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1d · 32
Chills
don’t run into the darkness,
your nightmares will only bleed
through the pages, into the fabric
of your desperately created new self.

ready to retch, they’ll ask, you’ll succumb
to the shot of sugar proffered to you
on a blackened spoon, signature
by the opposite hand, vacant lungs.

I know you’ll query the fingers,
cold, gaunt runes around your neck
but in time you’ll learn to love them,
their unspecific touch, the frosted tips.

with a drip of blue fizz they’ll put you
back where you came, mail you
capsules that vanish in the throat
but taste of your blood, of peppermint.
Written: May/June 2021.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time - the title may change. Feedback welcome. As always a link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
May 5 · 109
Termination
Perhaps they will forget,
have already forgotten
with their yellow jackets
and marker-stained fingers, ready-set
for another unfamiliar face
with their first aid kit,
strings of terminology to engage the meek
and mute, the absent without leave.

They have left me
a failed apprentice with stationery
in my pocket and an out-of-tune song.
You might well ask
where I flicker next. My polka-dotted mouth
says nothing, the answer deep
in the hole they dug, or wedged on the roof,
the last unobtainable golden jigsaw piece.
Written: May 2021.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Apr 30 · 69
A Coming Together
Seven years later
the first thing I mention is
how your glasses are different.

The barista, chestnut hair
and weak masked smile
is biding her time, for uni beckons.

I scald my tongue,
you un-knot the evaporated events
I never knew existed,

condense them into digestible chunks.
That boiling ring of honesty
like a blister in the throat,

to tell you I’ve filled my life
with farcical reveries, sleep
that stutters like a lorry in traffic.

A child, plaster-wrapped finger,
***** on a purple bottle.
I wish they’d stop looking over.

I would tell you but I treat this,
stupidly, as though a date,
our initial, perhaps last tête-à-tête.

You haven’t heard from them.
Exactly, I think, almost say.
Why would we.
Written: April 2021.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time, earlier in the month. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Apr 5 · 74
Tomorrow's Work
Just as Matthew Broderick kisses Mia Sara
I inadvertently spill a blob of wine #2
on the sheets, the alley between
my pyjama-d arm and your **** leg
and it is then I decide I will not go
into work tomorrow, stay home with you
and continue decorating the spare room.
I know it's not relevant now but I ask if
you prefer Nordic Sky or Enchanted Eden;
the former, you say, quizzical.
I nod, smile just a touch, return to the film;
Ferris's dad almost spots him, but not quite.
You don't notice the tiny stain;
I have the best night's sleep in months.
Written: April 2021.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome. The paint colours are real and the movie the fictional duo are watching is Ferris Bueller's Day Off. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Mar 31 · 90
Deodorant
when your arms form
a garland around my waist
I am unpacking the toiletries

first the electric toothbrush
with its accompanying charger
then the half-empty

lurid green bottle of shampoo
aftershave in its glass phial
cheap razor and deodorant

I tell you this feels like
one of those cheesy adverts on TV
and you say yes it’s just like that

so what
and I say so what back
and close our cabinet door
Written: March 2021.
Explanation: A simple poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Mar 28 · 97
Marina
Once again, stranger, I am thinking of you,
atop that hotel in Catalonia
on the cusp of a new wave, 
sun blazing, streets like a hive,
the fizz of euphoria.

The first time you ever held a gun,
made in Oviedo, the M1916 Mauser
slung over one shoulder, a glint 
of a smile on your face saying nothing but 
more than enough nine decades on.

Crow-black hair,
uniform with the sleeves rolled up,
face of anti-fascism
but you didn't know it,
nor did you know the hotel

your feet graced would be gone
after bloodshed, your later years
in the French capital,
the photo of you stored
inside the crucibles of time.
Written: January/February/March 2021.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time - edits are likely. It is inspired by the image of then teenager Marina Ginestà atop the former Hotel Colón in Barcelona on 21st July 1936. The photo is deemed one of the most iconic images of the Spanish Civil War.
A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Feb 19 · 79
I know
these four walls
better than the back of my hand,
better than the staccato of my pummelled heart.

A newspaper I didn’t buy
tells me we are going up in a yelp of smoke,
those who endure left to select a disease.

Now my nose bleeds,
the phone chirrups and there can only be
rotten syllables on the other end, whispers in the back.

