Sick lights


Some mornings, when the light
is full of the furred and flashing
pounding of shells, shrapnel bright
and biting, bitter bile rises
like cockcrow from beyond the trees,
stirring the shards, pecking
and scratching with spurred feet.

Some mornings I close my eyes,
try to stop the dizzying, disjointed
fireworks dance, the techno beating
silence and, fumbling with trembling
fingers, hang above the roaring flood
that pours over the edge of the night.

Head aches


In the heat the head swells and throbs

cricket-like with pain and dancing lights

in the stomach that rise with sea-swell twittering.


Blue batters the eyelids with syrup

cloying sickening

and there is too much gold in the air.


The words come slow and thick gluey

as honey-dew loud as the din of the crows

barking at the bilious sky.

Head in the rain


Listening to the drip drip of rain on the migraine

and feeling the earth soak beneath boots, sinking


unstable and the air full of shimmering, I walk

beneath dripping trees, where birds watch for worms,


and the background noise shrinks to the song of

nightingales, tirelessly ignoring storm and downpour.


I walk a path between grasses shoulder high, bowed

by lead crystal drops, and the clamour soothes,


cooling the blood with rain drip dripping

from the pigeon-grey eaves of the sky.



Stones in my mouth

and in the gap behind the eyes

and on my tongue

the taste of rotten fruit.

Light on the grass


with the jabber of snake tongues.

Only bile rises

no wing-lifting sweetness

riddled with perfect notes.

Cold fills every pore

and pain hammers

with the dull distant persistence

of hellish anvils.


is the stippling of pinpricks on tin

and the ocean heaves acid.

Nothing forms in the dark swill

but nonsense

and the laughter of woodpeckers.


Tomorrow is there,

lurking in the darkest hours of today,

waiting with its claws and its thorns that tear the flesh

and etch fatigue into every joint.

The bright dreams of once

hang like framed pictures high on a bleak wall,

not quite out of the reach of vandals.

Spray-painted worries splatter the colours with black,

and attercops spin their sticky webs

that catch not flies but silver fishes,

flick-flitting through the calm waters of what might have been.

Might yet be, who knows?

Who can see through the murky veil?

Between then and now there is no more night,

no gentle buffer zone,

just a choppy sea full of whirlpools,

the harsh cry of gulls,

and the same words, chitter-chattering round and round.

Peace and silence sail beyond the reach of mortal hand

and the sails are black.

Somewhere, far away, a sparrow chirrups.

I toss a handful of crumbs to clear the rags from the air

that fills with soft feathers and beating hearts,

and I remember the golden cube of stone,

old and sturdy, set in clay and lush meadow,

the well of quiet, that waits at the end of the night.



Silence slumbers

The Daily Post prompt is: silence. Appropriate for a migrainy day.


Silence slumbers on the far reaches,

Sand slips between clawing fingers,

And the pounding roar of the surf

Fills every hollow inside the skull.

Where does the darkness hide

When the night is full of light?

And the streetlights throb like open wounds,

Their gaudy lament jingle-jangling

On the hard glitter of the streets?

Silent sleep evades, furtive as cat shadows,

And the clanging of the night train,

Rollocking through the last tunnel,

Draws nearer and louder,

But though I wait with anguished withheld breath,

It never arrives.


The Daily Post prompt suits my mood today.


So hard to bear the jangling noise

That beats the drum inside the head

And takes away balance and poise.

So hard to bear the jangling noise,

That jumbles thoughts like babies’ toys

And meshes them like tangled thread.

So hard to bear the jangling noise,

The flashing lights, the taste of dread,

The chaos in sweet order’s stead.

The magpie swept beneath the bridge

I’ve been crippled with migraines lately, and this picture, that I used earlier, stuck in my head, with a magpie flying behind it. A line of text repeated itself over and over, and I spent a sleepless night wondering what came next. The poem is perhaps one that migraine sufferers will understand.


The magpie swept beneath the bridge.

Grey sky, grey water, grey stone,

The monochrome bird swept under the bridge,

Silent as fear through the flickering mist.

What lies beyond the bridge, I cannot see,

What swallows up its noisy clattering,

Stills its supreme avian arrogance.

The film stops, shudders, rewinds,

And the magpie stoops, floats into the grey,

Again and again with the flicker of mist.

The magpie swept beneath the bridge,

Caught in the jaws of silence,

Perhaps by the troll beneath the bridge.

Is that where you flew when you said goodbye,

Into the silent mist-swirling water,

With your trolls and your grinding teeth?

You swept with the magpie beneath the bridge,

Not into skies of tranquil blue,

For I would see you still, your smiling face,

Hear the music of your joyful laughter,

And I would have a grain of hope.


Poem written yesterday in the throes of a migraine attack. Thought I’d put it to some use. Migraine sufferers might be able to relate.


First twinges.
warning lights flash
on off on off
in the darkened room
behind tight closed eyes.
Disjointed music
broken images of fractured light flick
on off on off.
And the journey starts
into the tunnel
out again
in out in out.
Light flickers past in half-caught pictures
train hurtling
screaming in the wind.
Wheels turn
grinding their metallic din
into the tunnel
out again
into the flickering screaming din of the light.
Train switches to boat
heaving ocean
stomach groans
taste of bile on the tongue
waves rise and plunge
up down up down.
heave and plunge
in a sickening cacophony of light
on off on off.
Migraine day lurches by
I, unaware of the passing of time
following the pulse of the light
punching switches
on off on off
and the rolling of the waves
the deck bucking
up and down.
Slowly slowly
the medication rises from the sludge
doling out the sweet darkness in mingy handfuls
coldly unhurried
building a dyke against the rolling waves
damping with darkness the tempestuous bursts of light
cooling the boiling juices in the gut
rolling out the tunnels
longer and longer
until the night falls
the images slow
the train stops
the boat docks
and I sleep.