Friday, 31 August 2012

Lullaby in Arms

Close your eyes, and put your arms
around me, I don’t need you to see;
just feel…stop this
ever-spinning wheel
we call life, and walk your mind away,
lie down
in my embrace, and stay,
and let me still you a while, let me kiss
your beautiful smile
until you forget
how the days
can be; and before I rock you
into sleep;
let me show you what the nights are for,
let me break
down all your doors and run my fingers
through your
open soul
and every wanting in you,
this is the moment we can call
pure truth, all other, a violent charade;
in the darkness, crawl,
from the dragon’s cave and leave the amour
of your wars
on the floor;
there is only passion
and grace here,
in the moments
before the acid dawn; peace,
and love-soaked sheets;
we have need of nothing more.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Still playing with 'castles and flames' for Leeds Savage Club writers' task:

Shall we build us a castle, to hide within,
and set lions at the gates? To chase all
the monsters away? Shall we lay down
a moat of deepest flames
to keep vampires
and werewolves at bay?
Shall we build our castle of no
bricks or stones,
but of arms and tender looks and
call it ‘home’,
shall we give it a roof
of dreams and wishes,
and build our bedroom of
a thousand kisses and caresses that
still us, and soothe? Shall we give it
windows of transparent truth, and a hearth
so it keeps a warm soul?
Shall we build its kitchen of secrets told,
over dinner,
of the way you smile, and of another
minute (that will make me late)
just spent it your eyes? Shall we
dig a hole in the garden for lies, and
back-fill the mineshafts with foolish
pride, to set
the foundations in trust?
Then, shall we fill our castle with love,
with music and laughter and the same
healing touch
to seek,
every evening when we draw up the bridge?
Shall we build our castle with all of these things,
so it can withstand any storm?
Shall we throw off care, and paint its walls
all the colours of joy that we please? With turrets of
blue and flags of cerise, and surrounded
by a sunset hue,
it may be 
the strangest castle that ever was,
but we built it;
and you.    

Wednesday, 29 August 2012



Drop to your knees, let me hold you like glass,
with grace, you and I, can worship and gasp
down throats,
all the ways we would honour one another,
stroke me like silk and we will guard and cover
all these tender plans we have made,
dip in hot liquids with burnt tongues and taste,
all the things tomorrow can hold,
lie down in sugar, and syrup, and
roll until nothing but sweetness prevails;
tell no lies and tell no tales, keep no secrets to set in
and rot, make yourself more
than naked,
give me now all you have got, lest I really
know who you are,
point to each graze and every beautiful
scar and I will show you what splendour is there,
tear lumps
from the insides of me,
just tease…and wildly explore,
tell me all things you have ever thought,
or dreamed of, open all your doors,
let me make you blind and come in,
and you and I can touch every sin until
we shatter
like splintered ice;
we exist
only for nights, where we scratch,
and scream, and wholly bless,
sacred touch, and ties, and
tender caress beneath moonshine
and the anguish of restrained wolves,
knowing we can bring the world down around us,
if we only let go; 
tell all;
be free,
and indulge. 


Playing with 'castles and flames' for this week's Leeds Savage Club task:  

Climb to a mountain’s summit with me,
stop me with eyes across the burning dew,
perhaps we could build a castle here,
in the calm,
amongst swallows,
and skies of ice-blue:
let me smooth and dissipate
any raging tempests in you, and bring down the angels  
to set us a roof,
and we’ll see, my darling, we’ll see…

just as soon as you lay more than eyes
on me and push your fingers inside
my soul, fling out a sail
to stop the roll
of my savage and daily seas; catch my heart in your
hands, strike up the band, and start the dancing
through those clouds we hide our heads in,
waltz with me until the sunset is begging
us home,

to lie together,
and make sugared stars fall,
calling us forth to fell castle walls and strike
a match to light the moat on fire,
asking the moths to fly
our desire to a place it can do no harm,
a place where we only
slow each other’s hearts,
lie in arms, and float a world away;

come now, my love…
we have time enough…
let’s walk up our mountain today.