With eyes daubed in lethargy,
I watch you move. Half a clock later
and you’re miles gone. I would say I’m surprised

but no, I’m not.
Written: February 2021.
Explanation: A poem written fairly quickly in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my Hp home page.
Jan 27 · 115
Doubts
almost a year on,
still our communication thin, brittle,
as if glass going back to sand,
our dialogue meagre, the words we use
overused for nothing new
has developed, our images ashen,
the corners curled up like petrified animals.

doubtful of a deluge,
doubtful of a return
to the occasional face-to-face
chatter of current affairs,
our throats dry from news deficiency
and the awkward drives home,
our hibernation preparation.

trying to sleep in our gyres of silence,
clocks with their ugly faces
like lurid sirens on the walls - 
tell me you'll come back to me,
in some way, some form, for I am almost
limbless in these fantasies,
the words you use as iridescent.
Written: January 2021.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page. Feedback is welcome as always.
Jan 18 · 100
Gaps
Perhaps a new year
only exists to show
the widening gap
between the what was
and what now is

the quiet reminder
that you go in differing directions,
but they all come with fog,
an unease you'll never shake,
a gloat, an unheard word,
a point of view you don't

waste your eyes with.
You are older now,
your youth only a faded,
bitter tang.
Written: January 2021.
Explanation: A poem written fairly quickly in my own time. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
rise early
mist the first murmurings of morning
and the blue
smudged by a finger
to a dusty half-purple
half-nectarine sky where the perfect
blot of post-Christmas sun welcomes us

commas of snow
like the night shedding its skin
a chill coating our throats
but each inhalation a gift
a lungful of life
Written: December 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time inspired by a friend's image of Langsett Reservoir in Yorkshire, Eng;and. Feedback welcome. As always, there is a link to my Facebook writing page on my HP home page.
Dec 2020 · 138
God Jul
I.

unlikely there'll be
a white Christmas once again
when was the last time?

---

II.

streets are quite empty
but inside trees remain up
Brussels sprouts steaming

---

III.

socially distant
but there's a sprinkle of cheer
at these trying times
Written: December 2019.
Explanation: A set of three haikus relating to the Christmas period - not meant to be taken seriously, and a deviation from my normal style of work. This follows a similar set of (fairly samey) haikus written over the past few years - 'Yuletide Trilogy' (2012), 'Stocking Fillers' (2013), 'Christmas Triptych' (2014), ‘Festive Trio’ (2015), ‘Pulling Crackers’ (2016), Joyeux Noël (2017), Feliz Navidad (2018) and Buon Natale (2019). The title is Swedish for 'Merry Christmas.' All feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Dec 2020 · 93
Reveal
Down to this,
exposure that we, or just I,
never saw coming, for this did not exist

when I acted, chaotic and clueless
so long ago the memory
has puddle-warped around the edges.

Who for? To titillate the roving pupils
of a stranger, to express for a transitory
thrill, the static image your donation.

Now the ache in the stomach, latent
for years, spreads again, dull and stubborn,
my silly heart bruised in a way

these words cannot explain.
Written: December 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time in the space of about twenty minutes in response to some somewhat surprising news. Feedback welcome and there's a link to my Facebook writing page on my HP home page.
Dec 2020 · 89
The Rest of It
Every time a resuscitation;
what you have given me, always as if new,
the gift of a pulse to trigger mine,

your touch a rare, true thing,
exquisite among the dust
of a thousand expired days,

like a flame that scolds the frost,
your kiss the echo
in my creaking crucible.

If this is to be the rest of it
then your fingers
must be against my skin

like I am a delicate instrument
you are handling as though
it is an unexpected present,

but you already know
the correct notes, in the right order,
how to awaken me.
Written: July 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time several months ago - somehow I forgot about it. Feedback welcome as always and there is a link to my Facebook writing page on my HP home page.
Nov 2020 · 145
Unpeel
Thumb digs in,
removal of skin,
gashes expose closed fist
of moon wedges.

   Tug and tug,
   **** but for a sinewy
   plaque over the shell,
   a balled-up animal, perhaps.

Then the split,
extraction of organs,
furrowed foliage
all the same,

   a little damp
   in your palm,
   pouches of muscle and blood,
   broad, toothless smiles.
Written: November 2020.
Explanation: A short poem written in my own time. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Oct 2020 · 149
I ignore the phone
and it rings, and rings,
each shrill chirrup like a triumph;
your defeat, multiplied.

This is my own unanswerable riposte. A month,
almost, has passed. I know it’s you.
Once, accidentally, in a frantic, slapstick
dash from the bath, I made the blunder
and your voice slipped into my ear.
Your pitiable way of saying it was a mistake.
I presented you silence, gift-wrapped for free,
dripped back to the tub, each wet glyph
another step away from our despicable was.

Still, it rings.
I imagine them as punches to you,
not soft blows but great, leaden thumps,
a ricochet of knuckles on cheeks,
of these rings off from the walls
I deliberately, deliciously ignore.

