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They bark at cars, and howl at church bells
Mist rolls down like tears,
While smoke rises in hope.

On a thickly wooded hillside
Within a sandstone scar,
The deer with tiny horns feasts on Rhododendron.

They say there are wolves
Far away in the north
Where midwinter passes fall silent
Beneath a wedding gown of stars.

Send your daughters to the city, my merchant friend!
They will find their manners there.
I think of you and want to smoke
ingest a grateful lung
of tar and air and nicotine
all good intent undone

I think of you and deep within
somewhere lost to time,
a tiny little death occurs
'cos you're no longer mine

I think of you because to not
would stretch my soul deplete,
as starfish grow another limb
my heart ticks off a beat

Eating tears is painless
and in reaching for the moon
I’ve built around myself a cage
and to dig, I need a spoon

take down each mouthful, dirt and stones
‘til by light I see escape
curse my indecisiveness!
I wouldn't know the path to take

I could reignite each death
but would chance occur,
smoke again, and **** the need
of addiction I am sure

So? What if I’m addicted?
each one of us is cursed
or wear the scars of something,
but at least I was the first.
Three rings have been on my hand
no three boys were ever my husband
I've never been married, over threshold been carried
but you I think I could stand.
All day, I turned you over
in my mind.
Consulted my essence
and found nothing wanting.

Eight hours,
full to bursting -
but telling myself
"don't get hooked".

You, being the truest of men,
have cut me to the marrow.
Where, transparent in your presence,
all pretension expires.

All day,
I felt your sapphires upon me.
Eyes sent to watch over,
and guard every move.

I said this wasn't gonna be
a Greek tragedy.
No sit-com of labours
or dramatic show.

Your voice
turned every little red fibre
of my central nervous system
to trembling coral.

Underwater, captured in the swell
I'm breathing you again.
As though I were born to it,
and have lived every moment
with you... with you...
If you can think about it
Would it be so terrible?
The spoils of a war to be split
No-one carries the winner’s flag
And if I did, it’d break my back
I’m no rider on the storm
Any more than I’m a poster girl for you

So throw it out
Gather back the shattered remnants
Sweep up what’s left
And call it ‘art’
Or call it an experiment
A test of reserve
A nerve of steel
A way to break a heart

Or ten hearts
Who cares?
Who even knows?
or would be interested?

And, darling, what’s the worth
Of a life gone to ruin
Decay was always my favourite aesthetic
my life best lived was always gonna be a mess
it’s my way, my way, my way
but **** climbing a Hollywood hill
for a view of what coulda been

it never was a rosy tale
nor a highlight in the dark
a silly, idle freak of me
a way to break a heart
a way to break a heart
a way to keep the spirit hot
and feel as though the heat
was coming up from somewhere else
across and beyond the spires
the dreaming places of a mind
gone to hell and back

seeing in the dark
isn’t just for cats
it’s for ones who can’t abide the light
we learn to read in shadows
making sense of lumps and bumps
feeling our way along the landing
stubbing toes and cracking hips
and bending to imaginary swords
To dream of you, my nose bleeds
I smell metal as I wake
another feather pillow wrecked
another day to ache.

I should sleep on only earth
give my essence to the ground
another link uncouples
as you the couple found.

She doesn’t seem so much to me
as a photo can but tell
gritty-featured, highlighted -
send me straight to hell.

How comely of you, darling,
to pick an Essex girl
it’s where I left my guts for you
mixed in with cockle shells.

I see you don’t yet trust enough
to picture your accord
trust that I shan’t murmur
the bile I can’t afford.

I shan’t waste time to wonder
at the steel of your affair
curse my spiteful stomach!
I cannot help to care.

It twists me to oblivion
and sunders me to tears
my lower lip is bloodied
as my pillow, so I fear.

Cast the feathers upwards
into the fatal blue
caught on gentle thermals
perhaps they’ll find their way to you.
The smell of the foundry surrounds you
abounds and wreaths around you.
A man of ore, born of the earth

I thought of you as Roman.
Alive, shuddering with the stress
and exertions
of recent war

The thrill of hardship
fresh upon you,
made ever-stronger by violent work
your fibres stretch then relax
to gather in quiet, resting power

Glittered in sweat,
you have raced through history
to arrive, tattered and magnificent,
heaving, and worn like a mountain

I have melted into you -
piston thighs greased with excitement!
As your black-ringed fingers
chase a whitened path,
through my pebbled steam

Our minerals mix:
salt and blood, tears and love
and the hooves of legion drum in my ears,
outpacing a gathering storm
as little death overwhelms me

You are home,
hanging suspended in a grief-cloud
above me.
And I invite you, with a succession of imagined dilations,
to rain down.
Hindered by progress, or the idea of progress:
evolution-in-waiting bellows me to hide,
tattering becomes ruination.

Animism creeps,
not-yet hands pushing at dim velvet.
Peeping one-eyed through the past
where had borne such potent promise
immutability lain intact
flumped into snowy thickness
and thrown hard against Georgian glass.

Here comes the stealth of unillumination
thankfully blanketing
they were tied at the hips
and neck,
then wrapped as old mirrors.

That door went nowhere
it always does
those Victorians, forever meddling,
will folly themselves into any trouble.

You haven’t changed one bit!
I say to myself,
showing you their brand new niceness
***** as copper pans.
Go on, spit in my fire
the hiss is the thing that’s real.
Faded gilding, rubbed through to cracking, flaking wood.
A glamour of ages, sliding, flies to the breeze.

The little bird perches on a once-fine moulding;
Head tilted, one bright eye turned towards the mantle
where a half-blind mercurised mirror barely reflects
an army of creeping vines, consuming naked angels
and the God of this house.

