Words that count

She counts the letters in the sentence
Nine, ten, 13 equals 32
2 times 16, 4 times 8,
3 times 10 plus two
With the brackets in the right place
 
It gives her time to think of an answer
She doesn’t have
Calms her mind
She doesn’t have-
13, 6 times 2 plus one
With the brackets in the right place
 
What to say- nine
Her mind runs blank
Blank, five
Except for the numbers
There’s nothing
But the words she might say
 
I was ‘in the library’, twelve
I was ‘at the shops’ –ten
‘At the cinema’ –eleven
10 times 2 plus one
With the brackets in the right place
 
There is no escape –fifteen
One of her favourite numbers
Fifteen- seven
Confession –ten
He is standing there frowning
 
Frowning -eight
Of all the days, why today
Her period is late
What should she say
She stares at the ground
The words aren’t there –eighteen
Not as much fun as fifteen
 
What is the difference between 15 and 18
Between six and five,
One three
A moment, a mistake
Somewhere inside a tiny heartbeat
Heartbeat-nine
3 times 3
No brackets this time
 
I’m pregnant she says-eleven!
With the apostrophe
She says it in her head or out loud
She isn’t sure
11 -a prime
His mouth falls open
But nothing comes out
I was at the ‘family planning clinic’- twenty
 
She smiles, goes upstairs
No words come to him
He doesn’t know what to say
Silence.
A countless silence
 
She can’t stay here
Its words that count

 

The persistence of Cupid

Strangers eyes
Catch
On a passing train
They don’t see each other again

He zigs
She zags
They miss each other
By half a bag

She is early
He is late
Their paths never cross
There is no fate

She sits in her office
He eats at his desk
Even in the lift
They’ve never met

She swipes left
He swipes past
Even with a phone
They don’t have a chance

In a world of isolation
Cupid has it tough
Slings his arrows where he can
But its rarely enough

He sits on the steps
He will not admit defeat
He will find an answer
A way for them to meet

He strokes his bow and arrow
He thinks its meant to be
A way for one and one
For them to be a ‘we’

Time passes
She is hit by a bus
Comatose for days
She does not wake up

He finds it hard to sleep
Takes a lot of pills
He does the same
Never left a will

Somewhere Cupid smiles

In a strange twist of irony
The hidden hand of fate
They are buried side by side
It is never too late

Panic rising

Panic rising
Leaden legs
I hang my head

Breathing fast
I can’t get past
What the voices said

I’m not worth it

I know you’re speaking
But I can’t seem to
I can’t hear you

I just stand there
Sucking in air
At a rate of knots

I wish that I would go away

Just sink through the floor
I can’t control it
Can’t be whole with it

I am tearful
I am fearful
What would you do

Can’t you be me

Please don’t touch me
You hold on tight
To make it right

I take the pills
And try and will
The world to be ok

But I want it all to go away

I can’t live like this
As if all is well
But truth is hell

Would be a better place
I hide my face
I just stand still

As if the world will wait for me

I say that I am ok
When someone asks
I think fast

Because I cannot bring myself
But I want to say
Today I am wishing my life away

Yet your still here
Holding me dear
On the ground

I keep looking down
You keep lifting me up

I hope one day
You hope one day

That we meet

In the middle

Ten green bottles: Sating the beer gods

A man walks into a bar

There are ten green bottles on the wall
Hanging on the wall
As if the beer gods got angry.
He looks at them
Glad he is neither green nor a bottle
He gets a drink, sits down.
As he slides into his chair

One of the bottles falls off the wall
Smashes on the floor
No one notices.

He looks over
There is a man with pastry on his face,
smoking an old fashioned pipe.
He seems obsessed with what is on the screen
It is children in some town
He can’t make out the name.
H-something

Another bottle falls,
smashes on the floor
No one notices.

There is a woman roaming the bar
Selling bells and cockleshells
She says she grew them herself.
There’s also a rumour she sells maids
You can buy three in a row
She’s a pimp

Another bottle falls,
No one notices.

