Poems

Although you chase me
up the stairs laughing
and tickle me as I hide
behind my door frightened,
your hand up my nightdress,
and you send me a Valentine
of a man baby holding a heart
over his genitals, and he’s blushing
and the card is saying,
IF YOU CAN’T BE GOOD
BE MINE,
and although you visit me years later,
and we’re admiring the roses
in Greenwich Park and the bees
on the flowers, and you’re saying,
Be careful, they’re going to pollinate you,
and in the back of the cab you tease me,
The driver will think I’m your beau,
(although excuse me, you’re 80),
you are my father.

Published in ‘The Plumb Line’ 2022

Mum falls sideways on her sofa, throwing
supper up like a dying star’s plasma
ripping through space.

On St Agnes, we scramble to
the daymark, a giant tombstone set
against evening light.

Come morning, unsettled, we uproot
our tent to be closer to the thrash of sea.
Mum sprawls unconscious

on a wash of green cushions.
A fisherman’s catamaran chugs us on safari,
an ambulance ferries her to St Richard’s.

I’ve heard that nearing death
people float above their bodies,
scan for loved ones.

We stand on deck peering
through binoculars.
A kittiwake circles overhead, mewing.

Later, we play campsite cricket.
Hours pass.
I still haven’t checked my phone.

2pm the next day, I plunge
into the Atlantic, gasp. Mum’s last sigh,
the gentle lap of a wave.

Commended in The Ver Poetry Competition 2023

Upcycling

Wrapped up in gilet, scarf and cap you stand
across the road from me. I know you’re dead –
but I feel caught out, living in your flat.

Dodging the traffic, specs in hand, I cry,
look, I’ve kept your glasses – just changed
the lenses. I’m trying to say I’ve not discarded you.

You look a little rueful, tell me you’re living
on Mont Blanc now, you needed fresher air
and an opportunity for skiing.

Yet here you are, translucent on my borders –
your gold knot cuff-links, those wrist-locks,
dangling heavy from my earlobes.

Winner of The Silver Wyvern, Poetry On The Lake, 2022

I sing as your body shuts down,
watch the doors of your mind
fly off their hinges
a white sun pulsing through your eyes,
your chest an alembic,
gathering you with each breath you suck in,
I witness your birth as you die
as you suck in your last breath elated,
finally fully alive
and you don’t expire, but keep hold
of the breath and take wing
as I gaze into your brilliant face on the bed
not knowing you’ve left, mesmerised.

Shortlisted for The Wells Festival of Literature Open Poetry Competition 2021

We are chugging to your death
on the panting rhythm of your breath.

I crush lavender buds under your nose –
you open your mouth like a baby bird.

You sleep with eyes wide, gaze turned in.
I see into depths without being checked.

On day three your eyes rise to the surface.
Your lips are moving. I lean in.

You’re hopeless! you hiss.
You are the death adder, Acanthophis.

I flee your bedside. You slip back
into your body’s fevered decoupling.

First published in Envoi 

Ahead of me the trunk sways
like a coffin down the corridors.

My parents heave it up the stairs,
drop it onto the dormitory floor.

A crater opens between us.

Retracing our steps, I see them off
at the school entrance –

turn back to unpack my loss.

Stuff it into drawers under my allotted bed,
hang it limp in the dark of communal wardrobes.

That night I lie in a row of girls
with no walls on either side
to stop me from falling

First published in Allegro magazine