In the winter of 1962 my mother
gathered up her baby her trembling soul
climbed into the Mini my father had bought
as penance for his bad behaviour drove
until she found herself on Hyde Park Corner
travelling round and round in shrinking circles
not sure how to execute the move outwards
into another lane never having been
properly taught how to make an exit
Valentine For Turbulent Times
When you open your eyes to find great love
beside you and you tease open the heart
with kisses and coffee and you yawn and yearn
and reach towards this snowdrop morning,
a few lines of bliss might achieve lift-off
but for the cacophonous news that rolls
across your horizon grinning from
its armoured tank as it exits the hatch
to trip you up with its big dirty boots, even
before you have a chance to rise. And love?
There it is, running from fire and terror,
small and useless like the unseasonal
ladybird crawling across this page,
confused about what to do with its wings.
A man with dye and dodgy needles waits
behind the blackened window by the bridge.
Check out his flash: a gaudy bird, a heart,
a manacle, two fuck-you fingers etched
in red. Choose. Then let him excavate
your skin. At first the burn, later the itch.
Irrevocable ink. You may regret
his handiwork; be careful what you wish.
No scalpel cure, no wash-away design;
years later, bend the track-way of your spine,
find yin and yang above the knicker line.
Laser away; old patterns will persist.
Your skin remembers. Try this: clench a fist
or flex an arm and watch the serpent twist.