Tuesday, 12 December 2017



Dream Poem 100: Through the X of Pinking Shears

Scissors in the kitchen.
Long arms
Spider fingers
Table full of possibility
Popping and bursting with ideas and plans.

In my hand a pair of pinking shears
Their serrated edges
Waiting to decorate
An edge
With a row of miniature mountains
Or a factory roof.

The scissors X
Is a gateway
Crawl through
only slightly hazardous
Just avoid the sharp blades like Indiana Jones.

But once through
A whole world of pink rivers
Purple sunsets, golden mountains, green lakes and blue grass.

The sound of cicadas
Not too loud
My hammock and a sweet iced tea in my hand.

It is a high hammock
So my feet don’t touch the ground
There is a breeze
Sweet with magnolia blossom and grass

My eyes close in the warmth of evening.


Dream Poem 99: The End of an Affair

I am in a large flat
in an institutional apartment block,
a student residence

I am doing some teaching and the flat comes with the teaching job
I have got a piano
People are bringing it down stairs in sections
It is very heavy

I have been in and out all day
Two people have come to collect me
I go around
Turning the lights off

As we leave.

Monday, 11 December 2017



Dream Poem 98: Disguised Wine

A court of manners
A 1700’s party
All powder and crinoline.

Underneath the guests all desire to be top dog
They outdo each other
With rare and expensive bottles of wine.

I’m am in disguise
and try and pull off the act that I belong.

The wine is dusty
And horridly dry
but it is the oldest, most expensive and sought after.

Later I am discovered
And I tell everyone, blurt it out

“Your wine is awful.”


Dream Poem 97: Anno Domini

Running down stairs
There is no time to pack
We have to go
The children will just have to keep up.

A moment ago I was poring over ledgers and old photographs
Now we have to run.

We are in the shop named Anno Domini in the back room

Going up the stairs.

Sunday, 10 December 2017



Dream Poem 85: Jam at Mass

In church
Mass is going on
I am out of step with people.
At communion I kneel on the alter step in slightly the wrong place.

The matriarchal sisters are giving communion out
but its jam, not a host
A teaspoon in a jam jar of strawberry
there is not much left in it,
just a scraping.

After mass there is a lot of good cake on sale
I buy some.

One of our group is assaulted in the toilet
We have to leave
this is an outrage
Everyone hears but says nothing
They let it happen.




Dream Poem 82: Clothes Mountain

In Ikea but it’s a megastore, even bigger
Looking at lampshades and glass vases
There is a swimming pool with different levels
Kids are swimming I can see through the shop window down into the pool area
There are escalators and I find I have stored many clothes there
There is a cupboard and crates of clothes
I start going through them seeing which ones I want and don’t want which ones fit
and there are so many I haven’t looked in for years
after looking at a few I decide to take them home with me
and clear out the whole lot,
move it all home
I try to remember where I have parked the car
and I see there is a wardrobe, cupboard and draws full of clothes and I think
Here we go again
Moving more stuff

And I realise I have clothes at another location too and that will needs clearing too. 

(plate by F. Norton, called 'Bless This House)

Saturday, 9 December 2017



Generative Drawing

In my studio..
I cannot write this anymore
I want to draw.

Later
In my studio once I was in the middle of the ‘sashiko Stitich ‘drawings.
I would stay late drawing and drawing into the night.
Repetitive action
With dip pen and ink
Some black
Some gold ink.

That was before
A long time before the tempera work, the ‘Interrupted Pattern’ series
Seven years difference.

The repetitive action of process drawing or as Louise Hopkins calls it Generative drawing
Altering boundaries and transforming territories.
The use of gold
The Rococo Minimalism

Why process drawing?
Creating lines of text-like marks
Bands of drawn scripts with very slight variation
A ripple through the sequence.

For the lapis and the gold
Hand drawn matrices
For the structure of slight discrepancy, an oscillation
Again a slight undulation in the skeleton
Which show subtly in the skin.

A sea swell
A disparity in the surface not seen at first glance
But when looking
And looking hard, meditating, concentrating, drifting

The line flexes, gathers, breathes.

