Poems

Asylum

Definition: (Oxford English Dictionary)
…1.1: Shelter or protection from danger.
2. dated An institution for the care of people who are mentally ill.

In the courtyard
the manic woman isscreaming.

Her walking stick at war
with the blood-red heads
of the roses.

A nurse stands idly by.
She takes notes.

I was in one piece once
until my mind bent and broke
like a river.

My last oar nothing
more than a bottle of pills
and a penance.

God is a deaf woman half gone,
knitting her gaudy silks,
each stitch a vicious mistake.

Now this: four walls
and a rubber mattress, some lunatics
and a mind twisting and untwisting
a vivid tapestry of breaks.

Elegantly they click one
to the other, like squalid dominoes.

The doctor is an idiot;
plying me with pills that do nothing
but make me quiet and fat-

dull-eyed
and dumb as a zoo animal.

None of us know what to say.
We blink at each other as we pass,
flaming satellites in some fucked vacuum.

Let us be done with it:
let us speak of it no more
and let it off,

never again to be spoken of-
like a bad relative.

On comes the night
wielding its train of atrocities.
The stars align in perpetual bliss.

A schizophrenic has taken to calling me
Eleanor.

I am shimmering.

One white, three yellow, one blue:
one for mania, three for depression,
one for everything in succession.

Outside my parents have parked the car.

Over the linoleum
and the stench of bleach,
their two sweet

heads loom toward me
determined,
loving and empty-

two balloons.

Published in Octavius Magazine, July 2015. Eunoia Review, September 2015.

The Snare

There are four walls, a window, an exit.
And that thing trapped inside
could be an animal.

You would swear it were being skinned alive
it is making such a racket.

And a banging,
like a hammer on a wall-
relentless.

The trapper arrives,
dragging his Christ wine.

Now I am a statue-
if I am silent, maybe, and perfectly still
I will be set free.

Mere mouthfuls and my blood
is a tonic of opiates-

a sea of poppies bloom in me, flush
sweet tinctures blending a terror of images

and a voice whose face I cannot see
as my own flushed lungs
gasp at atrocities.

Unrelenting jolts of light
and a stench of salt
engulf me.

The mirror is a screen
throwing his own image back at him:
ludicrous in its parade of extravagance;

a glitter of fetishes lavished
over a parcel of meat

decorous in its straps,
unfurling its humility.

The world slides back-
stripped down finally, to a singularity:
a finale that slams in, hard as an anvil.

Daylight is dyeing the walls
the colour of blood.

Sound has become a physical thing-
an object like a table or chair;
the knife that skirts
the jugular.

This is night then, draped in its vacuous black.

The window is a void in the wall
I cannot get to.

Outside the moon admonishes the stars
in their cold multitudes.

I am not important-
empty vessel of shrieks
the walls muffle and eat.

The moon sees nothing.

When at last the snare rips open
and parts like the sea,
I feel sure I am walking on water.

I have snapped shut,
so tight now even the pain is sweet.

I have nine more lives,
and I juggle them like knives.

A real Jesus feat.

Published in Octavius Magazine, July 2015. Included in The Great British Write Off Anothology 2015.

For O.

All I remember: late evening
and the sun honing itself
diligently above leaves
of the tamarisks in the distance-

and from the ground the sound of crickets;
a chorus in the grasses,
that- and a small well of anguish
ripping itself up from my root.

The sun has no memory- burning
and extinguishing itself,
night after night
like an amnesiac.

Back then, I didn’t know you existed.
Now the well has dried up-
it is silenced, the crickets are singing.

Here are the bees,
their war cries a concord of humming.
The convoys have arrived, demanding their honey.

The leaves of the tamarisks
whisper distantly: Love, love-
I have told them your name.

For O.‘ was first published in Boyne Berries: Issue 14, September 2013.

The Return

I have been silent
since you left- and shall remain so as though all sound
swept from the room with your absence.
I wait and count the hours,
still, voiceless
and patient as a stone.
All I have- your cigarettes,
a half-drunk coffee,
your scent on the sheets
and the echo of your lips on mine.
I have been silent
since you left-
and shall remain so
’til your absence meets its return
when my whole being leans toward you
once again craving and thirsting,
patient as a stone.

The Return‘ was published in Breath & Shadow, 2011.

Jilted

The mushroom cloud billows to the cup rim.
Eyes watch the black
slip back from the windows.

Cobalt spreads over firmaments
frisked by frost.

The glass panes are scratched
with ice-streaks.

I think first of shards I could shape,
jagged and bitten with rime.
Fingers tap the cup’s waist.

Mouth slides
open releasing a shaky sigh,
leaving breath on the pane.

He leaves today, and you,
you count the hours and seconds.

Try not to think of splinters,
or heartstrings of pain.

When the cup is abandoned, like Medea,
it will grow cold in the absence,
in disdain.

Jilted‘ was published in Eratio Post-modern Poetry Issue: 6, 2005.

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