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ju May 2021
He picks at the fray of her gaze
‘til she frowns. Sews shut her mouth

with too many questions.

We grow roots.

Sun shines hot through a tall window, and
she curls to me like vine.

We wind together, sway ‘til her small hands
whisper at the nape of my neck -

Finished, done.
ju Jan 2012
No men.
But when the
conversation starts, they dominate.
Worm their way into every sentence, every silence.
Every caught breath, exhaled pause.
Names, nice-to-meet-yous, passed round with sandwiches and tea.
Hole-riddled autobiographies, wadded out with circumstance and need.
Explaining themselves, defending their actions. In turn. And I?
Have never felt so young.
To my left, and working clockwise: Affair-with-the-boss, Heart-condition, High-risk-of-genetic-defects,
In-the-middle-of-a-divorce-not-sure-why-she-slept-with-him, Grown-up-children-can’t-bear-to-go-through-that-again,
and back to me. (Boyfriend-has-two-kids-wants-no-more)
He noticed that I’m pregnant.
Was pregnant.
We chew our way through sandwiches. Different coloured fillings, no flavour- choked down with lukewarm tea.
We know it’s a test.
We have to talk, smile, eat, drink, laugh (not manically)
if we're to go home.
I can’t do it.
I want to cry. But I’ve been told off for that already (curled up on a trolley, examining bloodied fingers)
I drift, I think.
Jump out of my skin when she speaks to me.
You must eat she says.
You must eat.
I search for myself in their eyes,
re-make myself from fragments and reflections I find there (Four parts child, one part *****)
It’s OK, I tell her. It’s OK.
On my way home I’ll get a Happy Meal.
I’m collecting the toys.
ju Mar 2022
I am
drawn to the pictures

the new and the already-old

the news and the already-told)

stories framed, set
rolling, rolling ...

maps and suits and flames -

the mother -

ju Aug 2020
telly’s on, just enough noise.
my head in your lap, relaxed as you
play with my hair.
safe. so safe with you.
explore thoughts, map dreams.
your children sleep sound upstairs.
warm hands on
chilled skin,
an invite to press
in, to face you, to turn, to
trace words with my tongue.
your finger-tips slip under
the band of my jeans,
give me permission to need.

telly’s on, just enough noise.
my head in your lap, confused as you
play with my hair.
safe? so safe with you?
probe thoughts, tap dreams.
your children sleep sound upstairs?
strong hands on
hot skin,
a demand to press
in? to taste you? to burn? to
raze words with my tongue?
wet fingers unfasten
the studs on my jeans
give you permission to take?

telly’s on, just enough noise.
my head in your lap, ashamed as you
play with my hair.
brave. so brave for you.
hide thoughts, snare dreams.
your children sleep sound upstairs.
heavy hands on
flushed skin,
an invite to press
in, to face you, to turn, to
erase words with my tongue.
careful fingers push, just
enough through my jeans,
give me permission to want.

over again.
I keep taking out the explicit stuff, so maybe when you read it, it isn't.

Needs a title I can love.
ju Nov 2011
Tethered and bound by maraging steel-
feel nothing- bar a need to unfeel.
Few words- gagged. Rubber'd tastes,
sound the same. Chewy, jaw-achingly safe.
ju Sep 2012
I'd heard horror stories in the playground, seen embarrassment and tears.
Shared in secrets that were passed around like candy.

Not for me.
All the messing about and the working it out. I didn't want Bad *** by misadventure.

Like you said.

I waited. Not as long as the good girls, but longer than my mates.

You were worth it.

I was a bundle of nerve endings and inexperience but it was perfect, you were brilliant.
Just the thought of you sends shivers down my spine.

My best kept secret.

I wonder about you, at times. About your life, what you do, if you're happy or feeling blue.

Your children: Would I know them in the street? I guess now they're all grown up.

Just like me.
tweaked then re-posted. cheers :-)
ju Aug 2020
click of heels made dull
along pavements swept with rain
through rainbow painted puddles
past brick-bottle barricades
the roads and streets that make me feel invincible and like I have super-hero powers, always named after saints and do-gooders.
ju Oct 2020
Rain is dramatic, but short lived-
storms half-hearted.
Sun shines strong and low
through art-work cloud, and
finger-print-blooms rock and sway
on a whispering green-leaf sea.

