The Last Carriage

We of the last carriage
Every jerk, slide, push or pull
We, in the last carriage
We get to feel it all

We dawdle down the platform
Frowned on by the guard
Last through the barriers
Searching for our card

Warriors of the feel good
Into work a little late
Stopped for a coffee
Chatted to a mate

We slide into our chair
Around about ten past nine
You should be glad for us to be here
Because we’re not all the time

We probably spent ten minutes
Tizzing up our hair
We look at the computer
As if there’s something there

Then we chip a nail
And leg it for the loos
We probably come back again
Around about ten past two

And then its nearly time to go
Yeh, officially its five
But ten to four is close enough
Work less and stay alive

We have no regard
for your silly stupid rules
The ones that chain you to the desk
They make you look a fool

We had a ticket for the train
At least we did last week
It’s a season ticket
Oh it might have been, I think

There’s a reason we haven’t got it
How it came to be lost
Yeh for the price of the fine
Not bothered by the cost

Here in the end carriage
It’s like a second home
Everyone is someone
And no one is alone

Sometimes its like the train
Is going to jump its tracks
But we all just chill
We just stay relaxed

We look on with scorn
At those early carriage prats
At the man with the fold up scooter
But really –in solid black

An act of half rebellion
can’t make you woke
We in the last carriage
share another joke

The conductors never make it
Last carriage, their place of fear
You should think about joining us
We’d love to have you here

Literal Yoga

And the yoga instructor says cactus arms
I look at everyone else
It is clear no one is thinking what I am thinking

In my head, my arms are turning green
Spouting giant spikes
I am at a children’s party,
Walking through
Popping all the balloons
Adults look on horrified

The yoga instructor’s voice is calm, relaxed

But I am in the ocean
Swimming with my cactus arms
Spiking fish
Deflating toddler armbands
Parents are yelling and screaming
As small children drown

I don’t find yoga relaxing

Then we’re on to cat- cow
A cat? A cow?
A cat cow? What does that even look like?
Is it a really furry cow that meows?
Or a really large cat that is particularly stupid?
Seriously what is a cat cow?
I’ve never seen one,
Does the milk taste the same?

I find yoga conceptually difficult

Then there’s downward facing dog
Why is he looking down?
Why does the dog have to be so sad?
The poor dog, in a downward spiral
Head on its paws, chastened, sad
When it should be chasing its tail
Instead its caught in an endless downward spiral
Only depression awaits it

My friend says I take yoga too literally

Then there is a rabbit and a camel
And a dolphin
A whole bloody zoo of animals
All of them captive to the human spirit
There’s one legged pigeon
Oh poor one legged pigeon
How one legged pigeon suffers
I have never done two legged pigeon

I recently went vegan
And felt I had to give up yoga

The Captive Page

And so there it is
A blank piece of paper
Pure and clean and expectant

Waiting

Will this be the piece of paper
where the best seller scrawls her words
Or will this simply be a list of

Groceries

A note to a lover,
a wife’s final words as she walks out the door
‘You should have washed up more often’

Arsehole

Is it to be folded, crumpled
Will it get the soft sleep of an epoch
Breaking down in the rubbish or

Recycling

The harsh teeth of the retreatment plant
Gnawed by fraught machines
Pulped, pulped again, reinvented.

Reworded

Does it still know that it was once a tree
Tall and strong and proud
Before its feckless enslavement to human thought

Scarred

By a pen across its silky surface
Marked forever
With blue and black and red ink

Humans

As the first letter forms on its bright page
Does the writer know
Is she, does she understand

Culpable

For a moment does the echo of a tree falling
Does it make her pen wobble
Does she hold firm and write on

Guilt

Do fingers of guilt
Lick the sides of her ideas
By that, is her ocean of thought

Limited

Free the page! Let it flutter in the wind. Let it fly til it finds where it wants to be. Let it be free of your words and your ideas. Unshackle it from your need to express yourself. Let it float down your manicured street. Free. Let it go.

Where is Margaret Gilbert?

Where is Margaret Gilbert?
I heard the tannoy say her name
There’s an empty seat next to me
On this over-crowded plane

I feel like I am royalty
I have space to spare
Where is Margaret Gilbert?
There is no one in her chair

The doors are locked for take off
She has arrived too late
Its like I am a rock star
With a model on a date

People they are staring
It is too good to be true
I’m on this flight for hours
Not with one seat but with two

I can stretch my legs out
Fling my arms around
Distribute my belongings
All along the ground

I can have the arm rest
I can have it up or down
Who cares where the head phones go
There’s no one else’s sound

I can use the toilets
Leave my tray table down
No climbing over a body
I can really move around

Where is Margaret Gilbert?
She never made the plane
Perhaps she died en route
Dead, so I am sane

Where is Margaret Gilbert?
I want to shake her hand
She gave me 14 hours of peace
Before I had to land.

