Monday, January 21, 2019

John


“Time is a great healer.”
Except that it isn’t.
And all the other hushed platitudes,
Probably meant well,
Are also pointless lies.
Because, nineteen years on,
The pain is crushing and unbearable.

You should be opening birthday presents.
You should be going out tonight,
To celebrate with friends.
Who would they have been?
But there are no balloons,
Nor banners,
Nor nineteen candles on a birthday cake.

There is nothing.
Silence.
I hear my own heart beating
And remember when yours stopped.
Born too soon.
Gone too soon.
Never forgotten.

So little time with you,
And your delicate skin,
And doll-like frame.
Charlie looks like you.
And your sleeping position was the same as mine.
You are still here.
In us.

This is no celebration.
It’s Hell.
It’s the eternal wondering
Of what could have,
Should have been,
But never was.
So many missed birthdays now.

I never took you home.
I never pushed you in a pram.
We never fed the ducks in Graves Park.
I never heard you laugh,
Or cry.
I only heard the silence,
Which still suffocates me.

I never took you to school,
And cut crusts off lunchbox sandwiches.
I didn’t meet teenage you.
You never met your siblings.
I went to your funeral,
And I think I might have been brave,
Though that has become a blur.

January comes and goes,
Each time leaving another scar.
I am covered now,
My heart slashed repeatedly.
Tears splashing down my face
As I remember you,
For the short time I was your mum.




Friday, August 3, 2018

Take Me Away


Take me across
The heather-topped hills.
Let’s drive, window down,
So, my hair tickles my face.
Take me to
The sandy beach.
Toes dipped into North Sea.
Collected shell mementoes.
Take me to
The cobbled streets
And hidden yards.
See the living history.
Take me down
Henrietta Street.
Strong smoked kipper smell.
Imagine we live there.
Take me up
To St Mary’s.
I will read the gravestones
And think about what life is.
Take me to
Visit Whitby Abbey.
Let me feel small and insignificant
Against the ancient walls.
Take me down
The pier.
Hold my hand.
Watch the pink-gold sunset.
Take me to the harbour.
Look at the colourful bobbing boats
And feel serene.
Take me across the swing bridge.
Be lost in the sea of faces
And familiar football shirts.
Take me to
The Whalebone Arch.
Pose for photographs
In front of dramatic views.
Take me to
Our cottage.
Sea-air induced sleep
And dreams of tomorrow.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Let Me Introduce Myself




I am:
The council estate kid at the affluent school.
The naïve, down-trodden trusting fool.
The girl who started her period but had nobody to tell.
The girl in the strict house who longed to rebel.
The rebel who became the dreaded black sheep.
The girlfriend nobody wanted to keep.

I am:
The one who goes to the seaside and can’t stand to leave,
So keeps her heart there until she cannot breathe.
The day-dreamer, always lost in a daze.
The lucid night-dreamer, following insomniac haze.
Locked in eternal grief because bereavement took over,
Anniversaries of tragedy. Emotional supernova.

I am:
One who wears make-up as her warrior mask.
The woman with the questions she never dares to ask.
The once hopeless romantic who got cruelly crushed –
Love whispers and hopes: now silence; hushed.
The one who struggles with a smile on her face.
Look closely, there are tears you can trace.

I am:
Until her heart stops beating – the mother who will fight.
Don’t upset the children. This mother may bite.
The writer with dreams that never quite come true.
The one dressed in black that feels so blue.
Somewhat difficult, but if she feels your love –
She’ll do anything for you, go beyond and above.

I am:
Someone with many faults, this she does agree.
She should be so much more, this she can see.
Now agonisingly lonely and nothing can fill the hole.
Giving up trying to achieve any goal.
Scribbling away, trying to out the pain.
Hoping that, one day, she feels better again.



Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Beast from the East.


The Beast from the East was angry,
And he was sharpening his claws.
He gnashed his frightful fangs together
And practiced his fearsome roars.

