DOROTHIA

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'd like you to meet my friend.
Her name is DOROTHIA,
She lives risks and sets trends.
Her Diabetes is type 2,
through diet self-inflicted.
She's Obese, technically morbidly so
and Reclusive - isolation addicted.
She's Older now, she draws a pension,
loves her tobacco, Hedges and Benson.
She's Hypertensive,
is doing something about it,
but her Inactivity gives
her anxiety no outlet,
so Alcohol is where she turns.
And this is how DOROTHIA learned
all the risks factors for developing dementia.
After diagnosis, here is the message she sent ya:

"All of these causes are within your control,
act now and make changes.
Grow heathily old"


                                                                                                 

All of the above are the controllable risk factors available to avoid developing dementia.

Just a piece of information. I'm not lecturing.
 I wrote it to help me remember for day-job purposes.

While you're here though, please consider becoming a Dementia Friend. This requires nothing more of you other than you than to read some information, watch some videos and apply the awareness you gain to your life. It can make a huge difference to people's lives.

Go here to learn more and become a Dementia Friend.

Thanks. Xxxx

Winter Solstice

History's hurts burst gracelessly and blur
the polished edges of responses
sponsored by maturity.
Blurting half-burped mutterings of
defensive small-talk offerings
in place of confident honesty.
The maw of malicious memories yawns
and looses vapours venomous,
vines around voice until it leaves a croak.
Crone-dry and bladder-wracked,
hoarse retorts crack
thoughtless reports across the
hectares of unspoken battles fought.

Token offerings to false idols prove the dedication to deceit.
Conceit conceals tears long since congealed
into crevasses carved by rictus grin.
Spinning stories cobweb thin
from which a larder fully stocked with
melancholy memories of mockeries suspends,
an endless supply of abuse.

Cogitations crank and the wheel, it turns.
Burn the lights on the longest night,
for tonight we learn and sacrifice
a sorrow
in exchange for wisdom.
Flames devour, smoke billows,
sour tongue converted to
icing sugar ash,
cinnamon cynicism
and never-again nutmeg.

Feast upon your fears and you will never feel them again.


Yule Be Back

A portal opened in my lounge
sometime in mid-November.
A velvet wrinkle overlapped and
time’s quilt was oddly angled.
Up went the tree!
Up went the lights!
The glorious windows
dressed in party clothes.
Stair rods and banisters
festoons and fragrances
that speak of feasts and warming spices.
Inviting glows and cosy stories
by torchlight.

Outside
conker battles finalise into
en of season skirmishes.
Guys succumbed to elemental distress
and the stench of rotting pumpkin corpses
rang from the town in
jubilant and guttural rowdy shouts
as cold breath caught in
over confident throats.

As a penalty for this
badly ironed chronological coverlet
a fine was set
and the time was taken back.

With bated breath in stasis
the presents waited.
The house waited.

In the missing time a place was found for everything
and having no time to dally in,
everything went to its place.
Reset for rambunctious rabble’s return.
For music and pictures and stories and tea.
For dinosaurs and Harryhausen, Nick Cave and walks by the sea.

Longing for the normal passage of time.
Smooth, wrinkle.


The house waits.

Tired

I’m tired.
I’m tired of hearing lies.
Refutations, clarifications, retractions and denials.
The rules of sophistry are easily learned
abuses of guided perception are Pulitzers earned.
As a self confessed sapiosexual
I find this twisted corruption of the intellectual
leaves me cold.
Shoulders hunched against the hurricane of unsure states,
of choices between hate and hate,
of divisiveness inevitable
among a population overwrought in apathy.
They didn’t seem to care about Operation Yewtree.
There is no outcry at the end of democracy.
The more salient among you will say
“But Georgia, It was always an illusion!”
Your silent acceptance betrays deafening collusion.
If populism is the enemy
we are elevating the judiciary
above the will of mass humanity
instead of innovating with prudency
and making the paradigm work for everybody.
Name-calling and
hundred-and-forty character sound-bites
have reduced debate
to bar-room fights.
One sneers
and the other reaches for a pool cue.
And it’s you, yes you
trafficking in this nonsense.
Demonizing both sides
occupying the mock-moral high ground peace-pretence.
The military complex is undeniable maths.
This crossroad of history only leads to mine-filled paths.
I’m tired.
I’m tired of insincerity dressed in emojis.
Of public mourning for countries
we didn’t want to bomb in the first place,
of choices between hate and hate.
I’m tired.
End time prophesies seem inaccurate.
They missed the flood of inverted facts
or turgid turmoil, social inertia,
interventions in justices by various churches.
Don’t we all want to live?
To have enough to survive and to give?
To be happy and share,
to give thanks and give care
to the weak?
The goals we seek are the same.
I’m tired.
I’m tired of seeing the same mistakes
the same choices between hate and hate
peddled as the only options.
Where has the future gone?
Huxley, Dick, Burgess and Brooker
Tellers, time-travellers, prophets and spooks are
following the echoes into the chamber.
Amplifying, demystifying, warning of the dangers.
I’ve come to value them more than the news
as shreds of my repaired fraying faith come unglued.
And differences between the actual and the absurd
become blurred.
I’m tired.

Camping

In this canvas-shanty-holiday town,
you'll hear strange sounds when the sun goes down
and played out families are tucked up tight
in polyester slug-suits in the still of the night.

At half past three
you need to pee
in insomnia regretting that last coffee.
Your tent mate is oblivious;
they've been snoring for two hours
while you slithered up and down the slope
with great rustling sounds.

The decision made, you try to rise
and sit up with a plan.
But your elbow's caught inside your zip
and it pulls you down again.

The zip is caught! You can't get out!

