Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Listen. Princess. We cannot have you dying like the others, can't have you skinning your knees, can't lose the crabshell-pink glow in your cheeks.

This town needs you pristine.

When the minstrels and the alchemists ask, where is your princess, where is her smile, we must be able to unhook the catch on the tower window and let it creak wide and say, "Lo!" and "Behold!" and reveal you to the world.

Too long, I say, too long we have been the butt of the jokes, been the punchline. We are sad that they point, your mother is sad, there are postcards of carparks and suburban shopping malls with our name on them. All we want is to be something.

All we want is that people flock from far and wide, that they gather here like mercury. Unconsciously led. All we want is a trickle like the hole in the damn, the pressure, the building; all we want is goddamn immortality and diamonds, all we want is an arrow lit up round the sides like a starlet's dressing room mirror. Listen, can you hear the sound of the bulbs all turning on: plink, plink, plink?

It's been too long that we've here sat and shrunk, our village the final manicure on a dying woman who left her will to the geraniums, left her diamonds to the dirt. We don't need diamonds but we do need to singe the alabaster from our skies, we do need to paste a typewritten love letter over the cracks, we do need to bung our holes up with glue.

Listen. Princess. Stop tugging at the leather, stop turning quite so pale. We are just waiting for another sunrise and the world to notice.

We are just waiting for this telephone to ring.

Monday, 27 August 2012


It’s ok, you’re allowed to quit, you can

take the book of neatly lined appointments

and rip it into feather confetti for this—

your marriage to a summer wasting.

Spend your wedding night sat up in bed watching

technicolour cartoons and pritt-sticking collages of

three-eyed spider-goats and flying horses.

Stain your sheets with cookie dough ice cream,

pecan bourbon, sticky-hot-breath kisses.

Do not go online.

Do not answer a phone that beeps and shudders.

Do not feel bad and do not allow

the mean hissing hand on your shoulder

to tell you those things that need doing.

Melt cheddar on toast with pickled onions and

find yourself a tree to climb.

Quit like a habit, quit the letters you have to write,

quit the jobs you have to get done, quit your

cleaning and step outside where the dirt and the ground

are the same. Quit mocking your brain and quit picking

the scabs that have formed on its surface.

Find a kite, and fly it.

Find the smothered giggle in the base of your throat,

and crack your cowgirl whip at its ankle.

Find the grin you mistook for grimacing. Phone in sick

to your brain and decide

that you get to pick and quit and stay home,

or you get to go out and make nothing of your day

but cut grass.

Cut grass and a nap

in a nest that is built of summer.

Monday, 20 August 2012

no medals for martyrs

We said

there’s no medals for martyrs

she said

it’s not fair they all got the reasons to smile.

We said

stop then, there’s no brown bear dressed up for the circus beating his drum behind your back, on the soft cobbled road his brown feet chose to stomp on

and still she whined, still she wept seven tears for each day of the week, still she said

you don’t understand how hard life is—for me—

and we, not being soothsayers or psychics, not being fleet-footed sprits with mischievous grins, said

the wine spills the same on every carpet

every ankle has the same tendons for twisting

love does not fall like cherry blossom

but if it did

you’d need to have your face pointed up for it to hit you on the nose

She stomped her foot and cursed the foul winds that blew her to our crossroads.

She stomped and she told us we were no use at all and it was just her luck,

well, we grinned and said


just your luck

just like that.

The hottest day

Perhaps the hottest day of the year, perhaps time to lash the wicker basket to his bike and cycle to the lake.

We breathe in barbeque smoke, sweat, cut grass, and pickle juice; we breathe the lavender oil which soothes the itching from our bites.

Patches of water in the lake are warm, like stepping into desert quicksand. Tendrils of cold current lap and coil round our feet.

I float on my back and look for familiar faces in the clouds, but the sky blinks a huge blue eye back at me and has nothing to say.

Scratching my skin until it is red and swollen, scratch till amber beads to the surface like resin oozing from the bark of a tree.

We look to one another and we are happy that we’re here.

