Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Beers In Your Bedroom

Beers in Your Bedroom
(for Rachael K, for helping me save my life)

We have beers in your bedroom.
My fears would be intoxicating without you.
Outside, car alarms shout at shadows,
a woman’s scream stabs the night.

Inside, together
we are alive.
Your flat's above it all.
Door locked. Window open.
Glows from fag stubs, thin white dukes,
light a corkscrew path to morning.

Our tongues brighten dark.
These moments taste of unconcentrated truth,
Chaucer and tumblers of Fat Boy Slim.
We tape Woman’s Hour to play backwards,
exchange identities under skin.
Hail bloody fairies and horns.

We dress up in old lovers’ ideas.
Hang ours up to dry. See what drips out first.
Dissect entrails of aborted stories.
Whole scripts wait in a typewriter’s puckered spool
between shy, naked poems
printed only on sheets of dusk.

"Then, we unwrite the imperfect pop song.
Kurt Cobain and Kiki Dee sing
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart Shaped Box."

Our nights are so heavy with talk
we might even... break through these floorboards,
crash into the spiked streets below,
so I cuddle your sentences. Grip tight.
Sit secure in our obscurity.

We're the extra features on a DVD
those with jobs are too busy to watch,
but we watch them and talk
ourselves down in thick blankets of sun.

Let us sleep through the violence of minutes and hours
that wage war against today’s tired minds,
too burdened with action to slow down and think.
I drink to the courage
of these thoughtless grunts on the front line.
Raise my empty bottle.

We’ve drunk the night dry.
My voice lids won’t keep open.
You wrap my words up warm.
Still, I know that they would freeze
out there
at bus stops, supermarket queues,
or sat, without vowels,
at office desks and the water cooler.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


Spirit (a duet poem, spoken by Wizard and the man)

“The soul of an ancient eight-armed
ninja drag queen dragon king
is locked inside my shower
and joins in when I sing.
Sometimes we dissect biscuits,
wonder why the sky’s so long.
Yes, I go in naked.
Nothing sexual’s going on.

But is my hoover lying when he
begs me not to clean
because he swears there’s goblins in my
carpet never seen?
He says they put the milk back
in the fridge when I forget.
But drag queen dragon king and me,
we haven’t seen them yet.”

Panic doesn't understand
my brother's new wife's Sunday dinner etiquette
or what my hands ought to do in interviews
or what to say to friends of friends' Dads.
Panic's clumsy.
Breaks things.
Has no respect for folk who really are what they own-
comfortably cluttered with too many rooms,
never touched, never looked at.

“Ursula the kettle said
her work wear makes her blue
so I wrap her up in tinsel
every time she makes a brew.
I never met a human
on this Earth or anywhere
who every time they make the tea
puts tinsel in their hair.”

Sometimes when I’m out
my heart starts to throat slap,
flap like dying fish,
taste like grated carrot in sawdust and sherbet dip.
Panic tells me I've too many fingers.
want to escape,
eyes want to roll loose,
eyes kick inside lids,
steel tear-capped kicks.
Eyes bite,
Panic slavers.
Everyone else sips cocktails and nods.


I've not lost it.
There's a key
in my skull

put this in your ear."

The key turns my ear lock.
I hear nothing.

Leave sounds for real folk,
clumping around in their fancy size nine realities,
big, ugly feet.
Their ideas look like feet,
stuffed deep in sock,
hidden ugly.
Too repressed to know Panic
if it bit them on the brain.

“They’re just husks of mortgage. Suduku stained."

I don't have feet
or anything ugly.
I am the subtext of wordless night,
the blinding light of total darkness.
See, you can't hold down the sky.
Gentle as tide, pulled from body,
free of frenzied skin, beyond breath,
bound to bone by
the thinnest of truths.
I’m a weightless parade wrapped round
a sun beam guiding my body home.
Guide it home.
Guide me home.

"But is my hoover lying when he
begs me not to clean
because he swears there’s goblins in my
carpet never seen?
See, you can’t see what matters
caught up in the city drone.
There’s shelves of elves in sequined bells
hop scotching here at home.
The thinnest of truths
binds the moons and oceans, Sun to Earth.
We’re rock unsolid fantasy,
know what magic’s worth.
Everything we need is here.
Fantastic, roof to floor!
Nothing outside this flat matters.”

I know what my body is for.

