'There is no such thing as a work free transformation. We know that we will have to burn to the ground in one way or another and then sit right in the ashes of who we once thought we were and go from there' Clarissa Pinkola Estes (1992)

This collection of poetry is from the ashes.

'What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak. It was born in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us' (Gaston Backleard)


Dance with me Dark Sister,

in your cloak of rotting flesh.

Let us polka down the avenue

of fear

and hurt

and death.

And as we danced you turned to me

with a twisted hideous grin,

and much too late

you warned me,

"You should never have let me in."

The dance went on

and on

and on

until every nerve in me was raw.

And when I pleaded "Let this stop"

you answered, "No, there's more".

We waltzed and then we tangoed

And you forced me into step.

And when I said I'd had enough

You answered, "No, not yet".

The fiddler took up his part

and played with strings ripped from my heart,

grated his bow of blame and shame

until I begged you, "Stop this pain".

You laughed and span me round some more

whilst the dead and haunted filled the floor.

And as they rang the changes

on a beat of two

you said, "You hear those bells,

they toll for you”


I am the poet,

I sculpt the clay.

I am destruction, the smell of decay.

I am the mother,

I am the wife.

I am the blade with which you severed that life.

I am the woman,

I am the dream.

I am the whore who makes you unclean.

I am the hopeful,

I am at ease.

I am your doubt, I infect with disease.

I am the spear,

I am the lance,

I am the rhythm and I am the dance.

I am the power,

I am the thought.

I am the 'should have beens'

I am the 'oughts'.

I am the adult,

I am the wise,

I am the one who shows you the lies.

I am the serpent who offers the prize

I am the mirror that reflects your disguise.

I am the voice, the strength of the thread.

I am the whisper, I am the dread.

I am the hatred that sleeps in your bed.

I am the vixen, I am the scream,

I am the suckling who will never be weaned.

I am the fury, I am the witch,

I am the shadow and I am the bitch.

I am the living, and I am the dead,

And I am the chopper who will chop off your head.


There are those who write,

and those who don't.

Why won't you understand that the hand that crafts

despair allows your disapproval,

your superior wisdom,

your tedium with the angst and

self flagellating artists

who flaunt their cares.

I lift from you the burden

of minute examination,

questioning desperation.

I allow you to sit in mocking gentleness

and blame me for depressing you.

Your peace of mind is

undisturbed by the cacophonous playground.

The sounds you hear are voices merging into joyous fun.

But should you take those children,

one by one,

dissect out the bruised look

and the blanked out stare,

the worn care of an old man with scabby knees

and tease from the clashing orchestra of noise

a different reality.

Then you will hear the plaintive, desperate note,

the one that sings to me.

But you can walk right by,

smile and rest assured that the

children are sounding well.

Leave it to the artist

to sculpt the gates of hell.

If I depress you with my words,

then take my book,

replace it on the shelf

and fill your life with happy things.

Be grateful,

because if you felt the world the way I do,

Then you would carry this burden,

and you'd write too.


Blank page.

Block of clay.

A day that starts and ends

without a friendly smile

or some inconsequential chat

to while away a few hours.

The empty space,

the creative void,

the moment when all doing is suspended,

nothing started,

nothing ended,

nothing in and

nothing out.

And in my head,

just the question.

Am I alive or dead?


Words, made up of scattered shapes,

scraps of curves,

lines and dots.

Not anything alone,

save for the I,

The X which sends the kiss.

Miss out just a few

and you will make no sense of what I write,

might even be that it will make no sense to me.

Words that cannot stand alone,

except the 'Help',

but even that would be undone if I did not write

my name.

The 'Come' but where?

The 'Love' but whom?

The fond 'Farewell' I write in blood upon

the bathroom wall, as I slip into another room.

So, there would be some understanding after all.

With just one word,

then you would seem,

the pain I couldn't stand in me.

Words, elaborate bridges

beneath which my psyche flows.

The ebb and flow of what I know rubs away

at the stones which goes to build the edifice of who I am.

Rocks into sand, sand into dust that is thrown into the wind.

If I compose the things I know,

to try and help you see,

It will be too late by the time you do

for there will be no more of me.

Words, my legacy.

Like a child's castle built with so much care,

will not be there upon the turning of the tide.

The sun will sink

and in the blink of an eye

I will pass you by.

You will think it is the breeze that brushes softly through your hair.

There will be nothing there to see.

But in the wordless

silence you will hear,

you may realise it is me.


Blue butterflies dance in front of my eyes.

Harbingers fluttering an early warning as

my mind collapses inwards and



onto itself.

The black ice of despair,

the inexorable slide out of control

into the ditch of my being.

I am no longer here.

My words


onto the page and leave

no mark.

The void,

devoid of sound.

Sand dry tears I cannot cry.

Won't someone hold my hand?


Women flutter at the school gate,

early with their fears of being late.

