Stringfoot: poem

They perched with pigeons on early morning

complex concrete

Fingers at his scalp

she pulled downwards

so he could see up;

blowing smoke into paint stripper skies

He’d tugged at cigarette papers

to counterfeit teething

 

Catacomb-profiled, he faced

empty, yellow-paned trains

Conjuring jaundiced figures at every glass

The carriages’ silk charmed loving eyes

disguising suffocation for easy air

 

Pollution painted black circles under their eyes

took one finger and pulled dirt

dragged exhaustion into the crow’s feet

Thinning the skin. But

promising they would not be out for long

she bent back his neck

and gulped in July

as if it would never make her sick

 

 

EM HUMBLE

 

Swollen: poem

There’s a story of a boy

who kept frogs in his mouth

No one but him

can say who put them there

 

He let them chew on his lips

bite at his cheeks

turn over words with his tongue

for months

until he could barely speak

 

Said he never lay down with a woman

‘lest they creep out’

in the blue

eyes sometimes closed

they might crawl on her lids

She wouldn’t recognise her name

in his throat

Pleased he did not croak ‘I love you’

I love you

I love you

 

EM HUMBLE

(Michelangelo): poem

Bodies intertwined like ivy

I told him he looked gorgeous

Bare chested and sprawled

content breathing in 5am purple skies

David in my bed;

marble and smiling

His red pen on leather complexion

a hushed and prickled skin

My hair strewn as confetti

on pillow cases:

congratulations

 

‘Right back at ya’

he said, as if spitting out gum

‘back at ya’

 

 

EM HUMBLE

Proper: poem

Projecting light on her face

she stood at the head of the desks

the top of the room

Announced the theme

of Greeks and their poetry

of performance, painting and philosophy

I strained to enlighten myself, desperate

to learn of customs, civilisation and culture

But was declined from high society

by mouth

 

Got caught up in her ‘O’s drawn out

from her throat like sucked string

Slipped over the surplus of ‘R’s

added in after giving over to gluttony

An ‘R’ must follow an ‘A’

‘drarmatic’, ‘clarssic’, she’s overdosed on arsenic

licks verbal diarrhea onto

white marble as she speaks

Not learnt to laugh in her pauses

not trained to smile in her speech

 

I keep my home in my mouth

chewing on words, each

syllable less important than the last

Talking in colour

always forecast for rain but

I think the way we speak’s perfect

top notch, bloody brilliant, first class

 

 

EM HUMBLE

Chlorine: poem

At 10

I could not find comfort in chlorine

Its bleach burnt my nose

sat in my throat

I had to wear lycra layers

safety goggles, a peg to plug me up

Sat wrapped in damp towels

puckering on cold poolside

I got rough dry and left

hair tangled in sinus stinging mess

The water emptied and filled

the tiles mopped and swept

 

And I return, 8 years late

reflect in the cyanic depths

since I slept in deep sea dreaming

feet feeling smooth ceramic

Stirring these waters

easy as breathing

Enveloped in blue coating

like I wear my own skin

Letting light over my limbs

swirling gold coins, swim

out, dive down, and

let the chlorine in

 

 

EM HUMBLE

Sixteen: poem

Take me back to sixteen

To falling

deeply

wholeheartedly

willing

 

Take my organed ribs

play them;

those rollercoaster lungs

Sing jazz in my ears

sixteen

 

The architect’s houses

we built for ourselves

live out the fantasy

Daydream

of waking next to you

in white sheets

sixteen

 

Cry for the perfection

Your face

the best I’d ever seen

sixteen

 

 

EM HUMBLE

These Paths: poem

I walk you

like you’re my own scar

know every mark

on each bone, far

 

away from smooth

pavement stone, cars

drowsing in their

distant drone, are

 

you feeling the tread

of my feet land

on worn-out rock,

boggy peat and

 

the itching of grass

on your legs, fine

but soft like your palm

and fingers in mine

 

 

EM HUMBLE