Studio notes, now I’m almost 22

she wore pebbles in her socks
furred lamb ears
curl pale green frosted mahogany
chlorophyll crumbles into plant pots
are ceramic
and I’m scared of dropping them
remind me to paint my hands my nails
bring a hammer to nail
copper rusting
plated oracle orifice
are you ready for your tutorial now
take this would you
the pain
paint has gone pink now
stinging syntax in my curls
remember to brush my hair
tangled its getting knotty
mum, I’ve forgotten the list
again scramble the eggs
cracking, splintering cheap
tables dragged from the charity shop
shop shop stop reeling
in receipts
papers burn up
a lighter misplaced
another chapter
felt through
an interrupted act
of notation
in fragmented lapses
lapse into an over-indulgence of
burning caffeine
burning tongue
speaks singed truths

Letters to R, now I’m almost 22

The lampshade asked for an invocation
then table talked
lampshade regarded
as skin sheets stretched
spines pulled up
cracking sparking
lighters snapping into dark
evening sags,
a wetness
in the kitchen
basin buckles beneath
piling plates
pieces of clay
pieces of skin
pieces of pieces
of blue I want
to wash away
scrub fairy liquid,
the faeries in the house are dowsing me in
something sedative
sweet and swirly in
the glass
could cut bite me
so I’m trying to sit tight
like the leaning tower of cups but
I took your towel and used it
took your gown and used
took your embrace and I
didn’t know what to do,
in consternation that the mattress
would lurch springs would
throw the towel in
the sink,
worried that I might break
like plates again,
pile all the washing onto you
didn’t mind,
held my hand this time
and I went red
like Matisse’s Red Studio,
went cadmium like threads lining
lampshade in the corner
is still gawking,
gaping mouth
why I am here
to which the table, still coked up and talking,
echoed because he needs
a new night light
because she needs
southern comfort
because I took your embrace
and I didn’t know
what to do,
but held it
tight, skin sheets stretching
cracking spine
of books
buckle, breathe, bend
under warm hands
are for piling
switching off night
light, small pale reliquary,
took your embrace,
and quietly gave some back.



Letters to R, now I’m almost 22

 I’ve been thinking a lot about your letter poem
speaks letters
26 letters in the alphabet hold
26 moments
hold 26 minutes have gone through a podcast marathon
and I’m thinking about how we both have 21 years,
two siblings a girl a boy
roots in the midlands
roots to the mother to Mary to martyrdom in the middle lands of our bodies
have bumps and curves and red girders that fall through every month,
I think about how much you mean to me
your hair the grey the silvery blue
eyes you have such beautiful eyes
see, I think about how much we both have two siblings a boy a girl
how you’re into girls
how I’m not sure
how you love a girl a home rooted in the middle
land, here in Leeds I think about how I wish I had a girl a boy
a home rooted in the lands near the middle
beneath me
I hold this raging red girder
oh ruby, I am thinking so much about
what happened in
the room behind the living room
intimacy too much
too much darkness
in the dark
we became softly lit altar
breathed reverence
cradles sibilance peppered with husk sighs
small mouth utters ciphers
bleeds aphrodisiac
eyes your eyes his eyes
catch energy, release it,
low burning light at 5am
there was a fire.
Oh Ruby, I am thinking about bodies coming up
coming back to Leeds back to pharmacies back to you,
oh Ruby. I haven’t needed your letters so much ’til now.

Now I’m almost 22 I’m paying more attention, paying more reading more

For Levonelle
“Between £22 to £35 depending on when” you
had it, in the crease between indexes
in the crease between sheets
in the crease between these
legs crease endless origami fold
I want to nestle down
In the spread of pages opened smoothed read revisited
I want to smell your soft spots
smell of almonds
and a sleeping bag unfurled
in a London flat,
pink seeps quietly in ribbons
of pink quietly seeps in ribbons
of moans we try to
suppress, but sometimes
I think you’ve got prettier softer
sighs shapes bathe
in a nightshirt
I want to sleep in
I want to sleep in this
bed this night,
saw a party of musicians strumming plucking
nylon strings threaded strings heart
strings a bunting
cased in white powder chocolate cake too rich to eat,
so you took yourself from the room for Chinese,
the only shop not shut
the only eyes not shut to inhale your back
you’re back to the party after hours
and I thought I’d lost you
and you thought I’d lost you,
I’m sorry you said outside in a garden of musicians strumming
I’m sorry you said inside
a garden of sheets waxed
pink quietly moans
I’m sorry,
that’s £22 for
nestling suppressing
I’ll come back when banknotes crease in indexes
to self –  a friendship with you costs.

