Friday, 9 September 2011

The Dying House

Dear R,

I am sorry, but the house is dying. I hate to write this news to you when you are so far away but there is nothing I can do.

It started with the wall clock in the hall; it stopped a few days ago. When I opened up the back, intending to wind it up, it had fallen to bits in the inside. Like all the tension holding it together, all the purpose to follow the ticks with the tocks had just ended and the cogs and weights simply let go of each other. I put it in a box and tidied it away for you to see when you return. But that was just the start of it.

The doors fell off the kitchen cupboards. All at once in the night. I crept downstairs with a lamp in my hand, thinking it was a burglar. But there was no one, just the doors lying on the floor with their hinges and screws scattered all over. There was no reason for me to be frightened, not then, but something cold ran its fingers over me, and I ran upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom till morning. I wish you had been there then.

I tidied up the doors in the morning, stacked them neatly. The cupboards gaped their contents at me. They looked obscene, exposing themselves. There was a dead mouse at the bottom of the stairs, and another under the dining table. Did you put poison down? Sad creatures. I put them in the bin. They weighed so little.

When the cracks started to appear in the walls, I think that’s when I began to panic. The house was letting go, breathing out. A long exhale before death. I remember holding my grandmothers hand as she lay on her deathbed. There was slight squeeze on my fingers and then this long release of breath. It seemed she was breathing out from the depths of her lungs, traces of air taken in rom when she was a child still lingering there were now flying out out and letting her go. Her whole life in breath running away to find another life to fill.

The legs fell off the wardrobe and the rail collapsed inside, I found all our clothes lying in a heap, vomited out of the doors by the foot of the bed. I tried fixing the rail but nothing stuck. Nails seemed to be pushed out from the inside. The house is dying and will not be healed. The parts of our house are letting go of each other. Their fingers slipping and sliding away.

The cracks ventured up from the floors in every room, ivy traces tearing the plaster apart. The windows followed. Shattering from a point, like invisible bricks had been flung at them. I can press my ear against the panes and hear them shattering on and on. Dividing into tiny pieces barely held together. I wonder when they will let go and fall inwards? Exposing our house to the world.

The house is dying and there is nothing I can do. It is breathing out its last from the depths of its lungs and purging its secrets. The wallpaper unfurled from the bedroom walls and revealed scrawls made by children long ago. The floorboards sprung up and showed me love letters from a past affair here. All the secrets of this house are running for the door. I want to run with them. But I think I must stay. I think I must hold the hand of this house as it lies on its deathbed.

I hope you return soon. Our house is dying and I must stay and feel its last exhale. I am sorry.

Love ever,


Monday, 29 March 2010

Mug Goodbye

Yesterday the cat was re-homed and today my favourite mug was broken. I bought it because it had a pattern of trees that reminded me of Wimbledon common and because it was big. I have lived in Wimbledon pretty much all my life and now I am moving away. Not to anywhere, I am going to float and see what suits me. Because I don't yet know. I have visions of the ocean and community that is absent from my life in London. Maybe I shall find it. But I really bloody loved that mug. It was all shades of green with silvery leaves and red butterflies. It was wrapped up in a box and given as a metaphor for a friend to look after while I am homeless. I had planted it with thyme because 'there are exciting times ahead' (note the unsubtle wordplay). But the friend, the dear friend, is as clumsy as me and the box with the mug inside was dropped at the tube station all of twenty minutes after it had been given. The mug broke into more than two pieces and my beautiful image of the common in spring was smashed apart. When the friend told me on the phone what has happened I cried. I hadn't yet cried about leaving. Leaving and not knowing. So we decided to bury the mug Wimbledon Common and to say goodbye.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Paper Birds

There are paper birds on the underground.
The migration has begun.

Have you found a paper bird?

Tell someone. Leave a comment.

Where did you find her?

What did she tell you?

Maybe you can help her on her way...

Friday, 4 December 2009

In Memory

The skies are moving fast these days,

They rip across dragging chins along the pavement

And taking the light against their bellies in

Pinks reflected in the oils of old masters.

The air sinks cold to my chest and

Against my ribs now pillars in churches –

Clean and indifferent.

Something snaps in the woods,

In the snatched view between sinking trees

There is the ghost of a man.

On his bench and waiting,

His companion carved there never came.

She slipped into the pond, between algae sheets

And let the weeds take her.

Bent like a bow sending scudding arrows across the undergrowth.

He is waiting for her face that sunk.

And he cannot swim

His arms won’t beat for her in this wood.

On their bench his arms won’t beat.

Swimming is like flying and the crows caw.

But his arms will not beat.

Instead he lets the rain fill his boots and the

Arrows scud into the undergrowth.

The skies move on fast, bringing heavy night.

And he fades like a ghost should.

I read their names on the bench as I soak up the cold.

And my boots fill with rain.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


They didn't know what they were getting into, the day the 1920s came. The 1920s arrived with its bags packed and they politely offered to serve it tea in the orangery. That was a mistake. Very soon they were smoking cigarettes from amber holders, drinking gin and tonics at two in the afternoon and talking in clipped radio-tongues. The 1920s merely lounged in a bamboo chair and watched the bobs get cut and the lips turn red.

Then the 1930s arrived and things became awkward. The jollity and the Charleston and the records and the flinging pearls faded to rations and bunkers and telegrams containing News. The 1920s and the 1930s did not get on. One day, in the orangery, they were found arguing over the wastage of butter. Things were said, waistlines were lowered and raised again and again all afternoon. Eventually the 1920s threw a tin of corned beef at the 1930s which missed (partly due to the three gin and tonics the 1920s had consumed before tea), crashed through the orangery window, ricochet off the Anderson Shelter and landed amongst the potato patch that had been so willingly 'dug for victory'. The 1920s packed up its things in a carpet bag and marched out the door, leaving behind nothing but the sound of clinking pearls and the scent of Chanel No.5.

