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When I was twenty-one,

a large ungainly man, the colour of rainbows,

sent me a birthday card embossed with heartache

over love of me; a dozen bled roses,

and a compliation tape of happy songs.


This was the final unrequited gift, coming on the tail of fifty-two love letters strewn across the year.


I woke up then to the beauty of his hand, the man

whose fierce affections were so kind to shine on me,

and I picked up the phone from my hospital gaol,

and asked with tears in my fanciful head,

if he would marry me.


My proposal came as a shock,

judging from the broken words that zipped across the line,

so unlike his finely crafted letters.

But he said ‘yes’ – to my regret,

and we courted over six long weeks of hospital leave

until I came to my senses and realised that I must let him go,

that I could not go through with love or marriage

for this, or any man, while my head was full of razor blades.


I broke his heart all over again and made him feel like a fool.

He ran away, became an émigré a million urgent miles from me.


And I went back to hospital to do my time.




Showtime On The Psychiatric Ward


The circus master

draped in stars and stripes

signals the crowd to hush.

I stride on stilts into the ring.

A patchwork of beautiful faces

beam with incredulous pride

as I take my first bow

Then stun them with a back flip.

Fucking genius! , the crowd are gasping.

They don’t know whether to applaud

or apprehend me.

Next thing I know

I’m in the recovery position.

A limp daffodil stares

from the bedside table.

Time to take your two O’clock,

says a familiar voice in the background.

I’m back in the land of pacing ghosts.

A flush of adrenaline swells me back to life.

Open the window!

Fetch me my wings!