Friday, 8 December 2017



The Change Part 8: Life Model

As if turning a tap off the black stopped
 It no longer worked
This grief I’d cooked up had no flavour.

Eight weeks of looking at a life size
Black and white photo of my father
In nothing but his underpants and a trombone
Posing for the camera
There is was hung.

Outside my office
Passing it back and forth, to class, to lunch on my break, back and forth
Past dad – say Hi, be nice
Made his death so real.

Grief was a burned pudding
Burned and bitter and black
Toffee stuck to the bottom of the pan
Black and gritty
Ad Reinhardt had it
The prismatic colours of black are a spare beauty,
the matrix of red black, green black, grey black,
blue black, yellow black, purple black,
arranged and formed into a perfect unwholesomeness.

Delicious chargrilled stone baked bottom blackened black rye loaf
A blackberry and squid ink spaghetti
Burned
Humiliated
Shamed,
Ignored,
Stumbling embarrassment.

He was well known around the pubs and clubs
His jazz band was the toast of town,
celebrated and whooped to by teachers,
jazzers and artists

He was well known as a life model,
as a musician and the party starter.
King Alfred’s cakes – burned to a crisp
And there he was in all his glory.

The first couple of weeks
I couldn’t even look at the picture
But later I got it.

He shows off
Loves having his photograph taken
Loves to be listened to
Loved the singular attention the front man gets.

Singer, cheer leader for the band
Rule breaker, anarchist
Not afraid to be different
be noticed.

The centre of the party
All this too - I get
The photograph shows the father I’d rather not see

And know that I have a bit too. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017



The Change Part 7: Cocoon

Curled in the nautilus of my imagination
Foetal yet full grown
The time of gestation
A holding period
Inside fingernail pink
The shell walls glow in the sun
Inside is a spiral staircase
In a library
In the fingernail room
I lodged in black, waiting.
Longing, yearning for the time to be up so I could leave
So I can transform like Le Cain’s Cabbage Princess.
Back into my real, authentic, true self.

At tropical world the cocoons of rare and oversized moths and butterflies hang on a dowel
In a humidor
They hang, like last years leaves
Tatty and brown
A crumpled felt hat from the dressing up draw
A discarded single brown suede glove from the 1940’s.

The humidor has a glass front so I can witness the transformation.
Daphne into a laurel tree
Princess into a cabbage
Well to ill
Life to death to death to life.

Once I saw the exact moment
The moth emerged from its cocoon
And fell to the metal mesh floor
And lay there drying
Waiting for exactly the right time to unfurl its wings
Warmed by effort, and pumping blood through the veins of its wings.
Test first horizontal position, then vertical wing
And it was up
and away it flies – free.

I have had my black for three long years.
Persephone in the underworld and Eurydice get it.
I was waiting for the exact right time to stop
I had almost come to the conclusion that this was it
Black from now on.

Then I had my diagnosis and thought
“I had better start living for myself
It is time to stop grieving for he is gone
But I am alive and have only one life.

It is time to get back on the ride and press accelerate – go go go
Luckily, or not
I expanded four dress sizes larger
Dumped the black
Bought the blue.

It is a relief
Black may be the unofficial arts school uniform
But that was never my motivation
Glad to put it on one side

And be blue.

Monday, 4 December 2017



Shadow Patterns

Shadow patterns of tree branches on the cupola
Purple blue against the yellow green of the dome
The sky one moment red
The next
bluest blue.




Dream Poem 96: Trousers

At the corner of a street at night in a closed shop doorway.
It has been a Christmas party and our small group composed of
The hippy, the ballerina, the tiny enthusiast and the photographer.
The round bouncer on the door of the Club has told us
“he’s not coming in wearing jeans”
We maintained that his presence is necessary to our happiness.
It is decided the ballerina and the photographer will swap trousers.
He takes off his trousers
So she can put them on.
This suits them both very well.
We are admitted through the dark, smokey doorway.




Dream poem 95: Three Things?

