New poems



  • As a child, his Grandfather told him
    that the holes in Swiss cheese
    were poisonous so, for years,
    he ate around them.
    He still has that fear.
    Each night
    as a woman leans across her lover
    to turn off the lamp
    or a man uses his wife’s chest
    as a pillow
    or a mother lays her child
    in its cot
    and smoothes down
    its fuzz of new-born hair,
    or a father sits
    at his daughter’s bedside
    with a book and hot milk,
    or an owl echoes back a hoot,
    there’s a hole in his house
    which he nibbles his way around
    neatly, like a mouse who has been
    to finishing school.
    His careful perforations
    edge the rim of the chasm
    like a collar of Chantilly lace,
    distracting him
    from the loneliness that gapes
    in the middle of his bed.

  • This poem came 3rd in the Yorkmix poetry competition, 2013

    stirling street rainbow

    Rain Charm For Stirling Street


    Oh, the itch and nag of it-

    this rainless month

    when sapless slugs

    fruit our yards like prunes

    and the lawns

    in the salubrious parts of town

    are brown whispers.


    Even inside

    red roses yellow

    and spill their petals

    before they’ve had time to bloom.

    Hard green mangoes

    rot before they’ve ripened

    and in the fridge

    milk thickens and clots

    in the necks of bottles,

    the cheese gets louder and louder

    until it roars.


    And lately, we have had

    restless nights too hot to touch,

    deserts between us in our beds,

    Sirocco winds blistering our dreams,

    our waking bodies

    black with fruit flies.


    All you sun-junkies,

    you lovers of deck chairs

    and Ambre Solaire, forgive me.

    I am taking action.

    I am standing behind the kitchen door

    wobbling a cross hatch saw

    to make the sound of thunder.

    I am cooking lightning

    in the microwave.

    I am pouring rice on to a saucer

    to make the sound of rain.

    I am summoning a storm.



    This poem appears in the ‘Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, 2014’.


    I wrote this poem when I was ‘Poet In Residence’ for the Halifax festival, 2010. More a showcase for some of the wonderful place names than a poem.


    Praise the ginnels and snickets of Halifax.
    Praise the cobbles and sets
    that have known the thud and clack
    of clogs, looms and graft.
    Praise Pickwood Scar and Salterhebble,
    Jagger Green and Caddy Field.

    Praise the long swans necks
    and the sharp devils elbows
    of country roads
    that curl or stretch across the hills.
    Praise Brackenbeds and Brockholes,
    Spice Cake Hills and Caty Wood.

    Praise Poundland and Parfitts.
    Praise the homely greasy spoons
    and the chintzy tea rooms.
    Praise the North Sea tang
    of the fishmongers on Albion Street.
    Praise Butterclose and High Cote Dam,
    Pundles and South Peat Pitts.

    Praise the town centre precinct
    and its Parisian grace.
    Praise Beacon Hill for dressing up as Spain
    when the evening sunshine
    gilds its slopes.
    Praise Little Moor and Pepper Hill,
    Ambler Thorn and Catherine Slack.

    Praise the follies and bridges of Halifax.
    Praise the Gothic spires, the colonnades
    and the glass-topped arcades.
    Praise the parapets and pinnacles,
    the porticos and the ornate market gates.
    Praise Mount Tabor and Snake Hill Wood,
    Cold Harbour and Popple Wells.

    Praise the brass bands, the church bells,
    the call to prayer.
    Praise the gutsy pipes and bellows
    of the Minster organ.
    Praise Landemere Syke and Bunney Green,
    Over Whiskers and Jum Hole Beck.

    For research purposes I tried reading ’50 Shades of grey’ but, by the end of the first chapter I was so exhausted by all the vigorous eyebrow action that I had to give up and have a good long rest. Here are two exhausting ‘found’ poems from the novel…short film to follow…

    50 ways of raising your eyebrows
    (lines lifted from Chapter 1 of 50 shades of grey in the order in which they appear)
    I scowl. I roll my eyes,
    brush my hair into submission.
    I have been volunteered.
    I murmur. I stare.
    I smile wryly.

    I set off. I arrive.
    A young woman smiles pleasantly at me.
    She arches her eyebrow.
    I tuck an escaped tendril of hair
    behind my ear.
    The woman smiles kindly
    and points to a seated area.

