Thursday, 8 November 2018


Dedicated to all those who suffered...more than we can ever imagine...

Remembrance was your greatest tormentor -
perhaps even your torturer. Now, all
your possessions, your wife, your life,
no longer held any meaning for you.
All had been superseded by the horror,
the sickening retro-visions
that came nightly.
This horror took on the hue of your bedroom walls
and concealed itself in the undulating folds
of the matching curtains.
You could taste the blood in your whiskey,
hear shells exploding in each passing car engine.
Body parts and lost faces lurked in their myriad lairs:
your candlewick bedspread,
your latticed windows, your carpet, your wardrobe.
You stared at these. You perceived the presences.
They hid in your army uniform -

that was their favourite place to lie in ambush.
When you dressed, you would pause halfway
to closely scrutinize jacket or trousers,
absolutely terrified of what may be secreted in the seams.
Khaki: fear personified
there in your hands -
the rising neurosis that threatened to choke you,
suddenly erupting into the uncontrollable shakes.
Your entire being turning to jelly.
Your wife, your son, your body, your life -
all dissolving into the carnage of the battlefield.
You could see it all, there
in the faded bloodstains ingrained in your uniform.
You knew the horror would never leave you.

So you took your own life.

Saturday, 3 November 2018


For Ayrton...

In this empty room now devoid
of your clutter and chaos, I'm lost.
The door and windows have stories to tell
of the boy who grew to manhood here
amid deafening music blaring out
and technology wall-to-wall.

Though silent now and stripped quite bare,
this will always remain your room.
It's filled with precious memories
that once acknowledged spring to life:
happy times shared between mother and son
that I'd thought would never end.

Saturday, 27 October 2018


From bleak expanse of Bodmin Moor
to forbidding grey hulk of Jail,
the very air is infused with dread.
Uneasy stillness. No birds singing. This could be
the seventeen-seventies, eighteen-eighties - any century.
Time itself appears suspended within these sinister walls
that loom so menacingly over surrounding houses.
There is something rotten to the core here, you can feel it.

Crossing the threshold. Pitched into a twilight world
where vestiges of a gruesome past
still linger,
where the Souls of long-deceased prisoners
continue to wander in utter torment:
hazy faces glimpsed gazing from barred windows
and spine-tingling moans
that you hope and pray are mere trick of the wind.

Such collusion of mulish impressions,
emotionally draining to the point of exhaustion.
Two-hundred-and-forty years
and fifty-five executions - fifty-one of them public.
The intense anxiety
of the condemned convict's final walk to scaffold can barely be imagined,
neither can the macabre glee of the onlookers.
Ah, the rank inhumanity of en masse sadism!

No pathetic prisoner now within
this decaying cell where once Selina languished.
Just a faint echo of her desperate sobbing,
pathetic and guilt-ridden. What is it
that survives to grieve so
for a young son, murdered
to appease a false lover? The Soul's
harrowing lament infiltrates the emotions

until you're forced to close down awareness.
A child - a labour of love - and that love destroyed
for the likes of him. Oh unworthy one,
who abandoned her here in this sepulchre. She died
clutching a white handkerchief. Her final words,
"Lord deliver me from this miserable world."
Then the executioner pulled the lever
and sent her plummeting into eternity.

Oh Selina,
I can feel in this dank and claustrophobic cell
your suffering and your anguish, impregnated
within this restless darkness.
And through you naive innocence have learned,
and so finally understand with such empathy.
Poor Selina, how your abject terror of being alone
drove you to the unthinkable act of infanticide.
Mute, these walls are screaming "REMORSE! REMORSE!"

Saturday, 20 October 2018


I want a little respect: beyond
this blonde hair is an absence of dumbness.
I am not a Barbie doll
to be played with and then
packed away in her box until required again.
I feel, sometimes more than is good for me.
Compassion can be Soul-destroying.

