the day my sister threw up a cathedral

[A Narrative Poem]

I was already mad, and sad,
because everyone hated me
because I was the reason
nobody was allowed to play
with skipping ropes at break time
all because of that one time
I tried to strangle
a girl with them.

Now I had bigger problems.
My sister was heaving
with the effort of
an ecclesiastical structure

And I was holding her hair back
while a congregational basilica
gagged her –
The spires, too, were especially vexing.

But what on earth
did you eat it for?
I fumed. Stupid girl.

Someone said I should, she mumbled,
while prayers peeled from her stomach
and bile dribbled
down her chin.
I don’t remember who.

I groaned, resigned,
and hugged her tight.
At least now we’re both
outcasts, I said,
and stroked her feverish head.

Poem: The Hole

Last night I dreamt
I had a hole in my hand.
Not a small hole
as though made
by a hole-punch
or a kitten’s claw in your tights
but a dark, cavernous pit
that I could look into and see
trapeze artists
and sea monsters
and sheep
and oily, disembodied smiles –

I told my dad about it but he just
said not to worry. Everyone
gets them from time to time. These holes.
What do you see in yours? I asked –

But he is spontaneously
replaced by a kraken.

The hole is me. I am the hole and
I am in the hole. There’s gum
stuck to my shoe –
can’t move –

the kraken roars –

A row of belching grandmas, watching
the show. Pink and orange
up in the air. Glitter. Terror.

Dad? I call out to the darkness.
There are echoes
and the cries
of a man
selling popcorn.

I stroke my palm to see
if that will make the hole go away.
My hand slips in, is bitten,
comes back
full of static.

I hope this is only temporary.

poetry: if it’s nonsense? does it matter?

If you want to tell the truth, nonsense is your best bet.

Truth is impossible, truly. Even a child could tell you this. But if you really, really, really, want to tell the truth – nonsense is the place to go. I tell you, nonsense is the most honest you can be.

Nonsense is the most beautiful, primal, sub-conscious, sub-sub-conscious, soul-scooping, skull-squeezing, star-searching stuff.

Meaning can wait. Method can take a back seat. There’s no need to think. You just need to breathe, and reach down. As deep as you can go.

You must dance on the blade-edge of sanity – sorry, language –

Put the pen to the paper, and let the sounds in your head, the stars squalling for attention, turn to shapes on the page. Have a little trust in fairy dust.



Flash Fiction: Blizzard

He is a blizzard of a boy. A nuisance, a whipping cold nuisance, who does naught but make my eyes sting and my ears insentient. When I pass him on the pavement, I steel my breath so I’m not lung-robbed, tugging my shawls closer. In my clustering apricot mind, I don’t mind. I take the blanching mouthfuls, take the thousand bitter snowspits like the good masochistic girl that I am. When they ask me, I tell them that it tastes like ice cream.


We used to bake. Rolling,
Moulding. Ploughing
Our jocund way through
This pallid face,
this dough-face. Are you my own,

You are my garden.
My snarling peaches.
Don’t you love me,
Darling leeches?
Gracious, infections!

You are my garden.
The foul, smirking dandelions
I nightly weeded –
My dark fruit
Blotting out the sun.

“…all slippery and uncomely with their newly sprouted aquatic features…”

A bizarre dream one night…

I was leaking. I was leaking woman’s blood, and it was a disaster, particularly because I was on a pirate ship, and I was sure they could smell blood. This was simply no time for menstruation. Seated at at the head of the table as I was, their guest of Honour, in my resplendent gown, perched very queenly under the rancid glares of Blackbeard and Calico Jack, I bled. Oh, how impertinent of my uterus!

“Full moon tonight, Blackbeard.” growled one marauder, Hogwash, through a mouthful of dolphin casserole.

“Ar,” returned Blackbeard.

And it was that thing, that thing that happens in a dream, when you’re trying to do something, trying to get somewhere, but are constantly being distracted, diverted, until you no longer know what it is you were supposed to be doing even though you still burn with the insatiable conviction that you must.

I wore many skirts, but was positive I would haemorrhage my way through all of them soon. “Excuse me,” I said to the pirates to my left, and my ladies-in-waiting to my right, all slippery and uncomely with their newly sprouted aquatic features, particularly Maud, who resembled a hammerhead, much to my profound glee.