Our hero’s velvets are ruined, dripping and eaten through.
Where riches have lived, decay succeeds.
Nature’s velvets; opulent mosses and emerald lichens
are devouring damask
and smoothing over marbled hardness.

The bird listens for footsteps.
The lady would scatter crumbs on the windowsill
and he would flutter, unafraid,
to peck at her sweet feast.

Once, she drew him.
Fine-lining passerine delicacy,
her pencils fetched him,
and bestowed him an artist’s nobility.
He turned, this way and that,
flashing gold-touched wings,
miming a duchess snapping open a fan.

She’s gone now,
and so have the crumbs.
The bird senses no sugar on the sill,
nor the faintest reminiscence
of lavender perfume, glittering as star bursts
at the hollow of her throat.

He sings regardless,
a mournful beauty
longing to return to a glorious, lustful age,
where light refracted in cut crystal,
danced upon frescoes
and illuminated the ugly –
- to render them enchanting.

He swoops to dance on the mantle,
answered by the mirror
and sits a while, preening.

The gentlemen and ladies are gone forever.
Ejected from history to echo as ghosts of fancy and excess,
undeserving of remembrance or pity.

The bird will never forget.
And knots up secrets
kept tightly in his breast,
committed to his tiny, fierce heart.
The Goldfinch is my favourite bird - both owing to its numerous appearances in Renaissance art and as the silent protagonist in Donna Tartt's book bearing its name.
Is it schizophrenia ,
or just simple mania,
that makes me just as likely
to laugh, as to cry?
To know, as to wonder why?

Tides push and pull
washing/gritting in equal measure,
who knows?

In light and shade
contrast, I crave.
Everything must be black
(or white)
at ground level,
or lost, soaring in flight.
Motionless or breakneck
at a thousand miles an hour.
Shielding eyes against glare
or staring into darkness.

Trojans face Greeks,
we're all normal, us freaks.
Cutting a path
through waist-high meadow grass
and fallin'... fallin'....
hitting ground, painless,
on my ****!

I love how the night smells
when days are scentless,
darkness brings secrets
we're all friends here, hateless,
seeking something intangible
nameless and free.

Tell of your secret,
it's between you and me.
Rise with a wave
And come down, hard
Water is as unforgiving
As a reluctant lover

Your boots were polished
Shining with warm fury
and silence,
like soft breezes
before a summer storm

the twist was felt, three times
hot tea burning my fingers
even with two sugars
it couldn’t have been sweet
And I saw you
standing at my back in the hallway mirror
reflecting everything I had dreamed
the night before

I rose, twice, on the same wave
My knuckles whitened to birch bark
Eyes sightlessly heavenward
I churned like seaweed, and spun
outwards, upwards into space

my skin burned with your passed-on laughter
and, Danny, I knew
it was all forgiven because
I wished to strangle you,
or perhaps I wanted to marry you.

I flicked hair from my eyes
As the tide came in
Swirling, rising to my knees.
I stared down the sun
And waited.
Maybe thinking about it too much
made it real.
Perhaps suspicion is the creator
and uncertainty the maker.
To quote a well-worn platitude:
this is not my fault.
Or is it?
In some small part
fears crystalised, realised
just by being thought.
I dig my hands into the earth
from whence I came to be
aromas of fresh tilling
warmed by sun: the earth and me.

And if when gone, my silly bones
enrich this dirt some more
then I have reached my destiny
and will not have been so poor.

Imagination soundless
save for gentle blowing breeze
all thought made unrequired
by whispers in the trees.

I open up my throat
breathing deeply of free air
close my eyes, enraptured
of a day without a care.

They say the devil heats his hearth
with the fire of human sin
but I don't think that can be true
'cos I keep mine locked within.

It cleanses me by burning bright
and renews me every day
the white-hot fire of my wrongs
burns my sins away.

Crystal clear and glittering
in sunshine wave and tide
the waters of my oceans
in whose depths my heart shall hide.

For feeling silky torrents
wash my fears away
take me to the ocean
far from blue I cannot stay.
Conceive the atom of beauty
translate an essence divine
elevate every movement to the meaning of art
thus fashion transcends tide and time.

Distill one pure thought to its substance
as folding the steel for a blade
from the forge of aesthetic perfection
a Goddess’ armour is made.

Condense of three graces their spirit
creativity, nature and charm
here in the realm of the maker
the cut is the cure, not the harm.

Compress me in structure and format
anatomy pressed to the frame
or running unhindered, abundant
to all of my costume lay claim.

For you are the authors of wonder
transform me and cover my shame
my simple shape for your substrate
come, dress me again and again.
A little ode to the genius of Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Rose Bertin... would that I could afford their frocks, obviously.
Tell a little secret, yarn away the night
Smash the atom, darling
make the darkness bright.

But darkness is as darkness does
here in which we dwell
who is counting up our sins
or sounding out the bell?

The bell which could but save us
were secrets only kisses
I'll put down my head once more
upon the block of wishes

And when your axe comes crashing down
to part me from my craving
we're ****** to hell and back, I fear
this love was not worth saving.
I never asked forgiveness
nor sought a willing shrink
but maybe I should do so now
it even hurts to think.

For love's almighty glory
has shredded me once more
and left my heart in pieces
shattered on the floor.

I'm given to dramatics
of this I gladly know
so safe to say, my darlin'
my pain is on full show.

But what of real misfortune?
Of those who have no hope
who scavenge in the gutter
then swing unto the rope?

I am far less noble
and have no cause to moan
so why, pray tell me someone
am cut right to the bone?

So, I'm pulling up my bootstraps
and putting on a smile
'cos love will come back for me
in a little while.

Of this I am quite certain
'cos it rarely leaves forever
and when I see its winsome face again
an artery I'll sever.

