‘Go fetch me a bread cake,’ that’s what you said. I balked at the thought of a cake made of bread. ‘Do you mean bread pudding? Or perchance spotted dick? Or did you mix your words up? Is this some kind of trick?’ ‘No, I know what I said, bring a bread cake,’ you uttered, ‘You could use it for burgers or just eat it buttered.’ And that’s when I realised, you wanted a cob, ‘It’s the midlands,’ I laughed, ‘don’t speak like a knob.’
When I cut my hair, and later shaved it they called me brave to have braved it. But one thing I couldn’t understand - would I have been brave were I a man?
I wish I was a zombie so I could eat you up. I wish I was a vampire, only blood from you I’d sup. I wish I were a poltergeist, I’d shake only your bed. I wish I were demon possessed, you’d always turn my head. I wish I were a tulpa made up of thoughts of you. I wish I were a grey lady with secrets just you knew. I wish I were a wendigo, you know I’d wear your skin. It’s only you I’d wish to probe were I an alien. I wish I were a wicked witch and you’d be my black cat. My love, it’s just some poetry, don’t look at me like that!
Another night without sleep. Eternal sunshine, I could weep.
While the right hand writes the left hand lies limp. Lazy and languid he watches his brother and wonders what force brings power to the other, who glides like a dancer with quill dipped in ink, ‘There’s something sinister there,’ he thinks.
You said that skulls are frightening - their gaping sockets, too-wide grins. I told you: ‘Fear the living, Not the dead.’ You said that skulls unnerved you - their alien eyes, too-white hue. I told you: ‘That’s fine, but remember it’s all in your head.’
It’s okay to heal, you won’t always feel like facing the day, or acting okay. To feel pain is fine, doesn’t have to define who you are, so don’t let it. In time you’ll forget it. Solutions can mend, can work in the end. Just don’t choose one that ends you for a pain you can get through.
I feel this one needs a bit of an explanation. The subject of this poem was a source of endless horror and shame to me growing up (when I clearly needed some bigger things to worry about). But it’s funny how you grow to accept and treasure things as you get older.
Why did I hate you so much years ago? Tried to find ways to not let you grow. I would disguise you, and hide you, and not let them see. Couldn’t accept you as a facet of me. If I say that I’m sorry do I say it too late? If I add that I had then, a lot on my plate? So forgive me I really never meant any harm. I accept you, I love you, the hair on my arms.
If you say I’m unsavoury, does that make me sweet? If you said it’s inedible I wouldn’t eat, so excuse me for thinking you were being rude when you called me invaluable. When you’re boning the salmon, are you putting bones back? If my house is inhabitable, what does it lack? If you depress the button, do you press it or not? Am I all alone in losing the plot? I may not be a genius or ingenious, or both? But these synonym traps make me feel like an oaf. Now I’ll change into linen to sit by the fire, I’ll be safe - it’s inflammable.
I’m creating an army of writers, and we’ll write you all out of your beds. You’ll cover your ears not to hear us, but the rhythm will get in your head. Before you can fight it you’ll join us, and you’ll add all your words to our songs. Then we’ll all be the army of writers, writing to right the world’s wrongs.
I am a woman if I want to be. They explained that ladies don’t spit, don’t swear, or sit on men’s knees, or have short hair. So I’m not a lady even if I wanted to be. But I am a woman. They won’t take that from me.
When I woke from my sleep I was hungry again, craving only the taste of carpaccio brain. So I dug myself out of my hole in the peat seeking maybe an organ or some flesh to eat. When I spied my next meal walking round in the park I did sneak my way up under cover of dark. But the man he was ready and armed with a trowel, when he bashed at my head you’ll believe I did howl. As I fell to the floor his words they resounded: ‘Ah, my flesh eating friend, you should always stay grounded.’
‘Don’t slip on the puddle.’ He’s pointing at the sign, ‘I’ve mopped her up before but I won’t again this time.’
You Tell Me
You tell me: women are not funny, and thin women are no fun. Fat women are not pretty. Pretty women, they are dumb. Those with long hair are always vain, with short hair surely gay. And all women lose their value when they’re wrinkly and grey. If a woman won’t have children then don’t have her as your wife. And when a woman speaks her mind it will surely cause you strife. As a woman I am baffled and I don’t know what to say, but when I’m not sure who I am I’ll be sure to look your way.
They taught me all the words to say, the things to feel, the way to play. They taught me how the pieces worked and how to get ahead. I listened hard and emulated, embraced the me that they created. And up the ranks I climbed and climbed, excelling for them every time. It hurt sometimes, I scraped my knees. I maimed myself aiming to please. And then one day I lost my grip and slowly tumbled down. They shook their heads and turned their backs, lamenting all the things I lacked. And on the floor broken, lonely I knew I had to climb for me. So I set out again to climb, relying on myself this time. Although there’s still so much to do, this time I’ll breathe, enjoy the view.
‘You are chaos,’ he says, and I know what he means. I’m ecstatic, morose, little else in between.
Do you ever fear all the words have run out? The ideas wither, cannot weather the drought. Barren soul with no more rain. Until clouds overhead. Verdant lands, rich terrain.
Sometimes, when I run, I wonder what I‘m running from. I think of you just walking home, enjoying music on your own. And how he saw, and liked, and took, as if you weren’t a person too, and in those moments stole away all the life and light in you. And in that moment, as I run, I know what I am running from.