October 2020 is the hot-sweet-tea
left outside my room, after the row I caused
when I was 15.
ju Jan 2021
no. wings don’t grow from scars - and
small hearts lean in for warmth, not love.
cut lines
ju Apr 2017
today you are a storm and I am your world
(what am I in your eyes?
which raw nerve did I rake? which hurt did I expose?)

they’ve scribbled out your silver linings
replaced them with pages of grey

it hasn’t helped

today you are a storm and I am your world

tomorrow you’ll be a ray of sunshine
or a swullocking sky
or a tsunami

I’ll still be your world

and that’s fine
ju Dec 2020
fingers unfurl a thought into words
slide sensation between dream
and nostalgia
ju Sep 2022


ju Jan 2021
I’d begun to enjoy
wondered if Stop really was next

you suggested Rewind  

I asked for 7 day Freeze-Frame
a look at the picture

day 6 you hit Eject but failed

we took a Skip-Back together
you crashed

really crashed

Stop’s not an option

I guess now we’re binge-watching

ju Aug 2020
He was cross.
I cried.
I’m putting things right.
Changing my life,
or changing it back.
Something along those lines.
Can’t think quite what.
She’s holding my hand
Wanted to see if washing-up liquid
came out of the thing they stuck in me.
It didn’t.
Looks just like the top off a bottle
of Fairy.
Fairy? I’m making a fairy.
No, not a fairy.
I’m here to make an Angel.
That’s nice,
except I don’t believe in
such crap.
They’re pushing something
into my bottle-top-hand.
I’m here to make an Angel.
That's nice.
They’re counting down.
ju Mar 2022
bare feet on concrete
skin pressed pink to cold plaster

sun-needles through roof-gaps
fall on rain-rotted rafters

(root and vine)
soles and spine -

tie me here
ju Nov 2011
What’ll happen when you die? Will I lose you again? That would mean finding you. Undoing years, unpicking frayed edges fixed with the wrong coloured yarn. I see you at funerals. At Mum’s you were angry. So was I - but I concealed it. Played numb. At Dad’s you were shaking. I thought your nerves were finally shot. Or that the little boy, naked standing in snow, washing his clothes after a petit-mal fit, was still shivering and waiting for Mum. Then I noticed you weren’t drinking. Said you’d been stitched (again) by police- who’ve always had it in for you. Like they pass this hatred down through rank and generation, onto every town you’ve ever lived in? So that explained the orange-juice-and-lemonade made tidal in your hand. I want to rewind you. You were trouble, of course - but you were nice-trouble and I loved you. I looked up to you. I didn’t see the Big-Brave-Wall you were building. Or the things that made us not-normal. When I was born you were thirteen and already broken. When I was old enough to understand Mum had gained an upper hand, and you always sided with Dad. Even though you showed signs of knowing he was the ******* that ****** us up? I didn’t get it as bad. She learned. Mistakes made on you weren’t made on me. For a start she never left me with him. I was less ******. Or maybe not. Maybe just differently-****** and quicker to heal. My first crush? The copper who called for you, countless times - while I curled m'self round m' cornflakes, burning - too scared to move or turn, rotisserie style, in front of the blue-gas flame. And somewhere in me, not so deep, that teenage ju, that one less-mended who danced-all-weekend-and-slept-where-she-landed, still boasts: Had him y’know. Another notch on a well-and-truly nibbled ‘post. I cried at Dad’s funeral, but I wasn’t crying for him. Why would I?
ju Oct 2022
Our garden was spirals of green - Squeeze-through bean tunnels rigged with bee stings, skinny mud paths that grazed knees and bloodied hand-heels when it rained. The field was neat rows of gold - Wide tracks made-good with stone, sipped dry by birch and tall oak. Peacocks and emperors flickered, fritillary swooned to a stop on damp skin - Ragged commas were caught breaths in bramble and …I listened... to Old-Man-Brown - snoring and mythical, to the click-click of chopped veg, to kids playing, to men coming home.

