she keeps her compliments
on the backs of her hands
and delivers them iced with empathy

dark suited, stiletto booted
she sings you barbed lullabies
coaxing compliance

but these iris eyes
framed by venal laughter lines
cannot commune with her smile

a winning smile

a mouth that brushes both cheeks
and nails that clutch
the uppers of your arms

oh pinion
of graceful

i love you
say her words

i own you
say her eyes

she says

and her words
reek of fear


Give me leave to lose myself among your pages,
to run my finger up your spine
and feel you open in my hands.
Let me bask in our connection
as you tease me with an ending
that can only come too soon.


Back to School

Pavements offer concrete comfort,
scraped knees and
grey play
on a grey day
when the scant sunshine
cannot breach the houses.

Summer’s leaves are long forgotten
and plastic pine needles
give no gift
of nature’s scent
as the tree is bent
back into its box.

Term’s dull mercy
will soon break the tedium,
that scholarly medium
through which this world,
this hard, grey world,
becomes escapable.

Fruit Pastilles

Granny B had a lot to say about other drivers,
which is ironic
as I consider myself among the survivors
of her unique approach to the road …

The mysteries of the yellow cross hatch
made for many a puzzled scratch
of the head as she coasted
with a slipped out clutch
and never attempted
that feathery touch
on the break
to save her passengers
the ache of a
swift stop
that made your heart
drop into your shoes.
She’d stress about the roundabout,
pulling her hair out
when they added extra lanes.
You could almost see the veins
on every drive to do the shopping.
Each drive had the potential
to become a palava
because she’d rather
have clear roads of joyous isolation,
give into the temptation
to slip the stick into neutral
and pootle
all the way

She was a great co-pilot though
and that’s when we’d
grow close
and learn to love
the oddness of each other.

She’d always have a roll of suckers,
ready for the parched lip puckers
of a long drive without water,
kicking ourselves because we ought’ve
remembered to bring a bottle.

My other Granny would
also bring sweets
and put them in a jam jar
in between the seats.
Like her.

Not so with Granny B,
who, like me,
would stash the sweets amongst
the handbag fluff,
sticky enough to attract
all manner of detritus.
We’d suck those crystalline shells
off the Fruit Pastilles,
smiling and whiling the drive away,
spotting Eddie Stobart lorries
(their names were the quarries)
and tallying them to keep
the boredom at bay …
I suppose I could say
that, even though I complained about
carting her here, there and everywhere,
I came to care
very deeply
about our car time together,
that simple pleasure
of memories to treasure
now that my passenger seat is empty.

The Remote

you died this afternoon so
now i’m not sure what to do

i paused the film to take the call
and the remote rests in my hand

i can’t resume the story when
yours has just come to a close

the oven needs a good clean and
the scrubbing might be cathartic

maybe i could bake a cake from the
recipe notes you wrote as a girl

could i drown myself in work or
wine to keep from wallowing

i’m not sure
so i sit
and look at the remote