Tadasana

Tadasana

Spread your fingers wide, arms raised

towards the sky, like the sun

is pulling you to new heights,

to open spaces now that your hands

are no longer wrapped tight around your body

with impossibilities repeating.

Meet your feelings as peace doves,

treat their wounds, gather up their spilled blood.

Let the daylight soak into the scars on your exposed skin,

breathe in to your love coming home.

A Bigger Picture

A Bigger Picture

We measure space as the distance between two objects;

destinations, travel time, our indecisive minds.

In the middle exists inertia’s shelved life –

TV screens and celebrity magazines

injecting the senses with anti-ageing regimes

till every self-love drugs test comes back clean.

When did we turn numb to natural beauty,

who decided we are done with the inbetween?

This Earth is crying for our attention

neglected more as years pass by,

it broke the sky to give us thunder and lightening

but we all just stayed inside, texting loved ones

with apologies for the minutes we had been away

and blaming the storm for poor phone signal.

We think this planet owes us a cloudless day

like it hasn’t already sacrificed its riches;

how could the rain be so selfish?

If You Liked It Then You Should Have Given Me A Bit Of Space

If You Liked It Then You Should Have Given Me A Bit Of Space

I like spreading my legs.

I like spreading my legs in a star shape,

a cross in the centre of the bed marking it as mine,

no more nights of someone’s snoring and being pushed to one side.

I built this bed with two hands and a dollop of pride

because the instructions said I’d need four

but anything’s possible after a glass of wine

and no one tells a stubborn feminist what to do so I was going to at least try

and what else was I meant to do with my Friday night?

Newly single in a new city and asked out by the removal guy that moved me here

like going to Pizza Hut and then watching him watch football and drink beer

wasn’t enough fun in my life.

I think the added spice came from his use of the word ‘babe’

and the blonde-haired “nephew” in his photo library

(and with hindsight his likely blonde-haired wife)

but at some point we all need the lesson

of a sleazy van driver from Preston

and his eloquent command of language

for the way he described my ‘smashing capacity’

really squirted that orgasm right out of me

as I scream out how blessed I feel to be free.

I had so much to learn at 23.

Moving on swiftly,

now the new bed has been put to the test

but those squeaking springs can’t drown out the words he needs to get off his chest

as he asks me a question, mid-grunt, in the middle of having sex,

nor how my clear response was oddly heard as a yes

when the next day it’s followed by a Facebook relationship request

as I do my best to spend the next three months politely bullshitting my way out of the impending doom

of spending any more nights in his parents’ box room

whilst a 30 year old man plays C.O.D in his marvel pyjamas

and with a tearful hangover tells me he’ll stop drinking soon,

he just needs to move out and buy a house

and it leaves me to wonder if he’d have more chance of achieving his life plans

if he tried waking up before noon?

I don’t mean to sound rude

but all I’ve done to this point is get with guys who have the self awareness of a teaspoon

so no wonder we don’t make it to that ‘honeymoon’ phase,

you’ll be lucky if I see you past the first date

the way you complain all night about the job which you hate

and then tell me it’s never for a lady to pay for her share of the food.

Well no offence mate but I probably earn more money than you

and the way you’re anxiously drowning in WooWoo cocktails

I’d guess I’m better at managing it too.

And what makes you think I’d want to go on holiday with you?

I agree that’s a great deal to fly to Morocco but we’ve only met twice

and although you seem nice

you’re a bit overbearing

and I just don’t think we’d make the best pairing

and when you drunkenly tell me you can’t wait to bend me over

I think I’d rather take the risk jumping off the cliffs down at Dover

than go home with you.

I hear your sober apology and understand that you’re stressed

but that’s got nothing to do with it

and has what you said

ever succeeded in getting a woman into bed?

Now don’t get me wrong, long term relationships can be beautiful

but not with you because that unsolicited dick pic really wasn’t suitable

even if you did reference a hummus meme.

Yes I know I said I like sweet chilli flavour but I really didn’t mean…that.

