Friday 30 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #30 - It's too dark for cats

It’s too dark for cats

Eiders were an answer in the crossword today
and I remembered ducks and how they shout with every wingbeat
as if protesting their innocence to the air. And then I looked them up
and we are their predators along with peregrine falcons
who don’t use their feathers for duvets, but may do for nests.

I’ve seen a lot of ducks around lately, and have even sought them out.
I’ve laid trails of grain to attract them, and taken photo after photo of them sleeping.

Thursday 29 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #29 - How to be a fashion designer

How to be a fashion designer

Take in all the angles, by which we mean those of limbs
as well as light. Infringe the privacy of anyone you can
with their measurements. Reach a deal with the sky –
it has your career in its sights. Record colours you feel
as abstract feelings and tantalising flavours of macaroon.
Remember the best temperature of the year. Aspire to it.

Don’t let the body be recovered, even after many years,
and make sure any memoir is frayed. We are not saying
you must control what it is of you that’s seen,
but you must control what it is of you that’s seen.
Blurry is better, but keep the material in sharp relief
on other people’s tits. Don’t be afraid. Cut, cut, cut.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #28 - Phone calls

Phone calls

It was not busy as we talked, and no-one could hear
save you, who stood with one eye on duty and one on me,
your face filling up with concern. You were not the first

I had told but the third, and this was reflective
of where you stood with your back to the room
and your two feet still on the wooden floor.

Excitement filled my lungs almost as quickly as the words
on the cool night air as I walked home alone, one ear
on the chatter of a homecoming, one on the swish of trees

Tuesday 27 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #27 - I spend National Tapir Day at a zoo...

I spend National Tapir Day at a zoo, but do not realise the significance of the date until I get to the tapir enclosure late in the day.

There was never any question of the shape of their snouts but
as a flexible version of a nose
perfectly at odds with their surprising heft,
it does not seem unreasonable of me to
require a demonstration before I leave. None is forthcoming,

though the creatures are less than a metre
away and there is
plenty of food for them to be snuffling out
in this sorry excuse for a tapir

Monday 26 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #26 - Possession


I woke to the news that you’d given your parrot
to the gas-man. The only impact left to me
is other people’s reaction to the news.

I remember possessions like water to you
– so easy to give away. A room
with piles of alphabetised CDs and a clean, fresh bed

hardly slept in. False wings up high in the corner.
There is no surprise left in your disappearance
and even the parrot, so I’ve heard lately, has unlearnt your name.

Sunday 25 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #25 - The threats hang like stone-coloured clouds

The threats hang like stone-coloured clouds

Behave. If you don’t behave, you’ll get no
That’s not yours, is it? No, it isn’t.
icecream. No, or pop.

So sorry, he seems to have a mind of his own when it comes to

Don’t put that in your mouth! It’s
whether or not to listen.

dirty. See? Not nice having sand in your
Get away from the dogs!
teeth, all gritty. Yuck.

I don’t think they want to eat sand from your spade
Don’t pick up other people’s rubbish. Oh,
and they might think it’s okay to eat you.

okay, well, don’t play with it – let’s just dig a hole
The sea does sound like it’s roaring, doesn’t it?
and bury it there. Go on, dig!

Saturday 24 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #24 - An old flame walks past wearing red sunglasses

An old flame walks past wearing red sunglasses

There are nets to keep the pigeons
from the sandstone windowsills but nobody looks up.
They are all on the pavement warmed by the sun
save one man in a hurry in the shade,
and the postie is in his short-sleeved shirt – the second
I’ve seen today. And aren’t there so many roads to cross?

A protective dad rests his arms across a small girl’s shoulders;
a woman slips her hand into her lovers as they step from the curb.
I must be the only one still in this city today, the only one watching
-- except a blonde-haired boy rushed by his push-along parents catches my eye
and won’t let go. I feel seen and wonder if they do:
this man leaving William Hill with a slip as long as his muscled forearm,
this well-dressed teenage boy in the back of a topdown car,
this girl only just small enough for her pram.

And across the road, waiting, there are so many secondhand guitars for sale,
and all of them affordable.

