Breath day

The first stone egg,
sea shaped
is laid at the cot
by the women of drowned men.
At birth breath,
each scatters knuckle bones worn
to hold love,
the cast foretells
what stones to gather,
the cobbles of a roadwalker,
the boulders of a housemaker
the slabs of a grave

Published in Three Drops from a Cauldron


if you want to dance for fairies
under a splash of stars

you have to stand table high
and be brave in the dark

or be bent back old
and see night as a friend

for in between,
you say, how foolish

while they smile with the moon

Published in three drops from a cauldron

Kiss of the Spider Woman

After Jerome Rothenberg

When darning, fingers moved
but eyes stared
making shadow cobwebs,
each stitch the way
to make life live
on and on

I heard
sea moonlight splinter
into the sound of wings
that roared and rumbled
until a cold howl of wind
my roof

turned into night silence
my fingers stilled
then words fall
like slaps

I looked up, looked down
and paid no attention,
I darned, moved fingers
stared shadow cobwebs
stitched the way
to make life live
on and on

I heard
moonlight sea
splinter wing sounds
that roared wind and rumbled
a cold howl
my roof

and night silence turned,
my fingers stilled
words slapped

But I was ready,
the needle sharp
and I waited
coals hot with chestnuts
and I waited
a sting of hornets stirred
and I waited
turned into thorns
and waited

words slithered in,
the wing of wind,
the howl of moon,
the sea splinter,
to slide over thorns

but needle stabbed
chestnuts burned
hornets stung

words howled in the wind
as sea splintered moon
and silence stuck
on thorns

Then I darned
moved fingers
stared shadow cobwebs,
made stitch
so lived
on and on

Published in Streetcake

When do we tell them about the apple-tree witch?

The ghosts in the upstairs lav
saw the light-bulb as a cousin
so stayed all year round.

Nan didn’t mind; it was cool
in summer and in winter it
saved on buying a freezer.

Uncle Billy didn’t. ‘If they look
who cares. With my arse
I should be so lucky’.

Besides, they’d left home,
not like those in the garden
lav with its newspaper squares.

Those ghosts made the dark
into fingers that pulled hair
and broke knicker elastic.

At Christmas, holiday
relatives never believed us
until after the Queen’s speech.

Published in three drops from a cauldron