New identities of being somebody's mother

reduce their individuality

into ownership, subjugate

their maturity into a regressed state

as they wait.

The shy nods,

the cliques who conform with the norm

and discuss the weather with studied concern.

They earn their place by the cars they drive,

the clothes in which they pose,

and in the splinters of time they call their own

they fantasise about their Laura Ashley homes,

and the plumber's mate, whose broad brown back tingles

in the crack where hope has dried.

And then there is the wolf who stands alone,

the she devil whom, if they invited home

would steal their peace,

stir up their thoughts

with all the oughts of what they could have done,

what may have come.

so they turn away,

don't ask her kids to play

and tighten into knots of solid motherhood,

drop their voices when she walks by.

Refuse to catch her eye.

Huddled together, all good friends

until one smiles and breaks away.

The others watch her go and

comment on how fat she looks today.

Closer still, they knit together,

determined not to be the next to go.

Suddenly, streams of children

clutching the paraphernalia of their day

hurtle through the door.

The mothers move away with

one to play,

another off to Brownies

or piano club.

The pop themselves back into their cars

and wave goodbye.

Until tomorrow,

already wondering what to wear,

what style to perm their hair.

The she wolf turns and heads for home.

Her clubs surround her legs

and tumble in the grass.

Nobody looks at them

as they walk pass.


What is this constant threat,

not met

within my words?

Life declared bankrupt,

there is nothing more to spend

and in the end,

passed beyond ambition

I would achieve ambition.

The gaping grin that ran beneath the chin and

along the man's throat was stitched up with cat

gut by the physician's capable hand. He said it

would not stand the pressure of the hangman's

noose. Hanged, the man stayed alive through the hole

he'd made. Bubbling desperate breath. They

bound it up and punished his wish to die,

by hanging him to death.

Words, outpourings from hell, splurging onto

paper pathetic allegories which show a world

that couldn't care less, the mess

and how it feels

for me.

Verging on the obscene, this wish to

verbalise my soul,

make clean in black and white

upon the page.

I hear Ereshkigal call that killing myself

will show you I was serious afterall.

Worked out, worked through, worked in, worked with,

the therapeutic tool salvages from the horror something

marvellous. But in its dreadful accessibility, the fragility

of what I know - that I have come to the place where it all stops

and there is no place left to go.

Relieved of fantasies in the perverse logic of creation.

Other dimensions employed to act for the blade

and fade out the wounded animal screaming in the void.

But as I name them, one by one, breathe them into life

through metaphor and verse or mold the clay, I

become a seamstress,

sewing tiny stitches to show how much I care

and end up with a cloak of grief and truth,

I do no want to wear.


Your voice is sleeting rain bouncing off a window,

hammering to be let in, whilst

the bit you see

sits neatly,

completely self contained.

I could undo the buttons on my shirt,

one by one

so you would see my soft sucked breasts,

and as your goldfish lips puckered to feed,

I could claw into my ribs and wrench my chest apart,

then introduce you to the Medusa, who lives within my heart.

You are so easily fooled by this mannequin whose

skin is made to measure, like a lampshade. I

detect you coming and light up into the gentle

hues of the roe deer. You admire the view, not

knowing that if you touched, you'd touch nothing but

the wrapping of a long dead jew.

I wipe away the unshed and halt the flow

of the unspoken. My token smile shows I

know you tried. Standing up on the battlefield

of my private, lonely war, you say you are glad

that you could help,

as I walk out the door.


Porpoising between the worlds,

currents of conversation

and distant laughter

lap at the edges of conscious thought.

Ought I to smile,

or shake my head.

I cannot judge the required response.

And when all goes quiet,

I slip,

flip over and

fall between the cracks.

Tumbling ever



No longer trying to bring around my thoughts

to fit into this semblance of reality.

Chaos holds some dignity for me,

no more pretending that I see the way you wish for me.

My world is build in fragmentary lines

and sharp and jagged shapes, made

up by the sounds you make.

You suggest I take a pill.

Rather I am ill and sick with drugs

than showing you the underside

of your precarious existence.

Belly up, my throat exposed,

no more for me the clothes I wore to

hide this raw and painful vulnerability.

Rejoice in the gap

that burns the bread,

and turns all that is normal on its head.

Don't think to grieve, but dance for me.

I am the one who's free.


Turn out the lighted porch.

The owls know where I live,

The bats don't need to see.

Nobody will bump down the rutted

path tonight. No one will visit me.

There is no evening here.

Just day and night, and with the

dying light I lock and chain the door.

Today it will not open anymore.

This loneliness is almost more than

I can bear. Once I held and kissed

and touched and talk was free.

Once barely a task could

be performed without someone

disturbing me.

Now I check the phone is working

and wonder why the postman doesn't call.

There is nobody out there who will rescue me.

There is nobody there at all.


No words,

no polite conforming nod,

no smile to

fit in neatly

with the joke

you flit


the air.

