Candles and Splinters
on racks Father made;
wooden, tough, splintery, like Mother.
The cellar doors creak,
a cast latch speaks
with a clatter as the doors shut fast.
My hands search for matches–forbidden matches–
and candles–forbidden candles–
a saucer to catch the wax.
The scent of apples, gift-wrapped in old newspaper,
blend with candle cologne.
I breathe the clagging coal dust
in the darkness of the cellar.
A dozen steps down
from the sliver of a frown,
on the brow of a peevish mother,
her ire aimed at me
for climbing the ancient oak tree.
‘Not ladylike,’ she said,
–raised her hand–I ran–
I’m caught in a soft candle glow.
Today’s the day,
today’s the day they die.
In every line,
on fine-boned faces,
in bowed heads,
starved slump of shoulders,
nooses around necks,
the way city keys
in hot hands
held against hurting head,
today’s the day.
Today’s the day they die.
the envoys’ walk,
sandals tied with string
shuffling through dust,
as grit cuts;
rope pares skin.
they stumble to the square
as yet unaware,
today, they’ll be saved
by a claim,
an infant yet to be born.
The Welsh God, Mabon, celebrates
when day is equal to night.
Days grow darker,
nights grow longer
the sun’s power dies away.
Vermillion leaves yellow and fade
Soak the leaves with paraffin,
inscribe with runes
-set them alight-
with meadowsweet and myrrh.
Heavy vines, hefted by marching men
soft through town.
The harvest moon illumines
the harvesters’ way
to plentiful bread
and wine, carmine red.
‘Here’s to us and times a’plenty’.
Apple cider cinnamon days,
icy grey pale whey days
to All Hallows’ plight
eating soul cake through the night.
gives way to spring,
the moon will rise twice and more
First Love ☊
The piano is in need of tuning
so it can be played in key
music is my first love
rock opera symphony
I love music sheets tucked inside the seat
of piano stool beneath
music soft music loud music beautiful
uplifting and complete
Dissonance: off key
jangles discord—clang clang
the music chaotic bitter sharp
air disturbed—bang bang
Black keys and white keys
wait proud and still
for the piano tuner’s lever
(here he comes up the hill)
He plays sotto voce
presto forte staccato allegro
adagio tosto tutti vivace
tenerezza eco o o o o oh
A tonic in tune once more
affettuoso read the score
come play me piano implores
Open curtains to a corker
of ghost-mist, murky October
looming, veil draped, dim and wet,
grey robed, bone frail, cold sober.
Riding from far North they came
through snow and sleet and sheeting rain.
Ice formed behind them, frosted, cracked
red dragon scales, in parts, looked blacked.
On wings sheer clipped, their fire breath quenched,
onward, moving South, they went.
Flying ahead of the sunset West:
werewolves; sprites in fiery vests;
pixies pointing ears to learn
where coal black jackdaws crash and burn.
There is no place to hide.
Then from the sunrise in the East
the faerie queen on bounding beast
the size of which sees grown elves weep.
They hear her voice so light (though deep)
control the slavering ride.
Inch by inch from the dry drought South
carrying dead sheep in its mouth
the Kraken, skin scabbed, wracked and ripped
scouts for the havering hare who nips
at the frail fingers of sylvan wamblers.
not sorry yet
four-year-old legs pumping running away
ma shouts after me ‘come back’ sister wails
ma is livid i pushed the bowl downstairs
this is how she sees it it is my fault
a tall ten-pint goldfish bowl three goldfish
i run down the meadow behind our house
it is hay-making time yellow grass scent
and dust tickle my nose and make me sneeze
sneeze stops me for long enough she catches
me i have glanced behind in my run and
seen her struggling with my little sister
but ma is grim-faced and determined that
i will be caught and punished it was an
accident i tripped knocked into the bowl
which bounced down each stair fish flying water
arcing the finest mirrored droplets splash
the sound of breaking glass tinkles downwards
she comes out of the kitchen babe on hip
and roars ‘nooooo’ i flee out the open door
my legs pump i feel my heart i hear my
breath coming jagged i smell the hay i
sneeze she catches me she screams thrashes me
and at each step thrashes me again all
up the meadow back into the house she
is crying hot angry tears me howling
mortified indignant rebellious
an accident i sob my jaw jutting
i am but four-years-old not sorry yet
Funereal drapes and grey shadow
fingers; faded velvet hangs;
streaks the blackened room.
The alcove portrait scowls
–surveys the family–
gathered, they eat cake.
Boy puts crumbed hands to face;
the portrait stares
with wrathful eyes.
Boy wishes for warmth
away from the glare,
the daggers of the portrait.
No one else sees.
Uncle picks up the folio
below the portrait;
lines mirror down the sides
of his mouth.
The boy views the face
he will become:
same beetling brows,
same shock of black hair.
Detective — Noir
His slinky girl
and seed pearls--
with the fairies;
is a dead giveaway.
She can tell
by the smirk
he’s got another skirt.
Who is she?
by what she thinks,
—has not detected--
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