It did not take long for the 1940s to turn up after that. It looked the 1930s and shook its head. Things were about to get nasty.


The stars! The stars; swelling and clear.
The stars that hang and disappear
Like the lighthouse gaze that opens and shuts,
As an eye to and from sleeping and dragging the dust;
The house of a star that they netted and kept
For the sake of the boats and the wives that They left.
But the void was not filled and the velvet sky cried;
"You've taken and left me with a hole in my side!"
And forever The Sky had to do just to gaze
At the star from her belly on the shore of the seas.
And the star knew no better, being just gas and air,
But The Sky kept on wailing - for fear! For fear!
She knew of the terror the seas could induce
When the winds picked up and the waves were let loose.
And when night such as this occurred on the Earth,
The Sky couldn't watch - foreseeing the worst.
But her star never knew her maternal plight -
For she was only atoms and light.

Her mother bore more children to remedy her pain,
To fill the space where the Earth Star had lain.
But the fishermen never knew of her tragic disgrace
For she was just a vacuum in the fabric of space.
For The Sky was only the absence of light
And her children just physics made visible by night.


Shore, shore, sure
drinking salt water
and trying to rhyme
swimming between green
making ale from kelp
and sawdust
and watching things be made
and waiting for an accident
to happen
-accident me please-
and diving without trying
and drawing
a line
in the sand
and running through locked doors.

I Never Was Good With Wires

I've tried holding my breath on the escalator
And holding my nerve as I jump.
I've tried keeping my buttons in boxes
And ignoring uncomfortable lumps.
I've tried listening for mice with my head on the floor
And hearing the days as they pass,
And licking the batteries that should spark the tapes-
Containing The Times - now elapsed.
But nothing worked to make it tick,
Nothing fired the coals.
All of this just left it lying
With limp connectors in fabric folds.

I've tried closing doors when sunsets bleed
And cooking flotsam soups.
I've given my salt to soapy-cuts
And pasteurised the boots.
The iron filings didn't work,
And neither did the sand.
The butter only made a mess,
And the acid burnt my hands.
Still to nought my toils all led,
Still nothing in there stirred.
The cogs and spindles lay splintered still
And no whirring fizz occurred.
The machine remained only parts-
Collecting settling dust.
The inevitable decay began-
Kept company by the rust.

Once I tried not trying,
But failed for paradoxes sake.
So I tried forgetting, failing
When reminded by the ache.
So it lay again unmoved again,
Except for shadow's slide,
And I tried constant trying
Just to pass the time.

Just to pass the ages
Until the mechanism twitched,
And yet I am still trying,
As I'm yet to find the switch.


And the sea shall sail, shall sail its ships
To lines of sight that fade to haze
When adventuring starts with failing tides.
And we can finally set away.
Our homes lie with loves - scattered to change.
When our wings catch the updraft
Our bellies won't weight us down.
"Spire, socket, seed" goes the spell.
Make a hammock from sail-cloth and
Launch in sleep.
And we shall hunt as pack, as tribe
For home, for light to set the place.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Dear F,

This missive will be my last from here. I am sorry. This is all I have left to do. I will disappear. Fade into the ether inside these walls, inside these gardens that keep me safe. Or held. It had been so long I've forgotten how this all began. With dancing perhaps? Or birds made of paper that disintegrated when the rain began to fall. I loved the rain. It washed the grease paint from the illusionist’s face. Remember him running for shelter in the glasshouse? But the illusions did not stop. Remember the glass cracking beneath our feet? Crystal meeting boot sole and glasses that made a sweep of stars on the grass when the lights fired in the house. Perhaps that signalled the end of the party? When the gates closed between us. I missed my chance to leave then, it was moment between fading bells. Then the wheels turned and the bars came rattling down. The noise hurt like metallic twisting inside bone, like a needle through a tooth. The sound cut through the music, the calls of celebration and song. It drowned out everything because I knew what it meant. The division of something so whole it weighed on me with its simply being there. So present as one. Like a book torn in two – neither clutch of pages making sense without the other, a half read story forming to mush in the rain. And I was left standing in a room of spinners, lights exploding and fading behind my eyes and the makers of changes forgot me. Everything felt like glass and light. But perhaps you knew that's what it would take to save me? Perhaps you knew I could not last beyond? I could hope. But no longer. The time here never changes. The clocks repeat the hours but the days. The days never change. Oh for a day to shift into another in the night. But all here is laughter, song, light. Laughter song, light. The chandeliers are smashed again and again and I have begun to walk across in expectant pain once they have hit the ground. But no blood is drawn. Nothing touches me. I think there is a millimetre of space between me and all else. Everything else is a trace away from feeling. I am suspended and need to fall. I need to fall. Maybe you have already begun? We can hit the ground together. The lights are bursting once more. The ivy grows up the walls at such a pace! The only thing that ever alters here and it's the thing that closes us in. Fills the gaps for sighting outside. I am closing in and this is the only way; to disappear. To begin the falling. I shall fall in a million pieces. Pieces that will drift upwards on the wind and over the walls. I will divide and fall sideways through the atmosphere. I need to fall. I will become the exploding light. I am sorry. I am going to disappear. Meet me at the falling.

Yours ever,