Three things I am certain of
That it takes two to get into it

And one to get out of it…

Sunday, 3 December 2017



Holland in Prismatic Greys

Holland the flat low-key light of
Van Eyke and Vermeer, Breughel and Kalfe.
Reflected luminosity into the firmament from rivers, canals and lakes.
Watery muted aquamarine, turquoise, azurite, lapis, sapphire greys.
Pallid in prismatic neutrals.
Bent fracture-light colour spectrum.
Rose pink madder misty morning, salmon greys.
Chartreuse tint-grey flooding and blotted by paper-tissue clouds.
Soft light, clear eyes.
Eau de nil, green greys and yellow green, lime curd light from
A field of corn swaying next to the window,
in high-key contrasts of

Grey indigo-violet shadows and golden avocado green tint of new leaves.


Curled in the Nautilus of Herself


Curled in the nautilus of herself
She dreams in polynomial time
Multiverse.
Each night a different life.
Cristal clarity.

Playthings in a painted ladybird tin.
Vertebrae of a fish
Single portion of ground black pepper
A tiny matryoshka, the kind found tight in the middle of the mama dolls.
These things she takes out one by one.
Examined for rarity and specialness each with its own tale.
Talisman to keep her safe on the first day at a new school.

Tokens of her nautilus world.
Inside the Fibonacci curves she is beyond reproach,
beyond sound or recall of the real world.

Full of potential, potent with myths and future life
Waiting to be born, gestating in rose coloured dimness

The pink light making a fingernail home.


Dream Poem 94: Clever Artists

Here is a massive famous Art Museum.
Some artists break in the dead of night and take a painting.
They use the famous old and venerable painting to make a new one.
They break back in the next night
And rehang it back in its usual place in the gallery.
They wait for it to open.
And watch for the public and the curators to see how clever they were.

(image, Cardinal Sin, by Banksy, Liverpool Museum.)


Saturday, 2 December 2017



After Under the Skin (Director Jonathan Glazer)

Turn my face to the wall
It is all too much
Too overwhelming
Duck out
By pass
Turn inward
Whitenoiseunbearable
Overtaking my senses
Eating my mind
Blotting my thoughts
Turn my face to the wall and…
This is what it is like to be her
this is what she thinks
As she steps out of life.





Bisji

The crocodile bites the man
And stands up as tall as he
The man simultaneously makes love to a woman
On whose shoulders
Stands a giant woman
And on her shoulders
Is a much smaller man
With a giant penis projection
Carved all overs with tiny men

Patterned and pierced.


The yearning years

The yearning years, aged seventeen.
I wanted something from young men.
Not even sure what.

But the ones I was meeting,
I was not getting – that special something from.
What was it exactly I wanted?

I had read Romeo and Juliet,
I had read Mansfield Park.

I thought I knew how men were supposed to act.
Real Book Men.
Not the boys up the road who teased us, tormented us and got on our nerves.

These Book Men acted with kindness, consideration and were complimentary
and I wanted it,
But I wasn’t getting it.

None of my boyfriends,
not one of them
was giving me the Mr Darcy treatment
and I wanted it.

Perhaps the post-industrial back drop of a Northern City
did not engender the kind of romance, fine words and sweet gestures I yearned for.

In the end I realized this book behaviour was not going to happen.
Swains turned up in pea green Ladas not white stallions.

The best I could hope for was
The latest Prince LP played for me
A twirl at the Poly Bop
Drinking cider on the moor till we were giddy.

One young man had all the right moves
except the final initiative  - to ask me out
it never happened
watching 16 Candles and Pretty in Pink together
I should have guessed he was Duckie.
But I didn’t.

It would have been good to have had a holiday romance on my European travels
But I was dating Him.

Don’t mention Him.
Or it will send me into an invisible, silent rage.
All under the surface.

I cannot scream and rampage round the house at this time of night
Not with the children in bed
This rage is subterranean
A lava field
Cool and crisp on the outside
Red hot magma underneath
That’s how I feel about Him.

Thank the stars he is 5 time zones and 5000 miles away from me.
And will never come back – probably.
If he did that day would be uncomfortable and troublesome.

He is a black hole in my universe
I can never go near the idea of Him
Without being sucked into stupidness
All very counter productive
So
Wide berth
Steer clear.

The yearning years brought ideas about men - completely unrealistic in the poptastic 80’s
The yearning years are food for thought
Pockets of experience.
Lost earrings down the backs of couches in Ireland.
Falling in a hedge arms wrapped around my supposed heart’s desire.
Amazement at what people wear under their clothes.
and again at what is under the underwear.

Wondering if it was neater in the good old days of Austen, Bronte and Dickens,
but even there
heroines make those unwise choices
(Tess D’urbaville, Bathsheba Everdene, Maggie Tulliver, Ada Clare, Kathy Earnshaw)
And then make them again, sometimes with the same person.

Not me,
my unwise choice is “ a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away.”
Long may he remain there.
Out of sight.
Out of mind.

Beyond  memory.

Thursday, 30 November 2017



Dream Poem 94: Liquid Mud

I open my mouth to scream.
And it is choked up with liquid mud.
It fills my mouth and throat, gagging me, stifling my cry.




Dream Poem 93: Ice Grey


Spray of silvery sea water
Numb cold,
blue cold
Smashing against a towering cliff of grey granite
Immediately it touches land the water is turned to ice.
High, high up, the brine is frozen into stalagmites of gleaming pewter grey
Instant freeze, towering cliffs.
Incrusted like wax from a guttering candle
layers of frozen water,
Icy concretion by wave after relentless wave of  bitter cold deep.




All the Way to Rotterdam


Twilight over the sea
An inky graphite blue
And above the moon
Behind a cloud
Split like a slashed doublet
Spilling silver satin
Down to the sea
A patch of blue black
Black blue
We move silently past
Peering from our port-hole
How good it is to be to have
them here
No fog tonight, unlike the Orkney crossing
Just the silver dollar moon
And a strong south easterly wind

All the way to Rotterdam.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017



Dream Poem 86: The Capturers

Choosing coloured pencils from the library shop at college
to use with students on a trip to a museum.

The pencils are non-uniform
very dirty 
but the pigment in them is very good.

We go out, myself and the students to the museum
another group is there, they are dangerous.
They capture victims to hurt them.

We try and escape by hiding in a room in a tiny shop.
We are gathering so we can go out in the street together
Playing music and singing.

But the capturers are coming 
and we hide in a room.
A man and woman are already hiding when I try and squeeze in with them.

A handsome man in a shirt decides to brave it on the street.
Slips out of the door and mingles with the crowd
He is successful

And returns later dressed as a woman.


Dream Poem 90: Lesbian Rich Girl

Sharing a house with lesbians.
I am in love with a super-rich girl
she has make up inscribed with her own name.

At the night club there is gang warfare
All the girls can leave.

And my true love is among the ones going
I run to discover her and say
“I will find you soon.”

It is chaos.
Running.
Fighting.


Monday, 27 November 2017



Dream poem 84: Long Dress and a Sword

Two teams of us
On both sides of the hall
To take games

The game was to take on a new personality
And act out that personality
I was in love with someone on the opposite side
In every game they were on the opposite side
I tried to explain this to them one day but it was wasted words
We were never meant to be.

Fighting a battle
Long dress and a sword
I always win but I wonder
if I will win this time
and why me?

A grandma and baby are at the play ground
Grandma injures her neck and I hold the baby
and go to ring an ambulance.
I don’t want to dial the number
so I get someone else to do it
the baby is tiny
And starts rooting at my breast and crying.
But I tell it
“I’ve no milk anymore”
Meanwhile the grandma who should be lying flat
is playing on the park.

I’m opponents with another kingdom
Although I’ve won many times before
With my long dress and sword
I wonder if I will win this time.

I hear the court advisor talking to the other side
saying “You can do it, you can win.”
And I start feeling less sure of myself.
I have no advisor
just a king saying that
he expects me to win.


