Trace

Published online at Spillwords  https://spillwords.com/trace/

Despite dying and so bewildering

All space around us your trace follows close;

A powder trail through the minutiae of days,

Rimming tea cups and drifting in bathrooms

As perfumed steam to giddy our memories.

Confounding locked days with the keys we keep,

Collecting itself amongst the porcelain figures

Still, still and twirling across the dressing table

That you polished to lake like reflections.

From the loose spool of old tapes your voice loops

Clear into today, words newly significant

Festooned with feathers brushing, circling near

Echoing warm with shadows in the eaves

Murmuring the past to our present; here. 

Memory - Grown With April

Stalks, arrow-like grow green,

darting to the air -

damp today with April -

and the missing muffled tread

of Grandad's feet along the path.

Wall flowers fleck fragrance

in rustles of orangy-yellow-red petals

to disolve with his echoes amongst

that garden of long ago.

 

Photos and their gasp of those days

tell of how he'd sit smoking roll-ups

in a soft felt of shade, greying and far

from where we played,

cluing words to crossword gaps

and telling of how to tie knots 

or carve wood to whistle.

The space of him shifting, rushing onwards

through each month as a memory

re-growing amongst us

and speaking from within. Is. 

Blue

published at The Blue Nib https://thebluenib.com

Because it is the crush of sky

to water - a horizon of lines

drawn long and mapping the dittoed

trail of ships printing waves

on carbon paper, words

printed to endless echoes

 

and because it is the soft howl

of a saxophone notes lingering

 

surging then that pout of lipstick

butting up against beauty

its kiss filled with the smudge

of bitten cornflowers -

their stars flung from night

with the blazing ends of fused indigo.

 

And because it is everything

we ever wanted to say -

without any words.

Forget-Me-Nots

(as published in the 2019 Anthology this uncommon place, edited by Kevin Watt)

Skimming the lake and thrown in fun, a stone

bounced before us, a flint, grey hewn

from cliffs chipped by centuries and strewn

with veined whorls resembling a heart grown

 

and patterned with beating veins of all known

time. You saved it and then sent it travelling

to me through red letter boxes to my home.

This new journey fresh with your affirming

 

hands and its presence, burnt with eddying,

kinetic dance to wake my still thoughts' sleep

and sew them firmly to your own, mingling

touch and taste and breath then together leap

beyond ourselves and bind as soft garlands

of forget-me-nots do joining our hands.

Ocean Inside

(As published in the 2019 Anthology Reach)

Enclosed and inside the ultrasound scan

shows you afloat in a hushed ocean.

Kidney bean shaped and safe in your drift,

yet anchored to me and my queasy mornings.

I feel us pulling at each other's lives,

persistent waves pushing at me, surging

and shifting as you shape into a self.

The sea within; salty and clear and shown

as a vague grey surf fixed in the photograph

the sonographer hands to us casually,

as the air of my world constricts, conflicted

with two journeys; our shared one and my own. 

The Confinement

Fists clenching and filling

with the expanse of secrets

the poppies grow tight.

Roughly budding the clay,

their petals skin wings

thrown upwards in release.

As you lie newly 

in my arms, red with birth

and the crumple of creation.

Hot needing, eyes just open.

A skin seamless and unknowable;

a mind of our own making. 

Tales I Tell My Children

Fairy realms linger; longings whispered to a child.

Heads full of hoods and wolves howl lonely on a moor,

While the yellowed pages guide a brittle mossed path

Back to bedtimes beyond and now freshly buoyant

With my own children's chatter and clutter of stairs

Climbed.  And I the teller now light incantations

Of the darkness and of the dreams hovering 

Freshly born tonight, ancient and again new

Brimming with technicolour misty murmurs 

Laid through the years so we bite again apples

Snow White's blood red lips knew and poison kissed.

And feel Rapunzel's starry, salty tears stray

To cure princely eyes and cut our own computer

Devised reality to size.

Dark comforts offered word by voice in these tales

Ensconce us; wrapping pain and reality in duvets

And towel damp hair; all beauty filtered to our bleary

Beds and so it is the children sleep.

Early Days

The days have become still,

Intricate and tissue wrapped,

Swaddled laying peacefully

in my arms.

I cradle each one.

Each impenetrable, confusing

Entity and wonder if the shadows

and remnants of before

hide. 

Sometimes I dare to loosen

Their tightness, their neatness

To check they are not bleating messages

From un-severed umbilical telephone

Like cords, fat attached and still ringing

With the words of their predecessors.

But they are individual.

Silent, pink and mute,

Attentive, dependant, waiting

For me to feed, to fill them,

Bloat them with

My presence.  

 

Trace

Published online at Spillwords  https://spillwords.com/trace/

Despite dying and so bewildering

All space around us your trace follows close;

A powder trail through the minutiae of days,

Rimming tea cups and drifting in bathrooms

As perfumed steam to giddy our memories.

Confounding locked days with the keys we keep,

Collecting itself amongst the porcelain figures

Still, still and twirling across the dressing table

That you polished to lake like reflections.

From the loose spool of old tapes your voice loops

Clear into today, words newly significant

Festooned with feathers brushing, circling near

Echoing warm with shadows in the eaves

Murmuring the past to our present; here. 

The Turtle Doves

Yesterday I read that Turtle Doves

are dying

 

40 million less, I read yesterday

to emblem countryside

with their gingered feathers gentle sweep;

constancy expired.

