Conversation With My Thirteen-Year-Old Self

A collection of auto-biographical poetry.


Games People Play

I'm looking down through the blue gloom to a heart-shaped sea anemone that blooms purple like a familiar bruise.


With a grin you dubbed the subject "Verboten" - surprised me with your German; but then again, everything spoken between us is in a different language.

A Home-coming

I don't feel particularly prodigal, nor do I really wonder if I'm a lie coming home to roost - I'm past all that.

A Study in South Street

I know where I want to live when I grow up.

A Supermarket in Keighley

(After 'A Supermarket in California' by Allen Ginsberg) Revision is making me see some strange things...


You are the poem that will never see daylight.


My mother drew in my cries in a glittering net from the pit of my stomach.

After You

I'm spinning back round, banging my fists on the door. I want to go back. I WANT TO GO BACK! There are sirens in my head, screaming: "Relapse... RELAPSE!"


The plan failed. Finally bored with burning, I pulled the plug. Sweet, certain gravity; a tornado tangoed over the hole.

An Insomniac's Dawn

The hands of the clock wave stiffly through the small hours; a lengthy, bitter goodbye. I sit in four-cornered dark, so awake yet wrapped in a shroud that slowly slips from black to grey.


This time last year, I was in Moscow - trapped in a vast snow globe - and half way across a continent from you.


Tomorrow I get my AS level exam results so I guess my phobia is the grades ;) Grades! Grades! The envelopes shriek at the irony that a poet should be afraid of letters.


Because writing about writer's block is so in right now ;) 'My tongue fell hardest of all. This muteness spreads inwards, anger'


A very personal poem for me. 'At fifteen I stood alone in my bedroom. Locked the door.'


A heart-shaped jellyfish melts into the sand. Like a marble, it is glassy blue with green and purple tendrils twisting at its centre.


So much light and colour - and the promise of spring. And it feels now as if nothing in this life will be as perfect as this moment ...

Clean Slate

New year - new start ;) Another Tanka! (Haiku + couplet with seven syllables in each line.)

Coming Home

The poetry has dried up as of late, so here's a bit of prose about my last week in Durham.

Conversation With My Thirteen-Year-Old Self

You sit on your dad’s desk chair prodding that pale star-shaped scar on your right thumb, trying to mould it back into the skin. But still it reappears, shining just as before.

Star Struck

A contemplation on the world of celebrity. It is dedicated to Michael Palin as this poem came about because I was writing some fanmail to him.


Unfortunately I have suffered quite severely from insomnia. My midnight expereinced inspired this poem.


About a boy. He made me realise that obsession isn't love, and we can be blind to what we really want.

Rain in July

She taps her red pumps On the stool as she gazes Out of the window of the Samaritans Charity shop. She stands out Like a snow white moth Against a grimy window pane.

The Pianist

Her hands shake. Scarred Like withered bark of trees. The veins twist in purple vines Through knotted knuckles. Her fingers are stiff and crooked Like old women in shawls.


When I was two my Mum paraded me along the canal Where the emerald-headed mallards gossiped amongst the bull rushes.


My body is wrong. Every crease, every curve Is a contradiction, Like a figure eight Seen in a warped mirror.


I have made my resolution; no more, no more crying over you. Not now, not ever.

Until Spring

They sleep in the bunkers of bulbs, nestled in wombs of soil. Buried deep within the red earth of me.

Peter Pan Poems

They are Peter Pan poems; they refuse to grow up!

Seventeen Going On Twenty-Five

IP: 25 things about me At secondary school people told me I was posh because I used big words; I told them they were being hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobic.

Tuesday's Child

My dear sweet, little sister; an annoyance sent by angry storks. Oh, how with floppy tongues they flock. She is a nymph and I, Medusa. If only they would love me the way they love her.

This Poet's Hands

IP: 30 word poem My thumb, tectonic plate with a scar, sitting quietly like Australia.

Writing Poetry

IP: 30 word poem Our bodies curve into vowels and mouths shape soft, exotic verbs.

I Remember

I remember a time when the names didn’t hurt me. That hazy untouchable feeling of a strolling concrete block.
Poem of the week

Une Nuit Blanche

Message from a veteran insomniac ;) I move from mountain range to foetal - twisting turning. Turning in the grooves of this grave - arms as wings, waving, waving.

Something to Say

I warm my bare feet on the dash board, sitting in the boyish manner that makes you laugh, as we drive up Avondale Road.


Flickr IP. I am the room's fifth corner. You stretch yourself along my back - I am perpendicular.

You Are

You are the word that never rhymes with anything. You are the clumsy simile that sits and grins.


Unfortunately this poem was inspired by some bad news; a week ago I was rejected by Oxford University. But I want to thank you all for your support these past few months!

Losing It

Losing your faith is not like losing your favourite scarf or your mother's brooch. (The one with the golden peacock feathers.)

Inner Demons

There are … things stirring within me that I try to hide, won’t set free.


I haven't been sleeping so well this past week ... 'Somewhere a woman is screaming, clinging to a bundle of blankets - fumbling with the fraying fabric ...'

Dreaming Spires

A collaboration with a great guy and dear friend of mine ;) 'Sleep-walking, last night, retraced my steps to Oxford.'

The Prodigals

She crushed us into boulders, curled us into roses. Rejected. Not the perfection she wanted. In this sin-bin we strike cubist poses.

