Friday, 27 July 2018


It's not an addiction
Yes, my heart races, sweat breaks out and I flush
These aren't withdrawal symptoms
They just feel that way

I am not looking for a fix
Or anyone to fix me
I do not stand here to declare that I am broken
I do not fear that alone I am meaningless
Although by your scoreboard of life
Assorted friends, career and wife
Doubtless you think my world empty

You chose them well
A job you can't lose
A wife accustomed to cheating partners
Friends whose worth you measure by how they increase your popularity
Unconscious of the kindness that makes them

And I
Alone with my cat
Crushed into a tiny flat
Adoring a man half a world away
Who barely knows I exist
Ploughing my little income into nothing
If your thoughts ever turn my way
I suspect you feel triumphant

Do not be deceived
I am not a victim in this scene
My freedom was hard won and I will never give in
My own Joan
Proud martyr to my cause

One day I awoke to discover
All I felt
Heart racing, skin flushing, sweaty
Was trapped
It's not an addiction
It just feels that way

Now I am in love
Not blind idolatry
Pouring forth until I am wrung out
A husk hurled from the thresher, full of goodness but of no worth

I am in love with me
Not you
I admire you
That's all

And why?
For all your beauty you know appearance is irrelevant
For all your privilege you support equality
For all your intelligence you don't equate idiots and fools
For all your faults, you're a romantic at heart

And I do not stand here waiting for you
You orbit beyond my reach
I stand here to enjoy the view
To partake of your offerings when I can
And I can stop
At any moment

Your smile speeds my heart
Careless flirting causes sweat patches
A casual compliment makes me blush
You are not an addiction
You just feel that way

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Love hurts

Love hurts ferociously
Like the dance of a newborn star
Swirling savage lights across the sky
Tearing the world apart
Knowing it can't be forever

Love hurts in loneliness
Isolated and silent
Knowing that it hurts you
To know I suffer

Love cries in the darkness
Because you are suffering
Because you deserve so much better
Because you are leaving

Love hurts
It hurts so much to be apart
It hurts to see you
White and drawn
It hurts to know you suffer

Love will smile
Love will be a light in darkness
Love will hold your hand
Love will not forget you
And love will hurt

[For Mum, in memory of Dad]

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Hazy memories

Everything is so comfortable and hazy. I drift through a sleepy fog to comfortably arrive at wakefulness, feeling arms and legs wanting to be stretched. As I oblige, I become aware of the foreign object beside me.
Everything is hazy still. It's a very large and warm object.
Shifting froom woozy wakefulness to alertness, I mentally check myself for pain. There is none.
Relieved, I check for clothing. Also none.
OK then. But to be fair, not really an indication of anything.
The large thing is silent. Maybe it's a pile of cats. Maybe I became that woman and forgot.
Other senses intrude on my wishful thinking. That's a very masculine deodorant smell.
I try to cudgel memories but there are none to be found. What was I doing yesterday?
Why hasn't the cat jumped on me?
When did I get green curtains? And start sticking up film posters?
Hang on a minute...
I don't want to disturb the lump who clearly lives here, so I gingerly sit up and glance around.
A splash of neon orange catches my eye and the memories come flooding back.
There was a 60s themed festival. I'd been loaned an outfit.
A dead hamster falls off a chair and I flinch. Oh yeah. I borrowed a wig too.
We'd partied hard - I started drinking at 11 and didn't stop. There was a barbeque. And music.
And the really hot guy.
Oh boy, him.
Did I really get that lucky?
Triple X rated scenes flash into my mind.
Ohh, yeah.
That lucky and more.
No wonder he's tired.
I stretch again, then snuggle down and nap. Hopefully I'll need the rest.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Open your eyes

Open your eyes. Wider. Wider still, child, do not be afraid.
Do you see?
But no. For if you did, it would be impossible to remain mute.
Do not gaze upon me, child. I am nothing.
Look out there.
Look. Beyond the light, beyond the storm, into the dark.
Not at the sun, my child. It will burn you. Look past the sun.
Look past and open your eyes.
Wider still.
And now...
Now I know you see.
Upon my first sighting I cried a wordless sound.
Others I have shown have gasped.
Many weep.
All are moved.
That is why I bring you here.
And now you must leave.
Do not seem so betrayed.
I have blessed you with a precious gift.
You have seen the truth of things and it brought you joy.
And now you must return to the world you came from
The world where lies are all you see
But for moments of grace where the truth finds its way to you.
I know you would be happier to never have seen it
But those who think they cannot be happier
Never strive to improve their world.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


