We breathe hung white, stiff washing, stilled dancers,
ungloved summer hands blue,
as slow, low-winged things rise
stone fruit bletts, rots, dries.
Skin slopes to white,
we key the radiators, out pour wild-swum rivers:
now the geese are settling there instead
speckling white-brown feathers on the
carpet, on the bald reed bed.

(To be found, also, here:

I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky…


, ,

Tonight someone in a room I was in explained that she had recently undergone an operation to remove a brain tumour. At home, afterwards, I read about someone with aggressive cancer, and their chance of survival, and it was written by their partner. Recently, I have publicly written about the limitations of my immune condition and wondered if it might affect my employability. I am one of the lucky ones, because (unless those cells turn cancerous through years of damage) it will not kill me.

I was in a room in order to get better at writing. It was wonderful, the class. It will probably make me a far better writer in the long run, unlike most other creative writing groups I’ve been in previously, which were formative and extraordinary and usually contained too much port to be strictly helpful.

There is no room to go into, to save the parts of me my body attacks. At the moment, it has decided on stress urticaria, all over my face, as the latest addition to its arsenal. Urticaria is harmless, usually. And only slightly disfiguring. And the least of my medical problems. But my whole face looks as if it has been stung by nettles. Its quite sweet, really, the way the blotches make me look like a fairytale creature, illustrated in watercolour, that someone spilt the red over at the last minute.

Is there a point to this? It is autumn: season of picking up blogs and sharpening pencils and sitting up straight. It is crisp, wonderful autumn, when scarves are let out of cupboards and you can read Mansfield’s Miss Brill (1920) and feel the softness of the foxfur and the large, indifferent universe both at the same time. It is my lucky season, usually. In jobs, love, clothing options.

I would very much like to go into remission, get on with my phd, write my novel, improve my writing.

Learn to make bread. Make jam. Play video games. Watch bonfires. I’d like to take all the luck and make it into leaves to kick. Or something else. Make it into something that can be held or drunk or breathed in. A fox fur to be wrapped around the shoulders and fixed up with ceiling wax.


Dear Future Husband…

Candy-coated popstar Meghan Trainor is most probably your go-to source for marital tips, feminist tips, or indeed any sort of tip whatsoever. But she’d like to be. She’s terribly miffed that you won’t return her calls, in fact. So much so, that she has released a new single.

In her latest video, Meghan gives a set of amorphous instructions to her as-yet-unfound beau, all of which seem to be based on a fantasty 1950s suburban lifestyle. Blowjobs, it suggests, are off limits unless you open doors for her – her hands will probably be full anyway, carrying the bouquets and chocolate boxes you’re forever ferrying home for her whilst telling her she’s beautiful, visiting her family constantly and admiring her range of latex skirts.

Sex is all there is, really – her body (and her future hub’s desire for it) vs all the Things She Wants. Other than a slightly garbled verse about how she can’t cook (during which she is both cooking and scrubbing the floor) it seems that she’s offering the ‘perfect wife experience’.

We can all roll our eyes at this nonsense, we can write it off as twaddle manufactured for record sales, but it left me feeling weird. I feel a bit weird about marriage anyway (my dad recently made a comment about walking me down the aisle and I nearly punched him) but with so many of my good friends marrying at the moment, it is a constant white frilly presence at the back of my mind.

So if I do ever get married – if a partner and I ever desire it -this is probably what I’d say. I’ll be in a latex skirt at all times, mind you, because otherwise Meghan will think I don’t listen to her and I don’t want to offend her more than I already have.

Dear Future Husband [Partner],

I can cook. I adore cooking! I cook well. I will cook when I can.

I hate cleaning but also hate dirty houses. Cleaner negotiable.

Sex is not, and will never be, viewed as a reward, a bargaining chip, or something that can be withheld as punishment. I think too highly of your intelligence, our emotional intelligence, my own libido.

Finances are very weird. Let’s discuss them with a Finance Person.

Torn between a high-ceilinged igloo or a modern house we can heat. You choose.

Adoration of the aesthetics of religion as standard, but I don’t require you to feel the same. Participation not required, and please question me on it robustly.

There is going to be asparagus occasionally, even when we are poor.

If you can poach an egg, I will ensure that I always do a task you hate. Poached eggs are chiefest among all joys.

Bookshelves bookshelves bookshelves.

Gifts (like flowers) I buy myself if I wish, and I buy you if I wish. You do you on this one.

Patience and tolerance for each other, even in extremis.

Chatting the hard chats is a skill. Let’s learn it.

I don’t slam doors and I don’t live with people who do. See also: threatening language, violence, manipulation.

Cats plz. Hound plz.

My tiny shoes may get under your feet.

I promise to do my best, and to love you generously with all my heart for as long as I can.

Can we talk about having non-towelling towels because I’m not quite over that phobia.



[Been ages since I wrote a nonsense poem]

Is it modernist when….

the cities walls that rise are Paris, London, Troy?

Orlando is a girl – a girl? Orlando is a boy.

The time it lasts is vague, but the weeping is specific

and fascinating things go on, glimpsed over the Pacific.

The footnotes are all gone, just when you need them most,

and Eliot gets his dick wet in some grubby London boat

whilst Joyce moo-cows and lintels by the public bar,

and Woolf idly wonders where the women writers are.

Where the reading public seek relief from rationality

and find it in the pages of the Heart of Darkness’ savagery,

and nobody is anyone without difficult imagery.

And everybody cares about art vs machines,

meaning, well, nobody is quite sure what it will mean,

but mostly its to do with how they’re going to get paid.

All art of worth is intellect, and nothing is obscenity,

and Wyndham Lewis spends two decades, trying to get laid.

At Bay

At Bay

Wake me if it learns to speak,
if it brings props and mimes the journey.

Wake me if it needs fed,
and give it those old pets we didn’t mourn.

Wake me if it thickens up with dusk
and flick three switches: light, light, light.

Wake me if it’s sharpening its teeth,
offer it toffee, tongue-twisters, raw-hide.

But it came –
tail in quickstep rhythm
her dreaming of polished ballrooms,
sequins, sweet breath on collar bones:
took her soul like a damsel
draped over its muzzle,
talons so lightly ensuring
her eyelids were closed.


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