Exhibit


Someone hung her, years ago,
on a wall –
stole her,
ripped her right out of a book.

Isn’t she magnificent?
Take a closer look.

You could almost touch her hair –
very fine and
so red,
releasing a perfume into the sky.

Is she looking at you?
Try not to catch her eye.

You could almost feel her skin –
pastel and damp
with cold;
her neck is bruised and plum.

I wonder, does she care?
Perhaps she’s numb.

You might fall in love with her
all at once
like this;
you may think you hear her cry

but she will not answer –
so don’t ask her why. 

The romance of doing nowt

let’s chill here for a thousand years
lounge like Hollywood vampires who yearn
light a candle to be dead romantic
and not watch a second of its slow burn

let’s not talk or try to learn anything
about anything, but be still as a stare
go nowhere, see how long we can lay like this
matted and tangled together like hair

let’s stretch out our limbs ’til we touch the wall
finger the paintings until they all fall
and imprint on our skin, then move the colours
or we could stay still, and not move at all

but if one day we do want to go, get up slow
drift together until the sun explodes, then
float like poplar seeds, the summer snow –
that might actually be nice, you know

What it’s like to be lonely at night

at first, it is faint
like some underlying
sourness of milk
a lacking fullness
the creeping sense
of error before
the realisation of one

without a burst
there is a drip
a leak in the dark
it saturates you
turning your sheets
cold and leaden
and you wake up 

flooded

Middle 8

She had wanted to listen to that new Phoebe Bridgers album on the drive home from school. Just shy of 41 minutes, she knew she would be home before the penultimate track, but was prepared to sit in the car until its finish, if the album proved worth it.

She waited until she had driven out of the area entirely, before connecting Bluetooth and pressing the play button on her phone. The car stereo came slowly to life. She allowed it all to fade into obscurity, rounding the corner onto Fairfield: the gates of the school, the bus stop, the manicured hedgerow, and the smattering of parked Audi parents in gilets and floaty dresses, waiting for their kids.

NME had promised a sonic palette – something close to ethereal – and she would give the album her full attention.

But it was not to be. Looming in the distance, four yellow roadworks signs, and a subsequent diversion, had already interrupted some of the finer dissonances in Track 4, and the experience had, all at once, been marred. She pressed the power button on the car stereo and stared through the windscreen, listening only to the beginnings of flat patter on the glass, and waiting for the lights to go green. She would have to take Hedley, and avoid the A road altogether. 

Continue reading “Middle 8”

May Our Favourite People Never Turn Into Ghosts

May we still think of them
all of the time
and tell them cool things

like what good films
just came out on Prime
or that there’s 26 bridges
over the Tyne –
same number of albums
in Bowie’s lifetime

May we remember them
whilst we’re apart
and tell them daft things

like how you can’t hear
real music in the charts
that there’s nowt bitterer
than the human heart
or that shiver is the
collective noun for sharks

May we fear them
at the end of it all
and tell them sad things

like the 52 Blue whale
and it’s lonesome call
that your brother begged
Santa to make him tall
and how sunlight passes
across your bedroom wall

Earlier this morning, when you showed me a photo of how whales sleep.

Look at this, you said.

I saw a dozen grey torpedoes hung,
such monstrous baubles, in the depths
of the ocean, motionless
and unaltered by the heft
of water surrounding them.
Scattered indifferently,
their fleshy tonnes suspended
like great iron pendants, laid bare
to the perils of foe and flow
in a thalassic slumber.

We sat sipping tea in silent dread,
to think of such cryptic bed.

A Drowning

Nobody screamed

not even when blackness came
and small waves bounced upward,
obscuring the shoreline from sight:
biting at the sky

not even when their necks numbed
and boreal steel filled their pockets, 
with weight like loss: the rush of 
fear in a vacuum

Still, nobody screamed

instead, their throats made small alarms,
guttural from behind clamped jaws;
layers of yellowing silt shifting until
they all saw sky

instead, the march of steady breath
fell out of step with each arterial beat;
one by one they hissed like matches
softly dipped in water