Your bladder twitches a threat.
You cursing, muttering free your legs
which immediately don goose flesh.
Pull on shoes, wrong foot, wrong way
laces tied as long as they'll stay
and with screwed up face and finger tip
try to open the front door zip.
The slower you go, the louder it is.
You think “Fuck it!” and try to go quick;
The zip is caught! You can't get out!
The whole tent gives a wobble
and you burst into the porch of sorts
in a breathless, blundering bundle.

Picking past the other homes
newly acute awareness
of whispered squabbles, saucy moans
and farts confidently careless.
As eyes adjust you realise the toilets are worryingly distant
and like Lara Croft with lasers you must cross the guy rope alarm system.
You wheel and tiptoe, duck and hop
knowing you'll pee yourself if you stop.
Nearly there but then your heel catches and pulls out a peg.
You freeze and hear blamey whispers coming from inside that tent.

“That' the fifth time! I said not to camp here!”
“Fine, you can come on your own next year!”

Run away! Preserve yourself and reach the portaloos.
They'll be equally grubby, no matter which one you choose
and finding one with toilet paper's a great thing to behold.
You lock the door and sit but the toilet seat is cold.

The relief is blessed beautiful. You dress again with leisure.
And water free hand cleaner is a modern camping pleasure.
Confident, collected now you begin the return trip
and trip's the operative word as over the same peg you slip.

Twang! With owl wide eyes you scurry,
ducking, wheeling, tiptoeing in hurry.
The saucy moans you heard before
have progressed to throaty groans of “more”
and their unfortunate head torch shadow display
is giving delight to some, but others dismay.
You pass by and observe all this
but after five minutes, something's amiss.
Where did we put the tent again?
I'm sure it was here. I remember when
we pitched up. That seagull flag,
the leilandii trees, that plastic bag.
Oh look. It's starting to rain.
Didn't bring a coat of course, the noise it would have made
would have been a rustle too far.
Oh God, looks like I've walked right past
it. It's all the way back there.
Stumble, trip, grab the zip.
Slippy fingered wrestle with it.

The zip is caught! You can't get in!
Over in the next tent a stirring begins.
You've woken their kids and they've started to fight
An angry bellow rings out through the night
followed by a man's voice, shrilly;
“I've told you before not not stand on my willy!”

Back in your bag, the rain sounds heavier
but only liquid sunshine falls on the British Riviera.
And fresh air sleep is fuller
you wake feeling so refreshed
and sleeping under canvas for sciatica is best.

So when the sun comes up we'll cook sausages and bacon
And smile like we heard nothing of the other campsite's patrons.
ut up and shut up,

choose the obstruction least offensive
and if you can learn to live with it
be an audience attentive.

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

If you like the theatre,
or going to live shows
there's a whole cast of characters
who to you are quite well known.

I'm not sure if they're real
or some sort of rent-a-crowd
but where ever there's a view to obscure
you'll find them gathered round.

It doesn't matter if you book seats
or turn up hours previous
to guarantee your front row view.
They're cunning and they're devious.

First up in this parade of pains
is the Giant Head-Geared Horror.
Whether hat or hair it doesn't matter;
its mass is a thing of wonder.

You crane to the left,
you strain to the right
attempt to secure
uninterrupted sight
of all the stagely treads afoot.
You finally find the best place to look
and now the 3 rows behind you's view's hidden.
As you hear them all shift you're a bit guilt ridden.

What you don't realise in your angsty little quest
is that now you've taken the entire armrest.
“That ignorant bloody space invader”
is how you'll be remembered.
But this about-to-be-a-bad neighbour
is of an individual standard.

He's invading space on the other side!
He got quite claustro when he tried
to avoid to being touched or crowded or crushed.
Now it's becoming apparent he's the Great Unwashed.
The stench started as just a whiff
the woman on the end wasn't sure so she sniffed.
It made her eyes sting and her nose hairs burn.
She gagged and the woman in front of her turned
and over glasses chastised a “hush!
You're ruining it for the rest of us!”

Gagging woman sees her chance
and joins the crowd at the front to dance.
And just as she's found a great view of the feature
enter the Four Legged Staggering Crab-Like Creature.
United at the shoulder, mutually supportive
but with feet and legs at war with each other,
attempts to walk are abortive.
Everyone they stumble into spills their drinks in shock
but from their own never-empty glasses they don't waste a single drop.

Another multi-organismed beast
makes incremental attacks and never retreats.
It's starts in on your peripherals,
usually embodied by a group of girls
who over time push their way into the space
that previously was taken by your arms, or your face.
They never tie their hair up
and it all goes in your mouth
when you try to light your cigarette,
then try to put it out.
Their bloody hair's on fire!
They use so much spray and mousse.
You put up with it for so long but in the end it's just no use.
You sidle to the sidelines and go for a quick wee.
At one point one of those girls ended up sitting on your knee!

Upon returning to the scrum,
sweaty, dancing, joyful.
Your space has been taken by a man
wearing a coat half-duvet, half-hairball.
A firm-fan-favourite song begins
the surge forth irresistible
and you fall forward into him.
As least when you land it's comfortable.
His po-faced wife or girlfriend is leaning over the railings
looking bored and slightly offended by these audio assailants.
I don't know why she came along,
it's not like it was free.
I think her space would be better taken by
a fan. You know, like me.
Upon closer inspection, you recognise these two.
They're the one's that annoyed you earlier
by pushing in the queue.
It wasn't fair, it wasn't cricket
But you 'd never say anything,
you're far too British.
And besides, you've been waiting a third of your life
for this very gig, for this show tonight.
So you put up and shut up,
choose the obstruction least offensive
and if you can learn to live with it
be an audience attentive.

So if by some lucky twist of fate your eye line's unimpeded,
you're comfortable and the toilet queue's non-existent when you need it,
check you aren't just pushing in or obscuring others' view.

