The Point

In which I go hunting

Pencil sketch of a cat with large amber eyes.

It used to reside in open plan offices that smelled faintly of yesterday’s soup. It used to curl up on keyboards and yawn at powerpoint presentations that were doomed to be made-viewed-discarded-made-viewed-discarded. And, once a month, it used to slink onto my bank statement and preen. 

The Point didn’t enjoy its unexpected uprooting. It disappeared for long months, presumably butting its head against the closed glass of sliding doors that no longer allowed entrance. It must have spent hours beneath familiar windows, now closed just too far to admit it. I’d hear grumbling yowls in the night, as it yearned for what was and bemoaned what is. 

And then one day, it finally wended its way back to me, with ears chewed until scalloped and with pale moons of bare skin along its flank, an inverse leopard. We started out slow: careful sniffs at a paint palette and a cautious paw batting a runaway sponge. Staring matches with spider plants, pressing close to a warm oven door, curling into loving arms. 

The Point and I, we’re figuring it out.

Hidden shallows

In which I didn’t get the memo

It turns out my niceness is only skin deep. 

Beneath the surface, I spit glittering vitriol in an acid arc around myself. These spattering thoughts blister words into the dirt: ‘Join me in lockdown… feel this grief for a past life… falter here with me, in this stuttering uncertainty.’

But there are those who continue to grow within four walls, plucking opportune plums from a laden bough and making life sweet. They barely stutter at all.

The bastards.

I, meanwhile, simmer in my acid bath, my skin growing thinner with every slow second. The liquid blooms rose-pink and rises.

At some point I should stand up and wade out, before too much of me is lost. But the burn is comforting and the return of full gravity is too much to bear.

I’m staying here. Hip deep in shed niceties, I pass the time by drowning well-meaning platitudes until they dissipate to nothing.

Afloat

In which I drift

The water felt warm, a soft lulling comfort that whispered my eyes closed.

In the months that I’ve been here, floating under a gentle sun, I have drifted further and further from the shore I once walked. 

The longer I lie here, the less I remember why I fled land for sea. There was something about pain, I think.

Soft waves sluice away thoughts before they can take shape. 

This was a safe place to wait.

But there’s no longer a shoreline on my horizon. 

Panic hears the skip of my heartbeat as a starter gun, and she charges toward me, eyeballs rolling in a rearing skull. Her hooves syncopate with heartbeats.

The water starts to churn.

And I open my eyes.

Choppy water

In which I take a deep breath

There’s a rhythm that jerks my chain. That winds me up to creaking point. That cuts me to the tender quick.

Question – 

Answer – 

Silence.

Pause.

Question – 

Answer – 

Silence.

Pause.

Question – 

Answer – 

Silence.

Pause.

And repeat.

My stride is repeatedly drawn up short. The chords halt before resolution. My words hang in the air, wisping to nothing as they fail to penetrate ears. 

Question – 

Answer – 

Silence.

Pause.

I occasionally break the loop, with the faint hope the system will reboot. That the floundering whale of conversation will find its way back to the ocean of words.

Question – 

Silence.

Half answer.

Pause.

The whale drowns.

Temper, temper

In which here be dragons

Ware the Mind, Gentle Traveller. 

Step not upon a neuron lest she feel the ripple in her web. 

She’s been sharpening her blades, testing them on unsuspecting thoughts, dousing the scene with flammables, and dropping matches with cheerful abandon.

Her tolerance gauge is whistling urgently, her wheel is jammed toward destruction, and she’s out of damns. 

No bumbling backtracking, plaintive pleas, or earnest excuses can be heard over her jaunty hum. 

Best you traverse this path another day.

In time

In which we’ll meet again

Perhaps we’ll meet there

When the arches slump and weather

And strain to keep edge against edge.

The willows’ eyes will be dry by then,

Their hair will hang heavy in the water,

And gazes will fixate on stagnant twins.

Perhaps we’ll meet there

When these slabs no longer grind away

Under the patter of endless feet.

The stone lacework will have spindled 

Dark marks will marr the porcelain,

And safety bars will swing wild over water.

