You ask me what is it

this brittle I’m speaking of:

what is this short temper?

And I am cracking the colours

having broken the blue

I say brittle is like this

and the shortness in my own breath

shows me how long I have been wanting

that exact blue of your eyes.

The red is no better

run like the Rio Dulce into murk

nothing can save us now

the sweet scratch of your nail

through the hardening colour

makes red redder and the

small smile you give me

is as clear as the sky.

Then, yellow will not shatter.

Yellow will not yield

my thumbs are worn, nail bed

lifting from my scratching at the

yellow you say brittle in my ear

and I know myself that I shatter

in the the yellow centre.

We have found the colours,

collected them and grouped them

we made them run and spilt them

we have seen that they each will do

the thing they themselves dictate

being made waxy and soft

until they cool. Then they are

as crisp as the day

and as likely to crack into shapes

spelling brittle across the board.

You sisters take the round ones

and make marks big and small

over huge sheets of paper.

The spangled colours are

as mixed and sweet

as the lines on the maps that show the way.



When I was a child

it was always autumn;

with the rain and fungus

the fruit and promise

the leaf-mould and running gutters

where fat worms wandered

through the clear as light water.

Once there was a frog,

grey and spangled at the thigh

exact yellow, exact black.

It would rain and I would wait

in the car and try to count

the droplets forming on the window

as they ran together like so many memories.

The cold would come and stalk

the stars at night

and in the morning we’d fog our laughing breath

and laugh at its whiteness

and how it came while we weren’t trying.

Exact fog white, the crispest kind.

In the afternoons we’d forget our woollen jumpers in the leaves

and traipse around at dusk

looking for that yellow cuff

in the places our games had travelled us.

We’d fill the green bucket with apples and

spend the afternoon cutting our woody

homegrown windfalls

to make jelly,

fingers were slit

and the blood was exact.

Strangely familiar

and unknown.

Black Hen


I must have believed that soupy death

all dark and dreamy with the precision of night

the cut blade of infinite was not for you.


Your feathers dusted up a grief I couldn’t place

in my child world right and wrongness.

The bite mark in your back was enough to let you go by.


I remember thinking spinach might save you:

these feathers so dark they were green in the dim cave.

I kept you alive for days, then death swallowed you,


much as my dog had wished to, when he bit down

through plumage and bone; the damage was done –

but I had to test if love could hold you


much in the way I saved selected snails,

spent tenderness on earthworms you – hen – would happily have turned

into part of you.  Your reflective eyes.



The pawing stretch of leap

space between up spring

down land and falling onwards –

but falling with such deliberate feet

such impertinence to gravity

that even the air believes it.


One cat pounce-fling

the wings of the wind

all in mico-ounces the weight of

the uncaught mouse

is the hup of tail out

and flinging the body

one breath at a time.


Have you seen how cats don’t trip

never miss their leg or stumble

the way the word might on its linea momentum

between me and you?

How, if they know our voices they do not care,

or trust, or know either of those words.

For them the world is as certain as the landing ledge

the solid roof or rail or gutter that lends to them

it’s weight.





The paragraph where I fall in love

is written, published, distributed

has sat all papery and lush on the shelves

for some years now – but has been read a loud

and sounded out so the words are

round like the moon and just as full

but reflected, now, like so much light.


It is the tang and spring of the garlic in our food

the surprising sweetness in the nip of it

papery and cloven the hooves of it across our floor

like so many feet in the night

searching out the warmth we make

for heat that shatters across the tastebuds

is grown on the good stuff

filled the mattress with its outer layers

falling off and falling.


I will write you poems on fault lines of

this fruiting body

I will drink your breath ’til dawn when you turn in your sleep

and face away from me

I will inscribe all the tiny events

into the curve of the skin

and peel it peel it

the paragraph when I fell in love

in minute letters all over again.

We put you here


With the seashell wash wave there

swimming bones

all the small ones with names like carpals, sesamoid, phalanges

can at last intertwine and rest there mistaken for fish spine

among the debris of the ocean’s sigh.


I remember you with that strange spongey swimming cap

in white flotsam feet up longing out your body to the sea’s

in and out green and glassy

clean like eyes and wild like hair.


When they come to pick over my life like gulls

(scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform)

can they see in every reflected surface

how we would laugh together and pass it from wave to wave

until we surfed them home?










Always summer


In my childhood it was always summer
The sky riddled blue
And tiny cicadas clicked and hummed
As if they held out heat in their voices
Beaches stretched white rimmed forever
To the cusp of indigo horizon
So distant it shocked your eyes
Into seeing mirage islands
And reams of crinkled fish.

Grass dried into crisp arrangements
And clattered in the breezes – if they came.
Heat was everywhere and ripened the orchard fruit
All powdery and fresh
Our own spotted apricots and dripping plums.

If we were quiet we could taste our grandmother’s loganberries
Read books in the pear tree
Till bedtime came and went
And we were deliciously called home

In the evening the sea was smooth enough – even for my cousins –
Green and cool as their promises to write:
It was always like this.

Foil Cage



foil cage


so count these atoms

that make this table, this hand, this chocolate bird

that chatters and chatters

perched on the silver wrinkled bars.

Foil Cage

Chocolate bird that chatters and chatters