Just my uncomprehending stare

and you,

so unaware how

vast the space


where we sit.

You do not see that I have gone and

in my place a woman who wears my face,

supports my clothes and loathes

the ease with which you tease




And call it conversation.

I cannot imagine how she and you were friends.

When did it end?

At which strike of the unforgiving clock

did she stop belonging

to your world.

Unfurled her sanity

and slipped from the bit

you understood.

Do you not see the darkness

where the light once shone.

Do I owe it to you to warn you

that I am gone.


I lay my pillow vertically along the bed

where it rests softly against my spine,

feeling like a lover,

caught between breaths.

For a snatch of time I imagine

I am not alone.

I could turn and make a joke,

hear a gentle laugh to frighten off the demons

that haunt me in the dark.

Could any moment

expect to feel

another living soul

to prove I'm real.

And if I turn, there is a place

for my redundant arms to curl around,

to lay my head against and

hope upon hope

to catch the faintest trace of smell

that tells me it has not always been like this,

that once I would have found a kiss

to ease an endless night.


I love you.

Let me breathe you in

to make you one with me again.

Through molecules you will course beneath my skin

and tremble in my veins.

The very scent of you will find its way

into my heart until it is so full,

it could burst apart with loving you.

I watch you sleep.

Private state that few should see,

and lie here as the sentinel

guarding your fragility.

You mummer and turn away

as though my love intrudes upon your dreams

and needs to find some space

between us.

I touch your hair,

aware and almost hoping

you will wake. Filch from that

unconscious state more than is my share.

Final child of my womb,

if I could only freeze time,

entomb us both in the safety of this room,

this bed. In the morning I will pack your bag

and you will leave,

because I left you

and all I can do is grieve.


Lying still in my bed, my head two inches from the pillow

so as not to miss the footfall on the step.

I bet he'll come here soon.

The moon shines through my window and illuminates my room.

There lies Teddy, his steady gaze glinting in the half light.

Paper flowers, big and bold, fold and unfold in the draught of this Christmas night.

Downstairs the tree is laden. The maiden bright on top in pristine frock.

I put her there, held up in adult arms to stretch above the green stickiness

that snatched my dress. The light beneath her skirt flashed on

and off and made her dance. Entranced I watched, then fingered

packages. This one for me, this one for you, this one for him.

Slim layers of glittering paper hiding all those secret joys and toys and smells.

I rattled and banged until adult hands removed me from the room. Too soon.

So now I wait with bated breath. I've left the mince pie by the fireside,

the glass of port. 'Ought Father Christmas take off his shoes before he comes

upstairs? He will make a mess unless he leaves his boots beside the door.'

More important, will he see the signs I've left upon the chair showing where

my sack lies empty and waiting for his care.

Just drifting off to sleep I hear the creak and start awake.

Through squinched up eyes I see the handle turn and landing lights

intrude into my room. My heart speeds up a beat. I see his feet.

Neat and clean and bare. He must have left his boots down there.

I will not peep. He only fills the sacks of little girls who go to sleep.

I hear him come inside. The door clicks shut. The floorboards squeak.

I feel his weight upon the bed, his breath beside my cheek.

The sack is by my feet, not under here where my body lays within the heat.

And when I felt his beard between my legs, reindeers stampeded through

my head and down the stairs. The Christmas tree flashed once more, then toppled

over and smashed against the floor. The presents ripped, the paper flew,

and balls and baubles from the tree, they blew apart and shards of glass ripped

through my heart, as Christmas died for me.


You said the house would



if I told.

The bricks and mortar would

break apart.

The tallest yew that grew outside my bedroom

and spoiled the view,

would wrench its roots from







and smash into my room.

In my bed

I heard it creak out in the gloom.

It was so old and wise and knew about small girls

who told disgusting lies.

I dared not fall asleep


within a deep unconscious dream

I shouted out

and let our secret scream into the night.

My greatest fear

that the tree would hear.


Where are those Honeysuckle days in which I played.

Where is the shout that called me in for tea

when I would rather be lying in the long grass

and counting clouds as they scudded passed.

Where is the loving touch,

the healing kiss to take away the hurt

and bandage up the graze.

Lazy days of innocence

that smelt of freshly cut grass.

Where are they now?

The pressures rise behind my eyes,

spill and overlow.

Not tears, just evidence of years of waste,

and it is the acid realisation

that I taste so sourly

at the corners of my mouth.

How old I have become.

My life one third complete and all I

can do is shovel it into a heap and weep at things

I cannot redo and cannot mend.

Is there no end?

Go fuck the truth,

forgo the honest way to live,

give me back one tiny place where

I can happily go

and remain the lie that suits me so.

I do not want to know.


Of what am I most afraid?

Of nothing.

A primordial world of vast emptiness

at the core of my being.

Cosmic indifference.

My heart beat stops

and waits for a reply.

My scream echoes

around the tundra

searching for the responding cry.