It might not be for my brother's wife's dinner
or money or make-up or manners

but I think it's for caring when someone else panics
and helping them find their way home.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Do You See This Night?

Do You See This Night?

Do you?
This towering, ancient
sour dream tree of petrified tears...
For years, this night
has blocked all hope of sunrise.
This night is solid wood

but I am going to break its branches.

This night's soiled roots
that have tugged so tight around my throat
are going to loosen...
are going to lose.

I’ve been bullied,
broke and aloned.
Now I’m blessed with restless passion.
Turn bruises into shields.
Like liquid metal I am cooling my anger
into the greatest weapon.


This night is splitting wood.

I am the axe against its bark,
bite like acid at the trunk.
With relentless vision,
eyes like machetes
and sweet strong pride, unshakeable.
My belief is unbreakable as I chop


Unclog clear skies.
Breathe out my dreams.
Smell their freshly cut spices.
Taste their quivering nervous heat
as dust particles kiss the air.

This night is dead.
Count the rings inside.
Each ring within its split core marks another year
I made it through.
I made it!
These rings are the rungs I’ve climbed
to find myself behind this night's silhouette.
I embrace the years I have conquered,
and will never fear the joy of ageing.

Joy of life without this night
No longer telling myself
"I am weak.”
Moon drowned words.
Shadow obscured sight.
I watered this night with my tears.

I wish... I could hold a fraction of the colour
that sparks and cracks inside me now
and convey it back through time,
back to when this night clung tightest
show myself,
"This night will end!"

Look around.
Already seeds of another night
are being sown at my feet.
A dark sapling claws at my ankle.
It is trying to take root.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009



Purple is there
making butterfly hands in an eye's corner,
in top hat shadows when you should be sleeping.
Smells of joss sticks and cold lakes.

Purple might be naked,
off somewhere
with eye-liner swirls round large, flat nipples
and a moan like thunder self harming.
maybe strutting
in straps of chiffon and velvet stripes
dancing down somebody else's street.

Lives in a handmade book
about eating disorders and lunar eclipse.
Did stop a boy from hanging himself.
Heard it's in diazepam and fairies.

Your imaginary friends might have liked Purple more than you.
Purple's nice to your Mum when you're not even there,
gets all scented oil and Stone Henge about it.
Didn't go to maths.
Blames dyspraxia and forests.

Purple is not 'no-trainers' clubs
or ironing.
Doesn't like meal deals
or long, ironic novels.

I think Purple was my first kiss.
at least its memory.
Tasted like pumpkin seed,
black coffee,
skin bitten off round the nail.

When toddlers see ghosts it is Purple.

It is the language of time travel,
what's inside the sun,
inside your finger
and lips
and the words that you chose
not to say.

Thursday, 18 June 2009



"Creep home. Keep alone down alley cracks,
deep hungry tracks, bones hollowed slack,
where weeping clouds mourn bricked up back
streets. Funerals wait to attack. Wide

black sleepless eyes breathe whispered blinks.
Seeping bruises purple pinks.
The church tower sinks in a graveyard throne.
The last heir's breath. Keep on. There's

a thin arm. Open hand.
Rat rail fingers, money fanned.
A choked calm. Silence planned.
A too gentle man. Don't stop.

Keep strong! Walk on.
Eyes wrapped round the road home.
Keep going. Never drop.
Stop lonely hopes from growing.
Keep wing clipped feet from slowing
as neck hairs hook
the gloaming.

He has a thin arm. Palm flat.
Life lines like a road map.
Wants to soothe those aching heels.
He understands how this pain feels.

A careful grin on shadow's cheek
offers comfort. Here's a seat.
His eyes talk beneath speech.
Promising something sweet.

Keep strong!
Walk on.
Watch toes
point home.
When your lonely
hopes start burning,
cover your neck.
the gloaming.

A thin arm stretched forward
could pull a faltering one toward
a gorge of claws. When sores sting sharp
that voice plucks like a distant harp.

That melody can hook in ears,
a life choked memory reclears
of lidless love, not capped by fears.
A desperate smile appears

and with the hollow of tomorrow so far away,
the future can be forfeit for one happy today,
just one grain of colour in a desert of grey
and a curse of 'Come what may!'

This Demon, waiting for the meek,
will promise everything you seek.
Knows all the perfect words to speak.
Show him you're not weak!

Keep strong! Walk on.
Eyes wrapped round the road home.
Keep going. Never drop.
Stop lonely hopes from growing.

