TRIOP [EULOGY III]

Body serrated

The kind of monster you expect from a puddle

Leaf-like

So little time

Sift this temporary grounding through my gills

Tusked faeries hunting females

Toads rutting in the gloom

Eggs left in the dirt

Tadpoles grow legs

Crawl free

We are microscopic cannibals

Cloning ourselves, splitting in stress

Of the daylight death swelling

Above our heads

The choking that’s to come

That small, mud-born

Egg-sacked ghosts of ourselves

We will sleep until the rain falls

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MONSTER

Let me read your palm little astronaut

You’re gonna outlive so many comets and stars

Let’s dig up dinosaur bones in the backyard

And lob tennis balls at prospective meteors

I’ll be the monster under your bed

‘Cos you make me feel giant

With all the motherly might of mountains.

I’ll always see myself as kinda frightful

Like a dragon in skin-costume

All scales and spikes

My tongue hungry and blue

I’ll eat you up for supper lovely

If you nick one more chip off my plate

I’ll make a necklace of all your baby teeth

 

I know why monsters keep children

Your sleep is time travel

You are my lonely history outgrown

My copy

Our matching genes linked like constellations above our sleeping heads

I’ll be a better monster than mine were

I won’t squeeze you too tight

I’ll let you sleep little caveman

I’ll let you gnaw at my wrists

And fight me with blankets

I’ll let you love me beyond my stitches

Love me like the velveteen rabbit

With the stuffing all knocked out of it

LEAF EULOGY

There is no shame in undressing

But I can’t help feeling

If the trees had teeth they’d be gritted

Down to the gums

As the cold licks them clean.

I’ve been thinking a lot about hurricanes

People and possessions and cars

Torn away on unknown currents

Houses buckling and spilling their contents. Exorcisms

Everything gone with one sweep of tide

pollution spat into a swirl of Godawful senselessness.

How our losses end up in landfills or tangles of wheezing gulls and turtles.

Our impermanence fossilised in plastic

Junk that we’ve buried in the frenzy of squirrels

Knowing the winter will starve us

Knowing as we wait on the roofs of our lot,

No one has sent the boats or helicopters for us.

And wood, wood knows how to rot,

Even rock doesn’t know how to let the tide

Scape it so smooth.

If we could lose our bones like beachwood

If we could slip out of our hair and teeth

And ability and family and homes

The way trees release their leaves

Rot that smells so sweet

Ripe with pips and seed

The concrete filling live

With curled spirits

of bugs and frogs and mushrooms and mice and

I never learned how to conker

All these tiny losses

Mouse curved and twitching all over with whiskers,

Skin dried to bird’s-chest fineness,

Tail loose with sleep,

Frost at its nose,

So brittle you can see skeleton

Too fine to be bone

What will be left of you?

Not even a pip at the centre, not even stone.

DEATH’S DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

The eggs I haven’t the heart to crack

Lie dusty under my childhood bed

Where neglect was beautiful

 

In recent beds

Death curls at my sleeping feet

The imaginary friend

I forgot to love

Forced-feedings of sweaty traumas

He refuses to digest

But coughs up like hairballs-

Lumps of coal as dense as holes.

 

I forgot He loved me

As Baba Yaga loved the stars

She reeled in for dinner

 

I forgot because of Pulse

Because of the girl they found

At the bottom of my road

I mistook Him for drones

And gas leaks

And television static

 

I forgot dawn, I’m sorry Death-

I forgot your sunshine tenderness

A breath against my ear

As I nudged an eyeless badger stiff from the road,

Stood in a mountaintop plague of flying ants

And wetted my hands

To carry a toad’s sopping chill

From a palace ruins

 

There’s always a fat golden centre

A nucleus of warmth that almost is-

The sweating hands in mittens knitted

With trigger fingers.

The yolks

Unformed chicks slick with newness

 

I should have fed these to Death,

Spirits curled yellow and malted

Fried up for breakfast

(To show I knew there were maggots in his bedsheets too,

Mushrooms and dried blood and bone)

I should have cracked them against his fleshless chest

Like kisses against His intangibility

And let their stringy spill slip

Heavy into His swirls of absence

Splitting and merging

He could cradle them

And whisper welcome home.

SALT CIRCLES

How a plant holds tight its circle of original soil

Rifting the new

I can’t separate the roots

As hard as I try to shoot away

There are things buried

In the cold-toed earth beneath me

These ghosts feed me

in ways sunshine couldn’t

The way night-walks and the sight of mushrooms

And men crying does

Bald and unsightly

I buried so many little girls

In my back-garden

Beside cat skeletons

Under a tree where plums swelled and dropped soggy rotten

A part of me doesn’t know how dead-

Who the culprit

Whether I buried them alive

But she did die

She died

Over and over

And she is my cold roots

So many tiny toes

Rows and rows

There are so many new parts of me

So many circles drawn in salt

To exorcise the ghosts of mourning

It’s the old organs that feel wrong in my body

Like my flesh is trying to push my history from me

You can’t kill your own shadow

She scratches with my cat at the back door

She’s waiting at the window

She’s a wolf-child

You hear me?

She’s got such sharp little teeth

Dragon-hands

I love you like my little brother

Tree climber

Dog licker

Nettle-lipped with blackberry kisses

Let’s touch toes

Mine bigger and colder always breaking

I forget that you’re tangible still

The vastest organ

Skin, apple muscles

Extra-fingered collar-bones

Child of myself

Spirit and whole and live and dead

My baby ghost

BEACHED

Bare chested to the sun

I realise my bodies as spheres

In orbit of sensations

Held together by tendons

As snippable as gravitational pulls

 

I’m trying to driftwood each bit of me stripped

Clean by disbelief of morning

Bleach their bones

Their afterlife can still hold warmth

 

The flies are coming for me already

Suckle this satisfaction from my capillaries

I can’t drip-feed happiness but I’m content

To share in my morsels

Like the crumbs the birds dainty picked

from around our sandy toes

Tiny shells

Beaches full of sunbathing ghosts

Blanched by sun and sea

They’re claiming my paleness

Driftwood, shingle

Hallucinations shared

 

What tiny possession have these flies injected me with

What pocket of their own shadow

Itching like larva sacks beneath my skin

This is why I don’t have the strength

To let more than a few at my flesh

I’m more than a blood bag

I’ve my own infestation of shadows

Itching for lemons on the grass

And crescent moon scabs

And rust on stones

FROGSPAWN EULOGY

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Sheffield, is this my lump sum?

A pond frogspawn clogged

A water’s surface that had once been live

With squat squirming intentions

Fat arms tight-ballooned with clinging

Bubble-squeezed

An orgy of multiplying

Fleshy lifeboats inflated with

The resolve of toddler fists and gums.

 

What eats frogspawn?

What parasite cataracts its

Foetal pupils?

 

Gelatin shells to squeeze free from.

 

How do I crawl out of a place?

Like this?

All these benches my-body-sized

With strangers’ names

I just want to make like a snowdrop

And lose my head to the earth.

 

I left the window above my sleeping head open

For my night terrors

To escape into your fenced perimeters

and settle at the fountain’s stone base

Under all that dropped copper.

 

Or to wash up like tree-stumps,

Mock-shipwrecks overrun

by many-gilled fungus

Soft-skulled barnacles.

 

They still skulk as darkness

Under the hedges

Where the mice can grip the pips

of nightmare’s tangibility

Between their tiny paws and

Nibble them into

Digestible morsels

 

I will not cry

Over watchful cats

Swallowing flurries of tiny pink paws

With expanded pupils

 

Over lost spawn

Like bubbles popped

Sacks of pupa wriggled from