I ran, scrambled the bank, grabbed hold of chain-link, crashed into the garden. I knelt by the pen, let dogs lick my hands, gave armfuls of long grass to rabbits. I danced between chickens, beeped back at quails and avoided wry-smiley ferrets. I made it back before Mum needed to yell, shouted out, swirled my limbs clean from the barrel - Excited because, in a couple of weeks it’d be teeming with coppery fish and I’d give them ant-eggs and worms. I shoved open the door, brushed past dead things. That’s what we did: Fed them until it was time.
ju May 2021
She loves you, she loves you not?

She loves you.

You learnt from somewhere, that tenderness -
that no-word smile.

You learnt from her.
You learnt from her.

Where is she now?

Missing from her own eyes, own hands.

You cling, you cry.

She loves you.
She loves you.

I will hold you 'til she’s found.
ju Jan 2021
Your bird-spine curves to the roof of my mouth, confetti-skull sticks to the back of my teeth. Your wet heart beats on my tongue, small lungs press in for sleep.

In silence, I carry you. In words, I carry you. I hear you breathe. Feel your dreams furl and unfurl, fern-like to term - and I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.

In pieces, I carry you. In love, I carry you. I feel shame. Not for letting you go - for letting it in. I know what happens to children like you, with fathers like him.
ju Feb 2021
I’m in filthy jeans and vest, muddy boots tucked under a bar stool. I'm sun-sore across my shoulders and neck, with dirt-dust clung to me, all over. My hair’s graded real short because men like it long, and I’m so done with them. I wonder briefly, through this haze of hormones and *****, if maybe there's a woman for me. I’ve stayed too late. Workwear’s gone home, showered, got changed. I’m alone. I’m the wrecked remains of Monday-through-Friday in this sparkling sea. I ache. I really ache. I should leave, but you buy me one more drink and I stay.
ju Jan 2021
Last night I slept in a white-walled room, surrounded by pinned butterflies framed with old love. They were so beautiful I wanted them as mine. Sheets fell as I stood and looked at each in turn, watched my own reflection ghost over their glass. I unpacked them. Held Lost to my heart ‘til its wings moved with my pulse. Took Lonely in my mouth ‘til it was whole. Peace settled in my hair. Regret hid. Lust danced in circles on my hand.
ju Jan 2021
last night her sleep was measured on steel,
****** down without a drop wasted.

we were spoons ‘til her limbs stilled -
tears spilled, found their way to my pillow.

I don’t know why I cry - if tears did help
she’d feel better by now.
ju Apr 2021
Tattered edge.

Hacked leylandii flicker
needle-teeth and sequins.

When foxes cry
I dream - my rag doll baby.

When foxes cry, I hold her tight -
pinch together seams.

Try to feed her. Bleed instead. Flood
her small, sharp mouth with red -

then watch the blood soak in.

When foxes cry, she screams.

When foxes cry
I dream - my rag doll baby.
ju Sep 2020
I grew up hidden.
it was easy-
no one really looked.
Mum cut my hair,
to be more like them-
and teachers
shamed my voice
into silence,
before I’d even found
my words.
ju Oct 2011
She’s cracking eggs.
“What are those?” she asks, pointing to white and red specks in the bowl.
Once I’d have told her it was shell-
but she’s too old for that now
“Where the eggs started to grow”
“Into chickens?”
“Oh” she says, staring intently at a gooey mess in the palm of her hand.
I finish weighing out the ingredients,
wipe her clean-
“Which colour icing do you want?”
She’s carefully spooning cake mix into bright-striped paper cases.
“Can we make angel cakes instead?”
I go into the kitchen to pre-heat the oven,
steal two minutes silence.
Deep breath.
“No. We'd be cutting up perfect little cupcakes to make the wings”
I can’t tell her why
I don’t do Angels in December.
ju Nov 2011

Words spill beneath breath-
promise or threat?
Doesn’t matter.


