Monday, 31 May 2010

Lion-Hearted Girl

It was the cold that finally did it;
drove me inside the wardrobe
where I curled up and closed off.
It was safe there, hemmed in
amongst the coloured wool sweaters,
the neatly pressed t-shirts and the flat
paper ghosts, hanging –
as if in suspense - with breath
baited, stagnated. Their air thick
and warm like syrup, sweet narcotic
cloying in my throat,
dragging me deep like a lullaby
to somewhere dull and safe
as sleep.

But outside, I can still hear you:
a ghost, roaming your own
card-plated home, clawing at the door -
You! Whatcha hiding in there for?
Get out here now – you can’t keep running
away forever, y'know! It's pa
thetic! (Or,
as the case may be, parenthetic
just a pause to let me catch my [your]
breath) D'you think I can ignore
this? All your mumbling and
rocking and crying and lip-biting
tumbles as you trip, tongue-tied,
knock-kneed, to Narnia? You

(never could understand how I got lost

in every moment of mouths that opened
over my head, whilst you bore down,
god-sized, well-wintered) think this
is what life is all about,
do you? Being locked up
in that bird-brained-cage of yours,
trying to coax feathers from your spine?
Well it's about time
you grew up,
(or even, grew in
to this mind, which still seems
too cavernous; a lonely throne
to fill) and picked yourself up
off that floor. You don’t need help,
just some sense
(and sensitivity, but what’s
the difference?). You!
You ain’t nevernevernever
gonna amount to anything
(except a lot of knots
of bones and nerves and intestines –
but, oh God, take them all! Which witch,
in which wrist, is this? Now she's in them,
they're full of flaws!) That's it;
let your head hang - it's all
you'll ever be good for.

Here, you pause, definitively.
Still not adjusted
to this brightness, my eyes are sore.
You always blocked the light
from my skyspace; my one glimmer
of hope. You, and your
cannibal imperatives, your sharp-clawed
verbs. You grip me like a noun, tight,
between two hangman’s hands. 'You'
is a mantra, sewn to my chest. You
are the curse
with which I am blessed.
Oh break-

fast heart! You'll gnaw
my innards, else I rest.
But, steel-lipped though you may be,
maybe I've learned
to steel myself too.
Curled quiet inside my make
shift escapist world; hugged close
in the whorl of a wardrobe,
I've learned to emulate the lion's roar.

* * *

This is the last of my old creative writing club draft re-writes, and I think this one turned out best (probably because it's changed the most! haha). Actually, this was originally in prose, but it only made up the first stanza, which has been almost exactly replicated here, just in poetic form.

Inspired by (hopefully, quite obviously) 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' by C.S. Lewis and an amazing poem called Granma Crow. I wanted to work on my dialogues again, and getting the meanings/plots of my poems clearer to the reader. Hopefully I have succeeded - but you'll have to let me know what you think!

Sunday, 30 May 2010


I have never been fond of gardening -
never liked the mud;
the green that entangles; nor
the dense fresh smell that catches
your breath. There’s no pleasure
in the visceral vibrancy; the pressure
of growth pressing against the sky;
the atmosphere tense
with life.

But once
I found a picture
of that same sky, creased,
the colours mulled by time – and you
below. The same half-
smile, the same blue eyes,
crinkled by the sun, as my own.
There, you rose round the rhododendrons,
a blush of warmth beneath those
bud-starred canopies, as if emerging
from a well-worn sleep.

O green-fingered ghost,
now I know whose earth-bound
pulse I clawed back dirt for.
Amongst the growth, your heart’s
laid to rest, nested amidst the ropes
of my child-like explorations,
my gropings through the dark –
my roots, dug deep
through time.

* * *

Giving a whole new meaning to 'family tree' (ho ho!). >___>

Here you are, Phoeb, this is for you! Another of those creative-writing club redrafts that I said were coming. (You can see the first fail here). I apologise profusely for its crappiness - even though it's been edited quite heavily, I don't think anything could really salvage it.