If neither comes, then I will die

for the deathness of death

will be more of a life

for the creature of the in-between

Thou and I.

The stark psychotic insight.

When I am alone,

I do not exist.

Why then the fear to end the complex accidents,

chained events that put me here?

Why hold on when I do not need to see

another dawn cresting purple on the horizon.

Nor need a lover's arms

to charm away the loneliness,

knowing none can reach that deep.

The songs I have not heard,

the books not read,

the hope that should be spread

in front of me, lies

dead and buried

deep within the frozen

sod of this perpetual winter.

Of what am I most afraid?

Of nothing.

No thing.


No more,

no less.


Pacing the floor, raw and jagged

I blast around within skin that feels too tight.

Splitting at the seams, my needle gleams

in the light as I try to keep myself together.

Frantic stitches, whilst witches

scream inside my head,

dead voices begging me to tear,

let in the air

and light, and sound of children

laughing in my soul.

But I cannot do,

undo the thought of you,

and you

and you

and how you took my core

and wanted more that I could share.

Whereupon you stole the rest,

destroyed the best.

Left me bereft.

The fear, that all those tears

will cause a tidal wave of grief.

So I hold them in, pin down the rage

and pinion wings that beat

of the defeat of showing you

the wound you wrenched

by ripping childhood out of me.

Just wait and see.

I can sew so fast

you'll never glimpse

the places where the seams

should be.

And what price to pay

for this hard fought dignity.

Now I want it out,

to shout the rage and

bang my fists upon the floor.

No more sure that I can

swallow back the pain which

festers in my throat, bloats my chest

and bubbles up to burn and seethe

inside my swollen brain.

So many years of hearing

how my ugly tears just made you

hate me more.

Sore and bewildered,

eyes closed tight,

bite down and clamp them in.

The sin was not you on top of I,

but just the fact you made me cry.

The lie I lived ties like a noose

around my grief and kills the hope

that I could find relief.

I am disposed.

Do not belong inside the empty shell

wherein I live.

Cannot forgive

nor live in peace with unforgiving.

Can neither cry

nor happy be.

Can feel as little now as then.

And when kind eyes reach into this

dark and hateful place,

I turn my face,

pace around the room some more.


Would a moment of allowing tattered trust

just open up the crack in time I need

to enable me to plead for help long since denied.

And if I cried,

let out the sob which suffocates and deadens me,

would I hear that crushing whisper in the dark

or be set free?

My body's sore with holding all this hurt.

The dirt that was not mine

but was ejaculated into me and

conceived the woman I've turned out to be.

I am weary now, can pace no more.

I only pray that someone stands outside

the fortress wall,

and knows I'm here.


If I had faith

would I redeem the sinner

and only judge the sin?

Would anybody answer me or

set my conscience free

amongst the roses of Gethsemane

so I could genuflect the debt away.

Or as I pray, would I too find

bitter sweetness in another kiss

that will betray.

If I believed more

would I grieve less keenly?

Would I find some purpose

through another's tortured life?

I may not believe

but it is all the same,

voices merged in pain.

hope that dies

with the cries

that echo down the centuries

as we ask the father,

'Why hast thou forsaken me?'


BUT AS HONOURS' (Julian of Norwich)


There is blood on my white sheet.

A mark of pain,

of torn virginity,

of womb that fills

and empties

with the moon.

Of the grin,

of split skin

where the razor's steel

lets the pain come in

and helps it out.

Before the doorbell rings,

I will clean it up.

Follow the rust path

down the stairs

to the place

where this understatement

first appeared.

The stiffened towel,

the blunted blade.

Evidence of a silent ritual of despair.

I do not care that you may see

the tramlines, red and angry

streaking cross my arm,

but am alarmed that you

might witness me,

whilst I still bleed

and I will have to watch the hope in you recede.


The door is locked,

knock as hard as you will,

I have no key,

no handle there to turn,

you cannot get in to me.

Hammer away,

play every trick you know,

puff and blow,

throw your weight against the hinge,

whinge and complain,

rain down your fists

and still out there remain.

I will be just here.

Put your ear to the wood.

Do you feel the heat of my back

through the cracks you've made?

Can you smell my fears

or taste the tears in the tiny space

where floor and door don't meet.

Do you know what you would greet

if I let you enter here?

My fingers stroke the beaten wood

which shows you care.

My lips caress the shards

and splinters that you made.

And when you fade away,

as I know you will,

I will press my body against

the cold unyielding frame

and try to heat it up again.

You didn't hear my voice

rip from my throat and

disrupt the stagnant waters

in the moat that surrounds

this strange, forbidding place.

The birds took wing in fright and

in the night the stars went out.

The moon, she disappeared

behind an avalanche of tears

and all went black.

I tried to call you back

and whisper words to make you stay.

But as they formed inside my mouth

they shouted 'Go away'.


Within my frozen watchfulness

I see each change.

The fullest range of everything you think and feel.