Because you might be unaware that the annoying bastard's you. 

Anti-Shanty

We all sing the songs of souls lost at sea
and preserve in musical amber memories.
But what of the land-bound in fishermen’s towns,
Now the fish are all dead and the industry’s down?

These boatmen more solid on liquid than land
on coal-littered beach front at sunset they stand.
Watch while their mistress is tossing her waves.
Greying and gloomy. She resents what she gave.

Now she casts off the covenant and keeps all the catch
and the sails in the harbour are folded or slack.
Lobster pots line up, empty in the sun,
while their salted-faced owner silently burn.

For it’s pints they are downing
to tribute the drowning
of another in whiskey not sea.
For they know where they’re going,
it’s their own path he’s showing
a way out of their own misery.

The swallows that flit through the cherry blossom trees
know the sea demands her tithe ev’ry fifteen years.
She lowers the pressure and hitches her skirt.
Swishing them wildly unbuttons her shirt,
booming with laughter she rolls on the shore
and demands that more businesses pay her, and more.

Her revenge for her rape is undeniable and savage
for hell hath no fury like an ecosystem ravaged

The touch of the hull on her skin is well met
but behind these caresses is an anchor of debt.
She gives life and takes life; some later, some soon
changeable as wind direction, reliable as moon.

People flocked to pay homage in sunny days gone by
but they’ve mostly stopped coming since the monkeys learned to fly
and now the town relies on hand outs and the landing stage is closed
and they’ve paved over history with a red brick road.

The people left land locked pay their dues in installments
of barometric infirmity and camphor-based liniment.
Crippled by ozone and scattered by squall.
They yearn when they hear the Wind Maidens call.

It’s a lifetime of hardship and internal fights
when the wind’s from the West and the bells ring at night.
But the Goddess takes all, every bit in the end.
Either swallows with love, or starves and contends.

And if
you ask if in this contract they willingly took part
They’d say

They’d give it all again. Body, soul and heart.

Lyrical Living

So I’ve been to all these gigs
and listened to the bands
and heard how nobody understands
the loss they feel,
the heartbreak, the pain.
It’s the same old story Sam,
sing it again.

I’ve heard all the fills, like
“Oh, baby, yeah”
Did you run out of words to fill that space there?
Am I getting old?
Or just getting pickier?
Or perhaps, with experience, cynical and bitterer?
It’s just that all this monotonous crap
as about as profound as clickbait video soundtrack.
Calculatedly sentimental,
as irrelevant as Blockbuster video rental
to the age we are living in and the way I experience
emotional ambush and unspoken inference.
Blandy McBlanderson.
Selected generic
when we lives in such interesting times.
LED screens on with lightshows mesmeric
to distract from the mundane straight rhyme.

That’s not to say I don’t love it.
Dancing is pure bliss.
Eyes-closed-bass-pounding-through-my-chest-my-arms-a-twist.
Exchange of energies intense,
connection of rhythm and chord and cadence.
Dance for sorrow.
Dance for rage.
Dance for anxiety.
Dance for tomorrow
belongs to those that can see it coming.
Dance because knowing what’s going to happen isn’t always a blessing.
Dance when you feel powerless. In
some small way you’ll feel better.
And whether you know it or not
the shot of joy I feel,
knees buckling after a night on the tiles
is the same depth of smile
I get
from poetry.
And so, although I seem
ungrateful
I’m really not.
I’ve had a summer of music never to be forgot.
And from my depths, thank you
for you’ve all heartily moved me.
It’s just that if I’m honest


I’d rather be at poetry.

                                                                                                                    

This was one of my entries for the Manx Lit Fest Poetry Slam this year. One young man mistook my friend for me. He asked her at the interval what her problem with modern music was. To him, I say two things: 1) Wrong tall dark-haired girl. and 2) You've totally missed the point of the poem. 
Much love. X

Devon to Stafford

Brace for re-entry.

We are on the journey back
from days of beautiful denomination.
Microcosm Utopian of idealistic civilization.

On this Monday there’s a lack
of colour and common consciousness.
A frustrating thrust of others’
sense of self in faces
gladly grubby,
creased, greased, glittered, refitted
with natural smiles.

Hold on to that happiness a while.

Block out the brash blast tablets
of the crass consumer classes.
Transport yourself with memories of
Redwood morning walks.

Swaddle cloaks invisible
protective and permissible
with expectations reasonable

and feet at one with earth.

Where's the Justice?

The debutante floats down the stairs,
gloriously made up dead-eyed stare.
Hand rests light on banister.
can’t grip too tight for tendon’s tear.

Fabric flows over fragile frame.
Shawl on shoulders hunched with shame.
muscles mangled, marked and maimed.
Blindly believing she’s to blame.

These daughters of a generation
grew to dream of degradation
and aren’t presented to society as they ought
but instead face their attackers in days in court.
Boys who play at being tough.
Punch-bag girlfriends painted as sluts
by advocates paid by tax payers’ pounds
to let violent criminals walk around.

“Service the community,
pay your fine and you’ll be free.
Legal aid with pay my fee.
You can put your faith in me”.

How dare they show their face in the street?
Hold it high and smile and meet
supposed friends who go and treat
as heroes boys who girlfriend beat.

200 hours, some cash, no bars,
while they walk about bearing your scars,
sometimes bear your babies too
‘cause they can’t afford the boat fare to Liverpool.
Meanwhile back in those same courts
other battles are being fought.

15 years for importation
of a herbal medication.
Sole carer of his wife, for saving
his son from men who wanted to erase him.

This justice is a fallacy.
It’s all misjudgements I can see.
Don’t say they need help mentally
when she needs reconstructive surgery.

