Street view

A decade gone but here he is
feeding stray cats on the front porch 
where hollyhocks lean into canes,
and the old curtains 
with their strange geometry
of hexagons and moons
still hang, on street view.

Here's the boy from number 5 
preparing for the greatest 
wheelie in the world and 
if you zoom in hard,
the long-gone father's car
reflected in the windows
is discernable.

These are the fickle maps 
that you can visit,
pivoting with a few clicks 
to simulate a walkthrough
viewing dead end streets 
comprising loss and pixel;
where the past lives on

suspended in a moment
like those guppies
I pretended to set free
in the canal, and searched 
with you till winter's end - 
a hint of burnished spine 
or fluttering fin

that carry on and 
are not there for you;
the dark reproachful eye
orbiting slowly into view.


 

Sunflowers

It rained all summer long
and the few sunflowers 
not devoured by slugs 
turned their green faces in
towards our windows.
We wiped circles in the 
condensation just to see 
them beaming at us like 
expectant children waiting 
for a birthday party to begin. 

Don’t ask me to explain
why they are real and 
I'm too tired to care 
if you believe me
but we are ghost fodder. 
When it rains so much 
sedge grips your tongue
and words are waterlogged
as air through sodden lungs,
then apparitions come.

A vengeful spirit hacked 
them down with a toy sword
because it hurts to be left out 
while everyone is having fun.
They lay with broken necks 
and giant leaves palm up
the way a good photographer
might document the victims 
of a massacre or cyclone, 
seeing beauty in despair.

Afterwards it sat alone 
in a bare room with 
blackout curtains drawn,
pulling wilting petals 
from a severed head.
A mere slip of a thing
pale with dark circles
under huge eyes in the 
half-light, like a child 
cradling a broken doll.

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Mana

I reasoned it away at first 
imagining I’d glimpsed 
a flitting shape, a flickering
—the way a lighter 

or a glinting flick-knife 
in an undecided hand might.
In some kinds of light
her looming shadow spills 
what lives beneath the skin

a lithe, elastic silhouette
with wings and fine antennae.
It’s in the way she milks 
the restless sleeper using 
a technique akin to keyhole surgery

seeking the psyche’s viscid 
nectaries until they cede,
with her protruding tongue;
and sealing them with yellow
brimstones when she’s done. 

First published by Corvid Queen 5th May 2022 
https://corvidqueen.com/stories/mana-katerina-neocleous


Houses of the future

How easily I lose my way
streets from my doorstep,
after midnight when 
each house reveals 
a kind of holy aspect: 

soft lit chambers set 
in deep lawns flanked 
by rows of arching trees, 
and the voluptuous darkness 
where such builds exist.

Abodes snuffed out 
when I walk past; 
as their immaculate
occupants give in 
to sleep, at last.

Aspens

The Aspens are still mute
but new leaves are unfurling
and below this bank 
of diamond studded shields

a boat’s silt covered ribs
are breaking into birdsong,
bluebells and red campion.
Tell me you see it too

the boat with oars
and gleaming helm curved 
like a new moon – 
that you’d seen it out
 
beyond the herons’ copper seam  
of sand and brake of pylons 
miles before, while I was toying 
with my wilted aspen crown.

Song of Austerity

You’re in the park and she 
is skipping happily along,
her little hand in yours;
but you have lost the way
inside the hornbeam maze, 
have gone too far
and now the fading light
 
gnaws at a rib of birch
beyond the fading path. 
Trees shake bare fists
and flailing limbs up 
to a judgement-day sky 
bleeding fire and gold 
as if to say: I could not 

do enough but now there’s 
nothing left to squander 
in the name of love.
Of course no angels will 
appear with keys or horns, 
no end’s in sight
but all of this is yours. 
 

Around the World: Landscapes & Cityscapes -New Anthology, Sweetcat Press

A new anthology by Sweetycat Press is now available, and I am thrilled that my poem ‘Queen Mary’s Rose Garden’ has been included. Around the World: Landscapes & Cityscapes is available on Amazon and Kindle.

From mountaintops to sea resorts, from highrise buildings to subways, across continents, on islands, in large cities, and at small and large landmarks, 200 contemporary poets from around the globe take you on their private journeys in this one-of-a-kind collection of poetry that will captivate you from cover to cover.

Here is the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arou…/dp/B09KMG4D3V/ref=sr_1_4…

After Beatrice

i

The rose beds I recalled 
had gone - instead
you could discern
their remnant outlines,
verdant and sad
as unmarked graves.


ii

Not knowing what to do
I rested here, among 
the bees and daisies
woven in the grass;
until the afternoon
was long in tooth.


iii

Venus had veered south
when I was roused,
to find a figure
standing by my side.
She asked if I was ready?
- Yes, I lied.


iv

We passed two gold
snakes copulating
in the dust
and a solemn poet
who transcribed 
their coded marks.


v

At the entrance
we advanced
- not down or up -
to isolation cells,
secular stations
of the soul.


vi

Red buds amassed
and gently bled,
like bleeding hearts
on arching stems:
These, I was told
were manifold regrets.


vii

Suffocating in
a wave of flies
and blue polluted skies,
my strange companion 
assured me - smiling
wryly - I'd survive.


viii 

Guilt bloomed like 
a carcass in the sun,
soft with decay
not tenderness - 
a corruption of
forgotten innocence.


ix

From love I come
to love I go..
what did I do with it;
where did I bury it?
In the rose garden
all secrets are safe.


x

My love is sweet
as rowan berries
after the first frost;
but there is no way
in or out, not until 
you believe in one.

Happy National Poetry Day 2021. This poem was originally published in Obsessed With Pipework, and it can be found in my first collection ‘Wish’. It was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s figure of Beatrice, and his work, ‘La Vita Nuova.’ Thanks for reading.

Queen Mary’s Rose Garden

Tall gold-tipped gates part like
a story-book, to an eternal Sunday.
A family walks down the royal path,
through a pergola where pink roses climb.
The father cuts one for the eldest child

who takes it carefully, as if it is
an ice cream or one of the queen’s
own jewels – intoxicated by the scent
of petals oxidising in the heat
and her perspiring hand.

Back home, the walls bear witness
to the war waged in the names
of Clapton or Hendrix as God,
between a stunted crop of swastikas.
The girl lifts her creased souvenir

before her like an easter candle
wrapped in tulle and satin bows,
as she ascends the iron stairs;
until the shit and drought baked streets
yield to a rosy sunset shot with pink.

I'm really pleased my poem about growing up in London in the 70's has been accepted for inclusion in a forthcoming anthology called  'Around the World: Landscapes & Cityscapes.' Thanks to Steve Carr, from Sweetycatpress.