Like time lapse clouds that scud across the sky

and for an instant, block the sun,

the dappled changes in your eyes are

not disguised for me.

I see the moment that the tide turns around your thoughts.

See the ebb and flow, know straight away

when I am left alone upon the shore.

More I feel the fragments of sand that shift

amongst the grey, tumultuous waves

within your brain, feel it swath each exposed nerve,

to scratch at me, and then to move away again.

I am ready for the undertow, know that it lurks beneath the flow

to snatch my legs, to pull me down below.

I see each fleeting thought,

the answers sought,

the battles fought, and lost and won.

Yet I am numb.

Alive only to the perils within each gift borne,

each promise waiting to be torn,

the stroke that snatches for my heart,

the kiss that rips my mouth apart,

the tender word that jars and shatters in my ear,

The love I long to feel and which I fear.

For there is no peace within this knowingness.

No moment for a sweet caress.

No instant where i can curl myself into your care,

unfurl my thick protective cloak and let you come

into this dark and haunted place.

Just in case.

I scan your every move,

need you to prove that I am safe.

I am lost within the headlights of your gaze,

am phased by seeing things I do not comprehend,

cannot defend myself for I do not see what I expect to find.

Your eyes are kind.

Your hand rests steady in your lap,

no slap twitches at your fingertips to send me

hurtling for the door.

But I cannot be sure. So rather here I rest

however lonely that may feel,

than think you care, and find it isn't real.


Standing on the ledge,

my toes curl around the edge

of the concrete sill.

Below, the street streams and

the air

that falls between

is filled with shards of glass

and blades of steel.

I could forever fall,

never nearer to the gourd

nor flying to the stars.

Just tumbling.

A severed astronaut

in a never ending space

of my own waste.

I see you calling me to jump,

unclasp my grip,


This is the only place I know.

I hate the sureness with which you

stand below

and tell me smiling that

it is safe to throw myself

from this high tower of defence.

Brick on brick I dripped my sweat

into each drop of concrete that I mixed

and built my tower strong

and high into the sky

and far beyond.

And every stone I laid,

and ever window that I locked and barred,

they served me well.

So take your view of how my life could be

and go to hell.

Don't tell me now how all my labours

amount for nothing more than shoddy workmanship

and out of date design.

Where were you then

when knowing you might have made me think

it worth my care to build a stair

or two

for the climb back down?

For now, it is just too late.

I cannot undo what I have done,

cannot unbecome the structure of my history,

the architecture of how I came to be.

And if I leave this all behind

and your kind words

dissolve into the void,

and then I find your certainty was not for me,

but just some passing, vague philosophy,

and I the blind white rat with whom you toyed,

then death will seem a luxury

compared to the sentence that would wait for me.


Come lover,

take me softly by the hand

and lead me up the stairs

to the white sheets

in the white room.

And as I lay I will watch shadows

lengthen until they fade away.

No more this day for me.

no more tomorrows either do I wish to see.

Wrap me in your love

and as I stare out of the window, count

each last breath

and witness it.

Hold me as tightly as you can

so I can slip away,

gently, and without a fight,

into the unglory of this final night.


Where did you go?

Man with the brown eyes that sort me out

for a moment, before I turned away,

embarrassed by the nakedness that

lay in the smoke and talk between us.

And in my coyness, missed the chance

to know your name.

That is a shame.


Sad smiling eyes that hold me with their gaze,

touch me in ways no hand could match.

I catch my breath and feel my stomach dance.

What chance that you should meet me now?

How many other ways could we have spent today?

I replay the multitude of thoughts

and happenstance which made today

turn out this way.

Another hundred tiny chances

which end in glances across a room

and change the tracks our lives have sped upon.

Til now.

Strangers when we woke,

but like the twig that in a footfall

broke in two,

exposed new shoots

that started growth anew.

A moments unconnected thought,

an ought,

a could,

a maybe should

that in an instant redesigns the map I had

of who I was and what I headed for.

No more the same.

I know your name.

Fate beckons at the semi opened door

and I must walk through

or forever wonder

what I am living for.


I woke,

and found myself afloat

on a viscose river of sleep

and sex.

Gently I tumbled




Smelt your hair where it lay

across my face.

We were so entwined

I could not define the edge of me

from you and still half lost

within drifting dreams my hand

ran down

to your curled up crown,

hot and soft and calm

and nestled you gently in my palm.

Your smell upon my arms and belly

mingled with the perfume from my neck,

the sweat

had long since cooled from when I let you in

to burrow through the pink soft pillows.

Like petals I folded and hit your bud,

covered and held you in that velvet glove.

The embers of my memory flickered,

and I felt you twitch.

As though bewitched, I whispered

your name, felt it smooth and lovely

on my tongue, rolled it

around my mouth, then

kissed your ear,

and let you hear my love,

like sweet droplets of rain,

that softly crept into your sleeping brain.

