Sunday, 11 June 2017


(Written in response to Labour's election campaign May/June 2017)

When we wake up
the sun that now trickles shyly through the
gap in the curtains, blushing at its boldness, will
beam through bright, solid and oozing liquid light,
a golden lightsaber and we'll wield it
for The Good Side.

When we are born
from our crusty dull cocoons which are already
splitting and cracking and begging to be
cast off, flakes of shell will burst like bullets 
from our fleshy colourful bodies with
butterfly wings of steel.

When we march
we will swarm out of every house
ants joining the ranks, morphing and multiplying
throughout the land, we will occupy every corner,
peninsulas to rocky shores, city fogs to mountaintops
the earth drumming along.

When we scream
the sound will combine the screech of all the animals,
the fox's squeal, the robin's melody, the dog's rumble
and the sound will leak out of our skin like sweat
dripping and shining with our collective cry
we will be heard.

This is the time.
this selfie-taking, dab-dancing, tweet-trolling time,
We can rise like a flood of humanity, we can
Drown the doubters, surf atop a wave of empathy so 
Clamp your eyelids open, kick off your shell, boot your feet 
Wake up, wake up, wake up.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Clendish Wood

I have caught a moment
I am lifted in the gravity of time
In Clendish Wood.
The trees here breathe in the wind
Right deep into their diaphragms.
A symphony of birds chatting, having a barny,
Whistling sweet nothings through the trees.

A wood and a motorway, parallel,
And though there’s no drowning out
The drones – human and machine –
I chose where I place my focus.
Their sounds will not diminish you.

The wood keeps me here like a womb
And the trees close behind me like Harry
When he enters the maze - the fear,
Yes, but also the possibility, the drive.
The brances swirl in the breeze like
Perfect paintstrokes designing the sky
And two walls of bright white blossom
Steer my way, caging me in like
The sweetest of kidnaps.

Sticky weed, remember that?

I wonder why Nature makes me cry.
It’s relief, it’s remembrance, it’s engrained
In our cells since the beginning. This
Is where we’re meant to be. This
Is who we are. Well –
I will water the wildness.

The sunlight through the moving trees
Flashes like a mirrorball all around,
While leaves parachute their way to the ground
With speed and courage and the wood
Catch them gracefully and gratefully.

And there’s always a rustle without a being,
No matter how hard you look. The holly has
Turned brown and crisp and lost
Any prickly status, clinging to it’s mother
For dear life, positively soft. There’s the

Path, I have to go. I can't stay here forever.
So with a sodden leaf-laden heart, I go on,
Until the next time, and start the day.

Saturday, 18 March 2017


Sometimes when I stand waiting for the tube, 
I throw my fuzzy gaze around me, and focus;
I watch the huge beast of a train leave the platform,
And the minute it's gone, the very second,
I wonder how something so vast was ever
Right in front of my eyes. Did I dream it?
Now it's just a rusty grey chasm of space 
Seemingly small, old, effortless empty,
Burden removed, groaning and stretching.
Like when you evaporated from my heart.
I wondered how, and why, you ever
Blew up the capacity of my insides. 
But you left there like the speed of the train,
And now all that space, all that space...
I breathe growth. I dance in it. I fly in it. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Doris Day

(After storm Doris - 23rd February 2017)

Doris axed the branches from the trees,
Brutally cut them down, blew them
With fierce precision onto
The battle field. The park.
And there she laid them down,
Rows and rows and rows,
Spreading and spreading,
Like soldiers laid out after the war -
A cemetery of cindered sprigs.
And there she left them in peace.

I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine.

Hard to - see the truth,
Hard to - create beauty.
Contentment not ever being
Known for its strength as
An emotion. Through the ages.
No one ever sat and wrote 
Soaring operas, heart-punching poems,
Stomach-ocean tragedies, hand-shaking plays
By being fine. By being OK.

I breathed in a bit of Doris
Through my left nostril, let her
Swirl around my soul and settle there.
I have a storm inside me.
It is simmering now, it is weak, barely
Lifting the lazy leaves off their laurels
Now. But wait. Wait. Wait.
I have a storm inside me,
And Lord, one day she'll blow. 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Knock Knock

Travel is a tricky mistress. She lobs you on her steel-winged back and soars you over to another world, another rhythm. Then she plonks you back. Back here. In my room. And I start to think - did any of it even happen? Was it a dream? But through the gauze of jet-lag I try to remember... that I saw... I'm sure that I saw...

I saw a pair of rubber gloves on a washing line, pegged together by the middle finger in the prayer position. Praying for what? That eventually they'd be reincarnated into human hands instead of plastic cases for them?

I saw a branch with leaves so perfect and precise they looked like bows tied along a maypole. Only Nature could do it so well.

I saw the mountains put on their light evening shawls of the milkiest mist. And somewhere further along the range, the dry ice machine had been left on, on over-drive, pouring and oozing out between the trees.

