Thursday, November 01, 2007


Awakening is the name of my MA Dissertation.
It is a long short story, with poetry weaved through.
It is a story about a girl who has lost her inspiration, and rediscovers it in an unusal way.
It is about awakening creativity, passion
and the inner self.

Below are the fairy tale themed poems from the text.

Red Cloak (from Awakening)

You claw at my skin,
Slashing and shredding.
Such terrible teeth
To tear tender flesh.

You scrape at my bones,
So savage, you ravage me,
Rip me and ruin me,
Gobble me up.

You followed me here,
Through the woods,
Through the wilderness,
Shadowing, Stalking,
Preparing to pounce.

You waited, you watched,
With magnificent eyes,
Eyes like burnt amber,
Devoured the darkness,
They glowed, as you growled,
As I reached out my hand.

I teased you, I tempted you,
Begged you to bite me,
Invited you in,
To my little white home.

And now you consume me,
You swallow me down.
I hide in your belly
As heavy as rocks.

My blood flows with your blood,
My heart beats with your heart,
My feral soul haunts you,
We howl at the moon.

My cloak lies in tatters
Beneath your huge paws.
A wolf and a wildling,
We now hunt as one.

As White as Snow (from Awakening)

As white as snow,
As red as blood,
As black as ebony,
My face betrays me.

I reach into my own reflection,
Though I cannot reach the one who watches.
I cannot touch the one who taunts me,
Tempts me, tricks me,
Hunts me, haunts me.
The mirror cracks
Into a thousand icy shards,
To stab me with.

My heart is knotted tight like branches,
In a twisted, tangled tree.
I wait in wintry woods so silent,
I wait for death to come for me.

It knocks on my door
In a long black shawl,
Face and voice disguised.
It wraps me up in coloured ribbons,
Combs my hair with poisoned teeth,
Lures me from my loneliness,
To murder me.

Yet still I breathe,
I cry, I scream.
I hide away, I sleep, I dream.

But fools soon forget to fear the dark,
Young girls desire dangerous things,
Forbidden fruit tastes so delicious,
And angels often lose their wings.

I surrender to my destiny,
With just one bite, I faint, I fall.
I slip into my sleeping death,
No longer fairest of them all.

A Hundred Years Of Dreams (from Awakening)

The woods reach through my window,
Branches break the glass.
Their tendrils trail around my bed,
Where no one else may pass.

Leaves fall on my pillow,
To scent my golden hair.
It spills onto the floor
And there entwines
With roots and vines,
They twist around my leaden limbs
And climb with ivy
Up the walls.

My blanket’s weaved with blood red roses,
My fingers’ pricked with flax and thorns.
I rest in this,
My sleep-cursed crib,
I’m waiting to be born.

I tire of my slumber,
A hundred years of dreams.
I see such things behind these flickering lids,
Inside my silent world, I scream.
Tears leak out of eyes shut tight
And trickle down my cheeks,
Like sugar water.

My damson lips are ripe and full,
I murmur and they part.
They’re ready to be tasted,
By the one who’ll come,
To wake me,
To take me, to his heart.
I yearn to be awakened,
I’ve slept too long now, in the dark.

Bluebeard (from Awakening)

I hold the key to a secret chamber,
I clasp it in my hand.
Silver, smooth, hard and heavy,
It weighs me down.

I stole it from the monster,
But the monster first stole me.
He tricked me into wanting him,
He plucked me from monotony.
His hunger made me wonder,
What a feast my flesh may be.

But once he’d roused my appetite,
He laughed at my desire.
He teased me with the taste of love,
But hid his heart in darkened rooms,
His passion saved for bridal tombs.
For fatal fantasies.

He left me on our honeymoon,
He left me to explore.
He gave me every key, for every cupboard, every door.
He showed me the forbidden key,
He told me where to find the lock.
He dared me to deceive him, disobey,
His eyes, they begged me to betray.

And so, I turn the silver key,
Just as he wished I would.
But any hope of fantasy is drowned in blood.
I feel the vision stain my soul,
I glimpse my destiny.
But something stronger takes control,
I turn, I flee.