A deathbed-machine mourns, briefly-
before it’s switched off.
ju Mar 2021
We talk, and the cigarette burns in small moments of waiting. You move your finger from my vest strap to my collarbone. My breath catches, slides into a warm pool of want. I slip my own finger in circles at its edge, and you take a step closer.
ju Dec 2020
hard lines and distinctive strokes
hide as much as they expose

stand back to see the whole picture
ju Oct 2011
The mums at nursery like me.
They are reassured by dark rings beneath my eyes,
blue jeans, clean-scrubbed smile, pulled back hair.
A soul more boring and more tired-
Just knowing I exist makes them feel better.

Not today:

Today I’m wearing make-up.
And my shorts are, well, short
which I think is against the rules.
My hair shines like a barley sugar sweet
and my finger nails sparkle
like long forgotten jewels.

Today I dodge dressing-up hats, snotty noses, spilt milk,
play-dough, paint and mud-puddle splats
with practiced precision.

Today, just this once, when I give mums their children back,
I look more together and more stylish than them.

I run home, cross busy roads in record time,
wave to total strangers who want to say hello.

I get the polish off my nails,
scrub my face under the shower,
dry my hair,  pull it back,
grab yesterday’s jeans and baggy sweater.

He returns from work and asks:

Did you have a good day?

I think:

Yes. Yes **** it. Yes  I did.
Do you know-
my eyes are pretty, and I can get into shorts
I wore ten years ago?
Stop traffic - check.
Turn heads - hell yeah!
The roofer down the road nearly fell and broke his neck.
Your wife is, without a doubt,  a ******* **** thing.

So many words, like popping candy on my tongue.

I imagine his reaction.
I shut my mouth.
Danger passes.

But lies won’t come. Mouth’s gone dry.
I swallow back the truth then feel like I’m gonna gag.
Panic rising in my chest on top of bile.


My day was fine

I say. Just that.

My day was fine

And I am saved.
ju Jul 2020
Sifted words with softly-softly meaning, fall.
And maybe, maybe are easy enough to sweep away-
but they leave a thin film,
like settled dust.
They leave a thin film- and
I have to touch.
ju Mar 2012
My skin wears need. Like
static from an old t.v. screen-
willing you to touch.
But don’t touch me, OK?
Don’t look me in the eye,
and don’t ask.
Don’t ask 'cause I’d say yes,
when I should say no.
I’d say yes and I’d mean it.
But the whole world ‘d fall apart
ju Feb 2021
a quick shrug, ***** my shoulders - anger rolls to floor.
I wade through it - bear love and hope a little higher over its tides.
ju Oct 2011
I’ve tried really, really hard
to not look like I’m trying-
See? I am Super Girlie-Girl
for one night only.
Every detail attended to.
I’m even wearing kitten heels
for ****’s sake.
(quite literally, I think)
I’ve gone for pretty…
(or as close as age allows)
... not at all scary.
I’ve no idea what we’ll talk about but,
so far, I’ve managed to say hi
and not stare at his hands.
Still thinking ‘bout them though.
I’ve seen him play guitar-
‘nough said.
He’s grinning and I wonder,
If I might’ve let slip as words
some of these thoughts but,
since no one near by is rolling round on the floor
******* themselves laughing-
I think I’m safe.
He’s just given me the most beautiful flowers.
The deepest red roses, all half-opened velvety buds
and frothy white gypsophila.
(it’s one of those bouquets)
almost burying my face in the petals-
they smell delicious.
That's done it.
Even without a context- that word turns me on
but now?
My brain is seriously misfiring.
Pinging thoughts and words and images around
like a demonic pinball machine.
Oh Dear God-
I hope he’s not a mind reader.
How long, do you think- can I stay
hidden here in these (delicious) flowers?
How long before I need to try one?
Before the urge to lick and taste and bite-
overcomes me?
That just wouldn’t be cool, would it?
Not on a first date.
ju Jan 2021
do you wave to your mother with those hands?



sorry. couldn't resist.
i blame the pandemic.

(Ben Howard on Later with Jools Holland in case you're wondering)
ju Apr 2023
of course they gather  -

she left them
a carcass every Sunday

lonely and alone -

she fed them
names with belly-fulls of bone

(of course they gather  -

she left them)
ju Oct 2011
I don’t usually rate flowers as a gift.
Somehow the words on the tag never match
the message they’re sending.

