Waiting for Bluebeard

The Family at Night

We were rag-dolls after school

and passed long winter evenings like this:

father in his armchair with an unlit pipe,

mother in the kitchen pretending to eat,

We saw little with our button eyes

and spoke even less with our stitched up mouths.

We played at playing till it was time for bed

when mother sewed our eyelids down

We always woke as our human selves

to find the downstairs rooms had altered too.

A chair unstuffed,  a table’s legs all wrong,

and, that one time, kittens gone from their basket;

the mother’s bone-hollow meow.

What the House Said

When the sky feeds me birds,

I cough them up

When you examine them

you’ll see even the most vivid

I do not have to pretend to like you,

we have signed no contract

The house settled back

into its graveyard of fishes and cats

and began to pick bones from its teeth.

My Grandmother and Mrs Crow

While she was dying

her dead friend

stayed with her all night.

She wore a frayed hospital gown,

She was telling her

how things are there;

how televisions don’t exist;

how you can get a decent cup of tea,

Being there, was in fact

a lot like the old days,

except she hadn’t seen

her husband,

By morning, Mrs Crow

had almost gone;

just a halo of silver hair remained,

and her geese were in flight

in a string of noisy beads across the sky.

Another 3am Call

Every night, my grandmother

rehearses her journey

into the otherworld

as her womenfolk stand by,

The air is electricity

and it’s easy to imagine

my grandmother’s travels

and how superfluous

We dress her in her wedding gown,

her auburn hair with violets.

On the walk home

night fits around us

like a freshly torn coat.

What the Bed Said

White quilt, smotherer


I have carried fish-babies

right here in my belly,

I have held a woman

in my breath

Yet how can I speak

when my tongue is cushioned

by your mother-love?

The Breakfast Machine

The Breakfast Machine

Behind a wood sliding door

the whistling and grinding

of a great machine

brings us slowly, inexorably

Even the keenest eyes

of the imagination,

will not inform you

what kind of alchemy

The chicken is the thing

that troubles me most,

as she crosses the kitchen

on squeaky tin legs

cocks her head to one side,

takes in the room

with the bead of an eye

shrieks out with a voice

Scrambled, poached, boiled,

scrambled, poached, boiled.

Office Block

The palace of windows is burning tonight

Firemen scale the impossible walls

The staircase that curls like a shell

as if this were the flaming stairway

To the very hell that turns glass

and swept again, and still again

forever through windy corridors.

Staircase Game

At the bottom, a man plays dice

Soon, he will eat his shoelaces;

At the top, after a long night of waiting,

to the sound of trumpets

A glass of honey sits untouched

Its sweetness is all

you’ll be asked to remember.

In That House

Every floorboard is a tip-off,

every door a squealer,

The people that live there

have sewn buttons to their lips

Only the cellar

holds silence like an egg