flowers for Sarah Everard
because we have to buzz- home safe – home safe-
yes - me too – home safe
peppering What’s App with the obvious
because we walk gripping keys
between middle fingers
with shelled expletives
hoping the only use of their jagged
steel edge will be to unlock
the front door
we think - can’t stop
your last walk home
caught on keyhole camera
over Clapham Common
we light candles, Sarah,
watch them blink
in the shadows of ringed shadows
at the base of trees
and lay flowers in a crackle
against the fear
of dark emptied spaces
and words that spit
from a policeman’s mouth
sticking this in you
kidnapping, murdering, mutilating
leaving you in a builder’s sack
only identifiable by your dental records
in Kentish woodland
crimes unlovely as the sick
absence of spring leaves
un-grown on laurel trees.
Published at Writer's Egg Magazine, Issue 6
Silence warbles inside bridge tunnels, their stock-bricks dank with moss and dimness – climbing. Trains percuss above, electric and brittle with low-fi hum then roar. Their interiors shooting passengers to the city. Seated inside, he is dressed in cut denim – slit to reveal his skin –a brightness bulging from the overlaps of wearied cloth, he crosses his legs, boot to knee, and scrolls. Pink scars of healing flesh lope beneath his clothes as he fixes his eyes on her - seeing she knows more than he wanted to share.
Then it is Balham and bodies press into carriages and eat the space to odd intimacies, pilling lives amongst old metro newspapers and tattooing suits to coats and stillness – breathing. Day opens here on the rails, its juice bleeding with sticky segments of bisected time and when she looks for him again, he has gone – the gap he existed in – closed - severed with the slide of electric doors, filled now by others and outer echoes.
tracks slice mossy day
jolting with electric darkness
a city bleeds lives
Between concrete and a straggle of bank
River Wandle glides, bruising weeds beneath
to a floating mane of green shimmery hair.
Sexy numbers and who sucks whose
are graffitied to jostle noisily
on a run of corrugated fence
and always there’s a murky, rogue
perfume filling the rippled air.
We wander past pylons and the electric
hum of trams cutting
their cadence at the bottle-broken,
tracking to London the water slowly works
a memory of disorganised summer,
splashing, punching and treading
the green-greyed stone sharp bed,
the oily sheen of rats watching
quick from dank weeds
with the knowing that we shouldn’t.
These days the fish are back.
Pair of Jeans
you wear the soft sky
tucked in your jeans' bluest stroll
a perfect day's wave.
Rising fiercely from the flat, grey street.
the column commemorating The Great Fire
runs step to step to sky,
its smoky, grey stones
snatching as visitors' breaths
just as the heat brindled, wagging
flaming timber to flaming timber, once.
Above us, the fire is all gold leafed glory,
crafted to a sphere of taut metallic
tongues telling of our almost destruction.
From The Monument's cage
we can view London and the crawl
of our ashy past still wending with today's
wash and charcoal twist of Thames below,
etching our gaping lungs with air
and ancient things in flow.
A Woman Divided.
(This poem is inspired by a painting by Dali and was read on the radio show Late Night Poets.)
inside the screech of birds is deafening
soaring and pummelling thoughts to clouds,
my arms fling upwards to embrace the emptiness
of sky and solidity of stars.
ripping myself in two is a daily task.
I tread the yellow shore with care
make lunches and walk responsibly to work
feeling the shackles of life cry at my ankles
as seaweed clasps the crags of rocks.
the horizon snips, snips redly at me,
sails through me as I try to hold myself
to account and grasp the bitterness
of burnt out days and make them fly
from a woman split, a woman spilt,
a woman divided.
An arc of iron over us always
the cold leaden-green flow
of river lapping endlessly
at the gravel scatter shore;
firstly visible and then tide smothered
yet offering transit.
The climb is all smooth steps
stone foot fall worn
into waved depressions
by so many other journeys-
to the stretch and view
of change and its
and so it is the path leads
pushing backwards and on.
(published at Writer's Egg Magazine, issue 7)
A sky stretched thin as gum
pans its slow camera at each scene
we run at, this spring, frostless,
eyed with sun, sharp with cursing
and spearing its sugary beams
at this chew of rationed days
as we repeat and repeat our lives
isolating them to the momentary plash
of water shadowing our hands
and sketching our wrists with stringy,
twiggy patterns of whispered resolve.
The virus invisible and washed
with stories flooding faster and faster
between us as we gather all that means any
and abandon our cities, trailing to the path.
Published at Writer's Egg Magazine, Issue 6
Our elm tree kicks with the breeze,
its branches strung
with old trainers,
their treads worn to frayed slopes
curved with the smile
of completed journeys,
flung by their one-time owners
to the sky and its skitter.