I think I might just be better off getting a cat,

at least they don’t invite themselves round for a sleepover at my flat

and feign surprise when I ask why they’ve brought an overnight bag,

or stalk my Instagram back to last summer

to tell me that my legs in those yoga shorts are a ‘fucking catch’

because yes that’s creepy

and no, surprisingly, I don’t think we’re a match.

And is it too much to ask that I get a night to myself?

No it doesn’t mean I don’t like you,

it means that sometimes my space is paramount to my mental health

and the notion of being around anyone 24/7 is my idea of hell.

I’m not about to settle down

with your list of expectations that I’m better off without.

You know I watched my mum trapped in a marriage with three children and no power to get out,

so forgive me for having doubts

that being a wife and mother is for me,

in fact I can tell you it isn’t with absolute certainty.

I’m not spending my life doing school runs and changing nappies and cooking the tea

so if you want that type of relationship then it’s best we just leave it here,

you’ve got your boxes to tick and I simply refuse to be her,

and I think some people just want those things because they have a fear of being alone.

I might decide to build a life with someone but it’s my heart that will always be my home

because I built this bed with two hands and a dollop of pride because the instructions said I’d need four

but anything is possible.

A Manifesto of Stolen Moments

A Manifesto of Stolen Moments

i. Space

I never knew existence could be so heavy, that loss could mean a weight

pinning me down with a hand around my throat, he squeezes the scream out of my skin

and it stains the ceiling, from where I stare through glazed empty eyes at my floating soul

looking back at a me unrecognisable; that is not me and not my body. The room is shrinking,

imploding in on itself to a black hole and I am plunging deeper into futility

through night terror territory into one-dimensional existence.

The void threatens to swallow me whole but I am too absorbed in life light years away,

amongst the planets in far off, distant galaxies where I visit dying stars

until gravity has its way. Flung face down on the concrete dirt floor, a year grounded

with spirit split in pieces, until a word tugs gently at the torn hem of my dress;

it is ‘Hope’, gazing graciously, wide eyed and innocent,

she offers a carefully folded slip of paper

and I caress the crumpled surface, screwed into a ball tightly clenched in my fist,

a touch of reality passes in whispers through the pores of my skin, till palm unfolds

and pages begin their reverse origami, multiplying blank page after blank page.

Mine to fill with the words I could not speak, those conceived in silence, grown in the dark

and birthed by some sacred entity, some Mother Earth

who would not have me give up on this life lightly. The writing comes in clumps,

forms on the page like poorly fitting clothes, I had not measured the depth of my feelings

nor the circumference of these curdled thoughts. Their presence demands

each letter is loved into its lines, that each sentence is scanned for signs of life

and shown how to breathe on its own. I fill these rooms with rhymes.

 

ii. Water

When raindrops escape from the clouds and lick my exposed skin they taste sadness.

It is why they are always coloured blue or grey, and not pink with shimmering glitter,

because everyone knows the flavours of sunlight and rainbows and happiness

without the need for touch, but poetry must be absorbed and drill deeper than the senses.

It is why I wear shorts in thunderstorms, why each droplet feels like a kiss;

it’s how the words soak in, and it doesn’t matter if I sink or swim

because there are still more words on the river bed floor, carried by the currents

back to their source, eroded by those who have used them before. With thirsty lovers

drinking scrambled letters as if hearts were a limited resource. I wash off their scent,

running a bath with the words that stay as I patiently wait for the hot ink to flow

as once it runs cold I know what is lost and grieving has found a new story

and I can move on to the next part of mine. Warm, wet sand between my toes

and I wade into the ocean, the words lapping at my ankles.

I wonder how I was ever afraid of the change in weather, how it took so long

to discover the water cure. I collect the wild, wandering, infant words in my net, tame them,

teach them how to paddle, and when they come across another wild, wandering woman,

drowning as I was, I ask them to let fall their anchor, fill her lungs

with the most delicate creations, keep her afloat, bring her back to land

and show her poetry.

 

iii. Fire

I have burned your strawberry fields to the ground. These flames taste sweet on my tongue,

dead plants breaking under my bare feet. I have been screaming since that June full moon

but Ceridwen used the twilight to brew me a potion and now a magic curse

runs words through my veins. Did no one teach you that witches don’t die at the stake?

