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The Poems

"Those that don't believe in magic will never find it" Roald Dahl

I started writing poems in earnest during 2020 as a reaction to the pandemic. Poetry gave me the opportunity to break the rules, to use murderous language if I felt like it, and to vent at the page.

I have been lucky to live in a number of wonderful places and they have all worked their magic on me in different ways, often finding their way into my poetry. If you are ever offered the opportunity to live in another country grasp it with both hands. As one of the first poets I ever knew said,

"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings"-Robert Louis Stevenson

Here are some of the things that make me happy

Poetry: Portfolio


Image by Luke Stackpoole



I woke up yellow—decrepid
Something not quite right
People born by the sea are older
Yet this weathering surprised me
The compression of the thing settled in my gut
Rigmaroling me round the room like a drunk
But I still couldn’t fill up the empty spaces 
Time once felt slippery in patches
Skidding past—a flibberty-jibbit
Now it hangs like a promise—each day a small fable 
I dig out abeyant words
But use them in all the wrong places
Washing them with my breath
So they can exist for a short time--
Caper about creating their own mild breeze
They are flashes of wit contrary to the sun’s course
Amorphous—they float away on a riptide
and I am too gutless to call them back

First published In Winter 2021 bee house Journal

Image by Ashleigh Joy Photography

Passive: Aggressive

The sea roses glob up on the foot of the slab

And the driftwood about us has piled in irregular rhythms

Remains of not so ancient quarrels are buried on dirty sighs

We poured ourselves in measures—rationing the twists

But still when we lay down it felt like climbing and we couldn’t breath

Our house confronts the sea—once it was a comfort to battle it together

Still the salt air is a constant foe—sand silts up each opening

So I prize myself out with care—without you

Now knowing what things seem I embed in the crumbling cliffs

An ammonite curled in on myself—elemental

Waiting to be hacked out of the milky slice

And weighed in hands so others can feel the gravity of the thing

They will hang me on a shelf and write out a label or a warning

She never fought back but her substance made others wild—

When I was young I asked my mother why she put up with my father’s drinking She looked stunned—she never knew she had a choice

I still think about this all the time

First published by Sad Girls Club

Image by Joshua Hoehne

Gifts To A Young Lady

in the bathroom you with your cracked skin (call it marbling) and pulsating mound are offered gifts that you bundle in hands and mouths to taunt the brittle beauty promised but better down the stairs the stuffing of apples into pink plastic so with the grace of tearing out comes a reliquary smell found in forgotten books and ruddy leaf piles moldering rusty cumbersomely heavy as you crunch bird bones beneath a white robe to hide from the divine—too divine—breaking a witch-hazel rod you secretly divine a sewer to baptize and generously mold wild things to make a wooden bowl where you can stack the bruised apples before the fall and know that nobody no matter how lovely ever had all the answers

First published by Tofu Ink Press


Mulling Over First Love

Dark short inside days served chilled to the bone

--air heavy with cinnamon and citrus

and longing. Running from chapel trailing midwinter carols

--hacked on smoky, white, breath

under a dropped pearl necklace of stars

--that first, rough, green, mistletoe kiss

Much later on a colder day as sleet fell like confetti

--laying a cold fleece over everything

I thought I knew. The broken branches clutched decay

—but still managed to wave on high

as I walked away. Instead of blood and bandages

— the snow covered Fire Thorn tree

makes me think of berries and ice-cream

--and this is how I have survived.

First published in Réapparition Journal

Image by Lavi Perchik

Splash-A Retrospective

It was always there—lurking at the edges

And I wonder if knowing the situation would have been enough

In the movies mermaids are touchingly naïve

A sweet affectation to reel us in

But real women have always worked with fish

Traveling on land to gut herrings

Mending nets in living rooms

And no matter where the work there’s always a smell

And sometimes the sneaking of the relentless minds

That couldn't leap from sitcom to a great idea

Brings us a popular movie that stinks

And—splash—you fell in love with mermaids

The story of being saved from drowning—

A metamorphosis from human to something fishy

Like walking naked onto Ellis Island

Then you always wanted to grow a tail

But later you loved to show your legs

Shimmering in the waves of wind

Iridescent blues and purples and reds

Hard pretty scales—a mermaid at last

You told me – you’d a shell and all

So you wouldn’t end up like me

Instead you went over the wall

Knowing the importance

Of looking directly into the camera

As you got into the water—without a splash

That sweet touch a meaningless rotation

That left the page as empty as possible

First published in Sparked Lit Mag

Image by Mathilde Langevin

Choosing Chocolates In A Pandemic

I watch the eyelid petals of the last poppy—waiting for them to drop

Missing mornings when you would wash me with your breath—

You always offered a different sort of danger—like eating chocolates without reading the list

