Friday, 29 April 2016

The Meteorology of a Heart

The Meteorology of a Heart.
(day 29 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

I remember the weather. The way the snow stalled in its falling, as confused by your cawing as me. How it stood to attention as you laughed. Like you were its commander, a controller of blizzards. Maybe the enrapture it felt for you was because of your freckles. Imagining themselves formed from sunlight, formed from warmth. That was when their sticking began. You laughed and laughed as they clung to your coat, your hair. Committed themselves to a melting on the tip of your hot tongue. Just more daft creatures quick to surrender to the dizzy exhilaration of being with you.

I remember the weather. How the butterflies battled the winds, battled the leaves. How the cemetery blistered at your passing - a fiery seepage infecting all the trees. Even the pathways politicalised themselves. Cracked and separated, unwilling to unite in the ache of your absence. The grave markers raised their fangs at the sobbing, snarled a gale through the bags of flesh that sagged in the pews.  The wicker coffin wept for what it was cradling. Wove itself mythological around a snuck-in spliff and the audacity of your soul as it unsutured. Became air and everything - the loneliness deflating my lungs.

I remember our weathers. North winds and sand storms. The drizzle of vixens, the blaze of zebras. Frost in the corners, keeping the cobwebs shivering. Sunlight kitted out in waistcoats, keeping the mountains shimmering. Thunder and lightning above fields of wheat, the unravelling of stalks beneath the continents of our feet. Battalions of angels rumbling the Transvaal. Dog daisies by the storyful, haunting the roots of a heart. The mizzle that saturates everything since the maelstrom of your death.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Ask the Harebells

 Ask the Harebells, they will know.
(day 26 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

“Daddy, where is my mammy?
My heart’s gone wonky on me.
It keeps banging, trying to empty.”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“Daddy, my eyes keep leaking.
Do we need to ask the plumber
to fix me, like mammy’s washer?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“Daddy, I cannae fall asleep.
There’s a strange noise on the heath.
Not wind, nor sheep. What is it?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“Why are we off to the woods
with your sharp, heavy shovel?
Are we looking for saplings

to pinch to put in our garden?
Won’t we get wrong for that?
Daddy. Where’s mammy gone?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

“The clarts in my mouth make me choke.
The rain above’s unending, I’m sad.
Daddy, daddy, this ground’s so cold.

Why do you leave me here, in this hole?
Is that mammy you’ve laid me next to?
Mammy, oh mammy! Is that really you?”

Ask the harebells, they will know.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Periphery Visions, in Hindsight

Periphery Visions, in Hindsight. (day 25 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

'Maybe you thought it
was a bird',
or the ghost of one.

The spectre clacking
at the seams
of your cracked windows.

Its weightless bones wrench.
Anchor air,
memories of dust.

Prodding and pecking.
little bastard, yes?

It doesn’t take a
clout to remember -

a fleeting shadow
will work too.
That scattering glance,

movement behind glass,
rain-clouds. Loss.
Chirp the haunted home.

('maybe you thought it was a bird' originally written by Gregory Orr, in the poem 'The Hand: "Brightness Falls from the Air.")

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Song in the Key of Y.

Song in the Key of Y.
(day 23 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

That afternoon, excavating treasure
below the tumbled barn, before it burned.
You always drank life in double measure
even as your mother’s DNA turned
against her. Began its haunting through you.
Time flowed different back then, our mad hearts
oblivious, even though the winds knew
each comet caught was another false start.
Moments leak mundanely now you are gone.
It’s like I was the box, you the matches.
Without that kinetic spark, I’m no-one.
A dog daisy deadheaded from patches
of sunlight, of nourishment. Left to rot.
Dust of dead mem’ries, this need to forget.

Friday, 22 April 2016


(day 22 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The ghosts are gathering again.
Spectres of auks ankle about, bringing
the mythologies, bringing the frost.

In a pocket by the threshold of what was
and what is, a child jangles treasure in its fists.
Plastic embryos cracked from Kinder Eggs.

Once upon a time, the sun was a yolk.
The sustenance of species floating like confetti
trying to figure the ways of the world out.