Monday, 27 August 2012



Come, you, bearer of light,
touch me, and eat me,
hold me tighter and feel me…
…gorge on me…
…and taste…
kiss me and chase all these ghosts away,
devour me and delve, pour your bad things in,
expel and fill up
this little
sin bin. Roll me in roses
and let the thorns tear, let the saints
and the angels stare,
like fire,
and the glowing stars,
the bricks of this castle
leave holy scars, whenever
we crash them down, and you and I
crawl on the ground in something
the others
call shame and dirt;
to us it is simply a courteous confession
of hard nights and tougher lessons
learned in gospel days,
and we scratch and beat, and caress
them away, however we please…or need…
and barely able to see or breathe past tongues,
and breath and pleasure and greed, we fall
to our unrepentant knees and pray one another, 
lay your hands, and your eyes,
on me, and have nothing to say:
let it rain, my demon,
lay down, 
be damned,
and stay:
we have sacred hearts…now sell me your soul…
what else would we do today?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012



give me your day,
all your horror and your sweetness,
kiss me and rain them down my throat ‘til I am breathless,
talk with your tongue, and your eyes; no speech;
just draw with your fingers
all your crosses on me. Give me your thorns, and your
nails, and stay…nights are lone reasons for
battling in days, lie only
when the depth of your weakness
is almost too much
to stand,
slip your morning into my hand and
your afternoon
wherever you please,
rock me and hold me and let me tease all else
from your weary head, give me only your heart instead,
and with all your secrets
so silently told,
let me lay you down, my love,
and caress your soul like you have never felt,
let me melt your demons
and stroke them away, claw where all
the bad things would play, until they each come free
…and aching with blind
and writhing release…
you pour them, one by one, in 
to me. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012



“I would have sent you flowers today,”
you sighed, as we watched 
the autumn rain, both of us a distance away, 
and I wished you 
a sort of birthday of dreams. 
Little then did it ever seem, when you
dragged your fingers across my skin,
that you also stroked to life 
my sound-sleeping soul…until my window
dripped with molten gold and all 
those, beautiful reminders. 

Your voice on the line was the only remainder
of time we spent, long ago, 
with a lily, on a hill; 
when even with the best 
will in the world, the edges of the flower still 
rolled and curled, in the sepia of a memory past.
And you smiled down the wire and told me now  
cast off any woeful penchant I may hold,
for beside the dying lily, you said,
on the horizon, you had seen a rose.

I asked you if the rose was new,
and you shook your head and said the bloom had always 
been there: “it’s in your eyes,” you whispered, 
“in your touch, how you move, your hair…and I wanted
so to show it to you…but I did not dare;
for whilst we grieved the loss of the lily,
it was at the rose I
could not help but stare.”  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

#Fridayflash - The Minotaur


Like the slow ooze of crude oil, it crept into his stomach; ice cold. Sat there, low and heavy, like he’d swallowed one of the sodden sand bags that had kept a primeval soup of leaves, cars, and the daily filth of other lives from his affluent, rural door in the floods last summer.

He welcomed back a reluctant friend in fear…shameful, most excruciating fear. The kind that warranted the clich├ęd cold sweat that soaked his collar. Rupert could feel himself start to shake, and tensed to avert the horror of it. Fine that he should be afraid…but that it should know him to be afraid? – Never!

All dripping yellow teeth and glowing eyes, it towered at him…an awful, yawning chasm in the corner of the rose garden, where it festered, and chased small things in torturous circles. Small things that could have been him.

Rupert had been told about things like this as a boy. The stuff of nightmares, that paralyses… The stuff that you never believed existed when your dad sat on the end of your bed at night and told you stories to make you afraid of the dark.

‘All boys should be afraid of something, son’…all boys had to live through fear, Rupert remembered. His Prep School headmaster had always agreed with his father when he said that…knarled old bastard…said it built a solid character. ‘Never trust a man who claims he isn’t afraid of something. He is dangerous, and a liar.’

Rupert could not lie, he had never felt less solid… His insides had putrefied to a thick liquid that he was certain was impending vomit. In the face of the beast before him, with its viscous claws exposed and flea-infested fur matted above a thrashing tail, he searched for any trace of the military focus his father had tried so desperately to breed into him by gene pool, by carrot, and by stick. 

As Theseus to the Minotaur, armed with a shovel and a ball of garden twine, Rupert prepared to do battle. Courage…he remembered, is facing that which terrifies you. Even if it is so terrible you can barely bring yourself to look…

As he swallowed rising bile and acid in his throat, a great warrior took the shovel from Rupert’s hand, and brought it swiftly and decisively down upon the Minotaur’s head. There was no sound…it jerked…once, twice…death throes, and fell still…bleeding from the ear. Rupert pursed his lips to contain the acrid liquid as he gagged and vomited into his mouth.

Sarah scooped the dead mouse onto the shovel and dropped it into the compost heap.

