English, Poetry

Quattro Stagioni

Quattro Stagioni

They shared their first home with his sister
who shared her bed with communists
in crochet bikinis and LSD fog.

They shared their second home with 12 cats
who shared all the space between outdoors loo, garage
and a fir tree planted in the old fish pond.

In their third home, they shared
a sense of impending disaster from seeing the flood marks
on the cellar walls, way above their heads.

In their fourth homes, they share
boxes of dried thyme, milk teeth, empty rooms, musty
Vogue and Men’s Health magazines and his late mother’s unplayed piano.

English, Poetry

Love was a shield

Love was a shield

Late for school because of a dragonfly,
a fear of rabid foxes
and — just in case we’d lick them —
cocaine on the backs of collectible stickers.

The world outside our windows wasn’t free
and batteries weren’t included.
I traded my stuffed Garfield for a Keypers.
Mum made me go back the next day to unswap them.

English, Poetry

Skin types

Skin types

It’s late, though impossibly early for going to bed.
You’ll have bought your birthday present from the money I left you
visited Jake’s workshop and gone dancing with his wife.
The couple we loved like we thought we would never
the ones we would give up our jobs for
and found a commune with. Or at least I would.

Last week, Jake gave you some samples
of skin creams to try. I wonder if they suit your type.

English, Poetry

Art matters

Art matters

Travelling with a famous artist
is not the glamour it’s said to be
except for the gleam of the silver bubbles
that cushion the ride on the Jubilee.

‘Guess whose print I’ll bring home tonight,’
I message my lover from Waterloo.
“I don’t know the options!” He hesitates.
“Lichtenstein? Haeckel? Kiviharju?”

Thumbs up.  ‘Original.’
“Whaaaa!” I chuckle.
He just asks, “Worth?”



A picture paints a thousand words.

As a member of 26.org.uk, I couldn’t resist a project called “26 Prints” — setting the challenge of responding to a print in exactly 62 words (a sestude). Incredibly, we were allowed to take an original artwork home for a month — to hang it in our favourite spot and look at it every day. All leading up to a public exhibition at Eames Fine Art in London, complete with exhibition catalogue.

In late January 2017, I joined 25 other writers for the Prints Pairing Night. 26 numbered original prints were scattered around the studio, each covered with black paper. Each of us picked a number from a bowler hat with their one free hand (holding a generously sized glass of wine in the other). The range was simply incredible: amazingly beautiful prints by contemporary artists, some of whom had joined us in the room. Sophie Layton being my favourite — but I also loved Malcom Franklin‘s abstract works, Michael Barratt‘s mysterious whimsy and the incredible detail in Austin Cole‘s etching of St Paul’s and Shard.

I’ve been a Warhol fan all my life — I love the aesthetic, the philosophy and the wildness of the Studio, and I spent my teenage pocket money on obscure mis-pressings of Velvet Underground albums (Phil Collins behind a banana cover, anyone?). So I was over the moon when I randomly picked his Dollar Red.

26 Prints is on until 16 April. See it at the Eames Gallery, 58 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UD.

English, Poetry

Elvis is Alive!

A little more action 

He delivers my mail
on a rainy Wednesday afternoon
he leaves notes in old-fashioned cursive

He’s touring Germany
last week he sang
for my mother’s sixtieth birthday

He looks up from across Moe’s in Ottawa
and winks at a stunned stoned face
with his right eye

Elvis is a little-known
recipe for a Peanut Butter Sandwich
with a little more bite — “Simple and Elegant”

Elvis is a 19-year-old labourer from Norwich
he impressed on television
with his androgyny thing

Elvis isn’t dead.
He just went home
to a little less conversation.


First published on 26 Lies.

Image by Natalie Bone.