Every quarter hour, a jolt,
a quick think of is this childish.
After all, at this hour and age,
must I resort to letting this black reptile
hark for my attention, coffees
gone cold, the LPs supermarket-queued
on the table we bought
with your mother's vouchers.

But yes. It rings, again,
I have lost count now the times.
I know it’s you.
The hour hand
pokes ten, the dog twitches
in its pool of sleep.
Still, darling, I provide my answer.
Written: October 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome. Not based on real events. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Oct 2020 · 117
What Left You
Sadly, the balloon leaves you,
its featureless, almost silken face
wobbling like a toddler in the cold,
the sorry string devoid of hand.

I am not the only one to notice.
Up, and further up, this hollow
blue-skinned sac rises,
a rogue comma against sky.

Now you only know what left you,
cheap, fleeting colour blush, nothing like
what will leave you in time to come,
how your cries could pierce the night.
Written: October 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Oct 2020 · 113
Once You've Tried It
Now I am in/tense -
hy-per-activ-e sand-pit of at/oms,
     Take these breath Flames,
   paint the wa-lls with them,
your rauCous redec-oration.

Now I am nebulous, standing fog, canines of ice, vacuum me up in one brush so I sleep, sleep, sleep

Now I     am iridescent
rainbow of     unnamed shade
ribcage glow     and  letters
that hum     along doorways
as though     injected neon

Now I am sog
gy
wet dog
cheek
to your wh
irl
pool of whis
pers
that salt smell
net
tle sting

Now I am drowsy,
arid mind makes tumbleweed night,
digestion dilution,
an absent something;
bathroom mirror memories,
green fraction of a voice,
Written: October 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time - hard to really explain but a tepid foray back into more experimental material after too long away. Feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Oct 2020 · 81
Apples
perhaps a part of me
gone, like that first
chunk of apple,

transient taste
but then gone,
and no other apple

bite will be the same.
I went to them
positively enough,

thirsty cat
with just a splash
of trepidation,

let them coat me
in terminology
from above,

rinsed in apple green
and pink, the hollow,
missing parts

to be made big
until they sink, myself
proffering the anchor.

now, I have gone to grey
or almost white,
not quite snow,

maybe pathetic toast
and I unravel
the most littlest bit,

my toothache hurt
attempt to fill
the now half-moon

apple back again,
my repetition
my repetition.
Written: October 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time, and my attempt to get back into writing after too long away in my opinion. Feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Sep 2020 · 69
Wed 02.09.2020
On the first day,
there's a Pink Floyd prism, instant coffee,
the kettle at the back of the room, walls
with their primary-coloured displays with frilled edges,
words like 'spectrum' and 'clauses'
in a cursive font.

Someone is set to call. At this time
(8:36), I am alone, glue sticks suffocated
in their ziplocs, coloured spheres on a screen,
a board with the date, numbered.
Then, chatter. Tenerife is mentioned.
Somebody is blossoming.

It is the glassy unknown, mornings
to birth with breaths of fog, seeing the Co-Op
at the end of the road instead
of the bedroom ceiling. I am thinking
of seven years ago, autopilot, a dip in a park,
all of it, the years gone, time going on.
Written: September 2020.
Explanation: A poem written between 8.30am and 9am on 2nd September 2020, right before the day essentially commenced - the first day of my new job. Very few edits made from the original. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
NOTE: 'Co-Op' refers to a British food store and 'ziplocs' to the brand of zipper bags.
Aug 2020 · 79
Filling Up
Baby, you know I get lonely,
like now I’ve turned the stereo off,
heaved the car into

a slot by the pumps
but I have your name, its letters
in your marque of handwriting

upon my irises,
so when I go to feed the
snow-baptised vehicle

I think my hands work but no,
heavy numb from an absence,
there’s water in my mouth

or a little blood, a man
stupidly asking if I’m all right
but I can’t make out his face.
Written: August 2020.
Explanation: A poem written quickly in my own time inspired by an image of a petrol station in Colorado, taken in December 2017 by Ben Ward. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page alongside other social media links.
Aug 2020 · 138
The Departure
After we have sweated the night away
it has come to this, myself, yourself,
a lamppost on the corner of Handler and Wilde
stained with the **** of many a dog.

Your cheeks, rivulets of black,
happy tears you said, your friends
for now and perhaps time to come, dancing,
heels like typewriter keys on the gym floor.

All Macarena-d out, panting
as though a Collie after a sprint in heat,
your found me two-thirds of a diet Coke down,
lopsided bowtie, pentagon hole in the shirt.