The tears well from deep within
It's a pain so intense,
so durable,
scars cannot staunch the flow
merely divert their path

A fire rages savagely
to hurt makes me angry
to feel such fury
tears at my heart
brambles crushing tightly
squeezing moisture out
by any means available

Eyes weep
Nose dribbles
Stomach churns
all wanting to release fluids

Every orifice expelling whatever it can

Nose blocked
I choke
Fear takes a hold
and I feel a new pain

Bitter resentment for this
All of this
That I could hurt this way
That you could betray me
That you could leave me
That you couldn't love me

And still it rises
Up and up
Ever seeking the peak
Desiring a crescendo
It's never enough
There is no pinnacle
There is no hurt so great that all others cease

And now
I know
All the pain and hurt
Will carry on
With or without me
It's not me that makes it
It's me that chooses to stick with it

After all
Pain is a figment of the imagination
A way for you brain to convince your body
It's in danger
emotions lack a myelin sheath
I cannot feel this
I'm not ready to stop


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Through the night

It's a long night
Following an Amanda Palmer gig
I have to drive home
For hours
I should feel more alone

Graham and Kylie are charting her fame alphabetically
I need fuel
You come to mind

Amanda talked about painful things
At least the baby didn't die
And her honesty and grace
Did it shame or empower?

I lost track of my location a while back
I know the route and I guess
Since the traffic that had built up around me
has gone
and the other side is crowded
I just passed a city exit

Cats eyes draw trails into the sky
Curving into oblivion
Aside from the few distant taillights they corral
The roads are empty
Jools and Cerys are talking about jazz
You persist

It's a weird deja vu
To hear introduced
A repeat of last Sunday's Sounds
Of the Seventies
And I don't understand why
I can't stop thinking of you

She said
You felt right to me
And I get it
I do
What the hell is this?

It's safe

I want to be
In love
But I don't want it to hurt

Which is stupid.
So stupid.
Of course it will hurt
If it's going to give me the rush
Change my brain chemistry
Give me words
It has to hurt.

You can't hurt me
So you're taking up time and space
Comforting me
Until I'm ready for the blade
All I can hope
Is that it doesn't scar
This time

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The blade will come

The pre-dawn light made the world look cold, although the sweat already trickled down the back of her knees in the stifling humidity. She walked briskly, her confident stride disregarding the instability of stiletto shoes and a pencil skirt, the gunshot echo of her every step shaking the dawn chorus from its smug performance.

There are no shadows at this hour - or rather, everything is equally shadowed and your eyes are so attuned to the darkness that the influx of light seems overwhelming. Had there been shadows, he would have lurked in one.

His breath rattled from his open lips, laden with tobacco he'd inhaled over the decades. The deep pools under his eyes told of sleepless nights, heavy drinking and a need for stimulants to keep him moving. He was a man who once lived on his wits and adrenaline, reduced now to a presence that could not menace her.

She drew up to him and eyed him coldly. Her eyes passed over a suit that had once sat across broad shoulders, a shirt that began as a glistening white. Without being stained or dirty, he was clearly unkempt, ramshakle, run-down.


Her question was met with a sullen shrug.

"He's dead."

"Dead?" The question is flat. No surprise, horror or disbelief could come near that crystal clear voice.

"He was driving carelessly." Her expression asked when they could get the theatrics over with. "Out of a plane."

"Do you recall what you were tasked with?"

"Release a microbot into the Russian banking system."

"So why did you feel the need to take a plane ride?"

"It was a lovely day for a trip somewhere su-" Her eyebrows raised, forestalling his quip and he sighed. "The bank clerks were talking about a dirty politician and I recalled his name from the file. I followed him. He made a beeline for the airport and was on the phone talking about the bot. I had to take him out."

"On the basis of gossip, you chose to stalk a foreign government official, without first consulting the department?"

"It was the job that needed to be done!"

"The job that needed to be done was the installation of the microbot. Did you do that?"

"Yes, of course."

"You released the microbot in the correct location?"

"Yes, but it was a waste of time. It didn't do anything."

"Did it occur to you to turn it on?"


"Following your mission, you have jeopardized our information gathering by leaving a crucial piece of our hardware to be discovered and tampered with by Russian forces; you have almost killed a member of the Russian government who was passing vital information to one of our ministry when you were spying on him; and by virtue of crashing a private jet into a city stadium you've single-handedly wiped out five percent of the Andorran people."

