some of my poetry…

Narrative poetry


In the mornings, his job stops

our windows. The hills wear masks –

tissues of bracken, horizontal

birches, darkened spruce.

But scratch their sides, and how

the paper fractures spill their bones!


Slate roofs and walls us;

fences fields of silly sheep

and us. Above our heads

blue gravestones rise in tiers

until they meet the purpled cliff.

One day we’ll lie together under slate.


The dark hole heads our valley

where constant wind paws the foxgloves,

and the river’s throat is stopped

with rock. Through the years

the quarried staircase has risen

on sheets of fine wafers; violet rows.


Lately, as he holds me to him,

I think I taste the mountain

on his lips. And in the darkness,

when he turns away, I watch him strike

a matchhead on his hardened palm.

Its small flame flickers, blue as slate.



(When clouds dragged across

the moon’s damaged face – she wrote-

I heard my father’s footstep on the stairs.

I willed him to go past my door.

“You like it, don’t you?”

But the handle always turned.

I knew if only I could learn the words

to change, to break- to find that power

to unlock the tongue which clamped

my mouth to silence – then I’d be free….)


So his sister hurtled away.

She was on the road with Kerouac’s books;

her intellectual model was promiscuity

though local boys called her slag.

He stayed behind, yet didn’t hear the tumult

of her absence. His head was awash

in some cool well of an imagined past,

holding the trickle of newts on his palms.


Later, he remembered a wartime summer,

the scent of garlic breathed

from bruised leaves of jack-by-the-hedge,

a ‘clouded-yellow year’.

The fields blossomed with butterflies,

as thick as the clovers they fed on;

he thought he had dreamt it

until it happened again in 1983,

when he cycled in the city and tended

a fantasy of allotments.


(…I came out. It was such a relief.

All my life I’d been passive,

things had been done to me.

I caught myself looking for a woman’s nipples

through the fine crepe of the blouse she wore…)


When he found the smallholding, he saw himself

sinking into it, a stone in that well,

heavy, mossed, settled – woke to a nightmare

of moulds and mildews, deformities.

Whatever thrived, the rabbits ate.

He took to lying with his shotgun in the grass,

and opening their small heads in the moonlight,

drugged with the smell of soft fruits.


(She was smiling and telling of him

to a girl with a twist of yellow hair.

“My brother had a dream of strawberries,” she said.)

Fairy Stories



All her fault.


The trees are running, running.

Damp grass streams under my feet

until the redness of her coat

in the sun-stripe, through the trees;

the crimson of her coat congealing.


And the forest stops: only the file

of my breathing goes on, to and fro

across such longing for her heart’s

red secrets. My hollow teeth ache

for that pale throat turned to honey

by the yellow flowers she holds.


Her smile feeds the hungers

of my eyes. She doesn’t see.

She’s looking for the wink of primroses,

for the droop-neck anemones bending

in the gentle music of the trees.

I leap ahead. She doesn’t see me go.


And under the whispering thatch

the old lady won’t stop.

The old lady won’t stop.

The old lady won’t stop.

I put my hand across her mouth.


This is a crisp new linen

of silence. Now I’m stretching out

to pick my teeth and wait.


It’s all her fault.




Roses hung on the wire of her voice;

she wore dresses of creaseless silk

cracked from the tight cases of nuts.

Shw was shuttered, until that old lady

wound her tale. The bloody spindle turned.


Then she was sealed in a room darkened

with the tendrils of thorns and the hush

of the pointed leaves, where roses

with close red hearts, curled, secretive,

studded branches, thick as her arms, with blood.


Here eyes were blind to the froth of the sky,

seething and changing in the window’s square.

And when she was woken, she was quite lost

to her apple-yellow sisters, lost

to the quiet song of their voices.


He has kissed her neck, her shoulders,

bites her throat. Now she has ripened

into his dark fruit, rich and sticky,

and the key in the lock has tuned her

secret, compliant, thornless.



Always I would be in air –

the green rim tilting to

a gasp, then fractured sun

and the comb, moving

through my briny hair.


I led you, dry-limbed,

to a place of bones. When

pity pressed my mouth

on your drowning lips,

you woke to my sea music.


My salty kissed silenced you.

Then our children mewed

like gulls. Your eyes were

always filled with something

stirring, deep as water.


Soon my salt notes stung

your ears. Now your eyes

are emptied like the sky,

and my sisters’ voices call

in the chuckle of the swell.


The sea draws nearer. You are

a dry whisper. In dreams

the water closes on my head

and fills my lungs like peace.

These days I walk on knives.





The dunes wear a mohair of grass,

a lurex of silvery buckthorn,

while the squat conifers crouch darkly

with their arms full of new spring candles.

Around the wheels of the car

buttercups lift their pallid faces.

I watch a starling stuffing its importuning youngster

with indiscriminate gobs of grubs.

The fledgling totters and flaps its wings,

and gapes its beak for more, more, more . . .


Back over the sea-wall, the wind slaps my face.

The sea is crumpled tin-foil

spread across the dull metal beach

with its patina of pebbles.

Wigs of seaweed lie about

amongst the pebbles’ bony crunch,

and the stupid noses of the paper cups.

My daughter, pink skirt flapping,

balances on the dark finger of the breakwater;

watches the water bubbling in,

stirring tesserae of grit in the dimpled sand.

She has found a rock striped like a tiger,

and a stone which glows like a ruby.

She cries like a bird, “Come and see. Come and see.”

My small son winces over the shingle

dragging an encrusted crow-bar of wood.

“Look, look, stick,” he says.

The baby waves his arms at me

and opens his clamorous gape.


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