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.
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.
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,
though still in construction.
Luton and Dunstable Hospital, 2017
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.
The foil-wrapped double dozen are untouched
and I sense
When it stopped at you
you could see it.
Now it plumes and swells beyond your frame
you think it's gone.
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
all my thoughts of you
before we met.
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
I found you
taking a dip in
The next time you were nowhere to be seen
and your friends could well believe it.
parking by the meadow
where we came to say goodbye.
All of us.
I remember the smoke.
A dozen one-time BBQ’s,
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.
Warm, warm, warmer, hot
until suddenly in relief.
The thought you never thought you'd have
the image it shocked you to conceive of
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.
Some days it accepts its lot
pokes a finger out beyond its pen, yes
but for the most part
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: