Friday’s Commute

The passing glare of headlights

Is interrupted, through the side

Window flames lick the horizon

Like dragon’s breath has set alight

That perfect point where land meets sky

And it is beauty, breath-taking,

Enough to make you want to stop

And pay attention. A new day is dawning.

You should celebrate, do something

Significant, mark the moment,

But you have work to go to, so you drive

On, reluctant, take one last glance

In the rear-view mirror as the sky

Explodes in crimson colour, hues

Which seem to scream murder

As you round another corner

And flee the scene.

~The H Word~

Christmas Eve

This night, I lay worry down,
slip out of stress, let it pool
behind. The hush of sleep
from little ones, gentle breaths,
pillowed heads dream of magic,
spells weave weblike until spun
hope, silk-thin, compels belief
from all of us.

~The H Word~

Fear Not My Darling

We wait together, you and I

as night falls, light dies, extinguished

day’s death never grieves us

illuminated in moon’s torchlight

we navigate night’s crippling darkness

find shelter in its blank canvas

and feast on fear, you and I

swallow bitter disappointment until

satisfied enough to try again.

~The H Word~

Slipping Through the Cracks

How much more can we possibly take?
Before this life we have built will come
tumbling down. Our homes made with love,
gentle hands, how can they withstand
all that’s expected of us? Our collective
stress evident on every street, in the faces
of strangers and those that we love. The
crumbling has already begun. Dust clouds
around our feet as we trudge through the rubble
of collapsing society. Trying to pretend everything
is okay. When nothing is okay or ever will be again
any time soon, or so it feels. Yet, we hope.
For hope is all we have, that kindness and
compassion will win through in the end.
I hope for you now. For me, for all of us
existing day by day, week by week, wondering
How much worse can things possibly get?
Knowing only too well what the answer could be
and gripped by fear of what comes next.

~The H Word~

Attention!

The gatekeepers are working overtime,
again. They’ve polished their swords
with blood, sweat and tears collected
from those they deem less than themselves.
They’ve upgraded the locks, see how
they capture the light. Let them stand
for attention, guard all they can.
No-one wants to gain entry
to a poisoned domain.

~The H Word~

Where You’ll Find Me

Used to being on the outside
looking in   observing all who
seem to fit with no difficulty
how I wish it were me   just
once   to feel like I belonged
not bystander or onlooker or
never truly part of it   maybe
my time will come or maybe
it won’t   so for now you will
find me on the edge   waiting
patiently for a sign it is okay
to come inside and join you.  

~The H Word~

When it nears the end of the day… (with audio)

curtains shiver   blinds applaud
breeze pirouettes inside the house
cooling sun begins their descent
likes to drag it out this time of year

I think they’d stay all night if they could
I think we’d let them if they would

although moon would take offence
waiting all day to make an appearance
and oh! how we welcome them
the minute sun dips below the horizon

we worship their pale companion
it’s a wonder sun comes back at all

how the poets bleed for the muse
in the sky    even the stars are struck
with envy   let sun take their time
let them linger a moment longer

for soon all will turn to the moon
as they have all the pulling power.

~The H Word~

Tomorrow is always another day (with audio)

Each morning arrives like clockwork
lightened with love the sky opens up
offers new hope like candy   take a handful
stuff pockets with endless possibility
it’s no-one’s fault we tend to waste it
fail to embrace its blankness   insist
on carrying forward yesterday’s garbage
such a waste of a new beginning
maybe tomorrow will be different
maybe tomorrow we’ll take that sweet
potential and decorate our day with fresh
perspective   hope that others do the same
welcome this gift we are given each morning
regardless of whether or not we feel
we deserve it.

~The H Word~

Poems from ‘Sea Between Us’ Anthology

And finally, here are three poems from Sea Between Us (2022) which features poetry from Catherine Gander, Georgia Hilton and Anna Kisby. The collection examines “our place in the world, not just physically, but through shared histories, myths, stories, place and understandings” (Nine Pens 2022). You can buy a copy of Sea Between Us here.

I hope you enjoy these final three poems that I have selected as much as I have revisiting the pages of all three anthologies and delicately lifting each one out to share with you all!

Night night x


/STR/ANGER by Catherine Gander

The root of the word “anger” is “tight, painfully constricted”. the root of the word “guest” houses the root of the word “host” – they stem from the same word, “stranger”. AT one time they were so close as to be both foreign to and indistinguishable from each other.

It’s hard to tell the guest from the host at this stage.
I make my way to the kitchen before sunrise
and there it is, making coffee, passing me a cup,
urging me to drink while it’s still hot.

Even when it’s not around I feel it coming – like one senses
snow
waiting in a leaden sky, or a call before the telephone rings.
Last time it left it handed me its card, which I didn’t accept
but later found tucked between utility bills.

I can tell it wants to be useful. It vacuums, scrapes
accumulated
grief from the dishes, practises its smile on our child.
We scroll through news together, it helps me order books,
make placards, flyers, window signs. It likes to craft.

It eats what we do, preferring a set menu – the flavours
are usually the same, the textures vary. It favours
a dish passed down on my mother’s side.
Its table manners are exquisite, which I always find surprising.

It has trouble being understood. I recognize its language
as similar to my own but its lexicon is limited.
Sometimes it tires to sing, although I’ve seen it
on its knees, bringing up bile, spitting out words like teeth.