I’m so glad we left, I say, the words a shiny red apple rolling down the grassy bank.

The boys grin; the sun pads round the edge of the trees like a tiger blithely stepping out from behind the rock and standing askance in our presence.

Everything is roiling orange flames.

The sun bounces off Ben’s hair and we are drenched with gold.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


We do not place our hands on the handlebars; we fold our arms.

Tell the runway to flip its hair like a sorority girl and snap its gum,

sniff the sun on the backs of each others’ knees and
bury our toes in the guttural vowels of the soil.

The sky today was the inner surface of a chirruping blue pedalo,
the clouds, sea foam from the wayward prows of ships
who got convinced they’re pigs snarfling the dirt for truffles.

(For trouble.)

Wouldn’t you like to be known as that scuff-kneed troubadour with a
penchant and pizazz for double sixes?

Or maybe that’s the trouble: maybe it doesn’t matter which
lacquer the world points and stares at;

maybe your meringues will sink in the oven while your
heart still jangles; maybe your soul isn’t made of

headlines and dinner parties and that girl-over-there’s approval.

Truth be she’s a dick and a doozy, truth be
you were always the radio station worth tuning to

and I’d listen all day to your bow-wows and howls.

Take your hands off the handlebars, princess;
take your feet off those pedals.

There’s a stiff breeze whipping this sunset into shape
and the moment

you stop panting

it’s yours.

Monday, 13 August 2012


Learning to put one foot in front of the other again, learning to
stop the sages who yell faster faster faster for the express bus, for
the trains that leave in the morning.

I know a boy or two who taught themselves to sit and let their skin settle,
rounded up their molecules with a circus whip and cracked SIT

—or who am I kidding? There’s no sawdust, no trumpets and drumroll,
no announcement that now is the moment for peace (Ta-dumM!)

Trying to remember that lucky and happy aren’t synonyms one bit,
and Plato was a fool to believe in immutable forms.

Going to choose the giggle and guffaw of the Infinite Goof,
stop all this belly-aching and trying to prove the world I’m smart.

This girl can roll in the muck waiting for meteors to hit the moon
and waft off the assignments of the working week like
an American Indian wafting messages from the smoke of his fire.

Don’t forget: there’s no parrot on your shoulder demanding
sit straight and look busy.

The referee’s got no medals for a martyr with a scowl.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Good morning gibberish

Puffy eyes, this puffy girl dozed with dreams the morning has yet to overturn. Dreams in buckets. Sloshing and sliding over the wooden floorboards. I'm sleepy.

Sleepy when the morning tries to snag my attention with its fishhook fingers.

Sleepy for online hollering, the internet a sorry dustbowl I sit and wait to settle.

The air turns chalky and red in this breeze and I can't see the things I came here to seek.

Coffee, coffee, cacophonix. Parp your caffeine bugles in the crook of my ear and let me leap out of this skin that's got so goddamn dusty.

I know you're not trying to make me fall face-first to the floor, but I am clinging to the sides of the room like a broken spiderweb who is shocked to find she’s sticky.

Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Give me a set of divining rods and tell me to walk like a tightrope acrobat—foot after foot after foot—until the twitches whisper here is where the hot brown liquid steams through the earth.

Give me a grinder and old rocks that turn to shiny beans under a sleepy noon. Magic beans. I'll trade a thousand cows for a cup of your kisses.

Puffy eyes and an overhanging rock I keep my body tucked up beneath. This dust sticks to my soft and squidgy flesh. This dust lands everywhere, the sleep that crusts in the corners. I can't tell you what the day is demanding yet, but I'm not sure that I'm ready.

I think I'll retreat to the yolk of the egg and cocoon my embryonic self in its shell.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Deadheading #2

This Sunday sky slopes, petulant, towards dusk—
must I quit the weekend’s kites, the summer’s starlings?

Cicadas hissing and chirruping like
mechanical bedsprings bouncing for the 4th of July;

the sky turning Mexican lime,
geranium pink, mandarin.

You breathe an air as sweet as Werthers Originals
and blow candied smokerings, hula-hooping
round the airport towers.