Imagine instead of a fistful of yellow Minions
there’s a miniature Minmi dancing from fingertip
to fingertip. Shaking its armour, waggling its limbs.

Somewhere across the ocean a Blue Whale
beaches, is buried in a field. Scientists sit supping
cuppas with biscuits as her bones bleed oil among soil.

Does mud hold memories? The clarts bairns coax
into balls to throw at walls, does it squelch sometimes
with remembering? Cry sometimes, for the ghosts

of creatures long gone from the sunlight, long gone
from the air? Buried in its always digesting belly.
The sludge of a tomb, the sludge a womb.

And the ghosts are gathering again.
The haunt of questions, rattling the world.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Creatures Without Wings

Creatures Without Wings.
(day 21 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Nothing's that fussed about the drowning.
The drops of wax imagining themselves islands
before the waves erode them don’t care.

The air in the child’s lungs
does its abandoning before worrying
overmuch whether skin is suitably equipped
to imagine itself able to act as an anchor.

The jellyfish don’t care.
They’re too busy trying to avoid feathers
unexpectedly backstroking among them
that try to tangle knots in stands of stingers
that have never had day-dreams about hair.

Maybe his father’s statues shudder
at the precise moment the child doesn’t surface.
Try to walk themselves outside to sunlight
on marbled legs sculpted so perfect
they imagine themselves invented for life.
But that’s coincidence at work,
not sympathy. Not empathy.

Only the whales actually notice.
As that tear disturbs the roof of their world
allowing the body its doorway to tumble through,
the humpbacks rise and breach, together.

Not to escape the dead weight of feathers
or the agony of inevitably netted to mythologies
of children on flight paths, soaring towards death.
Just as creatures without wings, able to fly.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Twig-bender

The Twig-bender.
(day 20 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The Twig-bender’s at her visiting again. She lands with strands of wolf-hair hanging from her teeth, the breath of polar bears snuggled in the seams of her ice-skirt. She’s immense in her arriving. Pulling clouds down to the ground like they’re nothing more than cans of pop, shaken until they fizz up and go off. She doesn’t notice though, simply starts winding the horizon in until it becomes little more than a discarding thing, loosening miniscule ponds from its slackening skin. A defeated dog, utterly shaken.

The Twig-bender’s an artist at heart. She wraggles edges of forests until they’re tamed, paints the yoller of fox barks among the dusk of country lanes. She’s an embroider of buildings, occasionally unstitching chimneys from roofs and onto streets knitted with frost. She leaps among live electric wires, agitates them up until they behave like eels trapped in a bucket before they break, and coax early babies out of the dark tarns of wombs. She is the space around whales as they breach and blow, encouraging a love affair between water and air.

The Twig-bender is mercurial. Coming and going on the whims of weather fronts. She gusts through cities and out to the coast where she’ll whip up force tens, hooking fishing boats to harbours with empty nets. And as the morning yawns itself awake, the debris of the tides are her idea of a final love-bite. She is a creature of kismet according to novels, a forager of Diamonds under the guidance of MacDonald. She is where the wildness goes in summer to re-skin its heels while it yearns for winter.

Elemental enticer, the knitter of auroras.
She’s born with the secrets of snow-shaking rooted through her jaws.
Ask for her name now, and listen. She'll howl.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tips to Coax a WG Lucas Creature

Tips to Coax a WG Lucas Creature.
for George.
(day 19 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

First, check your pockets for feathers.
Discard any that are distinctly gull -
you don’t want to worry him
into an unsettled scarpering.
Owl plumage is preferable,
but a few jackdaw wing-feathers will do.

Arrange them in patterns over thresholds
of antiquated doorframes in any city
that has rejected the 21st century.
Construct the quills into models of apples
or hats if you’re feeling adventurous.
Telescopes have been known to work, too.

Increase the likelihood of a sighting
by preparing Jelly Baby sandwiches as bait.
In desperation, replace with Liquorice Comfits
but be prepared in those instances for a wait -
the WG Lucas is a peculiar creature,
capable of hiding in tailored suits if spooked.