—never knowing if I would get a caramel or a hard nut to swell my throat shut

Rain falls in threads and I hear the ascending notes of my phone—

my nerves swoop in forgotten patterns to remind me I already know what falling feels like

After—I unwrap your favorite purple one and think about eating it for the longest time

—but I have always done my best to stay away from bridges and other high places

First published by Shot Glass Journal


In Lieu of Flowers

In Lieu of Flowers

Last poppies;

Petals like eyelids—

Seeds like holes—gone in a blink!

Dear Mam,

Tomorrow at pallid dawn we go up to repair the lines. I am waiting with Dai and Thomas, jam-packed like your lamb faggots but steeped in the grubby gravy of our sweat. Duw Mam, I try to forget for just a minute now and think of you darning socks by the comfy fire. I want to unpack my troubles, sit by the sea and make salt or else climb Pen-y-Fan to fill my laverbread lungs with daffodilly air. This place blisters me with remembrance; it lashes me to the last post under this perishing sky. I am so very weary. Here even the summer scent of flowers unravels me as we scramble to fit the masks every time we catch a whiff of chapel lilacs. We watch as a flare flies so the black mounds of exploded graves silhouette against the violent red of hell and cloddish ghosts roam looking for reason. This muck of war is like an oil slick on the souls of men and I think we can never scrub off its tangles. No, not even in a hundred years.

God willing I will write you again, if not and my misery is ended, we will meet again in a better place. Give my best love to everyone.

Your loving son,


First published by Rainbow Poems

Image by Matt Briney


The corpse bird waits for the last leaf

I once could stroll home no matter the hour

Now my asking sounds like begging

And I am worse off than a widower

As your corpse is still here to remind me

I try to stretch resolve and splinter clouds

But my body is lumpy—like a badger in a bag

Instead I make lists of favorite foods

—last comfort to be served by the woman in white

It is what it isn’t—part of a thing I know now

Like taking you to Starbucks because I didn’t know your name

I remember instead when the boats delivered milk and butter

Mam making pancakes as thick as her stockings

And the skipping forecast rattling through the radio

Sheep in the meadow, cows in the corn…..

What was the month that I was born?

The cat layered on my lap like a gravity blanket

Her indifference has the insistence of arthritis

I think I am a dog person—you say no

I am bothered by your smell—sweet like subterfuge

‘No pissing in the alley’ you shout, but I’m desperate

Am I waning? Waning after waxing. Mooning as I piss

All things bright and gone

When I fall I try not to scream and disturb the robin

That death bird might take my corpse

And refashion it into a rope as round as a puddle

Don’t grieve—you can’t weep for someone you never knew

Tell it all to the paper doves or the last poppies

Petals like eyelids, seeds like black holes—gone in a blink

I wonder—am I going to heaven or hell or to the Vegan Kitchen?

I think I eat bacon—a woman who says her name is Ruth says not

As she spoons bile between my lips or maybe it is just Jell-O

First published by High Shelf



I know all this has changed the insides of me
But you claim you don’t recognize me anymore
Don’t feel the familiar tug of my grooved expressions on your sleeve
I am just an apparition to you when once I was solid 
So you can pass right through me and go too 
There is no fanfare of machines to herald your exit
It is such a quiet leaving—the air does not even notice your absence 
Yet for me—knowing you still walk in this new world— it is like another death
And I have no one left to remind me who I am.

And I have no one left to remind me who I am
Yet for me—knowing you still walk in this new world—it is like another death

It is such a quiet leaving—the air does not even notice your absence
There is no fanfare of machines to herald your exit
So you can pass right through me and go too
I am an apparition to you when once I was solid
Don’t feel the familiar tug of my grooved expressions on your sleeve
But you claim you don’t recognize me any more
I know all this has changed the insides of me

First published by The Ekphrastic Review



As I belly-flop into the twilight

I am no longer basted

In oestrogenic liquor

So I dry out


Like a flouted turkey

On a Christmas slag heap

The proverbial tough old bird

But please don’t gird me

In a corset of my glorious past

And ignore my mature bouquet

I may no longer fly but might still glide

Through an autumnal dreaming

Feathering my heels

And dribbling pink gin schemes

Tipping into the grey

We Calibans adorned in patches, crouch

Baffled by the lastingness of our bladders

The need for a clip-clopping dash

And the hot wetness in our gussets

From a sneeze or belly-laugh

So what if our menstrual cups are drained?

