the sky at night

you look at the moon in the knowledge

that all those you love live under her

flimsy like a rainbow. just a change

of direction, or the weather, and they’re gone.

manifold pigments shot into space.


in this neck of the woods

at this time of night

bleeding red plonk and pharmaceuticals

my little white star misses me

elle me manque; my stella.

and there’s a hole inside

this whole wise witch

who casts not spells but curses.

i’m lost without you, stellar angel.

wailing into the moonlit sky

my husband has gone missing again

perhaps taken this time by an opportunist sniper

and the children don’t come home

though i keep calling

into the darkness; hello little bear,

ursula, my second daughter.

hello half cut moon lying

on your side rocking as a boat without anchor

with no sight of shore.

someone tied me to the mast

resolute figurehead

so that I could paint that same storm

over and over as if I hadn’t seen it

a thousand times.


and what it comes down to is this:

that no number of clumsy lines of verse

or clumsy lines drawn near dawn

or how much paint daubed in passion, or anger,

all this counts less than a little piece of crap

when my husband has gone awol

and my babies never come home.

and all the love in this feeble heart

beats without time

when there is no table to lay for supper.


if you came this way under cover

cloaked in darkness, lady of the night

who would you meet down this dark alley

lined with raw eggs and used prophylactics?

only me, mae west with a pistol

pleased to see you

pistil and stamen minus fertilisation.


such a pretty open flower

with all her life ahead

my children beckoning, smiling

from the untaken snapshots.

what a piece of work is man

so noble, so brave with weapon drawn

take forty paces, turn, misfire

shots falling on empty ears.

i never thought it would come to this

in the half light half life

staring down the barrel of a half drunk bottle

being half bleeding clever

keeping mum.


yesterday a neighbourhood child,

i’ve known her to “hello” for years but don’t know her name,

rushed home to get me a plaster when this tiny cut on my finger wouldn’t stop bleeding.

the blood messed up the edges of the pages of a book,

got on the biscuit i was trying to eat, kept needing more tissues to soak it up.

i was trying to keep things tidy. i had so many things – too many, really –

i didn’t need that quantity of books or medicines or tissues, plus

i was weighed down by a lot of other stuff i hadn’t even planned to bring,

things which i’d tried to shut inside a cupboard whose door doesn’t fully close

and one handle falls off in your hand almost every time.

something somebody had said kept worming about inside me.

as fast as i could remove it,

and i was using all my powers to do that, as fast as i worked to get it out,

it found its way back into my empty spaces.

i think i’d hoped, i mean i thought i’d thunk, i had this idea that if i sewed

roughly a good amount of words and tidied around them,

and remembered to water them frequently if it didn’t rain for a while,

attended to weeding and that sort of thing, that i could keep the not-wanted at bay,

and fend off at least a proportion of the deeply unpalatable.

i realised i could use the paper bag which my biscuit had come in.

i’d be able to shove all the bloodied tissues into it, the sticky bit off the back

which you detach in order

to apply the plaster to your skin;

it was too late now to do anything about the edges of the pages being blood-stained,

but i could bury most of the rest of this mess

push it down into the far-off shadowy corners of the paper bag

(which must be mine now, since the biscuit was paid for and had come in the bag).

i would hide all the unsavouriness in the bag’s corners,

put the smaller bag into the recesses of the bag which i’d brought out with me,

get the whole ungodly mess into my bin once home

and nobody would be any the wiser.

and today i keep thinking that i wish i had kept my eyes on the child and noted

where exactly home is for her.

that i didn’t seems careless now. i wish i’d paid more attention.