Hallelujah

Fire and Ice

This was last year’s attempt at a Christmas poem, and it didn’t exactly come out very jinglebellsy – although it does use the word “Christmas”! With this in mind, I’m keeping it well away from Christmas and posting it in May. Enjoy!

Hallelujah

The angel stood on the patio,

his feathers buttered and heavy.

He was not the angel we’d had in mind.

He was winter with a blown halo.

 

He was the sum of our moods – hot and popping,

spitting in fire like pigskin.

He was white ash and burnt marshmallow,

crick-cracking. His smile was an ice-flow.

 

He turned once. He kept turning.

He was a Christmas fairground.

We threw roasting-nuts. We won nothing –

just the sizzle-spin of his eyebrow.

 

Round and round, wings greasy,

muscles strained, steaming and sallow,

he yelled like a Mexican wrestler

until the hail came. Hallelujah. 

 

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

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Mother to Mother

It’s surprising how often one or two words can spark a whole poem. In a workshop, I was encouraged to think about or research some wonderful words to do with the shore. It was actually the words “chert and flint” which sparked this poem – and no, they’re not a pair of 1970s detectives, they’re the materials found in pebbles such as these in Seatown, Dorset.

The resulting poem, “Mother to Mother” is told in the voice of that great mother, the sea. She is speaking to a human mother, who may or may not be me. 😉

Beach at Seatown, Dorset

Mother to Mother 

At my shore, where you are drawn to grow lighter,
I load my spring currents with new stones to shine.
I grab steely chert,
pale flint with pleasing speckles,
nuggets of crumby sea-wall.
They are mine. They are mine.

As you lift your teary son from his waterlogged wellies,
you smile at how weighted his jacket now is
with stripey-lined feldspar
and palm-ready axe-heads:
soothing jewels to line his bed with.
They are his, they are his.

Some days, I admit, I take swipes of red cliff-mud,
with or without a caravan thrown in.
But I am a caretaker,
a guardian of mixed treasures.
I smooth jagged edges.
We are kin, we are kin. 

This poem was first published by Reach Poetry (Indigo Dreams Publishing).

The workshop that inspired this poem was run by the very inspiring Anna Saunders.

Photo by me, at Seatown in 2021. One day later, the cliff you can see behind the rocks collapsed in an enormous landslip, hence the “swipes of red cliff-mud”. The boy on the rocks belongs to me 😉

 

 

Oxbow

This poem was written for a “Geography” themed issue of the poetry journal Allegro Poetry. And so, living the dream, I was able to write about the profound sadness of a relationship break-up, whilst drawing metaphors from my GCSE Geography days. Awesome.

Oxbow

We meet by the river
on a Wednesday lunchtime,
to the disapproval of your dry wife.

Sandwiches are eaten
from square lunchboxes,
and we talk about the shapes we used to make –
but not all of them.

“Do you remember,” you say,
“how you used to come out with my words
before I’d even thought them?”

And I think about the river, and how,
when it curls round and finds only itself,
there is a reckoning.
A cutting of the slack.

 

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Autumn in a Call Centre

 

Just an everyday workplace tale…

Autumn in a Call Centre

 

When the boss gave out autumn in home-made envelopes,

sour yellow and sellotaped,

the Success Team withered.

“But we stuck to the script,” they choked.

 

The boss said nothing, but stood

scratching her back against the photocopier,

her breath a hot slug of paprika.

HR looked up a policy, then shrugged.

 

When they opened the envelopes, November knifed them 

with its stiff north-easterlies,

red maple leaves spreading from their chests.

They dropped to the floor, rotting.

 

The boss stepped over them in her wide-fit stilettos,

her face waxy, like a butternut squash.

“The shoes,” she hissed. “You all wore the wrong shoes,”

and she walked out into the April sky, wheezing. 

 

 

An earlier version of this poem (then called “Autumn in an Envelope”) was published by Snakeskin Poetry.

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Pillowdrunk

These days, on Friday nights, are you drunk? Or are you pillowdrunk?