No kiss, but small talk. A botched triple jump
into the limo, hands linked, already spooling
back through the hours, the slow dance,
the walls dappled blue, a memory like all before.

Now the kiss. Brief. Nothing more.
This too, a memory. For a second,
marriage and children lucid theatre in my head.
The reality something else. I head home,

you wave and we're gone.
Written: April 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time several months ago that I forgot to upload. Feedback welcome. Please note that 'Macarena' refers to the song of the same name, while 'Handler' and 'Wilde' refer to the writers Daniel Handler and Oscar Wilde.
Aug 2020 · 137
Roll The Windows Down
How typical that I have come to you late,
as if almost missing the capture of a spectacular
snowfall of notes,

a journal splayed open just
enough so I can memorise,
breathe between your fine lines.

- If I am to collide into autumn,
bruise my head with throbbing bolts and arrows,
you couldn’t possibly know

how I want to absorb your disclosures
from a speck of planet I’ve never been,
the words healing me like tears of silver medicine.
Written: August 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time, inspired by the music of Phoebe Bridgers. All feedback welcome. Personally I feel this is certainly one of the strongest poem I've done all year. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Jul 2020 · 109
Ellipsis
What I have learned
is your body,

the fluidity of it
like drinking

a burgundy glass
of pinot noir.

   Forgive me for this February
   pink rainfall

   but the stars of you
   make an exquisite ellipsis,

   your touch
   my private voltage.

I dream
your eyes at night,

sea-sprayed freckles,
salt-blessed lips,

your smile a welcome echo
on my own face.

   Is love
   only learning?

   If so, teach me
   so I learn and learn again,

   hand be the compass,
   the heart an atlas.
Written: July 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time that was a project of sorts with a good friend of mine (@writingbysa on Instagram), based on a prompt. This is my 'half' of the poem, with the other piece called 'expectant, breathless.' All feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Jul 2020 · 131
Slow Burn
If you are to know the shell
of somebody else,
the taste of their mouth
as familiar as breathing,

     you are to swell
     with the installation of life
     within a fistful of seasons,
     (they’ll use words such as ‘glowing’),

and you will raise a hand
to shield yourself
from the gush of paper hearts
we’ll drizzle without a second thought.

     You are to settle in
     to bargain supermarket wine,
     the infrequent date night
     with no toddler caterwaul

and I will say what I always believed,
that the moment you disclosed it
was the moment that I felt it, again,
start of a sever, a languid dissolve.
Written: July 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Jun 2020 · 110
Bed of Sea
I’m sure I was once told about the ocean floor,
now believe me, I see it,
am living there in the unfathomable blue
and black, as though the wasted ink of the world
is a swarm meant to hold
the very lost, the going and gone.

If my throat is dry, forgive me,
for there is little left that shines,
has been rubbed to an almost-new sheen
for my language has shrivelled like fallen roses,
the dreams, waterlogged, a charcoal tinge
creeping in at the corners.

Perhaps it is the next necessary,
to douse the lungs in the spent blood
of everybody who has come before,
for there is no swimming, just floundering,
a fallen mannequin with a hyphen of light
one stretch too far away.
Written: June 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Jun 2020 · 124
Pearls
when all is said and done
whose body will be next to my body
this unexpected wondrous being

to pilfer kisses
blemish a cheek with a breath
and say it will only ever be me

and I will cup the words
as they slip from your tongue
pretend they are strings of pearls
Written: June 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Jun 2020 · 162
Roadside
In the space between
the slab of land I am from
and the place you’ve never been

I have tugged the rental car
with its hoary exhaust
to the side of the road

the heat assailing me
like a faceless boxer
with flames for fingers

and I see a trio of vehicles
windows wound down but unfilled
the drivers inside

this tumbledown café
the sort with a plump waitress
gnawing gum and spraying flies

but the drivers, yes
wolfing down a hastily-half-cooked
brekkie and a sand-coloured cuppa

before trekking the countless miles
to whichever terminus
they’ve fed to the sat-nav

and outside I inhale hot air
my lungs leaden somehow
as though you clasp my ribs

from a distance
to let me know you wait
and I am another seventh of the way

to you
in your air-conditioned apartment
with the cupboard teeming with tea
Written: June 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Jun 2020 · 179
Other Half
I capture you,
upturned blur,
feet pressed to the panels
that now hold
your moving murmur,
like a separate soul
in a dimension caught cold.

Shout and a sound
lost to the elements,
snaffled by the breeze
over snow-dipped mountains,
sky washed eggshell,
grass an uproar
of unlit matchsticks.

