The scrolling black armband, he's chamber maid statement in
Spiralling sheets. I knew the sound of his grandest deep breaths
When in lying ovation, they waved a white setlist from under his hair.
In his day heighed and hoed, I was moody blue baby, a child with
A pulse stomping mean, meant-to-be at his face on the wall, on the
Wardrobe he hung in a rage, next to my tube top.
Mighty, untidy and stone aching bones, he was still in his spot, I licked
Paper goodnight for three gritted years, Begged my sleep for a chance
With his pressing pain ribs, so unblessed by my nightmares, awaiting one day.
He was tall on the walls but in single cream solo, he was birdish
And bouncing, cloud lit like the sun when it rose in my town, the night counted
down on my gulps, I couldn't clap hands, they oiled at his sounds.
And my skin slowed to jade, a jealousy virgin, I'd be him but grander, sweat
Buckets to glass beads. I'd be.. Oh but he picked me, eyes blacked and
Branded, backstage in the bunk, oven breath closed on my saucering eyes.
But the sweat cools so fast, when at last I was his - I wanted my wall, the
Poster collage didn't graze or smell empty, words like baby can crunch
When they slice definition, as tradition expected, I watched the bus go.
And now that wall face, the same and the self is there at each switching, I can
Solder away, tiny cracks in my heart, picked at my bones from his box and his bus,
Restored to my wall, magic dust in the urn, he's a real sensation.
'Hero' was Highly Commended in The Verve Poetry Competition.
My big, bestest day was maze tapioca,
Star-shaped flowers to the stars, Bells on the napkins and fingers in every flan,
And he was so tall with a roman wingspan. He washed in the pollen
And bilious piping lined his cuffs.
A nod on the way to the
Bo of the heem and he sings on the strings, but poorly, though surely
I’ll love him the more for his humble to bumble. But he’s upwardly shiftin’,
He’s liftin’ my prospects and my sisterly skirts.
He’ll stake me away on a dappling steed,
All I need in the trailer, bric and the brac, the saddle and tack in multiple dollars,
Our stacks of mismatch, our striving for taste and we’ll sneer at the waste of
The lives we deserted. Cocoa dusting galore, are we poor
NO! We’re not! With all that we’ve got, we’re a roaring striptease, eager to please.
I wanted to chasse away from my name, maybe the damehood one day,
Just for living. We’re a trust exercise, he’s a lick of the dice
And his bag is packed under the stairs.
A bitter grey day is behind on the rack, he’s taking me with him to the world’s second face,
It was all my idea, I hear him at parties
His sneaking outside with the milkmaid of figure and as I get bigger
I’ll sit on his tails. And he’ll stay.
Love Story won the Live Canon International Poetry Competition, judged by Glyn Maxwell in November 2013 and was published in the winners' anthology the same year.
Postcards from my Father
My Daddy, he left me there under a tree,
To grow up in the dapple with the fruit to break teeth in,
Alone in the crib.
I rattled like mad so he'd hear a pure bell, buy and sell,
Off he swept, up the branches and in to the sky.
But I must confess, he sends postcards and I, I have
A teddy from each fifth of the world and I shoot
An inch taller,
Waiting for mail. By myself, I have found a yellowish trail,
Squirming away from each passing touch.
I am so much disovered by grown ups, I find.
With my spine in a brace, facing forward forever, not
Hearing a sound,
They give me notice, like Daddy who left without tears
But rolling keep left signs aflame in his eyes.
Whilst he trips to the moon, I'm marooned in the red,
My plot is too buried, down under the gum tree,
With disease in the roots,
I jack up my boots and go hiking in mud where my name
Has been questioned and stamped in and spread.
Feeling dead, hearing birds chant in branches above my cold crown,
I am down, paid in pink sweeties to hush on my lips,
And staring at drips,
On back windscreens to count out the secs, stone-handed, felled wrists
'Round their shoulders, I'm the shallowest notch on the post.
I just watch as my postcards thumb by, each tiny hitchhike,
A view with a click that's not the latch on my door
They adore me,
They say and I can only believe, don't make like the gum tree,
Don't leave. They don't leave.
'Postcards from my Father' was longlisted in the 2017 Live Canon international poetry competition.
I want my shoes back, pointy-toed scarlet
To dance on mosaics, I want to stand up without a draft slivered
To the bottom of top, my eye worn from drawing on a stranger at dawn.
My name is not cut up in sections these days, in full it's
Blue smudged on the wall with a star, sometimes red underline.
This could be my time.
I'm easy chair charming, a dent in the mattress,
That's a print to be found, a magnificent actress,
You know you can swallow, encore, Oh No! Spit!
And they own my remains, fact they own my todays, in their
Witchly smooth claws. I want to play ball on a lawn in my past.
My heart has a plan.
My sheets aren't my own, I'm a space in the line up,
Billed beneath conducting hands, my parts high strung
Puppets and inner arm scratched with silky milk serving,
It froze me in time, snuck me past the back door but my
Slowing will begs to taste one more bottle of red,
Though still I'm not dead.
And I sink in a spiral and hear crying horses, see through a mist,
Pour myself over ledges, folding and spooling, I'm cake
Mix, a soup tied in suture, their stitched Campbell container, my
Fingers as wings not twitching or light, I'm so flat but the world is at risk from
My side, I giggle in veins and whiten my eyeballs.