Dress your heart in works of art;
Waterhouse, Rossetti. Never neglect Millais.
A smattering of Cornell boxes will go a long way
in tempting the creature to consider an extended stay.
Novels and comics are his breadcrumbs;
sprinkle Gaiman, the Brontes, a wee Rupert the Bear.

Always appeal to his anachronistic nature:
put Bagpuss in your pocket next to Doctor Who.
Add a slice of Kerouac to an Empire Strikes Back,
shake them in your bag to see what that might do.
Think like a daguerreotype or an attic dweller.
Keep in mind at all times, WG Lucas’ are border haunters.

Lastly, and most importantly, this lass would
likely advise, just love him truly for what he is -
An artist, a luminary,
a writer, a wondrous mind.

The co-creator of Claudia and Tarin,
two bairns of brilliance. A best friend.

(Dedicated to my best friend, the artist WG Lucas)

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Departure of the Swifts

The Departure of the Swifts.
(day 18 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It was the silence that mattered.
The realisation her singing had stopped
along with our laughter.

That scurrying through wheatfields  
on legs so brittle the crows were unsettled 
wasn't enough to reinflate hearts
that had already gone 'pop!'
and began their giving up.

Survival didn't birth masterpieces.
It was the labour screams of a closing cage,
the bristle of brushstrokes that annihilated trust.

Above the sirens and the thrum of fists
that walloped our songbird, daring her to burst,
a mournful twittering bruised the dusk:
The song of departures bleeding from the throats
of a handful of lingering swifts.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Cul-de-sac of 'Everything's Normal Here'

The Cul-de-sac of ‘Everything’s Normal Here’.
(day 16 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The mimicking weather ruffles the petals
on the seeded dandelion's star-charts.
The treehouse nebula spits at the moon,
touches its nose when the ambulance appears.

Crows waltz with two-headed stick insects
while the mermaids on the fishy green prepare
a stolen bathysphere to scry among the seven
solar systems for the Brontes' reunion tour.

Stories and daydreams carry paint cans
and bleach - 'after the eclipse, sing the jellyfish',
that always graffiti on the moss witch in the glen:
‘Everything is normal here.’

The antlered hat brigade leave their cobwebs
for the smell of vinegar on fish and chip paper.
The deaf woman with a devil in the jar on her
mantelpiece finds clouds and clouds. Always clouds.

And the rowan's budding now;
'why don't you love me back?'
it whispers to the Oldhatisaurus
that blusters past carrying all the drowned

children that haunt where the three waters meet.
The ghost of a unicorn reading Skellig
guards the giants that snore under the fells.
This is where abandonment begins its dissolving:

On a postcard full of falling apples -
a crayoned 'hi' scrawled on the back.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Ma Moonlow & the Late Snow

Ma Moonlow & the Late Snow

It's the snow that shows her.  The way it whispers as it passes the daffodils, the way it giggles as they shudder.  And she follows, listening.  The dead dog that haunts the ditch, it sniffs and shivers as her cape touches its left paw, the ones the kids chopped off just to see if it could still run.  It can't of course, not now.  Spirits of dogs stuck in ditches, they don't do that, not any more.

The stone hare with half a head, watches from between the privet and the burned beech tree.  Even on evenings etched into freezing, the scent of fire still lingers in the neighbourhood.  The bones may be gone, and the family.  But the air has ways of remembering, just like she has ways of remembering.  That's why she follows the snow.

"Oh my little lostlings, why prick yourself with this searching?  Come home now, my babies, come home…"

But they don't.  They're ahead of the snow, drawing it forwards through the pockets of streetlight, drawing it forwards through the shadows too.  Until they reach the last garden, the one the locals say is haunted, the one where the windows reflect it too.  And there they gather, her little lostlings, watching and watching the snow.

“Ma Moonlow, why don’t they call for us?  Ma Moonlow, why don’t they come?  It’s April in their minds now, with the snow falling and settling, they should know…”

It’s the breaking of course, the calling back to the hurting.  It’s difficult, it’s distressing.  And some of the fleshlings in the neighbourhood, they’re adept in their unremembering.  Kindling and longing, they’re too consuming to maintain.  Like daffodils dying in glass vases, a mantelpiece murder taking days.

