Sunday, 28 April 2013


He lay face-up, on his back, like a corpse.
He wouldn’t speak so I bit him, trying
after five thousand years to wake him up,
pressed to his side like a cat.
He thought himself a dying dog
so I pawed him, suffered his wet black jaws,
kitten-hunched, bent to his huge skull
and cut him with my claws.
He once said all women were animals;
wore each tail like a bandage—
my sleeping, jewelled Anubis.
Made me his snow-soft Persian
to warm his buried bones
but still he wouldn’t speak
as I tore him, my whimpering king,
underworld and underdog
who holds his dripping tongue.
We could fight in hieroglyphics,
lie flat in the freezing crypts.

But I could match his silence—
sanded claws etching his belly,
writing my rattling name.
Bastet pearled red from his skin.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ar Lan Y Môr

Ar lan y môr mae rhosys cochion.
In the front seat, his hand a bloodless glove
pressed to the passenger window,
grazing a bard’s palaver of birds with the point
of a stubbed little nail—
charcoal mornings, the bleary light
crumbling art-canvas, open-eyed
seatown galleries spitting oil-skins,
mother-of-pearl tides roll themselves out
like wounded dogs, limping the shores
of all we know
as the crowblack, fishboat-bobbing sea
foaming the ale-coloured glass.
White rose spray on the drowning bar;
the salt-nut crunching crowds.

Some days in a Celtic mood
he will sing the shimmering rain,
roll out his tongue in a London sky
but tasting only ash
remember a hymn in a Swansea voice—
blow every word til the flowering smoke
sheds itself like a rose
in an evening starless and bible-black-- 
suffer the wheeze of city haze
to find the old sea in its lights.

Sunday, 21 April 2013


In the week the War was over
she leaned over the hedgerow,
cracking gum in the rain.
Dad would be home any minute, she said—
loping through iron gates, drops
spitting on his brow like wet bullets, propped
on a bad leg, arms wide open.
Poppies licking his fingers.
Fields of red, so she said, as though
she were speaking of fairies—
whole meadows, masses
splashed in the wild, curtseying
in their little red skirts ‘til the grasses
spat out the crouching-men, smoked,
found peace in flowers.
Later, wood crosses
pushed from the earth like bones,
calcium gifts, the rise of an old friend's rib.
From a crying gate, she frowned
at the thought of him sailing to Britain—
the apple-bobbing hills of gold;
roar of a slaughterhouse gun.

The late sky cramped with thunder
and Mother died making tea.
A letter, curled white on the milk-jug.
Telegrams told of the rain.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


The sudden shock of the dark
turns us both into strangers.
I feel its weight upon me
in the hand unwrapping my thigh
like a soft gift. Somewhere
the clouds have howled shut,
trapped a whole moon between them
like these smoke-haloes, wax rings
bound to my body from memory.
Ghost-candles burn you to verse.
It is like this, remembering
blank inches of cigarette trapped
between laughter, blowing blue words
on wet pavements,  rain-mizzle;
a drunk chandelier of stars
where later the sick-swinging glow
of a lightbulb shatters,
melting our shapes. It is like this,
the sweltering wax of two candles
tipping, our glittering stalactite limbs
a knot of Pompeian stone.
The flickering breath of monoxides.

When the dark staggers in I will kill it—
remember with struck little matches.
Smoke-stalks and shadows like inkwells.
The candles crack open like blooms.

Monday, 8 April 2013

In Time

My lovers jut out of photographs
like broken bones. In time, I will shrug them off
coolly, pack them off like bad children
running away from home. In time
they will not hurt me.

My twenty-year old lover on a keyring
has a smile like a shattered plate.
I liked his crooked ways, his broken lips
were a masterpiece put back together.
I feel his mouth out of photographs
blowing my perfumed neck,
sucking my petalled ear;
my ivory skin was a china doll’s
his grandmother kept by the bed.
I pressed to his light like a flower.
He hardened to pockets of rubies.

My boy from the glittering seashore
gleams like mother-of-pearl,
the water forever rolling
over his hairless chest, smooth
and brown as an almond. His feet grow
upwards from sand-dunes, his body
a spreading tree. I pluck at the dangling fruit;
remember the taste of sin
as it clung to my mouth like lemons.
I wore the same china doll dress,
only this time he called me a siren.
Thrilled with my dangerous legs.

Stupid girl—
in years I will find them in sepia,
discover an old dress
like pulled seaweed, drained of the girl
who has outgrown the full-length mirrors
but waltzes forever in frames.
In time I will haunt his old body,
find it stooped like a reed.
Despite myself, count all my fingers
searching the tomb of his mouth.

My watch ticks on, medicinal.
In time I will slip on old ballgowns,
pick at a pearly old wound.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dialling Tone

After the tone, there is only a gap
I can try to pack with words.
It is like singing a serenade into the eye
of an utterly useless skull,
its dusty smile locked in the bones.
I press my nose to the mouthpiece,
draw out the foul odours
of small talk. We were always shouting
down telephones from separate rooms,
coughing goodbyes in hotel beds.
Room service charged us the earth.
The white walls shrank to a telephone box
so I always kept change on the bedside.
Those were the best times to call—
3am. I could shock you into greeting,
listen to you wake and turn furious.
Now I must leave you a message,
a small skeleton of words
you will shoulder to your ear whilst you dress.
I hesitate, hold the phone like a breadknife.
Make the first terrible cut. Hello.
My heart jumps like a punched number.
On and on it flatlines—
dialling tone.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Conqueror

You wore your new accent
like a souvenir. You returned to bed
in your hometown one last evening
with an emperor’s walk
and laurels in your hair, picking out
my olive face
from a photograph on the stairs
as though you were walking the groves.
Under a graphite sky
Venus spat on your shadow
as you passed. Your mouth found me out
before I could speak—
persistent as ever, there was something
Roman now in the boldness of your hands,
heavy with your tongue;
a marble god, unearthing me
like a Phoenican.
You believed in women too,
claimed to have fistfuls of goddess hair
on classical evenings,
tasted ambrosial blood, the dull whirr
and hum of electric lights,
the cheap hostel nights with Artemis
and the wars you lost
in her stockinged summer nights.

Home now, the hero,
my knight in shining pinstripe
while somewhere in a whitewashed house
your cigarettes smoke to a ceiling of stars
in her conquering, iron lips.