“Little bastard…”, she spat. “It was after my seeds”.  
Okay...maybe it's not quite 'horror' per say... ;)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Edge of the World

Written at High Force nr Barnard Castle, County Durham. Close to where my mother was raised and where we spent many joyful times together when I was a child. A good and happy place for washing memories.   

I stood on the edge of the world today
and finally realised I couldn’t have saved you; I
stared right into the watery blue,
like your eyes,
and I truly forgave you all
that you could never see. I dived from a cliff top,
somewhere inside of me,
and I suddenly knew: You

had only ever been afraid; and fear is always
the mother of pain where no courage
delivers words of grace.
And though you likely had much to explain, anger
was all you could really face, and I
told the deepening  yesterday-lake,
it wasn’t my fault,
and it wasn’t yours…

it was only the opening and closing of
doors, and opportunities to hurt,
of old and broken
stones of trust, and terror that I would not stay.
I know now, it has never been too late…courage still
can heal so much, foolish pride could never say.
I stood on the edge of the world and I let it all go today,

over the waterfall and float away, upstream,
leaving behind my happiness, and dreams I could follow freely:
You didn’t mean to do 
the things you did to me, you were only ever scared to be
honest, about what old scars can do,
and to forgive and know
that this is truth,
I find is all it takes, 
to smile often 
when I remember you.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Adventures in Time

A belated birthday present to a wonderful friend. 
Let's make an adventure;
the way we used to,
when time was nothing to me and you,
when we would trace our souls
with satin hands,
safe in exactly who I am,
and who you are,
and worshipped for it.
Let's go back
to that
glory, when you and I were still becoming,
thumbing through the pages of both our lives,
paths to be laid, side
by side, every day,
promising one another
we would always say the truth,
more love-drunk than sober.
Let's go back to the fields of clover we'd
lay in for long afternoons,
let's go back to the sand dunes we
talked through in evening light,
to the ecstatic simplicity of October nights and
a pint in the grass,
to a blanket by the river and to skipping
class...let's just
take a day, and make the impossible
play out,
with a bottle and the blanket again, and
be who we've been
for all these years,
and who we are going to be
No edge, no thoughts,
just time borrowed, only,
for you and me,
whilst we help each other remember,
our brand of joy
is still abundant,
and free.

To my dear Capt. N.D., here's to mindlessly blowing annual leave in the interests of being 18 again! You're amazing. Much love, as always, P.J.R. xXx 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

