Poetry

My poetry can now be read on my new website, Conjuring Marble into Cloud

Below you can see a few pieces of poetry which have been published. If I had a collection, I would call it 'Conjuring Marble into Cloud'.

 Published for National Poetry Day's 'Messages' theme, 2016 and Popshot, April 2017

Daddy's Home

In a dark corner squat

she is folded,

by the bed,

an upturned, colourless Z,

hair caught on ripped anaglypta,

arms like a metal tie around bread,

black soles like ballet shoes,

and toes so cold they might snap

and clatter like dropped pebbles.

Nibbled nails like fairy plates

in bloody beds with ragged frames

on stubby fingers, sucked thumbs

and clutching fists,

twisting comfort out of fabric.

Shiny eyes, bright with fright,

boring blackness,

strings of hair, straw dolls,

tucked behind little ears –

like sheets, mattress-tight –

to listen.

Breath is silent, sparing, saved;

like disturbed silk,

shoulders rise,

shoulders fall.

A bullet-click.

A creak as discordant as a wail,

the sound of a python-squeeze,

insidious.

Too drawn.

He is coming.

He is coming.

A shape more solid than the dark

walls her in.

She feels the burning trickle;

her sodden shroud hugs, clings to her contours,

and the puddle softly creeps

around her cradle,

gently arcing her heels like a crawling tide,

tickling her crunched toes with its frill

and she fills her mind with wet feet and cotton cloth.

Published in Silver Lining by Poets Against Violence (Baer Books Press)

For better, for worse

Mummy’s sleeping on her side

in the corner of the kitchen,

all curled up like a cat.

She hasn’t done her make-up very well…

she’s got dabs of purple all round her eye,

like violet petals squeezed dry

and there’s red sponge-painting on her cheek.

I’m not allowed to sponge-paint.

Her lips look juicy;

I think she’s blowing me a kiss.

I’ve been brushing Mummy’s hair

to make it nice.

It feels like golden clouds in my hand.

I collect balls and balls of it

and lay it on the floor ready for the birds.

I do dot-to-dot on her leg – just pretend –

trailing my finger between the little red circles,

and I cover Mummy’s legs with her nightie

so she doesn’t get cold,

the way she covers me up and tucks me in.

I wash the dirt off her icy feet

with the dish-cloth

and jiggle on her slippers,

toes first, then, clunk, over the heel.

I think she is very tired.

She’s sleeping and sleeping and sleeping

and I am hungry, hungry, hungry.

Black streaks like little rivers

have run down Mummy’s face.

I think she’s been crying about

the terrible mess

and because she broke her favourite vase.

Published in Silver Lining by Poets Against Violence (Baer Books Press)

Unfit for purpose: the frustration of a soul

A trapped angel flares her white light,

magnesium-bright

- an illusion of a hole in the warm black enclosure;

 

blinding, if it could be seen.

 

Concealed in the heart or the head,

she hides in a pinprick dazzle,

flashes into a star

or throws her brightness from a towering pillar,

 

perpetual, intense.

 

It is a cold, clean light:

white champagne or arctic ice.

 

She is a caged spirit,

vibrant,

pulsating,

 

mourning and elbowing

the withering demise

of her rotting confines,

 

helplessly trapped in a vessel

which daily decays around her

 

as she blazes, blazes

in the dark,

 

a perfect clarity

watching organs blacken

and muscles slacken,

bones brittle like sapped twigs,

huddled in a bag

of dry elephant folds.

 

She sings a lament

as colour leaches into white paste.

 

As the ticking stops,

she shrugs off the useless debris

which raced ahead like the hare

 

and paid no heed.

 

She is boundless,

an unveiled spirit free to soar

and flee,

untethered by the fickle cradle.

Published in Songs of Angels (Thynks)

Attendance

No phoenix, her pile of twisted sticks reassembles on invisible cords.

The puppeteer, sheer, concentrated Will, pulls.

She rises and rattles into shape, teeters and lurches forward

on to two willow sticks, two of bone, knotted in purple.

 

Clicking sticks, sticking slippers, slipping steps

accompany a cacophony of coughing as she weaves her way

to a bag of crusts, brown and wholesome, carefully kept

for the avaricious magpie and the delicate sparrows, visitors each day.

 

Reliable as the rising sun, each to the other comes,

quelling the emptiness, padding out the hollow need

with satisfaction. She hooks the plastic over bending thumbs,

dips her head and adorns her folded neck with the pendulous feed.

