Foxes (Sleepless)

I wrote this in March 2016, whilst in a relationship that would no longer be relevant two months later. Words can shift shape, transcend certain parts of our lives, be the landing place we can go back to, and see with eyes made wise by hindsight. No bitterness, no regret that the poem survived us, as I wouldn’t be where I am now, happy and authentic to myself.

 

My darling, whilst you slept,

I rose slow

Like a fox from a set

And crept

Down padded stairs,

Then let

Myself into winter’s chill bite

Frozen mandible jaw jabbing

My bones;

Each star a bright

Gleaming molar,

Grinding away the night

I lit a fag,

Deep breathed

Each dizzying drag,

Stood off balance

Under relentless green dwarves

Picking for the shine,

The crying birds shrill sheen

Painting early morning game,

Lemon dye of tentative

Sun in the east,

5am shyly keen

For a burning god’s fame

Space overhead,

Space in between

Planets, constellations, comets;

An empty spot in our bed

Beyond sleep’s reach –

The same.

Soon I’ll creep back

Next to you honey,

To insomnia’s dull buzz

And your arms folding dreams,

Sink into light

Streaming citrine

Knowing you are mine,

Not separated by closed eyes,

Not severed at the seams,

Holding love at the end

Of a line

Cheesecake Concept Piece

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Cheesecake:

Oh, the divine

Slice

Of your body

On porcelain sheets;

White

Patina’d

Plate to host a feast

Piece by piece –

Strawberried mouth,

Red and seeded

Speech;

I lick, kiss;

Crumbs of ecstasy whipped,

Bowl curved

In hips

Belly

Breast

Lips

Rounded

From

Which I can dip

My tongue

And eat

The vanilla, the

Cream

Cut up neat

The cramming of

Black forest cherries

Sticky and sweet

Blue Bird Concept Piece

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Dull blade of language,

From blue shard beak,

A flat sonnet

For one who cannot speak

Beneath the bell jar,

Vowels prising leaden

A once morning song;

Abraded letters caged

From petrified tongue

Run aground

From the grinding sky

Mouthing mimicry and

Rejecting the helpless things

That can no longer fly

In fast falling notes

My bird is violent cyan

Within the glass;

Sentinel plummeted

From manic nest

Criss-crossing clipped captive

Not fit for cleverness

With each beat of dull wing

Dragging feathers low

The slow words,

The slow aching words not arriving

As they did to Plath or Poe;

My bird is blue,

Lacking the grim poise

Of a crow rasping

Its bloody prose

From gnarled yew tree

Too close

To sombre headstones

It lacks the horror

Of weathered bones

In repose;

No terror from screeching owl

No frantic yellow

Of a full moon’s blare

Creeping morose

My bird is blue,

From languid eye

To shrinking foot

One colour exposed,

And its song which never comes

Is dull

As all sorrows

Are when fixed undone

New Tenant

I lease the rates,

Ease my heart out

Tease my heart out

Let another one in,

Infatuation to unpack and dwell

In four slimy chambers

With dank russet iron smell,

Black tarry swell

Clamping tighter tighter

Dark bloody cell

And it, the new tenant

Fitting well

Apt to stay a while

And never tell

Of lost sense

Which scrambles like

Ailing hounds

From hell;

Like plague rats repelled

From Death’s toll bell

And inside I hear

A doll voice-tiny yell

“What colour can I

Paint your ribs?”

Creak as they may

Circling circling bone manacles

That even my lungs could not dispel

And yet I

In dystopian skin

Inhabited notice change within

As ardour sets on small feet

To expel the rot,

Air the place

Clear space

Greet mess

And sort

Bit by bit

Day one my lips were

Lashed to kiss,

Day two veins tangled

In strangled blue grip,

Day three

A path paved to my spine,

Garden in my hot skull

Stained hope at the eyes

Day four

Worried guests came to dine,

Gnawed a bit,

Jostled and declined

An invitation to stay all night;

“Too full,” they said

As they took flight

And then day five,

Humble, quiet

Sat on its heels,

Without warning ignited

Fierce inferno

To burn flesh slow,

Crackling ardent hiss

In flames of rose;

Smouldering under my clothes

See there I am,

There I am,

Glowing and unable to resist

As there you are,

There you are

On fire and hard to miss

Held by your halo

You bastard arsonist

Insidious Concept Piece

 

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Insidious:

In the keep,

The walls are stretched,

Ink smudged

With mould that

Blooms, changes shape,

And grows

Into the monster’s snarl

Large and disjointed growl

Of some dishevelled creature

Which has its wiles

And misfortune

Dripping from its jowls

Some salivary Morse code,

Here a dash and a dot

Abroad in the clawprints

Where it has crawled

To tower top,

The boards shrinking

And wood withered

Away from poisonous

Padded foot

If we could only drown

The damn thing in the moat,

Or throw it in the hold –

Yet

This thought or that

Keeps the being’s spirit

Afloat, kicking, alive,

No good

We’ll whistle a song, stoke

The flames and lock the

Doors shut;

If we stop, go silent

We’ll hear the handle turn

Or the thud, thud, thud

And howls

From above