Just one more of these things to go, hopefully, and then things should go back to (slightly less mediocre) normal.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Out Of Touch

It seems unfair
to be kept from air - held
in limbo between the white
of the skywashed ceilings
and the whites of the eyes
rolling back on blackness. Not
that they care – they’re used to
this confliction, days of contradiction. To us,
to them, there’s no difference - life
is a picture show in black
and white, and when the lights
fade, you’ll see
that this film’s drawn tight
across our eyes – else you might
notice the pressed ricepaper
wings that shoot crinoline
from our shoulderblades. Despite

being fragile as we are,
we are not expected to look
beyond the horizons of the dead-
pan stares to where those wings
could take us –

The doors, that swing
on such geometrical hinges
as to open both ways
are to remain forever
out of touch.

* * *

'I know death hath ten thousand several doors for men to take their exits; and 'tis found they go on such strange geometrical hinges, you may open them both ways.' - The Duchess of Malfi - Act IV

Sometimes it's hard to find an escape route, but remember - every trap has a trapdoor.

This is the first of several pieces that are basically clean-ups of old drafts from creative writing club. You can expect a few more of these coming up, I'm afraid - it's the easiest thing for me to do whilst the war against revision is being raged.

I pretty much completely changed the direction of this one, but without changing too much of the original content. Still not too sure about it though... some of the imagery seems a little too contrived - overused by me, if not everyone else. And you know that your work's not at its best when you begin to be influenced by your revision...

* * *

And finally, some news! Remember that school poetry competition I entered ages ago, with Wasteland? Well, I won! :)

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Any Distance

Any distance you can map, you can fly.
Picture it like this: not as a web
of red and blue looped across the page, but as
a vast expanse of open sky –
with you held in its heart like an opal;
the opus. Your icarus wings carve
sunspots, trail clouds and split
the heavens in two. You,
strung high, the world below blurred
by the fevered myopia of vertigo
and the sheer fear of the fall.
But know this - that however far you go,
you will remain always
the centre of it all.

* * *

For my fellow king's leavers. I love you all and will miss you epically. ♥

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Nobody's Home

1. Spare Parts
She did it to feel real, or so she said:
cut out her caustic catatonia, and donated it to the collection
tin – spare change, or rather, change
spared, as she still keeps her splintered trophies
hugged close to the air, along with the trackmarks that cut
across the ceiling, and the rouged wrists that are just that: bruised
like fruit, with juice just as sweet. But she knows
that fate can’t be rearranged or exchanged –
a foetal-hearted metamorphosis is the inevitable
lullaby that dulls her days,
and though it's only first light,
the time is ripe
for the whitening of her bones.

As the sun unhusks itself
to an earth-spun hush, her silhouettes shatter – collapse
into the blackened bracken that’s struck its roots
through the floorboards
of nobody's home.

2. Birth Day
Her bones crackled for some time
before they were subdued to a satisfactory hue,
and she was tipped from the spilt-ink womb
to the lidless rooms of nobody's home,
where she found her whitened bones had grown
wild amongst the cabbage-roses of the carpet.
A garden weeded with spare parts.

So she sat among those thorns, pumpkin-crowned
and indolent, innocently waking,
waiting for answers
from the mute bulb-skulls
of the flowers.

3. The Waves
She had sat there for hours in vain
when the waves came; breaking against the windowpanes
with their foam-haired brows and rasping mouths.
At first, she was afraid - she shook,
and puked, and pared the moons right out
of her fingernails. It wore her thin,
desperate. Sleepdrunk,
she wormed her way through the wardrobe
and lodged her heart, disparate, between
a hard place and the stone face
of the wall.

It was months before she crawled
back to the surface. She learned
to brace herself for the impact
of the wracked waves' hollowed
bodies; their great blue tongues:
the elaborate act of composure.
Now she meets them with the
stone-lidded eyes of an angel.
Hallowed, statuesque,
she's abandoned all her prayers,
her layers of hope,
and holds only
a fistful
of dust.

