The road home


There is no home like place
Where every smile has a face
Distant grows the fondest heart
Soon it yearns to be apart

When every fake is just a smile
We’ve all been on the make a while
Fighting for a place back home
Where we can eat and drink alone

Provided nothing is completed
Can I retire undefeated?
Softer grows the strongest heart
My angel, I don’t know my part.

We build mountains


We build mountains
from increments of time and motion:
timetables and places, placements,
placemats, play dates, the peripheries
and spaces where we keep the instruments
of living, sleeping, weaning, cleaning,
cluttered cadences and frequencies;
the sinusoidal blip of the commute, drip
drip of that annoying tap that’s never fixed,
forever fixed as a nostalgic milestone;
the friends we keep on promising to meet
and decades later still keep promising;
the turning moons and spinning constellations,
quantum clocks of choruses and choirs,
catechisms, cradles, graves, procrastinations,
precious rituals of likes and leftovers
all generously layered upon layer.

We build a mountain,
living in its shadow, even as the
other side is redolent with sunset.
Once, we hike up to the crest to see
the horizon before it eats the evening sky.

Railside promenade (revisited)

Songs of the Everyday

They painted it in blood rust red.
As if the orphan weed that crawls
out of the cracks of broken brick
beneath the corrugated sky
is not already eloquent?
Step gingerly along the wet insides,
bearded brown stone spilling
its incontinence onto the concrete,
and keep turning to look back.

The handrail is pink and chipped,
like that Demonic Barbie’s nails
or old bald doll’s head on its spider’s legs.
Your soles sipping the slippery stone,
hold tight the reassuring plastic patina
of this, this parody of reassurance,
and as your hand shifts down its length
you give it, for the little that it gives,
a trail of your hard earned skin.

Beyond, the rain is bristling silently
against the disappearing signals,
the bridge spits into silent stillness,
salivating leaves clog the glistening
lines below like listless tongues.
Clack clack clack. Wet black lips
panting from behind the gaps,
watch as you turn and run
into their swallowing embrace.

Don’t touch, walk swiftly through.
We do not want to hurt you.

Image for Garden

Insomnia on a midsummer’s night


On a soft and silent summer’s night
the air is too still for anything.
There is a living garden
growing out of control out my head,
aromatic buds and tempting tendrils
tangled up in hydroponic fractals,
bastard molecules busying about
with their insatiable flitting and scratching
fleeing and returning to prod and probe
the tender buds and tendrils
irritating bone and tendon
fucking molecules.

Now and then they gather up to form
an avatar of black obsidian
to mark my anniversaries.
But the little bastards
fail to coalesce, and scatter
before I can be reborn.

From Frida Kahlo, with love.


From Frida Kahlo, with love.

See it here on Marty McConnell’s site

I don’t generally post others’ poems, but this one, courtesy of myfairvagabond, i really liked.

Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell
by Marty McConnell

leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses.
you make him call before
he visits. you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.

Time-lapse from my bed

Songs of the Everyday

Afterwards, he lay in bed writing a poem.
Outside, a wind played on the roof tiles.
The first snow had come today but it had cleared
and now the wind came blundering out like a drunkard,
slipping about on the icy roads and falling into bushes,
waking all the neighbours.

She asked him to turn off the light, she couldn’t sleep.
He lay in the dark with his hands behind his head,
watching the leafy shadows dancing on the ceiling.
She slept and slowly the night went quiet and still
and the angled strips of street-lit moonlight
crept steadily along the walls.

They had promised the comet of the century
but after all the noise nobody ever got to see it.
They said its course took it too close to the sun.
He knew the risks of getting too close to the sun.
But he would glance out the window when it was clear
just in case there was a miracle.

He spent most of Christmas in bed with a fever,
mountain peaks and fleeing suns spinning incessantly
as he cocooned himself in sweat inside the sheets.
Then on New Year’s Day he was woken by the boys
jumping on the bed, and she was tugging at the duvet,
“Good morning, wake up,” they said.


Songs of the Everyday

What could I have given you
but some words,
more collateral
on the debts incurred?

What could I have written?
Just another thought
in a gilded cage
that my pen has wrought.

What could I have told you
when you looked inside,
but the faded song
of imprisoned rhymes?

And would you hear the purpose
of those sad laments?
Add them to the pile
of unwrapped amends?

There’s a finger on my lips
and I know your smile,
and your gift to me
is another child.

Time-lapse from my bed II

Songs of the Everyday

Part 1

I worked late again. A snack and bed
at the terrible hour of midnight,
when the floorboards start to wake
as the house sinks down to sleep.

A hot water bottle under the duvet, I am
typing at another screen, small now,
never failing to appreciate the irony,
or is it double irony? I never could tell.

I typed for nights for months, or years,
cannot say. Wrote so many many words,
but when my son asked me, could not
explain what it was I did at work all day.

And by the end of the sixth day, my hands,
they feebly fell, and the tight black ball
that I had been, unfolded and spread out
like a fallen teardrop across the world.

It was that perfect spring day, full of air
and blue skies, and there was hope hiding
just around the corner. The leaves had not
sprouted but there were gliders circling the hill.

Part 2

I made pancakes for dinner on Easter’s eve.
We filled them with fried pork and artichokes
and scrambled eggs. I made two in the shape
of suns for the kids and the last one was a fish.

The boys made a worm hole in the garden.
That’s right, a hole for worms, filled with water,
but the worms would not come. I was busy
gardening. I promised I would help, tomorrow.

At five I wake from a dream and lie wide open,
memories fluttering out like butterflies, yearning
and sweet and full of regrets, full of things
unfinished and unbegotten and extraordinary.

Now the old village at the top of the hill
which we can see from the bedroom window
is a smudged orange halo, and gold rain
is pouring in, just like it did nine months ago.

What lovers do

Songs of the Everyday

Tell me then, what do lovers do?

They wait in the lobby of the hotel bar
in that leather chair with the ridiculously tall back
with a cocktail and roast almonds. They eat in Soho
and get hazelnut soufflé at l’Oranger in St James’s,
and then they dance and shout through the music
at some young hangout in town, not sure where,
and fall asleep at dawn, drunk and deaf and happy.
They walk together the green Derbyshire hills
with an ordnance survey map from the B&B
until they tire, and lose themselves on a goat trail
in the hills in one third world country or another
until a woman with a goat shows them the path
and gifts them oranges, or they escape the deluge
at the foot of the dunes and follow the flooded roads
until they reach the coast, he drives, she navigates…
He looks closely at her skin and hair and eyes
for signs, as they say goodbye in the morning,
the dunes and camels hanging on the kitchen wall,
but her eyes are averted and her arms are at her sides.
When he comes back, they tell each other about
the day’s events over simple dinner and some wine,
and they sit on the big old brown leather sofa
and get to know each other again.
They fall asleep, hands locked under the duvet.

So tell me, what do lovers do?