With a crack and a glimmer,
glass floor fissures,
feels the weight of our stirrings,
your red boots ablaze on the surface
of this something fragile,
frosted imitation, almost
as if it really knows you.
Written: June 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time, inspired by a photograph. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
May 2020 · 127
Inundation
how much longer must I miss
what I never knew

twisted nostalgia like a drop
of lemon on my tongue

sent sugar-dizzy
   by the crystallised

thought of you
in that black dress

rainfall we knew   was coming
like another disappointment

   days become water
maybe they   already were

their silence     bruises me
in new yet   unsurprising ways

I am assaulted
     by their     idiocy

you wouldn’t believe     me
if I said   this was a     slip

     my head the     forest fire
   the drought     to     come

you the     flood
     I foolishly   crave
Written: May 2020.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time. Feedback welcome as always. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
May 2020 · 121
Missed
I see you awkward dancing

and somehow I am thinking of myself

two to three decades ahead of time

rainbow strobe lights and 80s synth-pop

headaching in my mind as though the first time

a missed opportunity like trying to catch

the sun before the horizon snaffles it first
Written: May 2020.
Explanation: Another short poem written in my own time. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
May 2020 · 449
Making Lists
When I think of you

I think shampoo and strawberry ice-cream

weekend tangerine sunrises

atlas of freckles and new rain on cheeks

my hole-strewn t-shirt against your skin

so it’s like I’m there with you, almost
Written: May 2020.
Explanation: A short, very simple poem written in my own time. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Apr 2020 · 258
Probably Best
It’s probably best

to keep matters simple

and say that I love summer

because you are it

the tall cool glass of lemonade

sunflower with its happy lemon petals
Written: April 2020.
Explanation: A short, very simple poem written in my own time. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
Apr 2020 · 121
Liffey, Dublin
Night-time looking
over the Liffey,
slate grey artery,

flurry of merry music
like a band of castanets
still in our ears.

The cèilidh at Shannon’s,
man with a bodhrán
and a pint of tar

at his elbow,
girls in skirts
a blizzard of colours.

Róisín’s at UCD
but tonight, here,
the silky lilt

of English
pouring from her
emerald throat,

her hand in mine
as a crew of mangled gobshites
stumble home.

We swim in our jollity,
BYOC (bring your own craic)
in the city

where three times
in the 90’s we were kings
of the castle.

You say your father remembers ’62,
when I look in your eyes
you say coinnigh mé anois.

What’s that mean? I ask.
Hold me now.
And I do.

Your lips taste of Guinness,
my head foggy
with you.
NOTE: This is the last manuscript poem.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 96
Dingo Bar, Paris
The Seine a tongue of midnight ink.
Montparnasse, a tepid August night,
star-bundles like quartz-splinters in the sky.
     The Dingo bar the place.
Jazz coming from somewhere, melody of mystery,
throng of conversation and smoke,
grey curlicues swaying above our heads.

Hemingway, feuillemort shirt, telling me I look rough.
   ‘You sleeping well?’     ‘Well enough.’
   ‘That wife of yours is pure mayhem, I tell you.’

The same old chatter. Besides, Isadora was worse,
cradling her drink as if a glass of jewels.
Then he was onto his Pamplona jaunt,
a heat that careened off from the streets,
undulations of warmth in the air
quivering like whispers.

  ‘Look here, we’re the best writers in this city
   when you’re not gallivanting over to your wife.
   Two women, one body, you know it Scott.’

I sighed, ordered another gin.
‘Transparent poison’, Ernest said again.

On the way home, faded trill de trompette in my ears,
night thriving to every pocket of Paris,
fields of unidentified liquorice flowers.
Young and in love - young with intimacy
skittering around our bodies
like delicate bees.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 79
Hunter of Stars
the
     children
          in
     the
park
     are
          chasing
     stars
again
     the
          dog
     lolloping
along
     all
          tongue
     flopping
spit
     chucking
          sky
     is
a
     tapestry
          of
     blueberries
and
     giggles
          fill
     the
night
     hunting
          all
     the
teeth
     the
          fairies
     pinched
before
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 75
Fire, Baku
somebody set it on fire
somebody ripped the match

trio of wedges
Irn Bru orange

speckled with cherry
on a canvas of night

I am calling
from the flag square

near the building
constructed from crystals

this could be London
migraine of chalky lights

a revolving iris
far out across the bay

I’ll be home soon love
I know it’s strange

that work has dragged me
to this unpronounceable land

sweating skeleton
spilt milk network of streets

upside-down e’s
c’s with çurls of cable

and I hear the muffled diction
of EastEnders through the phone

can picture you
in strawberry-lace-

shade-slipper-socks
glass half-swollen with wine

the space on the sofa
where I should be
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
here because it makes sense
here because all roads lead to here