“Dear lostlings, it’s the tidal ways of the fleshlings, I’ve shown you this before.  Remember the old stories of the boats that imagined themselves whales?  How each of them failed to return to the harbour, failed to return to the air?  It’s the same with these fleshlings.  It’s their charm, their protection.  The forgetting is their salvation.  Forgive them, my babies, please try…”

Across the street, a curtain in the window of a warm place awakens.  Small fingers search the boundaries of stars and planets crocheted on cotton, find a crack in the alignment of darkness reflected.  A face, bright as sunflowers, bright as scarlet fever, eclipses the glass.  Its little budding mouth flowers to a silent gasp.  Then a blizzard of breath, an obscuring.  A palm in its rubbing.  When the swirling stops, the lostlings have fled.

All that remains is a halo of streetlight, dissipating flurries of snow.  The trail of a cape on a carpet of white dissolving back into a puddle.  And the howl from a dog that’s already dead, another lost-thing still seeking a home.

Thursday, 14 April 2016


(day 14 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

The ghosts of adolescence begin their slumber.
Softly now, we trawl and tend the wild hooks
time demands of our papier-mâché skin.
Thought-nets trawl and raise a ghost of November.
How I wish time would stop fishing these nooks,
the beaching of leviathans that spectre a heart.
Discard the monstrous catch - the conjoined twin
of death and life. Chewed paper haunting the tide.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

4Tunes Cookies - aka iPod Divination

4Tunes Cookies - aka iPod divination.
(day 13 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

i - ‘silent all these years’ (Tori Amos)

when days go mermaid
the laughter in life’s throat turns
to salt - her drowning.

ii - ‘peter pan r.i.p (Kula Shaker)

ageless, uncaring
Neverland of a dead thing
her thesis - its hooks.

iii - ‘playing with the boys’ (Kenny Loggins)

nettle’s neighbourhood
reality’s roughing it
with stings - girls play too.

iv - ‘you’re a wolf’ (Sea Wolf)

it’s how the wildness
creeps and sniffs until it sticks
like rumours - she turns.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Sporadic Mentions of the Imaginary Woman

Sporadic Mentions of the Imaginary Woman.
(day 12 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

Alcove with lost owl - eating his shoelaces, 39
Alnwick - cow tipping in Barter Books, 17
Ascension Day - holding onto his eyelashes, 11

Boxes - thrown-away objects, love’s neglect, 42
Fallopian tubes - his anticipation of blood, 25
GOD - trajectory of washing-up bottle rockets, 13

Hoppelstiltskin - waskery wabbit, his jeans pocket, 69
Jamjar Smashing - the frogspawn disaster, 6
Magical Mystery Tour - the invention of that bag, 1

Narnia - two doors that talk with strange dialects, 73
Newcastle - the euthanasia of his last unicorn, 104
North - always and always the waiting. He doesn’t come, 40, 50, 75

Rabbit Skin - the fur he dresses her in, 202
Storyteller District - apple days when writers sing, 167
Weetabix - washing the art with clouds, 51

Yelverton - the ghost that cannot be exorcised, 39
Zebracadabra - pining for the day he concedes she’s real.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Building Materials

Building Materials.
(day 11 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It’s the graveyard that does it.
Hoarding bones of dead poets
as faded tourists ghost through.

And the dog daisies with their loudness.
Yollering to the sky as the sun mortars
behind the bevels of the fells’ spine.

Golden can be a cliché. Instead
imagine butter on a blade, steaming toast.
A sky full of that, begging a demolishing.

And the quiet, how it chisels
through the trees, through the grasses,
over the lake. Sculpts you.

A wrong turn may be the right one
when the world’s a beautiful bucket.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A Book Spine Poem

Book Spine Poem
(day 10 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

At the back of the north wind,
sightlines settle where the wild things are.
The girl on the landing knows stories
from the beast to the blonde.
This is the art of being normal -
treading lightly, hunting unicorns
along the crow road beneath
the plough and the stars.

