Burlesque

She waits alone on a purple stage, cut
-out flat, white and black, lacking
a dimension. She waits for shape,
for music, for lightening to spark a pulse.
Her icy skin trussed in silk and lace,
satin pumps on lifeless feet.
There’s a feather in her hair,
twisted into careful curls. She’s cold
on center stage. Acid whispers
in the wings like sour dough rising.
Her fan flairs and she begins to dance.

 

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Artwork (collage and household paint on canvas) by the author.

Collision

The day the waves came,
she went out looking.
Rocks, boats slashed by winter,
White Rose half-painted on the quay.
The beach swirled diamonds,
wind down-turning creels.
The Café closed tight,
shuddering on the line
where elements collide.
The Orkney Ice Cream sign
askew by the door, keening
like a gull with a broken wing.
In the bothy he burned
a fire of peat, warming
fingers, interwoven. He breathed
the secrets of seashells into her ear.
The sky splintered beyond the window pane,
words drowning as oceans swelled a crescendo
of herring-bones and the lighthouse slowly crumbled.

 

Note 1:- a bothy is the term used for a small hut or refuge in the wilderness of Scotland.

Note 2:- Collision is an attempt at a concrete poem…the shape on the page is supposed to represent a lighthouse…well, more or less!

 

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Photograph by the author

The Gambler

His eyes spin roulette wheels,
red black in desire,
odd even with gain,
gilded in guilt,
dizzy with shame.

Words skitter,
settling on zero.
Fingers explode my skin,
keen as greyhounds
out of traps.

Like a player on tilt he loses.
Cards face down,
waiting for Lady Luck.
He shuffles, I cut.
We begin another game.

 

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Photo by the author

 

 

Unbound

One day you’ll write about us,
you said on your last visit.
A starry love story, a film…
Betty Blue meets Quadrophenia,
you said. I said,
but how will it end?
As I left you at Central Station
you said, I’m missing you already.
I said, never, remembering silence
as we drove deep through Kielder forest.

There’s a bond between us
that can’t be broken,
you wrote in your last letter.
Blood, sex, magic
you said. I said,
I’m sick of bleeding
and magic’s not real
and there’s more to life than fucking.
I want to be cherished,
You said,  that’s cloying.

Sometimes, naked on star-less nights
I Google your name and wait.

 

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Photograph by the author

Forgetting Mozart

We met the second
time in the old scarlet fever hospital.
You were pale as sea-pebbles.
We followed the beat of Arabian
drums down secret passages,
footsteps echoing on linoleum.
Rain pelted
prestissimo at the skylight.

I put Mozart on ice, played Sad
Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for you,
arpeggio style. Don’t need melody you said,
hunched in the shadows with your heroin
cheekbones and roll-ups.
You turned the lights down on your way out,
left me smeared across the ivory.
Don’t need complicated, you said.

So I learned simple chords, A major, E minor,
two of us on the piano stool, free style.
Not looking for a solo but looking
for adagio down the motorway
shooting out the window with my Lomo.
I was looking for a car crash.
I was looking for a mindless.
Don’t need money, as you took my last fiver.

We met the last time to see the sun
fall into the lake and a staccato
of crows rip from the silver birch.
In the twilight everything
was almost alright, alright?
There was a moment when I saw a new
moon over your shoulder, a moment
when we almost touched.

 

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Original image by the author

 

Time Travelers

Down separate years they traveled
to meet once more in this cold
spot, strangers now, another pit
stop along a graveled road.
In this bog country, stars
cower in the grey blanket of night.
Before her, an old man, uncertain by the fire,
peat and pine logs still sparking
center stage. Shuffling feet, hands stretched
out for comfort and heat. Hard lines; won
and lost this pretty gypsy boy, no longer choosing
time in the Tempest Café.

She’s potent pink in the front row, sipping
gin fizz, icy as her fingertips. She drifts
across the borderline, remembering
wine breath slithering her skin,
the slip of red silk and the unzipping
of their youth. Oh, there was a time!
There was a time when paint flowed
unhindered across white.
Instrument against his thigh, he strokes the long, smooth
neck, notched like bone, a diminuendo encore. Strumming
her mouth, plucking her eyes, hammering her heart until
she slides, fret free, from her fucked-up life.

 

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Original image by the author