Look Away

You think there is a time
For going back
A way of looking over

Shoulders

Seeing the past
And figuring it all out
Accounting for the loss

The losses

A time to measure
To recalibrate
To understand

Grief

But it is all just lost
To the lords and ladies of time
They are dancing in a room

Without you

You can look behind
To the side
Up, down

Askance

But it is a dance
A slow summer waltz with demons
Only you can see

The past

But most often
It is best to shut it out
Close your eyes

Look away

Because the losses are
Enormous
And real

Be true and honest

The incalculable number of coffins
Hang your head
Look carefully at your hands

Your hands

Look at your hands
Are they stained
Or are you imagining

It

Did you dream

It

Wake in the nightmare
Before
Or after

It

It is real
It happened
But its easiest not to look

To look away

Askance
That slow summer dance
When you think of

Before

That was just different
Different
A different day

Downtrodden

We the foot soldiers
Tired and weary of war
Have to look

Forward

We have to soldier on
Like men with guns
Shuddering in the wake of the bullets

And the bombs

There are no guns here
If there were
We might turn them on

Ourselves

They tell us
Its not so bad you see
We all wake to a brand new day
We’ll move ahead
But in a different way
Look forward
Not back
Look ahead
It’s a bright new day
A different way

But we can’t look ahead

We can only look away

Crowded Out

Atmosphere!
 
I am,
 
Crowded out.
 
There is space
 
But I can’t seem to fill it
 
There’s a lot of noise
Mostly in my head
 
Its there when I wake
And when I go to bed
 
I can’t discern, decipher
Its like a jack hammer
 
I reach out

But I falter, I fall, I stammer

I try to take hold of time

To hold it in my hand
It slips from my grasp
In ways I don’t understand

My words don’t flow

There’s a lot of thinking
But there’s nowhere for it to go
 
What we’re going through is

Monumental

Stuck in a room
It feels a bit less
Fundamental
 
I haven’t done what I intend
I didn’t do it now
I didn’t do it then
 
The list just grows longer

And time just seems to bend

The tunnel ahead seems more narrow
I forget yesterday
Before I’ve done today

It has passed into tomorrow

I wake in the dark
Convinced I’m under water
I sit with my head in my hands

I think I drowned

And haven’t noticed yet

I wander in the garden
Wondering why I’m wet

In the dead of night
I tell myself I’m healthy
So I should be alright
 
I kneel by the pond
I want to swim in a river
Its cold outside
 
But I can’t seem to shiver
 
The world just started slipping
It kept on gliding by
I turned away from the window
Stared at the sky
 
Its all gone now
Everything  was yesterday
I cling onto my sanity
 
I hang onto my brain
I’ve stopped waiting for the sunshine
And learned to live in rain.

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Unwild me now

In the dead of night
Fingers,
Unfurl
In the darkness
Eyes open and close
 
This is a world on its knees
There are lights here
But no one can see
 
She says who are you?
In the dusky gloom
Comes an answer
Fully formed


Out of my mouth
Before I can think
I don’t know
 
Anymore
 
I am no longer a fixed point
I live outside my body
Twixt
The rooms, the furniture
The functions
I am shrunken


I inhabit the world around me
But it has faded
And I have grown
 
Smaller
 
There is no one here
I must have misheard
That was a voice
On the edge of the darkness
Was I awake or
Asleep
The words came


On the cusp
Of consciousness
So they seemed real
 
And the answer was true
I don’t remember who I am
Only the furniture I use
 
Unwild me now please
Give me structure
Give me bars
Paint my cage with rules
Pedicure, manicure
Haircut
Tim, taut, tan
Make me up
Because
Turns out
I was made up

The trappings of being
Somebody
Civilisation

Are gone
 
There is some- body
Left here I suppose
Arms, legs,
A vague idea
Of being
But me has floated away

Downstream

I lie here in the early dawn
Firm in the knowledge
I am not any- body
Yet I am not anybody
 
Anymore
 
It takes my breath away
But no one sees
So still I breathe
I wake to routine
To tapping on a keyboard
In an airless room
And I am still unsure
If I don’t touch the keys
How is it words still appear
 
How do I know
How can I tell
If I am even here
 
And then the groceries
Arrive
And there is reprieve
Real people eat
I must be something
Sometime once
I am sure now
But I was half this morning
And I remember now,
Once I was complete
 
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Yesterday

He calls from far away
To find out if I’m Ok

Ok?