Perhaps we’ll meet there,

In air as thick as water, in the heat of a dying planet,

We’ll take flight against a purple sky.


Tube Love

In which all is fair

The hearts in the air are visible.

Her hands are locked at the small of his back,

His arm snugged around her waist.

Unfortunately for the girl behind them, every besotted peck

Rams his shoulder into her grittedly neutral face. His lady’s

Scent courses up nostrils with the delicacy of turpentine,

Dissolving each follicle in its path.

At least I’m not that girl behind them, whose neutral façade is belayed by eyes that burn with a

Yearning to take her bag strap, wrap around cooing necks, pull.

The moment

In which we visit the office (III)

Written on a particularly cheery day at a desk…


There comes a Moment,

Hurtling out of the morass of meaningless days.

Ululating its discontent, the Moment snaps at heels,

Ripping at sinews and seams until the morass

Stills. There, entwined in the purr of the Moment, it

Dawns on you that the sludge of your life is slithering away,

Another day. Another

Year. Gone.

Hydra

In which we visit the office (II)

Written for a particularly exasperating shared drive.

Fortunately, my sense of self-preservation

Rode to the rescue before I slaughtered the

Imbeciles who birthed this hydra.

Data spawns from myriad folders, incomplete,

Atrophied, unnamed. I know not, as

Yet, if my self-preservation will remain horsed.

Spindle-fingers

In which we visit the office

The spirit lives in the confidential waste bin.

Huddled in paper blankets of names and addresses, he

Unabashedly trills as he dances over keyboards and

Runs spindle-fingers over files.

“Save your work!” comes the cry, a

Desperate click comes

A second too late.

You watch his backside drift away, snigg-wiggling.

To the rescue

In which we meet a memory

Wellies call to mind

Eight year old me, ankle-

Deep in sloppy peat and sinking.

No Prince Charming, he, but adept at

Extracting be-boggéd maidens nevertheless.

Scooped up beneath my arms, I

Dropped into adoration as he dropped me onto solid ground,

And watched him go back for the lone welly, its

Yellow rim indignant against the mud.

Ankles

In which we Rome around (IV)

Rome 17

On a modern-day teenage gladiator at the Colosseum, I salute her.

Cocooned in a padded jacket and still freezing, I traverse the old

Oval. My wind-teared and sun-squinted eyes

Latch on (in horror) to bare ankles accompanied by a sullen scowl.

‘Oh darling, I told you that you’d need a coat!’ The not-

So-

Subtle maternal ring of ‘I told you so’

Exacerbates the scowl.

“Um,” comes the response,

Mumbled through chattering teeth.

Filigree

In which we Rome around (III)

On Castel Sant’Angelo and its contents.

Chest number four stands

As tall as tiptoed me, with

Sturdy stained panels warding off

Treasure-seeking fingers.

Elsewhere

Lies the worn steel

Dance of a sword hilt,

Accompanied by a polite sphere of cream filigree that

Nestles quietly against the pitch barrel of a pistol.

Generation after generation made this

Edifice their own, building into,

Layering

Over, growing with.

Curlicues

In which we Rome around (II)

A poem written for the Vatican City, in all its ornate glory.

Vast quantities of g(u)ilt

At your service, Mr Pope, sir.

There’s no such thing as too much

Icing (particularly the fecund floral

Curlicue ceilinged-variety),

And we’ve got a truckload of figleaves at

No extra cost – the boys have their


Chisels at the ready.

It’ll pay for itself, sir, don’t you worry,

They’ll be lining up to see

Yon naked gents, just you wait.

Diocletian

In which we Rome around

A poem written a few years ago about the Baths of Diocletian in Rome, formerly featured on Ma Kennedy’s blog. These sculptures were made to remember children who had passed away.

Dismembered heads seem entirely
Innocuous until the
Object in question is a
Child. Pale lips an eternal moment from speech,
Locks of hair unmoved by chill breeze, and
Eyes never carved to completion.
They loved this face enough to make it marble. While the laughing boy
Is now forgotten, love
Anchors to his every
Nick and fracture.