How To Be Desirable 10
Being Lippy 12
The Symptoms Of Sleep 14
Keeping The Wolf From The Door 17
Epitaph For Margaret Thatcher 18
Red Thread 19
Against The Coastguard Cuts 20
Dragging The River 22
Horse Racing 25
Home Truths 27
His Story 29
On Being Wise 30
After Dinner Haiku 31
Grandma Has Sewn Thunder 35
The Importance Of Being A Dole Scrounger 36
The Chainsaw Sculptor 38
The Blade 39
Billy’s Car 41
Coming To Terms With The Work Ethic 42
Some Men Are All The Same 43
A Poet’s Manifesto 44
Mary Is A Single Mother 46
Kitchen Goddess Genesis 47
A Revelation Of Breasts 48
The World Is Our Own Backyard 50
Type 2 53
Jumble Sale Queen 55
Getting Over the Guilt 57
Shiva, Waking 60
Taking The Piss 61
A Surfer’s Sonnet 63
A Funeral Request 64
Why We Must Invest More In The Arts 66
Zen Clerihew 67
Pink butterfly nestled into roseate nectarine.
Plump white peach.
Pomegranate splitting red with ripening.
Pale peony bud, peeping petals.
Double-bloomed camellia, dusky, crumpled.
countless pale-pink Phaleonopsis.
Full-fleshed rose, or
a butterfly rising from an opening iris.
Folded, dark winged moth.
Tiny, peeping, sleeping mammal.
Undersea creature, coral fronds frilling.
Glistening oyster open to the tide.
Closed, lobed seed-pod.
Over-ripe Victoria plum.
Fat fig, lush with summer.
HOW TO BE DESIRABLE
Media says that you've got to get fit,
lose a lot of weight ‒ not just a little bit,
got to get smooth skinned, got to get a tan,
got to get fixed up if you want to get a man.
Media says that you’ve got to stay young,
got to get your lips plumped, eyelids done,
chemical peel all wrinkles from your skin ‒
just a little bitty dimple ‒ and you’ve got to get thin.
Then media says that you’ve got to get thinner,
look at these celebrities, eat no dinner,
got to suck the fat from your belly and your hips,
stick it in your breasts and a bit into your lips.
Got to get big tits, silicone discs,
up a triple cup size ‒ never mind the risk ,
designer vaginas, tighter than a glove,
got to fit right or you won’t get loved.
Live the look and love the look – read the magazines,
be a Facebook profile picture queen,
got to get a following, got to get a plan,
got to get fixed up or you won’t get a man.
Media says create illusions of success,
high-achieve with white teeth ‒ smile to impress!
Got to get a guru, got to be beautiful,
got to look natural on all things pharmaceutical.
Media morons manipulate the facts,
say: epilate, depilate, pluck and wax!
Neaten your bikini lines, Hollywood, Brazilian!
(Itching for a fortnight, then you do it all again) .
Fix it up, hitch it up, turn yourself around again!
Needles full of fillers, botox and collagen!
Gravity will bitch it up, got to fix it all again!
Turn around and lose a pound again again again AGAIN!
Get it from the clinic, get it on credit,
cosmetic medics do it Direct Debit,
Don’t let yourself go (someone famous said it)
and don’t let others know how much of you, you have to edit.
Media mocks with misogynist taboos.
Older, fatter women are the losers in the news.
Thinking of adventures underneath the knife?
Sisters, get a grip now. Go and get a life!
To even speak its name mimes out a kiss:
This bullet stick of buttered hues
aims smooth, to sheen its mysteries
on lips that choose to show, not just to tell.
I learned its tarty craft by mother’s side:
a prim grimace of lips curled tight to teeth
as she haughtily peeped in her mirror and sleeked
shades of Ruby Red, Gingerbread, Summer and Plum.
At my first Moon’s blood, she bestowed another gift:
a twist up stick from which I could slick
a lick of palest pink onto my grin!
This feminine totem in chrysalis case
initiated a lifelong taste
for beeswax, carnauba wax, candelilla,
aromas of rosewater, honey and subtle vanilla,
encouraging colours from Candy to Can-Can,
from Cupid to Hellfire to Red Hot Mama,
from Blossom Pale and now, to Autumn’s Glow.
Lipstick transforms like a witches wand
anoints with kisses, the loved and the blessed
stains evidence on collars and undressed flesh:
alchemical ally of Bible scorned Jezebel
who petitioned with pigment painted lips
the Great Tart Herself: Astarte, Ishtar!
Libating Her Name in luscious legacy
for latter-day ladies and our liberated libidos.
And lipstick states sisterhood with suffragettes
who reclaimed rights to scarlet women’s Harlot Red,
and danger-signalled democratic mouths
with unguents of beetles blood, and red-lead,
and this same aesthetic, in waxen cosmetic,
unexpectedly gifted at Belsen-Bergen’s liberation,
soothed those sisters' starving mouths
with crimson, human, dignity.
There are queens, and refugees, and all of us between
who in coloured codes and gloss and gleam,
choose to express the convictions
contradictions and afflictions of the female sex,
so that even in our silences we speak this heritage
to those who would read our lips.