The Blue Lady

One winter’s night in Ashington, Tim went looking
for paradise and found her swinging
slowly to and fro in the play park. She was singing
an old tune from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
At first he thought the canny moonlight made her blue
or a street lamp malfunction. On closer scrutiny

he was blown away by her truth; her hair of delphinium,
her eyes of forget-me not, her lips of cyanide,
her skin of palest sky, her fingers of summer solstice,
her kingfisher boots and hyacinth thighs. He forgot his need
to score and mounted the roundabout, sort of casual, like.
In a nervous, squeaky voice he offered her top-grade weed

but got no reply. She kicked up and swung higher,
carolling the refrain of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’
and laughing through teeth of gleaming steel.
So, how’s ‘bout coffee at mine then? he trilled.
She fell back to earth and followed him home.
Her name was Geraldine.

When dawn broke he woke to her singing
‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ while making breakfast.
In the bright light she was cornflower
and so was the scrambled egg, cornflakes and toast.
My touch turns the whole world blue, she said.
Looking down at his naked torso, he was amazed.

So, Tim changed the colour of his spots,
redecorated the flat, ditched drugs and shop-lifting.
He married Geraldine. Together they opened up
Blue Mood Foods, a take-away near the Crematorium.
They had two kids, Odin and Astrid
in subtle shades of ocean. They grew strange

herbs in window boxes. Their business expanded into psychedelic
biscuits on Amazon. Then the letters began; complaints
from neighbours about the changing hue of the town, concerns
about identity, concerns from Health and Safety, concerns
from the Planning Department about loss of grey.
They were served a court order forcing Geraldine to wear rubber

gloves in public places. There was an online petition
demanding her repatriation to wherever.
Odin and Astrid were bullied. They started writing poetry.
Their mother stopped singing show-tunes.
One day, she and the kids hitched a ride with the undertaker.
They were last seen on CCTV approaching the Channel Tunnel.

Tim moved to Hull and got a job slaughtering pigs.
He took pride in his work, keeping the stun gun primed
and polished by his bed, next to the blueprint family photo.

 

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The Blue Lady

Leeds 76

The ambulance man with striking
green eyes stroked the inside
skin of her teenage arm as she lay
strapped (for her own safety) on the reeking
canvas of another NHS.
If you’re a lucky girl you’ll meet Jimmy!

She thought he was, maybe
trying to be nice (but those alien
fingers were electric…) No comfort
blanket, suspended in L10 skeletal
traction, legs akimbo and knicker
-less (for her own hygiene), a monster pain
-ted by Hieronymus Bosch. The male charge
nurse with watery grey eyes brought gin
secrets in a Barr’s Cream Soda bottle, hot
take-away through her open
window of gritty nights.
She thought he was, maybe,
trying to be nice (but gin made her sick,
she liked Babycham).
The glass half
-full on the sunny side.
Cheer up, might never happen,
said the porter with lizard pink
eyes taking her down to a strip
-lit basement, down corridors
lined with conduits.
If you’re a lucky girl you’ll meet Jimmy!

 

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Photo by the author

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Missing

One by one they pass blind
through the living arch,
the children of loss following
Mother’s twisted path of breadcrumbs.
Blue birds peck at their bare feet.
The sun bubbles over yellow fields
where fat cats sleep away the shadows
of the deep purple wood.

One by one they stray,
broken children with tender skin;
tawny robin’s wing, freckled amber,
cuckoo spit, sun kissed pebble, raven’s
feather, morning mist and midnight pools,
following Mother’s cinder path
through the crystal orchard where apples
hang, red and flawless but out of reach.

One by one they stumble, feet bleeding
on Mother’s razor path of barbs
into the dark. Silver snakes encircle, whisper
warning but the children do not hear.
Their fingers seek between the snapping
branches but find no-one. Their tears
blossom roses no-one will ever see
in the depths of the purple wood.

The ancient hermit snips and sews silence
in her cave in the deep purple  wood.
She threads her needle with the fine hair
of a nameless girl, makes painstaking
stitches, a cloak of perfect skin; tawny
robin’s wing, freckled amber, cuckoo spit,
sun-kissed pebble, raven’s feather,
morning mist and midnight pools.

 

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Image created by the author

 

The Magic Mirror

I am the eye in the wall, unblinking
as you twist in your dreams.

I am mistress of deceit calling you,
naming you, mornings and evenings.

I am silver and pure delight
of thin brittle skin slithering

over your shame. Like winter
I bite envy into your bones.

Mermaids swoon in my whirlpools.
Beetles and lizards creep, frogs doze

in my tangled borderlands.
White lilies wither to bronze beneath

your selfie gaze. My heart
is a diamond you will never find.

You so want to break me
but you will only break yourself.

 

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Image created by the author

 

 

Death Row Weekend

I SAY, I SAY, I SAY

Anyone here had a go at themselves
for a laugh? Anyone opened their wrists
with a blade in the bath? Those in the dark
at the back, listen hard. Those at the front
in the know, those of us who have, hands up,
let’s show that inch of lacerated skin
between the forearm and the fist. Let’s tell it
like it is: strong drink, a crimson tidemark
round the tub, a yard of lint, white towels
washed a dozen times, still pink. Tough luck.
A passion then for watches, bangles, cuffs.
A likely story: you were lashed by brambles
picking berries from the woods. Come clean, come good,
repeat with me the punch line ‘Just like blood’
when those at the back rush forward to say
how a little love goes a long long long way.

A hard hitting poem by English poet, Simon Armitage

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Fracture

stained glass mural at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.
Photo by the author

“I seem to myself, as in a dream,
An accidental guest in this dreadful body.”
By Anna Akhmatova

I took this photo yesterday at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness where I’ve been incarcerated for several days after breaking my thigh bone and having surgery. The femur is the body’s largest bone.  During the op they inserted a titanium plate and screws.  There’s no point going on at length about the pain I’m in and the shocking inadequacy of the British Health Service which treats disabled patients as third class.  But I will have plenty more to say when I return to normal life and internet.

This stained glass mural is situated in the main entrance corridor of the hospital. One of the few good things here!