We reclaim every cell of our bodies with centuries of words bled onto these pages,

for all the times a woman’s voice was hated and her rage was painted as something pretty,

without substance, without solidity, flimsy against the prison cell bars

that restrained our creative spark through history. We strip these silences down to their bones,

rebuild skeletons and hide them in closets till least expected, speaking in the language

of our ancestor’s ghosts, our words demand to be unchained from our throats

and now you can’t say you didn’t hear us say the word no because its embers

are scorching your sheets. Maybe now the next generation will read that freedom

is more than a concept. When anger melts into soft strokes of calligraphy,

I scribble a passionate prayer that our darkest points

do not brand us with armour nor harden our hearts. These ashes of dead letters

will fertilise new soil, for what are women made for but courage and fires in our bellies.

I will not stop writing till I can taste the ripe, delicious, sweetness of a strawberry

without it reminding me of you, and still then my writing will continue.

I will wet my finger, trace directions into the dust, brew courage on the stove,

hand out mugs to every woman who has ever felt the sting of a man’s branding iron,

marked by his hands, his skin, his cells.

A woman’s creativity cannot be kept in a cage and this collective fury

incites collective change. There may be tigers above and tigers below

but this moment is just one page in a library of feminist action,

I will not water down my reactions. The women before me offer their shoulders to stand on

as I hold fast to the torch that lights the way for the next one.

 

iv. Air

To me, poetry is oxygen. I don’t know how I ever breathed before without it.

The air is enriched, the wind brings ideas and phrases bit by bit

till they settle on the pen. With words I find freedom, lost in the images

formed in my imagination. Since I was a child

I pretended I could write stories and perform them, copying pages from books

and claiming them as my own creation. After dark, other children

would turn on the television, or creep downstairs for a midnight snack, but my feast

was a dim nightlight and a book of poetry. Reading is my meditation, writing my escapism,

I need them like I need my organs. Inspiration is all around us,

and those who don’t feel its breeze don’t know what they are missing. We live to create;

whether art, music or words on paper, and I can’t surround myself

with hearts and minds whose lungs don’t function the same as mine.

Creativity is the purest form of human expression, every inhale is a lesson

and exhale a forgetting, a letting go

of the poison that no longer serves us. I may be miles from ones I love,

ones I hope to see again, ones I have never seen and never loved

but where we share a connection, a swift breath, but still I can tie my words into a parcel

and send them like a hot air balloon across the sky in the hope they touch these others

and envelop them in another temporary reality, for just a short passage of time.

This is what I live for, and the more I get the more I want,

a shamelessly haunting addiction for fact or fiction. I have been in the position

where I wanted to die and a poem by Atticus saved my life. I have been in the position

where one I love tried to end their life and where no one else understood what it felt like,

but hooked up to a ventilator filled with poetry I begin to feel alright.

 

v. Earth

She both has roots and yet has none that tie her down. She aligns herself with the planets

but stands out from the crowd. She knows there is a past and a future but lives

here in the now. She calls herself Mother Nature and to her wild wisdom I bow.

Her words connect humanity and speak of love as a verb. Her thunder and lightning

demand to be heard.  She uses every season to bloom and to grow,

she nurtures plants to flower in spring then kills them off with snow.

She serves the world with stories and rhymes, she passes on tales of old,

whilst we encourage the youngest to fill our shoes and pray their hearts

do not grow cold. She formed me from her blood and soil, she kept me safe with tears,

through the river beneath the river she guides me through my fears. She refuses to stay silent

about the matters of the heart, she names the deepest emotions and turns them into art.

She matches words to the world outside, she gives song to my soul and she empowers

me to speak my senses and leave no shame untold. She translates my mental states,

whether blessing or disease and she welcomes in my demons and makes them feel at ease.

She seeks out what is missing and speaks in prophecy, she understands the universe

and how it takes care of me. Her heartbeat is the purest sound,

synced with those who have come before, they teach me how to love my scars

and turn them into words with doors. She encourages me to share of my darkness

and my light because vulnerability is my power and I find this when I write.