Further silence.

"You have always been reckless and careless, Bond, but this is as far as you can go. These days we need men we can rely on."


"M, to you, Bond. And not that either, any more. Your time is over."

She turns and walks away. The rising sun has begun to paint the brickwork around him in a warm golden hue. It seemed somehow fitting that he should go out in a blaze of glory, but he wasn't yet ready to leave. Before he could cry out to her, a business man rounded a nearby corner and bumped into him. He cursed, and gasped.

Hours later a policeman tried to move the homeless man along, only to discover he had been impaled on a rusty penknife. Just as well, the autopsy would confirm. If he hadn't gone out so quickly, so kindly, he would have fallen to systematic failure of multiple abused organs. Another John Doe who had destroyed his life via drugs and alcohol.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Memory eater

Silence falls like fog and through the stillness I swim, seeing the truth of people when the weight of time is lifted from their frames.

An ancient man, bowed and broken over his zimmer is released and the shadow of his self becomes known - a man of dignity and composure. A man of peace. Thankfully, he is living in the moment, not reflecting on his glory days. That will help me.

There, where the children play, even they bow to time and their freed spirits are reaching out, pushing their physical boundaries and mingling as a crowd save one. One girl sits alone, a battered spirit shrinking and afraid, delicate as a spring blossom. I will help her, but she is not why I'm here.

The man with his arm around the woman - he is spring sunshine, she is scaly malevolence. That will end poorly.

It is the silence that unsettles me most. Light is not bound by time, and wouldn't it blow the minds of physicists if they knew? But without time, sound cannot form. I cannot hear my heart beat. I cannot hear my breath. I cannot hear any of the murmuration of bodily functions we take for granted day in and out.

There. I see it. A quicksilver flicker, seemingly all around. I hunt, and so does it.

My body closes its eyes and breathes deeply. the seconds that pass in its physical form akin to years and nothing in this space without time. The purpose of the action is to settle me, nothing more. I am focussed now.

I cast a lure - all these people around me are focussed on the here and now, but what it wants is the memories that are not yet formed. "I mustn't forget to water the plants," I muse. A pulse of light. It has heard me. "I won't need my phone for this," I think, deliberately moving my hand towards my purse.

A ripple shivers through the stillness and in the silence I fell it hone in on me. Now for the tricky part.

It strikes, faster than I could imagine, but I am ready and turn away. It catches me a glancing blow and I cast my net wide. It is caught.

Guilt catches me off guard. I know they don't belong here, this environment is killing them and harming us, but they are so beautiful. Being forced into captivity is a horror when you stand outside of time. As soon as possible we will release them into their natural habitat, but while we transport them they will be suffering terribly.

Perhaps not. Perhaps they can stop being aware. Perhaps it doesn't affect them.

I gather my net with the squirming beast inside and quietly grieve. My journey is long and instantaneous. The gateway stands guarded now, but these creatures came through before we knew of it. I approach with my burden which stills. Perhaps it can hear the soundless cries of its people.

At the gateway I release it. I don't force it through. We thought in the beginning that maybe they were escaping something to come here, so it is the rule to give them the choice. As always, there is only a pulse and the beast is gone, passed over to its home.

I return to my self as my exhale completes and think of Twitter. I can't remember where I left my phone. Frantically I pat my pockets then search my purse and find it there, where I always put it. Why can I never remember?

Monday, 26 March 2018


Time passes. Painted faces bleach in the sunlight. Dirt accumulates on varnish and grime permanently adheres itself to polished surfaces.
Outside the sun rises and sets, the clouds and stars whirling to a tune orchestrated by the universe.
Birth and death march through the world, each taking their chance at destroying and redeeming it.
And in a corner of a long abandoned jewelry box, a tiny jewel is caught between splinters. Engraved upon it are the words never spoken, the question never asked, the hopes and dreams never revealed.
Can you forgive me?

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Please help me Josh

Dear Josh

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I doubt you're aware of my existence, but I became a fan/ developed a humongous crush on you after my marriage fell apart (proof here) 5 or 6 years ago.

The other night I was taking a bath1 (which isn't, of itself, a sufficiently rare occurrence to warrant a blog post), reflecting on the failed relationships I've had2 and realised I'm officially too old for this shit. I'm mid thirties, I have a cat and my hair is a different colour every couple of months. It's only a matter of time before I become "that woman". What I need is a relationship that saves me from my otherwise inevitable collection of teapots, and I don't see it happening with any guy I randomly stumble across at work3.