Your eyes open

as if the sun had broken through a cloud.

Now proud, you move within my hand

and like the ripple of waves upon the sand,

I stoke your skin.


Moon sweets,

lovers treats before the beetle bites

and finds himself hurtling across the grass,

above your naked arse and out

into the shimmering lake.


A raucous duck laughs as we fuck

and the bats swoop down,

around and around

looking for moths.

A satellite slides across the sky

transmitting Brookside

and state secrets

as you lick and flick your tongue

across my breast.

Night loving on the cool, cool earth.

My backside slides into the cups of your hands

and you worry about getting dirt,

on your shirt.

I take it off and your nipples rise.

The moon shields her eyes

behind a running antelope who

passes swiftly by.

I see her smile.

then wink,

as you sink

into my bones.

Is that the earth that groans?


My gentle man,

brother and lover to me

as each new day mingled with one another.

Love and tenderness grew and unfolded

like a wondrous flower.

Hours merged and seem to fly

unnoticed though the sky got light

and dark again,

and the unrelenting clock ticked

its cruel reminder

that the week would end.

Each precious moment was like a cup

from which I supped sweet wine,

drank and drank and thanked whatever

God I know there has to be,

that bought you here to spend

this time with me.

You held me in your arms

and calmed a place that long

has restless been.

It seems as though I must have died

to reach the paradise for which

I've searched so long. Like

the sweetest song,

the purest sound,

I found a perfect harmony as you

touched the chords inside my heart

and strummed each part of me

until my body sang and danced in time with yours.

The wars that raged inside were dead

and angels filled my head

with softly beating wings of silken gold.

The cold that froze the laughter disappeared

and something in me thawed.

It trickled first, then poured into a river

where a million gleaming fish

lept and sparkled in the winter sun.

Flashed colours splashed their tails of silver filigree

and swept into huge pools of dazzling blue

to dance amongst the gushing waters

of the love I felt for you.

But then you had to go.

Flow back into your other life.

As you drove away I watched with a heavy heart,

as though a part of me had been dissected out.

No shout I could have made was loud enough to call you back.

The house more empty with you gone,

The melody lost from our week long song.

Today I took down the tree,

the gleaming brightness with which it shone

when you were here, had gone.

The food had lost its taste, the drink its bite,

and when it was night and time I slept, I wept

then laughed and smiled again with no regret.

Don't leave it long before you find your way back to my door,

it will wait forever on the latch for your return,

and every fire that I burn, there will be a a chair for you

beside its warmth.

At every meal a space is laid and waits

your grace, and in amongst my arms and legs,

against my body warm,

within my bed,

there will always be a place for you,

a place to lay your head.


I am a grown woman. Why am I

hovering by the phone. This is

so undignified and when it rings

I scatter the room to get to it, then

stand, my hand resting on the

receiver to the count of five, until I

sigh 'hello' as though my mind is far away

on more important things.

And find it is my mother, or some

other voice that isn't yours and now I'm

engaged. As I try to chat I wage this

is the very moment that you'll dial,

a few precious moments in your day

you snatched to say 'Hello, I cannot

phone you later as we planned, in fact

I have to leave the country,

I hope you understand' and I

will never know you tried.

OK, you haven't died, you're just

tied up, this doesn't have to mean you

lied to me, or found another number

you prefer to ring. It doesn't have to

mean anything, apart from the fact that

I'm too old to feel so young.

What have you done

to me?

Grow up for heaven's sake.

Get on with something else.

You're right, of course, I won't be so affected,

but just before I do, I need to check once more

I've not been disconnected.


Between the words

I listen to you breathe.

Distant lover,

sitting in your other life

where I have no place.

I cannot see your face

but if I close my eyes,

disguise the miles,

you could be here.

Your voice, liquid tongue

that whispers in my ear.

As though a touch

your intaken breath sucks

at the breadth and length of me.

And when I tell you

that I want you


your groan,

down the phone,

electrifies the wire and

fire burns inside my breasts,

pulsing beind my nipples

which ache for your caress,

to feel your mouth,

the heat of you.

You tell me that you want me too

and we become silent in this furnace of desire,

where common chat and daily toil

boil away in the heat,

evaporate and disappear

and your breathing

is all I need to hear.


Holographic lover beneath the covers

of my sheets. You leave no trace,

no smell, no sign will tell that you were

here, whispering these sweet obscenities

into my ear.

I move into the grove of your words,

the rhythm of your voice pushes softly

as if buttocks between my legs and

they gently spread apart in this lonely bed.

A sharp intake of breath tell me that

you have regressed between my breasts

and you lose your train of thought

as you find my nipples with your

mind and remember them on your tongue.

One hundred miles and more divide us

yet I can feel you slide down my body

you feel so close. But it is a ghost

with whom I lay and the sound

that breaks from deep within

my chest is a keen of grief.

I do not want my sheets to stay so clean, I

wanted them rucked and stained, discarded on

the floor. I want to smell your sweat and taste

the wet bitterness of your desire and then,

in the end, I want to fall asleep

wrapped in your arms.

Our soft goodnight chants aren't enough

to fill the void and like my bedside light,

it only takes an outstretched hand and a flick

and you are clicked away into the night.


Waiting for somebody is less

lonely, until they do not come.

I take off the dress that never got

to dance, wipe away with tears

the makeup around my eyes that

did not entrance. I brush out the curls

and pull a dressing gown around my

rejected body.

This was a shoddy

way to let me know that

we had nowhere left to go.


I used to send myself Valentines

so when the school prefect who handed them out

arrived at me, and the other girls turned around

to see, I could hug them to my nub like breasts

and look surprised, bask in the envy that

shone in their eyes.

I'd open them slowly

and read the inscription

signed with my left hand.

'From somebody who loves you.'

In the dormitory they took pride of place

upon the side table by my bed

and only I saw that the red rose bled

and the entwined hears broke

because they spoke only

of being lonely.

Every year I'd hope, let there be just one

I didn't send. To be the aching true love

of another's pubescent dreams. I'd even

settle for a rather sweaty fantasy,

It was all the same for me.

And now I'm all grown up I pour derision

on commercialism as I sift through the bills

and circulars that flop through my February


There is nobody I need to pretend to,

It doesn't matter anymore.


Where did it go?

Like the memory of snow



remnants of the love I felt.

Small scatterings remain

on distant hills,

but after the beauty of it all

there is just a chill in the air,

and slush,

crushed and dirtied

by articulated dreams

that hurtled down the road

in opposite directions.


I saw a woman on the street, she walked toward

me and lifted her head to meet my gaze. She passed

me by with just a flicker of a smile and I know I'd seen

her somewhere else. The way she wore her hair, the movement

in her stride, I turned around the stare but couldn't find her

there amidst the crowd.

I walked on and wondered where it was we met, like a

fading dream my knowing her just seemed to be upon the tip of my tongue.

I'm sure I knew her name.

I turned the corner, and there she was the same,

coming toward me and once again

our eye collided in the throng.

I had not got it wrong.

I knew her once.

I stopped to let her near and she stopped too.

She held out her hand to touch my face.

I felt the smooth glass in place of flesh,

stood closer still and lost her then, saw only what

was in the shop, behind the glass and could no longer see

the woman I then knew was me.


Swollen with unshed tears I look around this place,

empty of my years of collections and acquisitions,

empty of my children's needs,

their love,

their greed to feed from me

when I had nothing more to give.

Just me alone

In a place I now call home.

Empty of the man whose ring I wear,

Silent phone.

There is no one there.

I've lost them all, careless in my struggle they shed away,

I picked them off like strands of loosened hair

and dropped them there,


they dropped me.

The house bends and whispers in the dark.

I am alone.

No one would hear my shout,

no body to stand between my fate

and me.

No other voice to fill the silent void.

No cough.

No sudden laugh.

And when the floorboards creak

it is not my children's feet that cause

the wood to groan.

There is no one here but me.


Child, wailing siren of despair

as the helium trophy of a a good day out

slips from his grip,

twists for a moment in a

current of hot city air,

then rises above the crowd

and buffets out of site.

He cried all night.

His mourning wafted it

over the spindly tree tops that

guard my home where I was so alone

and imagined love had floated in to me.

Amidst the greens and greys

hinting sprays of summer on the turn,

the heart's string snagged suddenly,

strained convulsing on a branch

and danced for me in pink incongruency.

I saw the vicious twigs

against its fragile skin and

waited for the pop

as the end rushed in and sucked its shape

into a dangling corpse to hang and laugh at me,

this parody of love that is not free.

As alien and unbelonging as a spot

upon the face of a freshly scrubbed chid,

I want to squeeze it out,

shout proudly that I just don't care,

have no desire to see it hanging there

in a place where even the washing on the line

is like an insult, intruding

on this fragile peace of mine.

I close the door.

Don't want to see it anymore.

If it breaks, so what. If it flies away, then good,

it should be somewhere else.

For if it stays it will graze my eyes,

an ugly monument to the utter foolishness

of longing for a sweet caress

whilst snagged and caught

in an impossible relationship.


Sharp needle of sleepless nights,

thread of woven guilt,

patches of memories

in different hues,

stitches of looped thoughts,

pulled tight.

A strange exchange.

I have torn the fabric of who we were







to keep me warm it must be sewn.

I get so cold when I sleep alone.


What prompted this?

Secret, private communication, artistic masturbation

Only he can understand.

Not made for sharing

Except with pitiful students who'll take years

To glean what it is he means.

Picking up the book I break its back

With a snap

Of jealousy.

Smug cat that got the cream

I dream about.

Maybe I need to be more oblique.

Incomprehensible. Let them lap it up

Not daring to admit it's crap,

Incase it isn't.

