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A Storm That Frightens The Animal


The unspoken heat 

Between us seethes

Peering between the bars

Of it’s cage

Yet so often, it’s lust

Is mistaken for anger

But here, we pass one another

The means to set it free.

Wrestling against one another

Mouths blooming where they meet

Hands finding something worthy

To touch, the fragile strength

That grows and swells

Like a stormcloud

Soak me with your rain

Deafen me with your thunder

Burn me with your lightning

This beast,

It has your eyes

And my voice

Come here





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Spiders In Paper Cups

Wrestling with 

What is versus

What could be

That for your propriety

Expressed as a causal dislike of mess

How it would excite you

To kiss my soft lips

Glazed with the perfume of sex

How, for all your assertions of independence

You are never quite as free

As when my gentle hands

Make fists of your hair

Livid pink marks on your skin

Crescent suck marks that fade


How you can cry and dance

To the music of your anger

Without my scrabbling for

A reason, stopping the music

To figure out the steps.

A poetic beast

Who decants spiders

Into paper cups

And wishes them well

When they are escorted

From the premises

But would kill


Inner and outer

With lustful cries

Of glory. 

You cannot scare me away

I am immovable


Loving in resolution

I am myself

With or without you

I penetrate you

Peerless in heart and soul


Finding humour in the constant

Swirl of your emotions

But remaining

A furred, throbbing

Column of certainty

Exhaust yourself

Against me

So that you might


And I would rob you

Of constant, tempestuous thought

Replace it with

A feeling that pulls

Planets from orbit. 

Tied to the bed

Exorcised with pleasure

Until your demons

Wither before

The bright flame

Of my 


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Closed For The Season.


This agony

Tests my dimensions

Inspires a grand violence of spirit

Anger is an anaesthetic

That allows me to go through

The day

Numb and shivering

And how the world goes on

Ignoring my resentment

At the callow circumstances, fate swept

The house of cards from the table

How could a love so grand and operatic

Feel so prevalent on circumstance

That the blank, warm milk

Of domesticity

Tastes sweeter than the wine

I offered.

I have lost as much as I loved.

I insinuated you, opened every door

To my heart’s mansion

Opened up as you asked me to

But the cold wind blows

Even the fire has died

And there is no one here

To keep me warm

Let me shiver to death

Cursing the world.

Yet if you peered around the door

I would let you in

Dear god, how I would




But for now, this house needs boards nailed to the windows

And I shall become a ghost,

Lost to some other place

Than here



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Funeral for a chalk painting

On the stretch 

Of even, worn pavement

You drew looping, nonsensical

Loops of colours

Fingers tattooed with chalk dust

I liked how the hair

Hung in your face

A curtain rising

On the beautiful theatre 

Of your violet eyes

The picture drew me in

Then out

And I trusted that you were 

Gentle with me

Some deep wounds beneath

This armour

But the sketch grew

From present to past

To future

But we forgot about

The rain, didn’t we?

You needed shelter 

More than the need to

Preserve something as beautiful

As it was fragile

You washed your hands

The picture trickled away


Smears, memories ingrained

In the treads of my shoes

The dust stayed

On my fingers

I keep it to remember you by

A mourner at a funeral

My name chiselled 

Into the headstone

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Shepherd strode towards the car, the brim of his hat hid his eyes, but his lips were set in a tight line, and he pumped his arms to lengthen his stride.

‘Ma’am, you know you can’t be here.’

She cocked her head to one side, blinked heavily and grinned with all her teeth.

‘Hey Jeff, how’s Molly?’

His cheeks turned red, and he looked at his feet, folded his hands at his hip.

‘She’s good, ma’am. Look, I don’t want to do this Paula…’

Paula’s smile faltered and she sighed.

‘I’m not in the park, Jeff, I just want to look at it.’

Jeff leaned forward, hands on his belt. He fought the smile, tried to make it look like the indigestion that he would get when he ate chili. He had been mortified to read about it in the memo that came down. Banned for life from all 58 of them. Acadia to Yellowstone.

Graffitti, which pissed Molly off more than him. He loved his wife, feared her a little too, which made him love her even more, and so he would allow her to carry the weight of some of his feelings on any given subject.  

‘We have a lovely gallery of photos on our Facebook page.’

He spoke mechanically, a conceit to hide his dismayed confusion.

‘Jeff, please let me be here for this.’

Her tone took him by the throat. A cracking of her voice, unable to bear the weight of her emotion.

‘It’s not even there, we had to get a specialist out to clean it off. Taxpayers money when it’s a time that people aren’t really keen on dipping into their pockets to do that.”

She ran her tongue over her lips and gazed with an earnest depth into his eyes.

‘I understand, but there were reasons, Jeff. I know I’m banned, but I need to be here.’

He took off his hat, plucked at the brim with his fingers and puckered his lips in confusion.

‘Paula. You have to go.’

She leaned forward, lifted her chin. He had never been a man that people pleaded with. He lumbered around the park, going about his work with a quiet, gruff economy that afforded him no respect but allowed him to save his energy for his times with Molly and the kids.

‘Jeff, let me stay for five minutes. I won’t even get out of the car, I can see it through the windshield just fine.’

Jeff wanted to pluck his shirt from where the perspiration stuck it to the small of his back. He could have ignored her, but one of the volunteers, anal-retentive and someone who read every memo that came through, had spotted her and so he had to act.

‘I nearly lost my job because of you’.

She put her hands forward, clasped so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

‘Please, I’ve paid a price for it. But let me explain’.

He sighed. Molly would give him holy hell for it, but he was a fair man.

‘Go on.’

She smiled and moved her hand over the door handle.

‘Can I at least get out of the car?’

He sighed and nodded his head.  He had liked her, and the wattage of her smile made him weaken.  She opened the door. She was compact, bright blonde hair and he noticed that she had cut it to blunt spikes and had lost enough weight to make her skin lose it’s elasticity at her jawline and her throat.  Her eyes blazed like precious stones and her hands shook as she bounced on the balls of her feet.

‘Do you believe in magic, Jeff?’

He grunted and shook his head. His disappointment made him take a step back.

‘Paula, come on, that’s ridiculous.’

She gesticulated around her with her hands.

‘No, come on, you work here. There’s places that you can feel it, right?’

She had a point. He would go out, oftentimes with Holly before her hip got bad, and they would hike through, legs pumping and breathing hard, feeling every inch of his body alive and tingling. The air sang in certain places, he had known that but she was soiling it with her madness. Using an ugly colour in a painting.

‘Paula, think you should stop this. It’s a goddamn insult when you try to claim that this was -‘

‘You’re not answering my question. It’s okay, I know how it sounds but listen, there’s all sorts of energy out there.’

He grimaced and turned his hat in his hands even faster.

‘Then why scrawl all over it? I mean, it’s narcissism, Paula. I thought you were better than that. You don’t get to decide that your bullshit fucks up the park for everyone else’

His voice had risen in pitch and volume. His vocabulary was spare, like a savings account that he had forgotten the account number on, but there was money there. Swearwords were large withdrawals for him. He worried about what his mother would say and she had been dead for eight years.

‘It’s supposed to look like narcissism.’

There was a high, chiming sound. Too loud and clear for the public address system. It hurt his ears and he looked around, saw children with their parents hands over their ears and the air started to shimmer.

Paula was grinning so hard it was almost ugly and there were tears in her eyes.

‘They’re coming,’ she said.

He went to ask her who was coming but the chiming grew louder, and he fell to his knees. He watched her point upwards and saw where she pointed.

The column of light shot upwards, he took Paula’s hand and began to pray.

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Our lives

Are chalkmarks beneath rain

But tonight, I am flushed

With a grand, primal heat

And the perspiration beads

On my skin

I can taste the static on your tongue

And my hands are strong

Enough to tear your clothes

From you

And I would, out here,

Show you as the lightning illuminates

And the thunder drowns out

Your gasps

Against the tree

Bark scratching against the backs of your thighs

Lifted and impaled onto me

Or in the long grass

Wrestling until we’re a tight pulsing

Knot that can only be untied

By the oblivion of release

Leave the flowers in your hair

Play the virgin ingenue

Fresh and beautiful

And I will ravish the darkness

From your bones

Tell me all the filthy fucking things

You would have me do to you

Out here

Without shame to stay your tongue

The gloss smeared across your cheek

Eyeliner running like crow’s wings to

Your temples

Your hair in my fist

Because I have forgotten

How to be gentle right now

You stole it from me

With your beauty

It is not a crime

To have you out here

Soaked to the skin

And barely feeling




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Great For Morale


They had all gathered in the parking lot just after dawn, driven for three hours and struggling to find the enthusiasm for the day ahead. Dressed in income-dependent variations on the guidelines sent in Times New Roman, littered with emoji like dead bugs on a wind screen. The tone aimed for friendly, but came across as written by a child dictator.