Pillowdrunk

The last thing you drank was tea,
it bubbles and stews in your centre,
the saucer swings, and you blend to
leaf-patterned fug. You see,
you’re drunk on a breath of dark,
thrown by the shape of your pillow,
skin down to blood down to marrow,
heaving. Blankets start
to swaddle your reeling heart,
snagging you safe for the journey,
but sleep doesn’t come. Too early.
You’ve waves to ride. You are
red sand on a roaming dune
ready to scatter and fall,
a sailor with nowhere to call,
a fish in the cup of the moon
waiting to drown.

 

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Nettle

Ah, nettles. August walks wouldn’t be the same without these special friends would they? Grrr.

Stinging nettle

Nettle

Nettle…
after the apocalypse,
you, with your pain suit and your stealth roots
will survive –
a zig-zag scrap of hope
(at least for the butterflies).
But, though I know you to be
a sleeping saviour,
unwavering in the face of eco-calamity,
I still loathe you.
Viscerally.

There you stand, waist-high,
all shouty trousers,
the glad-swaggering big I,
your two-bit tendrils lunging brashly –
just an overgrown irritant
acting rashly.

And beside you,
the dreary dock leaves
paddle-faced and dead-eyed
clutch their scout badges tight and simper:
We’re really VERY sorry.
Come, crush our worthless bodies
to ease your blisters.

 

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Image by analogicus from Pixabay

Blooming

Bang!

This week I have been mostly… blowing up all the pretty flowers! Or rather, they  have been blowing themselves up in some sort of petal-strewn apocalypse. This poem featured on the lovely blog The Wombwell Rainbow this week, but I thought I’d share the fireworks here too.

Blooming

A celandine went first,
and if we had ever looked, we would have known
it was a freeze-frame of a live firework,
we would have expected
the violence that sparked from the inside out,
the heat petalling sweetly,
each stamen springing a hellmouth.

A rose caught,
thorns spitting pop-pop-pop from the stem,
the leaves crisping, and as an afterthought,
the buds, like charged kisses,
lipped the flames to ragwort and vetch.
An oxeye daisy burst,
white-hot in its eagerness.

We dialled nine-nine-nine,
we called the press, but our words burned away,
and as day bloomed into evening time,
the honeysuckle, its lashes
glowing in the last light of the sun,
tipped a long wink to Venus
and blew like an H-bomb.

 

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Artwork by Thomas Suisse on Pixabay.

Back To Me

Nothing wrong with a little feel good poem from time to time…

Back to Me

This my nothing-happy,
my stone-faced bliss,
this is my sweet release
from grinning artifice.
I am floating on zero,
life-sloughed and stuff-free,
I am guileless, I am tribeless,
I am back to me.

 

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Bellows

You are supposed to mellow as you get older. I have not. I am barely able to watch the breakfast news any more, for fear of whichever condescending windbag politician is to be wheeled out at 7:30 to trot out the party line. For fear of the rage they will provoke!

So! Today, instead of breakfast news, I am posting my little poemy rant. Enjoy!

Bellows

Hand him a twitch to wake the bag,
breathe him a wind and watch him blow!
His leathery skin will show no marks,
the flames need fuel and bellows.

Offer him up to breakfast news,
pipe him a phrase and watch him blow!
his spasming mouth will puff and squeal –
the flames are fuelled by bellows.

Now cycle it out to the populace!
Pump up their passions and watch them blow
and blurt on their garrulous timelines; feed
the flames with fuel and bellows.

And when some commission arrives to prise
his apertures open – watch them blow!
Why, empty has nothing to answer for.
The flames need fools and bellows.

This poem was first published in the May 21 edition of Snakeskin:  www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk

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Image by suju-foto from Pixabay

A Short One

Dating dating dating. Ah, the fun, the joy, the humiliation, the hollowness of rejection. I met my husband fourteen years ago so it’s been a while – but I’m sure if you’re single it also feels about fourteen years since you were able to date normally. Rubbish.

So, to remind you of the  ups and downs, here’s a poem about the tedious joy of being attracted to someone who’s most definitely not marriage material. Much has been written about falling for the bad boy – but what about falling for the dull boy?

A Short One

You’re not much to look at
My body says hot
Borderline dull
My libido says not
My friends think you’re average
(I checked)
I’m literally aching
I’m wrecked

We kiss in a nightclub
I’m painfully willing
Our fling is like curry
Spicy and filling
My body’s a twist
A sigh
You bore me to tears
Bye bye

Bored

 

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Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash