Greater solace


There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape


and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window


expecting to fly


now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained


and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream


and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura


you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater



The house burned

elsieThe house burned

like it was made of mirth

combusting into pink fire

licking awning trees of bark

only in quiet the ebbing surge

crackling the ending of us

we stood stamping our feet

against night’s chill

aware of our crumpled clothes

out of place in uniform street

you mouthed the words

what about the photos?

we cannot replace them

I felt briefly

as if I were looking through

the albums in fast motion

here is childhood

here is love

here is loss

here is the time you broke your arm

on a sledge going too fast

oh how we laughed

until it hurt

the pictures of my grandmother

I thought I knew

her inner workings like a familar clock

turns out she held herself back

like reluctant bride still

harkens for her girlhood

turns out photos are mazes

misleading those who inherit

pieces of puzzles

we put them back together

thinking if they smile

if they look happy and well

this must be so

and call it our legacy of relatives

though they are strange in their secrets

curled like dried flowers beneath them

perhaps now that they coin and turn

to ash and like the tinder they are

evaporate into midwinter skies

to join the stars

truth will come nosing around

I felt less burdened knowing

what is right here

in this cold street

underneath the unflattering lamp

making us look owlish and long faced

is more honest than

the boxes we carried on our backs

playing pass the parcel with the past

like camels

reaching into dunes

weary from their stored