Poetry

From Apples and Snakes 451

Live performance

Oxygen Mask

 

 

From Poetry London

Lullaby

 

I carry twins in me

like dogs’ heads in a handbag.

 

They look like father and mother.

I have carried them as long as my memory.

 

Don’t let us stay where we start.

Don’t bury us where we are born.

 

From Index On Censorship 40th Anniversary Poetry Competition - Winning Entry

Spelling Malala

 

A girl of fourteen fires unseen bullets from her mouth

each time she opens it; at fifteen, they flare from

her fingers as she forms letters, with a stick in the dirt,

with a pencil, taking aim over a keyboard,

striking terror with each key.

 

I. W.A.N.T. T.O. L.E.A.R.N.

What Devil, what God, puts brains in a girl?

Minute, yet toxic, like radioactive particles, 

a crack team's challenge inside a growing frame, 

to be isolated, eradicated, before a woman's shape

makes them impossible to locate inside

all that emerging flesh.

 

Oh, it is vital work, viral, one bullet in the right

soft tissue blasts shut a thousand mouths,

myriad minds. One girl, one gun, one message. 

 

I. W.A.N.T. T.O. L.I.V.E. Never mind

how you spell it. You won't learn to write it.

Bite down on your bulets. Slam shut the door

to the mind you might want opened

instead of blown apart. 

 

From National Poetry Competition - Commended Entry

Mr Happy

 

My brother is pretending to be in Vietnam.

He emails at Christmas from the basement,

how he loves Hanoi.

 

The Tiger beer, just fifty cents, funky kids

in fake Nike, riding fast on scooters

through narrow laneways of noodles or

gravestones, or Chinese lanterns. Pho kitchens

 

on footpaths, women carrying baskets

of bread and mangoes. Cyclos.

Boat rides through rice paddies

where people harvest stones.

An elephant in the back of a truck.

My brother does not want

to come home.

 

He emails us hourly,

leaves his mark@missing.com

 

He hopes a travelling mind will lift him

out from under our influence,

the wave of the New Year buoy him

to higher ground. We pretend

 

we can't hear him padding around

beneath our daily lives. Boiling

the kettle. Using the bathroom.

 

The weight of our house is great.

He cannot climb, one foot

in front of the other, up

the all-too-concrete

subterranean steps.

I miss him.

 

Vietnam moves

at a strange and noisy pace,

that feels somehow normal.

"Mr Happy" travel agents.

The Temple of Literature. Women

carrying baskets. Elephants. Bananas.

Kitchens balanced on poles.

 

From Poetry London

Wolfing 1/

 

Fur

 

In the unfamiliar bedroom

she starts to lift his t-shirt.

He halts her, holding her wrists

lightly.

 

“There’s a scary bit,” he giggles,

“I’ve got a scary bit.”

 

Puzzling, she peels his clothes

to find the strange canine

on the human silk of him.

One greyblack shoulder

deep in fur.

 

An accident when he was small,

he says. A burn that scarred.

Later the coarse hair grew

there and nowhere else.

He’d tried to shave it away,

but it resisted, thick and bristling.

 

She recognises the animal

emergent from the burn,

protection for the scar.

Grown from wild pain

her own terrible pet

sleeps on his skin.

She kisses it, craving

his story body, the wolf

he wears to guard her

 

but she doesn’t know him.

 

From Poetry London

Wolfing 2/

 

Killing The Appetite

 

The wolfing of the hungry girl, her guzzling

is carnivorous. She seeks herbs to kill the appetite,

nightprowling wild fields of rosemary,

swallowing sage to sate the muzzled animal.

 

She gnaws at bark to stem her flowering need for gristle,

mauls lamb’s lettuce, St John’s wort, camomile,

but grazing never blunts a hunter’s teeth.

 

Where medicine and ache scrap in her belly,

her bile is greening, sickening for the flesh

of one man’s body, succulent, restorative.

She wants him in her jaws, wants him inside her.

 

She must devour her man, then feel his loss,

still licking at her teeth. He will not linger.

He will not fill her up for very long.