To start the tiresome process
on my own and rightful terms
and while facing certain death
I shall enjoy the burn.

Of a lover's retribution
to put me to the stake.
So here's some flesh and bone, my love,
take what you must take.

Guess 'til then I'll just keep livin'
***** my mental health!
I've got a life of poetry
to get the **** over myself.
Give me the ***** princes
Who glitter in the dark
The ones with crooked, broken teeth
Apt to leave a mark.

Give me a fallen angel
For I can’t abide a saint
Mephistopheles, yes please!
A pietist he ain’t.

Give me sight of every scar
Each blackened bruise behold
A man by passion’s furies burned
A thousand truths untold.

Give me a heinous lover
Not a lap dog to a girl
I shan’t demand a loyal serf
For my petals to unfurl.

Give me a howl of ecstasy
A stiletto in your side
My dear dishevelled Jesus
To inverted cross be tied.

Give me up for treason
Should I question such intent
By bloodied light of dawn I rise
Unrequired to repent.

Who cares for perfect manners?
Profanity’s divine
Give me your hell-bent lust, my love,
And rapture shall be mine.
My lil' homage to Sebastian Horsley, Jeffrey Bernard and all the other **** fine rogues I never got to ****.
A pair of heavy, darkly-polished oak doors swing open, throwing moonlight across a wide expanse of pale marble hallway, veins in the stone winding like sinews into the shadows beyond.

Gilded in silver light, I enter. The steel tips of my heels click out a dreamy staccato, treading in the footsteps of princes, duchesses, rogues and queens. Their faces gaze down upon me from the high walls. Immortalised in oils, their traditional, inscrutable countenances reveal little of their passions, furies and secret obsessions.

I turn towards a chair in one corner, letting the heavy coat damp from the night air, slide from my shoulders. I lay it carefully over the velvet upholstery, shivering slightly in the chill, unmoving atmosphere inside the house.

I move toward the centre of the hall. Click… click… click…. click. My heels tap out an intent. Upon a small table, a crystal vase holds a single red rose. In rude bloom, the rose has let go of three petals, they lie as perfumed tears upon the table.  

An envelope is propped against the vase. Unsealed. Unnamed. It doesn't need to be addressed for me to know its content. Virtually every goodbye I've experienced has been unaddressed: I can't bear them any other way. A personalised parting ladens the heart, eventually rotting away to leave a brand in the exact shape of its pain.

I reach out a crimson-nailed finger and lightly stroke the envelope. The action pulls at the cuff of my silk shirt, exposing four rows of pearls circling my wrist. They gleam mellowly in the moonlight, exactly the same colour as the skin on his back.

I hadn't wanted him to leave, but I was compelled not to have him feel indebted to me. His love was weighty, dense like hard-packed snow and he wore his sadness like an overcoat. A good overcoat, and one which suited him, with deep pockets of melancholia and often-visited regret.

A cloud sails over the moon, veiling a fleeting wish for his return. The moon knows when to place a finger to the lips, lest foolishness begin drumming insistent fingers against our better judgement.

I turn and walk back toward the doors, pushing against their resistance, closing myself off to such thoughts.

In almost total darkness, the sound of my heels echoes again. A determined, resolute tattoo upon the path of my own better judgement.

Unseen, the rose drops another petal.
We drove, down to the place where a ghost-forest slumbers as fossils on a silent beach.

To the tiny house: two-up, two down, only one way in. There may have been a piano. There was definitely a small, hard narrow sofa and the kind of paintings popular in care homes.

Playing ‘house’, we nested, in bed by eight with the portable TV - ignited into life from its hiding place beneath the stairs - balanced on a rickety, ring-marked side table, the varnish long worn through.

Watching Saturday night game shows, but not really watching.
Acutely aware of the space between us, your arm touching mine, tiny hairs meeting nervously before began the careful rituals of first interaction.

And. I never did ask you, how or why.
All sense of purpose faded with the dusk as the scythe of May’s cloudless moon unveiled herself to keep watch. Our chemicals clouded and mixed together.

Those mornings were fresher than any since, feet dappled in dew to collect the milk, with a sky so clear my heart aches to think of it now. A sense of something breaking and spilling warmth.

Flatness surrounded us on all sides in an absence of remarkable geography. A view of forever, greenly laid and pocketed over gentle Sussex’s motherly folds.  

I don’t recall us faltering upon the path, laid clear and ever-lasting.
It was to be for all time and, for nine-and-a-half months, it was.

Secrets abounded; what became of those diamond rings we shall never know. Great and glassy, boiled sweets of riches that vanished years later under a dark and terrible history.

Back then, they rested. Hatchlings of a future wealth that eventually eluded us.

I regretted every second of our hiding in that place. Each little step of second a tiny slice of time disappeared of holding you, of holding onto you.

Whenever I hear an old bedstead creak, I remember.

When hung in that moment between sweet spring and the blast furnace of summer, I….

And when the curved bone of May’s dying moon slices the speck of heaven high above me, I sleep with the curtains wide open to her voyeuristic gaze.
A pair of hands, smooth as glass
Still now and for always,
burnished and gnarled
skin shiny over ever-bent knuckles.

Held in stark relief on the sheet
that smells faintly of spring,
in this winter room,
my Grandfather's hands stopped moving.

No more to whittle or turn,
the lathes seep their oil
into the sweet, still air
in my Grandfather's shed.

Smoothed wood handles,
worn by love and perfect sense,
songs and whistles linger
sawdust shapes drawn by little fingers.
I'm not sure there is anything left to say.
Months of tumbling words have passed,
and I've been wringing them out like
hand-washing cashmere:
gently squeezing, and certain they would never stop dripping.