The screw

Long red fingernails slide over long held convictions
Flicking remorse and regret across the bed and out the door

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think its desire?

In a game of he said, she said,
he said always wins.

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think it’s a game?

Truth is a scar you can never erase
It throbs in a darkness.

You can never escape.

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think it’s a sin?

Sanctimonious conviction is a dark red welt on your back
Words you said under pressure.

You can never retract.

Crass comments in public, they shame you
You hide from the light, like an-

Emu?

Your head in the sand, you think you are grand
But you know you’re not right, secrets don’t hide.

Even at night.

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think about power?

The things you held onto out in the dark
Were nebulous and cold and forever apart.

You put on a suit and a tie
But you are no more than the sum of your lie

Do you know what you’re doing here?

You never owned the minds even as you played with the bodies

You can hold it forever until you are dead
But desire and power were all in your head

Yours was a moment paid for with cash
Gone in an instant, no more than a flash

Do you know what you’re doing here?

They thought different thoughts to what you think that they thought.

And now in your coffin, you’re all cold and all still
They go on singing, they dance and they laugh
While deep underground the worms eat their fill.

Do you know what you did here?

Dandelions

When we were growing up,
My Dad had a lot of rules
My favourite one was:

No pyjamas in the green house

On Thursdays, always Thursdays
he would get the lawn mower out
And take it for a walk.

He didn’t like the dog

He didn’t like to hurt the grass
He was thoughtful about the grass
And the dandelions

He always thought dandelions felt pain

My mother on the other hand
Was quite-people said ‘odd’
Never bought us rain coats or umbrellas

She thought of rain as a test for your eyebrows.

She wore a lot of yellow.
She said that was because
deep down inside somewhere,

She was a dandelion

And dad wouldn’t hurt the dandelions
It didn’t save her, of course
Or us, from him

I wear my pyjamas everywhere now

They are silk, expensive
I have them in every shade
except yellow

Because wearing yellow won’t save you.

Some days I come home soaking wet
Because I don’t own an umbrella or a rain coat
My eyebrows don’t work the way they should

Even now. Now.

The lawn mower sits in the shed
The dog is long since dead
The grass grows high
The dandelions die.
I visit her grave, his is far away, I never go
There are things children should never have to know.

A little darkness

This is very dark, I’m not sure where it came from. We all like to think that people who have hurt us will somehow face a reckoning. I don’t think its true but the rhyme is nice.

On the edge of memory
In a place I’ve never been
I know what you did to me
Even as I dream

There will be a reckoning
A place you have to go
A memory that you try to hide
But I will always know

You will lie in agony
You will be in pain
At the edge of your memory
There will always be a stain

A spectre haunts your sleep
It haunts when you’re awake
There is nothing you can do about it
I am your mistake

You think you got away with it
You think that you are free
But in your dying hours
I know you’ll think of me

The blood that pulses through you
Will always bear my name
My pain has seared your soul
And you are not the same

We are ever connected
I am the thought in your head
The regret as you lie dying
The thing that you most dread

A sentence left unanswered
A name you never said
The one who stood on your grave
And danced when you were dead

The Gloves

It was late. The train was nearly empty. She didn’t notice the woman get on. She was suddenly sitting across from her, hands folded neatly in her lap. As if she wanted her to look.

She looked. The gloves. Red leather, quilted at the wrists. The police had said to call. She should. Call. Now. Where was her phone, in her bag? But hadn’t it been a man?

She had only caught a glimpse but it had been a man. She had seen through the crack in the door, heard heavy footsteps running away. It had been a man. She was sure.

Was she? Those were the gloves. Distinctive gloves. Red leather, quilted at the wrists. She should call the police. It was not possible. She could not be that wrong. Her phone was in her bag. She just had to take it out. Call. Hesitation.

She was staring at the gloves. Drawn. Drawing in her head, the scene. A crack in the door. The red gloves, pressing hard. The victim. She thought there should have been noise, there was no noise. It all happened silently. Except for the footsteps running away, great heavy footsteps. The footsteps of a man.

The woman sat there with her gloves on. Unbothered. The last of the other passengers got off the train. She sat across from the woman, staring.