4. Whitening
Sometimes, a child is born that is happiest alone. And when alone, they find that Nobody has locked her fingers into theirs, and dragged them to Nowhere, where Nobody keeps her hollow home. Here, Nobody takes their bones and buries them amongst the roots of her bracken-built throne, where they chatter and snap into maps of the heart –
impenetrable dark, where a tunnel opens upon a tunnel, upon a tunnel, upon a tunnel, upon a vein, upon a throat, upon a great blue tongue and the sound of the sea -
widening, whitening,
until there's nothing left but the whiteness
of a whitewashed heart of stone.

5. On Reflection
And she has no stories to tell,
but her clasped hands make a well
to cup the babel; a shape for shadows.
Her eyes are made of glass; her lashes, cut-grass -
they reflect, like mirrors, one whole.

{The mirror is a hole which she fills
until it becomes a glass half-

She's stuck in the deadlock of
a dumbshow with nobody –
and Nobody’s not giving anything away.

6. Barren
The silence is broken only by footfalls;
the soft calls from cut to cut,
inching the length of her arm like worms.
But there's no mine to be dug deep -
though rot aches from the maggot-jewels
of her eyepits, mouldering peach pits,
Nobody is barren.
Yoked too tight, she steps
carefully, cracking the fragile domes of ghost-shells,
cabbage-rose skulls -
each step and each snap
echoing like a harsh word angled
amongst the scars.

The girls who come here think they are birds.
She'll break their necks else
they fly.

7. The Door
Night time, and nobody's home –
she's left alone to roam the rafters
of the attic. Seeing the framework
of this ghost house is like peeking
behind the scenes, or peeling back
skin to see the skeleton within.
And by God, she's tried;
clawed at all those doors.

But in this time of silted moons,
something's shifted.
Everything is eerie in the dusk: even she
feels estranged, changed
by the low light of rumoured angels.
Little more than whispers, but they’re
the shadows that she’s shaped.
She'll unfurl their fevered wings and
fold them into form. Then,
they'll hold their candles high and melt
their waxen faces until their bones
burn to ash;

till she unravels the map and breaks
through the skylight of Nobody's home -

the knowledge of which is
weighted like stone.

* * *

I'm not going to lie – I quite like this one. I've been searching for the words to write something this personal in ages, and it's so good to finally get it out of the system. I feel like it's the most honest I've been able to be with myself in a while now.
The form is inspired by Plath's 'Poems for a Birthday' which is similarly written in seven parts, each section working as a stand-alone poem, but also as part of the larger piece.
Please go and read this in it's proper format on my dA page.
Which brings me on to some good news - my poem Of Star Guts and Satellites was recently awarded a DLD! This is the second time I've been featured by the group, and just goes to show how much my poetry has improved since my first real attempts back in the summer of 2008 (trust me, you don't want to see those!)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Rag and Bone

We’re in the cellar – six feet of earth below
the berth of the sun. The air is sour, choked
with dust balls and the smell of pressed flowers – home
to our rag and bone collection
of junk. Here, fragments of our past
sunk beneath dust resurface – broken shells,
toy boats and the water-logged faces
of old photos. The ghosts of childhood float
round this mute room as if passing through
the chambers of the heart. But it’s this debris
of memories that keeps us anchored still: for we
have always been hybrid creatures,
fixed in double exposure; the flint-stitched
children of junkyards.

But despite this jumble of spareparts
and all our patchwork surgery,
there’s something missing -
for if you put your ear
to the floor, you can’t hear it breathe,
and the chest in which we rest
is wooden. Outside our silver-tongued sleepscapes,
these walls are dead; vaulted - and there’s
no message from beyond. The lips
of our bric-a-brac limbs twitch
without sound whilst we founder
in the depths
of our materialist-mothership

Now we long for rebirth:
for the sweet smell of earth,
pockmarked with rain, the feel of grass
between toes and the freedom of growth -
blossoms burgeoning colour and opening, opening
to the pulse of the world. Whilst here, behind glass,
nature’s papered cousins, her blistered sisters, fold
and curl, hiding their beaded hearts
from the daylight that would shatter
their plastic prisms; their stone-cold hold
on life. The same chains that blind us,
bind us to this shadow-barred prison.
This four-walled womb.