I leave the castle made of stone,
I run into the shaking trees.
I curse his name beneath the moon,
I vow to slay my monstrous groom.
I’ll stake his heart, cut off his head,
I’ll stain his blue beard red.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Portrait of Jean Abercromby

(Inspired by painting of same name by Allan Ramsay & Day Dreams by Alfred Walter Bayes)

He wants to paint my portrait. I suppose it was to be expected, I did marry a painter. I feel… unusual. I can’t quite describe it. It’s the way he looks at me. It’s different now. I’m no longer his Jean, his forever love, his sweetheart. Something has shifted in his gaze. I catch him staring; while we’re eating breakfast or talking, or when we make love. He looks at me with a cold determination, just for an instant. It’s as if he is weighing me up, sizing me, turning and analysing me. I am no longer a heart, a mind, a body. My flesh is merely a colour. I am angles and lines. I am shadows and light. I have become his subject.

Yesterday he brought me a posy of delicate, wild flowers. He said he picked them from the edge of the woodland that borders our estate. He wrote me a love letter and brought me tea with honey. We talked and kissed and sat on my tiny settee until late afternoon, when I dozed off, as I often do on an afternoon. I awoke a little later to find him sketching me in his little book. He had pulled my gown over the settee and placed my posy next to me. It was then that I realised how perfectly the flowers in my posy matched the flowers on my gown; red, white and blue with green leaves. Should I have felt flattered to find my husband drawing me while I slept? Perhaps. But there was that keen look again, that steely eye, that firm mouth. This was not a loving husband seeking to capture his beloved’s image to treasure. This was something else.

He smiled at me and put down his tools. ‘You are beautiful’ he whispered. ‘A vision. The afternoon light is your best. Tomorrow you will sit for me, in my studio. I am ready to paint you.’ He took my hands in his, putting aside the love letter I still held, and kissed them. Then he led me into the garden and we walked through the willows and along the riverside. There was a faint mist floating just above the water. It drifted silently towards us. It touched my skin as I stood at the water’s edge. I shivered. He drew me closer to him with his damp hands and held my shoulders. ‘You need a shawl’ he murmured. I smiled at him. ‘A lace shawl, yes, and a pearl choker around your neck. I have one. Yes, yes, and you will wear your blue dress.’ I turned back to the misty river, and felt my skin grow cold.

The trail of war

(Inspired by painting of same name by Sydney Carline)

As I walked over the fields, kicking up dirt with my scuffed tan boots and tripping over the hard rocks that jutted out of barren earth, I came across an eerie thing, an old abandoned playground.

It lay a few fields ahead of me, but I could see it in the dimming daylight; all bent and wonky. Rust-coloured climbing frames and a broken roundabout. As I came closer, I felt my pace quicken. I realised I was excited. It was just so absurd. In this wasteland of dirt and emptiness, of unploughed fields, of nothingness, here, was a children’s playground. In a field, miles from anywhere, with juicy green grass, the only grass I’d seen all day, here it stood, silently. Seen only by me and the heavy white clouds sitting so close above, that looked ready to drop like a feather-heavy duvet and smother the whole scene.

I felt my feet running, almost skipping towards this mirage, but then I noticed something, something wrong, something I couldn’t quite place. The climbing frame, it wasn’t a climbing frame, it looked like, no… a propeller? I stopped running. I stood still, suddenly a little scared.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sunday Suburbanite (written in workshop with Gerry Cambridge)

You blind my eyes with yellow,
Like the sun that tans your skin.
You’re a Sunday suburbanite,
Mowing and edging with grassy delight.
You look after the pounds, they
Don’t do it themselves.
You work until you burn, the flames escaping
From the inky dragon on your back,
A back that carries the burden
Of our home in steady strides.
You wake me up like coffee,
Strong and bold. Then leave me
In the cold of your kitchen.
You must return to the sunshine
In your garden. You are the
Sun in Sunday after all.
You roast outside, like the dinner
In our oven.

What feeds my soul? (written in workshop with Linda Hoy)

The movement of pencils
On empty white pages.
The trail of black letters
Appearing on screens.
The thoughts and emotions
That churn up my stomach.
The stillness, the whiteness
Of spaces between.
The dazzling fringes of
Internal images, pictures
That move, sing and dance
In my mind. The satisfied silence,
The pause,
The digestion, of pieces of me
Rendered whole and complete.