We left ok behind some time ago
Have you seen the numbers here

His voice just fades away

He talks about the weather
His getting worse, mine getting better

He is just a noise in the background now

He’s read bout viral load
And treatment, maybe cure

No one mentions vaccines anymore

There is just the stunned silence of reality

Immune systems, vitamins

Have you been working out?
Hope you’re well, All good here
Meaningless words,
All tinged with fear

I breathe in, I breathe out

I breathe in, I breathe out

Breathing is in itself,

An act of joy,

Of hope

There are things I want to say

A long lost explanation
About why I went away

I have lived out in the world

I am not sorry for it

It was a choice I made

There is silence on the line

Then he talks of the economy
I try and pretend I care

I look at my nails,

Twiddle my fingers in my hair

I no longer lie awake at night
And think of him
The night is full of horrors
I know that I can’t share
He wants to know if I’m ok
I can’t think of the words to say
The pain of thousands dead
Will never go away

The pain it is unbearable

Intangible

Yet palpable

We are all scarred forever

We will wear it like a mark

For all eternity

They will talk of us in whispers

Stare when we come in the room

I know he’ll call again
And it will still be all too soon
Because we are worlds away
Yet I haven’t got the words to say

Something moved me on

And us, me, we,

That was yesterday

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In Altered State

I write my name
To remind myself
Of who I am

I don’t know myself anymore

I don’t know who you are either

I am emerging
From a hibernation
A slow unravelling
 
Without a fixed sense of self
 
All around me is grief
But I can’t see it or feel it
Each foot is placed
 
One in front of the other
 
As if I am walking
But there is uncertainty
I want to feel joy
 
Yet happiness eludes me
 
Eludes us all.
We talk through
Thinly painted smiles
 
There is no bridge
 
The road we have travelled
 
Miles and miles
From the safety of our couch
We are not where we were
 
We are not sure who we are
 
We take faltering steps
Forward, backward
Forward again
 
And then we lurch to the side
 
We wobble and waive
I watch my words
I won’t use normal again
 
We lived through a night
 
As dark as ever known
We sat here quietly
In a place we call home
 
Nothing happened to us
 
Nothing tangible happened to us
 
There was no crisis or fate
Yet when we left here
We were all in altered state

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Faces in the darkness

I try and make out

Faces in the darkness

The ones we’ve lost

They haunt my sleep

But they aren’t there

I toss, I turn

There is no peace

We struggle on

Beneath the creep

Of slow guilt

Of relentless pain

Of all those we lost

For no reason we can easily explain

I drift through the house

Worried about flour and soap

There’s a world out there

Where there’s little hope

I can’t seem to grasp

The enormity

Of a world that shut down

In a kind of uniformity

We are one together

Yet hopelessly divided

Fed and unfed

Those home schooled

and those denied it

I must be contributing

In ways I don’t know

To this division of lock down

Into those who have

And those who have no

I sit in the bath

Crying fake tears

Because the ones that I love

Are safe and held dear

What do I know of the grief and the pain

I sat here through lockdown

Slightly worse when it rained

I look into the darkness

In the dead of night

Try to make out there faces

Understand their plight

But it eludes me and

Shames me

It stands just out of sight

I am very lucky

But it does not sit right

 

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Porcelain: growing up a girl

And my fingers turn to glass
As they lay flat on my belly
I feel them cold and unmoving
The rest of me begins to colour and shade
If only I could move my fingers
I could smooth out the lumps and the bumps
As the rest of me fades to porcelain
I will not be the elegant ducks on the wall
But the gaudy fish everyone laughs at
I feel my body harden, lose its softness
To become brittle.
People will see me this way forever
My fingers are glass
Sweet smooth crystal
They cannot move
And the transformation goes on
The cracks and crevices become set in place
I will not be the slim elegant dancer
But the dumpy smiley milkmaid
If only I had my delicate hands to smooth it out
I could push it all down to my ankles to form a base
But my hands, resolute, glass on my belly
And I am stuck
In the back row
In the cheap seats
With the other discount ornaments
Grubby hands pick me up and put me down
Dust leeches into my grooves and edges
Not the elevated heights of beauty for me
Not the high mantel piece in the glass cabinet
Grubby hands, they pick me up.
They put me down
I teeter, I totter, I wobble, I fall
I break.
A thousand pieces of me
Spread out across the floor
I am a splinter on lino
Embedded in the flesh of a foot
Blood warms me
Fingers pluck at me
Discard me, the pieces of me
The broom brushes over me
Collects me
Disassembled
Bins me
As if I wasn’t at all