Sidereal - landmarks writing home;
the living mountain, a voice recognition,
birdsong on the seabed, breaking dawn.
If nobody speaks of remarkable things,
gossip from the forest will raise a leviathan.
Familiar and haunting, its fearful symmetry
coaxing the silent weaver for the fire eaters.
No one belongs here more than you.

(prompt was write a poem using titles from your books)

Friday, 8 April 2016

Dandelion's Dread

Dandelion’s Dread.
(day 8 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It’s the yellow that hurts, the blush of bruises
waiting to seed in an abandoned back field.
Even horses avoid them, and the windmills -
sliver blades chopping clouds, away and away.

In the kitchen, the kettle keeps cowering.
It doesn’t scream any more, just simmers.
Like the back door does, and the wallpaper.
Whispers of a cultivating, arranged in a row.

One, two, three, four, five.
Once there budded a life, alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Until it's weeded to death, again.

Pissy-beds, Pissy-beds - please, stop that smiling.
Pissy-beds, Pissy-beds - beware your deadheading.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Orbits Of Affection

The Orbits Of Affection
(day 7, NaPoWriMo challenge)

I’ve watched mountains nuzzle with clouds
then abandon each other to leer at a hare
mad on spring rockets - a furry space-ship.

The same sometimes happens with friendship.
Tight as an ant farm, then loose as gnat clouds
cursing and orbiting around a planet of hair.

These are the ways of affection - the heir
of such a storm-plotted relationship
may thunder or dissipate, being from clouds

or a ship sphering clouds. The anchor of a disappearing hare. 

(prompt was 'write a Tritina')

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Apple Stuck In Snow White's Throat

The Apple Stuck In Snow White’s Throat.
(day 6 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

It happened like this, I promise, no lie.
I was up in wor tree, contemplating the sky
when out jumps that nutjob that pretends she’s a witch
(don’t tell her this, but the pips call her ‘emo bitch’).

And she’s cackling and dancing, screaming like a divvy.
Going on and on about this lass that’s far too pretty
that lives in a commune with dwarves - oh gawd, what hell!
(I got the impression they’re all polyamorous as well).

Then that nutjob, she nabs me, doesn’t even take my leaf.
And before I know what’s happening, I’m fighting for my life!
There’s poison, dead worms, lecherous shining, a fight.
Then I remember bugger all until that pretty lass takes a bite.

And that’s when I find myself proper stuck in her throat.
(I’ll be honest, at that moment, I really couldn’t cope
with the darkness, the wetness, her gulping tongue -
was like being groped by Red’s wolf. Gawd, those fangs!)

Then this shaking, this choking, her breathless. A falling.
Then just quiet, a silence. The terror of being pie-filling.
Hours pass, days, months. Maybe even years.
When you’re stuck in a fairytale’s throat, it’s hard to bear.

Then along comes this fella, trying proper hard to be a dandy.
(to be honest, at this point, even a woodcutter would’ve been handy.
But he’s a prince clearly, because continuity, you know?
How would Walt market the franchise if every commoner had a go?)

Then it’s all snogging, and tongues - a ton of soft sighing.
(and gagging. Snow White, in reality, she was seriously cockling)
And out I pop onto the lass’s chest, shrivelled better than a prune.
Then the cheeky wench’s up, brushing me off her evening gown.

And something else; when we fell, she was dressed in dungarees.
Not that fancy frock made from silk. Someone redressed her, geez.
So while she slept with me in her mouth, some pervy bugger thought
to tidy her up - and have a quick grope? - until a prince could be caught.

That’s the story, I swear, of that lass and her teeth.
How I was stolen and forced to abandon my berth.

So when you next think of Snow White, her terrible plight -
remember the apple that was kidnapped. That terrifying bite.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Girl Who Sneezed An Orchard

The Girl Who Sneezed An Orchard.
(day 5 for NaPoWriMo challenge)

‘Livvie, my daft lassie, stop swallowing those pips.
You’ll end up growing apple trees down in your guts.’

