#atinylife LastBorn

Given my poetry pamphlet is now sold out (thank you to everyone who bought a copy), I thought I would record the poems for my much-neglected YouTube channel. Here is a transcript of the first one,

Last Born

Quickened pain, surprising me

out of all birth plans

and breathing techniques

and the crickets of the TENS

machine crawling up my back.

I had woken early

completed the lists:

paired socks, as my pelvis

pentangled like pulled knitting.

And all too soon

the burn, the squeeze, the heft

was beyond unbearable

but then

you released –

a tide of meaning

from me

into the world.

My last born.

Completing this compost

of family

this outrage

of us.

Never forget how you came:

child of mine.

Never be afraid to labour, and

never push down pain to places you cannot feel it.

#atinylife waiting

My house is waiting.

For the silence that descends. Like golden syrup, like the homemade quilted blanket heavy with blue flowers,

 

the silence of no other people.

For the mythical day when everything is either on a shelf, in a drawer, or nestled in a cupboard.

For the pears to ripen and fall, ripen and fall.

For the cat to complete his rotation of sleeping places: bed upstairs, bed downstairs, sofa, office chair, other office chair, bench in the kitchen, camouflaged against a black coat on the floor.

home

For someone to either read all of the books, or put all of the books in the goddam charity shop.

For the sun to warm the mossy patches outside the front door:

the ones the sun never reaches.

For two children watching a red moon in their pyjamas, shivering in the dark.

#atinylife MentalHealth

 

‘You manage your mental health so well!’

 

I suppose, if I did, I wouldn’t dwell on what was meant as a compliment,

and twist it into an accusation –

a positive equals a negative

a negative of the photograph

that other people see,

my perfect, tinylife.

My calm exterior, my social media cut and pastings: insta-wonderful.

 

She can’t possibly have mental health problems,

look at her – she’s onstage! Smiling!

 

Perhaps I tell people I’m a special snowflake

as a way to get attention or

sympathy.

 

Or I hold onto a former diagnosis

as something that makes me interesting,

marks me out,

gives me an intersectional identity.

 

tinylife MentalHealth

I don’t ask to feel this way –

performing one day, then tears all the next –

I don’t ask for meditation and counselling and prescription after prescription.

So yes,

I manage it well.

I do.

Sometimes.

 

#atinylife Snow in March

The sun had been out

warm – well, through a window, anyway.

Chat at the school gates

was all about Spring,

finally.

Here at last.

 

Later, on the phone to my mother,

she told me

according to the weather she’d heard

we’d have snow tomorrow.

 

Aye, right.

 

The next day I woke

to snow falling from a slate sky

as if March was clinging to

WinterSnow in March

frightened of what Spring

might mean.

 

I pulled gloves onto

my frosted fingers

turned the heat back up

in the car.

The hat hadn’t fallen out of use

because of gnawing Spring winds.

 

And I told myself:

‘Snow up to Palm Sunday.

It’s always possible.’

It’s my version of

‘ne’er cast a clout

till may be out,’

because I don’t know

what may looks like

(it’s the flower, not the month.)

 

Scotland will surprise you.

#atinylife PoemReadingDare

When I was about eighteen

lots of people starting talking

about a book they had read.

 

‘It’s totally about you, Stella!’

They would say.

And I would be like

What? A total fuck up

like I am?

 

I can’t remember

where I got my first copy

or where I read it

or what I was doing at the time.

 

But I have read it so often

since then

that I know it all

off by heart.

bookweekdare

Words and phrases

from the book

remain in my vocabulary

 

‘happiness is … the pursuit

of attainable goals.’

 

‘I am going to cancel

and spend the evening

eating doughnuts

in a cardigan

with egg on it.’

 

‘Humph.’

 

Sentences structured without all words.

 

One of my favourite reviews

of my own novel,

said it was like ‘a younger version

of Bridget Jones.’

Which was

v. good.

 

 

 

#atinylife Refugee

I am watching

the refugee video

on Facebook.

