Monday, 30 April 2012

30: Ice skates

Tomorrow we’ll fire up the wurlitzer and hold a parade for the spiderplant children.

We’ll watch them wave like the benevolent octopi they are, floating in the tank of sparkling water we’ve hocked to the back of our lorry.

The townspeople will whoop and declare the spider king their champion, tie their youngest daughters to a maypole and offer her skin for fur.

They say you need a woman to tread your heart like grapes, they say you need your blood to ooze between her toes before you’ll holler and hurl.

I know, I circle all my candyflosses endlessly and dive like a love-drunk kingfisher again and again into the same cherry blossom.

I can’t help it.

My fingers are lycra ice-skaters in the same skirted troop. They’ll keep on with their cantilever until an unsheathed blade finds the jugular.

Then, the fingers find the keys and a rocket of confetti erupts. This time it is ripe, ripe cherries.

You will stand, you'll be silent, and you'll watch the cascade.

29: Cake and Diamonds

For weeks after he left I found
my lover’s hair wrapped round
plug holes, door handles,
around an old half tomato
weeping like the Virgin Mary.

Every time I opened the
wardrobe door they twined
round my fingers,
whispered myths the way
serpents sometimes do.

I ignored the hairs, I went
about life and love pretending
I was the first warm breeze
of summer. The skirts were
mine to lift and

I cavorted while the tutting
branches judged me from
behind these window panes.

When the hairs still showed up
I folded them in flour and sugar,
beat the butter till it turned gold.

I served my guests
cake and diamonds and
I ignored them while they
plucked things
from between their teeth.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

28: Tokophobia

Two hundred and seventy four days these
cells dividing and multiplying, these cells
conspiring to fill a cave that had no need
for bears or fires or footsteps.

That Easter my brother taught us how
to blow an egg from the shell. We watched
the yolk and albumen dribble,
my mother scowled at the mess.

Well, sometimes people are just two distracted
drivers who bump on the road and spend
the rest of their lives filling out the forms.

Tokophobia is the terror of being
torn apart by a departing human. And I don’t
blame you for not stopping.

Your foot twitched on the accelerator,
black claw marks on the road.

I stand here waiting by the cave door.
I watch you flee.

27: Pages Stained With Pollen

This spring I will take all the unanswered mails
and weave a raft, take to the Landwehrkanal,
sail unabetted past the picnic makers.

They’ll cock their cucumber sandwiches like
rifles and howl to no avail. We’ll be buoyant
on this boat of responsibilities tossed to the wayside,

our hearts like dandelion clocks waiting to learn the lesson
how to windsurf. How to skindive. How to fly.

You keep whispering at my earlobe like a unrepentant
bumblebee and you’ve filled the afternoon with
appointments to the flowers.

I flick through the diary and the pages
are stained yellow with your pollen. 

26: First Day of Summer

Two brown leather boots
discarded by the bins, a
paean to springtime, a bench
engraving dedicated to
the memory of winter.

Lest we forget—who am
I kidding? We’ve forgotten
already. One afternoon
prodded by summer’s
oven-warm fingers and

it’s impossible to turn
our cheeks from the canal,
impossible to sit and work
by a wax sealed window.

I’m sorry, I have no credit
for calling in favours from
my brain. I’m sorry, I’ve
become tumbleweed on the
warm tarmac, waltzing.

Too giddy to stop
spinning, too unravelled
to take my mind to the counter
and trade it for beans.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

25: Ore

It’s life when it gets tangled round
your ankles like too many sweatshirts
dropped on the bedroom floor. You’d
like to tidy but your brain is week-worn
dishcloths, your vowels are sopping.

It’s life that catches the coattails of the
cabaret waltz and allows itself to be
yanked across the ice rink and spun out,
dizzy, life trying to right itself and
falling to scuffed scabbard knees.

It’s life rampaging to the end of the month
and I am nowhere near the hatrack I
need to doff my cap on. Power hose the
pewter from my drains and send me kites
via the postcard service, send me

ice cream cones and ribbons, send a
promise that everything will be fine.
I have thighs for outrunning the outrage.

Beneath our feet in the warm earth
there are miners burrowing for ore. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

24: Casual Encounters

I wake and I wonder— 
maybe all I have to do
is wallop these keys
with perspiring fingers,

let my vowels
fall like
jittery hailstones,

hack up
a dollop
of thick

There’s a girl
treading the internet’s moss
who has no fear of vines
and creepers.

I try to lure her with
salt and vinegar crumbs
from the sharp metal corner
of the packet, I try to
tempt her with
James Joyce consciousness
burbling like
frustrated brooks.