Now, I'm not exactly an expert on advanced science - I've never so much as spliced a gene - but I've watched a lot of Star Trek and I'm confident I can combine lessons from The Masterpiece Society4 and Search for Spockto create the perfect man.

I have the necessity which drives invention and if Sheldon Cooper can create glow in the dark goldfish, I'm pretty sure I can rebuild Genesis and use it to accelerate the growth of a life form. It may seem like a lot of work for a date, but the alternative is going back on OK Cupid and I'm so not in the mood.

As a smart man, I'm sure you've realised the missing element: the basis of the life form.

Unfortunately, through no fault of your own, you are now probably the longest lasting romantic interest in my somewhat dubious history6. It occurs to me that it would be a simple matter to create an embryo and replace its DNA with your own. Once that exists, it should only take a few seconds and a couple of earthquakes to bring my little abomination of science to his late thirties, thereby providing me with a relationship without impacting on your personal time.

With regards to your contribution: I don't want to ask for a hair sample, because ripping hair out by your roots seems to be asking too much, and I'd never take joy from your dog by asking for an old shoe. It seems the only reasonable request is for a sweaty t-shirt from you, which will hopefully contain some viable epithelial cells7.

We've already discussed how my success is dependant upon the genesis project and I suspect you're curious as to my current progress with it. I admit, I've not got accelerated terraformation figured out yet, but with international posting I reckon I won 't receive the t-shirt for three to four months. That's plenty of time.

I look forward to your aid in this matter.


1 - I promise this post isn't about my personal hygiene
2 - In my defence, no two of my relationships have ended for the same reason.
3 - I work at a college. It would be illegal with most of them, and with the few remaining it would be a bad idea.
4 - The episode where a planet with a genetically superior human race was saved when Geordie observed that his visor would fix their problems. The "superior" race were surprised that such innovation had come from the outsiders, and Geordie's response was essentially that they'd never had blind people, so never needed to develop this technology.
5 - In which Spock's body grew from 0 to 53 over the course of a couple of earthquakes, while his soul was squatting in Dr McCoy's head.
6 - Admittedly this success may be attributed more to the lack of physical proximity or communication between us than to any actual compatibility.
7 - I also watch basically every forensic detective show known to man except CSI. I don't have anything against it, I just can't find the enthusiasm.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

How it ended

Alternatively titled: Why you shouldn't gamble anything you aren't prepared to lose.

I loved him. He was adamant he didn't love me.

I was pretty sure he did and just wasn't comfortable admitting it.

So I gambled.

I told him it worried me how adamant he was that he didn't love me and that I felt I deserved to be loved. I told him I was happy, but I hoped he would love me one day and if I ever gave up on that hope, we'd have to break up.

I hoped he would reflect on it, and the potential end of our relationship and he would be distressed enough by the concept to re-evaluate the nature of his emotions.

Instead of feeling pain or worry at the prospect of losing us, whatever he felt spurred him on to break up with me sooner rather than waiting for me to do it later.

I accused him of cowardice because, at the time, I still thought he was just denying that he loved me and having control of things (i.e. instigating the break up) is one of his ways of avoiding distress.

But no. I still hurt, but have to acknowledge the more likely truth is that he doesn't love me. Never has and never will.

It's easier to accuse him of cowardice than admit that I'm fundamentally unlovable.

So yeah. Don't gamble, kids.

Monday, 12 February 2018


When I met you, I was scared
Encased in armour
Shielding myself from life
Love, hope, fear, pain, broken promises and betrayal
But my armour was badly speccd
Not fit for purpose
And when we met, the holes in my chainmail became apparent
I broke first
I ran away, too scared to trust
But I came back
And together we anchored
Sharing responsibilities, pressures, those little things
And as I learned more about you I saw
You are a beautiful, sleek yacht
Well designed
I am a makeshift raft
Bobbing in turbulent waters
Comfortable on a journey
Uncertain of the destination
And you let me share your anchor
I knew however high the waves grew
I would never be lost
There are ties between us
Entangled after so long kiting around a shared point
And then you weighed anchor
Cut me loose
Sailed away
I would have followed you
If you'd only thrown me a line
But you are a speedy vessel
Cutting efficiently through surf
As the storm gathers
And my love and I
Lie discarded in your wake

Sunday, 28 January 2018


39 years.