Then today, I sit here, seemingly worded out.
Testing myself with prodding feelings,
using memories as a nerve-stimulator:
waiting for the heartburn.

Perhaps time is chalk, after all.
Smothering the burning acid
of longing and regret
that I thought would never quieten.

Then again, acid tends to etch its pattern
wherever it touches.
So, although the twist of pain
no longer catches me by surprise,
the ripples
of its movement across me
will always be evident.
In the summer
I add my heat
to a city already aflame.

In the summer
my thighs are in bloom,
perfumed and bare.

In the summer
we scent one another -
just animals selecting a mate.

Twine your arms about me
slick with beads of desire
and damp against my waist.

I turn into your neck
to swallow your salt,
surviving on a simple mineral.

The others press by us
women, flushed at the breast,
treat the season as a lover.

Fanning The Times, spreading news
of their ripeness.
Lifting skirts over knees
coaxing a breeze, however shy,
to poke its nose where the furnace burns brightest.

Males stare, with naked longing.
Summer makes meals of flesh
that winter would never allow.

This city cooks us.
Steeped in our fine juices,
we exhale hot breath
ingest of a pheromone feast.

So, come, eat me!
While the old fan creaks, and blows,
wheezily, through a wet dishcloth,
and ice makes the pitcher
cry rings through old varnish.

Dizzy Gillespie
sings along with our noise,
joins in at crescendo,
and murmurs our sighs.

In the summer
melting ice on my throat
echo fingers upon me
probing and wet.

Let’s mix our heat
and burn this place down!
What else can we do
when the devil’s in town?
Plush carpet, soft light
Hotel foyer at night.
Oh, what a fright!
I might be a looker,
don’t mean I’m a ******.
Did my lipstick suggest that I might?

“Madam, how you like this play”?
The disgrace on my face gives me away.
What did you think I was going to say?
“Hey, Jack, let’s get out of this place”?

(That’s three questions in four lines
so for clarification of this causation
my effect carries no invitation).

It’s a case of mistaken identity:
You didn’t sent for me,
so can’t pay rent for me.
Baby, I ain’t no lady… of the night.

That’s not why I came here,
and it’s not the same, dear.
Quit with the Shakespeare!
This chick has much to protest.

To signal intent for your frontin’
you should wear a carnation or somethin’,
be discreet, don’t hang out the bunting.
So, I attract, I won’t deny fact,
but your attention is bordering on hunting.

It’s a case of mistaken identity:
You didn’t sent for me,
so can’t pay rent for me.
Baby, I ain’t no lady… of the night.
Hot on the tail of that wily, elusive beast
named ‘inspiration’, I travelled north.

North, where colours mute
and transformative shadow
bends in darklight,
revealing the world as it really is,
as it once was.

Hundreds of years pass,
rolling back time, boiling clouds
rushing over peaks in reverse,
a tiny tornado ***** in on itself,
and hundreds become thousands.

Rain blackens the babies of volcanoes,
engorges forces with greater purpose
and cleanses every shred of vision
from my grasping, desperate mind.

Thousands become millions
And I am stripped of incentive to try.
There is no ruination, here.
No furious nor frantic need
to imagine past lives
in this manicured, managed place.

High-vis’d toilers scuttle on mountainsides
carefully placing and re-placing rocks,
funnelling feet and discovery
on a prescribed and sensible path.

Only the rain
wreathing a secretive misted ribbon,
creeping in glacial cut-throughs,
is possessed of fanciful virtue.

Nothing shatters but the slate
and the landscape does not turn inward
to eat itself
in gnawing, atavistic need.

It says more about me,
than it does of the Lake District
that I would wrench out and offer
my super-heated heart
to see the mountains fall.
I know the Lake District attracts millions of visitors every year who gasp of how beautiful it is, but beauty is subjective, after all, and I simply found it too clean and almost Disney-fied in its smug majesty.

I need desolation, an unsettling sense of melancholia, and to see the broken bones of a place, jutting sadly through the earth, before I proclaim it 'beautiful'.
If love is project or industry,
marriage may be no less,
but by strange flight, my heart will rise
the day I wear the dress.

All good poets write of artistry
and two hearts twining junction.
My fistful got a willing bet
we won’t make it past the function.

Then again, if history
is to be our shepherd,
there’s every chance, that by first dance
the spots’ll be wiped from the leopard.

‘Cos when we met, all past misdeeds
were put to rightful death,
and something in my stomach knew
I wouldn’t catch a breath -

- without it being needed
to fuel and fan the flame
of the one I had been waiting for:
the wise-*** to my dame.

Oh, how corny! What a gas!
The canary starts to sing
two cynical outsiders
exchanging vows and rings.

Well, ain’t that peachy, darling!
A direct hit from a near-miss.
So, let’s get us on the road to ruin
with some wedded bliss.
I wrote this for a dear family friend who, having been widowed in his mid-fifties, found someone to make him sincerely happy into his old, old age.
Formerly of my shadow self
I rent and curl, stretch and groan.
Joints popping, knees creaking,
it hurts to move but not to remain
bound and tied, rope marks biting
of tender flesh, blood tracked snow.

Candles worn to stumps, but last night
their flickers filmed my release,
and your triumph.

If I am to show myself to anyone at all
it will be you.
If I am to be swallowed whole
and torn from faithful moorings,
of sameness and comfort,
I will be torn by you.

Cut me again, or forever **** me!
I shall not change. I am unable.
The fleeting, yes, my heart’s desire

the barely-there, a wraith

Ephemera, whispers on the wind,

impermanence my faith.

I tremble before the eternal

faced with nature’s stand

Beneath a soaring mountain,

being scoured and withered to sand.

In the shadow of mighty forever

I teeter above the abyss

Toes inching and sending down trickles

the landslides remind me of this.

