Eleanor Marx Translates Madame Bovary
London,1884. She’s looking up Prussic acid,
her mind half on that evening and her lover,
the one her father doesn’t trust.
Emma sends the maid out yet again
to Rodolphe’s house to enquire
if there’s any reply to her message.
Eleanor’s not sure whether club foot is right
and fears she’s made the husband
less than sympathetic.
Later, there’s a meeting of the Socialist League
and she’s looking forward to the paper
from that nice Dr. Aveling.
First prizewinner, Torbay Poetry Competition 2014
John Keats’ Ring
Fanny wore it on a string
those last months, oh she wore it
against her untouched skin –
she had his heart. He swore it.
Her mother would have disapproved;
he’d bare enough to live;
she took this token of his love,
all he had to give
and kept it hidden in her gown,
warm against her breast,
the solitaire of almandine,
until he was at rest.
They cut her hair when she fell sick,
she’d neither sleep nor eat,
but dressed herself in widow’s black
and all night walked the Heath.
Highly Commended, Poetry on the Lake 2013
When I said I was fond of you
I didn’t mean like of ballet,
I meant fond as in tender,
as in fond embrace.
My dad used the word differently;
Don’t be fond he’d say,
exasperated by some evidence
as if he couldn’t believe
I was serious.
Good job I never told him
my fondest hopes,
I’d have covered my ears;
I was daft about you.
Published in Poetry Scotland
I love talking to stones, love it, love it,
they may not listen but I rise above it.
Talking to a river’s too easy somehow,
less of a competition. Stones give it
their all; rivers, on the whole, just chatter.
(but don’t tell them that, they won’t have it).
If there’s a point you want to get across
to a stone, don’t bother, save it
for when you’re talking to a river.
Never interrupt a stone; they’ll not forgive it,
they’ll say you talk too much then take
your share of the time and halve it.
Rivers won’t fight, but show them an obstacle,
they’ll move it.
while a stone thinks its viewpoint’s all that counts
and will stand and prove it.
But, Carole, talk to the stones all you like;
the river will hear you. Believe it.
Published in Poetry Review
My hairdresser doesn’t really get poetry;
he’s into Thai boxing, but he does ask about it.
We have these weird conversations
while we pretend there’s a point
in even talking about a new style.
He tells me about his broken nose,
how the A&E consultant lost patience
when he went straight out and got it broken again
and I tell him about stuff that’s alien
like doing readings to ten people
and spending more on a course
than I earn in a a year. He’s given up
trying to understand why I write
and I’ve given up trying to understand
the appeal of getting the shit kicked out of you.
I suggest the two activities are not so different;
he suggests a little layering at the sides.
Published in The Morning Star