and persuasions

but she doesn’t go. She won’t listen.

Dream Poem 36: Dancing to a narrative

Working in an hotel
Every step I took contained music
I had a score playing in my head as if I were in a ballet.

From upstairs where the staff slept we rose early and there was a grace and beauty
To my movements
As if I were dancing to a narrative.

Customers came and I took their coats, handsome older men
All my movements were fluid and grace and beauty personified.

I was perfectly at ease and happy
Real inner happiness
As if I was in love
And no one could touch that love
As if it were sacred, beautiful, purposeful and right.
Just the right thing

And my life was filled with grace and beauty although ever so humble.

Dream Poem 27: Egyptian Seer.

At a tropical island radio station,
the telephonist is off sick and I have to take over
the nerves of telephone stage fright.

Meanwhile job applicants arrive,
a very, very old woman, a young man and a young woman
letter writing tasks are set.

At the same time in an army  tent nearby
is an Egyptian Seer,
a beautiful woman with long dark hair.

The applicants have completed their letters
and it’s time for the telephone test.

Round the side of a scout hut I meet a man
“you can kiss me if you want” I say
But he doesn’t.

I remember that I had forgotten to give the old woman a task.
I just lie down on the cool concrete floor
for a rest
while the applicants continue.

The Seer is now in a wooden hut.
Its cavernous and darkened
she is bound by rope
and hanging from the ceiling .
Fragments of light
fall on her
from the bright day outside, through the slats of wood.

Hanging in front of her is a man
A porcupine man
covered in spear-like spines all over his back.

He is spinning and swinging from the bulb-less light fixture
And every time he passes the Seer
He cuts her with his razor sharp spines
She bleeds
and bleeds
and bleeds
and dies.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Gold through the mud

There is mud
Clay-ey mud
Black clogged with last autumns fallen leaves
Rotted now
Made pitchy by winter frosts
Trodden in, mulched.

But there is a run-off from the grass
Of snow water
Sheet water
Rain water

The stream has cut a swathe through the stygian sludge
Creating a freshet of shining goldenness
Revealing gem stones hidden in the coruscating sand
A golden stream of clear water running to the lake

Contrasting gold through the mud.

Cancer Man: Mud Face

The cancer man.
In an ice field.
In bare feet and a hospital robe.

On this bleak, misty, mizzley, January
Darkling afternoon
2.40pm light fading.
In waste ground between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Tangled trees, jaunty with billowing plastic.
Scrubby, muddy undergrowth.
Sharp, catching brambles in Sleeping Beauty proportions,
Snagged with paper coffee cups, rain faded chocolate bar wrappers.
Victorian post-industrial walling around a dangerous bend.

All is wet and black and failing.

Amidst this poisonous, piercing nature
a billboard erect against black branches and pewter winter sky.

On it the image of a lone man.

This dismal cancer poster has recently been set on fire.
Metal has buckled under the hoarding
The shape of the flames is sketched
In spectral shadows of soot.
Reaching points in rust red and charcoal black.

A glob of mud has been hurled at the man’s face
Obscuring it
and dribbling obscenely.
Framed by rot-blackened skeletons of winter trees.

I exult.
Take that.
Thank you my friend with your random anger and box of matches.
Thank you passing stranger with your perfect rage kicking in the burned planks.
Thank you Good Samaritan with your boredom and frustration and accurate bowling arm.

This advertisement
destroyed by violent fire, made abject with clay,
is an exemplar of my own null fury

Just wait.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Dream Poem 42: Icon class

Does it matter? That there are only two Iconographers?
Does it make any difference?
Its compulsory is it?
I like that.

The formula and the layers of colours,
the shapes of the clothes, like mountains in a geometric, cubist landscape,
Russian Constructivisim in high Modernity,
all angular lines, intersecting and crossing.

A map of the constellations in the firmament,
the London underground,
canals of Amsterdam,
the geometry of De Stijl,
of Bauhaus architecture.

The set of the eye,
the contour of the beard
It is compulsory.

To paint an icon is to understand the face of sacrifice.
by this Holy Face miraculous deeds have occurred,
blessings bestowed,
kisses kindly given,
boundaries reached and overcome.
New places of praise opened up, inside.

Dream poem 39: It was Another World

It was another world
Inside a trumpet
With cellars
Communities in the dark.

Fighting for survival in the post-apocalypse
Everything changed
Village life forever altered.

After a week

Back down at the airbase – things regained some normality.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dream Poem 41: Liars and Cheats  

On a tour of Papua New Guinea, 
Our group are visiting some people in a small village in the Highlands.
It’s all going wrong.