Elbows dunking
the typewriter,
I know she’ll come

if only
I can make her
understand that

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

23: Legs

I spent the summer as a sand castle architect
trying to engineer the cusp and fall of the tides.

I held up balconies with the crook of my back
and made aged balsamic vinegar from the tears
of brown bears and wayward salmon.

I didn’t write home, didn’t let my tales
drip down like Vietnamese coffee—thick
and tooth-aching sweet—I didn’t.

I hid the obtuse angles of my body under
linen and nodded so long and so often
a weeble took up residence in my chin.

Seventeen and laid out on offer like
polished brass buttons on the Flohmarkt table.

I spent the summer pretending
my legs had a licence to rescind.

Monday, 23 April 2012

21: Runway

I ran there in kneesocks.

The runway had spent the day foraging sunbeams, tucked them into an upturned apron, fingers stained yellow with the plucking.

So I walked over and pressed my face to the

The runway was the hot shadow of a parachute unfolded across the ground, it was the shoulder of a black leather jacket

my cheek needed to lean upon. Three days of unslept festival and bee pollen, chin begging for a prop.

I pressed my face into the runway and listened for the sound of airplanes, but there were no airplanes. The man sawed the wood

and it sounded like a sad pug waiting to inhale its last.

It sounded like a magic carpet being inflated. I tilted my chin and

I looked to the sky.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

19: Typewriter Haiku

Fingers strike the keys
a pigeon cha-cha dancing.
I think this is love.

18: Coral

Alone in the bar
waiting for you. My

skin is the window
I peer through—

no curtains here,
none of your bubbles

squeegee foam
on my panes.

Everything is so
fucking clear

like Christmas-tree coral
behind glass. Aquarium

fish wait to
nibble my lobes.

I look at my palms
and they’re glowing.

Pale pink acetate
wrapped round
the bulb.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

17: Clicked

He is a stone carver and he
sculpted the moon while you

clicked and refreshed down
the internet’s cul-de-sacs

hoping for a Sasquatch to loom before you with claws
hoping to trip and tumble into fields of blue tulips

He sits with a cast iron pot and
distills the tincture of sqwee

in yesterday’s vials but you,
you can’t stop clicking,

waiting to learn the lecture of resplendent bruises
waiting for something, anything, unsignposted

but your afternoon eyes are too
focussed, too ensnared. Your eyes

are soft-throated bunnies
bewitched by the musk of the lure


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

16: Baudelaire

We asked the drunken moose
atop the mountain to share his
taoist secrets, to bung the
needing we kept uncorked.

Our calcified chests primed
to unyoke, our hearts
bubbling like primordial
fondue waiting for the wise
bread whose dip would see

us snigger. We asked he
prise it off like candlewax
dripped on oak flooring,
we asked for answers; we
spoke of Mobius loops
untied and unravalled.

The drunken moose closed
his eyes and hiccuped. The
hiccup bounced down
the mountain and I stopped

asking and listened, and
waited for the splash.

new poems at Visceral Uterus

Some nice grimy dark things to enjoy with your morning coffee.

15: A Response

To this piece by Brian Warfield at Fictionaut.


Blend your sugar crystals with ice and feed the paste to the old dog on the corner. His aluminum eyes won’t look up; he’s passed on humping those winking calves.

Tell the dog not to worry—soon the weekend will be here. Tell him soon. Soon the working week’s over and Friday’s latchkey fingers will lock the internet away. Soon, you’ll be your own dancing bear and find the circus yourself. Soon.

Roll over another mutter on your tongue and feel it squeak between your teeth like tired halloumi. You’re not old enough to let your limbs feel this ransacked by the puppeteer. You’re not black-eyed enough to lose yourself in the blank void shape.

Blend the dog a drink and sit down beside him and draw straws for regrets. When you get the short one don’t stumble. Drink through it. Drink.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

14: Boared

Can’t we say we hulked our heft
onto the spines of wild boar, lashed
spurs like Polaris to our heels, and

kicked? The boar bristled and thundered
upon the earth with monsoon feet.
The plains raised their glasses, said

It’s been a long, dry December, so
let’s raise a checkered flag
for the champagne mist to moisten.

The fog fell upon my cheekbones
and the boar tramped on to a field of
wild garlic grass waving like

Hawaiian goodbyes. Can’t we say we
ate it and wow, it was good? Can’t we
say you weren’t afraid of the germs?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

13: Throw Everything Out Of Your Basements, Sweetheart

Throw everything out of your basements, sweetheart. Let’s start afresh.

Race room to room like a domino rally trying to outrun the twist of the planets, trip on the floorboards, parquet knees.