 

Their pink eyes and purred voices muted,

preserved as a line in our worded song

their 12 carolled days with the partridge

and the pear tree wrapped and reeled in

Ended. Their coos a post card

picture of the past sent skywards

and famished with seedless springs

and scentless flowers hybridised

 

chemically laden, high yielding

yet providing sustenance no more

the wrong wheat ripping at their throats

and rot growing rank in their guts

The partnership loosed

                               to the cold caw

of mistrust

             and hedgerows' silent thickets.

I read. 

To Shelley (published in the anthology Across the Page.)  

Seaward I wade into the watery salt

Where broken Ariel lays and recall

How you reached for me once through a dream's clear,

Bright foam, your hand merging with my own

Inky and full of awakened stars

So words floated where a heart should hum.

Leaves trespassed through the autumn air and danced

Faster and higher flinging me amongst your words;

Tempest lashed by proprieties stormy moan.

From the hollow caves I cradle your heart,

Not burned, nor washed away to fleshy ash

But daring to champion our unfearing questions 

Still amid green wreathed tameless Liberty

and wan death you are not frightened to behold.

O wanderer, mercurial might

Is your endless journey still

And quick-silver across a stormy sea

Of years 

You lift me to you.

Afterwards Nana

a wardrobe to sort, now empty of hands,

sighing with garments worn and tendered soft

by your shifting shape.

and long lingering, though you are dead, drifts

Coty's L'Aimant

scattering memory, nascent and again new

Ash-less and minute-less smooth to soothe

or sorrow.

and beyond your piano sings flowers. 

Superstitions 

Superstition snakes from the necks

of the flowers lolling their heady scents

to the night.

"Unlucky to cut lilacs" she mutters

lies lingering from those lost days of her childhood -

"but lavender weaves luck" she intones

pressing the papery blooms to a pomander

and placing it amongst her faded silks.

Now a chemist, latex gloved, in a lab

Distils digitalis to digoxin

Freeing it from a foxy, fairy past;

Modern medicine for a fluttering,

Failing heart.

I hear her singing still;

A flowered whisper tracing

Through the twilight of a garden

Slipping slowly from

Superstition to the science

Of a song.

Paper

leaves paper the sky; spreading hands shielding

the blaze of a sultry sky from the tinder box

crumble threading our journey through the trees

as pages turning diary like to once before,

when with youth's lantern faces gleaming,

we shone with song more deliciously ardent

than the apple buds danced imaginings. 

The circle full, the trunks sawn and strange,

pressed to a paper of our own printed work

where we write of that day's woodland walk

and of those fierce rent wandering words

fixing forever breathing, igniting whole

the flame leaping blaze of those tiger thoughts

of that shady sun, apple grown afternoon.

Sonnet: Marriage (inspired by Rossetti's painting of Jane Burden)

It was like the sweep of land seen from ships

Coursing the misted bay and calling through night.

Like safety all at once spilling from our lips

And carrying us ashore, beaten by light

And salt bitten tides; the murmured orisons 

Of promises whispered and held in hand.

Forbidding and tempting purple as damsons

Encrypting love to coded lore's demand

To have ever. Sold as pomegranate seeds

And pink jewelled life until death splits even bold

Stateless minds beyond and all knowledge bleeds

And prowls to devour this harboured hold

This plaited harvest ring, this wedded band

This new love that wraps us whole. This new land. 

The Cottingley Fairies.

Timorously tracing, carefully cutting

then plunging hat pins earthwards and ripping

The Strand with rumour, Elsie and Frances

fooled them; their Cottingley Fairies beguiling,

fusing, febrile minds to sweet fancy's flight.

Amongst the silvered gloss of magazines

these fairies lived and wove their rings around

the willing. A deception sweetly perfumed

and posed fluttering with unfurling wings

and childhood's best, bewitching shiny spell

to sooth the ravaged, weary post-war world.

We needed misty muses more than we knew;

a magic among a mossed garden's view.  

Watching You Sleep

published online by Spillwords https://spillwords.com/watching-you-sleep/

Sometimes I watch you sleep

your mind deserted of day

 

and its immutable rationales;

your eye lashes jolting

 

as if a strobed, dazzling electricity

were fused and wired inside

to some apex of mind buzzing

with strange sorrows and unseen

journeys, opening only

in sleep as memories

 

that jangle and fight at sleeps'

quiet bond of darkness and rest.

The hot feathered duvet

twists around your limbs

 

as if quarrelling with repose

and webbing you amongst

 

its tangle, and I wish you the world's

drowsy violets, sweet with shade

and full of night borne remedies

to calm the agitation

of the day and soothe with loose 

blooms the shuffling stack of routine;

 

the trails and concoctions 

of all those tomorrows.

Horse Eye 

(first published in Poetry Now's Anthology 'Straight from the Horse's Mouth' 

Edited by Kerrie Pateman 1995)

Soft, wild horses

are stampededing;

see them race their 

monochrome, electric silhouettes

against the ruddy sky.

Their eyes enlarged

and filled with fearful blue

crescents, carousing and chasing,

chasing endless brown

unbroken vision;

feeling their nostrils flaring

in the wind.

Hooves, like animated wings

beat and sting the soil,

restlessly pounding and filling 

the dry loam 

with racing echoes

until it reverberates too

with vibrant rhythmns;

assertions of self.

If you could

give up, see

beyond your papers,

hear, these driven things

ad their galloping visions,

living, indulging

each inviolable moment;

and yes, to be,

excited at each snorted breath

of moist mutilated grass. 

Curve

The curve of you waking wisw