Category Archives: work to be read aloud

Untitled – work in progress

you wear your scars on your sleeve

i want to run my hands across your shoulders, down your arms, explore the webbed crevices between your fingers

but of course i don’t

i want to use my fingers to braille read these man made marks

to ask you to explain the pain

but of course i dont

i want to envelope you and hold you tight

keep you safe when monsters come at night

but of course i don’t

so instead i try a smile

wanting it to say – hey i hope you’re better now, found other ways of dealing with your day

but even that feels too much

so instead

i drop my head

start fiddling with my phone.


This is the house that Jack built

Coercive control is when a person with whom you are personally connected, repeatedly behaves in a way which makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated … ( definition from Women’s Aid)


This is the house that Jack built


How quietly doors are closed

One finger on the catch for fear of slams

Nothing to disturb his well deserved down time.

After all as Jack says ” He needs a bit of peace”

This is the house that Jack built


Lights on only in the rooms where he is sat or where you are engaged in tasks

After all as Jack says “Why would he want to sit alone when he has been at work all day missing you”.

This is the house that Jack built


How pristine clean

There is a schedule for you to follow

Daily, weekly, monthly chores

After all as Jack says ” What else would you do at home all day”.

This is the car that Jack built


Just one now

A stay at home wife means sacrifice

After all as Jack says ” You never were a very good driver”.

This is the bank account that Jack built


Receipts required, statments checked, questions asked

After all as Jack says ” What could you need he doesn’t provide”

This is the phone that Jack built


Shiny latest model in a shell pink case

But all your photos, contacts lost in transfer

After all as Jack says ” Your life begins now, ground zero”

This is the gym that Jack built


Women only, lots of treadmills, no need to run outside

After all as Jack says ” You owe it to yourself ( and him) to lose that post baby fat.

This is the wardrobe that Jack built


Long sleeved tops and calf length skirts

After all as Jack says “You really don’t have the legs for jeans”

This is the family that Jack built


Planning for another child, pills spirited away

A tub of folic acid on the kitchen table

After all as Jack says ” You’re  not getting any younger”

This is world that Jack built


And this is the card you picked up in the library

Now hidden inside the lining of your purse

After all as Jack says ” What would you do without him?”





We went to Brighton to buy a bed

New couple yes, but hardly loves young dream


Sill in need to extra space for languid lounging, endless pots of tea.

Love will find a way we said

So failed to measure car or bed

And failed again

Forced to leave it there beside the sea.

And even if we’d brought it back

Nowadays it would be full of me and a pack of snoring dogs

But sometimes I do wonder  that if we’d found that special way

Whether we’d still be together

If only for the sake of the furniture.

There is more to that cleaner than meets the eye

There is more to that cleaner than meets the eye……


This one gets up at five

Runs as fast and far as lungs and heart can bear

Revels in the recognition of other early morning pavement pounders

Then puts on the uniform of tabard, bleach stained leggings

Becomes invisible again


This one knows the names of every planet in the sky

And more than that can tell you why they are so named

But has spent so long on hands and knees

She fears she may have lost the knack of looking up


This one’s husband is banged up again

Working double shifts

She has curated a collection of childcare

So complicated, so tenuous

That in a gallery it would be labelled

Web or DNA of everyday


This one says she’s lucky

In a refuge camp far away

At 15,16

The soldiers felt she was too old to rape

So, mostly, she was left alone


This one speaks 5 languages

Including yours

So knows exactly what your husband and his mates makes of her arse

When she bends down to scrub your skirting boards

Laser jets from lowered lids

If looks could kill


This one holds a broken bird

A touch so light

Its as if her hands were wings

And not these red and swollen things

Fingerprints burnt off by bleach

Convenient she always thinks

Should she start a new career

As master thief


And this one

This one’s writing poetry

Verse as vicious as viper

Mouth so acidic it makes diamonds bleed

This one’s writing poetry

There’s more to that cleaner than you can ever see.


You thought this cup would last forever

Victorian bone china so fine the rim had a ring like a bell

And you were careful

Used it sparingly

Enveloped it in tissue paper, bubble wrap

But not enough

You failed to see the flaw that threatened form

Until one day it cracked

Left you holding two imperfectly perfect halves

And you dropped

Part shock

Part moderate scald

But its hard to keep your footing when you’re already on thin ice.

And its not the shiny stuff you need to fear

The stuff that says be careful – slipping hazard here

Its the other stuff

The sneaky stuff that takes you unaware

That makes you less then biped

And even when you clamber up

You’re not the same

You’ve suffered some sea change

But its hard to keep your footing when you’re already on thin ice.

And not everything has a warning light

Even things that should

And anyway they’re easy to ignore

To keep on driving

Put those letters in a drawer

Convince yourself on sleepless nights that somehow everything will be alright

But its hard to keep your footing when you’re already on thin ice.

And everytime you fall

You come back somehow less

Tissue of scars on tissue paper skin so thin that every jolt will make you bleed

And muscle memory pain reminds you that you will

You will

You will

Fall down again

And its easy to lose your footing when you’re already in thin ice.

Josiah and his hair.

Josiah and his silent friend are walking with me through the Meadows

And he is telling me the story of his hair

This is hair worth a story

Part flat top, part dreadlocks

No medusa coils

If these dreadlocks were alive

They would be smiling, sunbathing, sleepy snakes.

Josiah says

“When I was little I had an afro

Combed it every day

Discovered that the big girls from big school liked to stroke my hair

Discovered that I liked that too”

And Josiah says

” Then I got a  flat top

Urban flavour


Hard edged”

And Josiah says

” My grandmother

Buffalo soldier all her life

Wore her dreads wrapped in fabric from home

Flashes of red and yellow and green

My grandmother died”

And Josiah says

” So these locks remind me that  my grandmother is always with me”

And when I look

I see his shoulders are broad enough to bear this burden.

Ruth @ number 80

Ruth first tasted freedom during world war 2

Found she liked it, never looked back,

Except perhaps, just at the end.

Sharp as a pin,

Should have gone to grammer school,

But didn’t

Worked in the hosiery,

but quick to tell me on first meeting,

Not on the factory floor,

No head down hemming for her,

In the offices,

A cut above the other girls.

Somehow, unimaginably , bought her house alone in 1950 something.

Ruth, never courted, never married


On hungover Sumer Sundays when boys lolled in my garden drinking pints of tea,

She had a scoring system based solely on how they looked sans shirts.

Ruth is proof, if I needed more, that I am not a good person,

Too busy to see she came out less,

Too busy to see the empty washing line,

Too busy to see the uncollected pints of milk.

Another neighbour,

Better person, did,

So, knocked and got no answer,

Broke in and found her upright on the sofa,


A dog each side.

And in the telling, it was hinted that the dogs had started nibbling

And that might have been the case.


Payed a heavy price for early emancipation.