I sleep in perfect hollows

and cut my teeth on bone

The glory of calcification

rolls in my mouth, I am home.

Cascading the ones gone before me

throughout my own blood by their dust

Absorbing a lifetime in seconds,

turning my fillings to rust.

Temporal consumption thus rendered,

my heart winds to stillness sublime

How quickly we flash to our endings,

how rapid the animal time.
I have a secret pastime
more an idle, sometime whim,
to kiss with deep intensity
someone who isn’t “him”.

Now, a kiss may be a little thing
I’m not talkin’ with a guy
but within the lips and tongue of one
who’s double X, not X and Y.

I don’t seek all Sapphic pleasures
though adore the light diversion
of seeking out a lady
to satiate my sweet *******.

Within her scented aura
as her lips begin to part
and our fingertips entwine
sends a flutter from my heart.

The flutter blooms within my breast
as my stomach flips and ties
a satin bow within me
when I look into her eyes.

Two girls, pressed together,
generate a special fusion
gentle, warming wetness
a red lipstick collusion.

Our slipping mouths well watered
her hands within my hair
my arms about her yielding waist
a fleeting love affair.

A tableaux of our queenly ***
lost in transitory joy
of mutual female adoration
momentarily sans boy.

Vive la difference!
Contrast, in everything I do,
the slide of long French kisses
I’d sure enjoy the taste of you!

Ladies, I encourage you
seek out a willing playmate
forget all sexuality
and bend a little on the straight.

Who wants to travel through their life
without succumbing to the wine
of all those luscious, juicy girls
who want to mix their juice with mine?

I think of it as simple fun
no rules or lifestyle choices.
When I scent that perfume on her neck
desire flames, rejoices!

So, embrace the little pleasures
as your path of life unfurls
come on, get close, and pucker up
‘cos I love kissing girls!
The air, superheated, cocoons us
and we drive,
northwards into the heartland
of the desert.

You, black shirted,
your smooth denims
an intrinsic part
of the landscape.
You were born into dust.

I, crisp and white,
a polarised pair
of mirrors for my eyes.

Your hands on the wheel
guide us into the belly of time.
Intent upon a road with no end.

Sunlight hits chrome,
bleeding flashes of forever
into the gaze of any who glance upon us.

The roof pulled down,
my hat is given up
to a vortex of spinning air,
whipping tiny tornadoes
of grit and long-dead weeds
into a dancing frenzy of celebration.

We have no gold on our fingers.
Our teeth shall not itch
with the sugar of a wedding cake.
And we’ll never look back.
I am a fatalistic dame
*** and death, it’s all the same.
Returning, bloodied, from the war
to ***** me on the kitchen floor.

Slick with sweat, my mounted ride
locked and spaceless, held inside.
To have and hold. Oh! Glory be!
And vanquished are mine enemy.

In tattered furs, my Roman king
fresh from battle, seeking sin.
Age and time, the ticking numerals -
why else do we **** after funerals?
In the window of the pet shop
four small faces, lost.
Their owners, sick with worry,
want them found at any cost.

A quad of treasured family pets
roaming wild and free,
unmindful of the panic
they’re causing back in Leigh.

A sausage dog called Mini,
sleek and burnished dark.
She’s likely got a little voice
that is more squeak than bark.

Tinks: a sturdy Staffie,
with a plea on Facebook
praying for his safe return
his people beg you “have a look”

“in your sheds and garages,
or in the kids' playhouse.
You never know who could be there
‘cos he’s quiet as a mouse”.

A grumpy Border Terrier,
Underbitten, rough of coat
“Bill: a much loved dog, we miss him”
in shaky letters wrote.

And, last of all, would you believe
Someone’s lost their tortoise!
He’s been in the family since ‘77
(let’s hope he isn’t corpus).

For pets are no mere mortals,
nor fallible as we.
They’re up there on a pedestal,
in anthropomorphic fantasy.

Then one day they disappear,
our soppy hearts turn wretched.
No stick to throw, and if we did
none to go and fetch it.

On centre stage of family life
entangled in our tribe.
No separateness of species,
always by our side.

So if you’re there, or round about
And you should chance to see
Mini, Tinks or Billy
or a tortoise in his mid-thirties.

Tell the little pet shop -
it’s better late than never -
to mend an aching, wretched heart
who thought their best friend gone forever.
I can’t help but love it here.
The desolation elates my melancholia,
swathes me in haunted clothes
and comforts a need for loneliness.

To look upon desiccated cliffs,
trickling down to meet
the emulsifying waters
of a serious North Sea,
makes me yearn to offer myself up
to the ravages of tide and time.

How smooth I would become!
Worn to my bones
by ceaseless motion,
wearing the patina of eternity.
I would sigh upon the mud
settling into a shape of my own making.

In my heart I know
I’m just a fossil
same as all the rest,
who lie in wait
to be picked over –
anticipating selection
or discardment.

I hope to be discarded,
sent back to the mud
and the incessant ****
of sand and stones.

I shall try, very hard,
not to be afraid
when black night falls.
For I have always been afraid
of that which creeps and calls
through unilluminated hours.

But, if this place
is to be called home
I’ll get used to the dark,
bunk in with shadows
waiting for the trickles to quicken,
heralding the next great landslide.
From a modicum of manners
and a pinch of pleasing wit
many boys would benefit
and not be quite so ****.

Sloppy graces devastate
a gal's apparent shine
without a "please" or "thank you"
she ain't quite so fine.
Come, meet me on the beach
where the sharp, tangy breeze
whips up my hair and ardour.

Put your arms around me
as the salt spray clings to us,
and seasons us for one another.