Then the woman looked up. Smiled. Those gloves. She was caught staring. She looked at the woman’s shoes. Boots, out of kilter with the rest of her clothes. She looked at the arms, muscular, then the neck, stronger than she had first thought.

Her gaze drifted. Back to those gloves. It wasn’t possible. She had just caught a glimpse, through a crack in the door. She’d heard, what had she heard? What had she thought? Those gloves, so unlikely. She should call the police.

She looked at the woman, still smiling at her. Knowing. Knowing what? It was her stop. She got up. The woman followed, stood behind her. She could feel breath on her neck, a soft leather glove on her back. Panic. It can’t have been. No.

Call the police.

Hermit

‘I prefer recluse, it has fewer religious connotations.’ I mutter it rather than say it.

I look at the box sets strewn about the floor. I have been here for days in silent contemplation, watching them one after the other with a kind of religious zeal.

‘Hermit,’ she says again. ‘Robed in track pants and a hoodie, on a diet of crisps and beer. It begs the question, did you find that which you seek?’

‘All life is here,’ I whisper as I look at the variety of crisps flavours I have devoured in the past week.

He is gone. Taken. I cannot cope.

‘You seek enlightenment through the electronic gods, the gods of calories and fermentation. But there is only darkness here.’

She is right. The curtains remain resolutely closed.

She walks over to the window, flings open the curtains. Light floods in. I shield my eyes.

‘Enlightenment.’ she says.

I fall sobbing to the floor.

Fairies in the peanut butter!

These fetid creatures! It isn’t how they make it out to be. All those rubbish fairy tales. Its all just propaganda! I found one asleep in the peanut butter the other day. She woke just as I was taking the lid off the jar. She didn’t look sorry. She simply dabbed some peanut butter into her mouth. You can’t eat peanut butter after something has slept in it!

I can’t take it anymore. I pressed her down into the peanut butter. I could see her little arms swimming in it, desperate to get out. Some people say its ok to break off their wings. But I am superstitious. I don’t like to do that. Maleficent, sometimes the propaganda works even on me.

I put the lid quickly on and binned the jar. I know that’s not right. She might not be able to get out again. Maybe one of her friends came to save her. Almost certainly one did, I heard the bin lid in the night. The next afternoon as I was making the dinner one flew above the cooker and urinated in my mash. I had to throw the mash out. I went for the spatula but I was too late. I hate to squish them, but on the other hand, the ones around here don’t even bother with a veneer of civilisation.

You used to get crickets around here at night, you’d hear them in the summer, then the fairies moved in, spit roasted the lot of them. Never thought I would feel sorry for crickets. And then there’s the constant arguments with the birds. The smaller birds don’t stand a chance, just turfed out of their nests.

I set the cat on them when they first arrived but they sorted that. They darted the cat. Sent her back into the house with a sea of tiny arrows in her fur. Cost a fortune to get them removed and now the cat is afraid of them. She won’t leave the house. I heard they spit roasted the cat down the road for Halloween. Seems impossible but I haven’t seen their cat for a while.

No one who hasn’t lived with them can possibly understand. I have anti-fairy mesh. Its like a mosquito net. Its not hugely effective. Nothing is. Imagine flies with hands and you can see the problem. We have a wildlife pond. It seems to becoming a vacation spot for them. A hundred tiny tents on our grass along with the waste products that brings. Yes that is the bit they don’t tell you about. Fairies have digestive systems! And they all need to ‘eject’ everything every time they fly. Or at least not long after take off. We keep the car in the garage now.

The noise is something else too, squeaky whiny high pitched voices or music, and yes some of them do wear bells. That is even worse. Their parties are like wind chimes on steroids. You can’t sleep through it. Yeh I know earplugs, but last time one of them came into my room, took my ear plugs out whilst I was sleeping.! They use ear plugs as bean bags. Of course they do! Did I mention they get high on sniffing nail polish. Our pond looked like a paint shop after a hurricane as well as being a watery grave for all the newts and whatever else was in the pond. And no nail polish now!

They are making our life hell. The value of our house has dropped-significantly. You have fairies, you can’t sell! You get the odd tourist who wants to see one in real life, who is convinced they are all glitter and tulle and sparkles, only to be scared senseless by their aggression and rudeness. We have had several toddlers taken from our house straight to a secure facility to recover.

The thing is I feel we should be able to live in harmony. I have read all the stories and clearly someone thought that was possible. But they look at us with scorn and anger. I read somewhere they feel sorry for us because of our size. Something that big they say can’t possible survive on this planet. I look at my once beautiful garden. I look at how many of them live here now and I wonder if they aren’t right? Perhaps our time here is done.