plugging the fingertips
sockets of suffering
sends an electric current straight
into the heart
pain into the palms and soles
and cynicism into the brain
you could ask
how do I solve the global problem?
not only now
do the eyes see,
but the heart feels
and where do we draw the line
between selfish ignorance
and hopeless engulfment?
thinking positively
does not stop
children being abused
or wars from breaking out
but neither does
drinking the mercury of suffering
what do you do with the anger of injustice
when you see it everywhere?
cut it off, the discarded stem of a vegetable?
become the righteous adjudicator
of opinions?

do much to
keep the homeless warm
or the vulnerable safe

I wish I could eat the pain
of others
I wish I could
disappear my own

perhaps the best thing I can do
is turn it into compost


the dirt

women, the balm
balm for my wounds
seamstresses of my heart
blood in my blood
those men never related to me
they just wanted my eyes wide
and my mouth wide
maybe I wanted their eyes wide too
or maybe I just wanted a new father
but they are not in my blood,
like you women are in my blood.
come, warriors
on the other side
of the world
inside a phone screen
or ten tube stops away
over bread and oil,
or cigarettes
or creating –
you warriors,
you make my bones strong
and my mind agile.
let me do the same for you
and let me stop apologising
for needing you
you pearls,
you islands,
you sisters.
and I will cry too
and we will
lock our fingers together
and keep growing out of the dirt.


little moon baby
eyes like mine
deeper than black holes
telling tales of destruction
her hand rests on my hip
and I would never compare her to
a doll, but
the words to describe someone so
precious and delicate escape me
her skin is snow
so how do I melt when
it’s mine that is warm?
we will never understand us or them
those beasts of brawn and hair
they fill the holes but don’t heal
I wonder if I want to love her
as I wish I loved myself


I peer at all the constituent parts
and touch them pore by pore
feeling for which are more
pleasing to the eye and the mind
I wonder why it
is so unacceptable to be imperfect
in mood or mind or
visual appeal
I wonder what it is like to
be free from your own jagged scrutiny
my face is so covered with labels
I try to peel them off
but they leave trails of glue and whiteness behind
I wonder
is it more of a crime against
my fellow man
to let go or cling on?
and why is it
that no love given ever seems enough?
shapes hang over the questions
that have no answers
and so I dream of what it would be like
to be the honest accurate whole


in the late london skyline
the real london skyline
the landscape buzzes with the lights of
a hundred rooms
not the billion-dollar investments
nor the phallic financial monuments
not the architect’s stone wonders
nor the flags of palaces
no, in the real skyline
stand a hundred homes
stacked in squares and rising
above that bridge-road.
a hundred mothers
a hundred children
a hundred rooms belonging to
kids you sat next to in dusty assemblies
a hundred kitchens that
could be full of anything at all
maybe some with an excess of plastic bags in
a larger plastic bag
maybe some with new mixer taps
maybe some with letters in a dishevelled pile on the table (have you seen my letter from the hmrc)
maybe others with letters pinned orderly to a cork board (I put up your letter from the hmrc).
in the blocks for hundreds
only a few lights remain switched on
at this ungodly hour.
the mothers and the rest now asleep
the stacks loom dark
but promise life
with the lights left on in kitchens and stairwells and bedrooms.
among them
splitting the sky open like a great
glaring wound
effervescent with hot bubbling blood
stands the great black tomb in the sky
the great black fucking tomb in the sky
the great burnt shame in the fucking sky
it seems bigger, somehow
than the breathing blocks around it
that make so well this skyline that I love
it seems bigger.
this carcass
this ode to death
this ode to greed
should be full of us,
full of life
full of joy and sadness and ambivalence and
shit dinners and good dinners and irritation and
nights in front of the tv and
parties that go on too long and
noisy upstairs neighbours and
neighbours that never make a sound at all.
but instead, now
this ode to greed
this ode to murder
this ode to a community’s hellish grief
this ode to their screams of anguish and injustice
this ode, it
cries it’s message into the city.
and the blistering corruption of death
coats us all.

so pay attention
because we live
pay attention
because they rest in ash
pay fucking attention
and hold onto your humanity
dig yr nails into it’s flesh and don’t ever
let it go
pay attention.
to what happens
pay attention.
pay attention.
(don’t forget them)
pay attention.
pay attention.
and dismantle the chain reaction
of tired decisions that
lead to the destruction of our humanity
pay attention.
and don’t
you ever fucking forget them
don’t you ever
forget how they rest in our skyline
pay attention.
pay attention.


to the other family,
the one who gave me all the
warmest memories.
how do I thank them now
for their homeliness?
I never
wanted to go home –
whether creating
hard-hitting remakes of
the sim city newscaster on
your video camera, or
jumping off the climbing frame,
or getting chocolate
everywhere in the kitchen, or
getting all of you
round that glowing kitchen table by
the range cooker to
laugh at my jokes or
us getting all to
collaborate in a group impersonation
of a father ted scene

I never
wanted to go home
not from that womb of a place

going off on one

alright, forgive me for going off on one… a combination of having to write an essay on the Israel-Palestine conflict, hearing stories of abuse towards innocent young people and seeing a homeless man basically choking to death whilst overdosing on drugs last night plus this MOTHERFUCKING ELECTION have wound me up to the point where my heart is literally hurting.
I refuse to stand by and bitch when I could be challenging people to think more about the real impact of social justice. if you are someone who is able to turn the other cheek – who can ignore the suffering of millions of people not just in the wider world in war-torn countries but in the UK as well, right on your fucking doorstep – then you are FUCKING LUCKY. the fact that you get to prioritise your own financial interest over the fact that there are people fucking dying on the street, that there are children being abused in their homes who have nowhere to go, the fact that you care more about losing a relatively small sum of money to tax than you do human suffering… OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES! it is circumstances of luck and privilege that allow you to have these views, nothing more. one tiny event could change your life forever and you could lose that.
turning the other cheek is so prevalent in human history that it makes me burn with rage. reaching out with your hands and your heart, engaging your empathy and doing something worthwhile for your fellow humans – facing the truths that make you uncomfortable, that make you sad – that make you angry – it has never been more necessary. I wish for one moment that more people could engage. we live in a society so focused on personal progression, wealth, and individualism that we have completely forgotten what it is to truly be human.
I’m not saying you “have to” or “should” give fifty quid to the next homeless person you see. but we should ALL think seriously about our own values and suffering. think seriously about whether you really care about frittering away money on pointless bullshit that will never make you happy. to find your cause, to really truly, actively GIVE something – will bring you freedom, joy, humanity… (aka THE ENTIRE POINT OF BEING ALIVE!).
yes, we all deserve to be comfortable and selfish sometimes. I would never suggest that anyone put themselves in any kind of peril to do “the right thing”. life only works when we give and take, when we remind ourselves that we both deserve to receive the kindness of strangers and that it is absolutely imperative to give it. of course it is so much easier to ignore the horrendous aspects of humanity and say, “well I would never do that” – but evil things are not so black and white and obvious.
if you care – which I think the enormous majority of people do – take your focus off of yourself for one moment and think about whether your self-interest really brings you any joy.
if everybody gave back… if everybody engaged with the deep humanity they are capable of… the world would be a better place.
I do not enjoy being confronted with the very real, very present stories of suffering that I hear in my job. they make me feel sad, angry, frustrated, exasperated and heartbroken. but then I remember I can actually make a FUCKING DIFFERENCE – and those emotions ebb away quietly and I feel a deep satisfaction and joy knowing I have given something worthwhile, even if it’s only tiny.
give something – you will be surprised at what you get in return.
gonna go and dunk my head in a bucket of ice now