They cannot dismantle the bread.
The kitchen wafts of yeast. The field is
Full of people greening. A father flocks
his young, a daughter hands her mother
her cane, though in her mind
she’s still unfettered. A cat oils her paws
with her tongue and
although the billboards tell us otherwise
a kiss is still all that matters. We talked about it
this morning over breakfast before that time
we spend cogging, day after day we blow
the sunlight. They cannot dismantle the bread.
My chick smiles inside my arms’ circle
my soles have brushed so many a flower,
in many a fenceless field. The butter we unfurl
macadamizes the thick slice for chunky marmalade.
They cannot dismantle them either. In our hollow stomach,
they spread a meadow. Our blues and browns and greens
blend the stained glass we’d cut on.
When you blank and I quake
see-through like a tiny snowflake wilting
a crust of bread frames our chests, and out of the blue
fairies sure up the wood in the bones
we’d imagined dismantled. If you let them,
they moulder under the thundering train,
they dismantle at a peep. Or so we figured.
But fingers nudge and irises skew and when
we sunder from the moorings
the lake and the valley fling a line and a buoy,
the crust rounds our lips and the butter
rears our mouths on what it is to quench a rash.
Then, we fit into the river, glide past glittering stones
and circumnavigate fallen branches
some of which firm up the bed never to be dismantled.
In the kitchen at home, riverside on the far side of
the world, in a factory where they make
dried yeast, we eat sandwiches
drink milky tea and talk.
The dog gulps up the crumbs we shed
we speak Everyday and gesture sunlight.
On the wall, we are a big blotty shadow
no one can dismantle.
Feck Capitalism is a money poem, a celebration that there is so much more to life than owning stuff lest we forget.
Feck Capitalism – Money Poem
And another thing / the sugar you paste on them / how you sink a hole and pour oil on the monkeys / because peanuts are for protein balls / like an itch you rile / with the matt bling of a pig in blankets/ how your half-empty cup runneth over and into your vault / hinging on the shoulders of billions of minions / crumb-scrambling
how chummy the sound of plastic film splitting / worth a trillion trickles of sweat and tears / finger-licking swatting cogs don’t plot / how a small pack of hoarders sow canes and split beets into the scattering beyond / if only to bulwark the vault / bait eyes away and play a honey rondeau on repeat / sleep / toil / swallow a grain of sugar / sleep / repeat
how well the monkeys know how to pick a branch to swing from and the worth of wood / how they talk to parrots and hummingbirds / how they peel a banana in line with the sunshine / how squirrels stash nuts and badgers make dens to bear cubs and bears get a share of honey and how we can make a candle out of the comb / place it mid-way / and have it shatter any night
And the Humming Ebbs is a dusk poem, a painting of a city’s evening and people passing through places and days.
And the humming ebbs – dusk poem
Dusk, and the humming ebbs
People homing, Sparrows heading
Offshore. At the bar, after-work pints
In the beer garden. On the veranda,
He rocks her chair, she reads a line from
An old book she’s read a thousand dawns
When the chirping and the rev of the first bus
Broke light sleep and the dew sweetened
The scent of the grass. A boy and a girl play
Hopscotch, Traffic and an old man can’t
Cross the road. A seagull roves down Shop Street
And lodges fronting the Treasure Chest
Swagger on her webbed rubbery feet. They dull
The colour of the paving stones. On her beak,
The red dot, the knob her chicks peck
When they are limp. But that was many dusks ago
And wingspans across a bunch of oceans. But
Distance is nothing, and still one hand in another
More golden than gold itself. Inside the glass
Teapot, the Chinese flower blossoms on a canvass of
water on the boil, talk and no talk.
The Lake is a summer poem, a celebration of warm summer days spent together outside.
The Lake – Summer Poem
All year the dripping sky plunged into the dip
In the landscape; light and crystalline
Rain had partied there, sketched in by wintering winds.