Throw everything out of your basements, sweetheart, we can tile the kitchen with calcified bones and clutter the halls with hooplah.

Shrug off the sediment, pluck the old mattress hairs that tickle your nose. We’ve spent too many summers collecting broken boardgames with missing sixes, the tupperware cupboard heaves and howls.

Throw everything out of your basements, sweetheart, throw me a rope to yank my bones from this quagmire.

Shake off the weight of stuff like a happy duck dancing a cha cha.


12: Tangled

Our kitchen walls jungled
with spaghetti, tangled
like hessian sacks or
worms, maybe. The stove
top’s black quicksand
beckons—here’s where
wayward beans tread to
sink. Wayward. Avacodoes
skip the ripening and turn
straight to brown like
plans souring before we’ve
leapt in the yacht. Skip the
yacht, there’s quantum holes
in the hull. She says
everything is just so much
tangled spaghetti; she
says she’s trying.
The wall? I say.
I’m trying, she says and
she throws another strand.
I’m waiting to see
what will stick.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

11: Clods

Behind and bloodshot,
arse dragged along the floor
like a sick cat, pissed at
this gold Buddha muttering
tranquil, tranquilizer darts,
tranquility. Furious. The
skin on my fists shrunk
in the suds and they curl
to claws, cuticles gaped,
scabs like pregnant ticks.

Behind and bloodshot while
morning keens like a sickly
bairn, I try to type with a
hacking rat-ta-tack.

Phlegm on the laptop,
clodding and damp.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

10: This Unspooling City

Exhausted from this slate grey glow
I folded the screen like a test paper,
pocketed the biro, decided
the only questions I’d answer
were written on toilet doors, or
posed in fortune cookie crackers, or
read from the runes of the currents of the sea.

A sleep-addled sunbeam lay down,
scritched its spine on the canal like a
kitten, purred for my fingers to find
its angora swatch and claw. I couldn’t
bear the slow sit by the mailbox anymore,
couldn’t still my haunches to wait
for words to drip like stalactites, calcify,
couldn’t wait—

I folded the screen, laced ballerina pump
ribbons up and over my knees. I became the
nutcracker prince warring a seven-headed
mouse king; I kicked and leapt.

Who can sit in this unspooling city, sit still;
who can latch the window and leave the
streets to a stranger’s footfall?

I cannot; I try, I cannot.
I fold the screen, whispering sorry.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Hello Princess!

Meet my new Princess Standard! 
I am about to get up-to-date with all my unwritten letters.

9: Luna Park

The skeleton punched his timecard
with a fist of stacked up bones, and

the waltzers danced a last dance
to the stopped wurlitzer tones.

The perspex Brontosauraus
fell to perspex shattered knees

and the swanboats blindly grounded
in the soil beneath the trees.

Inside the haunted house dwell ghosts
much older than the past,

dishevelled cowboys mine the train
and pirates clutch the mast.

The candyfloss princess got fired,
the hooplah stand’s unrung, and

the fairground’s final breath’s exhaled
from fairground’s china lung.

Now I walk the fairground paths at night
when silence is less loud.

Now I walk the paths in stocking soles,
I dance without the crowd.

8: Walrus Love

I tell her—
this love is sickening, too much.
Time to stop walrusing around.

We’re not taken by your
unseemly blubber
and I can’t stand to look at all these folds of skin. 

She doesn’t listen, she giggles.
Teeth like billboards, I just don’t know.

She doesn’t listen when I tell her
the real world’s not like that.

She raises an eye-toast to the corner
of the room
and grins.

7: No Sweat

He always washed before first dates, he always whittled the moss that blossoms in his shadowy patches. The tiny gardener in the navy overalls says it’s got to go. The tiny gardener wears marigolds and sinks his fingers into the moist soil, prodding for worms. He yanks them in half because he wants to make life, and he has no womb, has no women to persuade. Look—two worms, four, eight, sixteen. Thirty-two. Zero. Blood and guts.

He washed before first dates, ran a mop over his gutters. He was frightened—what if she smelled him? What if the throb of his need oozed and pearled on his surfaces? If only he could wipe off the years of living, flush away the pavements/held-hands/classrooms/sandwiches. If only he could start again and afresh as a white dishtowel hooked upon the cupboard door. No more spattered spaghetti sauce, please, no more tins. Just him.

He washed before they went out, and she didn’t know what it was, but there was something missing. When she stepped through the door before him, she forgot his face. When she tried to follow his meandering stories, it was like trying to balance on a slow moving bicycle. Too much toppling. She tried her best. She peeled off her clothes and presented the angles of her body, feeling all the while like the bridesmaid posing in the bridal shop dressing room. Clad for someone else’s party.