(image, iron sword and pommel, 6th century AD, Anglo Saxon )





Dream Poem 87: Bus Trip to an Island

It is cold and I have got gloves and coat to keep warm
I catch the bus and end up on a dessert island cast away with some sailors.

They are an island nation like Tahiti or Hawaii
I learn to understand life in the island
The tides
The gifts from the sea
Village life.

In the village there is no marrying
But people couple off as they want.

Another influx of westerners arrive
Large girls in prom dresses and sailors
There is a general free for all.

I observe and think
“They are being very disrespectful, grasping and rude.”
“Greedy.”
I think to myself
“They will learn
They will understand this is not done, not acceptable.”
They are just grabbing people to have sex with.

I have fallen in love with an island man,
he is a carpenter and has tools
We like each other but it Is not their way to stay as a couple and commit to each other.
So I keep my thoughts to myself.

There is a crisis.
A very large group go out to sea and are lost.
They never come back
And they must choose a new leader.

The new leader is unsuitable
 he disregards the customs and things go wrong
People are hungry
The sea washes away houses and supplies it is a disaster.

The village goes through a couple of weeks of hard times,
different men try to be the leader.
But there are problems each time.

At last I decide to go and take my man with me.
I am not sure if he wants to come
and at first he is reluctant to leave.

But at last he sees it is the only option
As everything else has gone
and the people have descended into fighting and chaos.

Inwardly I feel victorious and supremely happy
I imagine our lives together and I feel settled and content.

But we have to get home first
I gather his tools and put them in my rucksack
I decide to take clay too – bags of it
and my rucksack was full of sea water and so heavy.

At last the man had reconciled himself to leaving
Of saying goodbye to his home and community
With me.

And I thought about how happy we would be together
in my house in Rodley.
I put my gloves back on

and walked into the cold wind of a bus station.

(image from Natural History Museum, London)


Dream Poem 91: Not Worth Pursuing

An office of glass and concrete
It’s a bank.

There is some funny business going on – a scam
A suitcase of money is handed over for investment
but it is an inside job
which is discovered at the last minute
and the man has to grab the money and run.

We already know he will get away with it.

We knew it was happening
but it was worth the risk
and in the long run
it is not worth pursuing.

The elders of the bank have allowed it to happen.







(images of the Seagram Building New York. Built in 1958 by Modernist Bauhaus trained Architects  Mies van der Rohe and  Philip Johnson who designed the four seasons restaurant.)

Saturday, 25 November 2017

                                           Image result for donkey skin kay nielsen

Dream poem 81: Princess Stroppy

Princess stroppy
In a campsite
By a reservoir
A princess in regal state gown, sewn all over with jewels, pearls, crystals, gold.

We have to keep her happy
But it’s a campsite
Basic and dirty
There seems to be lots trailing about in the dirt.
she is not happy, no Allerlierauh is she.

(illustration: princess DonkeySkin by Kay Nielsen.)



Dream Poem 54: 1920's Bed

At a night class I’m teaching, 
there are three students, 
a man on a bike and an older woman.

The class is next to the canal,
People have drowned there 
we discuss their motivation for drowning.

It’s the end of term and the whole college is getting together for a ceremony.
There is a bed in an office.
I go for a lie down feeling tired.
It is a 1920’s bed, 
Art Deco in colour and style 
ash trays in the wall next to each side.
All around are sky scrapers
I feel very small and insignificant.

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The Waterwheel Once Again: Mrs Rochester’s Story

Drawn as I am to it
I fear it too
Its dark beauty and power
Black with age and use
Cups again and again the soft water.

Made mild by dale and stone
The drip, drip, drip of
Mother Shipton’s cave
Petrifying a hat, a ballet shoe
An umbrella
Hanging like excavated Pompeian
Artefacts.

There is no wheel there in the
Garlic forest
up in the hills
A damp cave for a home.
Driven from town as a witch
she was feared and saught.

This wheel is an attraction so great
I abhor it.

It has a pull on me.