These boys who never do hard time
perpetuate their life of crime
and become the kingpin slime
of empires rotting communities spine

who drag us all down to slum-like homes.
Curfews, flood-lights, no-go-zones.
Locked in for safety. Don’t go out at night.
Don’t walk down dark alleys. Don’t wear clothes too tight.

Don’t’ stick your head up, don’t have any pride.
Let these happenings go on island-wide.
Say nothing and just keep it inside.
Brush under the carpet that she nearly died.

The law is an ass, not a donkey, an ass
and since I wrote this more miscarriages will have passed
and the new Chief Minister will be raising a glass
and we’d better see things changing.

Fast.

Vacationcy

Suitcase castors skitter-clattering
fights the
cloudburst pitter-pattering
battering
homeward jetlagged smattering
of tourists in the dark.

Taxi tyres swishing
hitting
pedestrians with mists
of filth that were
puddles
moments before.

The roar and whistle
of the storm’s winds bristle
hairs on necks
suntanned
and long haul sore.

Cash for taxis crushed in numb hands;
plans of walks on sunset shores
are splattered monumentally
with clarity of fact.
You’re back

from your holi-bobs, your jollies,
back to bills and job and worries.
Scurry soggily, fog clogs
your vision and windscreen.
Familiar roads pass under you unseen
as fatigue erodes last run of sinew keen.

Tinnitus eardrums
numbed
to thrum of engine’s
 singing
lullabies
as hedges echoes follow behind.
The drive has never been longer.
wringing wrench of
muscles hunger
to feel some
relief
from cramps.
Angry clamp
stamping angles
into ankles.

Damp hats doffed,
clothing off
and duvet down.

As sounds recede, your thoughts
of pastures greener, all sorts
of golden reveries consort
themselves freely.

Home.

And comfort.

                                                                                                                                         

I had the honour and delight of running a workshop on the Writer's Day of Manx LitFest 2016. This is an event in which budding authors attend workshops, Q&A sessions and panel discussions with authors, publishers and agents. They also have the chance to pitch their idea to a publisher. 
The workshop I was running was all about the use of sound as more than the obvious. It's all a bit complicated to explain here, but is based on the Kiki/Booba experiment and resulting inspiration. It leads to very meta-rhyme and form. 

The point of it is to recognise that sound is almost as evocative as smell. That the sound of words affects you more than their actual meaning. The poem above was inspired by sound and written using the principles of the workshop. 

This style of writing is why there are so many tongue-twisters in my poems. 
Xx

Blessing for All

May all the marks you leave on this world be positive
(and not in only a footnote kind of way).

May all the hearts that are touched you remember it
and recall you most fondly and often, day by day.

May kindness to strangers be commonplace to you and normal.
May all that you work for succeed in a way that’s unique.

May you recognise treasure in everything.

And find every truth that you seek.

Stardom

Stella lived her life in a most dramatic vein.
One crisis was replaced by another
each with limited arc and time-frame.
Each morning montage defined the day;
a theme song sung in the shower.
Costumes thrown on any old way
had miraculously stylish power.
Her morning walk to work was seasoned with cheerful greetings -
miniature talk well rehearsed,
ceremonial coffees and sweet things.
All was an adventure.
Stella occupied the Right Place at the Right Time.

But that time became a trial
and Stella's smile
began to slip.
She was tired.
One night she took the option
of having an
Early Night.
She just... went to bed.
Head under covers.
Smothered.
Swaddled.
She modelled
her behaviour on a bear she'd once seen on a documentary
and slept for months.

Once sated,
on waking
she walked naked to bathe.
Eyes closed
in steaming flow
she cleared her throat to sing and
----------------------
nothing.
In the absence of theme
she brushed her teeth
and roughly dried her skin.
Throwing on any old clothes, towelling off her hair.
You couldn't call it an outfit
and even "bird's nest" wasn't fair.
Leaving for work, a memory lapse.
Her keys stayed in their bowl.
As the door clicked shut behind her,
she shivered in the cold.
No smiles wore the merchants
as she purchased her refreshments.
Perfunctory politeness,
instant coffee, cold toast
and lack of breath-mints.

Ahead of her, along the street
she noticed a commotion
of cameramen and camouflage
and folk of filming notions.
As they scurried to their points of view
a figure strolled with confident shoes,
a figure well known to Stella.
She knew that hair cut, she knew that sway
of the hips, she knew the way
the chin was lifted in a smile, she knew
the length of those legs,
the shape of the head, she knew
her.

It was... her.

Did she have a twin?
Stranger things
have occurred.
Stella turned and saw this doppelganger
greet Joanna.
A long time colleague and friend.
She watched them bend
in the choreographed art of hello
showing their best sides to the man
who'd tried to hide behind the post box.

Stella tripped towards them,
head curious-terrier tipped to the side.

Now about 25 feet away
she heard a crackle-voice say
"Stop her!"
Stella fell to the left,
a great force had hit her from the right
throwing her to the ground.
Hot salty fingers crammed against mouth
hairy knuckles inches from two pound coin sized eyes
and spittle-flecked "Shhhhh!" spilled forth
in halitoxic sigh.
Crackle again:
"Get her away. You'll have to tell her
she's been replaced
she got too dull. We've hired another Stella".

"You heard the man, get out of here, you're ruining the shot"

"But," Stella whispered, "this is all I've got.
You can't just take my life from me.
What do you mean 'replaced'?
Have you given that girl surgery?
She's got my fucking face!"

"Look, love, you need a new job, they've given you the boot.
The viewers demand to see action,
new Stella's 'enjoying her youth', if you know what I mean".

He leered and patronised all at once
"You know, if you're stuck I know a bunch
of guys that make films with girls like you;
rejects, has-beens, once-had-it-alls.
They'd pay you well, it'd be something to do,
your back's really against the wall".

