Hera at the British Museum

They know me now, the Security Guards,

nodding faint acknowledgement that the

crackpot is back, the dapper old lady with a

screw loose, blinking her bovine eyes before

blanking them and heading for the pathetic

shards of my life enamoured with glass.

 

They think I am a bag-lady without bags,

except that exquisite Chanel clutch. Did I

steal it? they wonder, but I shan’t tell them

how many such guilt-gifts I’ve had from a

husband who has fucked everything

including my life.

 

There is rarely anyone there to see my

family album in red and black:

nothing like us of course, as though we had

all turned away when a photo was taken, or

been blurred or photo-shopped,

and I am always such a frump!

 

Was I ever young? Or did you

birth me as a mother? Was there

something before? Heat and dust, the

sense of a jolting cart and the

heart-stopping feeling of having

once been wooden.

 

For in these shards, these

fiches of the forever gone, there are no

Baby Photos, nothing before the

Bridal Bed, no blood or

breach of birth, no sore gummed breasts,

milk sopping wet whilst a demanding

God invaded my dry vagina, no nothing of

what I always, forever, was.

 

 

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Shod not Shoddy

Wordsmith, shoe my poem!

Solder thoughts to the

point of my pen;

rivet words

row by row until they’re

watertight;

melt emotions and

anneal them into

something new and less

brittle;

Wordsmith?

shoe my poem fit to

strike sparks off

long hard roads.

Time is Relatives

Time is relatives:

children pupate into

moths or butterflies; a

sister begins to ache and

sicken; brothers-in-law

die one by one;

parents long gone leave

vague memories of the

longer gone,

black and white,

beckoning us into the

colourless pool of time.

Desdemona in the Playground

Portia just farted and is

red-faced but to be fair our

Director put us through a

hard workout as he sees

“Othello” in a school playground with

Othello as the immigrant kid.

 

Does that mean we are all

child brides? “Let’s move on”.

So I am hanging upside-down on the

monkey-bars, my skirt over my face,

showing my knickers to Iago and

God knows who else.

 

He takes me aside after the rehearsal:

“Your hair…” “Oh do you want it

up or down? Top knot or perhaps a

ponytail?” “No!” he whispers, “No,

down there!” Oh, so

I am to be a child again?

 

Not a woman,

not an actress,

not a person but

just a doll with

no genitalia in the

theatre of ideas?

Calmer Sutra

The house clicks and creaks as things

warm or cool, just like our

old bones crack and growl like

icebergs calving as we try to

contort our recalcitrant bodies into

The Beast with Two Bad Backs.

Date

To date one must be

open and honest but

to date you have been

neither.

Athena on Old Street

My wisdom was always twisted

like a worm in the earth or the way

birds convoluted in the air, with

words scarce since they

teemed with hidden meanings

only I understood.

 

There is an owl imprinted on my

coffee cup at this

impressive data start-up where

all these kids think themselves

head-born but really don’t know

shit from Schenectady.

 

These places are all like

steamy kitchens with a sorry

lack of sieves, so they will pay

top dollar for my wisdom not knowing it

lies all about them,

free but unclaimed.

 

Thames bristles,

chill breeze at my back:

beset by algorithms,

I should come back as code.

New Old Words

Words millenia old still send

shards through your skin yet

soft words spoken seconds ago

vanish as though never said.

Cleaning

Summer leaves stains

Autumn must cleanse before

Winter’s torpor.

Voyeuse

Perhaps one year old,

parked in her pushchair on a

crowded Tube, her

blue eyes fixing on a

young man above her

oblivious on his mobile, then on

two American women by me, one

sat the other stood, her eyes

flicking from one to the other

intent on working them out, but

catching my smile she

squirmed and squawked, caught,

preferring to see but

not be seen.

Milly Schmidt

The Cat's Write

*

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