There is a distraught woman
Handing out posters for her lost sheep
No one has seen it
Although someone thinks they might have eaten it
Didn’t her mother serve lamb at Christmas?
No one will meet her gaze

Another bottle falls

There is a couple in the corner
She is battered and bruised
He is in a wheel chair and paralysed
He just keeps saying her name,
Jill, it was an accident
She inches further away every time.
She is going to leave him

Another bottle falls

The barman has bare feet
They are cut to pieces
From walking on the broken glass
When he walks out from behind the bar
He leaves bloody footprints on the floor

There is a man counting the bottles
As they fall
He is the statistician
Even gods have auditors these days
He is here to count,
He is here for the process
He is not concerned with health and safety

A woman comes in wearing hefty shoes
She sends the bleeding bar man out
And takes the bar over herself

Two bottles fall in quick succession
That’s not supposed to happen
Not even enough time to register
Although the statistician makes a grand gesture
A stroke of pen
As if to say,
I counted them both.

The man sips his drink
Outside a spider climbs up the wall
Falls, climbs again
Is eventually drowned in the rain
As a reward for his perseverance.
He is the last spider ever

Another bottle falls

There’s a shattered man with an egg shaped head in the corner
Soldiers fuss over him
But it is clear he is dead
They are fussing over a corpse
Trying to hold his brains in
where his head is clearly broken
They squabble as an eyeball rolls down his cheek

Another bottle falls

There’s a short plump woman
She is dressed like a teapot
She is on the cover of Vogue
Diversity in fashion
Another woman sits in the corner
She is plaiting the tails of three mice.
Their dead eyeless bodies in front of her.
A little trail of blood oozing out of each one
where the tail was severed.
She is smiling, its her hobby

Nursery tales are misogyny except

There’s a man,
A full grown man
Curled up in the corner
Enjoying the sensation
Of fingering a pie
Is that a plum or a cherry
Everyone looks away
At his trousers splayed open

The man who came into the bar sips his drink
Scratches his head
Wipes the dust from his shoulder
Puts his hands on his knees
And taps his feet together
As if he wants to go home

He does that all again

Head, shoulders, knees, toes,

And as he drains his glass, again

Head, shoulders, knees and toes

And then another bottle falls

There are no more bottles on the wall

The beer gods are sated

The man gets up and goes home.

Crush: A romantic tale

She sees him
He sees her
Eyes meet
Across
A crowded room

Crush

She’s too shy to speak
He can’t find the words
He sees another girl
Gutted
She is gutted

Crushed

It’s years later
In a cafe
They meet again
Hackney
Over a coffee

Crush

He works in a bank
She won’t be interested
He gives her his number
Anyways
She doesn’t call

Crushed

She leaves the dimwit she’s with
Picks up the phone
Puts it down, calls him
Eventually
Together now, at last

Crush

Married, kidded, bored
She wonders what she ever saw
Chicks, clowns and housework
Drudgery
Endless bloody drudgery

Crushed

In a supermarket
A stranger, a possibility
She hands out her number
Unexpectedly
At her age

Crush

There’s just a note
About the cat
Nothing else
Silence
No explanation, she is gone

Crushed

Their daughters wedding
Years later
That old feeling, there
Still
They are together again

Crush

Driving home together
They take the bend
Too fast, too late,
Truck
In the way, head on

Crushed.

What colour are the tears you cry?

What colour are the tears you cry?

Are they rainbow tears
for the people you accepted
Or flecked with dark
for the people you rejected

Do they stain your cheeks
with tracks of blood
Are there dark streaks
Like tracks of mud

Do you even feel it
Do you wince in pain
As I hear you shout
Your hate again

And then one day I see you cry
And the water comes out plain
They don’t hold your memory
You cry the tears of rain

If you’ve never spoken the truth,
you don’t know when you lie
If you never feel the sadness,
you can never really cry

Consequences have actions,
actions never sleep
The run right through your veins
Staying buried deep

You know that death will come for you
Even if you don’t know when
What colour are the tears you cry
What if you live again?