A wave of panic burst through her chest
as she kneed him in the bollocks and took her chance to wrest
herself free from his weight
and scrambled away
sobbing.

*********

Blanche works in a cafe.
She wear a practiced smile.
She hands out cappuccinos
and is a bit fifties in style.
Brittle blonde and boring,
but for the moments in her day
when she relives her past life
and the cameras point her way.
As a bit-part she is comfortable,
it's a steady job at least.
But her eyes expose the brief time
she tried to get by on the streets.

_________________________________________________________________________

This poem was debuted yesterday at the Deep South Music Festival, where I was performing alongside the magnificent poets, Bill Strutt, Martin Lynch and Jennifer Davies (winner of the 2015 Manx LitFest poetry slam). It was a brilliant event, despite the weather being typical of a Manx summer (rain/sun/rain/sun/rain/sun/WIND).  Lovely atmosphere, great music, much silliness and aches this morning. Love the Summer season here on this island, there is always something going on... Roll on Dark Horse.

Love to all of you.
Xxxx

Musings on Time

The time it slips, it slips away.
Handfuls of sand through fingers greying and shrinking inside their skins, knuckles gnarled and buckled through a practical lifetime's abuse.
Decades come and go so slow by day, so fast by year. You blink and find yourself awakening here. So far from then on paper and so vividly recent in memory. 
When understood and appreciated fully they lack that fog of nostalgia by which comforting versions of events are often obscured. Reassuringly, this means pain is also racing in retrograde, flying us away from it in bated breath taken at treacle-light speed.
My knees are mechanical now - gristly grinding each gesture in echoing growls. My barometric blood gives me warnings through the aches of coming rains.
I recognise my lifetimes by the shade of my hair in photographs, my dress size from outfits of mismatched clothes donated by long lost friends. Some I miss, some I am relieved to have had riddance, but all I cherish.
Is this aging?
It certainly feels like growth.

Romero


Romero was a romantic.
Voluntary Zombification
wasn’t included in his epic.
Nor was informational monetisation .

We are the mumbling, stumbling masses.
We’re the brain dead, GM fed, disposable classes.
Deafened by the rumbling malice used to reassure us.
It’s the somnambulists’ sonorous psalm-like chorus:

It’s their fault – COMPLY
It’s their fault – OBEY
It’s their fault – ACCEPT

Above us holographic promises projected
onto roiling clouds of discontent
seem concrete.

Below, the mire sucks to ankles, feet
rotting in perpetual effluent, deep
and cloying as corruption is cheap.

Malaise molests our mucous membranes,
remaining even after exhaling this weighty air.

With fuzzy focus, our brows furrowed
we attempt to see clearly in ever-long shadows:
the projections.

Mirages of meaning
heinously inspiring  false hope
through eye burning vapours  
and looking glass lies.
Fingers outstretched we strive
to grasp
then gasp
surprised
when hands pass
through
banisters on stairs
that were never really there
at all.

We fall
for this repeatedly,
our gullibility
rivaled only by the virility
of our envy.
Gaudy baubles.
Tawdry tell-alls.
Scandals based on media morals.
Distract, deny
debase, decry,
berate, then buy
into this
mis-in-
formation.
Visions of similar vexatious veracity
we are force-fed emphatically
until this aspirational claptrap
is snapped up
by strapped up
facsimiles of fashionable pretence.

(In their defence,
all face paint is war paint
and all clothing is fancy dress.)

And yes, I too
am subsumed
by this murky world.
Cursing at cloud forms
coughing at coarse fumes
finding comfort in costume.

Is this
security?
The Mafia style Protectorate
we live under with Protocol Three?
The perverted version of protection
offered by the Panopticon
promotes
extreme proposals
perfect
for pitting us
one on one
and on and on
we go ‘til we turn on
ourselves.

Belly-flames long gone cold,
we’re dejected, cut price, wholly sold.
Raised on debt and dreams of gold,
forget ever owning anything.
Political correctness causes steroid- thin skins
to equal the pages of the books we binned
and burnt
never having learnt
to critically think
our way out
of the mess we’re in.
Overused superlative responses
out-stretch soaked and underrated nuances
to polarization purpose.
Once we are accustomed to unreason at this rate
 we lose our slippy grip on the power of debate.
Reduced to frothing opinions,
forthright remonstrations
forceful demonstrations
and farcical deliberations
over arbitrary -isms and -ists.

“No I’m sorry, you must choose from this list
of things we have determined are suitable for you.”

When the decision is between
 being thrown to the hounds,
or buried under the ground,
still breathing
it’s no wonder folk are
keeping their heads down,
silencing dissenting sounds,
numbing their sense of feeling.

With enough bodies under the mire
the heap might just be high enough
to lift us up beyond this stuff.
That’s the logic, right?
Except that fetid foundations
build putrid palaces
and subsidence is simply
impossible to fight.
Sooner or later we are all sucked under,
fucked over
by a state that places emphasis
on cronyism and nepotists.

What makes you think you can win?
It’s not a case of sink or swim.
We need to invert the way we think
to even have a chance.

They aren’t world leaders,
they are world servants
And the sooner we remind them

the sooner we end this macabre dance.

Skyscape

Hillside.
Blue sky.
Breath blowing above squinting eyes.
Watch the clouds sprinting by.

At once- a dragon, a lamb.

Souls of puddles awaiting
yellow rubber-booted stamp
of toddler’s approval.

Unsullied, before the fall.
Beyond the reach of trees and steeples tall.

I indicate the shape of a claw-footed bath.
You show me Charon’s Lethe-locked craft.
We laugh
and under the disapproving huff
of angst atmospheric
the clouds wander off
giving unbroken blue perspective.