Here, skateboarders rush the path
with their slide, jigging the road
to an ocean alive with rippled
sun and the wink of poems
grown from the emptiness
of streets and shadows
with a simmer of ideas that tear
themselves like sprigs from a forgotten paradise;
selling scent from the dusty pavements
and buttonholing bystanders with words,
that say the stuff they want
rather than what they should.
She ghosts the narrow soar of streets
hunched with morning and dimness;
drumming hollowly awake
with slackening sleep winking away
from the splutter of sheets to this push
at pavements, boots heavy with lethargy.
Work; a sloped walk to come.
Engines are churning somewhere west
of here and emptiness is engulfing.
Blades of ceiling fans whirl
brushing heat downwards
as if a land closes small against a sky
and balls itself within a mind,
leading it muttering with fevered night
to the blankness that faces us only
taunting us with its contradiction
of silence amongst the hum of a distant city.
and the unslept dark lizards
itself inside, marking out
doubts; chalk lined as crimes
and Sleep, a welcome executioner
to this unspent crumple of hours,
is as unknown as all history.
so many crowding the carriages each
voice vying with the track's clatter.
I sit holding still,
a word beat bleakly in my palm -
greyness fluttering in gauze -
its ache real and needing release.
scudding my mind ideas gloom a horizon
and burn themselves to air,
my tongue breeding pain to empty
and all around from rough ground,
sliding from an encasement of leaves,
new voices quiver
I open my door and find you waiting
amongst autumn and failing, falling light
dressed in the thickness of a dun overcoat
the verdurous twine of ancient forests
un-scrolling as you speak.
Your cracked lips shape islands
to a spoken cellophane
of sickness that churns
plastic and grey in our ocean guts.
Inside I offer pain-killers and recycle
panaceas of wisdom.
We untangle numbers from choking twine
and watch the points of decimals
shift, unfurling fins
as we skate through thinning ice against
the glowering night; the drift of damp moss
growing through our voices and clinging
to our shadows' lean
against the fumy highway.
Did you call too late?
Outside the concrete is spread and setting.
Published at Writer's Egg Magazine, Issue 6.
She has no words in school today.
To match, I make mine tiny,
firm stones; imperatives placed
next to pictures
to round their requests,
balancing the real on a surf of
swaying meaning. She responds,
tracing sounds to her own.
Reading opens and closes
its booked meanings. She decodes
words to elephants, heavy, andante,
stepping sense slowly from the page
new from thumbed pages.
Her body folds beneath a uniform
of crumpled grey acrylic,
as she hunches at the desk,
skin prickling with webbed scabs,
self-scratched; still raw, still red.
The bathroom’s razored blur
smudging at the back.
office windows square their unflinching
geometry at me as I watch them slide
their flickered familiarity
to the tunnelled dark
of a train journey
and watch the dizzying feet
of countless commuters
dust the ruler-line platform
with the news-papered security
of a repeated trip.
Inside minds lurch to life
with the jolt and halt of stations
a few hours of chosen chaos
those hard worked hours.
against the evening
I press home
through long streets
and bewildering journeys
searching the music
stave of the paved street
for your echoes
A day too late
I am told later.
and the shabby subterfuge
of stumbled words
stands shadow like
Haiku String: Mirrors.
silver image smiling pretence,
homage to the world.
Inside a heart lurches
uneasy with its daily task
blood ribbons unfurl.
Windowed city streets
people wait, concern ticking
slow behind glass eyes.
Lamenting from Space
Paved, tarred streets smother us
grass echoes its longing
and verges, glades
and meadows ache
in our fox soul of red souls
as we tread wearily,
ceaselessly towards a confinement
an astronaut I heard
lamenting from the station
cries knowing amongst our gains
loss lays heavy lidded
bleeding breaths, mon-oxide doused,
to a paling sky.
Shoving up between each step
weeds protest their places
pretence we scatter home
to find waiting lonely
and wilting, shedding leaves,
journey in green tears.
Dials shifting with digital tides
Throb inside our unblinking eyes
Data coded irises encrypt
Identities with sky scanned script
Secrets shift amid security
Beneath each programmed byte
Powered nanoseconds green light
The home with wired wonderment
While hovering optic mirrors gloat
With messages and smooth drones
Deliver messages to phones
Proclaiming health and happiness -
The cut carnations blare
They have become flares
Floodlighting the dusk cloaked city,
With a cultivated fluorescence.
Their blooms pirouette
Tutu ruff heads,
Twisting in the creeping night,
Their petals trembling
Like pantomime comic clowns,
Yellow wigs out of place.
Ungainly, quivering and nodding
Bowing knobbly stem bodies
Against the glassy chill
Of the listless vase.
My eyes clamber to them,
Like two dying bees desperate to hug
Their brightness, eager to offer
My body up to the imagined heat
Of these dissembling Olympian torches;
Pyres of summer light.
So aloof, so aimless and absurd
Bunched together in the throes
Of certain death.
And so it is we travel.