Can you re:

I don’t think we can re-connect
I’m not going to let you call me

Names again

I’ve been trying to reduce
Open the door
Get the apples out
And squeeze them again

I am going to renew

Reform

Re-form
Into someone else
Into something different

I will wake up tomorrow
And be anew

A new what

I can reinvent
Look at a light bulb
And do it better

Re-in-vent
Breathe in, deeply again
And then exhale

I can regurgitate
Tell you all the lessons
The person I was yesterday has learned

I can remistake
Do those mistakes over
And then

Relearn, re-understand

I can repurpose
Find my fulfilment somewhere else now
A different way

Re-happy

I can renew
Like a library book
Being read by someone else every week

Being reread, over and over again
I can recover

Dress myself differently tomorrow

I can repose
And ask the same question again
And again

I can reword,
Make all my sentences over
And I can reawaken every day

Refreshed, reinvigorated

Re-alive

I can re-imagine and re-be
Just who I am
and who I want to be

Gap Girl

They are arguing!

Pulling.

Apart.

She sees it.
Watches it.

Slides into the gap.

Slips into the blankness
Where their friendship was.

Fills it.
Folds it.

Holds on to it.

Wraps herself in it.
Expands out to form herself in it.
Waits patiently.

Loiters there in the space.

She knows.

She will be squeezed out the other side
As they hedge nearer
Mend their friendship again.

If she had to describe herself
She would use the word ‘space’.

She does not describe herself.

She sees them talking again.
Knows its time

Feels their happiness
Butt against her nothingness

Can’t imagine.

In her wildest dreams
How you come to deserve either of them.

Bent Forward, Nearly Double

Bent forward, nearly double
Her eyes on the ground
As she pushes the trolley along
The pity aimed at her

Is almost palpable

But she doesn’t notice it
She smiles into a pond
None of us can see
It is spread out before her

As she walks

What a life
The things she knows
Things like
You don’t need beauty to get laid

All that over done machismo

About how you should look
All of it ignored
What counts is how you feel
Inside

Moments she has known

The moment that he realised
he didn’t know her anymore
She saw it in his eyes
That self possessed woman

Who was no longer possessed

Raw, primal sex in a park
When she was young and
they were hidden in the dark
Faceless, nameless carnal

Primal

Cigarettes in theatres
Ice creams in the sun
Feet in mile after mile of sand
The joy of a first flight

When flying was new and rare

The first time held in by a seatbelt
Instead of lolling in the back
The first time fingers tapped a keyboard
On a computer with a screen

Swiped a phone

She smiles into the pavement
Their pity is palpable, touchable
But she knows better
Her knowledge is endless

They think the world is moving so fast

But truthfully it spins more slowly than ever
What has it done in her lifetime
Flight, motorways,
Computers, colour television

Phones. And oh, oh the clothes.

Bent over, nearly double,
Brown skirt, brown jacket
Secrets hidden in shades of beige
And gilded, patterned, darned with age

Ah the life she has led,
She smiles into the pond
Hopes their lives are as bright as hers
As she pushes the trolley on.

The Scent of Nadia

He slides into bed beside her
She feigns asleep
She wonders what he is thinking
He’s brushed his teeth.
The minty smell of toothpaste
Does he think that is enough
She inhales, exhales, inhales
There it is.
A waft, a wave, that smell

The scent of Nadia

He lies there.
He wonders if she is actually asleep
She must be asleep
If she were awake
She would smell it
The vision of bodies tangled in the night
Hovers above him
He inhales, exhales, inhales
There it is.
Holding tight to his skin

The scent of Nadia

Nadia sleeps alone
Solid, physical, in a bed far away
Dreamless sleep
The room has no smell that she can sense
She sometimes feels the loneliness
Of his dishonesty
In the morning she gets up
Her head clear
She inhales, exhales, inhales
Moves the bottles around in the bathroom
Cleanser, moisturiser, perfume

The scent of Nadia

They eat breakfast at the same time
At the same table
Each one is alone
Each one showered, shaved, perfumed,
Ready to go out into the world
As they eat, he wonders
Is that a whiff of suspicion
Does she smell a rat?

She does not smell rats
She stares purposefully into her cereal
If cereal has a purpose it is to make breakfast longer
It needs more milk
She quite likes the perfume
Wonders if Nadia likes women,
Inhales, imagines, exhales, swallows, inhales to hide it
Tries to place the smell, Its quite floral, Daisy?

He wonders if she senses it.
She senses it and wonders what it is.
Nadia stands in her bathroom
And dabs it on

The scent of Nadia.