Arm tickle

Arm tickle Brush over Small sensation Look and see A tiny speck Of fluff… With legs Sprung out Each side Sorry spider Sits crouched On the table In the centre Of a gigantic Room I Wonder where You’ll make Your home Resting from The brush off You pick Yourself up And trundle Across the Tablecloth […]

M-other

I wish my mother was strong. Like Boudica or Athena, Like Aphra Behn or Margaret Cavendish. Self-possessed and brave. With meaning. With character. With passion. I would accept those in place of love. A mother connected to her surroundings, Sensitive to her emotions and open and willing To share herself. A mother I could be […]

Five silly children

Five silly children Climbed into a tree Curtis, Jennifer, Melissa, Callum and Bethany.   Curtis picked the apples, Bethany drew a bee Melissa sniffed the flowers Jennifer hugged the tree.   Callum was the youngest He was also very smart He made a contraption To burst the tree apart.   All the children went ka-boing! […]

My Grandma who art in Bradford

Water rhymes with batter, Cook rhymes with duke Your pantry is a cathedral Of desiccation and sprinkles We call the glory ‘ole. Your wisdom is linguistic joy You’re not forced to know the answer In hope there’s two chances Not many T’s in your language When I’m with you I talk like you My grandma […]

Harold Wilson, Bradford boy

Strong, silent grandad. Head a grey Elvis quiff. Far away eyes. Always ready for a cuddle. So quiet. So still. But ask him about his youth? Eyes twinkle, lips smack, Made a fishing rod from scrap, Manhandled onto a trolley bus, Old ladies tutt tutt, Off fishing with a mate Down Bradford beck Out till […]

Westfield-wastefield

They tore the heart from my city Ripped and mutilated. A mastectomy without reconstruction A half city Ne’bother The North don’t care They sit in their own shit Wallow in their despair Kids get their kicks from the toothless, frowning, homeless, jobless city left to rot That’s my home That’s my family.   Jennifer Winterburn

Grandad Fox

Gerald Fox A Teddy-boy in your time Ginger afro and brothel creepers Sharp suits and nylon shirts This one I iron With daffodils and geometric shapes That you bought in America in ’72 Today you are Out building a bonfire To celebrate your wedding anniversary Now as you did back then Old jumper, sleeves rolled […]

York Minster York Monster

York Minster Hemmed in by its city Howling at the moon Louder than my Walkman will go It is a giant edifice of gargoyle All-seeing eyes All-hearing ears All-gnashing teeth Thin skin stretched over sharp skeleton Safety lies in the streets it remains prisoner But imagine it on sunny green plains Basking in too much […]

Cancer

Black heavy dirt death Stuffing the gasps with woolen pain Monster growing seething strangling Pain or sleep, pain or sleep Words swirl away and toward Grasping, gasping, grasping Out of reach Lips speak the silent words Of pain, of frustration of pain Animated face of sleep-pain Animated body of memory-pain Wasting and drifting and wasting […]

Sleep

Sleep. Sleep. Wash me away Carry me off Drown me to stillness I long to be lost undreaming nothingness So so still barely there but for faint breath But no. I run marathons. Hide from monsters Scratch my skin my hair wake angry and confused My boy can’t sleep, I break his peaceful rest Too […]