The tag read "Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby boy”
The message was What the hell were you thinking?
A baby at your age! Life as you know it is over.

The tag read “Wishing you luck and happiness in your new home”
The message was I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.
Lock your windows and don‘t make friends with the locals.

You get the idea.

But this time there is no tag.
He’s just given me a good old fashioned, honest, upfront
I wanna get into your knickers bouquet.

And I'm thinking **** it, why not?
ju Sep 2020
they sit in empty chairs and speak kettle-whistle,
wishing us well.
This is one of my favourite lines. I don't care much for the rest of the poem, and yet these words are lost without it. Sometimes, words need other words.
ju Sep 2011
All day I've licked the taste of you
from in between my words,
but it's clinging to the spaces
and making slick the verbs.
I've ****** clean a few adjectives,
polished a few nouns-
but I just can't get my tongue around
those tricky little Os.
When the words won't come.
ju Oct 2020
My words can’t dance, unless the music’s slow and the mood takes them. Really that’s just kissing to a tune, creating a beat with heat and acceptance. My words can’t walk in heels. They can’t be still or follow rules. They strip then they swear when they slip at the end of a line, or trip face-first into a cliche. My words pile up. A heap of need. Never a poem.
ju Jan 2021
A shade hidden in rain-puddle-oil and January dust,
too dark for love. But please, slip fingers between
my clothes and my skin, press. Press in and whisper.
Whisper spells to quell the bloom of old ghosts and
sting of raw nerves.
ju Oct 2011
Handbag~ 1994
exam timetable
£5 from my Mum
shiny key for the front door
fresh-mint chewing gum

Handbag~ 1998
keys for work
keys for home
£20 and a bit of change
photo of my best mate
and a bloke that's twice my age
lipstick~ lacy knickers
condoms~ ID card
ticket for a bus to town
UV sparkly stars

Handbag~ 1999
keys for work
keys for home
spare key for his flat
condoms~ contraceptive pills
No.7 powder-ivory/matt
VISA/Delta debit card
gel ink pens
number of a bloke
who says our love
will never end

Handbag~ 2000
keys for work
keys for home
key for the gas meter
Teletubbies picture book
list of baby-sitters
new mobile phone
herbal teething gel
lipstick~ Anadin
vanilla impulse body spray
children's Nurofen
photo of my baby boy
really tiny socks
under-eye concealer
secret stash of chocs

Handbag~ 2002
keys for work
keys for home
pull-back-and-go car
baby wipes
mobile phone
estate agents' cards
picture of my little boy
list of things to do
Boots own brand pregnancy test
both windows coloured blue

Handbag~ 2005
keys for home
card from work
tissue full of tears
photo of my boy in school
that shows his gappy teeth
photo of my baby girl
and one of both of them
a ring that used to be my Mum's
Pro-Plus~ Diazepam

Handbag~ 2009
keys for work
keys for home
one SLIM~FAST bar
one Cadbury's wrapper
Haribo~ Calpol~ tissues
assorted Disney plasters
treasured stones~ special shells
sand and bits of twig
money to buy ice creams
photos of my kids
ju Apr 2016
I have a few words
but they are brittle, easily fragmented.
Not pretty in their frailty- just broken.
ju Apr 2017
they are

her stars
read and re-read

immense in their power

vast and

telling fortunes
spinning time

keeping quiet

her stars
out of reach

and inimitable
ju Jan 2021
loneliness flows from the centre of me,
in waves unmet by wall.
ju Nov 2011
Reaching out [to you] with hands
that kneaded dough before dawn,
and bleached kitchen worktop while
bread rose in the oven.
My skin carries a chill brought in
from the garden- And
my hair, damp under the elastic
I tied it back with, smells of
almond-oil conditioner.
These old clothes
have been folded with lavender,
for too long, in a drawer-
And the knees of my jeans are black,
with fine-foam-dust, from carpet
I’m part-way-through fitting.
My toes are cold and my feet are grubby
‘cause I didn’t wear shoes
when I hung out the washing.
Fleshing out the virtual hug **
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