#Fridayflash - The Sand Man


It is not yet light, and somewhere behind me, someone is laughing. They’re probably not laughing at me, but it feels like it. I do the last thing you should do when you’re trying to pretend something doesn’t bother you…I turn around, and look at what’s bothering me.
The laughing man meets my eyes…perhaps that’s pity I see in his, or he’s mocking me…or he’s trying to pretend I don’t bother him. I don’t know, but it’s making me very confused. The man laughs harder when he sees I don’t understand, and I suddenly feel very young and stupid and like he knows everything I should know, and realise, and he finds my naivety very funny. He laughs harder and harder then, louder, throwing his head back in superiority, until all his features melt together and he seems to dry out before my eyes, the power of his laughter exploding him into a choking cloud of sand. Even though I feel sick at the thought of it, and I deliberately don’t inhale, the sand somehow fills my eyes and my throat and I can’t breathe…and still, he is laughing at me, through the molecules and grains he has become, and his laughter penetrates, becoming a heavy part of me.
Barely awake, I stretch out my hand under the covers, searching for Joe, for the comfort and warmth of him. Needing, after such awful humiliation, to feel close and wanted, but he isn’t there. The bed beside me is cold, and I don’t look at the clock. Joe doesn’t sleep well, he will have gone outside so as not to disturb me. The laughter from my dream rings in my ears and I feel small and silly, and tearful…I almost get up to look for Joe, but it would be selfish of me. He likes to walk when he can’t sleep, be alone with his thoughts, and it turns out, as I move my head on to the corner of his pillow, that just his scent, and my memory of our early night, is enough to comfort me. I wipe my nightmare away with my tears and I go back to sleep.   
This morning, as I make the bed, I brush the sand from the sheets at Joe’s side, onto the silvered boards of our bedroom floor. Pushing open the glass doors to the terrace, I pad out through them in my bare feet, wearing one of Joe’s shirts. He must have come out here for air last night whilst I slept; my own feet are instantly gritty.
It’s fresh and warm outside this morning. I feel the early sun on my bare legs and the skin of my forearms, and I smile…and I feel like the luckiest woman alive. The scent of the sea and the noise of waves crashing on the beach envelopes me, and the coastal morning warmth caresses my skin like last night’s kisses. The breeze billows the curtains, and my hair, like tender fingers. Licking the salt from my lips, I wrap my arms around myself to hold on to this feeling. If I had a cup of coffee right now, with far too much milk in it, there couldn’t be a more perfect moment.
The paper-boy goes past, trudging through the sand in board shorts and a vest. He is pushing his bike through the remnants of a smouldering beach fire, not quite out, and tosses the paper through the terrace railings, at my feet. I breathe the acrid, spent cinders and heated tyres, as I look down at its headline: SANDMAN STRIKES AGAIN.
My dream flashes back to me for the briefest of moments and I push it aside. My day is too beautiful already, to spoil with bad news about recent, local misfortunes. Though half my heart wonders which family is grieving their daughter today, and which dune she was found buried in this time.
With Joe left for work already, I throw open all the doors and windows to the sea air and let the perfect day seep into the bones of the house. I make that cup of coffee in the kitchen and pick up the paper from the terrace, placing it on the breakfast table on my way to the shower. The advertisement will be in it today - I have a concert on Saturday, and my piano bids me practice through the open doorway of my studio as I pass.
I pin my hair up, towel wrapped around me, and dry in the sea breeze as I eat breakfast…listening hard on my iPod to the notes in the piece I am finding most difficult to play. I flick through the paper, distracted by a notice for a weekend wedding fayre, and by my heart, and I look for my ad.
They tell you, when you’re a child, about the Sand Man. He brings your bad dreams, your nightmares; he sprinkles sand in your ear while you peacefully sleep, and he shatters your rest with unpleasant things. They tell you he’s the reason, to go quickly to sleep when your parents kiss you ‘good night’. Or at least to close your eyes, and keep them that way. You cannot look at the Sand Man, they say…if you see him coming, you die in your sleep.
I never do hear him coming above the music, but I see the Sand Man, as he covers my mouth and pushes me deftly, to the ground. He sits astride my body, huge and heavy, pinning my limbs, and I cannot move or fight. The Sand Man stuffs a rag into my mouth and slides a transparent bag over my head, and I wonder, if passing out will feel like sleep, before I die. And my dream comes back to me again, as the Sand Man is laughing at the fear in my eyes…and at the flickering recognition… You see, I know who the Sand Man is, and he was laughing all the time. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Rainbow


I followed a rainbow today,
and it led me to you,
to a blanket on the ground and
grass full of dew half-way up a mountain
we’d once tried to climb; you dragged me back,
and we talked about the passing of time and
what comes and goes in almost a year,
and it became so very clear to us both,
all that matters now
is this day,
and tomorrow. No more
time for you to borrow, I told you,
and I heard you agree,
and I laid flowers down for you as I talked
of all the places I had been and the things
I had noticed of late.
A hole opened up in the ground,
beside me,
where you,
and others
lay, and you bade me now,
put in yesterday, and any foolish guilt or shame,
and I did, and left the flowers
on top. I gathered my now, and with
a skip and a hop, I jumped back on the rainbow,
and went on my way;
not back
to any place, I had been before,
like lost and simple childhood
or moments of grace that had brought me this far,
but forward into smiling tomorrows,
carrying with me only the stars I cannot help
but follow, or the ones who profess they see,
something of promise that glows here and climb on the
rainbow, to follow me. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012



I suppose airports are the loneliest places in the world. And the most full of love. Watch the arrivals, or departures, and you see the extremes of the human heart. It’s all in the way they touch one another…goodbye…I love you…I won’t be ok without you… …welcome home…I missed you…oh…how I missed you… Or it’s in the lack of all of that…it’s in the ‘nothing’. 

I saw a piece of digital art in the gallery in town once. It was about the ‘nothing’. A film rolled around and around…people coming through the glass doors of International Arrivals, and as they walked towards the camera, they disappeared. Before anyone could greet them, they just…faded away. That, I always felt, was like the ‘nothing’. 

The first time I saw it, I sat in front of it for twenty minutes, just watching the film loop, with a lump in my throat. Perhaps, behind the cameras, there had been people to meet all of them, and I would go and watch it after that, trying to catch glimpses of joy and recognition in their eyes. Without that, I thought, it was the loneliest thing I’d ever seen. How can there be no one? 

But I was young then, and I didn’t know about life yet…about business trips, and friends and families that split themselves across seas and continents. About the things that take you away from one another, and bring you back. And sometimes, at one end of a journey, there really can be no one there when you land. No one to put their arms around you and tell you you’re welcome and you’re wanted.