here because the button
the one from your Camden

charity-shop coat
dozes in the palm of my hand

that prickly sort of fabric
its bands of dried blood maroon

you might remember this
in a way not the way I remember

the discovery of someone’s
shed secondary skin

lived in now to be lived in by you
your magnolia branches

but two winters later
the button fell off

brown bauble
walnut of doom

and now here between the bras
the much slept with stuffed teddy

I hold the last inanimate relic of you
the coat’s smell a waning memory
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 67
She Lies, Oslo
disfigured mineral
on pinch
of water
ghost exhalations

   nearby *****
   at least sixty walk back
   and forth

sky like orange
juice puddle
on a sapphire
carpet

   this ice
   that does not
   melt
   but what if
   I am

your
last text
a chip of frost
almost
pricking my heart

   truth
   exposed as if long
   dormant
   under
   gowns
   of snow
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Two years,
but will we make it to three?
   Pimple a stipple of red paint
   on my chin,
mouth scarred pink with the last deposits
of lipstick.
   I am making an effort
   for myself, then himself.
He has booked it all,
a mildly impressive stat. A restaurant
   where a bottle of ooh-la-la French wine,
   sweating its chill, costs both arm and leg,
where meals take up a sixteenth
of the plate, christened with a garden leaf.
   I do not speak of my concerns.
   His face is awash with tiredness,
his eyes somehow a darker sea-blue
than our first meeting, several iPhones ago.
   Our speech is exhalation brief,
   each syllable like a book
falling in an empty library,
everything written, little said.
   The wine dyes my inner cheeks,
   but the food: Greek salad, crescent moon tomatoes,
vinyl cucumbers, feta cheese slabs
and tang of onion burning back of the mouth.
   His, souvlaki, fish cadaver on the side,
   wine also white, extortionate, though I haven’t paid.
I look at him, assuming this is our last meal.
If I tell the sea, will she wash it away?
   How lovely he is. Really, I mean it.
   He must believe we are forever and ever.
I count the mouthfuls, the tiles on the floor.
His chair squeals when he leaves for the loo.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 62
Saudade, Lisbon
It bleeds into white
blobs, squiggles set into ceramic,

bouquets of colour yawning
to every corner.

Orange ovals
give way to petals of blue

or a static ship
on a swathe of sapphire,

clouds that cuddle
like a band of bruises.

Now the plink of guitar
as fado hopscotches
along the streets,

a crowd of terracotta roofs
and the sea, the great road
of the Atlantic,

where there is Amar Pelos Dois,
where saudade flows,
champagne-made sadness.

The sea strokes the horizon,
plays its teal melody,

the luscious tinge of Portuguese
on my lips as the sun
presents the city a warm kiss.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
October 1888. Oil on canvas, 72 x 90 cm

Slaapkamer te Arles. Not really.
‘His own ear?’ she says, a twentieth time.

A Wednesday, fortnight before Christmas.
Her idea. Evening flight out of Gatwick.

I’ve been before. Amsterdam that is,
with the lads, before the grind of Year 13.

Pure banter? Far from it. But the chemicals
jived in our lungs, made us all skew-whiff.

This week it’s been Anne Frank,
koffietijd and stroopwafels five at a time,

a bartender called Luuk plying me
with Heineken. Liquid emeralds.

Anyway, the painting: forget-me-not walls,
golden bedframe. Then onto

Sunflowers, or in French, Tournesol.
Turning with the sun.

‘His own ear?’ I hear again. I say really. ‘But why?’
I sigh, wonder where the knife is now.
NOTE: For some reason, the first letter 'O' in this poem is not italicised on HP.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
They hauled them
from the river
after three weeks

discarded dummies
skin puckered
like crushed lavender

nails loose
or gone completely
in one case one-handless

no identification
no indication
of men reported missing

but the imagined flashes
of each inhalation
lungs liquid-swollen

a burbled
aidez moi
in their soggy cradle

before the knockout
instant finish
Polaroid into death

-----

were they lovers
I wondered
on the Metro

home to Aubervilliers
an office affair
an online fling

one of those things
where the picture
doesn’t add up

but a shake of the head
dangerous to guess
before I know it

my mind whirring
to accidental strangulation
dual opioid overdose

the papers will speculate
gorge on rumours
like mould on stale bread

tomorrow’s Le Monde
with its letters of silence
deux corps retrouvés dans la Seine

men of the river
barely thirty
lives filched by the water
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 57
Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Picture this.

Two sides to every story.
Myself, on the left -
Europe, the last continental crumbs
before the disintegration into sea.

Ahead, Asia,
the buildings like cereal boxes,
first speckles of another side
of this sprawling cobweb city.