 

Her face is small; her lips like string, her marbled eyes sit in sallow skin.

She shuffles along the well-trodden path, gravel embedding her soles,

her mountainous knuckles stretching white and thin

as she grips her lifeless supports, cooing softly, nearing her goal.

 

Lustrous and agile, petrol blue thuds at her felted feet,

jerking its head as jet stones fix on the expected gift,

and dainty brown dances to her heartbeat,

waiting as her curling hands unfurl and grasp the crusts. So stiff

 

are her joints, but with a surge of pleasure she raises her arms, and stretches her neck,

praising life, releasing the confetti in a showery tribute.

Then, with cracking knees, she embarks on the slow homeward trek

bathed in the balmy calm of the daily commute.

Published on Writers' Talkback as winning poem in monthly competition

The Dwelling

In that secret place, a sea lantern swings,

splashing shards of jade and teal

into the folded silk of the rock.

 

The bowed hag’s watery grief

seeps its magic into the splinters

as she waits with clamped wings.

 

She is frozen into a waterfall of stone,

onyx daggers pinning her into the strata

like a fingerprint.

 

Hooded and veiled, charmed hands

draped, she sucks the light as she dreams

of conjuring marble into cloud.

Published in Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press)
From the National Museum of Denmark

Little Feet

My little feet, unbound,

explore the head space

and wiggle around –

ten little men

with polished faces

are sock jostling;

Big, who takes the brunt,

the lean, the weight,

who makes the point,

and moves the speck,

mounts camaraderie

on his brother,

explores new territory;

the phalanx splays

and closes rank,

pulling in Small, the friend

who keeps them balanced;

and the unassuming middlemen,

the supporters,

quietly get on, as they do –

while my head on the ground,

ungagged and naked-faced,

wonders what is so beautiful

about little feet.

Published by Visual Verse, February 2017

Epilogue

Veins and metacarpals lie

like exposed mangrove roots

upon sea-washed sand;

 

blue snakes and white spindles

is a more beautiful image,

but they are not beautiful hands.

 

Like dormant arcade grabbers,

fingers grasp imaginary balls and can’t let go.

Worse, they are the clawed feet of dead finches.

 

Knuckles as big as glass marbles take up the slack.

Skin that can be plucked drapes over bones.

 

Beneath flattened nails as thick as seashells

fingertips rasp across photos,

their ragged prints proof of who’s there.

 

These are the hands of our tomorrow,

hands of saints and murderers,

vagrants and monarchs.

 

They touched at the first hello

and will be touched at the final goodbye.

Image by Tertia Van Rensburg

Published by Visual Verse, March 2017

Nostalgia

The glints in our eyes were so diamond-sharp,

they shredded and tore her armour apart.

 

We cackled like witches and sneered like the rich,

hurled stones, spat saliva and called her a bitch.

 

We crowded the pavement, blew gum in her hair,

lined with her, dined with her, pulled out her chair.

 

We cast her adrift with no anchor to lift her;

like bloodhounds, we sniffed her – our alien sister.

 

Our conspiracy fuelled with foul, fetid fantasy,

we caught leprosy, lunacy in our supremacy.

 

Our spite-infused parodies elicited cheer

and our hearts were engorged by her cold, swelling fear.

 

When she cowered in corners, we formed a tight scrum

round the misshapen ball with nowhere to run.

 

Locked in a stall, her effluent shrine,

we invaded the gaps, an insidious vine.

 

Her voice was a ghost’s, white-whisper-thin,

trapped in her body, a mute mannequin,

 

and her Munchen face dripped like cold, setting wax

through the catalogue of our relentless attacks.

 

Though defenceless and frail, like a china doll,

we cracked her and dug ’til we’d scooped out her soul,

 

and she let her cobweb spirit be torn

by the grappling fingers of malice and scorn.

 

Now she sleeps in the ground crushed by dark, heavy clay,

content to be spared the bright, golden day

 

while we trudge through the seasons, silent, apart,

each with a shard of glass in our heart.

Published in Issue 14 of Jotters United - 'Hooligans'

On Your Marks...

The beginning

No plans, clenched hands, embalmed by sleep. Trickling sands.

Swathed in cotton, mattress-bound, intermittent hollow sounds.

Dependent, reliant, unconcerned, unreciprocal, nothing earned.

 

Reel forward

Mental pathways weave and wander, decisions to make, questions to ponder.

Letters to words to Shakespeare and Kant, numbers to ages to wages to scant.