So today I watch those other people too. The ones who come through the sliding glass of arrivals, or sit down heavily in the departure lounge…and take out their 'phones and their netbooks. And I’ve become one of them. Never a truer word was spoken: no man, nor woman, can be an island. There is nothing more human than needing one another, and needing to know that we are needed. Suitcase in one hand and backpacks on, they stare at their screens, and I wait to see them all smile at the words no one is able to be here to say in person:

Welcome…I missed you, I’m going to miss you…I love you…don’t go…hurry back. 

And we are all of us most beautifully lonely, and loved, at that moment…because you cannot be so without someone to miss. And life does not get more happy...and wonderful...and safe, than knowing that.
Dusseldorf-Weeze Airport - 03.08.12

Advice to an Unborn Child

(I am very soon to be an auntie)

I wanted to tell you, as you enter this world,
of all the things that I have learned, perhaps to steady
your start…above all else, speak your mind,
little one,
and better yet, darling, know your heart.
Play always, an even hand,
and steadfast,
meet their eyes,
fair chance seeds will never grow
when planted
in secrets and lies. Be honest, each and every
day that you can,
and never be afraid to stand up,
and say
what you feel and believe,
don’t let embarrassment lead you
to conceal anything that is truth;
only then will shining
begin come to you. Never let something you wanted
go, because you were too proud,
or ashamed, to say so. Pride and shame are very
stupid things, they stunt and injure and rarely bring
the fruits you crave to your table,
so be brave, my angel,
whenever you are able, and remember:
 - to receive, you must first give,
build strong bridges on this,
and you will love and be loved, 
and know
how to truly live.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Last Honey


I came home one day
and you were gone,
not a word, or a note, or a long length 
of that satin ribbon 
we’d chosen, 
to hang in farewell,
just an old pair of shoes, 
in the stairwell and your scent
on our once-loving sheets. 

I remember I closed
my eyes to keep
all the stinging tears from coming,
knowing I had never really
tasted honey, until you were here;
knowing I would never again have
you near enough 
to warm my stony nights. 

I knew you were going when the roses
turned to fights, 
long talks to silence when we dimmed 
the lights, and our passion 
was spent elsewhere,
but I’d dreamed of you so, before you were there, 
and I couldn’t help
but keep caring, long after
you left that day…

You see, despite the way I ached, 
I still had
so much to say about 
broken wings (and discarded rings) 
that can learn to fly; and there is
nothing sadder than knowing, 
after all our most beautiful times,
that there was something worth saving,
you just didn’t want 
to try.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Where the Wild Things Walk


You could almost hear the screaming soul;
all the things it wanted, but could not voice,
all the times it called, 
and hoped,
and fell on its own sharpened spikes.
You’d hear it longing,
where the dark things walked,
hear it wishing to be heard, but afraid to talk about 
any of the aching parts; you could see 
something sharp had cut
at its heart, and though it hid behind walls 
of pure lead, you could watch the pool growing larger, 
as it seeped under the
foundations, and bled; 
drowning promise
in a ruby river; 
and some moved away 
from the advancing wet sliver,
concerned to preserve themselves, and avoid the stains,
some climbed up to the highest shelves and watched the 
scarlet rain, a true 
spectacle to behold… 
Some sat still, and let it wash all over 
their skin and shining hair,
turning more crimson by the moment…
and still, the screaming soul was silent, 
barely noticing anyone was there.

The Trust Stone


If I wake up whilst you sleep,
to talk to ghosts
that keep keys
to the treasure chest,
there can only ever be more;
not less;
want and hope in me.

See, I have been told a thousand things:
‘gentle fairy’, ‘incubus’, ‘angel
without wings’…’star-voyager’,
‘heaven-sent prize’, ‘the sky is
green when I look in your eyes’…

I could only conclude they were
all untrue…as I watched the Trust-Stone
crumble into the bluest depths of sea,
and I turned all their boats away
from me, and my savage island of sand,
reaching for the next
pilgrim hand, perhaps different
this time…

So if I toss and turn and
sigh, and check beside me so now
and then,
it can only
really be said,
I never heard the rocks falling before.
I didn’t have time to run,
and bolt my ever-open doors, before their edges
put scars on my soul;

and though I welcome
new boat that moors here
as though I have never seen one,
that hanging rock
still weighs some
and few have had courage
to sit beside me,
beneath it,
and keep no secrets…

Despite the danger, I
shall never leave it,
for some day soon
I hope to lay down bricks here,
watch the waves
and see how near they lap;
and I will need my patched-up
trust-stone (and the truth) as foundation,
for you cannot build on sand to last.