Sum’n Sum’n

Fresh-faced little sum’n sum’n
Running, and running, exhilarating,
Escape the werewolves, beat the boys,
Scrape first place and furthest
Pass the berries, pass the ferns,
Whack-and-thwacking care not no – time – breath – can’t – run – and – talk –
These daddy-approved shoes will carry
Over rucks and molehills, down crumbling hills, through stumps and rubble
She thinks she must have got the eye when she took Norb’s elbow but it was actually that fly-away berry,
Making its pretty purple mark just for her mother to see
A shining proud beacon of androgynous disgrace

Inspired by Normal Rockwell’s ‘Girl with a black eye’.

‘For a Kiss’: a postcard poem

Another poem written for my penpal, inspired by a vintage book cover postcard, though drawn from a real experience that lingered with me. There are tons of these postcards in my local Amnesty bookshop, for 30p each (or 5 for £1), which makes me happy. I go foraging there in my spare time with another writer friend.

I am currently really enjoying writing just for the fun of it, for myself, and to make someone smile briefly, and with no pressure to be technically (or at all) perfect, but letting go and writing anyway.


You can have it for a kiss, Miss
That rare, special issue of National Geographic
from the year and month of her birth

For a kiss

All she wanted was to hand over some change
in return for this treasure; a simple exchange

She looked at the grizzled banterer before her
She had not expected a challenge
to be noticed
to be put on the spot

Go on
urged her friend
It’s only a kiss

She shook her head
ready to turn away defeated, hands empty

The man relented in mock hurt
and gave her the treasure for nothing

‘The City’: a poem

You can meet anyone in the city
over the brim of a coffee
under the shadow of a bridge
with the help of the wind
mutter to a stranger of the rain
share knowing looks at ironic bad luck
in every tiny window lives another story
you know nothing of
and possibly will never
but possibly could


Inspired by this artwork by Kristyna Baczynski

(Written for my penpal, inspired by another of Kristyna Baczynski‘s awesome fishy postcards. I don’t even usually like fish! Thank you!)

This brought up feelings I always wanted to articulate about living in London and the feeling of vastness mixed with connectedness, which I still don’t think I could really communicate. I immediately thought of a city, and what city life meant to me, and after writing this discovered that that’s exactly what the artist called it! We are obviously in tune.

‘Margot’: a poem

I live on the top floor
just next to the surface
where I can practise the flute
and none of them notice
My name is Margot
and I’m looking up
my padre the crab
sees me as just a pup
none of them know
what I’ve got in store
but one day my name
is a doorway to war


Artwork by Kristyna Baczynski

(A quick bit of folly written for a sea-spirited penpal, inspired by this postcard image by Kristyna Baczynski. Thank you for the stimulus!)

Back in the Habit #6 : Embedded

Today's inspiration

Today’s inspiration

They remain. They stayed behind after the busyness. The louder times. They are here, ‘embedded’, as a stranger might say, but not quite, as a native would know. Too gentle a word for the result of natural, unavoidable processes. A kindly word to nature for its noble choice. Art through entrapment. The hills clasping in the product, engulfing its desperate arms until all is quiet.

But this was their choice. They chose to live adventure.

Standing on the horizon, feeling impossible, and feeling the presence of the truly impossible, anyone could tell you they are there. The mountain face looks altered because of their energy, like a dream full of clenched-fists, a replay of a conversation as yet unspoken. There is only purple sky and green mountain, unreal saturation and stillness lurking openly underneath and all around.

Tidiness. Not emptiness, but tidiness. Everything has been shuffled away into its place. Tucked into corners in the rocks, bedded down in moss, invisible. Care is being taken.

One can only wonder what brought them here. There is only a vast unreality. Perhaps this is the reward for real adventurers. It is terrifying to think of what might have become of them, in all this time. How altered they might be.

This space always belonged to others. And it will again. Each of them may leave their signature on it, lifetimes reduced to remnants. They will not all be seen. We can never truly know our predecessors, their dreams or intentions.

Your beginning is a remnant itself now. The only path is the unknown. There is some comfort in the limitation, and yet the purple looks flat, rejecting, like a mental blockade. It is not present. Not like them. Surrounding this spot is the air of neglect, turned backs. Nature has departed to something more important. In stifling solitude you see only yourself. Your own smell, your lonely breathing sounds, your wide eyes bereft of kindly cues from predators.

The wind is silent, yet tempts one to call out. Though you are blind to all but your very self; urge on, adventurer.

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Back in the Habit #5 : The International Flat Earth Society

I had infiltrated the International Flat Earth Society. I was being accepted as one of them. I was not receiving the sceptical gazes I had imagined based on my experience of the various protective niche churches. It was all Zen smiles and gentle-padding feet so far. A centre of calm. These were a people who had goodness and healthy intentions at the heart of their system. Was it really a system? They certainly had meetings and activities. They had calendars too, though they didn’t look like ours. Somehow they seemed to make a convincing amount of sense; the pieces of card representing the days of the year hanging like bullet-time butterflies throughout the room suggested an urge toward creativity that had not pervaded the world outside here, in which science and nature were fantastic enough that we had become complacent. Contentment is the enemy of invention.

“Good morning, Madam. We have been anticipating your arrival. We would love for you to meet the group.”

This was not what I was expecting at all. How could so many individuals who looked so open-minded believe in something so nonsensical, something that argued defiantly against all evidence that had come to light so long ago, and since? How, and why, had they chosen to live in a static point in the past at which nothing was progressing. The world was literally not turning for them. Surely they were living in Limbo.

And yet they were intelligent, lateral thinkers, radical and persuasive.

“Well, have you ever watched a ship drop over the horizon? Have you followed it to that point and seen the world curve?”

No, I had not. Fair enough.

I felt on edge again; I did not want to be brain-washed. I came here to learn, to criticise, to challenge. I did not want to be challenged in return.

I moved through the activity areas; the library – not limited, but superseding expectations again, full of colourful wonders existing only outside the generally accepted collective understanding. I felt annoyed that these had been kept from me; even though it was all likely propaganda, why should I not be able to access it back in the outside world? Was I not coming from the world of no limitations, uninhibited learning and understanding, in which knowledge and truth and The Full Picture were prized above everything else; even, occasionally, at the price of people’s lives? I was afraid to open any of the books.

I continued to wander through their realm, feeling fascinated and hungry, and yet growing grumpy, irritable, at the fact that there was all this stuff that had been hidden from Us Outside, from the everyday Joe like me who was ready and willing to soak up all that the world had to offer.

‘The world’. I kept coming back to this name, as if it was a being, a proper noun, a ‘one’. I realised that I had been thinking of it differently; there was a world per society, per path of thought, per perspective. It was then that I realised I could no longer hold my silence in this place. I could not pretend. This was a company full of pretenders, of people silencing any thoughts that went against the society’s collective belief.

Frustrated, I raised what was probably a look of thorough annoyance and discontent to meet a kindly counterpart on the face of my guide.

“What must you think of us?!” I cried, and I tore down one of their smug floating dates, crumpled it assertively, stuffed it into a jacket pocket, stumbled slightly as I turned in my thick walking boots, and ran from the building.

Back in the Habit #4 : Knocking

The room stops. Time is a pair of twins speaking to each other telepathically, secretively concocting new history beyond the control of others.

She looks at you, stock still. She scratches her right cheek, which sags worryingly, as if it might come away, like wet cake.

She looks through you. She knocks on the air as if there were a window between you, and you realise the idea has come to you because the sound was made. The sound of knocking on glass.

She continues to stare. She looks down, sodden and downtrodden; sighs. She looks out of the window, emanating a long-lived disappointment. The street activity is reflected in her glassy eyes under raised eyebrows.

She looks into you, challenging, waiting. The moment is important, and you are incredibly capable of failure. The air is thick and absent. She knocks again.

The starch-stiff waves of her hair, frozen in a long-dead moment of stress unimaginable to your generation, captures your attention long enough to remind you that you are supposed to be looking at her face. Anticipating. Seeing her. She is already looking at you. You are late.

The twins continue to look, to communicate. They are reviewing. A pause in the process of creation. Your decision is paramount. It is urgent.