Now I’m almost 22 I’m paying more attention, paying more reading more

For Merce Cunningham
These times
make me want
to take off my skin
and dance in my bones.
Merce and I share a name
share a love
but Merce is a better dancer,
tangling with spatial openings
spatial listening
listens to a rhythm from inside
only he can hear
his arms exclaim
legs twist writhe a prayer
on floorboards where feet prints show names
show eulogies
show silence moving a priori,
Merce dances dances dances alone
dances away scenarios
confronts only in two step
confronts only in steps to
a beating
chest beating
heart beating
beaten out of breath
Merce has left me out of breath,
rattling rambler
rattling iambics
turn over fall rise
lunge, to a cadence now playing
from afar
feel the moment’s weight,
plumbing what this phrase is offering
up, leaps again anticipating
a bar of notes descending
Merce is descending back
to land
to poise
to gather himself once more.
These times
make me want
to take off my skin
and dance in my bones.
To dismantle, dance and take off.


Notes from Turner Prize, Tate Britain

Roman Ondase makes
I make New Observations 1995/2018, though I’m from ’97,
we place ink/cloth against glass
after a frenzied Turner Prize whip-around,
seeing Charlotte Prodger
living landscape as individual
we’re mapping this geography this body
has self determination –
determine text and spoken narrative
on level as dialogue together
fragmented constant rolling
process of enfolding
holding sandy stone – figures
are Neolithic
Mother – standing in her heart
trace ontology
is a hot medium
has a wide bandwidth
wide width woman built her own
stands Olivia Records,
they were in need of
hot despotism


For people who Frieze

A Frieze of notes for money I exponentially spend
For people who Frieze
Everyone is feeding off art
in their black
on black layered minimalism
with a touch of look at me
but all low-key
subtle I am an artiste, of course
everyone is beautiful
European Masters
line this promenade
through Regents Park
your decadence,
here and here
and oh you might as well
frame it on every wall floor
surfaces cost at least £100,000
but there you go
darling, pass me the
fresher monochrome minimalism
came and went
now splashed with a shock of
yellow, you are a lemon
sharp witted
dry humour
permanent pout almost,
but a crack of a smile
darling, we want to spice up this sketch
lines and lines of Celine
Gucci glasses and
received pronunciation
rolls Italian off the tip
of a tongue
of a brush
strokes leather lined purses
burst lips pop
shocks of Rothko red
absorb the splendor mothered in this white circus tent
white circus white people white sheets of
authorship –
who owns the marble stack of laundry
marble stacked in pale packaged ownership
who owns uprooted tree in a fountain of concrete
uprooted histories uprooted lives on display
set concrete in a scene for your iPhone;
oh I could keep up cynicism but I’m here
with pale packaged ownership,
slips a little
assessment ,
look really
it’s the social art section I want to be heading for
social work where people talk figures not numbers
talk families coming up not names upcoming
talk simple living, pas à la mode s’il vous plaît,
feeds this frieze of conversation
gives material to eat
everyone is eating
everyone is eating the art
and I want some too;
but I want to be fed Rothko red jam on toast,
pass it to the people outside the circus,
smuggle them in to spectate
so there’s less talks of money
and more talks of art.  
“A person becomes a poem,
a threshold…
language needs to stretch, exercise itself”
‘The Splash of Words – Believing in Poetry’ by Mark Oakley 

Murmur with starlings

mark murmurs mark ventures
into olive pools of cool
rushing hushing rivers we’re pulled into
rapids keep curving curling
shudder, we shudder with the rock abrasive

‘To Shake Sleep’ pt. II

We learn each other
half asleep,
your elbow felt beneath
fingertips spiraling on just the one spot
a solitary motion,
motionless you lie so still
ascending the curve of
your arm
where a fraction of a crack
of a scar nestles among skin cells
multiply in breaths
getting shallower, faster
I ate your words
inhaled your exhalations
blown into the nape of
my neck curls
you are curled foetal
behind me,
tanned toes fitting around mine shell-like,
smooth as fish,
I think of the sea
salt in water
salt in bedsheets
you lay tossing in
all I could feel were your eyes
burning, you’re made of clay and chalk
crumbles into linen
stitched with colours
flood my back, shoulders, blades
on loan to your fingers
the laughter, repeating frame after frame
this moment,
you had the whole scene imprisoned
the darkness now pushed inside out as light pulsed in
the darkness tried to eat you but your voice touched
in its tints and textures consumed with a calm
from your quiet breathing
before a louder sighing
bones whisper in your body hot inflamed
           you shook
                             me nervous
to leave here
to write life into paper
folds, I want to fold you,
write you, into this scene
                 you stretch
half asleep
crumbling into linen
frame after frame,
                                      this moment