Meeting and matching and splitting and parting; joyous, despondent, uplifted and smarting.

Gadgets, technology, sharpening skills, all tumbling into life’s barrel of thrills.

Cosmetic enhancement, fitness and six-packs, designers, one-liners and financia cutbacks,

Depression, debt, alcohol, eating disorders, OCD, gambling, extravagance, hoarders,

Marring the men and scarring the women regardless of age or social beginning,

On all, the same badge of honour displayed, the output of life: ecstatic, dismayed.

Contorted faces on bodies elastic, the result of misguided usage of plastic,

Elderly brains, still supple and clear, teens wading through with still no idea.

Confusing distinctions, compartments obscure, the ‘Who’s Who?’ of life an ambiguous blur.

 

The end

No plans, clenched hands, embalmed by sleep. Trickling sands.

Swathed in cotton, mattress-bound, intermittent hollow sounds.

Dependent, reliant, unconcerned, unreciprocal, nothing earned.

Published in Issue 19 of Jotters United - 'Old Age'

Hypnosis

Against the sway and the slap,

in the space between waves,

a sibilant layer plays

to the attuned ear.

It is pure and luring, disarming.

It charms him.

He craves

a fan of silken hair,

satined skin,

a jewelled tail,

and slides through the film.

He glides above coral

and powdered sand

on his dazzling trail,

chasing flickers of dreamlight.

But all magical lands have allure

which is illusion.

 

His ankle is clasped.

Shackled by barnacled fingertips,

he is jerked and wrenched,

hauled into the sunless trench,

dragged down, down, down,

trawled through fettering fronds,

binding, winding, wrapping,

slicing, shredding, snapping,

as she tows her catch to her lair.

Dark weight swallows

the air.

His wake splits shoals.

Outstretched hands rake water,

grasp, grab, snatch, clutch.

Spent,

they drift to his sides.

The cold burrows like maggots.

 

Her hair has escaped her braids;

it is as frayed as ships’ ropes,

as alive as squirms of eels,

writhing and coiling

in a veil at her face

and in a halo of knots.

A sea snake escapes

from her dark

protrusible mouth

and her jaws gape,

lined with turritella shells.

Her skin is as cold

and grey as clay,

algae cupping her bony juts

strumming her striped ribs,

filling her hollows.

 

Her tarnished scales lift like scabs

and seep green clouds

as she strangles him with seaweed,

wringing out his silent screams.

She anchors him to the shipwreck

for later.

His bones will tumble and wedge

in the shifting jumble

and, one day,

be dredged.

Legends will be birthed

and unearthed,

and their eyes will be alight,

mesmerised by the myths

and magic

of mystical mermaids.

Published by Visual Verse, June 2017

Waiting for the Wall-Builders

Unhurried,

the evening exhales.

 

Cool breath

extinguishing light,

subduing hues to make night.

 

Prickly pears dim their shine

and darken their juice.

Ruby fruits wait in shade

like puckered lips.

 

Wife sinks,

knees tucked,

crouches weary,

arms heavy.

Chin dips,

skin raw,

tear trails puckered,

eyes sore.

 

She slips into an empty calm.

The breezeblocks are warm.

 

And hunched near, a stout package of Mexican

is cached in a target as red as his hot blood.

His face is a polished coffee bean,

his nose chiselled and planed by ancestry.

They hate him for it.

 

 

His hat catches rain and keeps the blaze at bay;

it looks like brown paper or dry bread.

He wishes it was the lid to a jar

and he was a jalapeno.

If he ducked down…

nearly.

 

Lumpy as a swaddled, knuckled fist,

he is bunched for fear, not fight,

and hugs himself, not his wife.

 

He listens.

He hears.

His eyes are wary.

 

They are near.

 

 

.

Published by Visual Verse, September 2017

Hollow

 

A sharp slice of memory

sluices her toe-tips,

a jab of jade

which creeps

and cups her heels

in opulent folds,

coercing her.

 

A juice infused with malachite

and shattered emeralds,

the liquid vineyard

where crystal drinks

flow cold

and in abundance,

parches her.

 

A spillage and spoil of

spectral brides

in shredded lace

with flaxen hair

and ivory veils

and sugared frills

melt around her.

 

In salty, silvered digs

she sinks through sand,

lit by sun,

fringed by frost,

milky skin

bleaching to pearl,

washed

and set free.

Published by Visual Verse October, 2017

Unscathed

This doll that you love

is a silent child,

an empty mute,

faded and stale.