Keep strong! Walk on.
Eyes wrapped round the road home.
Keep going. Never drop.
Keep wing clipped feet from slowing.

Keep strong!
Walk on.
Watch toes
point home.
When your lonely
hopes start burning,
cover your neck.
the gloaming.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Stabilisers Taken 1987

Stabilisers Taken 1987

Boys love bikes.
I hate mine.
Stabilisers taken,
Mum and her cuddles inside as
clumsy Step Dad holds my saddle,
runs close. I pedal.
Don’t let go!

Down a back alley street, so far from my pillow,
handle bars jiggle under sweat wet palms.
Spokes growl grumble. Belly drum rumbles.
Feet cartwheel like bumbling clowns
on Big Top’s opening night.
Propelled by fright, I glance back to see him
laugh at me.
He’s let go.

I fumble. Teeter.
Clumsy me!
No safety net beneath trapeze.
He laughs

then I laugh too.
I let go.
Crack through air like ring master’s whip.
Shot free of my cannon. Rocket and fly!
Tear through skies whose horizons had fallen
down the back of a hug.

Mum might be cooking.
I feast on speed.
My tummy, a circus.

Monday, 8 June 2009



We're bob sledding
down Dusty Springfield's beehive,
wind alive with drums and strings.

Ears whipped, spin to ground.

Racing pulses.
Mine wins!
This songbird unlocks a mind cage.
Magic flits out,
dips behind curtain rail.
Close the window before it gets out!

We dance in the kitchen.
Sing to mug of tea.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Tomorrow, I Will Go Dancing

Tomorrow, I Will Go Dancing

Today, I’m eating margarine straight from the tub
and I feel so guilty however hard I scrub.
My wrist's unbandaged, I’m trying not to rub
but I’ve so many sores that need lancing.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.

My fingernails are rusty. Head full of ills.
Chest hot and tender as stomach spills.
But tomorrow, I’m going to get these little pills.
See, everything about me needs enhancing.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.

Tomorrow, you’ll go dancing, in your glitter tat.
Absinthe! Vodka! You never get fat.
Laughing. Smiling. All that goes with that.
Today, I feel anxieties advancing.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.

Hear my father’s voice, warped and splintered today,
he says “Misery will find you, boy, you’ll never get away.”
My dick feels like a beehive on a warm, summer’s day
when I see pretty things all preening and prancing.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.

Everyone there’s friendly. Falling into song.
I want to be loved. I’ve been lonely for so long.
Tomorrow is a vessel, sail way from all this wrong
where bitches say I’m ugly and can’t sing.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.

Today, I feel your laughter and it’s gnawing in my head.
It's biting out the blisters where you burned until I bled.
If I panic ‘til I can’t breathe, feel I’d be better dead,
well, I tell myself that risk is worth chancing.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.

I want to join the happy crowds, glorious and glad.
I want to like pop music. Never feel bad.
My therapist’s implying that I choose to be this sad.
I tell her, “You know nothing… but if you’re asking...
I think she's asking?
She's asking.
Tomorrow, I will go dancing.”

Thursday, 21 May 2009



We are ring without stone.
Rich belong to rich.
Diamonds are mean,
clean jewels for tidy, shiny families.
Diamonds, a boy’s worst friend.
They’re forever.
Aren't they?
Reminding what will never be.
Lingering fingers flaunt sharp rocks.
Always pointing.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009



There is a wizard downstairs
in the flat below.
He wears a pointy hat
and a dressing gown
and he makes rainbows for me.

He wipes the dust from his spell books
- mixes it with tomato juice,
eye of black bean, crust of tooth paste,
microwaves it in a pudding bowl
and then


tells it secrets.

Heating up rainbows,
there is a wizard downstairs
with a bumper-carred grin.
One eye all Ferris wheels,
one eye the underside of a scratched CD.

He can't do hellos or goodbyes
but knows everything in between.

He knows what tea leaves think
after they've been read,
can see the faces talking
in the damp patch in his kitchen
-corrects their algebra
-makes them blush.
Patchworks his bedroom with postcards and photos,
says they switch places when he sleeps.
I believe him.

I think about him when I'm at work
as I type other people's words
on a computer that doesn't even
have a name.

He names everything.

The kettle is called Ursula Pink.
She embodies the ghost
of a menopausal midwife.
Poor Ursula.
Lime scales her children.

Morgan the dish rack wishes
he could swap places with the plates.
"Confounded scoundrels!"
Let them carry him for once.

