Black Milk

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Peek-A-Boo Bunny Blue Money Box,
My First Tooth Enamel China Pot,
Gift Box Set of Four Rose Petal Cupcakes.
lie down in the bath tonight

Pair of Ellie the Elephant Ribbon-Tie Booties,
Organic Natural Cotton Love Snuggle Blanket with Pastel Trim,
Yummy Mummy Scented Candle Gift Set.
roll off the changing table

First Impression Handprint Clay for Newborn,
Baby Blossom Three Part Photo Frame for Mother and Child,
Customized Apple Print Washable Burp Cloth.
neck nipped in between the cot bars

Blessings 9ct Gold Baby Bracelet with Inscription,
Little Birds Wind-Up Pearl Detail Cot Mobile,
Rock-A-My Baby Rocking Horse in Caramel Wood Finish.
hear it call, wild and naked in the dark

July

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I met him in the woods,
by the creek. The
desiccant grass bristled
underfoot; the trees refused
the coaxing wind,
as we traipsed our awkward path
to the water.

Absurd, to say he
could
have loved me.

As absurd as stepping
into the creek itself,
amidst the plaited weeds –
tremulous and sleek.

In The Cornfield

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The moonless night has wrung out
the whitewashed
hours of day,
and snowflakes gather like lint
from the open pocket
of the sky.

Somewhere, a corncrake caws into
the stillness;
its echo rings,
and in the woods beyond, branches
crack like splintered bones
in the chill.

I lay low beneath the frozen earth,
the seasons
sink my body,
and you will not think to look beneath,
so you will not hear or
see me there.

Cleft

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In this half of my brain

I am
calm
serious
rational
emotionally responsible
rooted
in fact and
circumstance and

though there is also some sobering and permeating
disgust which creeps into my thoughts and eradicates my curiosity

I am content
I have not wondered
I have not wandered

but

the draught seeps through the cracks
under the door to the other half

I am trying to keep the door shut
as I lean with my back firmly
against it

but

the vibration from the other side
is tickling up my legs and
thundering through
barreling against my ribs

like pebbles kicked
through a drainpipe

I am full and empty
all at once
my insides fall away
I refill.

The other half is desire
thick and sweet
syrup
but also venom

It stops up the flow
of my life, and I am driven
by images
and want to knock down, and
push up the stairs

I lift fruit to my mouth and
suck the vinegar of rot
between my teeth

I laughed at the obvious daggers in men’s smiles
hubris smeared across my body like tar
desire is a false key
that opens nothing
cut my throat, why don’t you

 

tell me to listen, and I will
bite off your tongue

 

Rules

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The eyes are green. Who
knew? He has a look.

A wolf is in him.

He has figured out that the
most part of him is
wolf
and it lurks and seethes in his eyes, snarling
and guttural.

Everything else is tranquil and flat.
Cool as cruel.

This is a disaster.

Sharon

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Sharon was on the telly the other day. At first, it was just a quick mention – her age, where she’s from, all that nonsense – and then another channel threw her picture up. I made her sit in front of the screen to watch, but she was shy and kept quiet, just sat there, all stiff. That’s you, that is! I pointed to the blurry old photograph they’d scavenged from somewhere. Not many people get to be on TV! She didn’t look too impressed.

Later that week, at the dinner table, she didn’t touch her food. What’s the matter? I asked, but she wouldn’t say. Just sat sort of slumped in her chair. She’d been in bed most of the day, and I could tell she hadn’t even bothered to shower – she was starting to smell bad.

The same broadcast flashed up that evening on the screen in the advert break for Emmerdale Farm, but they’d found a new picture this time – her parents had sent it in. There she was, grinning in a bathing suit, holding a shiny swimming medal up for everyone to see. Recent school photo. They’d cropped it, so you didn’t see below her shoulders. Hey, Sharon, don’t be shy! I shook her arm. You should be proud. Now everyone knows who you are. I nudged the tin of Quality Street her way, but she only looked down, and rolled her head into the sofa cushion. Tired, maybe. Awfully quiet.

The next day, we saw her again, in the paper this time – different picture – mummy and daddy very proud, and want her to know they love her. I laid the news out in front of her. Her cuppa had gone cold, though I’d probably just forgotten the sugar, is all. She gaped down at the headline, as I pulled her hair into a loose ponytail and tied it. Moved my hands to her shoulders, and rested them there. Might get a knock at the door soon, do you reckon? I smiled. Local TV might want to get in touch.

And wouldn’t you know it, the following day there was a rat-a-tat-tat at the front door. Sharon! Look who’s come to see you! I propped her up in the hallway, only, she smelled particularly bad at that moment, and hadn’t changed out of that school dress in days. The blue lights coming through the window made her look a right state, so before I answered the knock, I nipped over to straighten her up a bit. One sock had slipped down, and her collar was ripped. There were wet marks. Sharon, you don’t half look a sight! Just as I was dashing to get a tissue or two, the door came flying open and they came barging in. In the kerfuffle I could still see her little face, coy as ever, as they took photos. One of the fellas kept saying her name. You’ll not get a word out of her! I laughed. He looked up at me with an open mouth. Mustn’t have heard. I said, you wont get a word of out her. She’s shy, that one. Sharon’s face tipped my way as they readied her. I grinned back, and thought about what I’d fix us for tea once they all cleared off. She needed a good meal, did Sharon. Soon she’d be nowt but skin and bone, if she weren’t careful, and I knew for a fact that she wasn’t. 

Boilerman

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The Boilerman is tinkering in the other room. That’s not the proper name for the job, is it? Is it electrician? I want to say thermal electrician. Thermal engineer? Heating specialist. Hot water professional. I should have checked his pin badge, when he knocked. Coffee, milk, and one.

He’s battering away at something, throwing noise down the hall; every few seconds I can hear flushing sounds and scratching sounds, and the sounds of a drill. We didn’t have proper milk, only soy. Prentendy milk. I imagine him waiting for me to leave the room and then tipping it down the sink.

From the next room, I hear him opening something. Every new sound is different from the last. I imagine him levering the lid off a special biscuit tin full of various objet d’art, taking each curious item in his hands and creating new and different sounds with them, to bemuse and confuse the anxious listener in the next room: milk bottle brush, cloth sack of wrenches, welly boot, a cylindrical musical instrument that mimics the sound of thunder, wooden door stop, baby’s rattle, squeaky hinge. Every now and again, he churns out a grunt or wheezes a little, indicating the severity of the problem at hand. It sounds a complex routine.

He probably thinks that milk’s gone off. Came in, saw the mess, assumed the milk was a no-go. Did he even try it? I can’t remember seeing him try it. Air bubbles move through the pipes in the ceiling, like ropes of dirty pearls, and now I can hear him on the phone to Colin, It’s Andy. Motorised valve. Dodgy. Downcomer. Drum.

Anyway, I’m down the hall, wanting to kill myself again. I toy with the idea of not waiting for him to leave, imagining him shouting up the hallway, getting no response. Hello? Plodding down the hallway carpet, unsure of how far to explore before he’s out of acceptable territory. Yer there? Would he open the bedroom door? What about the bathroom door? Which would be least invasive? A rogue image flickers through my mind, of his red, hairy hands pulling a mealy limb from the bathtub before letting it fall, smacking the still and unmoving surface of the water. Perhaps he’d talk about it later that night, two pints deep in the pub, remarking about the temperature of the bathwater, or the way you never can tell about people.

Milk was off, he’d say.