She is clay-cold, chalk-pale,

so rigid, she could

SNAP.

 

White pools of painted tears,

like moonslices,

have dropped from the dark sky

and rock at the brim

as she holds back the spill

and the fear.

The light is out

behind the vacant gaze

of those baby blues.

 

Her brows

are sparsely-feathered fledglings.

Broken.

Lame.

But inside her smooth, flat chest,

Mother Bird manically flaps.

Trapped.

 

Her unblemished porcelain

was fingertipped smooth

to a blush,

and lips brushed

to invite apricot kisses.

Her chin is dipped

in deference.

 

Scratch her

and she will not bleed.

She is unflinching

to the pinch of perversion.

Her screams are stifled

by blocked apertures.

She understands dead.

 

She is no slack-mouthed whore,

cushioned and pliant.

Compliant

as you pose her stiff limbs

and seize a lifeless embrace.

 

Just look at her face.

She is a sad mannequin.

Touched up.

Stripped.

So much missing.

Published by Visual Verse December, 2017

Swallowed

I am the seed of Fear,

she said,

darkly germinated by

shame,

the unknown,

consequence.

 

I grow.

 

I will smear and stain,

bleeding blue as I weep,

heaving deep silent bellows

which bulge with the weight of emerging ghosts,

and billow and roll with explosions of regret.

 

I inflate.

 

My voluptuous curves undulate,

surge as they summon and shape

chill wisps of thought into a swelling mass

to blind you,

muffle you,

smother you,

condense you,

cocoon you in a throbbing curlicue –

my inky signature, muted in mist.

I will eclipse you.

 

I dilate.

 

I am denser than air,

cloud, fog, smoke, or tainted veil

and will choke you with the opacity of despair.

My diaphanous shroud of delicate florets is laden, engulfing;

I cannot be shaken off.

I will bury you.

 

I bloat.

 

I sag

and drag you down.

 

Or can you burst free?

Published by Visual Verse, January 2018

Grenfell, where Souls Billow

Clear the Film

(originally entitled 'Rise')

Baked into the layers of

life,

we are

caught and held

in stripes –

graveyard troughs,

cesspits of the poor,

wealthy smog,

golden belief.

 

Elevated and windowed

from Lowry crowds,

and noise,

and disease,

our brains are still peopled,

the silence still pocked:

 

we are bruised weight,

abused,

dragged through despair and

strangled

in strings of stress,

knotted in nets.

We have been gouged

and patched.

Infected.

 

Confined, we crane;

where is the clean air,

the escape?

 

They exist beyond prepositions.

 

We spew hatred.

We swallow hatred.

We light candles for ambience

and burn our world.

We rock

in a cradle of nonchalance

and cry when it tips.

 

We must clear the film,

rise from the dark architecture,

scarred by the sharp,

and still bleeding.

We must rise

through the pink dilution,

swilled in the watery blood

of morality and emotion.

Rise

to the sharp intake of clarity.

 

Don’t look down, or you’ll fall.

Published by Visual Verse, April 2018

Mama's Whispers

With every pace, you will change.

 

You will punctuate places.

Scenes will spill into spaces,

filling your mind.

 

Explore the range –

the wilderness beckons,

its open palms the terrain.

 

Hike and ramble,

rove and amble to where

the grass strokes your ankles.

 

Don’t stray, scramble, stumble –

vagabonds who drift slip away;

the ground can crumble.

 

Saunter into sunlit clearings,

uncluttered, unfettered.

You will see better. Feel better.

 

Enclosures blind and blinker,

binding tight with boundaries,

shrinking and shrivelling scope.

 

Wind through oaks,

roam plains, climb slopes,

dance in the trill of rain.

 

Don’t bolt, don’t quit,

escape or split;

run to feel freedom course through your veins.

 

Brave corners,

take leaps, however steep

it may be.

 

At times, you will wade,

jaded by the weight of life,

but you will reach the shallows.

 

With strong strides you will guide,

lead your parade,

steer the crusade.

 

Settle and sift;

don’t collide.

Your words can shift stone.

 

Stand alone

on your own two feet

and mark a new trail.

For the Plinth

Memories disperse into mist –

pointillist specks separating

like the universe –

and numb blanks will pixilate your face

and plane your profile…

so breathe slow,

calm in your balmy stupor,

warm in the glow of pagan flames,

as I dip my brush into liquid sun

and gild you in immortal light.

