The Dividing Wall

Posted: April 7, 2018 in Poetry
brick wall
My grandad is a brickie
from a time when you called
a spade a spade,
a trowel a trowel.
And a mortarboard
was a mortarboard,
not a daft ceremonial hat –
because you call a stupid-looking hat
a stupid-looking hat,
and the wearer of said head-gear
a stupid-looking twat.
But I’ve been to university
and learnt to pay 45,000 quid
for the privilege of saying
this was something I did.
Plus some extra cash on top of THAT
for a few hours of wearing…


…a mortarboard.




And looking like a twat.


I wanted a dog,
like Timmy
from the Famous Five.
Instead, I got the dog I deserved.
Just like me:
unsure of herself,
unsure of everybody.
Often withdrawn, reserved;
often cowardly.
I wanted a dog
who would be loyal
enough to save me
from smugglers.
Instead, I got a dog
who developed a wheat allergy
and demanded
I smuggle her
pizza crusts
when no one was looking.
I wanted a dog
who would chase sticks
through rivers
with all the energy
and joy in life
I lacked.
My dog gave me a look,
and refused to bring
the sticks back.
I wanted a dog
who would lie
at the foot of my bed,
and not do something
as undignified and inconvenient
as moulting.
All I got was the lie.
I wanted a dog
for years and years,
and only got a dog years
after I‘d given up
reading Enid fucking Blyton.



My little wuss. Still miss her.

Ward 35: Oncology

Posted: December 5, 2017 in Poetry
For Auntie Jenny
we’re all dreading
what comes next –
the room is like an airport
departure lounge,
at the wrong end of the holiday
some people have brought snacks
some stare through the TV –
portal to a dimension where
none of this is happening
our group is trying to laugh along
with the people trying to joke
away their dressing-gowns
the retired guy with the worried wife,
an empty space and a bag for life
to take home instead of a bladder
a skater lad, leg tattoos,
hooked up to an IV drip that buzzes
like a text message every four seconds
the feisty eighty-two-year-old
whose treatment muddies the mind
and has her spewing out innuendoes
the temperature is too muggy
pyjama party, some of us over-dressed
we open two windows
onto the discovery that
the maternity ward is right below
and the irony of new life
being forced into the world
screams and grunts in pain
the feisty lady has to strain
to hear Emmerdale
over it
my auntie’s sister’s got six kids
and yells down ‘go on, girl, PUSH!’
she tells us, ‘it’s like having a big shit’
then takes her seat again
the Emmerdale doctor’s having an eventful day
he was busy shagging and gave
this other guy an All-Clear by mistake,
when really he has testicular
C- word
‘the OTHER C-word,’
cackles the eighty-two-year-old,
‘although cancer IS a cunt!’
then covers her mouth –
the first time
her face has shown
anything but mischief
‘sorry again
about your aunt’
the fish tank in the corner
is so vibrant with life
it hurts our eyes
those little guys make breathing
and motion look easy
we pass like restless hours
from this room to
the bedside unspeakable
and back
and soon it is time
for goodbye
the comradery of a shared destination
departs –
this is only the terminal
and dressing-gowns are the ticket
so some of us get to
say cheerful things,
walk out
and go home



Walk to Work

Posted: November 10, 2017 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Jimi Hendrix said it best:
Excuse me, while I kiss the sky.
Autumn is so dangerous, you guys.
This morning, I fell in love
with some trees, two squirrels
and a patch of blue and purple haze,
as I inhaled the day’s school-traffic fumes.
Each of those relationships: doomed
from the start. Non-consensual.
See, I know (better than some!) not to touch.
But would it do any harm
to ask the tree for a hug,
and offer the squirrels a taste of my nuts?



Memories: riddles.
Brain teasers. Must be handled
with care; mind-tweezers.
Can accidentally
get overwritten. Damaged.
Lost like a mitten.
Smeared. Smudged. Blown out of
proportion. Revised. Censored –
out of shame/caution.
Safest stored within
plastic, pages turned seldom.
Then, when we’re ‘past it’ –
all else wrinkled and
slowed, those slides, preserved, put on
entertaining shows;
flicker and whir – life’s
highlights play. Ever confused,
‘til our dying day.


C o n v e r s a t i o n
sticks in my throat
the words are plastered
to the roof of my mouth
like communion wafers
so I take a shot of red wine
then another
and another
and another
and oops,
here we go, making confessions
all over the place.
I’m not even Catholic.


red wine

Cuckoo Spit

Posted: August 30, 2017 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Is cuckoo spit still
a thing?  I used to live much
closer to the ground,
used to belly-grub
in the mud, eyes on grass stalks;
flutter-follow bugs;
air-lift to safety
ants on a mission; notice
rain spotting the leaves.
And now, I haven’t
reached society’s great heights,
but it’s harder to
see eye-to-eye with
nature when you’re taller, locked
in place like the trees.
Is cuckoo spit still
a thing? If not, somebody
has gobbed in that hedge.