1. Twenty seven days. Feverish, I ask the doctor why. He looks at my notes, yellow folder telling him nothing and everything.

It will pass, he says.

Everything passes.

Take paracetamol, he says.

Universal panacea. Won’t it harm the baby?

It’s your first, you’re bound to be anxious.

  1. Anxiety knows no bounds as I lie there and sweat.

Do you feel the first lump, or do I?

It’s just your glands. You must be fighting off an infection.

Late night screen glows with possible diagnoses, cancer never far from mind.

My stomach grows, skin stretched taut, and I daren’t ask.

We … just … need … the … months … to  … pass.

And one day the lumps have gone anyway and I don’t think again, awash in breastfeeding.

Anti-apoptotically, your host cells persist and replicate.

Pro-apoptosis effector proteins, are disrupted,

Conformational change,

Proteins stymied.

The host will eat itself,

T.gondii triumphant.

  1. It’s amazing how quickly time passes with one young child, then a second.
  1. The first trace is a splash of yellow, bordered with black on the glowing red-orange of the back of his eye. Technology is marvellous, the doctor says as she shows me on the screen.

Can you cut it out, I ask.

It’s been there for years. He has two eyes. If you hadn’t had his eyes examined he might never have noticed.

Perhaps we should have remained ignorant. We were never meant to see the inside of our eyes.

  1. Is it obvious to everyone else? Omniscience is inhuman. Who knows?

I didn’t. And if I had known what could I have done?

I’m up late on the internet again.

Raw meat, soiled fruit, catshit? Nausea comes, years too late.

  1. Late nights are typical of teens, I read. In fact, it’s against nature to wake them early.

Let them sleep.

It’s normal for boys to become uncommunicative.

Of course it is.

It’s not normal to see things, hear things, that no-one else can perceive.

By then it’s too late.

Knife descends, repeat, and I wish I could have cut it out years ago.


Power cut

We sit,

At the end of the screening,

And the credits stop,

Mid flow.


I thought,

It was dark, before.

But now, no light,

At all.


Is the man screening the film,

In darkness too?

Dissolve / Cross Cutting 2

‘You’re still beautiful,’

You say. I raise

My eyebrows, note that

You won’t touch the scars,

(But nor will I).

‘You’re my beautiful wife,’

You say,

As you drive into me again and again.

I close my eyes.

‘We still can, I mean,

You could just

Bottlefeed,’ he says.

We discuss it with the counsellor.

Adopt. Donated eggs.

Just get a fucking doll, I scream,

Then it won’t cry, either.


‘It’s so much better for you now,’

You say. No question.

And of course it is,

No battle pain.

But you don’t understand that I’ve lost.

‘I thought, now it’s all over,

Why isn’t it better now?

You don’t seem happy.’

I stand. I walk away.


‘And my son, and his sons,

Can you imagine?’

I don’t ask,

What if it’s a girl?

‘I stood by you,

All through, until …

We fell apart.

You don’t want me.’

You’re wrong, I say,

I don’t want me.


The surgeon smiles at his work,

My husband beams, expectant.

I fear my growing belly.

They say, ‘You’ll be fine,’

But they won’t tell me the sex.

It doesn’t end.

I thought it would,

Job done, a perfect 36C.

But you didn’t anticipate,

Another cancer within me.


And in the ninth month,

Je suis l’appel du vide.



Longshot 2

This is not the loss I’m dealing with. No cut, no knife hanging there, my breast intact, my clit still full of potential. This is not my loss, but your pain resonates, reflect, reflect, reflect again. So real, no #firstworldproblem. Still, the knife hangs over me.

Why dare compare?


            Your pain resonates. I’m on a point, loss teetering in potentia. ‘You’ve got it all’, I have, I have and I can see it fall, scatter ‘til we are nothing. So I take up the knife, seize the blade, blood wet in my hand. I feel the cut and ask, who has the right? Is it only my right if I bleed too?

I bleed, like you.



We mustn’t say,


We skirt around the issue.


We can’t say,


No-one knows what it means round here,

Unless you do,

And if you do, you won’t say,


Are you, ‘Having your bath’?

‘Going to the back of your house’?

Say your weasel words,

Some witchlike female pact,

Of lies.

What’s heroic,

About being Pharaonic?

The Egyptians deny it.

Today, no-one will pick up the:




Sharpened rock.

No-one will line up small girls,

And cut,




Bucket of secret parts buried in the ground, we don’t know where.

Today we will not talk about it,

And tomorrow we won’t bleed.

Scene. A Fairground.

Too many of my lines start, ‘Have you ever …?’

And of course, she hasn’t.

No Disneyland, no fairground rides,

No distorting mirror, so we go.

And we stand there, bending as we’re still.

She looks. ‘I knew this once,

In a dream.’


We lose each other once or more,

Crazy circles and I’m so tired.

And ‘fraid, I can’t get out.

(We’re all alone in here.)

Comrades in a world that bends,

Distorts and twists, just what is right,

Which way out?


Distorted collection of the grotesque,

Echoes from another age.

When I find her, we don’t recognise each other,

For a moment.

That night I dream too.

Dissolve: It’s not the same


A week in,


Heady on opium,

I squat,

And wait.


I wait as, fresh knife each drop,

I urinate.

I didn’t know,

Some lost recall,

It was easier back then.


It’s normal,

Just the drugs,

You’ll be fine.

We give it time,

Not laxatives.


It got worse,

The curse,

They say.

Do you know the smell of,

Week old blood?


I bargain, internally.

Negotiate with phantom pain.

If I stop today,

Too soon, they say.

I wait.


I know now,

Things should emerge,

More easily,

Than drip by,

Caustic drip.



You want in,

Modern man,

Restraining yourself,

From cut,

Slash, rip.


And still I play a waiting game,

Until, I stop.

Pain welcome here.

I wait,

I wait.


I try again, you come with me,

Hold my hand, so I can’t run.

I lie there, legs spread.

You talk over my head,

Make arrangements.


Make it easy,

‘It’ll all be easier soon.’

Just open me up.

I pretend I’m not here.

We’ll all be happier when it’s done.


On the third day,


Right now, I rate,

A good shit over orgasm,

Relief trumps pain.


It isn’t how I imagined.

You’re happy, though,

And I’ve regained,

Hours each day,

Weeks each month.

I plot the rest of my life.

Day one.

Afterwords: 70 Ps

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Product Price Place Promotion Physical People Process

Proper  Prior  Planning  Prevents  Piss  Poor  Prophylaxis

Prophylactic Prior Planning Prevents Pain & Powerlessness

Prophylaxis,                                         Power Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Private Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Pain Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Political Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Pissed Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Priceless Performance

Prophylaxis,                             Power Performance

Prophylaxis,                 Poor Performance

Prophylaxis,     Performance

Prophylaxis Performs

Proper Prevention

Prior Promotion

Proper, Public