Broken Grapes


Doctor:         There is something wrong, right        here

[he pokes me, mid-belly]

shaped like a bunch of grapes:                a pancreas

                pumping in-su-lin

Me:                   Oh        is that bad

[I prod the childish folds

                between ribcage and bony                abdominals

        looking for        grapes

but it makes me wince, feeling the drip

snagging the cotton of my school blouse]

Doctor: You will have to inject

                        every day

Me: [clammy, imagining

my belly sucking the steel

like a shaking, smokeless cigarette]

Doctor:                 Too much sugar

                in the blood

Me:         [sealing the eyes of snowmen

                on my advent calendar

with dirty hands,

        retching globs of chocolate]

Doctor: There is no cure

Me: That’s bad isn’t it

Doctor:         But there is a treatment

        [again, slower]                        in-su-lin

[brings out a pen from his pocket

                tomato-red         but full of—]

Me: In-su-lin?

Doctor:         That’s right

                        [airshot, cold clear arc

        smelling of                 paints and stinging]

just in your belly        won’t hurt a bit

Me:                 It all hurts

Doctor:                        This won’t hurt

Me: [pulling my jacket to                 my shoulders

                with the sleeves forever

trailing back                like a straitjacket]

                Is there no other way?

        [I am queasy with these         broken grapes]

Doctor: No                [he sighs softly

                the needle is                 smiling,

        he apologises                I think.

                        and the green grapes plump

at my bedside                        are sugar-lumps

cold refreshing         poison

in the dry sob                of my mouth]



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Plate of fresh lemons

After my blood has swirled away
into ribbons in the phlebotomist’s hand,

weeks after the firm rub
of the nurse’s palm on my bicep,

the agony on cold carpets
in empty houses,

I cradle a steel bowl. Whisk. Weigh
lemons in each hand.

A numb cumulus of steam
clams the kitchen, puffs on the tiny window

as I lean in silence, swing open the latch
to a birdless yard

stiff and creased with winter.
The lemons sweat in their pans.

The clouds rise, pale as butter—
puddling skyward, precious as breath.

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A small girl clicks past
on a bicycle, shudders down a gear
as I sprint, greasy in the rain
to race her in secret. Her socked legs

tumble and fail, tiny scabs
of geranium flashing wet
on her knees as she flings herself
onto her driveway, bicycle

skewed like a crow. I fold double,
pant in the laughing wind.
In the frosted glass, her mother blurs,
tugs open the door

and I need it all of a sudden—
the gasping unveiling of gritty knees,
the silence of drizzle and rust.

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The towels give you away. They surface like fish
across bedsheets, bath mats, the space you claim─
belly piercing clinking against the sink
in front of the hairsprayed mirror. Sometimes I hear them

beside baskets, heavy as mud, their damp thud
at the foot of your bed. Grinding each high heel
into the fibre, fake tan smudging your feet,
your shadow unravels from bath towels,

tugged from a sour heap. Stunned to see
I have some of you left, I heap them into my arms,
mine them from mildewed corners. Cuddle their stale folds.

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Nobody Takes Romeo Seriously Anymore




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Train Wreck


train wreck

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Smoke Signals


We grew apart in inches, not miles.
The house hummed, an empty theatre,
our mother pushing the vacuum
between our silence. Hacking
clots of broken words, your lungs
drained themselves into your pillows,
fists thumping softly
until you sucked in again, stained your breath
from a chilly window. Where are you–

I knuckled the question into the wall
which dragged on between us, searched
with my palms for your warmth.
A blank inch pulled you away, and I listened
to those hisses, those furious sobs,

heard the weight of them
bending your spine. The vacuum
tumbled to a stop. You stopped hissing,
opened your window, blew quiet smoke
across mine.

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