I asked the rain for a lover

Out of the dawn mist
they appeared
with open arms
and empty hands,
vanishing into thin air
with all their promises.

I carry the dead ends
of all the stream paths
wrought by their cold touch
and icy breath,
as they rushed past
to other river beds.

There is a time for waiting
and anticipating signs
made out of what
you’ve lost and found:
I rise exhaling dust,
a desert of uncertain sighs

to meet its soft lips
and abrading words
said with such tenderness;
for every aching part
of me to be resolved,
undone and dispossessed.

Gargoyles

When their hearts and bodies
ached, they imagined beings
able to transcend toil
only love made tolerable;
and the hurt, embryonic wings

reluctantly unfolding from
sore shoulders like burgeoning
horse chestnut leaves.
More cloister bat than angel
these mute creatures

summoned in desperation
can’t offer hope or salvation;
but they’ll sit with you all day
though you refuse their comfort –
until you’re less lonely than them.

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8
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An earlier version first published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, August 2017 – with thanks to Editor Helen Ivory. Also in my debut chapbook, Wish (Maytree Press).

Ashes (first pub. by Algebra Of Owls, and in my collection Wish)

The Ash is common enough –
with keys the wind misplaces
and in winter, velvet leaf buds
that recall those long

black gloves I wore,
to trace your trembling
outline – neck to hip
and down a little more.

Its fissured bark is
a history of cuts, as if
the past can be sloughed
like a worn out coat.

As green leaves fell
I glimpsed a woman
in the golden copse,
or maybe a hare.
:
:
:
:
:
:

First published by Algebra Of Owls 2018

Butterfly

When Persephone stopped playing outside
sometimes you’d catch a spectral
glimpse of her through the window,
waving at her mother gardening.

One summer, her mother found
a dead red admiral on the path.
It was a mere slip of a thing;
and it must have just expired

fluttering from flower to flower
unfettered in the lonely garden.
The mother put it in a matchbox
which she guarded with her life.

Every year she thought of
new ways to dispose of it;
to set it free through flames
or simply in the act of letting go.

Of course it was magical thinking,
to imagine a ritual
that could heal the heart.
Never was a butterfly so heavy.

The Myth of Time in Utopia – pub. in The Utopia Project Issue One

Flowers are the sexual organs
of 360, 000 species of plants
you read, and went outside
with torch and table salt;
to hunt pale slugs that hide
in velvet beds of sky-at-nights.

The proper name for one
that is intersexed and so
needs nothing, is ‘perfect’,
you whispered in the dark;
as night creatures laboured
and flies rested undisturbed.

Finally, you went to bed
– a thin veil of salt dust
masking the acrid musk
of your untouchable skin –
between a spike in the wind
and spit of cuckoo pint.

Far From Here (published in Poetry Salzburg Review, Issue 35 Summer 2020)

Don’t you ever feel like
walking to the day’s end,
then curling up inside
a ditch or doorway;
till dawn kicks you
in the ribs and
moves you on again?

The sky looks up
with a beatific gaze,
but there’s no miracle.
An evanescent road
pools in the heat –
too far to call
even for swifts,
that populate dusk
with their screeches.

I will return to those
strange arches where
perpetual rain falls;
choose a happier door.
Dear friend, if you
have ever loved me
tell me now –

be here, somehow.

After Beatrice (verses i-iii, vi & X. First pub. by Obsessed With Pipework #86)

i

The rose beds
I recalled had gone –
instead you could discern
their remnant outlines;
verdant and sad
as unmarked graves.

ii
Not knowing what to do
I rested here, among
the bees and daisies
woven in the grass;
until the afternoon
was long in tooth.

iii
Venus had veered south
when I was roused,
to find a figure
standing by my side.
She asked if I was ready
– Yes, I lied.

vi
Red buds amassed
and gently bled,
like bleeding hearts
on arching stems:
These, I was told
were manifold regrets.

x
My love is sweet
as rowan berries
after the first frost;
but there is no way
in or out, until
you believe in one.

The full poem is also available to read in my pamphlet, Wish (Maytree Press)