Hope

Hope is being a small child

And wanting a red bike,

Then watching in horror

As your parents buy one

With a blue frame;

You turn resolute

And choose

Not to ride it,

So it stays in the garage

Where it rusts slowly

Until it’s sold

At a local carboot,

And then you want it again

Hope is longing to go

To a party

Attended by all

Your classmates;

There’ll be jelly, and ice cream,

And a bouncy castle

And face painting,

And a clown,

Though admittedly

You’re terrified

And wouldn’t accept

A balloon animal they’ve made,

But still you want to go,

And it’s not ‘til weeks after

That you find the invitation

At the back of your desk drawer,

The RSVP too late

Hope is being an adult,

Made delirious by choice;

You can be this or that,

Anything you’ve dreamed

Infinitely various,

All your desires encompassed

In the paths you can tread

To make it to the top,

When really you don’t have

A head for heights,

And you want it to stop

And it’s easier to succumb to vice

When not all directions point up

Hope is being in love,

And bargaining for love in return,

Though passion isn’t for sale,

And it takes years and years,

Person after person,

And either you forget,

Or you realise it’s an exchange,

A trade to be bartered,

Held fast with flowers,

Dinners, keepsakes, possibly a ring

To extend the lease

On a shoestring budget,

The romance no less diminished

With fixed rates

Hope is wanting

Life after death;

Wanting a dialogue

To be half softly spoken

That even with its stilted language,

Its pauses,

Doesn’t mean it has ceased;

Perhaps you can’t believe

That living comes to an end,

Or that there’ll be grass

Growing over a silent grave

Whilst the bereaved give name

To loss and clichéd eulogies

And clutch at memories and grief

Punctuated by stories

Of what alive you did;

And in a way you’ll get this last wish

Though you won’t be around

To endure its sad bliss

Famous

It seems there are those only famous for the sake of being famous; and it seems fame can be exhausting. Everyone wants their 15 minutes, but as I write here, not everyone knows how to spend it. Also, sex sells. Sex definitely sells.

 

We’ll take it,

Our 15 minutes of fame,

Since everyone gets their share

As advocated by the Prince of Pop Art,

The King of Bohemians,

Warhol with the funny hair

Who opened his doors

To the world and their knacks

Playwrights, patrons, the lip syncing

Drag acts and Hollywood heroes

Canned at The Factory,

Clearly labelled by the tin,

A media-packed feast

For breakfast, lunch and tea

Plunged into again

On the scene

By gluttony ensnared

Whilst in the spotlight

We’ll advocate

Our own brand,

The House Special garnished

For a singular meal

Though what that is

Hasn’t yet been renowned,

But we’ll think before

The quarter is up,

And improvise after we’ve

Perhaps had a drink

With 3 more waiting in the hand

Under the bright burning flood

It soon becomes clear:

Neither of us can sing,

We can’t co-ordinate our

Unwilling limbs to dance,

Nor can we perform tricks

In too-large polka-dotted pants;

Though comedic to freeze

On the spot in a blue wig,

It can only be done twice

Before boredom sets in,

And it isn’t an impression

We want to enhance

The only broad way

To get anywhere fast

Is to tell the story of us straight

From the mouth;

No paper to fix,

No pen to bind,

From the top of the head

The tale will have to unwind

Cautionary to the act of writing

Each line as it is,

Pausing and pausing

To draw emphasis –

No that isn’t where we stand

We’ll whizz through

The ‘where’s’ and the ‘when’s’

And pure happenstance,

Condense our first meeting

To a hello and a sultry glance,

Then hop right into bed at the blink

Of an eye,

 Fixate on the kissing,

The fucking, the sighing,

Never mind the flowers,

The phone calls,

The nerves of waiting:

Fast-forwarded on the reel

Between 2 months of dating

It’s exhausting,

Is fornicating for flash

Fiction’s sake`

We’re begging for the timer

To set a more sedentary pace,

As with everything,

Sex should be had in moderation,

Not in a mission abased

To boast the skills,

The tabloid sensation

Or appease a seasoned palette

For a gourmet plate

Soon gone sour

When 15 minutes has run late

The relief when it’s over

Is deeper than a

Post-coital smoke;

We haven’t the

Legs for the fame ship,

Our lips have grown coarse;

I’ll be quite content to compose

A book to peruse

Full of kitten photos

And all so sensible shoes

As you paint our own stage set

Behind the front door;

We’ll be stars then,

A small cast of 2

Locked in unvoyeured embrace

Undisturbed by applause

Sing

A sterile night in January,

Was when I heard you sing,

Your low voice filtering the darkness

From a dim-lit bar,

The walls sepia-framed with the

Thrum of Madonna’s

‘Papa Don’t Preach’

To heads half-turned in the gloom,

Half-planetary imitations

Of the universe condensed

To a shaded set

Centring around a different kind

Of star

 

I felt I was the only listener,

Or should have been

I wanted the rest of them

To disappear like the snow,

Melting despite the cold,

On the pub’s front steps

As they ran in rivulets home

From the freeze

When the bell for last orders

Had long since chimed

 