Writing the spirit (written in workshop with Linda Hoy)

The dark place, the deep place,
The heart of the matter.
It pulses, it throbs,
It bleeds and it sobs.
It whispers and sings
And trickles through veins,
Infusing the whole
With it’s soul.

The delicate vessel,
So small, vulnerable,
Shows no sign of movement,
No hint of the volume,
The tide that is filling and spilling
And crashing inside. The deafening roar,
The thunder, the whirlwind, it rages contently
Within soundproof walls.

The flush and the blush are discreet,
Public secrets. They’re blood on a red rose,
They’re screams in a cyclone.
The essence, the core, is everywhere,
Nowhere. It silently shouts to be heard
And ignored.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wild, Winged Women

The three poems and the short story below were all written for a portfolio called 'Wild and Winged'. They celebrate the wildness of women who refuse to be tamed. Enjoy...


I hide inside a hollow tree
Until the full moon calls to me.
I paw the earth, I pant, I growl,
I lift my head and howl.
I am the wolf within you.
You feel my pelt beneath your skin,
My hunger in your belly.
And when you walk on windy nights
You know you walk with wolves.
Your instinct pricks your ears,
You turn to see the pack,
But only blackness meets your eyes,
You still look back.

We wolves are many,
We place our paws between the worlds
And leap into the souls of women.

So when you hear a lonely call
And crave the company of kin,
Go out into the silver night,
And seek out those who don’t rush in.
The moon-gazers, the wanderers, with faces skyward you will find them,
And as they pass beneath that pulsing, lunar glow,
Their shadow shows the tail they drag behind them.

Wild and Winged

If you go down to the woods today
You’re in for a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You’ll never believe your eyes.
For deep within those wintry woods,
The wild winged women wait.
They glide and sing on gauzy wings,
They dance on air
With feathered things,
They run with beasts.

And if you stray from your usual way
And wander off the path,
They’ll shadow you through barren trees,
They’ll watch you shake, they’ll hear you breathe,
They’ll catch your scent, your truest nature.
And if you have a feral soul and thunder in your heart,
And if you have a yearning fiercely burning in your flesh,
They’ll let you see their wildling eyes, like lightning in a glass.
They’ll lead you deep into their lair,
They’ll tease and tangle your straightened hair,
They’ll rip your clothes and leave you bare,
Then scar your skin with broken bark and drag you through the mud.
And though you’ll scream and try to flee as they plunge you into icy depths,
You’ll feel a strange awakening,
You’ll feel your breathing start to change.
You’ll surface to the sound of drums
That beat beneath your bones.

And as you step from that sacred stream
You’ll glimpse your new reflection.
You’ll gasp at the lightning in your eyes,
You’ll sigh at the sight of filmy wings
And shiver as they graze your shoulders.
And as the night falls though the trees
You’ll bathe with your clan in lunar light
And deep within those wintry woods
You’ll take your flight.
You’ll glide and sing on gauzy wings,
You’ll dance on air
With feathered things,
You’ll run with beasts.

And in the distant, silent town,
They’ll hear a rumbling underground,
An echo on the wind.
And many stories they will tell
About the girl they knew so well,
Who strayed too far and turned into
A woman wild and winged.


Somewhere silent,
Somewhere safe,
A wizened weary woman
Rocks and hums in a rickety wicker chair,
Cloaked in crimson.
Cloaked in heavy crimson,
She hunches over a puzzle on her blanketed lap,
A puzzle of pieces,
Scattered on deep blue velvet.
She pushes the pieces around,
All tattered and faded,
All weathered and worn,
The bones in her fingers
Protruding through papery skin,
And crinkling crisply with each careful movement.
She hums. A slow, deep, familiar tune
That seems to come from somewhere else,
Somewhere other than her wrinkled, wispy throat,
It sounds so far away.
The creaking of her chair and its rhythmic rocking,
The haunting humming, they merge.
A sound like the ground is rumbling, moving, shifting.