It calls me ghos-ti, gospodi, ‘lord of strangers’ yet tells me
it was born here. Our living quarters are painfully
constricted. The proximity of guest and host haunts me
but I let it in, set a place. I remain hospitable.


Phoenix by Georgia Hilton

When I went up in flames
it wasn’t quick, or clean.
Even now I can hear myself
scream. In still moments
it comes back to me –
the howling, the disbelief,
the smell of burnt fat,
singed feathers, scorch marks
on the ceiling. The mess I left
behind when I immolated
was itself an atrocity.
I grew back a worm
from a pile of ashes, ugly
pale thing without feeling.

Here I am in red and gold,
indestructible, a flame-bird –
rage and sheen are what
the fire left in me. You say
my tale is hopeful – yes –
I was reborn but I still died first,
my plumage mimicking
the thing that killed me.
And I did it to myself, that’s
what hurts the most.


Alligator by Anna Kisby

We were driving through the bayou
when we passed signs warning Alligator.

The road we were driving was straight as fate
on a tarot card, waters rising on each side.

Driving together so long we were like one
person looking out for those Jurassic stares.

In those days not a soul knew where we were
and we went unrecorded except on reptile retinas.

Come this far south and nothing else to do
but pull into a layby in a fug of cicadas and love.

You never were a talker, held your cards close,
the Lovers in your palm dwarfed by a sun

warming the earth too fast. Two decades later
I hear alligators are in Virginia, heading for

the sewers of New York. Turns out they were
nothing special, nor us, nor the lightning bugs

glancing our windscreen as we sat close,
turning around and driving out of the wild

into the north, straight on into the bite
of the rest of our lives.


References

Gander, C., Hilton, G. & Kisby, A. (2022) Sea Between Us. North Pennines: Nine Pens

Nine Pens (2022) Sea Between Us [online]. Available from https://ninepens.co.uk/ [14 April 2022]

Poems from ‘GenderFux’ Anthology

My second post this evening is sharing from the amazing anthology, GenderFux, which features poetry from Jem Henderson, Jonathan Kinsman and JP Seabright. “GenderFux is the collaborative work of three immensely talented poets whose work all exists in the same uncomfortable but enduring space. These poems are bursting with the desperation to be heard, and they leave you enveloped in the rich worlds sketched on the page, and the haze of everything else left unsaid in the margins […] GenderFux is a masterclass in full and complete portraiture that doesn’t leave anything out. It is tongue-in-cheek, brutal, evocative and electric – and will leave you with their words ringing in your ears” (Kathryn O’Driscoll 2022). GenderFux has also been nominated for best collaborative work at Sabateur Awards Festival 2022.

I hope you enjoy the three poems I have selected to share (and I am praying when I hit publish it does not mess up all the wonderful formatting these poems have! Forgive me if it does). You can buy a copy of the anthology here and enjoy the wonderful shapes of all of the poems featured.


‘birthday candles’ by Jonathan Kinsman

look closely now,
     can you see her, there in the flame?
               a swaying charcoal dancer,
                             her arms raised high
                    in the ecstatic conflagration,
    this pink and white spiral staircase
collapsing beneath her,
     and across the glazed skyline
        every tower goes up in reverence,
                       the darkness alight with song
                                        babylon burning
                                     for your sake.
                     don’t think of your father
               ascending floor after floor
       wax ceilings collapsing
over his shoulders
   sweet powder in his eyes as he
             searches, sugar in his lungs.
                      he’s here, match pinched
            between finger and thumb,
        laughing through
               a flat happy birthday,
                          dear amy,
                                 make a wish.


‘changeling in the cottage’ by Jem Henderson

stolen milk breath from the cot
replaced that mewling pudgy girl
with this – it does not cry in the night
                          like she did
only stares at you, it’s eyes
             blue as clear dusk

you gathered up
the mushrooms stewed
in tea until the good came out
through shimmering waves

             and a clarity
                           like a hand to the throat
             they showed you

father rocks it gently
              although it does not sleep
you hold it to your chest
and try to feed even though
its grasping fists
and toothed mouth fill you
             with grey
                         filthy waves

it grows – you feed it nuts and berries
meat and milk of the goat
honeycomb so sweet
it makes your jaw hurt
             sweets for the sweet
anything to stop the bitter words it speaks

it doesn’t play with other girls
preferring to fight with sticks-as-swords
tumble down until its knees are bloody
              and you have to clean them with boiled water
              say this might hurt
not expecting the crimson of blood

it comes to you and father
              says it does not belong
              says it’s not a girl
you knew all along
praying for the day
that it’d go to its kind
             and bring your baby girl back


‘Variable Penetrance’ by JP Seabright

I am a construct / of parts
 / dissembling / reassembling
not one thing / I am everything
 / all potentialities / nothing
neutral / neutered / nubile
 / a pot of possibilities / at the end
of the rainbow / some days
 / I wear all genders at once / other days
none / but I do not / feel naked
 / my blood / my identity / my bones & limbs
my breasts / my cock / my cunt / my clit
 / my father’s hateful / nose & eyebrows
my mother’s hateful / cleft chin & neuroses
 / I do not define myself / nor my inheritance
my variable penetrance


References

Henderson, J., Kinsman, J. & Seabright JP (2022) GenderFux. North Pennines: Nine Pens

Nine Pens (2022) GenderFux [online]. Available from https://ninepens.co.uk/genderfux [14 April 2022]

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