All year it swelled inside the deep cavity.
Drops clattered like seashells, water poppies
Sloshed veils of yellow rays across the lake.
You could spot purple mosquitos and blue dragonflies
From the wooden rowing boat we had fixed up
Out of scraps one warm day the rain wouldn’t let up
In the middle of our summering. Once afloat,
We would sky an oar and each stroke into the deep
Rippled a fish and rocked a water lily.
Within the crutches, the rudders nestled we were
Hanging off the beaks of birds inside the mould
On the thwart. They would tell us how it is
To fly for miles and miles and how plumes want
Springing when the long nights floor the early bright. We
Could tell the shore was listening even adrift down-lake it
Framed the water and the fields beyond and on it
We’d lodge our boat for the next day
until the day, dusk weighed anchor at dawn.
Now the clouds were fumettos and
The lake was a pop-up book with us in it, the sun
A giant reading lamp. We heard how the sand had
Beached a fish and stuck on so that the angler threw it
Back in and how the bird considered snapping it up
Mid-air only to be nudged out of the way by the breeze
And how what we said nursed the ladybug many miles
Away. On the whitecaps, a grey heron pencilled
A map for the catfish and us as far as the slough and
Through the cattails and the floating sweet grass of
The moor and beyond to where we’d dry off before
Going home for iced tea with a slice of lemon. Soon,
We’d be falling then wintering before budding and
Delicate is a bravery poem, a celebration of anyone who dares step up and out no matter how terrifying it may seem to us all.
Delicate – a Bravery Poem
When my plastic skin melted into a puddle…if only I had skimmed the barks of trees and felt that texture is matter and matters to the birds and the bees who will not cling onto slippery slopes. I was used to slathering oil on my face plumbing the arid valley around the wings of my nose, I plumped and smoothened my future double-chin, I lifted and tucked the dark rims, I concealed the buds of branches and my foundation was above all, cover-all clown faces, pants around the ankles, frost-bitten lips, and burnt bones….months of leaf feasts peaked in a shivering swaddle and now the sun fills my dimples, rays tug at my limbs I’m moving downstream. This is easy / life in a school of tadpoles, one fishtail to lose, four legs to grow / to one day,
live between river and woods, wide-eyed and quick-tongued but not v the painted ladies. They do not vanish in winter, they migrate to where the food is, thousands of miles across scapes only to home here again come spring, icy winds and squalls no match for their paper-thin canvasses gliding above the surface where you or I try growing tomatoes on a good day. On a bad day, we wear scarves and costly shades so no one can fish for our eyes. Then, everything is tanned, even the flicker of a heart has a tint of chocolate choking it. Why hide? Why not drink the rain and wash in it, make toast in the sun and bathe in it and plummet into the plumbline between the sky and the green, green grass / every day?
Humming along with the air-con is a poem about society and a reflection on how we define people by their problems instead of their beauty.
Humming along with the air-con – a poem about society
Do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the day and think that
you're nothing but a cause
a bark to muzzle, an outbreak of pimples and zits
a skin to larder yellow-pack cream ON
a mouth to throw money AT
if only you'd ever shut your gob?
Are you a child throwing yet another tantrum
spewing toys out of a three-wheeled pram
mother walking her sunglasses and heels
headlining the city crimson
lipgloss and blush never smudge on the farm
why don't you just die down?
Under the table
you wriggle out of the tapering straps
go draw a picture of Moses snug in his basket
floating down the river or go banging empty cans of beans
with the one straw you clutched at the drive-through
when your shirt was wet against the car seat
and all you could do was
hum along with the air-con
except you've never sat in a 4x4
but you know how to make and do
like turning phrases into flowers
or screening the perfume of a lilac bush
in May when the chicks dare plunge
and you know you're one of them.
No one ever bothers
checking the henhouse for golden eggs or
downing a head on a pillow
stuffed with your downs.
