Sunday, September 23, 2012

A long time coming

Sidney Speaking

You were always older than any of us expected,
sallow since the first photograph;
hair glowing translucent through the dimness and the dark,
red curtains showing through the back of you
while a sunset tries to flood the gaps between your bones.

I heard your voice today
growing into the room and rusting as it reached us.
You would have loved to know, we said,
just how much we’ve all grown
since those old bones were flooded.
You’d have loved to know
how many of us have your brow or don’t.
You didn’t crackle in the past
where my mother sounded small –
you were our giant, gently creaking,
and would have loved to know.


Flies are all over your living memory
and you’re disappearing like a dot to dot in reverse.
I play and reply what’s nearly your voice,
but in truth it could be anyone’s.
It’s just another part that couldn’t be photographed.
And if I was the double of your lost daughter
I wasn’t to know.
If you’d left through the screaming front door again
you might have been the one to brush my daughter’s hair
so it wouldn’t pull.
Our family might have made four of a kind
with youngest and oldest oddly aligned,
but fear of modern space and the noise that fills it
creased your face until you felt it –
crossed out crows’ tracks from each smile,
powdered you magnolia pale
and it was decided.


The sea is not just a shade of blue
but the cracked mirror of a monster.
In this lasting mood
where arm spans muddle to make a truth,
where the yarn splits double
we can be a little bit new –
hand print on Earth’s most frozen mountain,
human ash strewn over secret snows.
One can never corrupt the other
because the mountain has moved to marry the two.
In this lasting mood
you melt the wax onto the rare fabric
we have found to live through.

Open Windows or The Maximum

With the weather almost finding itself,
the rain always beside itself,
our skylight’s been homing the night inside.
The weather’s been dropping in like the friend
who mistakes politeness for patience,
who doesn’t know
when there’s blind comfort to be found in code.
Each morning is as old as all our yesterdays:
it’s been eleven days since I touched your back,
sure palm on safe plains,
lost map between landmarks of shoulder blades.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


From the other side of the wall

Like iron filings to a magnet, fingerprints cling to matchsticks
as you flick them curving inside a cold cathedral.
The glow dies out before hitting dry bricks
and you lose all hope of illumination.
But in the huge echoed empty I feel you murmur
and you’re no further away than you ever were.


On a clear day I can see home from here,
if I climb high enough –
or I’ll inhale the pennies from the river bed
every time I’m low enough.

The ever shifting copper sings me out of here,
rattling through my hair
like rickety fingers running through,
always pointing West.

Sometimes the night belongs to me,

like poppies spreading themselves
against a backdrop swollen blue –
red gone to sunburnt rust –
the creaking furniture,
paint flecked,
filling Summer’s first garage.

Being Quiet

It was Winter when you moved in –
3 am would stick in my throat
like it was my very own
and the roads were all resistant.

You had every reason to be real to me
and I wanted to be quiet without distance.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oldies replenished and restored.

Illuminated From Within

With the final chime of the grandfather clock
choice words, warm as mittens,
witter from between white teeth –
flighty moths escaping into the dark
carrying your life’s dust on their wings.
Straight as they go towards the sticky glow
of a bulb that nestles in my ribcage
swelling and shrinking comfortably –
a sponge for light particles.
Glittering stalagmite from the base of my belly
means we’ll never go hungry again.
Like all the wasps’ whispers in the pollen
your life rubs against mine.

Blind Spot

When the whiplash of your ideas
escaped like loose kite tails
I saw that familiar image
of someone fidgeting in a library
sitting tight on prickling feet
thinking hard, tongue against teeth,
learning ways to capture
those dancing kite strings,
those lost lanterns.

Your futures went like quick little fish in a rock pool.

I tried calm,
sought out all the possibilities of our alphabet
easily missed.

Then I remembered your outline.
The in between belonged to you
and I was calm as I never was,
knowing the coordinates of the blind spot
black dot where the backs of us cracked open
into the searing white –
where all the mouths and eyes
in unison
exploded and were lost.


Looking up at The Plough that hovers above the house I grew up in
I realise that someday not far from now
you might kill a man
to get out of a situation you’ll be stuck in.
As plainly as the kitchen clock speaks,
I wonder if you’ll ever have to choose between
running backwards and admitting defeat.
You’ve been taking photographs on a low shutter speed
of a city I don't know any better than I know you;
I can’t assume much about how you are,
whether anything means the same to you as it does to me,
but just take care,
walk steady holding hands with the other seven, please.


