Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The one-minute writer


I don’t run.
So I can’t see what you’re getting at.
"It’s just a way of letting off steam,
running things over"
you say. But
I don’t see it -
dirt gets in your lungs.
Why not just stay in?
with me.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

John Hegley thinks I'm okay, so I might just start to think so too...

This is probably going to be brief. I attended a Hyperlexic/Apples and Snakes workshop in North Shields today and had a fantastic time as the person running the workshop was John Hegley... well, he was a bit late so Claire Morgan held the fort brilliantly until he arrived. It was a fantastic workshop with some excellent elements (that I might just steal for my Live Writers Group).

Anyway, the reason for this post is that there was an event (which the workshop was tied into) this evening; so not only did I get to see a John Hegley gig for free but I also got to perform on the same stage as him!!!!!! I know excessive use of exclamation marks is technically grounds for having someone committed but these ones aren't excessive. First off, I read a kind of manifesto that arose from the workshop entitled beliefs and bananas and then I got to perform Julia Darling's Indelible, Miraculous in the Dead Poets Slam. Now I really wish, along with everyone else who was lucky enough to know Julia, that I wasn't able to include this poem in this particular section of the night but I'm glad that I was able to share her work and repay her encouragement and influence in a small way. It's a wonderful poem and I just felt so priveleged to read it.

There were loads of other great poets on that night and I really enjoyed Simma and Scott Tyrrell immensely... particularly Coitus Interuptus which rang all too true. I'm just stoked really to have been involved in such a fantastic event, I hadn't gone along with the intention of reading but I did, twice! AND, John Hegley, AND Kate Fox both said that my performance was good... and I'm not going to do what I normally do and say to myself... Oh, but they were just being polite, and they just didn't want me to feel bad because why would they bother? If I was totally shit surely they wouldn't have to say anything at all... they could have just said thanks for coming... ee, I'm learning. I'm really happy tonight and the main reason is that my fantastic, gorgeous husband Daniel got to see me perform and he said I was good too... so it's official.

Here's the (first draft) of the poem I read:

beliefs and bananas
I believe that bananas have a limited time frame for eating.
I believe that green bananas are not the same as plantains.
I believe that people should cherish differences.
Especially the difference between
green bananas and plantains.
I believe that cooking is essential to tranquil family life.
I don't cook as much as I should.
I believe that it doesn't matter if you're not picked first.
I believe that everyone in this room
(well, not this room, but the one earlier)
feels as nervous/apprehensive/shy
as I did before I walked in the room.
I believe that if a person wants to write
they should write.
If they want to sing
they should sing.
I believe that everyone should write a manifesto
at least once in their life.

Well, it turned out to be not so brief after all...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


A handful of photographs,

all I have to link to my past.

No photographic army of relatives

no reminders of a

or connection to the generations

that came before my parents.

No thick, brown, spiral bound family albums

losing their stickiness,

photos slipping out from

behind their protective film.

No anecdotal stories

of my parents’ childhoods.

No tales of what their parents did.

No pictures of the places they lived

or the holidays they took.

As if they appeared

Parents - Ready Made.

With no life, no existence

before we arrived.

No boxes of family photographs

linking me to my past.

No one who looks just like me,

staring blankly out from

creased, faded photographs.

No one reaching out

to show me how I got here.

Only half remembered photos

in the front rooms of relatives

I’ve long since stopped visiting -

whose names I can’t remember.

Where are they?

The photographs, the people.

If I knew they would just be

So many nameless faces

for the many faceless names.


Wintersun through the kitchen window,

it feels like spring.

The heat presses against her,

holds her close as she listens to

the tinitus whine of the fridge;

the grumble of the bypass;

the birds she can’t name who live to shit on her sheets.

The sun highlights remnants from last night’s snowfall.

Alone in the morning darkness of the backstreet,

she harvests the snow from her husband’s car.

Leaving pock marks over the once perfect surface,

her hand like a starfish,

fingertips barely touching the brittle crust.

Then grasping, eating mouthfuls of clean, pure snow.

It melts as it hits the warmth of her mouth.

Enough to satisfy – at least for now.


These words

don't want to come out yet.

Hiding behind quiet tears

that don't want to be seen.

My head fizzes gently as

they float around

Looking for a safe way out.

I won't imprison them too long;

They'll make sense soon enough.

But I'll keep these words

Hold on.

Until they can be changed.


My Father

With a voice softer than

the stirring of a sleeping child

and words gentle rain at dusk.

With the hope of a grandfather’s

stories of love and desire, wanting

to share more than just the hard times.

Fear and anxiety hide beneath his smile.

his forgotten childhood half-remembered

in softly spoken conversations.

His voice has a smile when the pain lets up.

The voice I strain to hear

at the end of a distant phone line.


There is something different in this hot yellow school summer. The heat and sweatiness of friends distorts in the intense August light that still fills the living room. An album cover balances delicately between my skinny brown fingers. Against the white background two figures. A man. A woman. Each half naked, his torso/her belly, rump and thighs. Outside, their shoulders, legs and arms bare, friends play in the dust of the estate.

Wearing a Groove

How often I walk this route,

wearing a groove into the hard concrete

of Newcastle’s pavements.

I see the same views

the same people

as I walk from home

to nursery to work and back.

Exercise the same muscle groups

over and again until

I just want to stop.

But then I think -

how trim my bum is becoming.

This Love

Her alarm call of “mamma” sounds through the night.

Tiredness clings to my body as I work

out how to convince her it’s too early for play.

I avoid the gaze of the clock; ignore how soon til morning,

In the half darkness I wonder how long to leave

before going in with a gentle “shhh, my love”.

There’s no time to shower before breakfast. I’d love

to take five minute’s - instead I clear last night’s

left overs and somehow plan the time left

in the day to tackle the mountain of housework,

when all I want is to sleepwalk through the morning;

and all she wants is to play.

As she sleeps I slip the earphones into place and press play.

I sink down and down and listen to the songs you love

and suddenly the soundtrack to my morning

brings you home to me. The smell of last night’s

sex fills the air. Clings to my body. A sleepy tryst worked

into a schedule when there is often no time left.

On Wednesdays she cries when I leave

her . She’s in good hands, she’s in good hands - guilt plays

on my mind as I close the door behind me. I go to work

dismiss the stay at home alternative where love

alone can’t carry me through until the night

and the same old begins again the next morning.

But there is no sense mourning

the independence and freedom I willingly left

behind, when each night

chemical euphoria would play

with perception and loved up masquerading as loved...

was never going to work.

It’s my breathing space, work,

not my reason to get up every morning

It isn’t the job I love

but the slight return to my old self. By the time I leave

it almost feels like play

I arrive home refreshed, ready for the night’s

work to begin. Thoughts of tomorrow left

until morning. Time to enjoy now and play.

This love keeps us safe at the end of each night.

Not getting awards and young poets in the Times

So, I'm not going to get an Northern Promise Award, so I'm at least five years older than the young poets in the Times, so this is my third attempt to start this blog (I deleted the first attempt - inane wittering about Jesmond mums and their attitude towards road safety that led my 3 and half year old to say "fugging heck" as we narrowly avoided being mown down by a ridiculous tank - hence the title of the blog; the second is on wordpress but I just can't handle their dashboard)... so what.

I'm actually procrastinating, I should be getting some pages down for script frenzy but I just want to get some of my poems out there so that I have at least a minor online presence. These poems have all appeared elsewhere (mainly thanks to ID on Tyne) so I don't have to worry about saving them for any poetry comps out there...