    I sit down. I roll my eyes. I stand up.
    I abandon my glass of water.
    I push the door open.
    I am on my hands and knees.
    He extends a long fingered hand.
    He cocks his head to one side.
    I mutter.
    I place my hand in his.
    I withdraw my hand quickly.
    I blink rapidly.
    His voice is warm.
    He looks mildly interested.

    He waves me towards a couch.
    I murmur. I shake my head. I stutter. I flush.
    I hope. I blink. I swallow.
    I smooth a lock of hair behind my ear.
    I find myself blushing.
    I shake my head. I sit up.
    His smile is rueful.
    He looks vaguely disappointed.

    He fixes me with his grey stare.
    His eyes flare. I look at him.
    He holds my gaze.
    My heartbeat quickens.
    My face flushes.
    Control freak.
    His voice is soft.
    My mouth drops open.
    I am disgusted.

    He raises an eyebrow.
    A ghost of a smile touches his lips.
    His eyes are alight.
    He smiles. He shifts in his chair.
    His mouth quirks up.
    His lips curl in a wry smile.

    He shrugs. He murmurs. He smiles.
    I swallow hard. I stare at him.
    His brow furrows.
    His interest is piqued.

    He’s terse.
    I squirm.
    He inhales sharply.
    I cringe.
    He raises an eyebrow.
    My heartbeat has accelerated.
    I tuck my loosened hair behind my ear.

    He cocks his head to one side.
    My face is aflame.
    He rubs his chin.
    My voice is weak.
    He turns his head slowly
    and raises his eyebrows.
    He frowns. His eyes are alight.

    He places his elbows
    on the arms of the chair.
    I swallow. I shrug.
    I raise my eyebrows. I murmur.
    He tilts his head to one side.
    His gaze is intense.
    I tear my eyes away.
    I lean forward.

    He glances out of the window.
    It has started to rain.
    His eyes narrow.
    I rise. I frown. I nod at him.
    He gives me a small smile.
    I blush. I snap.
    His smile widens.
    I glower. I shrug. I gasp.
    His long index finger
    presses the button.
    the doors close.

    The morning after
    All lines taken from Chapter 9 of ’50 shades of grey’ in the order in which they appear.

    I put bacon under the grill.
    I whisk some eggs.
    I turn.
    He is sitting at the breakfast bar,
    his face supported by his steeple hands.
    I freeze. I flush. I stutter.
    He pauses and frowns.
    I shrug.
    I stare down at my fingers.
    His tone is one of wry amusement.

    I purse my lips and continue
    to whisk the eggs.
    He whispers. He smiles. He smirks.
    He opens a drawer.
    I pour the egg mix into a pan.
    I purse my lips.
    He murmurs.
    I nod. I wince.
    I flush. I snap.
    I stop breathing.
    He grins at me.
    I dunk my teabag.
    I choke on my tea.
    His expression is unreadable.

    ‘I’m not hungry’ I whisper.
    His eyes narrow.
    His brow knits.
    He snaps.
    His eyes are dark, pained.
    He frowns.
    I stare down at my fingers.
    My voice fades.
    He raises his eyebrows.
    His tone is harsher.
    He saunters towards me.
    I squirm inwardly.
    I whisper.
    His eyes burn.
    His lips lift slightly.
    He runs his thumb
    across my lower lip.
    My heart leaps.

    That Night

    What I said about that night
    isn’t true.
    There were no fireflies circling us
    like back-lit chips of stained-glass.
    Moonlight didn’t burnish the lake.
    We did not sit on a peeling green bench,
    our thighs pressed together
    whilst listening to the plump nocturnes
    of barn owls.

    It was a gloomy night
    full of bugs, red ants and gnats
    that bit our ankles and made us swell.
    There was no lake,
    just muddy puddles in a pot-holed lane.
    We sat, a foot apart, on a knackered bench
    with rotten slats
    whilst raw-necked dogs
    barked in the distance
    and strained on their chains.
    He did not unpeel me from my clothes
    like a child unpeeling his first tangerine.
    He did not want to touch me.

    2 Responses to “New poems”

    1. sad

    2. ‘Halifax’ is wonderful, Gaia.

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