JAN 2019 | In our mind's eye and in the eyes of others, we are always In Construction. Selected poems from my short suite exploring this theme are published, with a personal introduction, in Wake Up Screaming’s e-zine #17 ‘The Mind’. The full suite appears below.

In Construction

Lilly, you sparkled today.

The raconteur of 19B.

When you get out you could write a book.

Chapter One you tell us

is called “Sit Down Cynthia”,

the automated voice you hear every time Cynthia is on the move again.

They recorded it in Cynthia’s own voice

so she argues with herself.

“Got to see the funny side” you say.

Stitches.

After visiting hours

I’m shown pictures of your scalp.

A reluctant ghoul,

I half take in your flesh,

Wrapped with the track of an O.S. map,

Drawn in

though still in construction.

Luton and Dunstable Hospital, 2017

Vegan Birthday

Grinning you extend the box of Belgian chocolates.

Growing up it was Minstrels

on the way home from piano at Mrs.Gunner's.

"Know why Minstrels are so good?"

(It was your ritual question)

"Hard shell Dad,

won't melt in yer hand"

(It was my ritual reply)

Then we'd tear back the bag

and tuck in.

Tonight

I decline.

The foil-wrapped double dozen are untouched

and I sense

you're hurt.

When it stopped at you

you could see it.

Now it plumes and swells beyond your frame

you think it's gone.

My love.


Before We Met

We toss and turn,

crack open the window

and I squeeze the lavender bags above our heads.

What kind of thoughts do you chew on when you can't sleep?

For me, it's future versions of myself.

Gigs I have not given,

a story not half good but not yet written.

I grind my teeth and picture all the things I do not have

but have inside.

I don't mind.

I get up to get you water

and remember

all my thoughts of you

before we met.

After Alghero

Did curiosity get the better of you?

For me it came knocking on the windows.

For my part

there were dreams.

Last time there were two in a row.

Back to back

of searching.

One time

I found you

taking a dip in

cool

still

water.

The next time you were nowhere to be seen

and your friends could well believe it.

Port Meadow

Going back,

parking by the meadow

where we came to say goodbye.

All of us.

I remember the smoke.

A dozen one-time BBQ’s,

campfires,

and the sudden deepening of the sky

as the shutter went down

on me in sleeveless white cotton and jeans.

I had no sense then

how sweet this was,

or of any of the things I’d never be,

or be again.

Repression

Warm, warm, warmer, hot

until suddenly in relief.

The thought you never thought you'd have

the image it shocked you to conceive of

pops

lurches out of the autostereogram.

Sirens pierce the quiet, trapdoor opens.

Woooooosh down, down it goes

into the cell it lands.

The bulk, now obscured by bars

thrashes, flails its limbs

but is contained.

Years pass.

Some days it accepts its lot

pokes a finger out beyond its pen, yes

but for the most part

sleeps.

Other days it wails

bends the bars and bites down

hard upon the iron.

Reaching back its arm it starts to trace

the letters, the familiar form

branded on its cheek

hot, hotter, hotter still

until forever in relief:

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