Monday, 14 February 2011

Language of Love

If email had been invented
I would send you a thousand messages,
Each one longer than the last.
I would listen to the dial-up song
Chirruping my love.

If texts had been invented,
I would pick up my mobile phone
And (studying the keys for a while)
Press out ‘I <3 U’
And hope I had the credit to send.

If binary had been invented
I would send you, laboriously,
01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101
And let you examine the positives and negatives,
And hope (and hope) to be understood.

But in these dark days of ignorance and bliss,
Without Morse or Marconi standing by,
No flags or drums to flicker my words,
I will say I love you
And be content.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


She started at that corner of the wall. That bottom corner, down by the coils of fibre sloughed from the carpet, and the slew of soil that rained from the potted plants. A rubber plant, there was, and another – she couldn’t remember the name – and the cats trowelled soil over the edges like children on a beach.

She started at that corner of the wall, with her carefully filed nails. She picked at the tomb of paper that held the woodchip in, thinking of wasps’ nests, fragile in their dark fastnesses in the attic above. She liberated a chip and held it in her fingertips, and examined it. It was a pale and sad reminder of wood, too far removed from life to be linked to trees.

She dropped it, and thought of the dropping of blood. She thought of that slow, insistent dripping, the darkness of menstruation. The surprise of it on the bathroom floor at a time when she thought she was safe.

She dug her fingernails into another poor constricted swelling on the wall, and another, and another. She counted them – the blisters she had opened and the chips that she had set free. They lay on the carpet like tiny corpses – like the sad and swaddled bodies of the dead lying cast aside after a natural disaster.

She thought of the aching pain, and the bewildered fear that had set up home in her chest. She thought of kneeling on the bathroom floor with her head down and her eyes closed, and the inevitable drip of blood from between her legs. Tap, tap, tap, like the knocking of a tiny soul.

There were woodchips scattered on the floor, and too many scratched-away blisters to count. The wall must be clear. The wall must be clear… The wall must be clear. It was easy to take down the paintings and stack them like children queuing for the school nurse. Easy to pick, pick, pick, and to let the slivers of wood fall to the floor.

She thought of that odd and aching expulsion – that gratifying, horrifying feeling, and the blood on the bathroom floor. She thought of the advice of the doctor – flush it down the toilet. Somewhere in that mess on the floor there had been a life. She thought of chicks, their cocooning eggshells smashed and their bodies anointed with yolk.

She wanted a funeral.

Her funeral was a shoebox at the end of the garden, and a tree tenderly chosen, that would grow and grow in fertile soil.

The thought of trees brought tears to her eyes as she looked at the scattered chips on the floor and her ragged nails, and all the potential of life brought to nothing. She rested her head on the excised wall and the pressure of its scarred skin kissed her forehead with cold.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

On Seeing Sunlight Through the Ikea Curtains

It was a square of sunlight,
luminescent through the cotton fabric
bringing the leaves on the curtains to life.
It was a raft to catch hold of –
an ephemeral thing,
a wafer of hope
ready to dissolve, sweetly,
on the pillow of my tongue.
It was a small word spoken –
spring, spring, susurrating in the air.
A promise of things to come.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

A Parody?

Good poetry, it seems,
Is lists.

Lists of facts.
I love you.
I despise you.
I eat an orange, peeled from
north to south, every Sunday.

Lists of randomness.
An eagle, broken in its nest.
A doll with its arms torn off.
The sound of a man swallowing,
Who has just murdered a cat.

Good poetry, is seems,
Is anatomy.
Ribs, white, cradling a bloody heart
Like a new-born child.
Love, composed of
Sweat, and
                      The final day of
      The Somme
burning in his eyes.

I shall insert      a caesura
(or should it be a caesarean?)
in which the child died
in which the mother reacted
as a 1950s heroine,
with emotion choked inside.

I should end with

A list.

1. Your fingers
2. The inside of an eggshell
3. Cracks between paving-stones
4. The flowers that grow in them
5. Beginnings
6. Endings.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Of Snow

Dihydrogen monoxide (when cold)
is a slow and steady thing.
A six-fold miracle,
hiding cruelty (hiding grace)
in microscopic smallness,
only realised as we watch it coalesce
to melt on a tongue, warm with life,
to shroud the grass and the roofs and the roads,
to pillow the pocked and fretted earth,
and make it smooth again.
To cover the eyelids of the dead,
indiscriminate as dust.