The rhythm of its rhyme, the rhythm of its rhyme, the rhyme of its rhythm
A repeated phrase
In mechanical shouts
And watery gutturals
The crank and grind of it
The burden of industrial weight 
The insolent preponderance of it pulls my eyes unwillingly
to its black presence

Its perpetual motion

Hypnotic

Wavering on a precipice
How easy, how freeing just to let go
The edge of reason
I look down into the foam
Everything is lost – all is nonsense.

Nothing matters but the up, up, up
Of the paddles
The motion
as it lifts and sluices the water
Again, again, again

Each container hits the light for a moment on its journey up
It is shadowy in here and the wheel itself
Is pitchy
But a spot of sunlight from the
Chalk fogged window hits
With mid-day clarity
The same point.

And as each one reaches its zenith at the roof top
That site of burning light
It is illuminated for a second.

It rises
Cupping water
Drenched
Dripping with black pond slime
Spattered off by gravity and speed.

Motion and the parting of the water
Until it arrives at the
The point of examination
The instant of reflection
The moment of clarity
When it is splintered.

The dirt saturated,
sodden wood and age blackened iron
Is revealed in pure blazing light.
For this moment it is transcendent
Truly authentically itself.

As it rises it
Disappears, fades back to black
Into the omniscience of shadow
Incognito
With the cogs and the water
Its brother paddles
Its sister spokes
Its cousin cogs
Slips back into obscurity.
As the crankshaft, axles and flywheel move
In unison
singing its own unique song
Harmonising in a symphony of
Unity.
Its singularity becomes
Part of the accord.

The forces that ground it to a halt
In the past
The great flood of 1975.
when the silt of the river rose and advanced
until the whole wheel system was petrified
submerged, stilled.

The weir itself
lost its footing and went under
she that had stood for 350 years.

And so it remained
Immersed
no longer controlling the water
but controlled by the weight of the water.
Immobilized, held hostage, helpless,
a prisoner of the two great green bodies of Aire and Aire and Calder Navigation.
The island of Thwaite Mills caught between the two torrents.

Imagine the surprise of pike and stickleback
in the new country of wheels and cogs
and the inside of cottages and houses.

Gradually the water subsided
Not the same with the weir in ruins.
Generations of silt, chalk and china clay clogged the works.
The wheel remained static, stuck
Mid motion
Congested and laid low.

Impermanence of structures and schedules
Laughable in the face of a wall of water
Wreaking devastation and destruction.

Putting a full stop to the motion
Of the wheel
Creating of the wheel its own full stop.

Hard to imagine now.
In full force and vigour
Each paddle holds
in its repairs and
Remade functionality.

Memory of what it was to be halted
What it is now to have renewed agency
In the water
Is held in its genetic make-up.

The Aire and Calder Navigation and the Aire, dark green blackness
Conspirators, accusers, cause of downfall and ruination.
Partners.
The very element that makes the wheel function or fail.
A marriage of convenience and arrangement.
Ruin and redemption
Not Jane Eyre this time but Mrs Rochester.
Armley Mills is Jane Eyre.
Thwaite Mills is Antoinetta Rochester.
Consumed by fire and water.





Sunday, 19 November 2017



Ode to Pina

Pina and her dancers
Joy and abandon
Pure physicality of space
And shape.

Dance with
Water
Earth
A forest
An open cast mine
A Modernist glass building.

loose hair And long dresses
And their bodies move with grace and staccato
In minimalist repetitions.

And I recognize my own body
in this form
and saw my body strong and flexible
it too could work like this
with this hair and this dress
I too can be Pina
in her hat and wellies.




Dream Poem 92: 1960’s Classroom Affair


A 1960s film, very stylized

The relationship between a woman teacher and a late teen boy
He is blond and overweight by todays fashion standards
She is dark and tanned, hair cut in a bob, beautifully cut clothes.

She is in line with the young man and is fighting her feelings.

She sits in her apartment in the evening.
All in white, white YSL dress, white Mary Quant shoes
She sits at white plastic furniture leafing through a copy of Paris Vogue.
It is a very modern roof top terrace
There are high windows
all done in the Modernist Bauhaus style.