Students stroll down
Independence Avenue in Beyoğlu,
that half-swallowed ‘g’,
lozenge-shaped baklavas in hand.

A bevy of Galatasaray fans,
Aslanlar shirts, bypass a moving tram,
the air dense with the twitter
of the Turkish lexicon.

Two men, whirling dervishes,
revolving waves of white.
A self-waltz of sorts
around a bangle of spectators.

I see only passionate folk.
Veins thick of flag red.
One half of a world spliced
by a liquid thread.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Спорти́вная
- My first thought is how clean the place is,
how swanky, perhaps that’s the right word.
- This isn’t London or New York that’s for sure,
marble walls that could be made from banoffee pie,
blue and white quadrats for the floor,
patchwork of tiles making up the ceiling.
- Eight hundred rubles for a week, barely a tenner,
Moscow’s take on the Oyster, just cheaper.
- My mate of fifteen years has Henderson on the back,
I’ve come as myself.

- A crew of fans gush out behind us,
- flags made into capes.
- Two own beards, great hedgehog-type beards
taking over, stippled ginger,
another has a drooped trophy slapped on a cheek.
- They are already singing, if you can call it that,
adding that extra syllable, a staple of the patriotic chant,
IN-GUR-LAND.
- The Croatians in their classic tablecloth-type tops,
 (Modrić x2 and Mandžukić x1)
look aghast, probably whisper their own version of plonkers.
- Congested, headache already brewing,
needing fresh air before the Mexican wave.

- Лужники
- My first thought
is that the view isn’t actually that bad.
- We’re fairly high up, middle row,
sandwiched between Brian from Bolton
and a foul-mouthed Mike
from Welwyn-Garden-City, I think,
but I’m getting into the spirit,
my mate already shuttlecocking half-xenophobic jibes
across the pitch, a paper aeroplane or two
gliding, colliding into backs of seats.
- Anthem is maudlin, Croatia’s more jaunty,
and then the players are moving like felt-tipped beetles
across the tongue of grass.

- The free-kick goes in after a while,
cheers a chorus of roars
that zip into the cold Russian air.
- Strangers shoulder-shove, voices sandpaper coarse,
that blasted tune ringing out
from the mouths of a raucous English bunch
in many an old Umbro kit
swamped with sweat and blots of beer.
- My mate can’t believe it, he’s got a tenner
on 2-1 to us, a modest bet.
- Mike from Letchworth Garden City
is bellowing out the scorer’s name
each word croakier than the last,
one hand crushing the lions on his chest.

- дополнительное время
- Our first thought is that penalties
are coming up, our foe, our football swine,
but on 109’, the guy from the back
of that earlier guy’s shirt flicks out a limb,
pokes the ball past our keeper.
- Mate goes ballistic, his face
on the brink of full-blown beetroot,
while Brian from Bolton appears mid-coronary,
too whacked to crank out a sigh.
- A bloke to the right, a few rows down
jokingly mentions Hurst.
- This brand of heartbreak we know well.

- Later, surrounded by smokers named Dmitri,
shots of Smirnoff and the dull ache of knowing
four hours back to Heathrow awaits,
we’ll reflect on the could’ve-beens.
- Mid-sloshed in Red Square, more my mate than me,
(he’s a tenner down after all),
mumbling Qatar in four years under our breaths
while Croatians tumble through
this giant cyst of a city.
NOTE: Each second stanza is supposed to be indented from the right hand side of the page. HP has altered the format again.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 69
Arcade
Four nights a week, one thing only: pool.
The cloth ain’t great, ***** scurrying to the cushion
every time, cues skewed high as we feather the white,
chalk up another foul.

Tonight though, an epic night.
The culmination, attend one and all,
old guys with dodgy hips, teenage mothers
with their children’s cries high among the elements.

Final few frames of a marathon encounter,
the east coast’s known nothing like it.
I select a gleaming cue, send the white
careening into the triangle of notes.

Crucible of sweat. Back and forth
between swigs of squash. Left-hand side,
a smashing *** to the top right leaves the black,
my opponent seeing defeat like a neon Vegas sign.

