Krople żołądkowe n. Polish (stomach bitters, English)
Krople żołądkowe help for all kinds of pains —
they can release the tightest stomach knots,
pungent, burning your insides.
Mom always told me to have them with sugar,
but healing hurts, so I had them on their own.
Nobody ever tested their effectiveness,
yet we’re all certain that they do work – always.
Krople żołądkowe have serious side effects —
healing bodies, but destroying souls.
They leave unwashable stains,
smelling of Polish meadows, fresh cut daisies
like dandelion seeds carried by the wind,
Physical pain comes out as sneezes and tears,
so it’s good to have them with sugar,
sweeten the taste of longing.
Krople żołądkowe leave stains
in the shape of the time that’s passed.
That saltiness in the air, traces of iodine,
ozone, rotting kelp. Today the sea is roaring,
offshore winds rip sailboats across the bay.
Wetsuited surfers find their adrenaline fix
in ten foot walls of water which break
into chantilly cream, dump them and split
their boards if they miss the right time,
the sweet spot on the wave.
Yachts and trawlers head for land –
in the storm they’d sink like doughnuts
dropped in a fryer. Within the harbour
even dinghies are secure. When seagulls
can be heard again above gentle wash
on shingle, the boats will set out.
My life began in a quiet village
a river running through brimmed
with marigolds and trout, warm smell
of scones from my mother’s kitchen,
Dad’s beds of antirrhinums and lupins
planted in military rows. A garden
grown during his rare visits home.
He was married before
but barely spoke of this until after
his third glass when he fell hard
and stripped of all medals.
My life has always tasted of juniper berries.
When he didn’t come to my wedding
I drove away, washed my hands of the river,
evening air smudged with gin.
I found a new life on a fell side, built a hearth
and turned the earth like Dad taught me.
There was safety in foxes and buzzards
hunting crags, comfort in frosty nights, breezes
soft as my mother’s voice in damson trees,
the splintering sound of a beck
I’ll never shake free.
I recently learnt that I can melt cheese under my oven grill.
I lived here three years with butter and jam on my crumpets.
Now, I watch cheddar and mozzarella bubble and spread
across fruit bread, teacakes, pancakes, whatever will take it.
I have my very own place – rented, yes, a shoebox in a stack
of shoeboxes in the middle of a city – but I have grilled cheese.
I have a washing machine that leaks, but washes my clothes:
the suit I bought when I realised I just could, my plaid shirts.
I have an exercise bike. I don’t report to anyone, just turn on
the radio, gulp water, cycle my legs and dance in my head.
I have my fairy lights, my cheap little blue lamp by my bed.
I have a fridge of soy milk and raspberries and dark chocolate.
I kiss the walls whenever I move in somewhere, and whenever
I leave, but that doesn’t seem enough this time, here. All night,
cars whir like the sea, up and down our hill. Trams honk like geese.
I trace the perpetual light behind the blinds, and I know I exist.
The woman with a camera
has left, but not before
pointing to three seals
lounging on stone, which
she’d mistaken for rocky
coastline. Pewter blue sky,
thin cirrus and grey cumulus
tangle above a mountain
ridge, criss-crossing sheep
tracks, single-lane roads, conifers.
Terns angle and swoop,
calling in skittered halloos.
A heron floats past, a cruise
ship gaining speed. The tide
is coming in—high tide in
an hour, and the seals are
porpoising, playing, blowing
their snouts like laughter.
The three seals dip below
the tideline, sun-warmed
coats fizzing as they slide
into shivering random waves.
at breaktime with Claire from maths. For a while I felt safe from my house, where the walls creaked in time with doors that slammed. A teacher said choose a book and hold it tight, close your eyes, count to ten and a room will appear with everything you love. In my room there was a ginger cat, asleep by a window that framed the sea. In the corner was a ballerina turning and turning in a jewellery box and I could hear gulls call to each other, as if they knew my name. Years later when I visit my room there is a photograph of Claire, the one they used in the newspapers. I hope my gulls call to her wherever she is
I’m breathing too fast,
Thinking too slow.
I’m falling and failing,
With nowhere to go.
Not really, nowhere close.
Where it’s calm and quiet,
Lights turned down low.
Where no one is looking,
Neither friends nor foe.
Such a place doesn’t exist here,
It’s only in my head.
The sun in the sky,
Waves sadness away.
The grass green as ever,
Like someone flicked a lever,
To put a smile on my face,
And transport me to the place.
Where the night never ends,
And the world has no limits,
There’s a swing in the garden,
And a barn full of cats.
All the flowers you could think of,
All the fruit you could eat.
All the space you could need,
All the time making you free.
It’s there I go,
In my darkest hour.
At school, in bed, even in the shower.
It’s a place I’m grateful for,
My gran’s garden, far away
It’s my refuge, my shelter, my perfect place to say.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Well my grass was browner than brown and was never greener. Always on the move we are to find grass that’s greener but never can I find it because there’s always another side.
Always on the move we are as it seems to be, we’ve passed through countries great and small it’s our destiny.
Through Israel to Turkey from Turkey to Greece, always are we on the move to find our resting place.
This journey has taken us great and far, we’ve crossed so many seas. But one thing I can tell you is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Though the world seems shady so many things grown wall and far reaching ecstasy. But just remember the grass is greener on the other side and yours.
We were forced to leave our home last summer.
When the sky turned grey and the iron clad troops marched through the streets,
And our anxieties had served their oppressive purpose,
We were made to leave.
We travelled miles,
Sometimes by train,
Occasionally by boat,
Usually by foot.
And then we arrived at our first camp,
We spent our days covered in regretful mud,
And our nights huddled up in the bitter winter breeze.
It wasn’t comfortable,
But somehow, it was better than home.
What was left of home.
My home is beautiful,
But now it is a misery,
Now I’m going away to live a life of sadness,
To a place so ugly,
To people who can’t understand me,
To find a place in my most feared nightmares,
Cause that one thing ruined me,
I was the only one standing.