Everyday

The same woman is in the coffee shop

Everyday

I am in the coffee shop

Everyday

Our lives intersect
but we never meet
We are in a permanent state of never meeting
She looks at me, I look at her
Life plays out around us

Everyday

Take that couple
Who are not a couple
He is talking at her
I note the wedding band
His not hers
She talks work
He talks innuendo

Sometimes its the same words just different voices

Everyday

He is dispensing advice
Like an advice dispenser
About egos
I think he knows about egos
He leans forward, leans back

Which looks best

He is wearing a brown jumper
That never looks good
He blends in with the coffee
She is not getting the vibe
He is being nonchalant
Judging his chances

He takes a misstep

Notices someone else
But she saw
She wasn’t here for that anyway
The world keeps turning

Another one of us comes in

There are 3 of us now,
Another middle aged woman
Clutching a coffee
Sitting alone

Observing life

It is no longer a cool place
The vibe is dying
Literally
It is full of women who dye their hair
And not because they want to
Pale skin and garish lipsticks
They cling to a the ship of youth

But it’s sailed.

He looks around now
Realises his error
He should have taken her
Somewhere the sisterhood
Wasn’t manifest

This place is too lowbrow
The whole thing has cost him £6
For no return
He scowls into his coffee

The coffee does not react

We sit there like guardians
She talks on as if nothing has happened

Nothing has happened

Our coffees have gotten colder
He asks if she knows what he means
She is not a mind reader
I have heard the whole thing
Its not hard to know what he means
She deliberately avoids knowing what he means

Over average luke warm coffee

Six pounds, 35 minutes he won’t get back

The woman who is here everyday
We make eye contact
We have seen this before
We see this all the time

We see this

Everyday.

A stash of words

And I collect up the words
And put them in a stack
I stick them in the wardrobe
Right at the back

Words I have no use for
No place said out loud
I won’t be using them
Not even in a crowd

Words like ‘averment’
Ones I refuse to write
I’ve put them in the wardrobe
They are out of sight

I can’t tell you what they are
You can never know
I have made them disappear
I have made it so

And now when
There are things I need to say
I will have fewer words
Because I put some away

Now I will be concise
Brief and to the point
You can be all wordy
But I will not be drawn

I will say it shortly
I will say it short
My words will all have meaning
A sprint and not a walk

I think that I have said it
What I want to say
I have put them in a box
I won’t let them play

And yet I keep on writing
8 stanzas in the end
I thought that if I hid them
My writing might amend

But my pen just keeps on working
Like each sentence adds a thought
I can’t seem to stop
Even though I know I ought

I have had an idea now
I know what to do
I will burn the pen
And my notebook too.

A passage of judgement

And the sky went pink, vivid pink
Like all the bubble gum I had ever eaten
Had somehow come out
And been spun into clouds.

I stayed in bed

An unnamed woman,
She came into my room
She sat on my bed
I saw the indent where she sat

But I couldn’t see her at all

I felt her weight as she sat down
I felt the bed move
I turned over
Pulled the covers over my head

I tried to pretend she wasn’t there

I thought it would be easy
Because I couldn’t see her
But I could feel the weight on the bed
I knew she was there

I could feel the bed move with every breath she took

She didn’t say anything
She just sat there
She was judging me
I could feel the weight of her judgement

As heavy as the weight of her body

On my bed
I looked out from under the covers
The sky was still pink, vivid pink
I wished I’d closed my curtains

It was the middle of the day

I had nothing to say
No defence to offer
And she was just sat there
Waiting, like a cat for a mouse

I stayed facing the other way

And I couldn’t see her
But I know she was there
Judging me
I hid under the blankets

Waiting for the weight to be gone

But she was there
And so was I
I pretended to sleep
Then slept

And when I woke in the morning

The sky was blue
And I was sentenced
Without a word said in my favour
I breathed out

I did not inhale again.