Silence; Ragdoll Cat; If Anywhere Needed Punk, it Was Belfast

Two poems illustrated by images of performance art including a series called 'Mattresses' performed at the Crescent Arts Centre. I lay inside a white painted mattress, it's springs mostly removed. Other mattresses lay in a line like coffins in memory of those who'd died. 


There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou

We could not tell the story
of the spy and the girl.
Her innocence
and my ignorance:
afraid to confess
how she was captured.
So we let the silence ring,
like church bells.
Forbearance was all we had.
Our unspoken love for each other,
sweeter than honeysuckle.

sweeter than all the pain.

Ragdoll Cat

A man with the pellet gun shot her sister. I zip her
into my parka every morning, cover us both with the hood.
She vibrates, purrs deep in her throat, as pigeons coo and jackdaws caw.
Safe along the lane now, she leaps onto the hedge, climbs a gnarled tree
the shape of my heart. Fluff ball clouds between the mountains, mist on the hills.
Field: a blanket of sacred spider webs. A thousand drumlins, a trillion drops of dew.
Buddhists walk carefully, say mantras for any creature they may step on. ‘Tread softly.’
I whisper to her. She’s taken
to walking on her hind legs, stance of an orangutan, waddle of a penguin,
sings of birds and fish. They say enlightened beings
can reincarnate in a million different forms. I tell her stories
of my teacher’s compassion, how he’d encourage us to save a life,
go to the fish farm, haul barrels of trout back on trailers,
release them down stream in the river Esk. He’d pack again for Tibet:
clothes for the elderly he’d rescue, wool for women to weave, books
for children he’d save. How small we felt
as this resolute man took flight through dangerous terrain.
I could not zip him into my coat nor cover him with my hood.
Enemies killed him, leaving a hole in the earth, wider than a crater
and deeper, bereft now of mountains, fluff ball clouds, mists and spider webs.

Ragdoll cat climbs up my parka into the hood, hums of fledglings and fingerlings.

If Anywhere Needed Punk, it was Belfast.

First time at dinner he sat on the floor
slugging cider from a bottle, while we sipped Bordeaux,
talked of Jung and Carl Rogers.
Now and again banged his Doc Martins on the wall and sang:
God save the queen the fascist regime.
They made you a moron, a potential H. bomb.
When my guests left I sat beside him:
Yer brains are locked away.
But I love your company,
marched up and down, arm salutes:
Never mind the bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols.
Passed out, I dragged him to the settee,
tucked a blanket over his combat suit.
He gazed at me. I fell into his deep eyes and drowned.
A mumble ‘Thanks wee girl.’
We met again and again.
Treaded dimly lit narrow cobblestone streets
to the dilapidated barbed wired Harp Bar in the city centre.
Pogoed to ‘Stiff Little Fingers’, ‘The Undertones’, ‘The Outcasts‘
and ‘The Moondogs’.
My hair white and spiked,
his, red as flames, purple as the sky above Vesuvius
and Aero blue as a rain shower.
Me in red baggy pants and a Vivienne Westwood straps jacket.
He wore leather and studs.
All heroes, all famous jumped on each other’s backs,
squirted bottles of lager in the air,.
rolled on the floor in a flood of alcohol.
He was the ultimate anarchist, a DIY artist.
We’d piggy back home, army and police looking for snipers.
Too stoned to know I was mad about him, yet our intimacies

had the passion of a boy in love.