Air ballooning


For some spiders this is an annual event.

For some it’s a technique for survival,

to run away from flood, fire, knife, boot, any abuse.

They must have a built in warning system,

a rocket up their arses that sets them off 

on an unknown journey into space.

They climb as far as they can upwards 

in trees or bushes until all there is is sky.

They fire, shoot their silver threads and

follow Jack’s story into the clouds, never

worrying about death. At some point

they all fall together, rain down in a tribe

to another place. Maybe it’s a God thing, 

or just a miracle. Whatever is left in the air

is called angel hair, light strands of abandoned silk,

their leap of faith phenomenal.

The children wished their mother had 

the wherewithal to air balloon them away 

from demons and ogres, the man who 

made them eat soap, who pushed their heads 

down the toilet, chased mum with a knife, 

who constantly spun fear.

Arch of heaven

Vault, the moody dark walls, so far underground I cant hear your moaning voice in the bedroom. Tell me again about the arch of heaven, fastened lights, the stars of love, how you pulled them down just for me.  Space, just give me room, cellar or store, a safe place for hearts and worries. I’m a cave dweller on the threshold, pictogram on rocks, all my children growing in a line. Vault over the horse, symbolic leap of faith, apparatus of doom, springboard of fear. Firmament. Vault of this sky, something solid to hold onto, like bone and flesh, your hand holding mine.



I found you, a soft yellow ball on the tide line

saturated with salt water, I squeezed you dry.


I wondered how many small fingers had

wrapped themselves around you, 


a minion printed onto the fabric, 

on one side a boy wearing a fig leaf, 

on the other a girl in a Hawaiian skirt.


I thought about your soft ball life, 

how you had flown through the air,


rolled over sand, rode the surf, felt love

all over your skin, felt sun, wind, water and snow,


so many temperatures over your yellowness,

like custard you say come on let’s play.


With your cyclops eye you stare out

at this world as if to say, roll me, bat me,


throw me, squeeze me, love me all the way,

love me all the way into the sea.

Becalming my mother’s spirit


You in the fog

        of my neural pathways

        floating, dancing

        in your blue chiffon 50’s dress.

You in the fret

        of my childish love

        in the lick of the mixing bowl

        your sugar and sultanas.

You in the cold morning mist

        of my forgetful hands

        that long to hold yours

        our liver spots and blue ridged veins.

You in the clag

        of my horror stories

        of never comforting your heart

        of leaving you alone

        of you leaving me alone.

You in the smog

        the pitch of my song

        your wheezing lungs

        your sad mystification of life.

You in the heat haze

        of my conscience 

        with dad in that photo

        smooching in the haystack.

You in the sunshine

        of your freckled face

        long wavy hair and high cheek bones,

        you in your happy-happy days.



All night incoming waves roll pebbles 

on the storm beach as the girl struggles with fear, 

her sweat, lack of breath, the drums in her heart 

and screaming mind.


All night the incoming waves pummel

the oyster shells on Llanddona sands 

where emptiness echoes in the girl`s ears, 

not one giving an answer to her plea for peace.


All night the girl searches for just one pearl

to hold in her hand, to calm her in the driving seat,

to be the passenger, to leave control under a gravestone 

at St. Dona`s church.


All night the lost witches rumble spells

through the glazed glass and washed 

floor boards inside Gorphwysa, a place of rest

where each window sees Red Wharf bay.


All night she walks down the hill in dreams:

it`s easy to paddle in the shallow ocean,

it`s easy to place worries in a paper boat,

to sail them to somewhere out of her white room.

Bird beach



three in the morning

it’s still night time

dark sky glider

outside the window

collecting dreams



that’s a surprise 

wings outstretched

in front of my eyes

water skimmer at


fish on the incoming



worm catcher

in the top field

by Porth-y-post

curve of a beak

a pointed arc

to match your stilts



clan of swoopers

black white orange


your swift song

tells me of salt

loners stalkers of lugs

and little flies

scaredy birds

scat as I come near



did you ever

no not once

did you realise

I’d heard the name

the sense of being


or the insult of

being a dimwit

maybe, but I never,

not once have seen

this bird.

Brace    Braced    Bracing

Parenthesise me    keep me safe    

clamp me    prop up my broken bones

bring a device that holds me    fastens me    handcuffs my days into yours

suspend me

invigorate    reinforce    support and align me    rude me   Viagra me

correct and hold me steady    girdle my nights of sweats and nightmares

connect my wires and ropes    tightrope me    save me from waving hands

hold me always  


give me a vertical line of music    stairway to heaven

protect me    soft fall me    buffer me    square bracket me  


keep me safe

handle me like a pair of things    

you and me    twins    longings    our two sets of eyes    


apply me


renew my vigour    stimulate me    brace me    crank me    

steady ground me


let us feel soil and grass beneath our feet    


something electric


remember to shut the windows before you shout


summon me    bolster me    like two straps over the shoulders


be my belt and braces    

become a leather loop that changes my tension


drum me    take heart    keep me safe  


prepare me    endure    endure me    parenthesise me



I can’t stop the water coming in,

your breath loud behind the castle door.