I’m rolling wholly up
in the stuff that makes you real,
feeling blindly for twins for these limbs
cold pinned with Braille
where they should be new egg smooth.
Never bored with
kaleidoscopic shapes of thoughts
caught, undulating
beneath the highest sky
from a place where
miles ago we collide.

7am. I am.

Letting the sober morning street carry me
carrying you, clambering back
to when we had an hour alone –
through seven o’clock’s slow attempt at snow,
in throbbing neon
today reads Welcome Home.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One and the other eleven

Bare foot round the back of a house
walls too tight for twelve
you were photographed behind your brother’s shoulders
held and mothered by your sister
now a grandmother.

Tales took shape there
of breaking bottles against concrete
making green glass shake into dust like sugar –
tales of little boys
vaulting high fences, propelled by the spring of fear
from angry dogs salivating.
The barking seemed enormous to you then,

these tales were ticklish to me when –
that defiant cow’s lick never sitting flat
tiny twist turn you gave up correcting
years before my brother and I
made for ungrateful babies with untidy hair
offering daily confirmation of all our kindred faces.

There is so much fallen dust
blanketing with your old brother’s last letters.
I picture you watching him drift towards the March mist.
Now he thickens the ground
surrounding my brother’s long left shoe,
the one you weren’t to notice turning
light and loose on the breath
of the nobody who knew.

Your brother, my brother
all too close for sight –

yours, the one who couldn’t last the Spring through,
curled up behind heavy doors,
left room for a small one to flourish into next April,
and he’d be mine, and his, and ours.

And you may never photosynthesise into your mother’s child
like the other eleven –
you were never fully exposed to her direct rays,
her softest feelers always searching,
just missing you in the shade.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


With the gasping pauses in vapour trails above us
you are intermittent.
And I'm in love with being stuck

left to decipher the paper trails between breaths
in this morse code you left.
I'm just one of the dumbstruck many

one without the capacity to sound this one out
without the reach to meet
the almost touchable outline
of the platform from which you speak.

And you speak
from where your corners folded in on themselves
where someday preceding this
you could have yelled.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thinking Smaller

My Familiar

I remember you much smaller
hiding behind the same blue curtain,
I was seeking you, the same old person
I thought I ever was,
scared that our familiars
wouldn't warm to who I believed I was to be,
knowing you were already
greener, healthier than me.
You were much smaller then,
but like the bulb through a pinhole
I was older then
my future passing on a foot sole.

Keeping away from the grey

Like the deflating bouncy castle
soft blocks of primary colour busting into the afternoon
the moment the party's first parent says,
'I think it's time we made a move.'

Like, aged nine, when I stopped believing
in the fairies living in my friend's back garden
who left messages between halves of torn blades of grass
in a language only she could read -

like that sad whistling heap of empty canvas,
a beast too bright for his colour blindness,
like the old garden absentees
I let you down.

Colours dispersed behind us,
tiny tens of toes
and made up pairs of wings
decoded unsaid things
and became us.

Monday, January 2, 2012

When the branches began to fall

A Mutual Frenzy

That day hasn't resonated so much until today
when some zebra crossing in the city caught you
in its stripes like a wobbly mother's arms,
like the only forgiving limb of the road.
That day almost a year ago that I'm still trying to swallow -
you felt crazy, you said -
there was no one else around
and the fear had manifested in the both of us,
sunk so quiet, secret,
took on some shape like reckless hilarity,
some bone tickling impulse that shook our
little home like barley
but we both felt its tremors as music.
The wind outside was up or it was flat,
the river urged on past -
phlegm of everything we wanted to forget.
You felt crazy, you said
and I didn't reply until afterwards.
You systematically found a chair,
removed your clothes, wore a towel.
You sat side on,
back to the bath, calculated and blood sugar fuelled
as killing yourself.
And I didn't reply -
I gathered a good two feet of the hair you'd grown so long
in case you ever lost it,
you'd grown so you'd know where to find it;
the hair I'd poured over my own head in wonder,
made you laugh with, worn as a scarf indoors with,
the hair you wouldn't let just anybody touch,
made you feel weird, you said.
You felt crazy, you said, and I didn't reply until I'd
held those two feet that were no more
a part of you than your wrist watch,
until I'd taken the kitchen scissors you so fervently
offered, cut the creature dead to fall between my two feet
like sawdust. No reward for hunger.
I just want you to let me share your sadness, I said.