West Side Story – a doomed love affair.

The next shot is In the class room
There is an info graphics film about the
physiognomic difference between a man and a teenager.
With kooky drawings and comparison measurements.

The next scene, He is there at her flat
She is trying to tell him to leave
But cannot help crying
He wants to comfort her
But convention stands in the way.

In the next scene
They have crossed that line
And he is close to her
With his face close to her face
Things have changed

The power balance has changed.


The Change part 6: In the Fall-Out of Chernobyl, Black is Inapposite


She is in her black as usual.

Black coat and bag
Black bra and knickers and slip
Black dress
All black, every day.

Saying – he is dead and I am sorry
The semiotics of the outfit.

She is in her black dress at the doctor’s waiting room
In the hospital
Surrounded by women like her.

Some crying silently, anxiously,
some dead eyed,
exhausted with an IV of nuclear-ness
drip, drip, dripping into their bodies.

With husbands
With women friends
With mothers, with daughters.

She is alone, and happily so
she needs a break from the well intentioned baggage of others.

She looks at herself
And she says
“This narrative has to change”.

This event marks a way stone,
a departure from the path she thought she was going on.
Her agency in this new reality asserts itself and says,

“Dump the black, Live. This is your time now.
He has had his slice of mourning, duty paid, honour given.
If you don’t seize this moment and change you will miss the point.
This is for you and you alone, This sweet juicy slice of life, of loveliness
Is yours
Are you going to waste it mourning?
In black?
This is not your part, not your role
It is time to swap, To change, To move on.
And now you have to write your own script.
Black is no longer ‘in’.”

Sitting there she leafs through Hello Magazines, more stories about Princess Kate
Numb
Speechless.

She forms an idea on which she will act.

The news in the consultation room is
Doled out like cold porridge
Sticking to her insides as she digests the news.

She sits impassive,
the doctor not sure she has heard and asks
“Did you hear me, do you understand?”

But she is frozen,
She must damp down this nuclear explosion with great effort and expertise.
A small smile on her face.

While inside –
Devastation,
Deva – station.
Hurricanes, volcanoes, peril of death
Anxiety, fear, terror.

Outside – flat mill pond.

“Yes I understand” she says
“I will have an operation,
I will have radio therapy,
I will have medication for five to ten years.”

She repeats it back,
the doctor is satisfied that She has heard.

This will take some ironing out later.
This amount of inner turmoil will unravel
At some point
And she wants to get it out of the way
Now.

But it is not as convenient as that
It is much more protracted
And messy
And will leave a trail of destruction like the aftermath of Chernobyl.
That will take decades tidy up.

And so the black is out
The black is binned
Black is rejected and put away
It is time to change

To turn back black
Turn it inside out
It is her time
Black is over

Mourning is done.

Thursday, 16 November 2017



Dream poem 89: Disingenuous Back Problems

There are three or four of us with back problems.
I am across town
teaching a community class
outside is a ‘Back Problems Van’.

Later the van is at Kirkstall Abbey
I return with Pudsey people to go to the ‘Back Van’

It is a lengthy day
of seeing doctors and nurses
and procedures
but at l the end of it our backs are better.

I am the first one through
and I see the assembled doctors
and thank them for their intervention.

And I say
“My back had been previously so bad that
I couldn’t even put the handbrake on or lift a child without pain
Now it is completely well”

Even as I am saying it
I felt completely disingenuous.

My back had not been that bad for years.
As for lifting the kids
At thirteen and fifteen
I do not carry or lift them at all anymore.

I felt it was what the doctors wanted to hear
especially the lady doctor.
She wanted us to be grateful
She wanted to make a difference.
It was part of a script that should be said.

She was very tired
and had been doing the same thing for a long time,
long hours with ingrate patients.

At the same time as she wanted thanks, she also didn’t believe me
She looked tired and jaded
But accepted my attempts.

I returned to the centre and collected my paintings
The Pudsey people were there waiting
for their turn to give a speech.