 

It’s a list of the things people took with them.

One nappy, the actor says.

One nappy.

 

And my son calls

from the living room

‘Mum?

Is it

time

to

go

yet?’

 

He is in the living roomfullsizerender-30

of my house.

I am in the kitchen

of my house,

watching the refugee video

on my computer

in my kitchen

of my house.

 

One nappy. Phone, sim card.

Wrap them in a plastic bag,

pay all you have,

get into a boat

 

with your children, and …

 

In my house,

in my kitchen,

my son is going out.

Later, he will come home.

Later, I will lock the door

 

of my house.

 

Fall asleep, in bed.

I’ll be warm. Home.

 

And I’ll vaguely remember

a video

I watched

earlier,

on Facebook.

On my computer.

#atinylife littlethings

Simple pleasures

a fallen leaf,

the hand of a child in mine,

real butter on real bread.

A hot shower,

the feeling of cleanliness,

a crisp, dry towel.

The warmth of a fire after a walk in the wind and rain,

dry clothes.

simple-pleasures

A conversation that winds around us,

a perfect idea

discovered at its heart.

The clarity and space of a day of fasting;

the joy of a day of eating.

 

Music,

spoken word,

and the written word.

Stories and sounds that enter into your soul and reside.

Being able to see the stars.

A harvest moon.

A sunrise.

 

Clean, safe water in every tap in the house.

 

A door that closes and locks,

but also opens readily

for a welcome.

Friends that are nearby,

friends far away,

family right here,

family over the phone.

 

Deep, peaceful, healing sleep.

 

#atinylife Friends that are Family

My children run under the spreading tree,

rich with the fruit of swings.

Disappear for hours on end,

cousins and new friends and dogs romp

around rich grass,

tumbledown outbuildings.

 

Mature trees

look down fondly

from their great height upon

another generation

of wet footprints on their forest floor.

 

I look out of the window,

feel time loosening its grip.

An ending line

curves into a circle.

 

Families FullSizeRender (26)

meshed.

Today, my children inhabit part of my history.

 

Today

my story and memories

will become

their story, their memories.

A house, a garden, a cocooned day:

as children, as adults.

 

Across the lawn,

straggled out in age order,

the three year old last in his yellow wellies.

 

After him,

I can almost see another figure.

A girl treads lightly,

the last full head of dandelion clock gripped gently in her hand.

#atinylife Beats

Amidst steaming cobbles, Pennine poetronica trumps Mojo nostalgia any night. People who should know better cram into tiny bars and throw themselves around as one pulls out his tiny pleasure device and intones beat poetry to electronica.

They could spend £100 seeing Neil Young, but as summer storms dissipate, this is now, don’t look for it, it’s gone, Xanadu, no beard required.

FullSizeRender (16)

Dan Pink knows you can take success and stick it: Linux, Wikipedia? Created for nothing, given away, that’s why it works.

Stuff your Glasto too, consumers, no money in this. Greater rewards make worse work. Like bygone fetishists, they welcome pleasure in plain packages, but here there’s no pain and no shame.

No Arts Council Punk Poets here. Typical. Too idle to make their own youth movement. Our fault, for giving them all those lifts.

Northern Beat Poets Rule.

 

#atinylife Loch by Jennifer C Wilson

 

They say you miss what’s right underLoch your nose – they’re right. Despite living two minutes from the coast, I can’t remember the last time I sat and just looked out at ‘my’ patch of blue.

There’s something inspiring about water. This poem was written on a train passing Loch Lomond. I hope it captures the loch for you like it does for me.

 

Like a millpond

Today, the loch is a millpond;

let it reflect on your troubles,

carry them away as the water flows

luxuriously to the sea.

 

Today, the loch is a millpond,

still waters running in the depths

of your imagination, capturing

your heart, your mind, your soul.

 

Tomorrow, the millpond may vanish

into nothing, at the whim of the wind;

choppy as the sea, chopping away

today’s moment of calm.

 

So, focus on the millpond. Reflect.