The Pest from the West had annoyed him.
And for that – he would have to pay!
He had made his mind up:
He would unleash his power today.

It started with the temperature.
His fury froze the very air.
People shuddered and shivered.
The Eastern Beast did not care.

He shrieked and yelled ferociously,
Until the sky turned completely white.
But, he was saving his best tricks
For when daytime turned to night.

People slept; cosy in dreamy slumber.
Oblivious, they did not know
That the rattled, fuming Beast
Had sent the most chaotic snow.

It arrived in startling clumps.
Gigantic flakes abound.
They whizzed down from the sky
And settled on the ground.

“Now, let’s see
Who is puny and small!”
The Beast from the East laughed
As the snow continued to fall.

“Ha! Is that all you’ve got?”
Sniggered the Pest from the West.
“A cute winter wonderland?
Is this seriously your best?”

The Beast emerged from his cave
And let out a terrifying howl.
He stood up on his haunches
And began to madly prowl.

His rage increased his strength
And he blew with all his might.
His icy windy breath
Caused a blustery fright.

The storm had begun.
It burst into full-swing.
But, the Angel of the North
Started to sweetly sing.

“Beast from the East,
How silly you are;
Spreading this terrible weather
So wide and far!”

“Pest from the West,
Now bite your tongue.
We must teach this Beast
To know right from wrong.”

“Oi! Leave it out!”
There came a groan.
It was the Mouth from the South,
Having another moan.

The Angel rolled her eyes.
He had so much to say!
He was full of self-importance!
And held far too much sway!

But, he didn’t speak for all,
Merely a select few.
Suddenly, the Angel
Knew just what to do!

She thought about the people,
Who would be shivering in bed.
Tomorrow, they would panic!
They’d buy all the milk and bread!

They couldn’t drive their cars,
And life would fall apart.
Humans of the United Kingdom
Couldn’t cope with a snowy morning start!

She put her big coat on,
Rolled up the sleeves somewhat.
She would show these boys
The things that they’d forgot.

The Beast remained so angry
And wanted to put on a show.
“There’ll be no attention-seeking here, Pet.
You can forget your snow.”

The Pest from the West was left wanting
Because he had no real fame.
Well, it was up to the Angel
To end this ludicrous game.

The Mouth from the South was tiresome,
Only serving to stir the pot.
He didn’t know the people.
Care? Oh, he did not.

So, the Angel closed her eyes
Visualising grass that was green,
Melting the irksome snow,
As though the storm had never been.

Scolding all: Beast, Pest, and Mouth;
In only a way that an angel can.
She grounded them for a month
And, quite rightly, set a ban.

“No more engineering weather!
It should be bloody Spring!
Send out the daffodils.”
The Angel did sing.

“And the crocus and the colour
And a rare sunshine smile.
These people have had enough
Of this weather that is vile.”

“Let them eat chocolate bloody eggs,
And book a holiday.
For once: Beast, Pest, and Mouth
Had nothing at all to say!

They retreated into hiding.
But, Angel was proudly on display.
A beacon of hope and beauty,
Always having the final say.















As She Sleeps.


As she sleeps,
She sees him.
They meet in dreams
And it’s like the good old days
Of tipsy laughter
And golden memories.
That time he pushed her
Against the filing cabinet at work
And kissed her until
She was a hot mess.
When she tired of him
Talking on the telephone,
So she invented ways
To cheekily distract.
When he defended her
From the bullies.
He would fight her corner.
Does he remember that?
She sleeps,
Though still feels his touch.
An expert.
A PHD in her body.
She dreams of babies.
Still feels the contractions.
But, she sees him
Holding her hand.
Slumber brings milky smiles
And the smell of Johnson’s Shampoo.
Pure yellow sunshine
In a bottle.
She sees pushchair walks
And dropped toys.
She hears sad wailing.
She recalls the retraced steps.
She dreams
Of family holidays.
Arcade machines
And perfect harbour views.
She dreams of banter
And flirtation.
Her cheeks redden;
The shade of her favourite scarlet cardigan.
As she sleeps,
She forgets
That he’s no longer there.
Until she wakes.
And it’s bittersweet,
Until it’s just bitter.
But, as she sleeps,
She sees him.