 

In long strokes, your soles

become golden angel shoes.

I tickle your toes, slipping bristles

between them, and slick your calves,

pushing the brush into tucked-away places.

I glance at your silent face;

it will be the final portrait I paint.

I coat the curve of your buttocks

and the ripples of your spine –

the union of brush and skin our metaphor.

 

From mound to mound,

my wrist furls and unfurls,

graceful and balletic as your shoulders become orbs.

I am conducting a symphony

where musical notes are lovers’ heartbeats.

My brush drips metallic sobs

as I lift your hair

and coil around your fragile neck like a tightening serpent,

shushing your diminishing gurgle

and reminding you of Tutankhamun.

 

I replenish my brush and transfer it.

I must caress your draped hand.

Weave fingers.

I anoint your palms and nails with the gold strands,

gliding purposefully now to cover your limp arms.

I plunge both hands into the unctuous ooze,

slide over the crescent of your stomach,

circle your chest. And lock in your heart.

I paint shut your eyelids, sealing in dark moons,

kiss your lips, smooth your face and give you a halo.

Published by Visual Verse, June 2018

The Blood Comes

He is a target –

scarlet-faced,

shirt-drenched,

stippled neck

rising from

white-collared trench,

hot-tipped ears

conspicuous as a hare’s.

He is skewered

by their stares

and cowers

when their jibes

javelin through the air;

he swivels on his chair,

wounded.

 

 

An army of platelets

surges,                                         

rampaging

with fervent urgency

through feathered tendrils

to fix the damage.

 

They race,

run reckless laps

in furious loops,

trailing puce,

ensnaring him

in crimson coils,

spinning him

in scarlet skeins

pinking skin,

whirl ruddy eddies

in his face –

he is in the marketplace,

braced in the stocks

where rotten tomatoes

are launched like rocks.

 

He hears

the rushing of water

as they swirl

in the empty river beds of his ears

and circle his neck

in whirlpools.

 

He is drowning.

He is bleeding

inward tears.

Published by Visual Verse, August, 2018

Cadence

As though the strings

are silver strands

of angel hair,

she gently plucks,

each note a ghostly droplet,

trickling waterfalls.

She swallows

flawless ripples

of melodious air

and as the music

seeps its sadness,

her heart weeps.

Each trill

and transient note

are born,

and die,

the flats and sharps

embalming her in spell.

The pipe is sweeter

than a nightingale,

the lilt

a dreamy drift

to blissful rest.

But as she sculpts

the silence

into filigree,

ephemeral

as an imprint of the light,

she shivers

at the lurking naked void,

blacker than black,

whiter than white.

Her fingers crawl

towards the calling coda

and she gulps for life

as minor keys weigh heavy

and she gasps

as passion

mutates to propulsion.

At the end,

she draws in blasts

of shallow emptiness,

tastes lifelessness,

unseasoned,

on her palate.

Confined by stillness,

she acknowledges the barline

and in a stream

exhales existence

in finale.

Published by Visual Verse, September 2018

When it rains...

Mama said,

make something.

 

My face is wet;

does that count?

 

Use up the scraps, she said.

 

I look at what is left.

 

I drag a nail

across a love note

and blink –

 

 ‘will never’

Such a positive negative…

 

I make a boat;

 

inked words are spliced by the prow,

and the smear of

 ‘leave you’ jeers at me;

it’s what you wrote.

What you did.

 

I stroke thin paper

and feel the sheen

of newborn skin.

 

A family of four

as tall as the sun:

stick limbs and scribbled hair

in pastel shades,

with curved smiles deep enough

to cup infinite happiness.

 

But they are wax.

Icarus flew too close to the sun.

 

I fold walls at torn edges

to make them stand on end.

The concept is flimsy.

They fall flat

and my breath wafts them away.

 

I measure, score and bend,

fashioning birthday cards

into tiny houses I can hold.

 

Almost perfect,

but no windows.

Don’t look in.

 

There are sharp corners

to their weightlessness

and they pock my palms

like driven nails.

 

I daub glue onto brown paper,

wrapping paper,

postcards and party hats,

layer upon layer,

corrugating,

cushioning,

hiding…

something.

 

I am marked by papercuts,

yet another smarting tally.

Tiny incisors graze

as I tear sandpaper

and scrunch

the scraps I have left.

 

Perhaps I can make flowers.

 

And finally,

a snapshot.

I prop it

temporarily

then punch it into confetti.

Published by Visual Verse, November 2018

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