Far, Far Away is a human family poem, a reflection on the impact of COVID-19 on everyone across the world, an expression of gratitude for relationships and togetherness.
Far, Far Away – a Human Family Poem
We were not prepared: our home is a mansion one end
a shack on the far side, God help the poor idiots stuck there. Before
Christmas, thieving through the cracks with no one but one gagged guy
wiring, a swarm began scotching in between the roof tiles and
the guttering ivy scaling skin and bricks like a beaver, indiscriminate,
rulers and buffs fear on the news, this is foliage on marble and sand
and on the glitter you find below a girl's hairline or between
my fingernails and the dough I prune when you're looking for
a passage through a night days into the dig. Overnight, she dressed
the walls in thick weeds choking rocks and making us shut
every door and every window, stuff cracks with make-shift mortar.
You’re right, this is serious and no, you don’t want ivy mushrooming
you into a tiny space far, far away from the sway of the day not if your
mother is rubbing shillings together or your father is skimming work or
if you dwell where the paint is flaking or where the floors are bulging
and you can't remember the scent of fresh air. Leaning against the
greening bay window you sleep, glass and leaves between our palms
this is hard your skin is curling, at night your wrap your arms around
your legs and knit a rug with each and every string you've ever spun
and spend days laying where the shore kisses the lake.
Warriors is a lockdown poem, a reflection on how for some, home can be difficult, especially if you aren’t allowed to spend time away from home.
Warriors – Lockdown Poem
Never once do you picture a warrior as a little bundle in a crib sobbing or hungry or afraid. In this army, every warrior has an arsenal.
Aged three and a half, I dug boulders into the ground to shoulder a fat wall. Around it, I ploughed a trench and filled a moat. I am a castle, a fort, a warrior with a shield the size of a mountain. His fists don’t scare me now and from the watchtower, purple skin looks like a butterfly tattoo. My sister and I taught each other morse-code and then I drilled Harry and she scribbled the instructions on a scrap of paper and briefed Chloe under the desk in maths. At night, we cable light signals from the dungeon we pitch tents in the crib we hurl mud and play warfare. Battleplans. At home, I wear shining armour, Monkey snug between my chest and the breastplate. My weapons; a sword in one hand, a bow in the other and arrows on my back. Hideouts; the bathroom, under my bed, the house when no one is there. Key manoeuvres; crawling into through the kitchen door and making it into the back garden without anyone seeing you. There’s long grass there. Longterm strategy; jumping the garden wall or better still, taking off in a fighter jet like the one I saw whizzing past during the air show that Sunday with Mum and my sister, the one that squiggled white smoke across the blue sky or the Red Arrow that dove down straight like a pole only to flip and rocket the last second. We punch the air. Phew!
If axed, this warrior seeks out the company of the wise and the kind and the funny. No one warrior is an army winning every war. Chiefly, this warrior is fierce.
She’s Given to Circles is an earth poem, a celebration of her abundant love and care, an appreciation of what we take for granted.
She’s Given to Circles – Earth Poem
First, she fed my child a nut, and after that
she grew sprouts under her skin, of grain
and roses and earthworms. Circling, she blew
fire into our stoves, and on hot stones, she fried
green apples and sewed up lacerated skins.
Mother’s pliés and pirouettes scattered stars into place,
she weaved air and light into a feathery cloth
and lay it down
upon reedy swamps and moonlit highways.
On branches too and where the breeze draughts
the round room inside arms allongés. Allegretto.
And now an Adagio, she's wrestling us down,
she's swallowing us into her lap
where she can stroke our wiery heads mid-arabesque,
one by one. Naptime, she's making us sink, she's
slowing us to sleep in the deep of her cot,
she's giving us to her circles and lullabies.
Along the grooves of her fingerprints,
birdsong and light capering and in her dimples,
the scores of lento airs. Already,
the sky is strumming and the land gliding
its bow on our bedding veins. We drip
into the clinging ocean, one by one.