Check out some of my poetry below

Late bloomer image.jpg

Late Bloomer

The first advice I receive, 

From a friend trying to make a joke, 

Is to trim my fingernails;

Advice I'd been ignoring since

Piano lessons, aged 8, clicking over the keys 

Driving the teacher, a spinster in the euphemistic sense, to distraction. 


But I complied, reasoning that 

They're always breaking anyway

Always cracked and lined 

With uneven edges, 

imperfect half circles. 

I filed them down, I keep them short

Feeling foolish for giving in to the joke

But reluctantly seeing the practicality. 


And there were cheers from friends 

Who understood that my haircut

Is an expression of more than just 

Annoyance at the endless brushing, combing, tangling. 

Cut by a barber whose tickling clippers 

Shaved the weight away 

Whilst speaking of queer history, not my holidays


And then there are the old hands, the gatekeepers, 

The ones who call me baby dyke

And tell me they know the path my journey will take

Because 'they've seen it all before' 

And I want to scream at them that 

Their words more than anyone else's make me want to hide

Back in the closet behind the coat hangers 

To avoid being the stereotype

They see me as. Take me back to Narnia.


Coming out at the age of 29

Is not something you plan. 

Perceiving a preference 

For the preference of women, of all shapes

And sizes, all creeds, 

Is more than just feminist discourse taken 

To it's logical extreme. 


And there are kindreds. 

Others taught under section 28's 

Prescriptive PiV and pregnancy prevention 

For whom willow, with her witchy wikkan ways,

Was everything. 


Those who also tried out other labels, 

Or avoided them altogether, 

Eschewing facebook's tick box culture

Well versed in theory, 

Not ready yet for practice. 


There's announcements to be made,

And aunts who'll ask 'but why?' And 

'What on earth do you *do*?'

And old school acquaintances, thinking they know me still

Telling me I've only ever been with men 

So how can I know? 

They're wrong, of course, on both

But still ask if I've harboured 

Secret feelings for them since year 9 French. 

Preening, ready to be fancied by my new persona, 

simultaneously terrified

That I have seen them naked 


Meanwhile I worry, feel like a fumbling teen

And sign up for 'OMG yes'

Watching instructions and research 

In secret like shame. 

I think constantly of the softness of curves 

And the sharpness of hip bones 

And long to touch 

The skin ignored by men: 

The insides of elbows and knees, 

Thighs, once hated, kissed

And stroked by correctly manicured hands. 


So now you know, 

In case the plaid shirts and undercut,

Now so appropriated by hipsters,

Do not give you enough of a clue. 

I know who I am now, 

And also don't, am clueless

As Brittany Murphy,

But less adorable.


Call me queer, a dyke, a lez

Pretend it's a phase 

Or celebrate with pride and acceptance

I don't care, 

Only please, don't call me baby. 



Can you not
Put that there
I'm a little...
OCD about that

I have to make
My pencils line up
I have to match my
I have to have my
Perpendicular to
The edge of the desk

Can you not
Rearrange those
It makes my OCD...


Can you not
Can you. Not. 
My OCD. My.

Let's start at the top, 
You can't 'be' OCD.
You aren't it, it is you. 

It sits in your driving seat
And tells you that you're not
Good enough, 
Just not enough 

What will happen to you
If those socks do not match? 
If a pencil is not lined up? 
If the keyboard moves
Out of alignment? 

I'll tell you what: 
You'll fix the 'problem' 
That you used my suffering
To describe
And carry on. 

You won't panic, 
And I mean really panic. 
I don't mean a small worry that goes away
The second you correct the tiny error.

I'm talking full on
Cannot breathe
Cannot see
Cannot breathe
Breathe. Breathe. 
Head between knees
Dizzy, desperate,
What will happen 

To my family? 
The pencils were rearranged, 
I need them to stay in
That order or
My family

I can't say it. 
If I say it, it will happen
If I say it, 
I'll have to check on
Every one of them
Every half an hour
For the next 3 days
I will see no respite
Except when panic
Caves in and leaves me

And when I fly,
On planes as I have done
Since before I can remember
Crossing the Irish Sea
For Christmas
I cannot recall the safety
Only the fear
Of falling.
Of removing my shoes
And leaving my bags
And sliding down    
Into a cold sea. 

And so I read. 
Or look, at the squares
On the safety booklet
Or the back of the chair
On cheaper flights
And I make sure
I do not spoil the surprise
Of the last panel
I read in order. I must. 

And when that's done, 
I watch the bored stewards
Signal lazily at the exits, 
Strap themselves to nothing
With dog-eared safety belts
Blow whistle that does not touch their lips. 
I crane my neck to hear, to see, 
This talk that I could give myself
Because I've heard it so often.
But I must. I must. 
If I don't, the plane will fall
From the sky. 
If I don't, all these people
Who are counting on me
To listen, 
Will be sliding down that yellow slide
Without their shoes. 

If I stop listening, 
The plane will fall
And it will be. 
My. fault. 

And those other things
The secret that it took
All 12 therapy sessions
To build up the courage
To say.
I can't. 

If I tell the secret, if I tell the truth
It will all be my fault.
All my fault. My. Fault.

So can you not? 
Use this demon
That controls my thoughts
To describe
Anally retentive
Desk tidiness? 

Can you not, 
Downplay a disease, 
Yes, that's what it is, 
So you can conveniently
Tell me that
You like to have your
Socks look the same
Under your shoes? 

Can you not
Make me have to
Call you out
Every day
I am
I have to fight the voice
In my head.
Every day
And I don't have the energy
To fight you too. 



His name is Frankie, 

Frankie Sparks, 

And frankly, 

He’s a bit of a letch.


He’s a ladies man,

A crooner, a puller of heart strings

With honeyed voice and tight trousers:

The whole package 


He’ll raise an eyebrow 

And look deep in your eyes

And make you feel things



He’ll kiss your hand,

Or hand you a rose,

And sing a song

Just for you.


He feels like power

He feels like shedding my skin

He feels like, just for a while, 

I can forget my weaknesses.


Frankie is me. 

I am Frankie. 


When he’s onstage 

And I’m hidden behind his eyes,

I can look on the world 

And not be afraid


When I strap my chest down

And pack out my pants

And pencil my right eyebrow

Into a point 


When I stipple on my stubble

Snap my braces into place

Pull on brogues 

And lose my fear


When I look out on the crowd

Of screaming women

And feel sexy 

In a powerful way

Not sexy 

In a subjugated way 


I wonder where this feeling’s been

Hiding. Under fear, deep down

That I’m not good enough. 

Well Frankie is.