Her touch breeds electricity that generates the words, which fall independent

to my hands direction, I hold the pen for but a turn. Her chemistry breaks down the bonds

to the reality we know, the reaction liberates the words as they burst out and overflow.

She does not intervene with my free will but moves me just the same,

she knows when to make a rainbow and when I just need rain.

She spurs me on to leave my work out in the world alone

because the words will always visit as this was their first home.

She reminds me of the beauty in this nature’s sacred earth

and that I am made from the same fragments so should appreciate my worth.

She taught me how to speak up and how to project my voice

because words belong to everyone and how I use them is my choice.

She wants us to change the world one stanza at a time and own our stories

like they are held to ransom and we are fighting for our lives.

For we are not separate bodies, we are all parts of a whole.

Some may sing, scream, write, paint, dance, or simply listen

but we each have vital roles.

So if your God is a woman, you are both blessed and likewise cursed,

for we can’t ignore the pain and suffering but we can write them into verse.

 

A Lesson in Kinetics

A Lesson in Kinetics

Inhaling time, the Earth spun

twice and a billion miles around the sun

before I drew your lips to mine.

Parted in anticipation of atmospheric change,

this built up energy could start an earthquake,

so grasp my neck and I will breathe it out in rations.

Replace air with adrenaline, savour the taste

of being starved; Andromeda’s stars interlaced

with the chains I beg to be bound in.

Mercury 13

Mercury 13

Everywhere I look, women are shrinking,

it’s prolific in our postures in pictures

as if the perceived size of our hips,

lips, thighs or tits

is the potion of female liberation

like possession of the perfectly plucked or painted eyebrow

somehow proves we don’t need feminism now

because we can also wear trousers

and we sometimes get pockets

but we can’t enjoy these clothes,

they’re constrictive, and society is addicted

to our size,

so we’ll be made to feel shit in them anyway

whatever the scales say,

but go for what’s comfortable

and then we’re criticised for coming as ourselves

and not in the smart tight shirt, pencil skirt and stilettos

that showcase our skills to meet this job spec

better than a man can.

So, sorry, I stand corrected,

women can take up space

when they’re not perceived as a threat

but just a pretty face,

throw on some lace underwear

and men can stare at our chests

for a page in print.

I’ve took the hint,

breasts are there for aesthetics

and men can do what they like to them

but we’re shunned for using them

to dare feed our children

in a public place,

seems some men support our free the nipple campaign

only as long as they get a taste

and womenspreading is just seen

as when a woman spreads her legs,

it’s still about men filling our holes

and not about us reclaiming control

of our space and our bodies

for all the times it’s been taken away.

When my space was invaded through an act of rape

I thought I could never again exist in this body and feel safe,

danger lurked in every touch

in any place

on any date

and at first I’d just smile and put on a brave face

because I had no clue what to do with all this rage

and statistics convinced me

that fighting back increased the chance

my life would be left in the hands of a man

like with domestic violence

a woman is most at risk when she leaves

and in taking back her space

and having the opportunity to be free

she could end up six foot under the ground,

so tell me again that we don’t need feminism now?

See you might think that we don’t

because I’ve got the ability to speak

but outside of this poem

sometimes this voice is weak

and it’s quiet, and it’s sorry for taking up your time

and I doubt anyone would want to hear these experiences of mine

and I think I don’t deserve the lights

and the stage and a mic,

I’m still at war with myself and every day is a fight

to create my own space, in a room of my own,

I want to join the grrrls at the front

and get out my comfort zone

taking action, and not just writing poems at home.

I want to see more women in politics and on panel shows

and on bookshelves and in stand up and as CEOs

and as leads in films that pass the Bechdel test

and on the front line and going to press

and in magazines for our talent, not whether we looked good in a dress,

and on our own at nightclubs

because our ass won’t get grabbed

by some creep passing by

who tells us to smile when we just want to cry.

Instead the world will give us our slice of the pie

and the more calories the better

because this stands for our rights,

and we’ll show up for ourselves,

tell stories, create music, make art,

in honour of the women before us who couldn’t

and for those women amongst us who still can’t.