I will aspire to be modern.

No self respecting critic would want to

Be seen twisting his neck in confusion

By some allusion

He thinks he ought to comprehend

But can't quite bend his mind around.

Let the crowds mutter intellectually

About my work.

Shuffle home,

intone about the

Breadth and depth, the scope.

Let them hope they can

get in out of the rain, before

being overcome by the urge

to get someone to explain

What the fuck I was trying to say.

Then let me die young

Before I get too old to.


The lady with the dead

cat on her head sat on the

wooden bench.

'It's dreadful being old,' she said,

as she noticed me watching her.

Pulling at the smoke from my cigarette

I smiled as a response,

it seemed heartless to agree.

Her opaque eyes

shone with knowing in the light

and I saw the pity was for me.

She didn't have to fight anymore with

the force of gravity. Her sagging

breasts rest comfortably upon her

redundant womb. I am the clown

for only wanting to be seen naked

when standing upside down.

She grasps the handle of her little

brown trolley, symbol of age and

decrepitude, whilst my unruly purchases

exude like sweat all over the pavement.

My shopping list twists in my hands,

I have so much to do. She eats toothlessly

on a chocolate bar, and relishes the view.

Her tiny pink scalp bobs beneath blue strands

of hair. Benevolently I stare, then wipe

the matted storm drenched curls out of my eyes

and think of my own grey that says

I'll soon be there, disinterested in style but

hopeful that the hairdresser will talk to me awhile.

She gets up to go and I leave too. I'm late

and although it is her time that is nearly over,

I am the one hurrying.


The laughter stopped with the pop

from the fat man's gun. Leaded bodies

crash out of the leaden sky to lie

twitching amongst the reeds. It is only

safe for summer to fly today.

Nights when I have lain, an uninvited guest

listening in to yet another party on the lake.

Awake I would wonder at the joke and feeling mean

would glean delight at the coming plight of my

discordant neighbours.

Now it seems too quiet, the thin pitch

whistle demands the dog go fetch, and

from a tender jaw, a broken wing tries

in vain to touch the sky once more.

The fat man turns and smiles at me,

then spots the pheasant thrashed from the

cover of the trees. He aims and shoots

but the shot lands too far. I close the door

informing him it is cheaper,

and easier,

to run them over with a car.


Inside outside, outside inside.

A pigeon lives inside the cafe roof, drinks

from a fountain fed by no spring and feeds

itself from crumbs

dropped from old ladies mouths.

The plastic ferns that grace the place

afford no rest for this tatty bird who

for the rest of time will fly around and never

feel the sun, nor breeze disturb the plumage

on his dusty wings.

Piped Puccini replaces

traffic rumble and he craps,

splats on the marble floor

as the octogenarian grips

for more tea, more cake

and slurps the taste

before she smears pink lipstick

around her face.

Trapped inside this aviary, the pigeon sees

the sky and thuds his toughness

against the toughened glass.

The people smile and feel continental

whilst the veteran of two world wars

paws her plate with claws bedecked in

diamond rings, her yellow nails painted red

and flashing in the light.

Like the pigeon, she will sleep alone tonight.


The years have filled you out.

The ill fitting younger man has

disappeared, and in his place a

face that echoes him, but is changed,

rearranged by time.

You have lost the angularity of youth,

your eyes are not as bright,

your beard a dappled grey and

as we talk the night away,

recapture who we were back there,

you hold your Whiskey glass with too much care.

Our student days, remembered as a haze

of Autumn nights and Earl Grey Tea when

I was too young to understand

the love you had for me.

When Elliot and Hesse filled our talk and I

was sure how every story ought to end,

including mine.

All these years down the line I watch you now.

How hard the time has been. The dream that

stood before us then lies wasted and suddenly

I wonder how I look to you. Am I old too?

I never knew the time would pass so fast.

If I Had, I might have tried to make it last,

might have relished every moment, made

sure I lived each minute up to sixty seconds, so

I could store them up and squirrel them away,

reinsurance against the harshness of this place,

of being face to face with who I was

and what I am today.


In and old trunk, long neglected

and covered with junk and tins of paint

my children found some memories of mine.

Badly packed, yellowing letters

stacked in disorder of time and correspondent,

some photographs of my old school,

pupils standing in neat lines,

the fool,

the one or whom I thought my heart would break,

the teacher's favourite child,

and there,

in the middle,


my wild hair and uncompromising stare

daring the cameraman to think I cared.

Beneath a ragged doll,

a souvenir of some forgotten place,

a card, which when wound up still played

that I was 21 that day,

lay the halter of my old horse,

the buckles dark and rusted now,

the leather worn

but still encrusted with his smell.

I held it to my nose

and for one




could not tell if I was fourteen

or thirty four.

I wrapped it up carefully

and put it back.

Replaced the letters

no neater than before,

rescued the other remnants of my past

from my children's clamorous hands,

and closed the lid down fast.