We are running out of room. The air is too thick,
too low, and we are forgetting how to grow.
Rag doll daughters, we will breathe water
until our seams split – when the coiled stair
will fold open, jut out -
and we’ll break

into air


* * *
This originally sparked from a theme we were given in creative writing group which was 'opposites', but it has gone through a lot of changes since that first, rough draft - which basically spawned the third stanza.Since then it has been through many, many changes of tense, voice and title ('Children of Junkyards', 'Shipwreck Sisters' and 'Rebirth of a Rag Doll', to name a few...) - hopefully all changes for the better.

Any feedback / con crit. etc. is, as always, most welcome. :)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Of Star Guts and Satellites

what is it like, learning to grow?

-Well, first, there's a spark:
a kick in the core
of your nerves, like a light
blinking on through the dark. Then,
you've got to think
yourself into the part; ignore your
splintered limbs and learn to stretch,
fearlessly. Like roots into earth.
Question and answer.

-Does it hurt?

-Only being fearless. That's like having flint
stitched into your spine. But time,
you'll find, will heal these scars –
ours is the business of rebirth. Even cradled
in the hold of our half-formed words
we manage to pluck
the stars from our diaphanous skies,
and the chewed jewels from our throats.
That's natural selection for you.

-Or is it just luck? You see, I'm not
even sure how to find my feet
right now, let alone play dot-to-dot
with constellations.

-But you must understand
that the world is full of such complications.
Tracing the veins beneath the surface
isn't the same as finding your pulse
in the first place.

-I get that. But space -
what does that have to do with anything?
Lose the metaphor: you can't confuse
Orion's Belt with rib-bones, or the Big Dipper
with your intestines. They're not remotely

-But don't you see? They are.
For we are all born from the insides of stars -
we wear the indelible fingerprint of the universe,
and bear the pockmarks of each black hole
that’s sucked our bones. Spat
from star guts; that's us! We're snips
of trails of comet tails: by-products
of the Milky Way.

-Wait – so now you're saying
we’re cosmic waste? That galaxies
are a scatter of snapped synapses;
fractured nerves splayed
across the universe,
I can believe – but that we
may have sparked from that same circuit?
That our spines once lined
the stomach of some supernova?
What does that make us –
foetal stardust?

-Not exactly. We’re more reflections
of the sun, undone. Like a litter
of moons, we glow echoes, refracting shards
of glass and wisdom equally. Our path
is one of satellites, wound round our hearts;
and it's these glimpses
of poetry, flickers of meteor showers,
that help us grow.

-But you said growing was a stretch,
a flash of light and the spreading of roots
through rock. Question
and answer.

-And that's right.
You've got to have your feet
planted firmly on the ground
and s t r e t c h
before you can learn anything profound.
Sometimes in the asking, you'll find
the answer. Other times, you've just
got to learn to stop staring at the sun
and look around, above, beyond
the obvious.

Be fearless:
persevere, and
keep reaching for those stars -
'cause only when you rise
can your mind open
to the skies.

* * *

This is a piece of performance poetry which, hopefully, will be performed by a couple of my amazing friends at our school's Leavers' Concert in a couple of weeks time.

Hence some of the cliché images - trust me, this is a lot less soppy than the original version!

Inspired by my poem Paper Planes which is apparently one of my friends' favourite pieces of mine, and was the front-runner to be performed. But it wasn't very suitable, so I kind of took it and rebuilt it in a different form. Hence some of the borrowed lines/ideas in this.

This is also inspired by an amazing poem I read a while ago now by mintleaves which is far cleverer and more poetic than mine. It's where the image of 'star guts' comes from. So thanks for the inspiration!