I can’t stop the earth rolling back to water,

the slack slate, red brick, clay and mud,


the gravel biscuits under my feet. The grits

move over and over, guided by the moon.

The moon that whispers to red mullet feeding,

the trippers that stare, the stones still grinding


wheat for flour in the silence and noise at

the tidal mill, where a cabbage white flies low

over the singing river, where I can’t stop the 

water coming in, your breath behind the door.



from the heart


a corncrake’s love

a warning


something’s coming


just the one throat



a solitary story



a flock

a tribe


this island life


a clack-clack


from a heart

a bizarre noise

a symbol clash upon another


is something coming




a reason to call

to find 

a symbiosis in two




from my heart

to yours


something is surely coming

Elephant whispers


Swim with me in deep water,

sidle up close,

hear me, hear my whispers

let them fall into your ears.

Let me wait under your belly,

hide from danger. Let me sigh, sway, 

sing and wait for answers, wait for 

echoes of deep voices.


Indra, Indra, Indra

take me on a sky ride,

a memory of clouds,

clouds that drench the earth

a graveyard to all mothers.


Save me from hyenas and 

tigers who stalk my heart.

Hold steady my secrets 

under your folds of skin.

Bury me with red soil and

green leaves, caress my scared skins

that wait outside the room.



If I was her, goddess of moonlight,

it might explain the light, the blue,

how she casts such a spell, hypnotic fields,

the exact way I feel about you.


If I was her, I’d trap you in time, 

bell on bell, songs again in dusk,

in dawn’s day over, night’s under

you, tall trees, ships through the years.

False Sedge

Bog Sedge


Between hard rock and this constant mountain spring,

a glaciers speed, here are the sorrows’. 


I shake my hair, wild petals,

sepia notions of common sense

to a marriage bed where hope 

is isolated, is abandoned grass. 


Where my babies hate 

this surrogate daddy, 

who makes them eat soap, 

sits them down like statues,

scowls into their night of dreams.


He scares the stalk of me with his devil’s mind, 

hits with his bony fist, penetrates the sap of me.


Oh false sedge, bog sedge, 

no sense in any wildflower, 

all that’s left now is rare 

in Teeside’s high hills.

Flock life


Let me tell you about the rookery, how I long to feel at home.

Imagine those tall trees,  the wired acts of creation from a scavenger’s lifestyle,

how all those loose things, twigs, leaf, bone, become palaces.


How I long to be amongst my tribe.  Imagine the flock of it all,

the roller-coaster, big wheel inhalations, that dream of adrenaline:

down to the arable, up to the nimbus and squall.


Can you imagine that taste of happiness, the belonging, the common rook

of it all, the symphony of rook-call in your ears?  How I long to beat

my wings again in time to a memory of change and fledge, heartbeat of bird.


Imagine the vastness of sky, the stories of nest and blueness, all those

pecking days. Imagine all of that going on and on and never leaving your side.



is vibration

rapture finger articulation

rolling rolling around


Flamenco is a love song

beating a rosewood floor

heel howl heel howl

tradition is voice

it`s from the blood


Flamenco is noise

open arms

whole body poise

is Jose and Pedro

she in black lace

heart and love letters


Flamenco is a cry

from creation

light through windows

a song for the devil

a clicking of fingers

is come here girl

stay there boy


Flamenco is melody

chocolate cake

black leather shoes

guttural notes

a hot burning star


Flamenco is a lullaby

a growl a haunting

it`s grown up

it`s a peacock

a hummingbird

it`s wet lips and

dry mouths


I became an ice-flower, my girl’s heart frozen, hard petals in a cage.

A fragile beauty walked with my days of exile.


But I held on like the bird’s-eye primrose. I captured her yellow,

her intense eye that glows at the heart of each flower.


I held on to purple from the Teesdale violets, smallest of treasures

for abandoned thought. I hung on to sunshine and sugared limestone.


The great Whin Sill herself did not let me fall. She held my feet steady,

my boy beating in my womb. I bathed in the royal blue of early spring

gentians, survivors from an ice-age.


Secrets Secrets Secrets we were Secrets


I grasped each flower to my heart until the melt, one by one the ice floes

told me I was right, that it was safe to return to summer.


Each petal from my ice-flower heart dripped away a rhythm

to my dance on the hillside, it captured my waving and twirling,

love for a whole world to see, my baby at my breast.




I know about your eyes

that find the flaw in me.

I’ve seen you jump,

the super hero of

floors and walls.

I never know where

you are until

I scream for help,

freeze on the spot

and primal thoughts

|hijacks my medulla.


Jack says that I’m a

hundred times

bigger than you,

where’s the sense in that,

the compassion.

Jack can pick you up,

make you free again,

I can’t even look at you.


I know about your powers,

your spinnerets, the beauty

you weave every day.

Jack tells me stories

about the centre, how

we create who we are

from inside our shells.


I read about your spirit,

your meaning, beastly totem,

how you’re all about

creativity and I should

pay attention to

your harmless ways;

but what about the

tarantula in my gut,

the denial of my

childlike brain,

what about all of that?