Taking blood is science and art,
an act of will. Sometimes even robust veins disappear,
like worms chasing down into earth. Today I
am in control. I say Breathe out slow and you
don’t feel the needle sliding in.
Already liquid jewels fill the tube,
laquered red, packing darkness. I loosen
the tourniquet, press cotton wool, tilt the tube
to prevent clotting. You pull down your sleeve,
I take out my pen. We are both relieved,
a bit skittish, united in surviving this small challenge.
The way we live now
This town wears its heart on the streets,
in pound shop padded pink plush,
in metallic, shiny inhalable graffiti
and split face grins as wide as cush yams
This town has nothing and gives it away.
Was grandgrind Victorian factories, was
matchgirl sulphured lungs shouting.
Was suffragettes linked arms anger,
presided over by the Clock Tower.
Watch this town rise like a child’s playset
titanium tiles slotted to concrete
high rise. This town is high life and
low prospects. Raised corner has a name
you recognise from TV riot scenes.
Lost homes of the Great Aunts
Houses sleep deep underneath grassy mounds,
kitchens and bedrooms, cracked willow-pattern,
brown earthenware teapots, rosy chamber pots,
darned blankets, stiff frocks and winter jackets,
lace curtains, family bibles for pressing flowers
and curing ganglions on washer woman wrists,
all rolled deep into clay, into sandstone, moiling
deep of secrets, worms and seeds. Not bodies
and bones but the bright, light, laughter of girls,
the sweet sweat of days and gossip of dreams,
turned in the sound of wind and swallow wings,
a bulge in a field; grass blows like combed hair.