Instead I asked you to

Join me in a smoke

With knees weak

At your song’s invocation

And we huddled, close as we might

Through clouds of nicotine,

For warmth in the 2D board

Of deep winter’s monochrome,

The applause subtle and quiet

 

Months from then,

I tune the station as we cook,

Static peppering the charts

And our food chanting steam

In a hot pan over

A high flame;

 I imagine announcing

My love live on a radio stream,

An incantation you’ve spoken to life,

Added to plates we dance to tables,

Autographed on forks and knives

Beach

There are flowers tied

To black railings above the coast,

A memorial held hostage

To those who went out in a boat

And never returned,

Their crew now embodied in jaded stalks

Whistling shanties under their bonds

To a Mariner’s squall

 

It’s the same at every beach,

Bouquets by the greyed bunch

Captive and crowding

Above the waves jewelled

Like a serpent’s back glistening

Agate if the day is bright,

Otherwise a dull oily green flat

Sullen under clouds coiling a storm

 

We built sandcastles upon

One of those shores up north,

And afterwards scrubbed

Impure sand from under our nails

Stooping over water wading

Over our knees

To trade rough beads

For clean palms. We wanted

To gather shells

 

Sometimes, I visit your grave.

It’s bound inland,

Fixed under a stone that

No lapping can dislodge;

No, not even the heaviest downpour

Can make it move,

Nor flood you from your own ship

A one-ticket voyage

Long ago set sail

With a price I cannot afford

 

I stand there,

And I think of the day

We heard the gulls call,

Their own unrefined prayer

For rain piercing the warm

Of two hands’ vespers

Beneath an omnipotent sun

Nurse

With modern day women, there is often a juggling act between raising children and going to difficult jobs. In this piece I tried to show how nurses are people as well as caregivers; people with families who are still dedicated to making others as comfortable as possible, despite their own tiredness, or sadness that they can’t do more to help. Often when their shifts ends they take home the stories of the patients they’ve cared for, as emotion doesn’t care for the 9-5. I’m exceptionally proud to have a nurse as a parent.

 

Her fob-watch displays 3am

With its upside down dial,

Her smatter of silver

Heavy as a medal

Against a blue uniform

Carefully ironed on her table,

Its folds now

Sharp under sodium steeped

Lighting

She has rounds to make,

Our lady without a lamp

I’m awake too,

I can envision her gliding

In her cracked leather shoes,

Across linoleum floors illuminated

In strips of white;

Slipping away

From rows of rooms

With their sleeping patients

Loosening the hours between

Their care and home

With blood pressure obs

And needle disposal,

Metallic shards like the spines

Of fascinating beasts grown dull

After each use

She is on a foreign time continent,

And she is accustomed

To contaminated creatures

Of hospital stays

She hopes there won’t

Be another body

To lay out with enough space

For a strange family’s grief;

Her children will want breakfast

And a lift to school,

And dressing a cadaver would make

Her late to filling five cereal bowls

And the pulling on

Of small boots if the weather is cold

Sterile as winter,

Anaemic as December’s palsied grip

The shift has grown old:

It’s now 4:48am,

And she’s scribbling notes

With military precision for

The handover sheet

For the morning’s regiment

Of bright faces

Fresh from the snow:

Christmas amongst the ranks.

She’ll do this again

Tomorrow night;

Our lady without a lamp

 

Immortal

I like to think, I won’t be gone

When my breathing has dwindled;

To post-life’s low hum

Orchestrated in

Note amassed story

Of days flitted past,

Their arrogant immortality looped

On cinematic reel

Re-enacted for an audience

Picked over again until they know

Where I stood,

Knew who I was,

And how I spoke your name,

And what I would

Do if I could walk the boards

Another hour

Across a global stage

I’d be the shadow

Behind the scenic door,

With a lover’s caress

To rival a moth’s wing,

And I’ll turn slow

To a song no one else can hear

The final waltz

Envied in its quiet close

The ghost of a crescendo

Whispered thickly

Through inaudible assonance,

Enunciating the Bard’s words

Performed generations before

I’ll compose, in theatrical form,

Cryptic lines

To an obsolete script,

To amount to a playwright;

My epitaph the title

Of an infinite play,

My last actions

Curtained directions exuent;

My last words

Up in lights

Above an occupant robbed grave

210 Years

For twenty-one decades I could live,

And my bones wouldn’t set into stone,

As there is a crime I must contrive,

And it is a crime I can’t offer to atone –

For these veins of mine can remain untried

As much as be allowed to run cold;

Not whilst their fierce heat inside

Blazes high in Porphyronic haze

That can’t be alchemised or sold

At the hearth of sin, sparks catch,

Lapping their flames into bliss

Below the melting point akin to wrath,

Each fervent bubble, stir and hiss

Testament to degree lust-twinned,

Innocent and yearning for the hand

That first struck the match:

Whose owner, it is said,

Lit the inferno, then vigorously fanned –

Only to frame the fire,

And for a seeming century sit back