In childhood I danced to another tune,
so odd, I thought the gypsies had left me.
At nine I awoke to the call of creativity,
for a golden hour or two. Up and down
the alphabet I travelled, eyeing up words,
never finding the same word-flute twice.
Being of two hearts I wanted to be liked,
but secretly I longed to be the real thing.
A is for alcohol not the ruddy red apple
I grasped, while watching in fear as booze
transformed my lonely, introverted father
into a wild, highly dramatic personality.
Elvis, all shook up, drunk on tramp juice.
Mute, I spoke only in hesitant sentences,
for I would rather heed the silences of life
than listen to the cruel vagaries of his ego.
Chained until thirty three,
I was a jailbird of the cave.
Where madness and echoes
embraced the ruling darkness.
My dead eyes locked only
onto the lifeless wall ahead,
where deceiving shadows
soon became my false reality.
The seething fire behind me
knew nothing of friendship.
Nor I, until I scurried away
by posting words of protest
to each reviled, hated brick
of that shadowy ivory tower.
The one that separated me
from sun, moon and stars.
I land in the tin bath
My little hands splash water
Over my beaten body
I try to cleanse myself
Of my father’s
Will the water do well?
Will it wash the pain away?
Will the blood stop flowing?
I am not the body
I am wearing the body
I am dead
Between you and I
Is the Gate
Winter’s shivery doorway
A numbed wall of silence
Obstructed with evasive answers
Strengthened by the Season’s backbone
This glacial blocked channel
Is the obstacle of my communication
I stand at my own frontier
Barred entrance to you Mother
A raw crisp life
Icy barriers down forever
I weep weathering my love
In the beginning there was a tree
where all children begin,
for the Tree of Life bears all mothers.
Each soul created, then pollinated,
becomes a budding artist
of original interior design.
The varieties there are endless
but a tree is a tree is a tree.
Families often abandon bad fruit,
the different-than-us fruit,
and fruit often drops far from the tree.
Never quite believing itself to have been
a part of the same branch,
where the blossom in the bud decayed.
To fall was my only escape
but a tree is a tree is a tree.
The door is unlocked, spaces of light guide me in. All at once I sense
the room’s exposure, feel its vulnerability. A long deep breath of
weariness fills my ears. Trying to build up a narrative, my seeking
eyes search for all its yesterdays, yet the grey leaden ash invades,
deadening any hope of discovery.
Forsaken, there are too many shredded skins here. I lose it all so fast.
The room doesn’t know itself, nor do I. The dirt is too powerful. My
mind strains with unease searching for an order of which there is
none. The tarnished walls, filthy and foul speak, like voices under
water, muddying the air.
I realise how crazy I must have looked
Rushing in like that
With my face all shiny with love
Firmly pressing my heart in your hand
No, really it’s too big just for me
I remember saying
And my writing hand needs a break
Besides, I’d really like to share
Oh look see how it suits you!
Honestly, it looks so good on you
And don’t worry
You’ll soon get used to the warmth
In her children you could see
the nature of her love-making:
tense, cold, angry,
bitter, blind, afraid.
Producing, naturally, just the seven.
Though she would,
had she found a way,
bred seven more.
Just to show she knew
how to stay perfectly out of step.
The house was a farm labourer’s cottage set in the heart of rural Kent, down a muddy, narrow winding lane. Surrounded by fragrant orchards, already hanging heavy with full pink and white blooms, nature was seen and heard here in almost every moment. Inside the cottage, more than ever, where the woman was crying out again in pain. She was in labour, a month early, awaiting the arrival of her baby.
This wasn’t a new experience; this would be her sixth child. Hospital births at this time were certainly more the fashion, but the baby was coming too fast. The midwife had come by only two hours ago, flirted with the man and wouldn’t be returning now for another twelve days. Behind locked doors the woman cried to herself, she was going to be all right, she kept telling herself she was going to be all right.
What was stolen from me
I stole from others.
I wanted it back, all of it.
So I stole too, and many a time
put my takings straight
into my mother’s purse.
Our daily bread,
for I had been taught well.
Devoted child, looking up,
watching mother steal
tins of fruit, meat pies, bars of chocolate.
I too became hungry.
Michelle’s house: a haven of 50p’s
deposited all over.
A fruitful year, her house.
Nicola’s next and her mum’s
ever-full, stuffed purse,
where even a twenty was never missed.
I collected the milkman’s deliveries.
Fizz, bread and eggs
and blessed be our church
with its trusting donation box.
Not forgetting those odd jobs,
where even wider doors of hell would open.
In a room where silence fell like snow
She pinned the number on her dress
Hours before she jumped
That silent Sunday afternoon
Inches and miles away
From the white chalk farmland
Where a sea of darkness
And steering winds waited
They loved how they had broken her
Made her their own
Once more herding her back
Into the seven-fold flock
Where this liberated sheep
In her post shepherd world
Had once defied the master’s crook