Vertigo grips.
I bite my lip
as realization drips
savagely.
All that holds us here is gravity.

Before us an infinite we can’t see
through eyesight limited by our humanity.
The perception of being pinned in place by forces
we name and explain with theoretical solemnity;
research in universities;
master in laboratories;
weaponise selectively;
is overwhelming.

If we hold our breaths and listen
we can hear tiny rustles in the grass by our heads.
Insects inspecting our picnic while
we repose reflecting
on shifts of perspective.

The earth is a dervish and I a willing conductor.
I feel her energies flow through me.
Honeyed, bulbous, nebulous,
effervescent viscosity,
warming, wondrous.

Nails clutch roots and wet dirt crowds cuticles
as our indentations of individuality
smooth to meaningless

completed by connection’s kiss.

Annie Ziyah Attacks



Annie Ziyah would drink tea
but wrings her hands incessantly.
Hunched and bunched and bundled in her cardigan
she is the plague of panicked whispers behind pleasant conversation.
She is “what if?”; “what then?”; “this could go wrong!”
She is the worst conclusion jumped to
with a wheedle extra strong.
Eyebrows arcing over horn-rimmed lenses
Salt and pepper ‘do resembling avian garden fences
This sorceress of scandal wields her spells with devastating zeal:
Raising pulses, stealing breath,
 clothing stained by seeping sweat,
memories wiped, voices silenced
over-ridden by ‘boom-boom-boom’.
her gristly grip gets hold.
You feel the suffocating room
close in around you and as the blackness swells-

you’re overwhelmed

Annie Ziyah sips her tea,
dips eyebrows momentarily
then raises them, a new disaster hatched.


She’s ready to fight the next match.

Cheesecake: The Prequel

Wake up, late.
Dry mouth.
Morning after the house warming party before state
and yawning, stretch.
Slight retch
at tequila backwash acid.
Heavy lids
downstairs skid
past poltergeist pong of
overnight guests’ evacuations
exposing pot pourri’s limitations
and push open kitchen door.
Thirsty.
Detritus of guests
abandoned cups,
abandoned hats
for poetry and otherwise
plates on sides.
Kettle on: click
then the comforting promise of
pkchkchkchkchkchkch
as dry lips are licked in anticipation
of culmination
of delayed gratification.
Made three days previous
(and left out too long) grievous
sin to waste it though,
Too good to throw away.
Chocolate sprinkles, biscuit base,
New York style. The last piece placed
back on the shelf
in the fridge by itself
next to orange juice. Healthy.
A hangover cure.
Oh blessed breakfast, mon amour!
I reach for fridge door
stand on sticky spiky tines.
Raspy swearing cough
and hop
and hold my toe as I
sideways go
and fall against spillage stained sideboard.
Who would leave a fork on the floor
next to the fridge?
Grumpily slump
retrieve fork from floor
and squint.
What’s that?
Between tobacco stained finger and chipped painted thumb?
A crumb.
Suspicion aroused
fridge door open flung
 to reveal:


Someone’s eaten my cheesecake!

                                                                                                                                         

My good friend Bill Strutt wrote a poem about cheesecake which is often requested and always performed with great aplomb. I wrote this in his style, in tribute to all the fantastic work he does to introduce poetry to people on a daily basis.
 Bill has a great, deep growly voice which lends itself to characterisation, storytelling and the gift of the gab. An incorrigible poetry pusher, he can often be found performing at different events and open mics across the island. I urge you to experience his skill.

A Shout Out To My Online Stalkers

Shen yn aggle t’orrym writing lines
Nar ta lane yss ayd t’ou data mined.

Jean eh my shegin dyt.
Lig dhou ginsh yn irriney dhit:
I don’t really give a shit.

Er lhait dy vel eh feeu?
Sure you’ve better things to do.

As, ny smessey, dobbyr dou tuittym
hannee mee my host.

Gyn fockle y ghra
laa lurg laa.

Vaa me my hassoo
while upward climbed my views.

Cha nel mee mastey’n sleih chredys ooilley chluinnys ad
but I reckon you probably are and that makes me sad.

Foddee oo jannoo dty red hene
watching, reading, misunderstanding my page.

Mish, er son dy bragh foshlit
choud as veeym bio.
Cha nod fer dy kinjagh tannaght  ny host
cha jean shen jannoo.



Lucky in Cards

We wear our palms out applauding luck
as if there's any skill in such;
like raffle tickets are determined
by solid research. Candles burning
both ends until you're left the heart:
melted, burnt out, all light departed.

We falsely think that games of chance, as
all life is are as prescribed as dances.
(Foxtrot, waltzes, cha-cha-cha)
and never see how wrong we are.

Celebrate, by all means, yes
but recognise we're powerless
against the ebb and flow and flood
of the rhythms of the heart and blood.

                                                                                                                                 

I was lucky enough recently to go to the prize giving event for the Save the Children's Festival of Trees with my wonderful friends Ciara and Julie from Sweet Ginger Emporium.

( They are brilliant people and their shop is a delight. It is a goldmine for crafters of all varieties and I urge you to check out their website, or if you're on the island pop in to see them in Ramsey.)

 It was an evening I thoroughly enjoyed, as it gave me a chance to dress up, let my hair down and show off my brain all at once. I was struck by the enthusiastic applause at the raffle, how sincere people seemed to be, when it takes no effort at all to have the number that is pulled out of the hat. This poem flowed at that moment. 

Comprehensive Revelation


They’ve worked out I’m a cyclist, but not a pedaled clown.
I don’t take ‘roids to speed me up, I use yellows to slow me down
and I need stabilizers still, or I can’t get ‘round corners
without gaining either enemies or self-destructive fawners.
I sashay a land of sinkholes, of glorious gushing geysers;
of embarrassment and excellence in equally enormous sizes.