Around her in the darkness, a swirl of lovely little lights
Dance then dart into the puzzle,
Illuminating pieces,
Pictures of people,
Moving, changing,
Faces smiling, laughing.
They bathe the old woman in their warm glow.
Still more lights, green and ghostly,
Fly from the puzzle,
From faces lost and crying, dying.
They fly into her eyes,
They evanesce,
Dissolved into the milky whites
Of eyes that do not see,
But do reflect
Each soul that dances on the board beneath them.

A tree comes crashing down in a wild, wild wind,
A horse gallops, fast through a black forest,
The ocean surges, saltwater splashing her fingertips.
All things exist in these tattered and faded puzzle pieces,
All things are hers to order and arrange.
And she shivers in her heavy crimson blanket,
And she draws it close around her shoulders,
And rocks,
And hums,
And drags the pieces around the velvet board,
And fits the pieces together.

Be the Butterfly

The searing summer sun shines through a wall of windows and into the eyes of a young woman seated at a round reception desk. She squints. She closes her eyes for a minute and her face seems serene. The phone rings. It startles her and she grabs it quickly to stop the noise, her eyes now open wide. As she replaces the receiver, she pulls at her high collared shirt and adjusts the long sleeves, which stick to her skin slightly. She stops abruptly and pretends to be writing a note as a woman walks down the stairs above her, across reception and through an internal door. Her head lowered; she says nothing. The receptionist resumes her fiddling with the shirt, shifting uncomfortably in her seat and switching on a small, white, plastic fan. Another woman descends the stairs, but this time stops to chat. The conversation is stunted, awkward; the woman’s eyes are probing, quickly darting back and forth from the receptionists face to her blonde hair, to her shirt. The receptionist blushes, worrying that the woman has noticed how sweaty she is in the stifling shirt. The woman is wearing a cotton vest; her light brown hair is pulled up into a high ponytail, exposing her neck. She stands with her hands on her hips and laughs a little too loudly. When she leaves, the receptionist rushes to the toilet to splash herself with cold tap water and to hide for a while. She looks at herself in the mirror, the fluorescent strip lights only exacerbating her insecurities. She presses powder on her pale face and sprays deodorant inside her shirt. She stares in the mirror and frowns, then opens the door and returns to her desk.

Her afternoon alternates between half-hearted chatting with women who stop by to waste time and hours of staring at the trees outside the door. She watches them move in the silent breeze, a breeze she cannot feel. Her fan is a poor substitute.

She smiles and welcomes each visitor on arrival. She brings them a drink and talks about weather, and laughs at the same jokes she hears every day. She bids them goodbye when they leave with warm-hearted wishes. She packs up her things and walks home at the end of the day in the thin lines of shadows wherever she can.

In the coolness of night, she sits in the dark, on a large wooden bed. She stares at strings of tiny round mirrors that hang from the ceiling. She pats her wet skin with a coffee coloured towel, then looks at herself in the dressing-table mirror and cries. Her whole body stiffens as she lets her towel fall and twists her torso around to see her back in the reflection. Two ivory coloured wings protrude from broken skin, so delicate, diaphanous. She pulls at them. She scratches and tears at the surrounding skin. Her husband enters the room quietly, and watches her for a moment, then comes to sit on the bed beside her and takes her hand in his, holding it for a moment, before letting go to pick up a tube of cream from the dressing-table. He rubs the cream on the wounds. She winces, not just at the pain but also at the sight she sees in the mirror. She studies his face as he tends to her, searching for a hint of the disgust she’s sure he feels, of the repulsion he must be suppressing. She closes her eyes to escape the image, to escape the panic that threatens to overtake her. Hot tears leak from her closed lids with every gentle stroke of his fingertips. She weeps silently. He puts away the cream, then turns her around and wipes away her tears, which only creates more. His tenderness touches her so deeply she can hardly bear it. But she does. This ritual is a nightly one. She has had this affliction for many years.

When they first fell in love she was normal, or at least she looked that way. She even wore halter-tops, her long hair swaying and tickling her back when she walked. One night she felt a strange sensation, a burning, throbbing feeling. She went to bed in pain and dreamt of butterflies, trapped inside her body, fluttering under her skin, drowning in her blood. When she woke the next morning, she had wings. Only her husband knows.