And this means I still breathe.
It's flickering tea time and my tongue is so present, just
Sip it, they say. My execution was poor so I've stayed for a day,
Maybe more, they don't know so whilst clinging, I want. I want churchbells and
Cookies, ten more trips to the bookies, team songs on the beach and then
Sex on a gurney, a lover to burn me,
It don't stop till it stops.
Published in the 2016 Spring issue of the Fredeicksburg Literary and Art Review.
Heaven's Light Our Guide
All I did was fall straight down and out of love.
Could be when you maimed the lanes, more likely when I
Noticed upright sentries, every road with every turn,
On the Campbell, they barked my memory of a man of God
In the morning after shame.
Every drain cover a face routinely stared at
With regret the taste of bitten wood. In the rockless cradle
Hanging from the coast, I'm on the cusp of Netley sometimes
Napier and tint with irritation at the places I once fell asleep
In public, how dare you bulldoze them.
Your curves, tonight, look like they've been drawn
With clumsy, heartless hands, two of them on one unsharpened chalk.,
It's quick to walk the Eastern when you've been chucked by witless,
Wonder what there'll be here forty-five years time,
More seagulls that's for sure.
All I did was fall straight down and out of love.
Into the arms of Festing and of Fawcett when the question
Was could I show my face, of course I could back here,
To you, with all your faults and your three open corners
And beaches with no sand, I can't stay cross with you.
My son, my boy, my shiftless, lights-off pride and joy,
You say this is a sickness, heart disease
And lie upstairs, the sixth form calls just once or twice
And lets you lie, but this is not an ill, this is a
Brush with cruellish gruel, A girl or boy with angles
All about them, their breath still festers in your ear
They will remain a weevil crawling in your soup
And stop my child from eating tea.
Your idol elsewhere smiles like xylophone and you stay home
And curled as pupa in the rut that stinks and I can't clean,
I knock for your attention, but you are window-guarding
With a paper face, I don't mention the phone, really,
Never rang, you're on your own, enjoying pine of bedstead
And of longing. You'd never say with smoked remains
All curling in your gut, but I'm to guess and be too
Old to understand.
But once with clammy cheeks and gunshot breath,
I'd had the same. Before your father took the sting away,
The one before, the only one - a glory cactus on a peak
So high I couldnt gasp, An opiate that snatched himself away,
A weedy, premature obsession, dying in its early birth.
Your dad he fluffed the pillows and now the wire was earth,
So just because I'm sat on sofas dumbly facing forward and sickness?
Can't attack, I know your nasusea, Son: Now find a boring suitor.
'The Bug' was written for 154, an anthology of individual poetic responses to Shakespeare's Sonnets. This poem responded to Sonnet 147.
You wished to be her father, hold her downy arms
And guide them whilst her eyes are closed, she could make
A fairy cake or finger paint on walls with a whisper on to
Her shirted shoulder. It was your shirt as swaddling,
You closed her in to cotton cossets when she sat breathless
And uncovered on top of the duvet, staring to the east window.
She waited in the bed for you, a goodish girl and wished
She was your daughter, on the seesaw so you'd see her silhouette
Against the sun, risen and felled, proud to watch her hair bounce
As restless water. She lived in your house when you asked her,
Lay in your shadow from a tiny lamp, listening to a page a night,
Before practice simplified itself and you did as was expected.
Nine times out of ninety, the bed was unprotective, less than ideal
For you or the unready maid so, best to blow straight through
And hold all out to hold her for nine whole hours, in the dark,
Under the duvet, while she scratched at her finer skin and in the morning,
You only felt the toast crumbs between you and the sheets once she'd
Gone downstairs, barefoot and sunlit and you shook your smiling head.
You were pleased to give her daisies from the park and delighted by
The petals landing on her face, if only she'd been really yours,
She couldn't be, not with those blue eyes that once belonged to him
Who excused himself at every birthday. When you hold hands,
You swing them, lift her under lampposts all-praying it won't end
Or that you're back to bed too often to make them understand.
'Older' was published in the New Generation issue of Agenda.
My little girl came back in camisoles, hair flying as she ran in to my arms,
I held her like my own and rightly so, she is mine and I belong to her,
The saintly years undid my posted envelopes with steam and cropped
A hairstyle here and there but she still found me underneath the hearth
With tears in my eyes and beads in my shirt pockets. She found me and she told
Me she was back for good and that we would die together unannounced
But not alone. She told me all the things I'd never heard in between the
Bannisters, she welcomed back and crawled in to my lap, we came out
From the hole just holding hands and struck a deal against the lot, we were
Steel less being stolen and we took down notes on every passing vehicle.
It was almost like a photograph of family but two faces looked the same - one
Baggy in the eyes, one softer like the air, a little and a big girl clashing
As we melt and run as one and only, there's no one left to wave the weapons,
So we hold on high the colours, I couldn't make the lift without her,
I lay down and in among the ash before she made it back and I had
Thought she'd gone , wandering about in long grass singing word to word
A made up song, it's been too long, she said, I said it too, but in one voice
Aloud and to myself.