Lucid Dreams In Moscow

Part One of a two-part series of poems on my experiences of Russia. 'Looming before me, St Basil's basks in camera flashes, with its candy-cane swirls and pretentious pastels,'


Only cautious Capricorn can make me lose my balance.

First Letter Home

Wotcher stranger! Remember me? Yes, I am talking like a born and bred southerner already. No more ‘blooooke’ or ‘poooost box’ – I’ve learnt to speak properly...

Foreign Country

"The past is a foreign country..." - L.P. Hartley

Simon Armitage at the Gala Theatre

Like two giddy schoolgirls, off to fawn over rock stars at Wembley, Alice and I half-run, half-stumble, down Elvet Hill. Fast leaving St Mary's behind, we are town centre-bound.

Hall of Mirrors (Durham Ramblings)

I'm good at brooding. Seriously, no one can brood quite like me - when I'm sat on a nameless bench and the sky is just as moody.

First Snow

Silently, slowly, it crept in to complete the snow globe illusion - begging Petersburg to eat its heart out.

Full Stop.

It's true: we've co-authored a masterpiece. Our imagery, our perfect symmetry can't be matched - we moved as one entity, attached for so long.


You know, I’d convinced myself I was actually crazy...this time I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would end up in a strait-jacket by my mid-twenties.


In all our fanciful talk of crisp, white bed sheets, Romania, and teaching English, I never thought to mention we would call our son 'Ted'
Poem of the week

Hide and Seek

"In a daze of lavender oil and mirtazapine dreams, I go looking for her. Having wandered on the wrong side of the River Wear for weeks"

We're All Mad Here

There's a girl at the table to my right, curled up in her chair and retreating into a bottle-green hoody like a snail. She must be at least my age, yet she's clutching a soft toy penguin.

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Written on a platform at Durham train station, 21/01/11. I don't ever want to feel like this again.

Reading at the Lowe Library

Here, the sunset hangs like strips of ripened honeycomb, dripping fire onto the sill.


I don’t know why, Lindsay, but last night, smoking in the stone cloisters of the quadrangle, I thought of you.

Unexpected Intrusions of Beauty

the shrunken envelopes and newspaper are brown and crinkled like the underside of a mushroom, and the slender black sticks are curved with the symmetry of bones.

On Turning Twenty

A lad who once dated the baby's mother got married last month, has a kid of his own, and is off to serve in Afghanistan. My mother was married at twenty.

Pour A Little Salt, We Were Never Here

October sunlight stumbles into the room as I rise, shrugging off the curious telepathy of dreams. Dandelion prints chase their yellow tails across the walls; it is as if you were never here.

Thank God I Didn’t Inherit My Father’s Nose

Just an archetypal, middle-class life with a dark-haired lawyer husband who looks remarkably like Ed Stoppard... OK, maybe an accountant who looks like Martin Freeman.

Misanthropist isn't in my predictive text.

(Written on my phone, November 27th, 4:30pm) I wonder what people did before they could stare broodingly out of train windows... Wrote poetry, I suppose.

The Last Liberal Democrat

I understood that Grandpa had been a militant Liberal Democrat who would have painted himself yellow and run naked though the streets of Shipley for the cause.

The Underground Is So Mainstream

I wrote this to entertain myself when stuck on a train between Kings Cross and Leeds. "And the dark blue straits of the Piccadilly line, seeping towards Heathrow like spilled ink."
Gold cherry

I read Bukowski and Neruda in the early hours

Radiohead is playing on the overnight train somewhere between Moscow and St Petersburg, and I ask you to lay your hands into the soft cement of my stomach like a film star.

Smoking in the Bath (A Pantoum)

My first attempt at a pantoum - rules on structure seem to differ greatly from source to source, but this is based on the structure we looked at in a Poetry Society session last night.
Story of the week

The Secret Life of Dragonflies

I appeared from the coffee-cup-cluttered cocoon of my room as a summer-blue dragonfly, sporting a summer-blue painted poster tube tail and paper-white pipe-cleaner antenna.

Don Paterson Didn't Eat His Venison

I bake her a tray of shortbread and tell her the more explicit version of ‘The Secret Life of Dragonflies’ to try and take her mind off the poisonous, unwanted orb swelling in her side.


Now the days are as sunny as peanut butter, but I stay inside watching re-runs of Blackadder, because I loved Captain Kevin Darling before I loved you.

Espresso Martini

"a triangle of black ice with an archipelago of coffee beans dotted across its thin layer of cream. A small miracle of vodka and coffee combined - I hold it aloft like the Holy Grail."

On Leaving

I am not as sentimental as I used to be. Like waiting for a delayed train, I teeter on the edge of the week, wondering if the freight load of feeling will ever arrive.
Gold cherry

My Family and Other Animals

Most mornings I wake at dawn. My sister snores opposite me in the double bed she claimed. "But I sleep diagonally!" "That's not a disability." There's no reasoning with some people.

Notes on a Long-Haul Flight

Bucharest is a spider's web heavy with dew. It mirrors the sky; a black expanse littered with glass, the blight mark of a fallen chandelier. A cracked wind-shield.


I sit in the trees that are made from amber glass, making notes, and think of another tree growing in Jerusalem for those who invented God.

So it goes.

I stand amongst a wreath of antlered trees. The hills, cave-coloured, blue with rain, seem to sway like kelp.

The Obligatory Snow Poem

I have spent the afternoon in 1961, and out on the quad I think I witness Adolf Eichmann building a snowman.

The Retreat

"The stray corpse of a snowman sinks into the mud. The rain has stolen his face and a testimony melts in his mouth"