Friday 23 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #23 - Naturalist


And here she lies in an unnatural habitat,
naked and fully aware of her surroundings.
She sits in one pose whilst many others, mostly of the opposite sex,
scratch around on what looks like paper,
using crude mark-making implements like burnt sticks
or chunks of white rock, seemingly trying to depict
what they see. How extraordinary,
and if we take a closer look – they don’t seem to mind us
stepping in, as long as we don’t break their concentration –
no one picture is the same.

Hang on,
there’s a pause. Maybe if I step in to the centre,
careful not to touch this enchanting central creature,
close enough for some of them to see...
yes, there you go. They’re even drawing a version of me.

Thursday 22 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #22 - Out on the hills

Out on the hills

Flinching from the squaw of a crow,
a man rubs rust the colour of spicy peppers
from the gate post he was leaning on.
Sounds seem closer to him today
than other days, and the smell of seasons changing
might be on the wind. He wouldn’t know.

He isn’t fooling anyone with trainers like that
on terrain like this, and the sign might have said
this way but now he is more-or-less lost.
More or less of anything would not be desirable,
he thinks, as the fierce light glints on the rustle of grass.
Things are unsustainable – he has not thought

ahead and brought lunch, or a jumper – but
he finds himself unable to contemplate change.
So much so that he’s dizzy with the thought of it:
all that stuff that might cascade
without a moment’s notice; all this space
to lose it in and nowhere to hide.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #21 - And so we arrive at the imperfections

And so we arrive at the imperfections

This means my underarm hair is growing back.
It also means that you’ve caught me
in more than one position of which I would be unhappy
if you’d taken a picture. You haven’t taken a picture.

There is nothing perfect about trust.
There is also nothing perfect about the way my brain lurches
around new-found corners using your words
and passing them off as my own.

I have my eye on you. Just so I can count
the imperfections, you understand, as qualities
it seems easy to overlook. I will not reveal them
given all the exuberantly fruity chocolate money can buy.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #20 - I'm a fuckin' hero

I’m a fuckin’ hero

But who do they think they are, putting me here?
Do you know what I’ve done? Nothing,

and there you are, mapping desirable characteristics
of your own onto my flexible nose. There are snots up there

and I am still human with a predisposition for falling
from high places. Watch out down there.

Monday 19 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #19 - The logistics

The logistics

I am trying to control the speed of my heart
and you are not helping with that throwaway comment
and my ground is shaking and the words
have not found a way out of my mouth yet,
but they are forming. There is nothing stopping us.

Agreement turns into symptoms
I will list for you later (nausea, twitching, a quickening)
but right now I am forming denial around logistics
I've been adding up in the absence of a plan.

Sunday 18 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #18 - I am like a cat

I am like a cat

But I am not who you think I am and I have two names
as well as a problem. Perhaps even three, though you will never know
what I call myself. I have the feline qualities you all desire

in a creature. That wiggle just before I pounce is adorable,
so I’m told, and I play rough but with my claws in. Mostly.
So many people state independence as strength.

I am loathe to disagree except, really, it is the neediness you crave –
with a contrast so it all appears worthwhile. I don’t mind pretending,
but what does this say about you?

Saturday 17 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #17 - She asks a question

She asks a question

And she keeps on standing, expecting
some sort of answer from posture, even,
or sigh. And his face remains still and his heart
is pounding out of sight when he opens his mouth
to cough. And she is already hurting
though it’s hard to tell, and the grip that he has
is more than the fact it is raining outside.
And the distance between them keeps growing
and stretching and yawning whilst neither of them moves

except for the blinking delivering tears
down one of their cheeks. Will you let me go?
she ventures again but the rain keeps falling
and they can’t move and the beige walls
they decided on years ago look like only the sun can cheer them
if only it shone. And she stays unanswered
and he still won’t speak though he moves to leave the room.

And if only the physical proximity they shared
had anything at all to do with it.

Friday 16 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #16 - Café


Here the cups stick around for longer
and the coffee may as well bend time
in its inky depths. We all feel taller
for eating here and it is not just our ears
that keep growing as we natter on
about each others’ weaknesses.
There are no clocks but that is not all
there is lacking: there are no children either,
just the elderly and those with a lust
to wile away the sort of time a child has
forever to realise. To re-enter the world
is to realise how short everything else must be.
Even my feet seem longer,
my toes more able to take the weight.

