Grounded; the white noise of crickets

Grounded

Swallowed by a hammock
I hide on the paperback floor of Santiago’s skiff,
green finches wheezing in the cork trees –
an escape from my escape.

We’d arrived on the terracotta road
passed sleeping dogs and lime white chapels,
learnt the narrow Moorish streets
and trod the brittle foothills;

I watched your skin olive
as we bathed like lizards on rocks
in full pelt of the mountain sun
before sultry evenings behind shuttered windows,

and me, broken in transit,
sleeping off my Latin temperament
to the white noise of crickets.

(The New Writer 2013)

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Colonials; poetry in an ant nest

A poem I wrote in the collective voice of ants and in the shape of an ant nest.

Colonials

We, the
diggers, tillers
of the sun-baked earth;
architects of secret empires,
of city states and subterranean highways;
shifters of ancient loam, our great megalopolis
mined by worker’s mandibles and our progress snared
in Baltic amber. We, the myrmidons, rank and file on forest floors;
ransackers of citadels and assassins of the royal chamber –
our pieces strewn on battlefields. We, the colony,
nourished by the dew of aphids; sharers
of the social stomach and
scouts to our realm.
We, for queen
and pupa.

(Octavius Magazine 2015)

Jonny Shepherd, modern incarnation.

I refuse to let myself off the hook for this one, sometimes you have to stand by your art. This is the final installment of my interpretation of Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale. During his tale, the young Squire finds himself interrupted by the toadying Franklin, a social climber, and never gets to complete his epic love story; the origins of which are believed to be found in The Arabian Knights. The character, Jonny Shepherd, was invented by Marianne MacRae, one half of Me3 Comedy. He is a face among twenty-one other fictitious artists all taking part in The Pilgrim’s Prize; a modern retelling of The Canterbury Tales using online media.

Sunday Poems; the sofa and the ghost.

Detachment

I think you should know our sofa is refusing to leave.

It’s made a last stand on the landing

after breaking into panic down the hallway –

so I’ve left it sobbing at the sight of the stairs.

When I told it about its loving new home,

it hunched its shoulders and looked away –

keeps on asking about you and blaming itself.

I don’t want things to become uncomfortable,

but

I think it needs to hear the truth from both of us.

We owe it that much at least…

(Obsessed With Pipework 2013)

A Curious Mourning

Under the leer of a waxing magnolia
sits a grizzled old man with onion eyes;
he’s watching the relief of tunnelled water
emerging, counting its seconds with broken twigs.

Today, he fed his toast to the squirrels,
waited for the undertaker’s shoes
to crunch the gravel path.

Kept awake by the reckless possibilities of clouds,
he wonders if water is both scared of the dark
and tired of running. Staring up

at the impossible buddleia growing
from the tired joints of a chimney stack,
he is sad to realise that like himself,
butterflies are scared of heights.

(Dream Catcher 2013)

The Burial

Firstly, thank you to Helen Ivory of poetry e-zine, Ink Sweat & Tears, for recently publishing this. It’s another earlier poem of mine, when the world was all sunshine, flowers and the odd crashed blue tit (poor, unsuspecting thing). I think what I was trying to say in the poem is that with death comes opportunity; the blind slitherers and the waiting robin. It’s rather glum, but I hope there’s also a reassuring earthiness to it, a natural balance going on. If I were to write the poem again, I’d probably find a different way to describe the mourning daffodils, but that was then and this is now, so let us not interrupt our fallen blue tit’s big sleep…

The Burial

What The Weather Man Said

The fastest poem I’ve ever written: the theme was mood swings, medication and a more general feeling of rebellion. I understand not all doctors wear spectacles. My favourite line is the ‘uneven surfaces’.

What the Weather Man Said

My doctor prescribed me an umbrella:

to be worn indoors, twice a day, after meals.

He said it would stop me falling too quickly,

help me land on uneven surfaces

and forget the smell of rain:

Lots of my patients wear umbrellas indoors,

you can trust me because I wear glasses.

That night, I drank the nectar of dreams,

delirious as smoking honey bees.

I woke up longing for bruised skies

leaded by clouds and fat with drizzle;

so I fed my umbrella to the wind,

watched its skeleton bulge as it swallowed,

leaving me to burlesque in puddles,

drink from pools, dance through tunnels,

until the night shivered stars

and the moon spat out its light.

(Ink Sweat & Tears 2014)