4 poems

All Too Human

What if you wake up one morning
to find that your horse has melted
and there’s nothing between your thighs?

Nobody carries you,
no-one has your back.
No companion,
no getaway vehicle.

Just you and your two little legs,
bare and buttery on the naked earth.

Suddenly you notice
the other animals sniffing the air
a hair’s breadth from where you stand,
and suppose you have only moments to gather your wits
before they slug over and…

Slug over and what?
Of course you have no idea
since it was always the horse who did the talking.

First published in The Interpreter’s House, 2016

Things Behind the Barn

(Tanka with a song title borrowed from Andrew Bird)

Two rusted car doors,
rotting leaves and a dead crow.

A woman, smoking,
and mustering the courage
to surrender to decay.

First published in Kate Garrett & Robert de Born (eds). Troubadour. Picaroon Poetry, 2017.

Ginger

I’ll never forget, says Uncle Malc, that time when
Ginger Rodgers tripped on the two-step and tumbled
head first from Hollywood to Hartlepool.

We all rushed down to the shore
and took turns nudging the washed-up body
with our loafers and creepers.
To check for signs of life, we said,
though really each of us hoped
to make an impression.

Dreamed of how, later,
over a steaming Bovril she’d ask,
Whose were those light-as-a-feather tootsies,
the tippy-toes in white winkle-pickers?
Now those belong to a hoofer and a half!
Then she’d call Fred and tell him
she’d found her match and wasn’t coming back.

We waited and waited. Then
I guess we moved on. In the end
it was young Tyrone next door
who finally made it to L.A.
but by then poor Ginger
was picked clean by seagulls
and the old musicals
had pretty much had their day.

First published in Under The Radar, 2017

Winter in the Room

One of us left a door open,
now a cold wind blows
through the room.

Easy to call it your door (it is your door)
but the gaps in the floorboards
are all mine.

The walls are whistling, air sounding the alarm:
we may never be warm again.

If only we could shelter each other
from our lesser selves.
Instead, they pitch tents
at opposite ends of the room
and we watch, helpless,
passing each other the mallet.

First published in Blueprints for a Minefield, 2016

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