some of my poems found on the net:
and a recording
Trying to make a garden
out of bird branches, nettles, dry grasses,
a wooden shed with slatted sides,
falling down and into itself.
Trying to alive a garden
out of weeds and light through leaves,
to grow a garden, to mound a garden
out of sycamore keys and thistle-prickle.
Trying to Christmas a garden, to Easter a garden
to flap a wing of a garden through
the stiff soldier arms of the trees,
to tangle a garden out of roots and worms,
to fox and owl a garden,
to slither a garden out of shadow,
to meow it, to cats-eye it out of night,
to hold a garden in a palm of light.
Trying to uncover a garden.
to mountain a garden out of goose grass, meadow-shine,
to weave a garden from stalk and stem,
from crows’ wings and cloudlight.
(an earlier version of Garden was published in Poems in the Waiting Room, 2014)
The bees that sleep inside me
fill my mind with buzz.
We are Nectar they say,
we are Wax and Cone,
we are of Bee but not of Bee.
In the morning I look at my stripes
under the covers, something strange
is taking place inside me,
my tongue has turned to fur,
my head hums like something electric.
Yet by breakfast you would never know:
I fidget the toast around the plate,
it feels quite wrong
to eat honey on bee mornings.
Any minute I might take flight.
(an earlier version of Bee Mornings was commended in the Poetry Society Stanza Competition, 2012. You can read that version by following this Link)
A Bird Inside
I wear a bird inside me:
a badge pinned to my heart,
droplets of blood flower
where its pin pierces.
The bird inside me
opens its beak wide and sings:
I am full to the brim
with tweets and whistles.
I am made of spring
and I am raining,
birds fly in and out of my nose and mouth,
wings feather my ears.
They are building
their nests inside my chest,
my head is full of grubs and worms.
Today I am blackbird,
tomorrow I will be all owl,
wearing a necklace of mouse skulls.
(first published in Magma #56)
My owl mother brings me mice nightly,
yanks me from the soft swoop of my dreams
to mustard-yellow streetlight
through flimsy curtains.
I wake a-perch,
clench-clawed in the night-gloom,
my breast swollen with hooting,
my feathers bristling; rustling me from sleep.
(Night Feed was first published in The Rialto, 2012)
Winter comes with the half-remembrance of rain
and the sudden opening out of the city
into wide white vistas of snow.
A trail of footprints through unsullied whiteness,
brings a memory of shuffling home frozen-footed
where orange street light
created pools and shallows in icy gardens
and birds had left their twiggy signatures on the tops of cars.
Tonight will freeze the city beneath a brittle crust,
skid the cars onto frozen pavements,
wind the city down to slow:
as if it’s had its mouth stuffed full of snow
or the night raised a finger to hush us,
as if the sky whispered no.
We talked about the pit falls of summer babies, those BAD-UNS gone to seed and Whitsun weddings, Easter when it falls early and the time we found all that CHOCOLATE that she had GIVEN UP for Lent hidden in the bottom of the cleaning closet. And how we despised the way she cried and said Please DON’T tell your Daddy – as if we would! But we liked to imagine his big bitumen hands resting on the faded skin of the BIBLE and his stern and serious face and the: Mary you know you have done WRONG! But Alice she took all that chocolate and we ate it up in the yard burying the silver foil underneath the compost heap where only JESUS could see it. Alice says JESUS can see everything – he can even see through walls. Sometimes I think about that when I’m in the bathroom and I pull the raspy towel close around me but it’s hard to wash that way – and even harder when Mamma is shouting: Come down stairs at once and go and get some potatoes and Alice is whispering through the door: Hurry up in there, Mikey will be here soon and I need to get ready. And then I remember how she KISSED Mikey in the car and I wonder why she isn’t worried about JESUS seeing THAT and about the whole threat of MORTAL SIN? Mama says that autumn births are the WORST because you have to go all through the long hot summer and Daddy puts his hand on the holy book and says: We won’t talk of SUCH THINGS. And then I remember the chocolate in the closet and how good it tasted and I am about to say something because I don’t want to go to HELL, but Alice kicks me hard in the shin and I see Mama shaking her long shine of hair and I remember the sting of Daddy’s hand. So when he looks at me with his caterpillar eyebrows raised THAT WAY I just lower my head and say NOTHING and know that presently we will eat dinner which will be ham and peas and POTATOES and I concentrate hard on my plate and imagine that I am JESUS and that I am eating up all the world’s SIN.
(Lent was the winner of the 2011 National Poetry Society Stanza Competition)
We kiss by the side of the feather factory,
the stench of singed wings
fills our noses and mouths.
We are nest-bound – tongues entwined,
pockets full of Swan Vestas and Players Number Six,
your nylon trousers spark to the rub.
Later the birds will haunt us:
their feathers will float around our heads,
pillow our eyes against the brightness of the day.
(Feather Factory was first published in a mini booklet for Wells Poetry Festival 2010)
My shrivelled sausage fingers
grope for forks in greasy water,
eyes to the front, no choice but to look
as I wash up breakfast, lunch.
Half-naked bodies dart across
the rectangular view of next door’s kitchen;
Pink Hair and Music-Pump Testosterone
vie for a place at the gas cooker hood,
A curl of smoke lips the slatted fence,
bottles clunk and rattle into the recycling bin.
I picture life behind the slats:
the steamed up bathroom, a broken couch.
(Neighbours was first Published in Poetry News)