He seized her with stiff, stiff elbows. Kissed the flat of her cheek, untethered his toggles, and dropped his trousers to the floor. He moved on top of her and tucked a hair behind her ear. “Hello,” he said. “Oh yes, oh yes.”

She could barely feel a thing. His love was like a postcard arriving a week after the holiday. She lay and thought of blank indexes full of unattributed page numbers. She sighed.

And he moved on her, and he began to sweat. Her eyes widened, her nose twitched.

The stadium door latch snaps, the crowd swamps forward. A rifle shot in the bird sanctuary. A thousand flapping wings fill the sky.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

6: Hush


Teach yourself to be quiet as a crouched refugee beneath tarp, keep your mouth closed, inhale with your pores. Coral the circus ponies that click their hooves to your heartbeat. Slow the rumbling tom tom, tell the painted shaman there's no howl brewing in your throat’s percolator.

It is time for the wall to win.

When the cackles string across your heart like a volleyball net and you crouch to punt—stop. Let the ball skid into the white sand, let it sketch a map of ocean currents for you to wait by with a balsa liferaft, wait.

You do not need to keep striving.

You think you are a perpetual motion machine, free of thermodynamic law. I’m telling you, you’re wrong. Left in peace, your marble will seize on its string. Left in peace, gravity will weigh down your hummingbird fingers.


I whisper, I hear you, I know.

I whisper, I’m trying.

Still, the hoards batter at my barricades. Still, the words well up and fill my mouth like maggots, thick and squirmy. Spit them at your feet or gag. Spit them out or swallow a roiling waterfall to keep in my belly.

You think when I close my mouth I am quiet? Perhaps your chest is not beset by buzzards, cawing, snatching beakfulls of flesh. Beneath my skin is a skyscraper city in the chaos of the commute: carhorns and ringtones and sticking escalators. Running late for the meeting the will make her. Laddered tights. Garbage rotting in Chinatown’s August sidewalks and a pointed heel waiting to slip. The back of the bus, juddering, the smoke from the exhaust. The cacophony.

You think when I close my mouth I am quiet?

I am trying; I look to the wall.

You hear a distant church bell tink in another village and smile, benevolent, at my clanging.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

5: Tthyep

The sardine tin kitchen kitten
licks your finger with
a velcro terry tongue.

His purr a stick on the
spine of the wooden frog,

his lick a tthyep,

his eyes wide
yellow moons hung on autumn’s

The kitten counter-leaps
his shower puff feet and

flicks a tail like a handkerchief
from a train bound for Paris.

Au revoir, ma cherie. You know,
there are other callers in those cobbled

alleys. In the kitchen you are left alone,
still yawning by the percolator.

Sad puddles of brine.

4: Petit

foot forward, my funambulist
step bold as fireworks to the mist

careen where buildings nudge the sky
a weightless heart your only why

with gravity you made your pacts
a letter sealed with severed wax

a handshake with a palm of wind
a deal from which you can’t rescind

this breadcrumb trail of woven steel
thread through the clouds does so appeal

you’ve kissed goodbye the sidewalk curb
and seized on floating as your verb

we crane, and still you’re but a speck
a witness stood on heaven’s deck

you totter, and the crowd inhales
a hummingbird beset by gales

still, if you choose this point to fall
you’ve just had Newton in your thrall

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

3: The Smell of Chlorine on Her Skin

I wait in the gallery,
watch her stroke undulate
like a caterpillar’s

arching back, like a
greyhound pelting
for the lure of the hare.

Fold my hands in my coat,
blink at the gnash of chemical teeth
in the indoor air.

Here, the echo of a scream
is a metal pea whistle
sharpened to a spike

but under the water it
is blue, blue as an
air-strike summer sky,

and quiet. Even after her shower
I can smell it. A red plastic
box smell. Bleached.

Small, pedicured,
Japanese toes; a well-kept
drawer of laminate envelopes.

Things unlicked and scrubbed
and new and tiled
and plastic—

I wait in the gallery
while she swims. I wait
while the children shriek. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

2: Oberbaumbr├╝cke

Out all night and stumbling home
on fishnet purple toes, nails bleeding,
the pink footprints of tiny birds
perched on the bones of my cheeks.

A yellow toy snake finds its feet
and trots to Bavaria, builds a turret,
summons the Princess.

She steps up to the bridge’s balcony.

Beneath her feet the crowd rushes
forward, swells, batters the barricades,
and waltzes to the sea. Orations pass

through their ears like padlock keys.
I try to lasso the words and yoke them
to my homeward pony, I trip. I realize
there is no princess.

I realize that it’s just
my voice that is singing.