I saw the stray dogs sleep away the time and the stray cats glare away the time. 

I saw a farmer stand in a field like a scarecrow, surveying our slow passing train, and at the last moment he waved his straw hand with such vitality it split his canvas face into a grin. 

I saw children swarm like ants out of the hive of their schoolroom to wave with their entire bodies at us.

I saw a piece of tofu get invaded by the twirl of my rice noodles, it strapped itself to the back of my fork like a child clinging to the back of its mother. 

I saw sad little crumpled ghosts of lanterns, grey and thin and smouldered, their wishes outgrown them.

I saw the small ripped corners of Coffeemate sachets get taken by the wind, they blew an absurd plastic confetti at us, a western convenience rubbish celebration in our faces.  

I saw a long leaf hanging by a thread to its mother tree, swinging like a pendulum and keeping perfect time. And then I hear it - one two, one two... one two, one two...

I saw the knock knock pulse of a double fit of lightning, revealing the clouds like an x-ray, a naked sky. 

I felt the wind blow such unpredictable splats at my face, it felt like we were locked in an invisible game of paint ball, and he was winning.

I heard... Or I thought I heard... The growl of a wild bear? No, it was the drone of a motorbike. 

I heard the laughter and garbling of a taxi driver. It sounded like a woman screaming, or crying, or mourning, or warbling, an unimpressionable sound, of colour and warmth and an outpouring of joy. It slapped grins on our faces like they'd been stamped there. 

I heard thick hardy branches rattle against the open windows of the train carriages like the world's longest glockenspiel.

The pulsing beat of
Every street corner
Tuk tuk, tuk tuk
Or the crickets cry
Chirp chirp, chirp chirp
Or the bass of the boat
Chug chug, chug chug
Or the metronome leaf
One two, one two
The heartbeat of a nation 
Soaring on the wind
The translation comes
And finally I get it
What it's saying is
I'm free, I'm free, I'm free...

So I suppose it did happen. The sights live forever in the black of my eyelids. Plus the itchy mosquito bite raging on my leg is as good a reminder as any.