We can still swallow and slurp

With the best of them

We are merely paused--no period just a comma,

The climax of our sentence yet to come

So pucker up and kiss me quick

As I slowly squeeze my pelvic floor

With no bull and barely a bush

The world can still be my oyster

But I have no time to spare.

So go on and put it THERE!

First published by Hags On Fire

Image by Erica Magugliani

March 1933

Even in that curved time I thought it wondrous to see
the rusted eye of the bird
a code etched on its bronze wing of faded numbers
—was this so it could find its way home?
in the grey foreshadowing of a darker day I smiled at the absurdity of its beak
long and sharp as scissors—it might easily cut through buttons or bones
soon the stripy shadows slid—laying a cold carpet on the yard
and it was time for me to go
a hundred, hundred eyes were blinking at my back
but as I did not turn I did not see
I only heard a song—as old as the robin

First published by Shot Glass Journal

Image by Bruce Christianson

Why Doesn't The Mermaid Float Away When She Sleeps?

Maybe she weights her tail with starfish—
a dusting of saffron sea stars
that ripple across her sandy scales
like the watery reflection of The Milky Way.

Maybe she wraps her body with seaweed—
a gentle cover of olive fronds
that rock her like a lover's kiss
or sooth her like sheets spun from promises.

Maybe she coaxes oysters to pinch her hair—
a cluster of silvery shells
that grip like delicate pearl barrettes
and filter all her cares and sorrows.

Or maybe she piles pebbles upon her heart
and these are heavy enough—
since she still dreams of walking in the world
—with him  

First published by Shot Glass Journal

Image by . liane .


I used the lines on my face as a loom—fabricating long strings to tie me to the tragic minutiae of our everyday life in this forever house

(Please don’t call them wrinkles; call them life lines)

I can let you read me –-line by line

And still I won’t make sense

I used to hang our washing on a clothesline

The sun would bleach away the dirt of us

Now we have a dryer so our sheets look the same

But they have the tang of something unpleasant

I would gnaw at the oblong box—scared to get out—terrified to stay

So each time I moved my red lines

Until the only place I could find them was on my ‘going out’ lips

A scarlet gloss—your pseudo-wife—fault lines covered by powder

It turns out I could only ever be seen by the deities roaming the skies—and you with your basic geometry only saw me from the foothills

So you never realized you had come to the end of the line


Illusions Of a Starry Night

your brutal words balance on my arms in stacks of dirty plates 

as I pencil trees in what Brock, the art instructor calls ‘Van Gogh style’

not a forest or a wood, not even a copse but a singular black hulk surrounded by a triangular fence—aloof and as far removed from the divine as a hotdog

the limbs wave in stabs and snatches—the spiky leaves spiraling cruelly 

filling all the space making it difficult to breath

Brock looks over and smiles saying, ‘Your tree is fifty shades of grey’

of course he’s alluding to that badly edited bestseller—full of  borderline abusive 

your abuse is always beautifully polished—never in my face always just under my skin 

my pencil snaps as I grimace at Brock—picking up a bright yellow oil pastel 

I amaze myself and morph the leaves into stars that swirl in the darkness 

dropping my arms the plates smithereen and become just an empty task for a woman with a broom

And as I pack my bag, somewhere in the divine I feel Van Gogh wink


Image by Joey Nicotra

Turbulence in Small Spaces

I've never been able to whistle, but on the radio, a father and daughter have made whistling their life's work. They are performing the Archer's theme, and they sound so happy. Their hero is Ronnie Ronalde, an artist who blew for Marilyn Monroe and the Queen. There's talk about shepherds and plowboys and music by Bach. Then the presenter plays the last bars of 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' and says how sad it sounds because Otis Redding recorded it right before he died. But surely everyone knows that's not why it's painful. Suddenly they switch to whistling languages. They call it 'speaking without tongues.' I look over to tell you, "Wouldn't that be an excellent title for a Netflix dystopia limited series?" But, of course, you're not there.