People are behaving badly to each other
Disrespecting local customs and walking through corn fields, crushing the corn.
At the village shop we are causing jealousy and bad feeling, 
buying too much food 
and junk snacks crisps and sweets. 
People in the queue are tutting and judging and saying “it’s not fair.”

We want to leave as the situation is getting worse
but one of the women of our group
has disappeared into a neighbouring house and she won’t come out.
She says she wants to stay.

I resign myself to that fact.
I’ve tried to persuade her but she is adamant she is staying.
I go to negotiate with the host, the owner of the house.
He says he has an important confession to make,

“What is it?”
“I haven’t been honest with you.” He says.

But now, because of the woman, whom he loves he is willing to tell the truth.
Now he is willing to be honest and come clean about it all.

This is the truth that he has been hiding from us all this time.
The wisdoms and songs he has shown us in the villages
among the tribes and the totems with the Papua New Geinean peoples –
These are not the real ones.
He was doing it to please us.

The real stories and songs have been forgotten.
They have not been used for generations and they have passed out of living memory.
They are gone.
The real songs and stories are lost forever.

In order to have something to show us the visitors, 
who have travelled so long and so far to see them, 
the honoured guests who are so interested in the past 
and in piecing together the history, 
new songs and stories were made up.
They were taken from other places and cobbled together.

After hearing this I was very disheartened, disillusioned and upset.
Why had they lied?
Why didn’t they just say the songs and storied were gone?

I wandered back into the village leaving the house and the man and his love.
All was changed in my eyes.
What had been a strange new land 
is now just the same as home
or everywhere else.

Full of liars and cheats.
People good and bad
just getting by.
After this revelation I realize it’s time to go.
My time is up,
there is no more to be found here.

Dream Poem 28: Poignard II

This dagger has other work to commence
Its thin sharp blade is there
Friendly point
To get rid of the rot
To cut out ineffectuality
Neatly slice
and dispose

Its work is quickly done
If I allow it
Aid it

Poignard pricks for attention
Poignard points emphatically
And definitely

Poignard works in the hands of Angels.
Sharper than two edged sword
It slices between the soul and the spirit
Separating as a knife cuts a joint
Or bone from marrow.

Poignard is a friendly blade
In the hands of a lover.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Dream poem 40: Floral Giraffe

I’ve sewn a floral giraffe,
a full size horse,
a lion
not the best stitching in the world
He pulls me up about it.

I’m sleep walking through my life
I miss some important stuff.

Photographing abstract patterns and shadows
Sea, clouds, buildings, shadows,
too engrossed to see I’m being pushed around and jostled by
unhelpful, anonymous people.

I’m purposely not looking
fixedly staring through the camera lens.
Assiduously ignoring the obvious,
avoiding –

Grief has obscured my vision. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Autumn Day: Burned Out Car

The day unwound
Mystery destination
Turns out to be on my doorstep
All the comfortable things
Pegging shirts on the line, the heavy rain of last night
Evidenced in rock crystal droplets on the washing line
The long grass pearled with fat raindrops.

In Black Carr Woods narrow nettle grown paths
Strewn with wild orchid
And the smell of soft surface clay
creamy yellow ochre and butter soft with the rain
Traces of hooves, tracks of paw prints and wellies.

The path widens out as we cross a foot bridge over a tree lined relic of Beeching’s axe
Onwards and deeper and steeper
Into Tong Woods and Holme Woods and the wreck of a jeep
Sits among the trees burned and stripped
A skeleton of its former self.

No fabric, no glass, no panelling remains
Its all struts and frames and sprung
Seat springs.

And in the middle of what was a car
A charcoaled limb of a tree, crooked, black, friable, gnarled
At odds with and yet part of the picture

The car so rusted it blends
With the russet leaves of
This shining Autumn day.

Like bones on a beach
Washed and cleaned by the sea
Until it becomes one with the sand
This car is becoming part of the forest
It is now part of the landscape.

Cell combination in my body,
A year down the line
I have carved out for myself a new place in the narrative of my life.

Like the burned out car wreck 
I’ve been laid out, ground to a halt, made to stop.

The moss grew over to hide me
While I hibernated inside a walnut shell
While I transformed into my
Post-illness self.

Angularity, stark bareness
Being unveiled and unmasked
Naked and vulnerable
Pitied and avoided, loved and cherished.

The autumn is here again
And instead of being surrounded by golden bouquets of fall flowers
I’m out in the world in the golden forest.

Out of hibernation
Out of my walnut shell.

Fairy God Mother has spun a gown of 
tigers, hummingbirds, pandas and elephants in rainbow hues
In this dress I am my new self.

Ready to stand in this autumnal forest, 
on the roof of a burned out jeep
And shout to the treetops

I am alive.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Dream poem 30: Swimming in the Air. 