Let's sit upon the pebbles
in the middle of winter,
alone, save for the crying of a gull.

Whisper your sweet breath
into my head, and place your hands
upon my heart once more.

Grip, just as tight as you used to,
when all we had was under moonlight
and our secrets wove us into dreams.

That beach, and everything on it,
is yours and mine.
I would give you every pebble.

Collect them up until my pockets split,
and I could carry no more.
I carry you, still.

I have loved you outside of time,
for every tide that ever turned,
and today is no different.

Thank nature itself, for our beach.
It shall remain, like my solace,
forever unhindered and pure.

No-one ever goes there, I'm sure.
We could meet again,
the pebbles wouldn't tell.

I go there, under moonlight,
glowing and unveiled.
To see you waiting for me.
Out on the path, I wait for her
my friend who’s just for me.
We play and sing and laugh a lot,
though no-one else can see.

You call her imaginary,
but she’s real and best of all,
she’s made a solemn promise
to be here when I call.

My mum says she’s not really there,
though the truth is mum don’t know
the fun me and my friend have had
or the places that we go.

We get lost in the forest
and fly up to the stars,
then sit upon the rooftops
throwing jelly beans at cars.

We’ve dug up buried treasure
and stared Blackbeard in the face.
And we’ve ridden Pegasus
to see the earth from space.

If you think I may be fibbing,
I’ll tell you it’s no lie -
to say we’ve seen most everything,
my secret friend and I.

But now the time is ticking,
she’s never usually late.
But here I am still waiting
sitting by the gate.

I feel the world revolving
as seasons come and go.
I never thought she wouldn’t come,
but perhaps I finally know.

That secret friends are mortal
and don’t last forever,
but I’m quite sure I won’t forget
the times we spent together.

I think I hear the clock indoors
chiming half past four.
The day has almost passed without her,
I’m not so little anymore.

But, just as I turn to go inside,
I hear the squeaking gate
“I’m so sorry,” my friend cries
“I didn’t mean to be this late”!

The world turns again to greet the moon
and my friend and I shall roam,
weaving in and out of dreams
making memories our own.

So, grown-ups if you’re finding,
modern life hard to survive,
wait a while, by the gate
you never know who may arrive.

Though you may not have seen them
for about a hundred years,
secret friends remain with us
and help allay our fears

that we all grow old and crinkly
and forget how to dance and laugh
just have a little patience
and pause there on the path.
I'm trying to forget you
thought by slipping thought
but my neurons keep exciting
and my gut keeps getting caught

By transmitted intervention
masquerading memory
a chemical reaction
molecular machinery.

I blame my plasma membranes
they're only doing naturally
the things that plasma membranes do
to remind me of you and me.

**** these activated receptors
and my synaptic cleft
by strengthening potenitiation
without you, I am bereft.
Dusk seeps and blurs the skyline
come the close of day
a pinky lilac ribbon
heralds night unto its stage.

The journey is a long one
clouds heavy, threaten rain
drops fall, refract a tiny world
and get wiped away again.

Yawning motorway before me
the lamps lick overhead
tarmac seams provide the beat
and keep my conscious fed.

Driving through the velvet hours
with widened, tearless eyes
I could be the last one left
under orange studded skies.

The rear view mirror silent
no followers in sight
the road ahead deserted
blank darkness left and right.

The headlights kiss a pilgrimage
from Dartford all the way
up into the Highlands
where ghosts of old clans play.

The cast of fading reason
blindness gives me bliss
mechanically motioned
riding the abyss

of barely wakeful notion
'cross the bones of England's spine
inverted patterns play upon
the windscreen all the time.

Punctuated by reflections
blue signs winking in the black
past Sheffield, Leeds and Darlington
where I'm never going back.

Driving through the darkness
steeped in rayless calm
rouged by dashboard luminesce
atramentously embalmed.

A window down to rouse me
night air beholds a trace
of perfumed secrets, blown on wings
that dance about my face.

'cross this scarred and sceptred landscape
it's said all roads lead to Rome
except the ones we love the most
that always take us home.

The snows of un-illumination
settle gently on my breast
aimed towards the mountains
running north, then turning west.

Though a social creature
I crave the company
of oneness in transition
just the road and me.

Humming, ceaseless through geography
with resonance my friend
dreaming while I'm wide awake
from beginning until end.

The shipping forecast soothes me
singing songs of gales
and this machine is just a ship
with tyres for its sails.

Out upon an ocean
of blacktop, good and firm,
through slow and haunted moments
with no need to turn.

One immeasured here to there
one simple action: drive
unknowing of the distance
only sure I will arrive.

And though dawn will surely seek me
for now I'm content to hide
among the blessed darkness
clasped by shadow deep inside.

I'm compelled to move forever
through ghosted, unlit time
the road ahead unhindered
the solitude sublime.
I wrote this piece about a regular journey I used to make through the night from my home in Dartford up into the Scottish Highlands, to a tiny place called Craobh Haven, around twenty miles south of Oban.
I recall, until my head pounds,
by the tides I shall be led,
the landscape of your body
in the ocean of our bed.

Among terraforming bedclothes,
old fires leapt anew,
my scent was freshly salted
by the minerals of you.

Blood catches pace and thunders
this sea is not so kind,
the ancient powers rise to claim
all the helpless they can find.

Headlong unto the harden'd shore
by joyous, raging speed
carried into ecstasy
my nose begins to bleed.

Small roses bloom upon you
as you wipe the scarlet spots.
So I will lie here, shipwrecked,
'til the pounding stops.

I cannot see another spit
of coast or island land
from the vantage point of head tipped back
ceiling sky and pinching hand.

The creaking timbers echo
with the lifting of your chest,
"ssh, don't move, it's stopping"
so I close my eyes, and rest.