Judy was wrapped up in jogging pants that were translucent at the knees, sneakers with soles that had once been as thick as a childhood duvet but were now cracked and worn. She was swaddled in the sweatshirt that had been her evening and weekend uniform for years. She had scraped back her orange hair into a braid and worn little more than lipgloss.

Kandi had not gotten the memo. Kandi never did. Juicy Couture leisure suit and pink sneakers that looked like they had never left the box before today.

She had written it, after all.

When Judy learned that Kandi failed beauty school, she had snorted dishwater coffee through her nostrils. The jokes had lasted right up until Uncle Alex put her in charge of the office, mistaking accidents of birth for demonstrations of virtue.  Louise had quit and Kandi had managed to gift Tito with the dubious honour of becoming the first custodian to suffer from work-related stress.

So here they were, in fifteen pristine acres of woodland, encouraged to cheer and chant by facilitators in olive polo shirts and cargo pants. Judy decided that even wiping spilled cereal off the counter was preferable to being a walk on part in Kandi’s bullshit.  Alex was home with gastric flu, but Judy guessed that it was the kind that required treatment over nine holes of golf and a leisurely lunch.

Then, they were introduced to the final exercise. An assault course, taken in pairs with the fastest time getting a ‘prize’. The facilitators paired them up and Judy wanted to weep as one of them brought over her partner, giggling and fawning at being the centre of attention.

‘So, I wanna win this, you’d better lean in, girlfriend.’

Girlfriend. Kandi never spoke more than two words to her. Except to steal her ideas and occasionally commiserate at getting the job that Judy worked sixty hours a week and weekends for a shot it.

‘Sure, Kandi, sure.’

They were not the first to go across, that was Mitch and Rachel, who trudged forward without enthusiasm or stamina.

Laura and Paula, cringing and desperate for the day to be over.

Judy looked up at the sky, dark and thick with clouds. The whistle blew and Kandi elbowed her, sharp enough to make her wince.

Judy burned with umbrage and powered ahead. She leapt at the first obstacle, a vertical rope that required a challenge to anyone’s lower body strength. Kandi could not gain purchase, the soles of her sneakers sliding off the damp wood with squeaking noises that made her jaw twitch with frustration and humiliation. Judy was at the top, and had her left leg over the other side.

She looked down, saw the pleading light in Kandi’s eyes. Kandi reached her hand up and glared at her, the eyebulging look that said please don’t embarrass me in any language. Judy took it and pulled her up, Kandi cackled with triumph.

‘Knew you’d take one for the team, girlfriend’

Judy continued to pull her up. Kandi scrabbled up and got her leg over. Judy huffed and raised her right hand for a high five.

Kandi wiped her palm on her thigh, low so that she thought Judy didn’t see it. She raised her hand to slap with Judy’s bringing both hands off the top of the climb. Judy looked around, saw that no one was watching, the facilitators ahead with the others, and gritted her teeth together.

She pushed hard.

Kandi fell.

Judy realised that today was going to be great for morale after all.



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Globes And Columns

The fullness of you
Ripe like summer orchards
A harvest and I claim it all
Globes and columns
A sweet density
That begs for
My attentions
Calmly amused
By your play
Unmoved on the
My resolution
In the face of the
my strengths
Have made you
Shown that the
Old conceits
Hold no sway
And new realisation
Terrified you with
The force of your
Become your
Fears because
They don’t suit you
And in surrender
I shall
Fuck that weak
Tired fear from you
Make you ache
With a want to
Level mountains

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Born In A Storm

Sometimes it feels like

The brief respites

Are placed in sadistic proximity

To the slow, grinding horrors

The minor key disasters

Like you were born in a storm

That has never ended

So long that you cannot

Feel the rain any longer

But soaked and shivering

Learn to smile again

Accept that when the lightning

Comes, it will be too sudden

A thing to feel, ushered into

Another storm