When they had finished with her and her mother,
she climbed a tree and hung herself – a girl
in a red sweater that her mother knitted.
This is one front-page image I remember
from the Srebrenica massacre.
If we could live inside the memory of ‘Once
there was a village that was undisturbed’,
by now she’d be a mother knitting sweaters
for her daughter. I release the braided belt
she slung around a higher branch.
Her slim bare legs swing down. Her feet
on earth again, up she springs and runs.
Hamish Canham Poetry Prize, Poetry Society of England, 2012
Landing Stage, SPM Publishers, UK 2017
The pear that nestled in my grandma’s dresser drawer
to ripen for relief of her constipation, glimmers
like the goblet that she saw her father bless and lower
to her mother’s fevered lips before her mother died.
The child that was my grandma saw, or so it’s told,
the wedding goblet, which was crystal, struck with light,
a sign that God had sanctified her mother’s death.
My mother, who didn’t believe in the Old God,
told this story squinting, as if she saw the light
I imagine in the blinding brightness pouring
through my kitchen window here in London.
My grandma’s light bathes the William pear
I bought this morning from my local grocer.
It’s ripe and glowing on my pinewood table.
I close my eyes and breathe in the sweetness.
The Family Kitchen, The Finishing Line Press, KY, USA 2018
Love Song For My Father
The past falls open anywhere.
You’re there. You shut the door and shake.
You shake off snow, your boots, your death.
You’re courting mother in the year
before I’m born. The war is on.
Your call up notice in the post.
You shake. You fail the test. You stay home.
And when you’re old and talk returns
to war, you speak of love and birth.
Open-mouthed, the joke on you,
you start to laugh. The snow.
The dizzy bliss. The craziness.
Coatless, delirious, trousers back-to-front,
you rush out to greet me, just born.
The Family Kitchen, The Finishing Line Press, KY, USA, 2018
Once a week Dr Borrisov flies
Boston-Newark for a day of teaching.
Never mind that she’s eighty-nine.
She loves her work. This is how she lives.
When her life ends, it’s swift. Two nights
she paces the corridors of Bloomvale Home.
She stops at her own door, looks in, walks on.
Farewell to furniture. To future. The surgeon
poopoos her worry. ‘Only last week’, he tells her,
I removed a tumour from a man of ninety-four.’
But Dr Borrisov does not recover.
Her daughter passes on her lumbar pillow
to Professor Charles on the floor below.
For years he takes the pillow everywhere
until, like Dr. Borrisov, one day it disappears.
Bloomvale Home, Original Plus Chapbooks, Wales, UK, 2016
We were young. No one bothered
much with clothes. You tried a few
other girls before we met
but none passed the test you set:
what mattered was how you slept.
With me, you professed to rest.
So the marriage we grew into,
which failed so many other tests
and tested us until the last,
lasted until death.
Now undressed and wrapped in sheets,
I move from bed to bed to couch
as if reproached by sleep itself.
I lie awake and watch the dark.
I watch a thousand things unseen.
And when the cat returns at dawn
and he curls up, I think of us
as once we slept when I could rest.
Toward the Heliopause, Poetic Matrix Press, CA, USA 2011