Thursday 15 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #15 - The comfort of endless scrutiny

The comfort of endless scrutiny

Occasional birds snap my eyes across a sterile white-out sky
I see through high-set windows. This room is monotony,
rows of bottles with labelled content and goggles
reflecting strip-light white.

A clatter brings me back and we are driven to sudden words
though it is nothing that will stick. My memories
are like the distant windows: so far above the day-to-day
they seem experimental, avant-garde.

What I will remember are days like these flayed bodies
in exacting standards of sterility, dreams of white-walled rooms
and so many little pieces of thought, gathered
in a bleak and chemical silence.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #14 - Holiday equipment

Holiday equipment

I have decided to take two cameras              – two cameras to carry, you say
because it reflects more readily                    despite my sore shoulders
what I might see with my own two eyes        and I welcome the distraction.
One is for instant frames of nostalgia           One is to fill with pictures
we will gaze at just after the event               with our faces smiling from a recent past
that we can barely remember                        that will still have the power to surprise
however much we look at them                     on our return, and months after.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #13 - Poem beginning with a line from Norman Dubie

Poem beginning with a line from Norman Dubie  

In the near field, an idle, stylish horse raised one leg  
and brought it down, with some force, onto the ground.  

The ground was hard that day, from hours drying in the sun,  
and the tremor made a dull noise that roused the sparkling bees

from the daisies they had been feasting on nearby.
And because they were roused from their small-scale feast

we were sorry for them and remembered how hard it must be
for a bee in this world we are creating for everything

with our concrete, our chemicals, our countless untold wonders
of technology. And because, all of a sudden, we were worried

our own food lost its appeal and we left it resting, while we thought,
on the spotty blanket where we sat. And it was sweet and so a wasp came by

getting high on sugar, grooving its stripy legs to music
only the nearby molecules could hear. In the next field

the idle, stylish horse had stopped stamping and was eating its hay again.
The bees had settled and we went back to our cake, waving the wasp away.

Monday 12 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #12 - The chair sang to us like an old music box

The chair sang to us like an old music box

We didn’t mind the chair, it was as it was and there was no changing it.
What really got us was how the whole house spoke in tongues:
cabinets tinkling and string chords echoing through pipes we thought empty for decades.

Even new objects took on the music once we were all moved in: a chorus of trumpets
from the mop and bucket, all quiet like it almost wasn’t there.
None of us believed in ghosts, but as the walls rattled a washboard rhythm
we would look at each other, startled, trying to decipher intent from the notes.

We never wrote it down, never tried to record it. Perhaps we fancied that in the house’s tongues
there was a message of delight through the major chords – or pain in the minors –
too personal for any equipment to track. Like intruders we’d tiptoe from room to room,
cocking our heads at the slightest tune, refusing to hang pictures, play music, wear shoes.

The house, in the end, took its toll on us. Living a silent life
was never something any of us had planned. Now we keep our shoes on and sing.
I still keep an ear out, though, when it’s quiet at night. I’m sure I’ve heard the armchair join in.

Sunday 11 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #11 - Decaffeinated over you

Decaffeinated over you

I didn’t choose you because of your affect on my heart
and its quickly quickly. You keep me up
past bedtime and I don’t like that, sweetie.
You make me need you once a day, five times.

I don’t like how much control you have when I do say yes,
or how it comes that I rely on you to do that.
And so this time I didn’t choose you, darling, this time
I chose a softly softly version with a lack of sting to my heart.

And you, you don’t even know what it is to want or need
but I’m sorry, honeybunches. Sorry nonetheless.
I didn’t choose you this time because you give me palpitations
but when they calm again I will be back in touch.

Saturday 10 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #10 - On a birthday night out

On a birthday night out

Balloons and a short-stemmed daffodil
someone had rescued on the way, its head
lying loved between the pint glasses. A bunch of cards
propped on the tables and a glass of wine.
Some empty chairs. Some low-level music in a shared venue.

More than one conversation about your nipples.
You said you know who your friends are
on a birthday night out
and I knew what you meant.