Every other diag-nonsense has appeared to be just that
but this one fits as snugly as sub-cutaneous fat.
Visceral rage throttles rational thought.
No focus. Too many ideas cavorting.
Spitting out flows to fight my fate.
Racing up and down with no baseline break.

I know it’s medicatable, I know that there is therapy
but redefining thought processes doesn’t seem to work for me.
All this linguistic trickery is far too far innate to me
for all their forms of CBT to make a difference you can see.

I’ll give it another go, you know?
God knows, since the closure of the floatation tank
I’m irrationally rankle-able at an elevated pace.
I’ll go back to star jumps, routines and early starts
to fight off the fidgets, the doldrums and broken hearts.

The mechanics of coping shook their heads in despair
when they saw my brakes in such disrepair
but what state would you be turning up to work in
if your life felt like bungee jumping in a whirlwind?

Nihilistic hedonist, life and soul;

or following the wind up bird into the endless hole.

Kate

When discussing women who can change the world
I would be remiss not to mention this girl.
She is witty, bold and beautiful. She loves debates.
You can keep your Catherine, it’s Kate that’s great.

Optimistic to the point of rebelliousness,
she brings out the best in the worst of us.
She is naughty and notorious, not B.I.G at all;
a pocket-sized and perfectly formed know-it-all.
She puts effort in the details, so you’d better pay attention
or you’ll miss the little touches that betray strength of affection.

We went for a quick coffee the first time we met
which stretched into hours, days, months and a set
of brand new wrinkles for my happy-creased face
which deepen every time we talk, ‘cause she’s ace.

Some people have suggested she has bats in her belfry
But I reckon she should be on Made in Chelsea.
Is that it, Kate? Is your secret out?
Is that what moving away’s all about?
Are you trading in Alex, Chris, Ed, Beth and Jo
for Binky, afternoon tea and prosecco?

All joking aside, I know we all wish you the best
and support your decision ‘bout what to do with the rest
of your life. You’ve adventures ahead
and you can always come back, when all’s said
and done. This island has open arms.
We’ve all fallen under the spell of your charms;
of your perfect diction, your painful puns,
and your clues for quizzes that leave people stumped.

You stand five foot eight (in your seven inch heels)
but we’re eye to eye on the issues that are real.
Shine your light in dark places, start the conversation.
Don’t accept pauses, repetition, deviation.
In the game of life you’ll find that no one has a clue
so you just have to do what’s right for you.

As a mark of respect from the Empire of Whimsy
I hereby grant right of indefinite entry.
(I’m hoping she’ll reciprocate, I must confess.
Her micronation’s spelled: [are you ready?]
N E T H E R L A N D S)

One last thing, Kate, you’d better keep a blog
so I can keep up to date with you and Frank the Dog.


Destined for greatness and determined to achieve,
I will shed my tears privately when you leave.
You’re not just cool, you’re cool-cool-cool.
You’re a credit to your parents, your island and your school.

You’re a treasured-ever friend of the rarest sort,

so go – explore – conquer – and report.

                                                                                                                                                   

I was lucky enough to meet award-winning journalist and all round wondrous soul Kate Holland through poetry work, friend connections and the general magic of the island around about this time last year.

 She has been working at Manx Radio presenting the Women Today program along with Beth Espey and Jo Pack for the last year. She has now decided to fly this little island nest. Today was her last day and as a surprise, a secret show was planned. I wrote and performed the above for her.  

Love you Kate. Have a magnificent time. 
Xxxx

Too

it’s tomorrow already and all days are gone.
what once was hope’s now
broken, floating
           motes.

it’s too much already and all peace has gone.
what once was all’s now
cruel, crawling
        brawls.

it’s too hard already and all diplomacy has gone.
what once was tact’s now
fractured, panicking
              attacks.

it’s 2 AM already and all seeds of dreams have gone.
what once was future’s now
uprooted, fruitless
              disputes.
   
it’s too late already and all plans are gone.
what once was trust’s now
crusted, suppurating
            cuts.


Manx Lit Fest 2015 - Ep.1.

This year's Manx LitFest was a whirl of inspiration for me.

I managed to attend more events than last year, but still not all of the things I wanted. I thoroughly indulged myself and it was most refreshing.

My joys ranged from Matthew Kneale, to Jason Lewis, to the Famous Five, to all the outstanding local poets and storytellers and to Viviane Schwarz.

While I will get around to talking about the other events, it is Viviane Schwarz that I would like to talk to you about today.

Followers of this blog will know that I sketch from time to time and my friends will know that I used to create collages and overly-complicated postcards with interactive pull-downs and pop ups. You may also have noticed that I haven't done this in a little while. With this in mind and a yearning to return to it, I took part in a workshop given by Viviane during Lit Fest.
We swirled vivid colours, created characters and writing implements, learned about stagecraft in relation to the performative aspect of picture books and one of us may have stabbed herself in the finger by accident. (don't worry, it's all healed now.)
Since the workshop I have used the things I learned to create a dummy book of my poem Perdita and have been swooshing about on big pieces of paper with paintbrushes and richly hued inks. It's wonderful.

Yesterday, I tried combining my Eames and Yellow Owl Workshop stamps with some characters. Here's the result:

The best thing was that my son was interested in what I was doing and wanted to join in, but sadly it was too late and he had to go to bed.

This morning, he woke me up with this:


The figure on the left is saying "Fly, my pretty, fly!"
The figure in the middle is saying "Wait!"
The figure on the left is saying "Darling, can you stop saying that?"