She used to beg him to try to tear them off, but he refused, so she did it herself; just once. In a hot bath one night, she contorted her body to reach them and ripped and tore at herself, screaming in agony. She finally fainted from the pain; slumped over the side of the bathtub, immersed from the waist down in crimson water, with tattered translucent gauze floating on the surface. The wings grew back, slowly and painfully. She didn’t try again.

So now she just covers them up and hopes no one notices anything strange. She goes to work and pretends every day, except for the really bad days when she calls in excuses, then hides inside and cries.

It’s late one afternoon, another hot and humid, hellish one; she is setting up a meeting room. She drags the tables and chairs into place and begins to secure the heavy panels of the room divider that she has pushed aside for the meeting. She is running late; the room is filling with women, they’re watching her, waiting to take their seats. As she struggles with the metal winch, it jams inside the lock. She twists and tugs at it in desperation, everyone is looking. In one forceful pull, she frees the winch at last, but the panels start to rock and swing and grind. A screw falls from the ceiling rail and she lifts her head to look, the panels start to shift and groan, then tumble onto each other like deafening dominos. She leaps out of the way but moves too late and the pile of panels throw her to the floor. More embarrassed than hurt she lets two older women help her up and checks that no one-else is injured. Uncomfortable she tries to move away from the old woman still holding her by the arm. She turns to tell her she’s just fine and notices the woman’s look of shock. The woman is reaching out fingers towards her back. She shudders and then she sees, her shirt is ripped and soaked with blood. She cranes her neck to look and horrified, a sob escapes her. She cannot breathe. Her shirt is hanging from her back, her skin is cut and there, in this room of women, all gaping in undisguised terror, her nightmare is realised, her wings exposed.

Panic overpowers her, distraught, she tries to flee the room. The old woman stops her. She grips her arm; she blinks to clear the tears that flood her eyes. What torture can they have in store for the freak that walks among them? She still can’t breathe. The room is turning white. The old woman is saying something; she focuses her eyes again and looks. She’s pulling up her skirt. She’s hoisting it up above her knees, has she gone mad? A gasp, uttered in unison, as every woman in the room makes sense of what she’s seeing; a tail, a stripy tail, all gold and black, as if she were a tiger. The room is silent, still. Suddenly the atmosphere is charged with something; something strange and new. Slowly another woman moves, she pushes back her heavy fringe and timidly reveals two tiny horns. She waits for a reaction but instead another woman steps forward and starts to lift her shirt.

In the coolness of night, she sits in the dark, on her large wooden bed. She stares at strings of tiny round mirrors that hang from the ceiling. She pats her wet skin with the coffee coloured towel, then looks at herself in the dressing-table mirror and smiles. She lets her towel fall and twists her torso around to see her back in the reflection. She stares at her ivory coloured wings, so delicate, diaphanous. She touches them. They feel so soft, so sheer. Her husband enters the room quietly; she senses him and turns around. He smiles at her, she laughs and then her wings begin to flutter.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Soundproof Wall

Hi, any regular visitors to my blog (if there are any???) may notice that I have made a lot of changes to the poems on here. This is because I have submitted a great deal of them for one of my MA portfolios, 'Soundproof Wall' so they have been heavily edited, punctuated and some have been turned into two. There are even a few new ones dotted about. Enjoy...


I want to place my hand
on the side of your face
and let you lean on it.
I want to sing you a lullaby.
I want to bake you cookies
and wrap you up warm,
shelter you from the storm
in the folds of my coat.
I want to give you medicine
on a plastic spoon
and promise you
you’ll be better soon.
I want to tuck you in tight
so you won’t fall
and show you the darkness
holds no monsters at all.
I want to read you a story
that will make you believe
in mermaids and magic
and people.
I want to scrub you with soap
and towel you dry,
hug you when you cry
and lay out clean clothes.
But you’re not a child
and I’m not a mother
and you might forget
it's another I love.

Dissipate (published in The Word 2007 online)

I blank out my eyes to escape.
I blur my surroundings,
They dissipate.
I’m blind and I’m deaf
Yet I see such sights,
In this world of nowhere,
In this world of white light
Dissolved into darkness
With burnt, throbbing edges
And pictures that flicker and fade.
I can vanish at will
From a room or a street,
While walking, while talking,
While staring at screens.
This wilderness waits for me,
Bates hungry breath for me,
Begs me to slip through my lids.