Next, a man with a tambourine voice says, you can whistle with an accent and use whistling speech for poetry and seduction. I think about that Bacall line—put your lips together and blow. Finally, his voice like long sweetening, a different man gives different advice, "Spread your lips wide, smile." But I've forgotten how.

Apparently, pitch always depends on the opening of the lips, so I lick my lips, purse and there's a sound like grief. But it's probably only the wind, and since you've gone, there's nobody to hear me anyway

Young Hands Holding Old Hands

Life Lines

Spading the garden to plant the seed potatoes   

His afternoon in sprinkles of rain and dotted eyes 

Wearing old boots and a black beret


In an inside pocket—his hurt—folded over and over

The door shut on the young man he was 

He thought about how she laughed as he got the bottle  

Telling her—It'll make you feel better—

Later she wanted her own measure so he got her a flask to hold it

At first it amused him—both getting at the same thing from different places

For better or worse, until death and so on

Much later she asked

—What difference did it make if you hold or carry something? 

And insisted—not a thing. Nothing. 

Yet as it turned out it was everything.

Walking down the hill toward the river another girl in the doorway—sagging 

Her breath across the wind nudges him in the ribs

His breathing as sharp as the turn down the bank 

She was almost out of sight but then she shouted

—You're not going? 

It shocked him back

He sat down on the bank and the crust of him split

He could see the bell tower over the hill

And the tangled lining of his pockets cast flat on the water

—slowly going to pieces as the bell tolled. An echo of a different story

And nothing was the same as he remembered


His eyes colored by the melting snow as the sun came out

He rescued her flask from his pocket tipping it into the river

Earth to earth, water to water—an urstwhile blessing of sorts

His eyes glistened. Days like this stretched out ahead

Tomorrow like a favor—slapping him on the back and putting money in his pocket

Maybe it was nothing. Or maybe it would be everything

Image by Claudio Schwarz

A Fib About A Dead White Christ

the mouth
of a cave
scrapings substitute
for all the voices of women
the long-necked invented things but always hooded men
smothered them in used sheets so later peeling off the layers felt like an abortion
with deep breaths, blood and ancient things declared sacrosanct by the ones that never grew them
you forced us to look as a mother and child lay down
crying loudly from after pains
ripped into untruths
by artists

Image by William Daigneault

The Coat Of Faith

she wears—
an armor
with zips or buttons
all bright, nuanced, hard won wrappings—
of lawyer, wife, mother, woman
faith as a beacon
of blazing

all the painted hues
of her vulnerability
every unreliable man—
Dad, husband, lover
left behind
like the sea—
in pink wellingtons
we know-waves, sweat, tears, taste the same
yet they can't wash away coal dust
from under your nails
or the land
from your

I watch
this woman— 
wild, loud, warm, funny—
I Google where to buy her coat
so I can be a vivid slash
in my own grey town

Image by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger

Storm Troopers

Think about the despondency of clouds
Moving behind enemy lines in straggling tobaccoy wisps
Only to discover the smeared figures are just boys-doppelgängers of all the others passed over
Those who will never be graced with a peaceful old age even if they live to collect a pension
So they storm and rage in purple plumes of arteries against a blinding sky
Chucking down rain to purify and stop the waste but only succeeding in making infamous, inglorious, mud
While other clouds-contrailing lilacs and subterfuge- mass and halo alternative futures
And there on the sticky field nobody can tell or care which clouds are blotting out the sun

Image by Boris YUE

There Are No Angels In The North

Every revolution ends with rusting images
A flummery to swinging dongs with their wrecking balls
Yet grass grows even in the hurtful trenches and darkened pits
And the horror of hand thrown walls full of rubble
Is just a place to perch as you pour your tea

Maybe you should shave your head and be done with it
Like a holy penitent or a prison inmate—we all sleep in cells
As our cells die and replace themselves—ourselves
Until our blood runs to rust
And we are only an image on the mind's eye of our legacies
Formed by our own swinging dongs and wrecking balls
A flummery to our immortality
But hopefully more meaningful than a bald rusting angel stuck on a hill

Image by Tim Mossholder


Let's arrange some matters 
Feelings beat like an enigma in a pine box—decidedly vulgar on the tip of your tongue
And so you bargain with your loveliness

Intellect you dispose of with freaks of fancy
But the truth is peculiar—capturing a heart with a few words
So you handle with care 
Knowing your faulty appreciation of absence can cause you to fall and get lost
Under a full moon—the crowded wreck of you
Cuts away what remained
Making you flat and heavy—to all appearances dead

An erasure poem from Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Oblong Box'

At some more appropriate time it would be a most lovely death
Instead in disgust-you personate—a pseudo-wife
Hanging a copy of "The Last Supper" in the faint hope of saving yourself
Yet it is a rare thing for you to sleep soundly at night.