The toaster is Catherine Taylor-Clarke
(Double-barrel, 'cos she's posh),
will burn your bread if you look at her wrong.
but Wizard says he would never change her,
he likes her as she is,
If she just did what he wanted all the time,
she'd be boring.

When Wizard talks,
words start fire working his lips,
tiny explosions tease on his tongue.
I want to study them,
pick them up when they look cooler,
but I'm scared they'd blow up in my face.

This man is a bonfire of love,
a Hero,
will fly you on a carpet
through a thousand lands
of impossibly beautiful dreams
all inside his flat.

He won't go outside anymore.
Says his magic won't work out there.
It's happening here,
where he makes me rainbows
and I make his tea.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Stranger Dress

Stranger Dress

One day, when I was bored
I dressed myself in strangers.
They made me think that I was beautiful.
Pressed diamonds in my lap.
There were wild, flashing colours
Everywhere my heart touched

And every frown I saw became
A harbour to a smile,
And every sobbing drunk I touched
Was sober… for a while.

I threw off the rags I’d worn,
I’d been a slave to labels.
Never even realised
all this freedom could be mine!
Pulling out the panic
from me celebrating madness.

I know
My wardrobe doesn’t have
A thing to wear through rain,
I know
That all my jewels are fake
As any artist sane,
I know
That all the men I wear
Like cloth, will quickly fade,

Still, I’m glad, when I got bored
I chose the clothes that suit me!
Dolled up like a princess,
I won’t go home today.
I grabbed a fist of fancy jewels
And never had to pay.

I’ll never miss the drab and grey
Tatters I wore yesterday
Because the first time you feel happy
Can never be taken away.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Home of Beasts

Home of Beasts

Beetled walls protect
our woodloused floors, our spidered
roof, our great small lives.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Living Document

Living Document

My mind is a living document,
marching on paper legs,
trampling detail,
dissecting later.

My mind is a feeding document, parasitic,
bloated hungry, writes over its own mistakes,
slops new ideas on top of old,
past thoughts bleeding between present ones.

My mind is a breathing document,
gasping for air,
strains its leash.
This brittle body cover can’t hold it down.

My mind is a walking document, no, a running document,
tears ahead of hands,
rips through pride and pants.
Its inky prints stain you. My mouth says sorry.

This mind is a talking document,
tells me sour endings it promises will unfold.
Help me keep its wet, jaw pages tight shut.
There’s a black blob butterfly inside.

This mind is a laughing document,
cackling all night.
How can I sleep?
I’m wide eyed beside you.

Your mind is in a dream hammock
resting over your head.
It returns to your brain as you wake.
I wrestle with mine ‘til it knocks me out cold.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Like School

Like School

The cool still rule.
He's queer-bashed on Canal St again
but these gay men can't see
a bleeding nose eclipsed
by their rising Bacardi Breezers.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Don't Bank Love

Don’t Bank Love

Our love
in shoe boxes under the bed,
in brown, big envelopes
under the arm chair.

Banks give plastic.
Don’t see or feel.
Accept transaction
without question.

Our home
takes love with one sugar.
sprawls through woodchip.

Performance Poetry: Free Verse Lives!



Performance Poetry slams... are dead.

Brown bread. Burnt.

Fallen, jam side down,

hit ground,


Time out.

Clear the ring away

because poets will not fight today.

Won't judge. Won't jeer. Make this clear.

Speak quiet enough for everybody to hear.

Slams are dead.


Now, feel free to fancify your verse

where crowds won't curse or prey you are worse

than their own stanza.

Where hands are applauding. Not marauding.

Mouths cheering. Never sneering.

'Well, his rhymes OK but that metaphors weak.

He does go on abit. Hey! I wannna speak!

Make my mates all rate him low.'

There's no bitterness like show bitterness,

no bitterness i know.

Ding! Dong! The slams are dead!

There's no place like this home!

Our house crushed flat that wicked deed.

No more yellow bricking it before you stand to read.

Just sun gold ink on paper skies

and thoughts, coloured outside the lines.

Beer soaked wisdom. External rhyme.

Share lyrics and laughs.

Write shields, not swords

because friendship is cut by scoring boards.

Competing is unavoidable, in work or family.

Let poetry be a sanctuary.

A cloak to curb a hurricane,

though it only has one thread.

Make this known wherever we tread.

Free verse lives!

Slams... are dead.