She’d been drawn to the photo album, opening it for the first time in decades, remembering how it had been to place the images so carefully in their correct place.

Her coffee cooled as she reminisced, fingertips stroking gently against the ridges of cherished memories, labelled so coldly and clinically.

May ’96 Belfast.

June ’96 Garden party with Aunt May.

39 years.

The album didn’t cover the whole span – just a few years somewhere in the middle, with one or two highlights from the very early days.

The first photo of them together.

Taken at a theme park by a man with slicked back hair and an ingratiating smile. He had given them the whole nudge, nudge, wink, wink act, false camaraderie and certainty the young couple had an eternal love. He’d talked them into the picture, adamant they needed something to commemorate the start of their relationship. It was the second date. But he’d been right. What they had was special.

The wedding, the children.

All 39 years.

In another book – somewhere in the house - there are more pictures of children and one half-finished photographic family tree, starting with their parents and supposed to lead down to little Ellie, now 4 months old. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, the photographs so carefully selected had been stacked and almost forgotten. One more task to be guilty of ignoring.

’99-’00 The Millennium. Him wearing a ridiculous hat and a tuxedo. She in her prettiest dress; feeling especially good because two of their children were being proposed to that night. One of those marriages was still very happy; but they’d had no concept at the time that the other might turn as sour as it did and so were celebrating with joyful anticipation. They were both wearing those 2000 spectacles.

39 years.

She is fixated on the number as though it somehow makes a difference. And it should. She is sure it should; she just can’t think why it would.

She gazes around the room. For a moment it’s as though she’s looking at another photograph; a snapshot in time of a place she used to live. Then it comes into focus and she stands to walk around it and inspect each part closely for the first time in years. Hunting around the shelves for clues to answer the question roiling in her mind.

She finds mementoes of life: something to represent each member of her family. Little tokens holding memories of events too long ignored to be remembered. Gifts that have no purpose or beauty except as a link to the giver.

This is it then. This is all of her life.

The front door clicks and he enters; still handsome, still energetic. She turns to look at him and in her mind the puzzle falls into place and she knows her answer.

“Hello, love. What’s for tea?” He asks the question innocently but in the face of her decision it seems like aggravation.

She still loves him, so she is gentle.

“John, I think we need to talk.”

At first he’s worried she’s ill, but when she explains her decision he accuses her of joking. Then he is adamant she must be ill.

“I’m not ill, John.”

“Thirty nine years!” His cry is heartwrenching, but she can only nod. She understands.

“I’m so sorry, John. But I can’t do this any more.”

“Thirty-nine years.” His eyes speak of betrayal, and his voice has dropped to a tear choked whisper. “What about the children? Our home? Our lives? Why would you-“

He trails off and she reaches out to clasp his hands with her own. They sit in silence for several minutes as he stares at where they are joined.

Her heart breaks when he straightens her fingers and removes the ring he placed there so many years ago. It breaks further when he raises it to his lips and presses it into the palm of her hand.

“Please think about this.” He begs.

But he removed the ring before he asked.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


Time flows differently in an airport.

Elsewhere, it draws parallel lines as it flows through the world, perhaps bulging and slowing at the start of a school summer holiday, and narrowing to a sprint at the start of September.

But at an airport, these annual blips alter moment by moment, circling and whirling around in a Gallifreyan prayer wheel, sketching spirals and whirls like a child's spinning top with a pen attached.

Pre check in, people gather at coffee shops and chat, time trickling past like honey as they wait for their holiday to really begin. At the arrivals gate, it slows, observing the waiting crowds who anticipate imminent loved ones, drawing out the expectation as long as possible. At the departure gate it practically stops for ten minutes, right until the last call goes out when it speeds up a hundred times, tricking the latecomers who are now sprinting through the airport.

Five minutes it took to write this, because I'm in a slow patch right now and I'll receive a message in 10 minutes, which will become about 20 minutes from now as the anticipation is teased out. Then a frantic ten seconds, which the clock will claim takes 23 minutes, then a two hour wait, which will be half an hour of seconds measured. Then 15 minutes at the gate, by the end of which I will be eligible for my pension.

I love airports.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

You don't have to say

You don't have to say you love me
I'd rather you stayed silent than lied
Denials are less than betrayals
And what you give me
Is infinitely better than words.

Call it by any name you choose
Or nothing at all
If acknowledging means losing
Then let it be unknown

You don't have to say these words
It only hurts a little to hear their absence
While your thoughts, words and deeds
Give so much more than I ask of love