Thursday, October 26, 2017


A crow has been haunting my window sill, to catch a glimpse of me.

Every morning at eleven I hear his claws clatter, 
the inquisitive tap as he presses his beak to the glass,
His round eye inquires: Well, is she…? 
Once he's satisfied I’m still there, he flies away.

I doubt kissing him would produce any effect,
Other than scratches and a possible gouge or two
For me, and storm clouds in that round crow eye
And a confused racing in that grey crow chest
And maybe a fear more potent than admiration.

In any case, I’m zero princes short of a happy ending:
An admirer who isn’t creepy, 
A well-wisher who allows me my space,

And me with something to look forward to, every eleven o’clock.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

good girl

It is like I am little,
And Ma is encouraging me—instructing, really—
To hand over Hungry Hippos—my favourite game—
to the little boy in the drawing room who wanted it.
He's smaller than you, she says, he wants it so
—I can hear him crying, it's brightly lit out there—
Be a good girl and give it to him.

I did, but I don't remember that bit. It
Didn't seem to matter if he was grateful.
I wouldn't have been allowed to throw a fit like that, the brat.
I only remember my mother's urging, be good.
Alright, I must have thought. If she's sure.

I'm told I'm an accommodating type. My family
Would laugh at that, but my friends do agree—
That lesson has stayed. I will do almost anything
To be thought of as good. I will learn, keep on learning,
What good is.

It sounds fine, but there are key points when
To be thought good by the most people is a failing:
To intervene in a popular instance of bullying.
To never explain how angry you are, and why.
Even hungry to be patted on the head by those I love:
Like a dog—even if they are wrong, they are the masters
Of biscuits, the controllers of the ball.

Not my parents any longer, they will object. Like most kids,
I've gone through the rebellious phase; any principles but theirs,
I seem to have vowed. Unluckily for me, there were always
Others to love and put in their place.
Most would say luckily, I know.

I am holding the Hungry Hippos box, already packed up for giving,
And only the pleading look is left to me. Since then I have had
Much more to keep than I had to give away then; I tell myself
I haven't the right to question whether selfishness might have been
The better course. And of course, I haven't the courage
to pat my own head and take the consequences.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An evening of Rummy

In a hand that looked like a winner when you picked it up
There are cards that already line up—‘pure sets’—
And cards that might and cards that surely won’t, 
Unless others decide likewise 
And you’re clever enough to take leavings.
Foraging what you can get
From what others don’t value, 
And, just sometimes, getting what you want
By wanting it harder,
Is the game. 

That is all fine as far as it goes,
But what happens when you’re 
Irrationally drawn to spades
—so sharp and dark—
And scathing of diamonds,
Or when you drop a card someone wants,
See them pounce on it, and grit your teeth
In moral quandary? 
(All the while trying to seduce 
The one across the table with
your skills and winning?)

Holding your cards in a tight fan
—too tight, not how the pros do it—
Trying to look as convincing as those who take it seriously
While knowing you don’t, you can’t, you can’t afford to.

The food dwindles and the clock pirouettes and 
You’re learning about the others—she’s surprisingly clever—
and everyone has a strategy, and they all seem unfamiliar;
It’s with relief that when someone proposes Snap,
We descend from our card-ramparts,

Squealing at the advent of—what a stroke of brilliance!—chips.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


'Could you turn it down?' he says,
Looking up from his book-
'I love you, but not that much.'
And grins, lopsidedly, that grin I adore—
Secretly, far too much.

What can I do? 
The knobs are dysfunctional, the 
Gradation markings erased over time;
Once turned on, you just have to
Keep checking I won’t burn you.

Perhaps that’s why I keep warming to those 
Whose hearts are marked Non-flammable.


I ought to be typing. 
The others, in the silence of the quiet study section,
Are vociferously typing. 
Power, F says, is everywhere, its roots creeping
Unseen into our psyches, freezing us so immobile
That our shoots only wave in the gales;
And little clicks in the silence
Are the sounds of sap creaking, sighing.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Are you hunting for whatsapps upon the floor,
Or pings upon the stairs?
Worried that the beeps and cheeps and rings
Were muffled by the carpet hairs?
Is your inbox overflowing (yet empty)?
Your face in a glassy stare?
Are you searching for signs of love forgot
And finding ones that didn't care?'

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Oyster Card

I remember the London buses
Like cheap postcards, fridge magnets and plastic models
—Pillarbox red and memorabilious.
I remember, on our free day off
From our carefully-chosen tour package
—Most places–least cost–'local' food—
we took a Red Bus tour.

I remember my father fumbling
with coins from that all-important belly-bag.
I remember the people behind us in queue
With blank faces. I remember
the shame—I could do this faster. I
don't remember the guilt that it was
His savings he was counting out, reduced to coins
And each one strange and precious.

I remember sitting upstairs in the drizzle,
Droplets obscuring the panes of the half-roof;
We still keep photographs of a glassy, dim London and
The freezing thrill of leaving
Our tourist dog-collars behind
at Trafalgar Square bus stop.