I wiped my mouth on my serviette and smoothed my skirts before standing up. “Gratuitous” murmured Hogwash, though I don’t really know why.

On my way to change my rag (I’m fairly certain they don’t have tampons on pirate ships,) I stop to look out of the window, enjoy the scenery as it were, only to discover that though we are on a pirate ship, we are not at sea at all. In fact, we are in the middle of the Sahara desert, about as far from the water as it is possible to be. “How strange,” I mutter, forgetting all about my woman’s blood, and clambering through the porthole. I land with a thwump on the sand. The ship disappears.

And there is the priest from my local parish, waiting for me in the dunes. Father Thomas. He wears an atrocious grin, so I am sure he knows I am bleeding. There seems no other pertinent course of action than to walk towards him.

“Captain Hogwash…my ladies-in-waiting…” I begin, but the priest raises his hand. His wormy purr delineates the gesture: “Quiet. Quiet. Hush, bitch.”

“I am hushed.” I say, to reassure him. “What is it?”

“The body of Christ,” Father Thomas says, holding out a packet of Quavers. I’m starving, so I take it. I don’t scoff them or anything, but sit them demurely on my tongue like a good Catholic girl. “Who died on the cross, for your sins,” he continues, “Yes, yours. The almighty, the son of God, suffered so that he may atone for the sins of humanity.”

I do the sign of the cross. “In the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. Question.” I say, once the first piece of Christ has disintegrated on my tongue (Prawn Cocktail flavour. My favourite). The priest smiles warmly, knowingly, his answers at the ready. “You wouldn’t have a tampon on you, would you?” I ask.

His smile drops. Suddenly, we’re in the middle of a sandstorm.

I need to get back to the ship! I start to cry, partly because there’s sand in my eyes, partly because I know the ship has evaporated along with the priest and my packet of Quavers.

Suddenly, I see a great hammerhead in an emerald dress standing on the shore, waiting for me. Next to her stands a seahorse, in cobalt taffeta. I feel the pinch of costume envy as I look down at my own drab attire, which just a few moments ago had been a fine gown of ruby red. I lost everything in that nefarious sandstorm.

“The pirate ship is over there,” says Maud, pointing at the horizon. “We’re going to swim. Climb onto my back.”

“You have the head of a shark, Maud. Not the body.” I point out.

“You’re awfully pedantic for a girl wearing last season’s cerulean.” she says. I hang my head in shame, and climb on.

We swim towards the ship, drawing nearer far quicker than expected. I notice the girl with the head of a seahorse hasn’t said much this whole journey. I gaze inquisitively into her eyes, which she shyly averts.

“…Helga?” I venture.

The seahorse turns, regards me sadly. “Used to be,” she mutters.

It’s all so sad.

We reach the ship. After much strenuous effort, we clamber onto deck. Everything is just as I remember it, which is to say completely fucking unfamiliar.

“Now what?” I ask the others.

“You must jump back in the sea,” says Maud.

I turn around, incredulous. “What? We just came all of this way!”

“This is a dream…you must know by now there is no coherent narrative progression here.” She is patting her head in attempt to smooth over her hair, which is hilarious, because she doesn’t have any.

“But…I really do have to…really have to find something…and it’s on this ship. I know it!” I screech.

“What is?” Maud asks.

“I… I can’t remember.”

“If you can’t remember what it is, then how do you know it isn’t in there?” she gestures toward the sea. I look.

Good point.

“I feel violated,” I say. Indeed, my stomach is turning, as I gaze into the fathomless deep, now swarming with sharks. Sharks that are not Maud, granted, which is of some comfort, since at least I know none of them will stab me in the back as she has done.

“You look it,” says Maud.

“Coming from a woman who resembles a hammerhead from the neck up?” I say, calling forth all of the mighty powers of sass in a last-ditch effort to regain my dignity.

Maud folds her arms across her chest and waits for me to jump. My eyes cloud with tears.

Betrayal. Utter betrayal.

“You’re such a bitch sometimes, Maud.” I say, and then jump. My tears mix with the salt of all the sea and I wake up in my bed, incredibly, not bleeding.

The End