Thanks for the inspiration, Viv. Xxxx

The Ballad of Bob and Mary

***TO BE READ IN A BROAD NORTHERN ENGLISH ACCENT***

Bob and Mary live in a semi.
They spend most every evening watching repeats on the telly.
Burying their heads in digital sand.
Bob sups his beer, thinks ‘Aint life grand’.
He belches, reveling in its echo, tone and strength
then half-heartedly apologises, to save the argument.
Mary is repulsed but merely gives a tut.
It’s not she doesn’t care, quite the opposite but
after all these years of chastising and nagging
her enthusiasm for home improvement is flagging.

Once Mary would have been described a dolly bird.
Now she is just bird-like with a faintly tinted perm.
She’s been smoking menthol superkings sine she turned 21.
They still make her feel sophisticated, though she won’t admit that to anyone.
It hasn’t been a bad life and she’s not one to complain,
but she thinks she’d do it differently if she had her time again.
She liked to have been an air hostess and travelled all over the world
or worked on one of them cruise ships, or been one of Pan’s People’s girls.
Just something a little more glamorous and less like egg and chips.
She gives poor Bob a sideways look and purses coral stained lips.

They’re a staple in their local. Bob drinks stout.
Mary likes a babycham and brandy when she’s out.
Bob’s not fond of Mary’s friends. He hates their gossiping ways.
Mary whispers too softly. He misses half the things she says.
At half past ten, habitually they totter up the road.
Arm in arm, step in step, it’s not a long trip home.
“Bob” says Mary, “do you ever wonder if there’s more than this?”
“Mary” Bob says, “I dearly love you, but you’re pissed.
When you’ve had more than three you know you get all philosophical-like
I’ve told you before about your limits, it’s too much at my time of life.”
He straightened his cap and Mary just sighed
then she looked up and saw how soft were his eyes.
“I know love” she said “and you’ve given me plenty
but sometimes I feel all used up and empty”.
“Oh, duck! We’ve had such good times, remember when we were young?
All those trips to the seaside, those summers full of sun?
Annual foreign holidays to the Costa this and that,
strolling, licking ice cream in a kiss me quick hat.
It’s only right you’re tired when you’ve lived as much as us.
That’s why they give us pensioners free rides on the bus”.

She squeezed his hand and sadly smiled.
They walked in silence a little while.
Then, as they reached their little front gate
Bob’s caught Mary’s arm and said “Wait.”
“What?” said Mary startled, spun into Bob’s waiting palms
“While there’s moonlight, we’ve no music but we’ve love and romance,
haven’t we darling?”
Mary’s heart flew like a flock of starlings.
As she lifted her arms Mary was glad
that night she’d remembered to wear her Tena pad.
She murmured “Let’s dance” and Bob stepped a tango
then screwed up his face and yelled “Ee! Me lumbago!”
Mary cried “Bob! You poor old thing!
Let me give you a hand. Do you want me to ring
for the doctor?” “No, no,” he said
“the best medicine for me will be us in bed”.
“Oh, give over” she playfully teased
“between your back and my dodgy knees
we’ll be lucky to make it up the stairs.
Thank god the hot water bottles are already prepared.”

She helped Bob to bed and fetched him his pills.
Unplugged the cords to save on the bills.
Locked all the doors and turned off the lights.
Got into bed and they kissed goodnight.
In well practiced harmony they both removed their teeth
put them into one glass and pushed it out of reach.
They snuggled into decades long impressions of their love
on a mattress worn equally below as above.
As Mary’s dreams encroached she saw flashes of her life
From after and before she became a mam and wife.
A joyful tear slid down her nose
and she reached her cold feet towards Bob’s warm toes.
“Bob, why don’t we take the grandkids out?
Down to the pier and tell them all the stories about
when you and me was courting
and the lido? and your car?
And that bar that you fought in?
Let’s see how they are.”
Bob just grunted but Mary didn’t mind.
She knew her face was laughter-lined.
For it hadn’t been a bad life, and she’s not one to complain
and she wouldn’t really do it differently

if she had her time again. 

Some Poem

We are all searching for some meaning.

This curse of consciousness silk screens our experiences
into something more than just living.
Day to day survival;
waking, walking, working, wanting, wondering, whining.
Losing all sense of time and season.
The essence of humanity- the power of imagination
coupled with thumbs is a peculiar quirk of evolving mis-creation.
For our corporeal inertia alongside technology based modern culture
means we’re species-wide suicidal.
Maybe I’m just ignorant and if I am, please let me know
but, what other species carries the seed of its own destruction in its genome?

It’s all very well searching for meaning,
but would we recognise it if it smacked us in the teeth?

Romantic notions of noble knowledge wrongfully endorsing assumed superiority.
The “something more than this”
paying, praying, playing, planting, planking, pining.
Mistaking physical reactions as divine.
We’re tragically misusing the power of imagination,
arguing over imaginary friends instead of maintaining our own population.
If we’re going to survive we need to change our lives
There’s too many of us sitting idle.
I don’t mean to brow beat and I know I do go on,
but we’re distracted by searching for meaning while hurtling toward our oblivion.

Whether the meaning you find is friars, fractals or pterodactyls,
can you not do something more practical?

Anachronistic  practices are both more active and better for the environment.
sowing, stowing, slowing, growing, fore going.
We have much to learn from bumblebees.
Thanks to us, very soon they’ll only exist in the imagination.
Just like harmony, altruism and human rights legislation.
Go back to watching the Bake Off; never turn your magic slate off.
You’ll never sacrifice your idols.
You don’t have to listen to this.
You’ll forget it by the time you get home.
For I am just some person.
And this is just some poem.

Still.

I hope you found some meaning. 


_________________________________________________________________________________

This is the poem I performed at the Manx LitFest 2015 poetry slam. 
The winner was Jennifer Davies with her magnificent tale of a teenage practitioner of the occult. Funny, engaging, richly written and expressively performed, Jennifer is a new favourite of mine. I can't wait to hear her again.