I have a new poem out in the latest issue of The Pangolin Review, “Bleachers At Clearwater”. It’s something of a departure from my usual subject matter, and it was written on the coach on the way back from Clearwater, Florida, to Lake Buena Vista. It’s definitely more light-hearted than my usual writing, but I think we all need that every now and then. Enjoy!
My latest poem has been published by Eunoia Review! It’s called Post-diagnosis and I’m very proud of it. You can read it here – enjoy!
My heartbeat makes my loose-fitting
t-shirt flutter rhythmically
over my chest. I stop breathing
so I can see the full effect,
watch the fabric
fall in, fall out.
Braless breasts separated as if
in argument, creating a cavity
at my centre. Each tiny shudder
makes me feel thinner
than I am, more fragile
than I am. Makes me wonder
what I am.
Every pound of my chest disturbs
the white cotton, reveals my
torso as empty. A trampoline
for tiny ghosts, only the bounces
to be seen. Only the tremors
of the canvas to be found, the concave
and the rebound.
I am only little,
I am only gentle,
I am only nothing.
But we keep going. One organ at a time,
one anomaly at a time.
Keep cutting it out until there is
What will be left of me,
in the end?
Only tiny ghosts jumping,
only a tiny heart thumping wildly
Fall in, fall out.
June, d’you know
when you will end
can anyone tell me
when it ends
if it ends
I have been searching
for the tail of the thread
but it disappears between
the month so short
where does it end
what lies ahead
what sinks beneath
the surface of calm
the surface of thirty
of sweet words
of meet again soon
of I love yous
of ways we amuse ourselves
press the panic down
into each other
grapple for something
we must voice
what lurks beneath
the fear that penetrates our skin
the worry we absorb
anxiety we bathe our muscles in
desperation that resides within
something akin to over-feeling
that overwhelm that sinks between
our skin and bones
Listen to this poem on my Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/writersam/when-i-die-i-want-to-be-a-tree
I have been thinking about death a lot –
picking out my plot instead of turning away
and I have decided that I want you to hollow
out a tree trunk and place me inside. Don’t
chop it down, leave it growing and upright. Keep
the top open so that crows can make nests
in my hair. It is always a mess anyway. Leave me
there with my arms splayed like branches
so the local kids tell each other terrible stories
about the dead scarecrow woman who lives
in the woods. I wouldn’t want my stories to stop
after I have lost the power to tell them myself.
Could you also make sure I am wearing a welcoming
smile, not a grimace, as even though my face will be
hidden within my standing grave, I still want to be the
light relief. And we mustn’t call it a grave. I was never
that serious, more of a hedonist with tendencies
towards deceitfulness and an unreasonable amount
of laughter which I also think must continue. So with
that in mind, could you record the sound of my
snorts, my giggles, my guffaws and sometimes
play them in the forest, in the dark? Set up your old
boom box among the rocks and put it on repeat. I just
want to lark about and as the afterlife is still uncertain
I need my body to do the work. Just set this up
for me and we can both enjoy the looks of terror
on people’s faces as they rush by. Maybe when you die
you can be a tree here, too. I have been thinking
about life a lot – losing the plot instead of turning
away and I have decided that I want you to turn me
into a wildlife reserve, maybe take a knife to my
stomach where squirrels can burrow when it gets cold
and insects can borrow my eye sockets to use as their home
and the stories about the dead scarecrow woman
who lives in the woods will never stop being told.
New poem! Read it below or listen to the audio version on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/writersam/brain-blade
the word is too big for my mouth
so it stays shut and won’t let anything out
and instead all the thoughts crowd my skull
like passengers being dropped into a small
room from an escalator
squashed together and asphyxiating.
meanwhile my brain is playing with a blade
fingering the edges, wondering
what it would be like
to press, to gently slice,
to ignore all advice,
to plot its demise,
else the body will get there first.
is it better to surrender the country
before the invasion gets too much?
is it better to stop trying, to spend
energy on living brightly and blindly,
than to expend all resources on surviving?
my brain considers this as it tosses
the knife between its hands,
waiting to stop caring about
whether it grasps the handle in its fingers
or catches it by the blade mid-air,
a perfect curve of blood forming
across its fleshy palm
but never quite getting to that place
of complacency. We are none of us safe,
thinks the brain, though minutes ago
it was laughing manically. The brain thinks:
first it comes for the body, and one day
it will come for me.
there is a minute, literally sixty seconds
when the knife you’re using at dinner
sharper than a butter knife, not quite
a steak knife
enough to elicit something red that just
for a minute
feels like a solution, despite you never
taking it seriously
before, despite your wrist’s resistance,
thinks maybe, your skin thinks maybe,
in the back of your mind a tiny voice
but you keep cutting up your chicken,
take your plate into the kitchen, put
in the dishwasher, let the thought
as quietly and unnoticeably as it came.
(I never have, and I won’t. It was just a minute. Please don’t worry.)
4,000 miles away from my own doormat, after a long day of co-ordinating the salt in my nails with the sand in my teeth, I whisper “please, no letters” into my American pillow, as if there were anything it could possibly do to stop the consultant, to stop the admin clerk, to stop the sorting office staff, to stop the postman, to stop time.
I spend the first morning eavesdropping on the birds, carefully noting each inflection, every declaration. They trust me to handle this information with complete accuracy:
too… too too
whi whi whi whi whi whi
too too too too too
The meaning of this compilation of sounds is top secret.
A lone duck goes about its important business in shallowing waters. It appears there has been a drought here, but it is the place that makes me feel the most full, in many ways. Welcome home. There are only good things here.