Must this working week lasso your heart with laptop strings?
Why don’t you fall to bed and stroke your softness, sweetheart?

Wake and tramp your untrammeled feet to the twenty
destinations your map has lost in its folds.

Maybe, out there, there’s no hot white seam
running between pleasure and penance.

Maybe the sky doesn’t know that it’s Sunday.

Give yourself up to the drift of dandelion clocks
and cackle at the grandfathers of time.

You’re ready.

Ready to web your feet, to let your
responsibilities fall to the ground.

Deadheaded summer roses.

Just so much mulch the soil’s already prepared to swallow.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The cicadas teach the sky to tapdance

What has become of you, sweet girl, as you sit listening to the first of the night’s cicadas teaching the dusk how to tapdance?

Can you feel a feral tomcat clawing at the strings of your soul?

Does the day-glo pink streak that flirts with your bloodstream start to pulse a little harder; do the veins in your wrists take on a rosy glow?

Are you gawking down the barrel of the television or leaking the winks in your eyes to an ever-ungrateful internet?

And what of tomorrow? Does the threat of Monday ooze into the night before, does the evening blush grey at the thought of the chores for the week?

I want to tell you that you get to choose.

You don’t have to run these thoughts through your head, again and again, until they are soft and worn as Penelope’s cloth.

You get to fling the fear into a park you’ve stacked with wrecking balls and rev up the crusher and watch their metal spines crunch.

Sit and listen to those lovestruck cicadas, endlessly bouncing on their mechanical bedsprings.

Take your grabbing fists and send a lipsticked postcard to decorum yelling GOODBYE SUCKER, because when you tire of waiting for life to unfurl it’s time to get snatchy.

Here: have a heart as light and dandy as August dandelions.

Here: snip the centimetres from your hem and let your knees strike a deal with the tarmac.

Then take take take of this dewy, dusky night; take its barroom sweet-hot-breath conversations and its bucktoothed girls with their daisy chain smiles. Take serenading to the constellations and take another cigarette and take a drink with a sparkler gushing tiny stars and lightning bolts and promises from Zeus.

You’re too pretty to be folded neatly and closed in the drawer. Spin through the night, sweet girl; spin until you can’t stand and you crumple on the floor.

Thursday, 2 August 2012


We were sitting in the disused airport when the storm came. We were sitting beneath the wreck of old pirate ships and the sculptures of hungry crows angled to the sky. We could see it coming long before it arrived.

A greenish-black mushroom cloud sat in the midst of the sunset like a smudge of evil spirits in a gas lamp at dusk. Beams of light spilled out the edges while the smudge harrumphed down to the horizon and squatted malevolently. We did not mind its malevolence; in the distance, the storm was a well-timed aperture that made the snapshot of the evening sublime.

The wind made the broken sales of the pirate ships cackle and flap. A tack-tack-tack of beating rags. When the first drips hit us, we were cocky as the spinning wheels of skateboards and we looked to the heavens and we swore it would pass us by.

    This moment it was drizzle and the next it was pelting with sumo wrestler raindrops, rain     like fat angry bees protecting the hive.

I closed my ears when James gasped and gulped. I had been inside too long with too many moments spent waiting for the wheel of the internet to turn, a slow cantankerous waterwheel here, a sad sit for a brain used to rampaging. 

This was not a British rain. This was a rain that pummeled and exploded on our skin. In moments, my polyester frock was wallpaper paste slathered across my body. I angled my face to the sky and I grinned the grin of the Infinite Goof.

    Thunder cleared his throat. Lightning leapt the high dive and performed a triple pike. And,     under the whims of the wind, the wine bottle teetered.

We stood up. In the expanse of the airport, all unfurling runways and higgeldy allotments, our heads were the highest conductors. In bare feet and wallpaper paste, I walked towards the tarmac.

It was still hot to stand upon. While the ground slammed against the raindrops—like fifties teenagers learning the twist—it was still hot, I swear.

We passed the man with the kite, who was cackling.

He was laughing about tomorrow’s newspapers, while he played an infinite poker with the sky.