Swimming through air isn’t easy
Its hard work
I have to really use my arms and legs strenuously.

A great long corridor
Is used as a thoroughfare by everyone
I’m being chased by a Zen Buddhist monk woman.

I swim in the air past boys carrying pizza
A stretcher being carried full of gourds
She nearly catches me.
I swim through back alleys

And back to backs.


Dream poem 31: Golden Tide.

Golden, risen, plump,
And the path back so deep and wide
The gravel was flint shale
Golden and fragmented
Shiny with sea spray
And the path winding onwards
Disappearing behind high curving walls
Out of sight for a moment
Where are they?
Hurry, hurry, - no I’ll have to go back for them
Anxiety building
Tempers lost, tempers regained
Come on, come on,
And waiting and again going back for them
All the time a rising tide of adrenalin and anxiety
A high-pitched white-noise
Come on lets go
The golden tide won’t wait
I have to get there
Come on
Come on.
So long and far

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Dream Poem 26: Screaming from the Roof.

To be sung to the psalm tone tune; ‘I will sing to the Lord Glorious His triumph’

I will stand on the roof, Screaming in the wind.

The car goes speeding on before me
I stand helpless on the roof
I am always standing, hair streaming in the wind
The wind carries my voice there is no sound
How can I help from crying out?

I will stand on the roof, Screaming in the wind.

As the miles flow under the wheels I stand always in the wind
Miles and miles slip by and my purpose is foiled
My words are lost as soon as I utter them
My voice failed within my mouth I am mute before the world.

I will stand on the roof, Screaming in the wind.

The post-it notes on sign posts in orange yellow and green
Many layer on layer covering the signpost
The direction cannot be read nor the post-its
Indecipherable signs and instructions bar my way.

I will stand on the roof, Screaming in the wind.

Dream Poem 32: Sharon Stone

Pretty, pretty Sharon Stone
Slick back hair
dives cleanly from the top deck of the boat
Into the sea
as the ship begins its slow descent
engulfed by a calm sea.

Before her flying fish pronouncing
‘and my name is Emma Golden’.

Once lead guitarist of an all-girl rock band
She’d grown up as part of the tribe beautifully.

Eddie Murphy escaped, also part of the clan.

But Tom Cruise – rejected, went down with the ship, doomed and frustrated. 

Friday, 29 September 2017

Dream Poem 23:  Boxes

The stressful running around
The arguments
The fallout
The accusations
In each room a small pile of boxes
What’s in the boxes?

Nothing it’s just baggage
Yet I unsuccessfully spend my energy
Rushing from one place to the next
Pointlessly checking the boxes
Until its time to go
And I’m planning on taking all the boxes – that containing nothing
With me

Why am I doing this meaningless act?
Why am I carrying the boxes around with me?
I Know. 
I will burn the boxes instead of dragging them around.
I will incinerate and annihilate them.

Here I am again in the dream.
I carefully collect the stacks of boxes from each room.
I pile them up in the courtyard and with kindling, matches and newspaper I begin a fire.
It catches and leaps up with Pentecostal zeal

There is a pit of anxiety in my stomach
Its tight like a fist until
The word ‘Pentecost’ arrives.
And now it unclenches and I remember to breathe
And I see that it has been tight
I’ve been holding my breath while the matches lit.

And its ok
It’s going to be ok
I didn’t need to look in the boxes
They were empty
They burn merrily and fast and hot
Red cubes
White cubes
Black char
Blown off now – gone - -phew

Well done my good and faithful servant
You have been trusted with small things
Now I will trust you with more.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Dream Poem 9: Birds Through Water

Dad was there
We were at the dinner table
He was shouting
he had dementia
“You forget stuff- you always forget stuff”
I always back down, well not this time
I let him have it
And ran upstairs.

We are in a row of terraced houses.
When I get up to the fourth floor, I see that all the houses are connected
making a long passageway under the eaves,
lit in blue reflected light as if from snow or water.

Abject and forgotten, rotting and decayed
I run down the length of the passage way, it is empty and deserted
The roof has fallen-in in several places and through it
I can see the Lapis firmament pricked with stars.

Under each breach,
Pools of azurite water have formed, reflecting the vault of Heaven.
Flocks of birds are flying through water – dipping beneath the surface
and rising into the roof-space.

Pearls of liquid beading, building and bleeding
to the bare attic planks
forming Pollock patterns under their wing gestures.

Speeding, speaking to each other
I stand awe struck and silent
As they pass in concert, sloping through a puncture wound in the plaster.

Dad came upstairs
Kind of apologised
I was really angry
And aggressively pushed past him to go downstairs.
Regretted it immediately,
turned on the top stair.
But he was gone
The houses were on fire.