We arrive, the working week a smear
of rush, a comet’s dust,
streaking out behind us.
Like too-stretched bubble-gum it sags,
separates and falls away;
dead skin in the space of yesterday.

We can consider the plump teapot;
the teacup,
the tea.
Today the milk can trickle, gentle,
not gush or plop solid.
We can sip,
not gulp.

We can pad through the house barefoot;
acquaint ourselves with our own carpet,
feel its softness on our soles
and hear each footstep’s triplet beat –
heel ball toe
prints just faint
and gone –
barely ripples in air.

We can climb back into a daylight bed;
live backwards to lie still.
Moments inflate to vast marshmallows of time,
slowing the mouth, sweet on the tongue,
staying the heart’s gallop.

from Slow Things



for Edna

I remember overhead discussions about the acquisition,
serious, furtive; as if they were drunk on fairy dust.

My father would make the purchase on his Saudi trip;
my grandfather shook his hand, puffed out his small chest,
a sparrow pretending to be a goldfinch.

They could afford ten grams; the weight was paramount,
its purity guaranteed. It would hang from her neck,

an emblem of status, of hard graft, of a little Del Boy swank.
Everyone was rather pleased with themselves back then.
So I knew the strange word ‘ingot’ at a young age.

A smooth oblong bar with the face of Fortuna;
like a dazzling sea maiden, serene in profile,

with grain and coin spilling from her headdress –
the crest of their retirement, their harvest.
On the reverse the provenance and assay:

four nines fine, and Suisse; solid, bullion-true.
My grandmother wore it often, drenched in Youth Dew;

exotic at parties like an old Cleopatra dripping gold.
Her hair never greyed; the ingot never tarnished,
just seemed a shade too bright against her ashening skin.

My mother got her cameos, those strange translucent ladies;
I don’t know who got the opals; too much milk, too little fire.

I got the ingot, small heavy slab of satisfaction,
like a plundered chunk of cheese or slathered butter,
as she was before she thinned to whey and water.

Commended, Ware Poets 2016




We went to see The English Patient because I fancied Ralph Fiennes.
Not long after you bought me a copy of Herodotus;
establishing and mocking us, it smelt of age and charity shops.
I never tucked special things in it though; I had my shoeboxes.

Your college room was snug. Mine was big and square, but cold.
Your sloping ceilings and skylight were cupped hands round butterflies;
the small sill deep enough for the jelly bowl, while it set,
by your Dennis Bergkamp mug that had lost its handle.

We took pictures of each other pulling faces – I had never done that,
dismantled my best smile, crossed my eyes, poked out my tongue.
You cut yourself shaving – a photo of blood cutting through foam,
a crimson fork jagged in a white sky.

We made each other laugh; you wore a dress at my girls’ tea party,
I wore long skirts with no knickers while we did laundry together.
I loved your places. Your parents’ house, your bedroom,
your horrible home town. So I made them mine.

Commended, The Ver Prize 2016