'But mother, my mother, I’m in love with this fruit,
when I reach the gowk, it’s just still not enough.
So I munch and swallow because they’re so tasty.
Surely they’ll leave my tummy as easy as toffee?’

Poor Livvie is silly sometimes, it has to be said.
When those pips start sprouting her heart fills with dread.

‘Oh mother, my mother, what have I done!?
My greed’s got an orchard rooting in my tum!’

‘I told you, my daft lassie, I did! Didn’t I say
you’d regret all that gobbling one of these days?’

But Livvie doesn’t hear, she’s already run through the hall
in search of the forester that sometimes visits next door.

‘Api Etoile, my love, if I make you snog a Johnny Voun,
would the babbas you’d create make horticulturalists swoon?
Or a ménage between Galarina, Mutsu, and Schmidtberger?
Would the scrummy pies you’d flavour taste so much better?’

‘Help me, fella! I’ve swallowed twenty-five gowks!
If I don’t get these saplings out, I’m seriously gonna puke!’

Livvie is lolling and rolling by now -
her poor wee legs as steady as intoxicated cows.

‘Please, fella, please! I’m  in trouble, I swear!
All these pips inside me, I’m seriously gonna hurl!’

And she does, but not expected. Not with a barfing.
Instead her wee nose begins twitching and itching.

On and on this goes, then suddenly she’s sneezing.
But the forester’s a wise fella - he grabs for the Kleenex
for the achoo and achooing that he knows is approaching.
Quick as a Pandora, he whips out a soil-filled box,
catches all of Livvie’s snots as they expel and explode.

‘Oh, fella, you’re good…’, she whispers after she's finished
‘From now on, I reckon I’ll just gobble boiled, soggy spinach.’

Monday, 4 April 2016

February's Bones

February’s Bones.
(day 4 NaPoWriMo challenge)

They don't pronounce it.
Like the offering of tongues
to that twisting is an invitation
to another slow blistering.

It’s a kindling month -
old diaries behind radiators
know it. Shadows of hares
in hallways do too.

And the fox bones of course,
the ones stalled in a falling.
Interrupted divinations mounted
above bookcases full of collapsed classics.

And the outside, with its always creeping.
The steady knock-knocking of gone ghosts
rooted to memories. See-through snowdrops
pressed between inked pages. The texture of skin.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

A Letter To Noc (a beluga whale)

A Letter To Noc, The Beluga
(day 3 of NaPoWriMo challenge)

A boy with barnacles growing
from his dreadlocks once told me
that scrimshaw held in certain light
will conjure the song of whales
to thrum the heart line on a palm.

The same boy once ate pages from a book
because they were full of photographs of ghosts.
Eerie creatures blowing bubbles immortalised
in stalled moments, pages petrified on 'pop!'

And just the other night, I heard an owl outside
play-acting at being your twin. It did a woo-wooing
through panes of glass, straight to my saline heart.
But its song wasn't correct, too full of air and night.

It's the immersion that matters, not the drowning.
To a lass raised on whalebones strung from ceilings,
boys with belugas diving through their bodies are heady.

So, dear Noc, when you told Miles Bragget
to get out, I can appreciate the sentiment of that.
Because love can be a leviathan, when it blows.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Family Portrait

Family Portrait 
(day two NaPoWriMo)

Ragged mostly, in sepia. Like the age
of it matters, its real rough texture.

But it's all a trick, the making of it.
A few cold teabags, an aunty's oven.
A slow baking really, then a rubbing.

And a waiting of course, for development.
Add a handful of words, scrawled on the back:

'The wonder of a rainbow - why spoil that?'

Friday, 1 April 2016

When the sky crumbles

When the sky crumbles - A Chain Lune 
(day 1 for NaPoWriMo challenge)

When the sky crumbles
weather fronts their fists

I remember you.
Your fastness
on a space-hopper

that Easter Friday.
Even Shep
couldn’t work up to

a proper barking.
Just a ‘woah!
Woah!’ in his slow throat

in time to up/down.
A bobber
for the fading moon

raggling the branch
of Da’s beech
and pollarded dreams.

This remembering’s
a downpour.
A proper drenching.

When the sky crumbles
memories their fists.