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Strips




At first, it was all dinner dates, coy smiles, and flirtatious gazes.
She said the ‘L’ word first.
“Ah, that’s nice,” he’d replied.
She should have known better. She didn’t – she was young and somewhat in awe of his easy charm and oily lines.

She was full of fairy tales, dreams and bullshit. So, she sat him on a nonsensical pedestal. Bless her, she genuinely believed that she could keep him there forever: regal; lording it above all and sundry, despite knowing that she wasn’t good enough for him. But, she had won him! And she never won anything, not even on a tombola, so she considered herself lucky.

He began tearing the strips off rather early on in their unbalanced relationship. Little ones, scratching at the corners, so small that she didn’t notice.
“If your hair was this colour…”
“If you wore those shoes…”
“If you weren’t friends with that crass girl…”
“If you didn’t watch insipid soap operas…”
“If you did that thing in bed…”

The strips tore too easily after that. They fell apart like pieces of delicate, old, yellowed paper. Like confetti all around her – thin, too swift and tiny to catch and hold. Like an ancient map – found, at long-last – crumbling into dust. She was in love and thought that she had found her Disney Prince. How she cooed at all who would listen.

Shit happens. And it did. She found herself having a hard time. She became low, exhausted and she forgot to care about how she looked. He dampened the paper and set to peeling away the second layer.
“If you weren’t so down…”
“If you didn’t sigh so much…”
“If you were more fun…”
“If you didn’t question me…”
“If we have a break…”

No! She must keep him on the pedestal: better than everyone else; ensconced in silk and velvet, in the perfect position to tear more strips away.

She took hold of her life again and her confidence dared to grow. Though, they would now argue every evening and tears dripped into wine. It was time to rip off some more strips; remind her of her place.
“If you hadn’t put on weight…”
“If you listened to what I say…”
“If you didn’t have opinions…”
“If you hadn’t let yourself go…”
“If you were more like her…”

She was now red raw, there were few strips left to shred. She had given up, though she kept him on his beloved pedestal but more out of habit than love. The pitiful pattern continued: the stripping and obliterating the final, stinging, barely-there layers.
“If you weren’t such a cretin…”
“If you weren’t such a hateful bitch…”
“If you weren’t a lazy asshole…”
“If I still fancied you…”
“If I could stand to look at you…”

Gone. The layers were gone. All that remained was a bloody, vacant, pulpy mess where a life had once been.
The fire had gone out.
He had turned off the lights.
And pissed on the dying, smoking embers.

She could no longer find the strength or the motivation to beg for reprieve or resuscitation. To her utmost horror, he slipped from the pedestal. It wasn’t a dainty demotion. It ripped open the universe. She woke up, she opened her eyes. She yearned to tear some strips: pulling the plaster off quickly; one large single bout of agony. No slow peeling and endless yelps of pain. She wanted to unwrap the Egyptian mummy – fast – and bury the covering underground forever more.

There were too many unkept promises, too many cruel yet decadent lies. Mostly, there had been too much unravelling. Her scars would never heal. After all this time, the strips couldn’t be replaced.
Rising from the coma, she decided that she might be worth saving. It stabbed her a million times, but she dragged him from the footstool of the pedestal, and she threw him in the bin. She scrubbed away his footprints. She held the TV remote control. She looked people in the eye.
“If you hadn’t torn the strips,” she whispered.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Spooktacular Halloween Author Giveaway

I am taking part in this fabulous author giveaway. There is a grand cash prize and you can win loads of lovely books and other spooky prizes! I am offering a signed copy of Black Eyed Boy.


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