Feel the weight of all the seeds
in a poppy head pour into your palm.
Touch multicoloured beans one by one.
Rock a box of seeds which slap side to side,
held in four hands, one person is deaf and non-verbal.
The fabulous architecture of seed heads.
“I grew this, have some”: creating futures.
Gardens, farms, trade, distance, migration.
Trail of Tears, growing teff to make injera, sourdough from 8 square metres of city wheat.
Origami envelopes: repurposed paper to recycle again in compost.
Sitting on the grass.
Finding what interests you.
Experiencing what you find.
Seeds for yourself, for your child, for your family, for your friend.
We sauntered down to the old canal shore.
We held hands and the past we did explore. We gazed around to see how far we had come. We sat awhile and observed the rising of the sun. I put a blanket around your shoulders and said you my love, are the one I want to grow old with. You’re a beautiful soul. They broke the mould when they made you. My heart rejoices when I think of the choices that in life’s Radom lottery you picked me. And you said.
It works both ways as we sat embraced in the summer haze. Come with me sit down by this tree. See your worth my love. Nothing in life’s for free.
This love has always been destined from birth. Come sit with me and just, Be.
Can’t you see it takes two to tango they’ve always told me.
This summer, I saw a seventy year old man, climb an eleven foot high, barbed wire fence.
I saw him drop down the other side amongst pipework, minimum wage swearwords and the half-arsed barks of a guard dog, called Nigel.
This summer I carried a collapsible ladder wrapped in thick blue carpet down a gully of nettles, briars and low hanging branches.
This summer I stifled in a safe house with closed windows and net curtains; half-slept, sweated on top of an unmade bed, woke up ready, 5am.
This summer I became reunited with the best version of myself.
This summer I sat in the lead car, weaving through empty streets to our rendez-vous with holy windows wound right down and the music of presence roaring quietly in my ears.
This summer I imagined myself a tree with roots reaching downwards.
This summer, twelve other human beings and I formed a perfect moving creature, waving and cheering when our orange banner unfurled at the top of the installation. Job done.
This summer I was watched by the insect eyes of a drone.
This summer I was stopped and searched by the police and told to get a bath by Essex white van man.
This summer we appeared in a photo on page five of The Times.
This summer the lion lay down with the lamb.
This summer I passionately embraced those who possessed this incredible magnificent light.
This summer I was followed by an unmarked Police car.
This summer I lost interest in many things. But it was the things that seemed to move away from me.
This summer I seemed to be led.
This summer the thunderstorms were louder and clearer than before. The yellow light mixed with the dust. The grass was burnt. Railway stations were watched. The coffee machines had no slot for money and no-one was minding the till.
This summer my eighteen year old self poured himself back into my limbs. This summer my fears took a holiday. This year my feet left the ground in a most purposeful way.
Perched on your suite knees turned towards you; I wait.
In your external environment,
My eyes drift to the mantelpiece,
A clock set in glass ticks,
Gloved, masked and aproned,
You glance at me,
Then you begin to speak,
Sharing your narrative,
The environment within,
Books tumble from your library,
Russian dolls of self,
Unpacking and restacking in my presence,
I imagine us, you and I, somewhere different,
The environment is changing,
You present with the occupations you love,
Belonging felt within the community again,
Spinning new wool of life from the spindle wheel,
A lump hit the back of my throat,
The dam has been breached,
I feel a flood and the need to hold space,
The professional boundary,
Invisible, unseen yet honoured,
I vacate your home,
Dismissed from your reality to mine,
To sit inside my Micra,
With the books from your library in my head and heart,
I unwrap the chocolate and place it on my tongue, waiting for it to melt.
Seat belt on and a key turned; the road whispers “home”.
*Warning: this poem may contain content or language that is unsuitable for younger readers.*
I fear my armour
I need it too,
It stretches over me, a porcelain mantle,
And colours my insides blue.
(Like skin, it has had many uses
Though it dimples, bruises, itches, and oozes,
Though it has seen a thousand things,
The terror has not changed once)
A so-called love that thawed my bones
Whilst I designed my flesh
I told him no cages, that I grow to fit,
But he nailed me down anyway
In rooms unlit.
Don’t tell me that the largest heart is of a man!
Who’s wrestling limbs shall cover mine
My chamber will change your mind!
The rest was silence,
But my stomach growled
Angry and forgotten,
And my cuts, though freshly remembered
Bled dry from within.
Now I fill a room with a hundred ghosts
Of the person I thought I knew, or was.
This could be too the last thing I write,
But you stay on my mind,
Rotting memories that retch and writhe
Like I did, down a mountainside.
Love is for fools,
And we’re all fools
I fear my armour,
But I need it too.
*Warning: this poem may contain language or content that is unsuitable for younger readers.*
The devil’s in the details (so they say)
You don’t recall very much, as I recall,
The still and calm,
A skipped lunch…
You watched me grow
With a lazy, guarded eye
Like a cat, with less symmetry.
