To Your 18th Birthday

They destroyed all that you had,

& left you in the dark space that was left,

to whisper of madness.

 

You wrapped yourself in sheets of cellophane

that fell to the ground with each painful sound,

every time someone spoke your father’s name.

 

So you wrote poetry in a desperate metre,

drew faces of horror with blackened fingers

in the glass of a cruel mirror.

 

But the mirror was wiped clean,

and the poetry was put aside, classified

as the phase of a troubled teen.

 

And so to your 18th birthday when

you were supposed to do away with childish things.

You placed a candle in the fireplace

 

to warm your ashen face,

but never accepted that there was a place for everything,

& everything in its place.


Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017

A Life

Visions fade like fingerprints,

I could give you an overview of my life,

a summary of what’s happened so far,

in so far as I can remember.

 

First was the birth, of course,

in hindsight relatively painless,

there were screams, but

nothing.

 

There were the obligatory celebrants,

paid nods to smile and offer praise,

in words taken from digital graffiti

& the margins            of the soul.

 

The days were jewels

encrusted in shite,

the polish out of reach on

the top shelf behind the poisons.

 

If I read 7 as an angle,

somewhat acute,

though school would teach me obtuse

then 77 is

a parallel

(paradigm).

 

So, a man lived his life

in the shadow of a dream,

the silhouette pressed

against the white walls of expectations,

but nothing a can of paint

and wide brush couldn’t fix.

 

When the vultures are summoned

to pick at your bones

and fly into the sun,

will you have found what

you thought

you should be

looking for.

 


First published in The Wonder Book, 3 January 2013

 

 

Man Alive, Number 5

Another dream of “normal” life,

the morning takes a knife &

plunges it into a weakened soul,

waits until time sears the pain & then

wraps it in a plastic bag of pregnant desires.

 

The bingo caller’s lost his voice,

numbers fall to the floor, & are

left to roll around while the players panic,

clutching cards to their chests,

under house/cardiac arrest.

 

Sleep & the day becomes another,

dread falls like a midnight phone call –

did you remember to leave an

out of body message now you’re a

thousand sighs from home?

 

But

maybe you should call home,

to save some embarrassment of absence,

find out if someone’s fed the elephant in the room,

and watered down the dandelion wine,

(be responsible, man). No,

 

instead you eat a cancer sandwich

& sit on the side of the road

while cars race past

and a voice in your head screams

“BINGO!”

 


Published in Tincture Journal #9, February 2015

Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017

 

The Walls

We wiped down the walls to remove the tobacco shadows

from all the cigarettes you smoked after dinner

when we’d sit around and you’d tell us your stories.

 

We filled in the holes and removed

any impressions of the pictures you’d hung;

the photos of our school days, holidays, birthdays,

the portraits of innocent times,

ignorant of mortality.

 

A coat of paint, a neutral beige,

now muffles all the whispers of the life we had,

back when you’d tuck us in at night

and tell us you loved us.

 

After the sale we’ll divide the proceeds

according to your will

and go on with our own lives,

in our own separate houses.

 


Published in Door=Jar Issue 9, Winter 2019