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.

Moor Park on Guy Fawkes Night 2020

A couple walking laps

have paused to watch

a startled bat wheel

round a bare tree,

a lost leaf flapping

blindly in the storm.

They walk away

while it still circles,

knowing it will fly

till it collapses

in the dark

where people meet

illicitly to light

black market fireworks

and watch them throw

their fleeting shapes

defiantly into the sky.

Thanks to Paul Brooks from The Wombwell Review, for publishing this piece in the open call for all art celebrating bats. Click here to see my poem and learn more about #batfest: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2021/09/07/batfest-28th-august-31st-september-seventh-day-7th-common-pipistrelle-bat-general-bat-poems-artwork-photos-first-drafts-always-welcome-please-join-steven-stokes-amanda-bell-and-myself-in-c/

Necromancy – open mic performance

Here is a video clip from the open mic at Preston’s Market Street Social bar in Preston, when Laura Taylor performed some new poetry, on August 17th 2021. Thanks to Garry Cook, who organised and filmed the event; and who very generously shared this footage of me reading my poem Necromancy.

Birthday – published in Summer Anywhere, from Dreich

Imagine it unravelling
like a red bow,
a sigh of glossy satin
eluding possession.

Look how easily
it insinuates itself
round neck or wrist,
a slipstream of ribbon.

I pull and it unbinds me
till I am undone –
a scarlet dress, pooling
by infinity’s bed.

Thanks to the editors of Dreich, for publishing my poem, Birthday.

Necromancy

My first open mic since the pandemic!
Video Still by Garry Cook

Yesterday I went to see the punk poet Laura Taylor at Market Street Social, in Preston. She performed some of her stunning work, including pieces from her new book “Speaking In Tongues.” I particularly enjoyed the more nuanced poems, such as “Senescence” and one about her childhood. There was an open mic before and after her performance, so I read my poem Necromancy. Thanks to Laura Taylor for giving poets a chance to share their work, and thanks to organiser, Garry Cook.

Necromancy

You send him urgent texts
but he no longer tolerates
your soup, solicitude
and homilies on fatherhood;
the man you wanted him to be
is gone, another fills his shoes.

As above, so below -
reflect on this
then wield your will;
harness the stars
and your inner hell,
from its event horizon.

One night when you're in bed
he'll rock up at your door
with a girl half his age
a wired grin and a lump of hash
he swears is an eighth,
asking for some extra cash.

He's left the engine running
and distorted bass
is waking half the street:
death has reworked your beloved.
Too late you recall the warning,
not to bring him back.


First published by Outlaw Poetry
and in Wish (Maytree Press).

https://www.ents24.com/preston-events/market-street-social/laura-taylor/6295584

https://outlawpoetry.com/tag/necromancy/

https://maytreepress.co.uk/2019/06/02/wish-katerina-neocleous/

https://lancashiretimes.co.uk/article/Review-Wish-by-Katerina-Neocleous

Echo – published in Sledgehammer

Because I took the form
of any that possessed me,
just as water does – in river/ girl,
vase/ daughter, sea/ woman;
and to be whatever I reflect,
learning to hide and give.
But I am more than
broken reeds and silt,
more than the sticklebacks
that dwell in summer’s pools
of copper sun. Give me
a name that sets me free
as we walk round the pond
my words, dredged out of mud
are rusty parts – corrupted, obsolete.
Look how the dying light cuts
golden shapes into the rising mist,
of weary gulls in flight.

https://www.sledgehammerlit.com/post/echo-by-katerina-neocleous

Ashes (first pub. by Algebra Of Owls, and in my collection Wish)

The Ash is common enough –
with keys the wind misplaces
and in winter, velvet leaf buds
that recall those long

black gloves I wore,
to trace your trembling
outline – neck to hip
and down a little more.

Its fissured bark is
a history of cuts, as if
the past can be sloughed
like a worn out coat.

As green leaves fell
I glimpsed a woman
in the golden copse,
or maybe a hare.
:
:
:
:
:
:

First published by Algebra Of Owls 2018