From Edgar Allan Poe's short story 'The Oblong Box'

Image by Jonathan Borba


You rise from the sofa rumbling from both ends
we have bookended this space since I was ripe

with hope but later I was ripe with something else
that smelt vaguely like disappointment

on the over-dusted shelf a hand colored photo
of us—delicate and bright on our wedding day

thrown rice caught like an echo of sleet
and the ground dangerous under foot

I didn’t know it could maybe kill the birds
hard, dry grains absorbing moisture

in their tiny tummies so they exploded
it seemed like an omen to me

but it was just another myth
for you to deride like love at first sight or heaven

yet at our daughter’s wedding
you threw rose petals and prayed

so the air was rife with spicy scent
and the cries of hungry birds

and a long standing love
at last sight

Image by Aimee Vogelsang


I will always be full of wonder

because you believed that something broken is more precious

breakage              was written                    in my history

and I had always tried to hide the clefts                   

but when I turned the cracks to face the world      

to face you

you took my heart and recast it in cuttlefish                 

telling me together we could withstand the fire

and when you slipped a golden promise on my finger              

I knew I could be strong enough

I believe in very little

yet I believe in this

Image by Ramez E. Nassif

Brown Wrapping

Brown Wrapping

Once I was so full up with what I thought I knew—an egg tipped on the floor will burst—unless you boil it—hard—and then it just cleaves—a mosaic of unreliable parts—like a book that has lost its binding

My mother poured tea with the weight of her stories in that sea-kelped town of glam—borrowing portions of other plots— the veins in her wrists—like the underside of a leaf—always led back to where we started—her body a cabinet of curiosity—the stuffed fish of her cheeks—the binary code between her eyebrows—her map of wrinkles—the moon tracks lumbering lightly over her belly where things sparked wonder.

Later—when I came to understand patience—practicing turning people into hotels—hefting my reliquary of decay beneath my clothes—fucking partly dressed or wrapped in pitch—reeking of haphazard crises and splurged sheets—I could put out fires with my piss—feel the pressure of childbirth in my defecations—but then the world fell through me—sprawling on a garage forecourt so flat I could step in it.

How small it is—what I know now—the beetles of the night pipe crowd sounds— the weight of all my deeds dribble down my leg—lounging like spilt tea—leaving behind dirty brown rings of blah—if I bind myself in paper will that stop me disappearing?

Image by Jackman Chiu

Beyond The Belief Of Selkies

Mythology bowdlerizes your background—tales of blood and eggs and sacrifice

Stone circles grew behind the supermarket and a castle crumbled down the road laying trails of knights—and it left you with your instincts inside out

Later you shed your blemished skin and grew rangy limbs, longing for something you knew you would never find

And then on a spring tide he was there and you began to doubt yourself

You were gleeful at the ice cream Sunday service—dressed in vanilla lace, sprinkles of rice in your hair

Wrapped in a fun fur you thought he’d keep you warm forever— but he never understood the negative space of you—

So he burnt your skin and called it love

And you left as fast as your long legs would carry you—striding in land where there was no magic or salt in the air—a place where your seal-song was like the moaning of the wind

Now you are old and bloodless and flushed, washed back to the shore to marvel at the ongoingness of the tide

And the benches telling a whole life in a few words—each one sounding too much the same—yet able to make one heart smile

You buy your own bench and sit alongside the wavering sea so much like yourself—leaving and coming back again

You’ve cut words to show you can be grey and beautiful. Alone and happy


Yet at the end you can still sense the tang of that ancient longing—that unforgivable thing that forced you to hide your true self   

Just for the feeling of someone else’s tongue in your mouth

*selkies are mythical creatures capable of changing from seal to human by shedding their skin and growing legs

Poetry: Work
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