Tuesday, 24 February 2015


(a grandmama story)

Daddy is late again for work, he has odd buttons buttoned oddly on his striped suit, and as he fastens his bright orange tie he looks up to see: a blob of jam on the kitchen ceiling. Everyone else has seen the jam, it has been there for days. Jupp and Hugo have argued about the jam. How did a blog of jam get on the ceiling, who is responsible? Grandmama has told them the jam is not a problem, but still they have fought and now Hugo is not speaking to anyone. Jupp quite likes it that Hugo is not speaking. So now Jupp feels more grown up than his older brother. Jupp is wiping plates with a cloth, using slow movements of his hand.

'We all know about the jam blob,' Jupp says to Daddy.

'Oh, well,' Daddy says, brushing the whiskers on his cheeks, 'oh well don't worry about it.'

'That's what Grandmama said,' Gretel says. She is sat at the table, cutting out pictures from an old library book bought at a jumble sale. She has coloured paper and glue to make a collage. 'But I think sooner or later someone should just stand on a chair and wipe it off.'

'No!' Lucas says boldly from under the table. Everyone looks under the kitchen table to see Lucas, curled up like a kitten in a pile of laundry.

'I've got quite used to the jam and I like it up there,' Hugo says. He is sat across the table from Gretel, arms folded.

Now Jupp is very confused. Hugo has decided to start talking again? What should Jupp say about the jam. He whispers this to himself: 'What should Jupp say about the jam?'

Now Grandmama moves from the sink toward Daddy and is holding a damp cloth. Jupp holds his breath, he is not sure if he wants to see the jam removed. It is a bright red blob and a happy sort of blob, and it has become a thing, a memory. But now Grandmama is dabbing at Daddy's sleeve because there is a small white mark and Daddy is muttering something about chewing gum on bus seats. Jupp breathes out.

'No time, bye-bye everyone,' Daddy says, and opens the back door and rushes out into the garden then rushes back into the kitchen and walks through the house. The front door slams shut.

'That's it then, that's settled it. The jam will be on the ceiling for ever and ever,' Gretel says.

'Amen,' Hugo says in a low, deep voice.

'Are you being serious?' Jupp says. Now he wonders if he should want to climb up on the table and wipe the jam from the ceiling.

'I do quite like it,' Grandmama says, sitting down at the table. She stares up at the jam. 'It reminds me of a little face, or a rose perhaps. Yes a rose. A rose is a rose by any other name.'

'It's a blob of jam, that's making me hungry,' Jupp says.

'Let's make jam sandwiches,' Gretel says.

'Well we would do that dear, if we had any jam,' Grandmama says.

Jupp stares at the ceiling feeling very hungry.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Lost Summers Deep In Earth

All the yesterday sighs
are sleeping beneath themselves -

below thin breaths
that mark this hour

they sleep with their dull knuckles
up above their ears
helping to steady bulbs
and beastly roots of things -

and all these days
knowing your footsteps
coaxing the sun away from the house

and all the nights
sighing for the other
of a paper-thin moon -

as if they have some arcane
fortune, a knowledge
to slip into the air,
how it felt, how it smelt,
how it might be again -

fascinating the yellow stems
to make them believe,

to mix a green and in their machinations
becoming a grasp of nettles -

or simply a splayed thing
in the underpass of trees,

without a care.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Self Portraits

Everything is a self portrait
telling and holding back as much.

As much as yellow mixed with black
can make a lover cry
and say this is not a good close kiss
with those sore hands, the pink and red
going into warm blue, a warm blue,
how is that possible?

Or later, in the dark the orange-yellow lily pollen
on my chest, the smell of it,
telling me to get back downstairs and paint
your shape out of every shape.


See how who you are now
talking to you through thin sheets of paper
so that no one knows we really still
think about each other,
a morning,
the shape
of that morning.

If you cherish it, your almost same shape
will come to undress in the memory.
A photograph glued over another face
does not make anyone else but you.


We do not pin ourselves on walls or gardens
but keep little notes of our shapes
as incidents and wind-up toys.

This is not about getting away from
where you are, who you might be,
the mystery is still as big as ever.

People who smile at themselves in mirrors
are likely to be extending their lives by
at least five years even if they hate the idea.

So, you've been warned.