Friday 9 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #9 - The family waits

The family waits

They sat still in winter coats like limp marionettes
alone with thoughts of their own dampening armpits.
Outside even the puddles were frozen thicker than your finger,
stowing winter underneath. Cold enough to make the memories stick
like blackcurrant jam. In here they gathered as if a campfire blared
from the chimneystack, all staring at the blackened grate. All still.
Somewhere in their collective memories a fiddle played
against the strum of a guitar and the room,
filled with the bruise of winters past, shifted slightly.
The snow fell in sheets on the city winds, shaking the windows and doors.

Thursday 8 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #8 - Perhaps he is

Perhaps he is

a waterproof coat, an extra blanket,
new shoes which never hint at blistering
the whitened skin on the soles of my feet.

The whitened skin on the soles of my feet
does not know how lucky it is
not to know blistering.

Perhaps he is homemade gloves or
the signature which does not say my name
but whose loops and Ms seem to spell me out.

I do not have Ms in my name
and I cannot remember a time without handmade gloves
since learning to cast on, cast off.

Perhaps he is the ring of the bells
someone brought back from India for me
and their gentle song every morning by my bedroom door.

I had not thought of them as singing until now,
but as an annoyance that might wake others
as I leave the room early to shower.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #7 - they had been standing kissing

they had been standing kissing

a blue cardigan and a black toggle coat
the click of tangled buttons
they stumble closer trying to undo the mess
she is thinking how smooth his face is on hers
and about the love of another

Tuesday 6 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #6 - So many birds, and all of them oblivious.

So many birds, and all of them oblivious

Dinosaur feet. And what if their own evolution spoke?
What could it say? It would have the voice of a goose,

perhaps, or softly softly pigeon. How about this one,
where the swan is set against the backdrop of a frozen lake.

Beautiful, but what is speaking? The ice, this time?
The broken bottle? The cold webbed toes of a royal white bird

tired of swimming? Or is it me, in all of them,
and my awkward frame or too-quick summing-up.

So many birds, and all of them oblivious,
and all of them just sitting there, or swimming.

Monday 5 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #5 - Poetry as possession

Poetry as possession

I carry them with me, these beasts
of magic. There is only room for six:
we all have our favourites. Possession
is overstatement and there is no guarantee;

they change with the moods of things
with the state of the weather
with however it is they conceal themselves
when my back is turned.

There is no leaving them behind now
they’re in from the cold, balled up in my pocket
where they click together like marbles
with the swing of my walk.

Sunday 4 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #4 - At the edge of outerspace

At the edge of outerspace

Pulling 5 Gs in the upper troposphere
he reminds himself how easy it would be,
how flimsy this all is, to punch a hole
straight through to outerspace.

No-one would notice at first except
all the greenest tips of the tallest trees
would start to flutter, break free and travel upwards
towards the hole. Soon clothes from drying lines
and paper waste would gust up too, and whole plants
with their root foundations waving.
Eventually, with one last gasp
of the escaping oxygen, our own bodies
drifting up and out, we’d look down
at a barren world in wonder
of what kept us there so long.

Saturday 3 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #3 - Grilled hamster feet

Grilled hamster feet

I used to lie awake with worry of what to save
if the house caught fire: a whole cage
plus hamster or armfuls of possessions

- warm clothes, some shoes, a painting of a horse;
photograph albums, novels to read,
sketchbook; my favourite duvet cover - instead.

Indecision and consequence. I might sleep
by the time the fear has faded enough to ignore
but my dreams are of grilled hamster feet,

the blackened stripes of hot metal bars scored deep.
And all the saved things hugged close in the night outside,
the smell of singed fur drifting through the heat.

Friday 2 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #2 - Realtime Weather Processor

Realtime Weather Processor

And so it has finally come to this:
a sudden sense of freedom from the wind in my hair.

My eyes water with the gust of it but here I am
on my way; runny-nosed and full of courage,

volumes of air all on my side. My skirt
is a contradiction of directions

but today everything travels with me,
even the storm-heavy clouds.

Thursday 1 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #1 - Way Out

Way out

They say he comes from California, a head of
close-cropped hair and a passion for the novae
of the Milky Way. Trapped in his own perspective
with his eyes to the stars, they say he is immovable
and compromise-free, the sparkle of desire on his skin.

Looking up from my own head glue I catch sight
of him glistening out of context, eyes down. There is a moment:
denial but no way out. They say a lot of things about us
but it just boils down to love: he loves everybody
and me. We are sky-bound on my trust that it’s enough.