I want to be taken less for granted.
I am not an item of furniture,
or a puppet dancing to everyone else's tune.
I would love to be loved
for who I am, rather than
for what I can give.
An absence of maternal love
has cursed me with a vulnerability

that draws users to me like a magnet.
I want to cease being an emotional cripple:
want to learn to rely on me,
rather than hanging on for grim death
to tantalizing promises
that somehow never materialize.
Oh surely my life is worth more than this? Well,
maybe it will be...tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 October 2018


This morning
I burnt all the old photos
of you and I. Catharsis:
I feel lighter now. The White Horse
is no longer out of bounds. I am free
to return there, only now without you.

Memories fighting for supremacy. Mentally
I'm shutting them out. I say no
to nostalgia - it is the ultimate torturer.

I can see the heaps of rubble from here
on the back road. It's like
your apartment block never existed. Yet it did.
At least they'll erect something new in it's place.
But every midsummer
my mind will dance there - a ghost out of time.
I feel like crying - and laughing: you and I
attending the Summer Ball in all our finery...

My ball gown, moldering in the closet:
decades of neglect.
I catch myself wishing
I could donate it to charity.
It is the last tangible connection.

I know I ought just to do it.
So why, oh why, can I not?

Friday, 5 October 2018


Painting is an enigma to me. But Austin, all serious,
stands back frowning and mumbling to himself
as though he equates each finished piece with self-worth.
He is fully immersed in his latest endeavour, brush
flitting from palette to canvas, canvas to palette;
perfecting highlight, shading, skintone, eyes.
Anticipation of the final hanging
spurs him on - but not too quickly
for the pleasure of the completed masterpiece,
all beauty and sensuality, is well worth waiting for
with it's vibrant life in every brush stroke.

Where does the compulsion originate I wonder -
to be so fanatical a perfectionist
instead of just a regular man? He is a visionary,
a colour blender, a master craftsman,
an illusion maker and so on and so on.
From handmade frame to position on wall
he is sole creator, my multi talented
other half, my constantly distracted Soul Mate.

The brush moves in patterns I can't quite fathom:
long strokes, short strokes, feathering, blending,
faster than the eye can follow, leaving me breathless.
He's oblivious to everything around him. I could be
a million miles away, or not even exist at all.

His present inspiration is abstract: the product
of an incredibly fertile mind - and an insular lifestyle
of missed assignations and unopened mail.
It never ceases to amaze me
how the original barely there sketch
grows moment-by-moment into something
infinitely greater than the sum total
of it's components. Every atom of his being
is poured into each individual labour of love.

I can't get my head around artistic talent,
but it is undoubtedly a form of genius
when you think about it - creative imagination
transformed into something so visually arresting.
I guess the real beauty is in the translation:
the individual significance, depending upon each beholder's
interpretation of lines, spaces, patterns and symmetry.

Strange to observe those weathered hands
with their rough patches and pronounced veins
as they perform their delicate and precise motions
over hours, over days, over weeks and months.
It is asking too much, I know,
to hold his attention for any longer
than five minutes in a day.
Ah...such is the life of an Artist's wife!

Friday, 28 September 2018


For Peter memoriam

My heart sank when I heard
of your sudden passing. This was
something too final, too hopeless to bear -
the certainty I'd never, ever, see you again.
I was (and am) grieving even more
than your adoring public, a grief
unexpressed yet so profoundly felt.
Still, I can smile at the recollections, though,
of your wicked sense of humour
and such touching vanity - in which
year did you claim you were born??
But smiles are soon ousted by bitter tears.

There is only your alter ego to cling to now:
Bernie Scripps, frozen in time
within a treasured collection of videos
resting on a special shelf. And those post cards
you sent from Goathland and New York
have taken on new significance.
Their images and words are stuck in my skull
where they evoke so vividly
each separate memory of you in life.
But your future was obliterated by the thunderbolt:
our distant friendship, your stardom - all
are consigned now to memory's sombre tomb
and I, at this moment in time, am nowhere.

Oh how I wish I could become as stone,
unable to feel,
for this agony of loss
catches so in my throat...