The greatest clown

in all the world

Is a chauvinist, orange pig

Who came to power when

Russians ensured the

national vote was rigged.

He doesn’t like the lefties

Or faiths from Eastern soil

Unless they’re helping him get fat

On money, arms and oil

Climate change is fake news,

Disability self-inflicted

A trail of sexist crimes for which

He’ll never be convicted

Impeach or assassinate?

Sadly, neither make much sense

When you look at the alternative

And see that it’s Mike Pence.

Hair the colour of smoker’s phlegm,

Policies like cancer;

A narcissist with nuclear codes –

A riddle with no answer.


Would you feel better if you had a label?

I probe the air with my left eye, spy

socratic poker face with my right –
she can’t see me, just case notes;

I, unidentified, somewhere between
the sighing beige of the walls

and the dirty carpet, stained
with confessions, some sharp enough

to draw blood, others hollow and
unyielding. She tells me that I

have a lot to be thankful for
while I count the brown bricks

outside, each one an exiled breath
and the cadaver of wounded trust

makes a morgue of the coffee table.


New York’s summer breath

climbs heavy through the window

and the restless worm wrestles

through apple rot.


Narcissus’ trumpets

wither in astonished atrophy,

recoiling into the earth


as the amnion ruptures,

a parting of seas in the

holiest of churches –  



the wide open legs

of an obedient woman,


held to ransom by

blanched agony, lips

anaemic, lily white.


Skull shards shift tectonic

and give passage

to the crowning;


the searing stretch of emergence,

the ripping of the mantle,

the sting of the slap –


And it breathes.


The bed sheets are soiled

with immigrant blood

the colour of November poppies,


and writhing in it,

the jaundiced newborn skin

of an epoch in waiting:


a God complex

with baby sized fists

clutching nuclear warheads.

Cookstown, Spring 1987

Down one side of the road, I walked

with my mother, clean neck

and well-pressed dress,

my eyes too large,

too knowing; between footsteps,

I heard my mother’s breath

catch on the

barbed wire

and I saw a dark green man

with a gun

like the ones from TV shows, where men would spray bullets and blood

across walls like death confetti,

and my father would say

it wasn’t real, and the

Incredible Hulk wasn’t real –

but this man wore green

and he walked towards us

with a gun

and my heart was only

the size of my fist and

it couldn’t beat hard enough;

when I looked at my mother’s

chest it was still,

heavy as the sandbags

at the crossroads,

dead torsos in white sacks.

We stopped moving and

he was there,

the dark green man

with a gun,

above my head, like God

and I wondered if God wore green

– until he looked down and stared,

held me in his gaze,

distilled my image,

and he spoke

in a voice that had cracks

up the middle,

that knew stories by heart

and the soft hollow of absence.

My mother’s chest eased

into its usual gentle rhythm, and

there we were, across from the

army barracks, on the edge of

the division line, bridged by

the tenderness of recognition. 

I’d Be Queen Of Myself (if I weren’t anti-Monarchy)

She said

I seemed brighter and

I was that day,

that week,

but my brightness

had a lid on it

because I couldn’t let it


unless I was alone and then

I could sing

and sing and sing

and grin

at the windows

and the cutlery

and laugh at the shape

of the front door

all angular and rigid

and trapped by lines

not like me

I was bright that day

that week

in cahoots with the sun

she told me so

and she’s a puppeteer and I’m

dancing jigs

in the frozen aisle and

I’d be the Queen

of myself (if I wasn’t


but I’ll settle

for this power

this rising gift

this momentary lapse

when the numbing fog

clears and life is vivid

so vivid, and it’s right

under my nose

the promise of it

and sometimes I forget

that it can’t last

it won’t last

until it slips

through the membrane

of my skin and I watch

it leave I watch

the lights dim, I watch

the numbing fog

and the way

it trundles in again

bearing the weight of

things I can’t carry.

Sunday Mass

The strands of us all

lived in a tassled green pouch,

bound by thread and bloodline.

The house that held it

still holds my softest days

in dream sequence;

of them all, slow Sunday afternoons

out back, in the care of hands

that performed miracles –

a table for my dolls to dine,

a wardrobe for their clothes,

a seesaw solid enough

for every one of us, and we’d convene

on the oak and take turns

soaring skyward.

Under the corrugated roof, we

shared a feathered semi-silence;

it nestled there, contented

and I’d follow the dust motes

as they floated down on a sunbeam

to meet the sawdust

that carpeted the shed floor;

fresh tendrils from the steady hand’s

tempo, his maker’s rhythm.


Subdued and sorry stump of tongue

Muscle, failed

Pulseless lump, gawp of fish mouth French kissing the airless


Stretch yourself – stretch until it 

Stings and screams like taut


At least then there’d be some

Noise, some 

Offering, some 

Input – and it’s there alright 

It has claws 

And fire

And rage 

And explosions 

And a voice, a voice 

An unheard voice 

But there you are, with your foot

On its neck for fear 

Of others.