Awakened from a slumber
without dreams or care,
I find a lonely rosebud
dried within my hair.

Your eyes contain the oceans,
shifting immortality
your fingers are still bloodstained
salt and blood, that's you and me.
Place your eyes upon me, love
for all that time has taken.
I am, in constant truth, your girl
who never was forsaken.

Two decades and the quad of years
has twisted not your sweetness,
and I must sit upon my hands
lest I reach for your completeness.

Come, stay close, take my life
it's yours in every breath.
Side-by-side, beneath this tree
in tableaux unto death.

There starts a flutter in my heart
where I know my future stands
within the solace of your love
and held in your two hands.
Obsession, you’re my ***** word
my secret, wanton lust
for I can think of no-one else
to have you, oh! I must.

But when satiated
shaken to my core
obsession ups and leaves me
I don’t want you anymore.

So, call me fickle, darlin’
just as you always do
I’m not fickle, just bedevilled
occasionally by you.

Though, you ain’t my only hang up
don’t go thinking that you are
I’ve a lifetime of obsessions
and you’re not the best, by far.

Not all are made of flesh and bone
some have no soul at all
but I host their hauntings just the same
always at their beck and call.

I’m helpless to their honeyed charms
so easily am I led
take me by the hand, my love,
keep my obsession fed.

Come, wrap me in your many limbs
pour your magic in my ear
captivate, infatuate
for as long as I am here.

Then I twist my form unshackled
alight and fade away
and you must wait, unknowing,
for only time can say.

If I shall visit you again
one small fancy of my flights
but keep my name upon your lips
‘til my next obsession strikes.
I am obsessed with so many things, for so fleeting a moment, that it's a wonder I get anything done at all.
Oh! I recall
your perfect restraint.
Sitting back on that leather,
your hands at extremes.

Oh! How I loved
the scent of your neck.
My tongue caged by teeth
longing for a taste.

Oh, you inspired me
re-created my senses.
Your aesthetic ideals
burned into my mind.

Oh! I learned
from dictated desires.
The way to your passion,
if never your heart.

Oh! Your intensity
and visceral leanings.
Exposed me, and ate me
took me apart.

Oh! How I miss
your hands on my longing.
The seat of all wanting
aflame to your touch.

Oh! Such experience
a man of all things.
Take off your shirt,
let me taste you again.
I use ‘oh, my god’ as an expression
not of faith, but surprise,
of wonder at beauty untouched
by ideology or dogma
as if caught, and pulled, from a dream.

I exclaim ‘oh, my god’ when stunned
not by holy ghosts, but the living,
who do kindness  as though it were nothing
unmindful of securing safe passage
into heaven, or paradise.

‘Oh, my god’, I cry, when words fall idle
or are muted to quiet reverence.
Where twisted skeins of empiric memory,
rush in crashing surf
of reminiscence and nostalgia.

I am godless, but not without reason
‘oh, my god’ being a slip of historical,
idiomatic vernacular.
Even as curiosity drives me to understand
your own ritualistic, devotional motivations.

Raise the cup, my friend
it gives us both what we need.
For you, transubstantiation
for me a divine and luscious tableaux.
For Saint Teresa in her ecstasy no doubt exclaimed
‘Oh, my god’!
Having never sought fulfilment
in the pursuit of being mother
my body is my temple
for use of no-one other
than my own indulged desires
of aesthetics, pleasure, fun,
so, yes, I fret the stretch marks,
the odd pimple on my ***.

I obsess, in terms of thread veins,
for they make me feel unpretty,
so vain, if that doth make me,
I accept in all its gritty,
ugly notions – for us gals are meant to be
vessels of life-giving, all procreation’ry.

“Oh! I know my body’s purpose”!
the new mother’s apt to cry.
I shall not regret my choices
biologics tick… ticking by.
Does that mean our sad mechanics
are bereft of serving purpose?
It is no hard done-by chore,
our childlessness not cursed us.

When I stand, unclothed and natural
my body has a story
I don’t need the marks of childbirth
to feel a sense of glory.
All this talk of ‘battle scars’
babies sure sound painful,
but, forgive me, all you mothers
should I dare to sound disdainful.

It’s just I feel no less a woman
for not having given birth,
and there is no singular purpose
for this body on this earth.
Like living in a desert
enduring shifting sands,
the bits I’ve never really liked
I cover up with clothes and hands.

I’ve no need to ‘love my body’, thanks
I’m just fine with friendly banter.
Angles, poise and lighting
three small words – a mighty mantra.
Self-love is overrated
when costume is the thing,
and my body wears it well, you see,
and the pleasure that it brings
is proof enough that any scars
may be healed to nothing
without the need for motherhood
and its pushy, panting, puffing.

So curse my sour dismissives!
I’m all said and done,
the female form has every purpose
babies ain’t the only one.
I’m a gal of fine sensibility
apt to demand credibility
for my choice of man, he’ll be no sham
with notions conceived of nobility.

He denies himself nothing of luxury
the cut of his suits suggest much to me
his grooming precise, ****, he smells nice
a cologne of his own secret recipe.

He’d never countenance faux
all accoutrements must be “just so”
he’ll not partake of anything fake
he’s quality from head to toe.

Leather-soled, tweed-wrapped pure gold
when they made him they sure broke the mould
dyed in the wool, no fashion slave fool
such style is to have and to hold.