I cannot invent my face
I cannot invent the yeasty, lipidous layer
That stopped moving long after I did,
Or the brittle shapes
That threw themselves against the window
‘you don’t have to do this anymore,’
Would have sufficed.
So, surviving in this rancid bubble,
A mix of chocolate cake and fear,
The days turn into years and I live it
Wholly, fully, completely. Whilst obsequious armies revolve around you-
‘no doubt there are ALWAYS two sides!’
(So they say)
The smell of the greasepaint,
The roar of the crowd,
Is all you can remember.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep,
I open the window
and dangle my legs out above the roof and gaze upon the stars
Twinkling, twinkling in the distance
Orion’s Belt, The Big Dipper, peeking out from the inky blackness,
The streetlights blinking away along the empty streets
I can pretend I’m the only person left on Earth,
Or I can go out even further, to the other stars, further, to the planets where I’d be just a speck
Even further out and I’d be gone, out of the Milky Way
And no one would ever see me against all the other universes spinning around, yet never colliding in their own separate menageries, lost in their own lives,
In quiet desperation.
I am Earth,
And this is me.
And oak tree.
Every blade of grass,
And floating cloud,
To towering sunflowers,
And the mysteries
Of all the seas.
We can agree:
I am Earth,
And this is me.
I am left again in solitude
to collect my thoughts
and hear the pattern of peace
running through me
without another person
there is a spirit inside me
a reflection of heaven
against the ripples of tide
in the sea of humanity
golden embers break the horizon
warming the footsteps of a silhouette
out of darkness.
I knew the geography of myself like an old map.
I didn’t believe in tornadoes, typhoons, or anything else
That could take me off track. They, like everything else,
Didn’t happen in my world.
You swept through me without warning
such precise devastation,
tore through my flesh in a torrent,
with no thought of what you left behind, or who.
I know what it means to exist now,
having scavenged bare trees
for the fruits of myself.
I crawled out of the wreckage of my bones
A survivor of the shipwreck of myself.
I listen to the forests now
Hear their hushed storms loud as gossiping girls.
I am a fortress
That no storm or hurricane can break.
I am made of brick and bone
my spine, a row of terraced houses huddled
against the sharp slap of the North West wind,
my chest, the only green space left here,
is a park where children chase plastic bag balloons
across the shadows in their parent’s eyes
and my heart is a lonely swing creaking
in this empty, littered, playground
Liverpool burrows beneath my skin, my fingernails dirty with it
throat thick with it, tongue coated in it, lungs choked by it
and in each of my eyes a cathedral stands,
sorrowing these wounded pavements with tears of stained-glass light
ninety-six candles flicker softly in shadowed recesses
and somewhere, another mother weeps,
threading a rosary of grief through shaking fingers
as she tries to patch bullet holes with prayer,
through my veins, the murky Mersey winds
while across the tidal pool of my belly a ferry floats, docks at my hipbone,
in the cavern of my mouth four lads raise the roof
their shadows looming large across the city,
four boys who took a ticket to ride right out of here, first chance they got,
yet never forgot, where they came from,
and now, on the streets, lost boys on bikes blacken the sky,
like flakes of charcoal they whirl, hurling
matches onto the bonfire of this once proud city
and my teeth, are strings of brightly lit pubs
spewing staggering people out onto a cobbled tongue
I watch as they taxi down the dark roads of my throat
while at the back of my teeth lovers
in piss-soaked doorways unscrew the light from each others eyes
food banks bruising the streets where single mums beg
to feed open mouthed children
and in my shady alleyways, scuttles of rats gnaw the edge off
a slowly rotting moon
faded people float through the bars of my ribs, faces folded
like yesterdays yellowing news, papering
over cracks on the walls of their plasterboard hearts,
hanging empty hopes on the hook
of a crescent moon, watching stars seep
through the holes in their soles.
In the ruins of me lay down your head
rest awhile, pitch a tent, watch night
flicker through the canopy of my ribs
stars revolving in the sky of my chest
but please, tread gently here,
let your footfall be soft
through my shadowed halls
my windswept, hollowed corridors,
I once was hallowed ground
my skin, a meadow of dancing, scattered light
so please, touch me gently, for
my walls hold hidden histories
unroll the secret scroll of my skin
climb the steps of my spine, a stone stairway rising
from the soft hillock of my buttock
stroke each cool, rocky, ridge
with the breaking dawn of your smile
listen, to the whistle of my breath as it whispers
my story across the long grasses
gild each of my flaws with the laquered gold
brushstroke of your lips
kiss each of my bones as if it were a relic
something precious unearthed
beneath the light of your eyes bury me
in your soft skin the bloom of the moon
a deep ache blossoming in the endless night of me,
Hold me lightly,
as if I were something sacred
a shard of stained glass,
a piece of broken pottery
perfect in the palm of your hand
hold me tenderly, hold me kindly,
as I need to believe that somewhere,
there is someone, who feels like home,
a warm hearth, a candle flickering gently,
welcoming me back in from the dark.
I need to believe there is someone,
who in the ruins of me, will still find a place to lie,
a place to rest their own tired bones.