Every now and then someone reaches out to me, through cyberspace, to provide a word, sometimes a few, in homage to my face. And when they do I’m pleased they’ve seen through my writing, clever and gritty. Because in the end all a woman wants is a man to call her pretty.
Find the Time
When I came to write again after years of putting thoughts on hold I wrote for days, becoming weeks, and weeks which would become a year, which ultimately brought me here. So were the words that would not stop all the ones I’d bottled up? Or have I lost years of verse and rhyme for which I never found the time?
This house is faulty, it does not clean itself. Don’t tell me I’m mad, I know what I’ve seen on the television screen (constantly encrusted in dust, though I’ve dusted) when the ladies who lunch, and who work, and who shop have self-cleaning houses. You don’t see them mop or pick up a hoover or wash up the pots. And their floors they all sparkle, and their kids’ clothes pristine, though there’s no time for wash cycle between action scenes. So my house it is faulty and I wish to return, though I scrub and I polish, though I watch and I yearn at the end of the day I still stand in defeat, while the washing piles up and the kids need to eat.
As She Lived
When thirty came she would look back and would not mind the puppy fat, wishing she could wear it now to smooth the wrinkle on her brow. When sixty came then thirty seemed like women in the magazines. While glances in the mirror spoke of complexion ruddy, capillaries broke. At eighty she would rue the glow that lit her twenty years ago, and curse the fates that time somehow could only let her see that now. When death did find her, then bereft she gazed upon the shell it left and knew then that her chance was missed to love the woman as she lived.
In soak I wrinkle, water draws the words from pores. I scoop, skim the surface, finding verse to share, to claim. Pull the plug, what’s left runs down the d r a i n.
She thought it all a bit unfair, accused, at times, of morbid mind and creating characters who were subjected all to fates unkind. So out she set to write some words that would her reputation save, of happy endings not yet heard, of maidens fair, of heroes brave. And there she sat for longest time, musing ‘pon her newest task. Searching for those words so prime to show the good within at last. So then, in time, her task was done. With final pages left to scribe her willing broke, her patience too and nary a flea got out alive.
Poem for People with Very Specific Viewing Preferences
You are the Michael Douglas to my Catherine Zeta Jones. The Chloe to my Lucifer, the Seeley to my Bones. The Kevin to my grand design, the Frank to my Charlie. But do you think it possible we watch too much TV?
No Swearing, Please
Lady authors of the world don’t swear in your writing. Not even if it’s for effect or because it feels exciting. It might upset your father and make him act a twat. So that’s reason number one, you don’t want to deal with that. And reason number two, your husband won’t approve. Your expletives, although warranted, won’t put him in the mood. Now I know you’ll not believe it, and some of you will scoff, at first he might say it’s okay, but eventually he’ll fuck off. Reason three applies the most to all those single birds, don’t think a ring-less finger affords freedom with words. If ever you are courting, a bloke might think you’re thick if on first date you cuss and curse before jumping on his dick. So listen to me, women though I preach I mean it well. There’s reasons more now not to swear than to keep yourself from hell. The men out there don’t want to hear or read your sordid muck, so if you want to get ahead don’t swear, you stupid fuck.
Poem that is Definitely Only About the Dangers of Trains
Without hi vis vest thought I just might hurdle the fence as my God-given right.
It’s not the hardest choice, she thought, selecting visibility. Not the power the eyes afford in allowing one to look and see But to stand, one day, out in the crowd and for others to regard as such. A cliche yes, but given chance, she thought she was not asking much. Then when the sun arose that day, and crept in past the window sill, an empty feeling in her gut too rising was while she slept still. And when she woke it hounded her, and feeling would not be restored. Left with a g a p i n g emptiness. An ache beyond pain, a weight beyond bored. So, with resolve, her purpose clear, she rose to face the coming day. Dressing, gathering her things. Putting all her doubts away. Then striding out onto the bridge (where tourists gathered, homeless slept). quick. And, gazing out to nothing, railing, l the e on a up p climbed t. She So in the papers on that day (and in some local magazines), the girl’s last moments MADE THE FRONT! Crowds gathered at the tragic scene. But when the sun went down that night. Then next day‘s sun through window burned All superpowers went away, invisibility returned.
This woman is a twat, her lipstick ostentatious, she hasn’t blended her foundation, her gestures are vexatious. She’s dropping buzzwords like a boss, expertly seasoning her dross, and every time that soulless smile that does not reach her eyes. Watching her just hurts my head. Others know, they have to see. I think I’ll turn my camera off and face her when I brush my teeth.
To create is as to birth, they said, but I felt I was misled when the words flowed out of me, like water. And I did not scream. And my breath came in normal cadence. And my nails ripped not my husband’s skin, which came as some relief to him. So I wonder if, once again, we do women a disservice.
Drinking water, clean. Medical care, affordable. Nutritional meals, regularly. Artichoke hearts, apparently.
'I lost my grandfather last week' you said, voice trembling as you spoke. I asked you if you'd checked the fridge where once I'd found your mislaid keys. You scowled, made clear you would dismiss my comment as distasteful joke. But then, on quest for midnight snack, I found him huddled with the cheese.