Sunday, 30 October 2016


Where the fuck is this place? Google maps is going mental, me and the blue dot seem to be darting about as fast as superheroes. Pretty pathetic Batman and Robin we'd make. Ok it's settled. Can't be far now. I nearly trip stepping off the curb but manage to rescue it and cross over the road. Silk Street, this is it.
My heart is beating so fast and so loud it seems amazing to me that the people I pass don't hold out their arms ready to catch me. I feel hot and freezing and shivery and like a drum all at the same time. It's like I'm going through the shock of it before it even happens. Which I suppose is good. Should be a walk in the park.
I got a text from him earlier today. "Sam. Can we meet up for a talk later? 6pm. Lakeside. Barbican". I don't know why he bothered asking the question and then giving me instructions. I didn't reply but he knew I'd come. He loves all that mysterious intrigue. And at the same time as thinking this, I wonder why I'm thinking about what he loves when he's about to break up with me.
He's already there, thank god. And even though I know what's coming, nothing can quite prepare me for the sight of the person who once loved me, who I still love, and is about to be severed from my life. Surprised that my spine is still managing to carry my jelly frame in a relatively straight line, I head over to him.
He's positioned himself artistically in front of one of the fountains, feet dangling loose. He's wearing a relaxed cable knit beige jumper for the occasion. A perfect choice. Nothing says break up like "I just needed to be in my comfy clothes today". I have probably dressed a bit too carefully, but I think I look alright. You need to feel you look alright at these times, right?
He's got his book in his lap, and is looking very moved by what he's reading. My guess is that he's been keeping up this subtle solemn expression for at least the last ten minutes anticipating my approach. He must be dying to crack a smile.
Suddenly he looks up sharply and gazes out at the water, no doubt finding some symbolism between himself and the ebbs and flows. He does this angle on purpose cause he knows it shows his perfect solid manly fucking gorgeous jawbone. He must have seen me coming.
Here goes.
"Hi," I say.
He looks up, holds my gaze and manages a weak and emotion-filled "hey..."
You can actually hear the dot dot dots in his voice, I swear to god.
It's difficult to know how to play this, seeing as I know exactly what's going to happen. I text my mate Karen earlier and she was all supportive and useless. She insisted that I have no idea what it could be about, don't presume anything, just go along with an open mind. At least she didn't say he might propose. 
I decide to let him run the game, I'm not gonna give him anything. I sit down next to him and he reaches out and holds me for a long while. Usually I'd just call it a hug, but he actually really is holding me. When he pulls away, he looks into my eyes and if I'm honest it feels incredibly awkward and weird. I feign a 'this is too much' expression to pull away and he nails an 'I understand' face.
"You remember this place?"
That's what he starts with. I take this moment to look around to actually remember where I am. I was so concerned about getting there and what's about to happen that I can't even remember... It's not the Southbank, I know that much, I had to cross the river. Northbank?
"We came here to see a film, years ago, you said it was like going to a bunker it was so deep underground."
I don't have a clue what he's talking about, nor do I remember it. Is he thinking of a previous girlfriend? In any case, he seems to want me to be affected by the symbolism of it despite the fact I have no memory of this apparently emotionally weighted evening. I can't quite think what to do or say so I resolve to look down and let the evening sun flutter through my eyelashes hoping I look graceful and folourn. Or I'd settle for slightly pretty.
I think the gesture gives him the effect that I'm deeply impacted by the memory. He puts his hands on mine and they are so warm, I hate that because for necessity's sake I really want him to keep them there. 
"You're a wonderful woman, I want you to know that. You are sunshine personified. And just cause we've run our course-"
I stop listening. I realise that this is actually how he's gonna do it. He's not gonna be brave enough to say what the hell's going on. He's not gonna own the break up. He's just gonna assume I know. Which of course I do. But he doesn't know that. And this simple act of cowardice tells me more about him than anything I've known in our two years together. And it's at that precise moment that I know who he really is.
A pigeon is hopping dead close behind him so I decide to look away and focus on the bird. The pigeon's almost comically close and I will it to bite his hand or poop on his head (without the good luck) or flap like crazy right in his chiseled face.
He's still talking, really relishing himself. Even when he's breaking up with me, he's still dominating the conversation. It's really all about his anguish. I could be anyone as long as he gets to properly feel all the anguish in the fucking world. 
In between chapters, he stares at me for way too long. It feels very strange and I'm dangerously close to hysterical laughter but I think I'm supposed to look pained. I'm bloody freezing to be honest so pained isn’t too much of a push. He properly knows about my bad blood circulation as well, he's one of these 'wear socks in bed' nazis. Why couldn't he have broken up with me in Nando's? I could murder a spicy rice right now. Oh yeah, look pained.
"You're going to be OK," he says. 
I know mate, I'm already planning my post break-up google: 'nearest nandos'.
"You’re right. I think I will-"
"You will"
"Yes. I think I will-"
"You will"
He's pissing me off now, but I do a self-deprecating smile and really add some gravitas when I say "Thank you."
The wind changes and I get a right splattering in the face from the fountain. There goes my perfect base. If he's gonna break up with me, I thought earlier, at least I can make sure my make up is bloody flawless. As if he's gonna see my blusher sat perfectly and pertly on the apples of my cheeks and change his mind. Pathetic.
"It's time for us to move on Sam," he says. And he's actually getting his stuff together. That was bloody quick, I think, and now he's actually gonna leave me sat here freezing my tits off in god knows where with an over-confident pigeon. But before he actually leaves, his final scene. He stares at me. And stares. And stares. 
A bit of hair drops in his eye and I know it must be really annoying him. It must be well itchy. But he won't push it away, at least not without a gesture of grief or to wipe away a tear. He doesn't want to look vain.
And then he's gone. I see him slide out of the frame of my eyesight. My eyeballs are locked, staring, and he just... disappears from view. I don't watch him walk away although I know he wants me to. I just stare at the fountain blankly, my mouth hanging from the slack strings of my jaw bone. My expression, I know, is something akin to gormless.
Ten minutes later, I find myself back on the odd streets of the deserted City. It's Saturday and everything feels eerie and unreal. I mean when Boots is closed on a Saturday, you know it's an odd place. I have no idea where I'm going or where I am, I haven't even got the energy or sense to get my phone out and have a look. I don't want to see any texts. I don't want to see anything.
           "Excuse me, miss."
I nearly jump out of my skin. A homeless man stands in front of me.
“Excuse me, miss, I'm trying to get into a hostel tonight. I'm homeless and - it's gonna be a cold night and -"
I get my purse out of my bag and see what I have.   
"Thank you, miss, thank you. Do you know - you're the first person who has looked at me all day. Let alone helped me. You're the first person who's even seen me, thank you, thank you so... are you alright miss?"
My face is soaked. Snot, sweat, tears, the lot. It'll always catch you off guard, won't it, heartbreak?
I give him everything in my purse. Amazingly it amounts to thirty three pounds and sixty one pence. 
I offer the man the warmest wobbliest smile I can muster and walk on, completely and utterly aimless. I decide to trust my inner compass and weave my way between the soulless mocking towers hopefully towards home. 
No Nando’s. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016


It's not very long before
They start rolling out the free
Bottled water. "Sparkling or-?"

Still we're here. A standstill,

A brief cloud of momentum
Paused. An onward feeling halted.

We get sporadic updated from

A faceless man who has the grace
To sound sad. No one else.

A man opposite me jokes

To his near-by stranger that soon
"Drinks on me!". How funny.

Meanwhile a person is lying

Dead on the rail tracks beneath us.
A human. A child. Once.