This gentleman’s rituals suffice
to see him sartorially through life
with manners divine, this husband of mine
Lord, I’m so proud I’m his wife!
To twine and wind within and round
my heart with yours, a ribbon found.
Sleeping bows, silence lies
loops and tails, undone in sighs.
Silken lashes, a knotted kiss,
wrists together in bounded bliss.
A thousand fathoms as light subsides,
take me down, together tied.
Glossy one side, inked on back
drawn by a hand who's skill I lack.
Lungs sawn and slaughtered, of breath be conned
yet still I yearn for black beyond.
Your gentle bow belies such strength
hidden power in it's lengths.
Wrapped now, helpless, and happy so
in love's tangled depths I go.
When I was a kid, round here
purple sweet peas carpeted common ground.
Thick, and ripe for picking
in their depths we found
all manner of detritus,
single shoes and old **** mags.
My friends and I went roaming
with our secrets and five ****.

Down on Slade Green marshes
fearless urban rangers,
ankle deep in water
never minding dangers.

Our private wilderness so bloomed
and we sank into its mire.
Running, jumping, singing, shouting
our youth ablaze, on fire.

Untouched as we believed it
that ground had seen its share,
of blood and fear and wanting,
we didn't know (or care).

Needles in emplacements
left by no one soldier brave.
****** was young back then,
at least, around our way.

In my peaceful ignorance
of 'paedos' underground,
I hid among the rusting hulks
waiting to be found.

Underneath the tower block,
the thirteenth floor my home,
a dragon in the ******* chute!
Imagination sown.

Each time that the fire brigade
came screaming to a halt,
to extinguish yet another mischief
for which none would be caught.

Our little speck of landing
Mrs Kingsley kept so clean,
a bizzy lizzy at her door
she visits me in dreams.

Skin shiny over knuckles
a worn-thin wedding band.
Her flowery dress, neatly pressed,
a duster in her hand.

And I guess she's been dead years now.
She was old as could be then.
I never knew, the day we moved,
I'd not see her face again.

But, move we did,
from 'the flats', to number ninety-nine.
We had gardens - front AND back -
my own bedroom, yes! All mine!

From the windows of our council house
the world changed, all around.
The sweet peas were uprooted,
houses claimed my common ground.

So, I don't own it any more,
if I ever did.
But home is home, wherever,
inside I'm still that kid.

Who ran and jumped and shouted,
a childhood held dear,
and though I think "I've come so far"
my life began round here.
The divinity of fashion
and the sin of giving up,
require me to brush my hair
when I’ve just got up.

Then I add the rouge and pearls
by at least the stroke of nine,
for standards must be reached, and kept,
this day, and for all time.

As great Aunt Ella lauded
from her vantage point on high
a gal’s apparent loveliness
ain’t decreed by you or I.

If one feels thus as lovely
as is seen in one’s minds eye
then who are we to criticise,
snigger, ***** or sigh?

Lovely is as lovely does
blow a kiss to your reflection
thou is truly lovely
in cosmeticised perfection.
Why am I crushing myself
to death and beyond?
Feeling bereft
for that which I haven't
touched in years.

Leadening my heart,
and dragging my feet
because each step
is a step further
from lightness and youth.

I bore myself with this weight.
Loathe the tyranny,
and mighty pressure
inside my head
which threatens incapacity
of reason every ten seconds.

Why did he come back at all?
If only to suffuse me
with the promise of nothing,
and the intangibility
of all ****** lovers?

And, forgive me,
for ****** is how I feel.
Self-pity, you old devil!
I shall have this out of me,
or pick over it
'til my heart lays waste
all good intent.

I wish to be suspended,
as the crystallised air,
inside the strange house.
Where, this morning,
I chanced upon myself in mercury,
and tumbled through the ages.

As rose-heads wither on the stem,
my head shall fall
upon my chest with piquant,
silent longing.
And so, unto history
a dream shall die.

Should I die with it?
Or resurrect a steely charm?
Neither, sweet prince,
for your fleeting
and unseen visit
has taken my soul.

And, thus protected
from the whimsy of flattery
I stand, without notion,
of which way to turn
upon a once-clear pathway.

Should I chance you in my dreams,
I would but falter at your beauty,
though fail to recognise you -
for I no longer trust
what my eyes alight upon.  

I am torn -
lamenting and tidal -
with hands that were always empty.
So what have I lost?
Nothing, that is all.
Nothing at all.
I went down to the ocean
an excuse for killin’ time,
an’ I found time already dead
floatin’ on the brine.

Her face was pale and lifeless,
her dress been torn to shreds,
I hitched up a sorrow
that it wasn’t me instead.

I stayed well after nightfall
just to watch her nudge the shore,
‘cos I think there’s ways of justice
and ways around the law.

I ain’t one for mercy,
I have no light inside,
but I can rise and fall, my love,
just like the turning tide.

If anger finds me wanting,
I switch to gentle peace
the dogs of war snap at my heels
straining at their leash.

Now I’m running from the ocean,
but there’s no place to hide,
this prison cell is closing in
where I will be tried.

For crimes against all comfort,
and ****** of sweet time,
I’m not the one you’re lookin’ for
the dagger wasn’t mine.

Please don’t think me restless,
there was no other way,
to separate my heart from yours
and live to fight another day.
I wrote your name on a cigarette.
And smoked it on my balcony.
Each lungful, thus ingested,
lets you reside in me.

Across the water
Allhallows gleams, unknowing.
Where, at some previous point
we were separated by simple geography.

If cigarettes were wishes
I'd have died soon death,
in rattling, emphysemic pursuit
of long-lost love.

Simple geography
can never trump
the complicated, honest reality
of time and place.

The cigarette glows in my hand
reminding me that, as love,
time veils promises
however potent.

There are only eight cigarettes left
in the whole world.
Perhaps I'll leave them, growing stale
in their hidden box.

Or, maybe, I'll smoke them all
Then forget
what I ought to have forgot.

For sake of placid honesty
and goodwill, told in truth.
Time is a lying healer
and I'm on a liar's oath.
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