Poetry

Spilt milk

I’ve seen many artists make portraits from coffee foam.

Shaping, contouring, scraping.

Letting the natural colour show underneath all that froth.

But what happens if the cup is spilt

and the liquid runs down the tablecloth

in a race to escape its confines?

Will it travel separately, several long tracks dispersing from everything they were before

yet leaving their mark on the cotton,

or will it pool together again to build up the image once more,

refined, certain, bold

to stand out

against the plain colour of its background?

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Poetry

Things that stay

How do we rate our encounters?

What if we were given a stamp for each positive one,

a scar for each negative,

a freckle for those of no consequence?

 

Could we read each other’s lives that way?

Noting all the joy,

regarding all the hardships.

 

Would people want to be displayed like that?

Raw.

Open for discussion, ridicule,

pity, doubt

 

also

 

compassion,

love, trust

and empathy.

 

In a world where everyone wants to hide

while simultaneously

glued to social media

 

sometimes

 

noticing details of another

can build the strongest bonds.

 

Poetry

Photographs

Moments caught in time,

there for us whenever we want to look back

and see who we were, what we were,

and how far we’ve come.

But what of those past selves of us caught in the frame,

forever in that moment

as the shutter clicked,

marbled into the scene forever more?

 

What if they can see you looking back at them,

wondering how you got so much older,

or when your eyes went from bright and open

to puffed and dark.

Where did that scar come from,

what does that tattoo mean,

and how long have you been wearing that wedding band?

Would they be impressed by you,

or worried at how much life has stamped on your neck

and left you face down in the mud?

Would they wish that they could trade places

and hold hands with your spouse

and hold debates with your friends

or would they seek to bar the window against you forever?

 

Would they recognise you

or are you a stranger

with their face?

Poetry

Timelines

We once talked about your stay in hospital.

At first, I couldn’t remember.

It was during the time when I didn’t know who I was,

but I knew who you were,

and who you were wasn’t someone in hospital.

Who you were was the person who made my reluctant self

talk about the things that bothered me,

telling me not just that it was okay, but that it was fine to feel that way.

Fine to have emotions. Fine to be angry at the world. Fine to accept we’ve had our dreams crushed by those we love.

 

I can remember now, if I really try.

I don’t recall your stay being lengthy, though you say it was several weeks.

Something about that just doesn’t settle in my mind.

Strong, grounded, dependable you

out of action, recovering from an operation

that was not like the game we used to play.

One that for you, was very real, and for me,

just fizzled from my mind

so that the image I have of you never wavers.

Poetry

Brush faces

A woman stands, eyes intense, hair

in an up do, silver but young.

Gold pins mask dark shadows.

Next, her friend, tall, drawn,

slender with even more slender neck.

Plain face, ruddied with exertion.

Then, to the right, one with haughtiness

etched on her nose and the arch of her brows.

Black hair neat, pearls about her neck.

On the end, mouse hair with soft brush,

thin mouth that has been long silent,

and eyes wide as they are sad.

Poetry

A tide of turning

The ink spills onto the page and becomes a river.

Tributaries branch out across several notepads,

soaking through outlines and spider diagrams,

manuscript versions one, two, three, four

final. Final Final. Final Final point one…

The river becomes so large it leaks into the ocean,

where a single bound volume

labelled DICTIONARY

floats to the top, raising its head

like a whale, defined on page 1894.

Poetry

Simulacrum

I cry rainbows at night when I think no-one else is near. Flower skeletons decay even more in my mind and silhouettes of birds turn out to be no more than shaped words. Carefully chosen, trimmed to perfection like a prize bonsai tree. My wings have been clipped. I’ve been pressed against pages leaving only an imprint behind. I am not myself. I am the person someone else wants to see.