Stick between thumb and finger, the kick
and slip into pocket. A cheer leaps out my mouth,
claps echo between the grab machines.
I meet my opponent's eyes. Another tenner

is tossed across the baize.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 57
Lake Lugano, Lugano
I don’t know who he is, OK? I never really know. What I do know: Italian. Blaze of beard. Here on business, apparently. Lard-y skin. A filling, upper-left. An anchor on the ribcage, monochrome. What I do is I let them talk, pretend to absorb. I hear ‘married’, ‘two kids’. He plays squash. I giggle, then accordion-yawn.    
Anyway, the deed is over quickly. I do not ******, as if that’s a shock. He grunts as though chopping wood, a digit of sweat slipping down a ******. My lipstick a little smudged but not OTT. I leave him in the casino where we first met, mouth ajar.  
I wake at eight, pins and needles submerging my legs. I shower, the water a blizzard of ice, scrub my name backwards in condensation, silver burn.  
Now I’m drinking a coffee from a Styrofoam cup. The view, Lake of Lugano. Another man. I hold his eye. I almost choke on the sight across the street. Followed me from Frankfurt to Cannes and back again. There’s a slice of a smile on his face. I know he likes the footwear I’ve chosen, ******-skewered piercing obvious through my shirt. I assume he’s ******* me, but not really, you know what I mean. Black jacket, gush of stubble. I taste his name on my tongue already - acidic, delicious. He knows what I did last night. I know what he did last night. So, naturally, we know what we’ll be doing tonight. At least I’ve gone bra-free. It only slows things down otherwise, if you ask me.
A bell moans out from somewhere. I know how it feels, each tone in time with my steps, my feet moaning from these cheap strapless heels. A Swiss flag on a window, typewriter-chatter of the language hopping out from a café. The lake almost curdles at the very thought of me, surely, slowly, embracing my next mistake.
NOTE: HP has altered the layout of this slightly.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 63
Occhi di Ragazza
your opal flowers,
strings that nick the side.

watercolour ribbons
far out, to the rim.

marbles I am lost in,
window of delicate threads.

spider-web of you
I hope leaves space for me.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 72
Rødgrød, Copenhagen
At dinner I am retying my shøelaces
when yøu say ønce møre
gø øn, again
is what I hear
   what the waitress hears
as she dumps
anøther blønd-haired pint
in frønt øf me with a grin that clearly states
she’s telling yøu høw tø say that phrase is she
the three-wørd term
unsayable tø øutsiders

høp step jump
øf a phrase
the language fluvial
like a lake sluicing weeds
cønsønants like dripping water
vøwels that huddle tøgether
as if the cøld is cøming in
the irregular phlegmy intønatiøn

there are candles here
whøse lives expire in silence
a glut øf armchairs
where what cøuld very well be
the wøølly Jumpers expø
før the year cøngregates
triplets øf fingers running
thrøugh their straw-bløøming chins

despite the side-track
I still døn’t knøw why
the ø’s are impaled
my møuth and tøngue
haywire as if tøssed in the wash
the demøn shibbøleth
øffered tø me
and that tablespøøn øf mucus with it
rull grull mel fluøl

the wørds dribble øut
bunch øf slushy søunds
she laughs
says I’m a løst cause øn the matter
and that I’d be better øff with hygge
which is surely the søund made
when løng yawning in the mørning
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Apr 2020 · 56
Toompea Castle, Tallinn
feel guilty spoiling your frozen heaven
looking up at roof of bronze

walls blushed with scorch marks
trees like wrong-hand scribbles

my bones chilled
your skin ice-flecked and old

where’s the red flag of the battle
shivering from the sky?

a dusty sliver of history
as my watch trips past seven

sun kissing Hermann
and the song of joy

chorus of cornflowers
blooming again
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
Over a year, close to two.
I am passing through for work
and to see a friend,
our communication meagre,
reduced to pixels on a screen.

Rue Sigefroi, one of the city’s arteries.
Clotted cream buildings,
concrete mugs clogged with flowers.
I see French, German,
the country’s own compote of the two,
umlauts sprinkled like confetti.

He has invited me for coffee.
There is a gangly embrace,
smiles blooming on our faces.
Wine bottles, maybe empty
tickle the top shelf,
books half-blotto behind the sofa
where I sit as he orders, my face in the mirror,
all wiry hair and pips of stubble.

The cup comes accompanied
by a dice of brown sugar.
Immediately he invites me for dinner.
A gasp hurdles out of me, stupidly.
I accept. He tells me this is excellent news.
We fill in the spaces
of our ever-growing crossword puzzles.
As you do, a lot is glossed over,
metaphorically kicked under the carpet.
He has no intention of moving back
but his father, he says, is unwell.
His image cabasa-rattles to the front of my mind,
the man who introduced me to Prufrock.

- The meal this evening is pleasant.
His wife plonks a quetschentaart before me,
galaxy of singed plums,
a star in Van Gogh’s view over the Rhone.
An occasional judder of laughter between us.
The evening begins its routine for sleep,
the sky embarrassed with clouds
over the Alzette, our stomachs content,
our friendship granite-solid.
Written: 2018/19.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.
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