Delicate but sure she rested

her slim leg on the rim of the bathtub,

the razor poised as she glanced out the window to the yard.

The orange tree was flinching from the wind.

It looked different, the leaves changing colour

when they shouldn’t be and the fruit

didn’t taste like it ever used to do.

Her boyfriend stood near to where

the roots met the bottom of the pine wood fence,

chatting to their neighbour James.

Their words were too soft to hear

but she guessed they were gentle

from the smiles, small and sincere.

As Sophie regarded her lover she recalled

the last time they slept together.

There was something that was not there.

She noticed David’s eyes linger

when James walked back inside.

Fertiliser, for the orange tree.

It needed a boost; she’d get some from the store.

She put the unused razor down

and headed for the door.


That night washing up, he knicked

his finger on the point of a steak knife.

Exclaiming from the pain, the shock, the blood

and the feeling of being so suddenly uncomfortable

he turned and said; “Honey can you finish?”

She raised her eyes; saw a pinprick, barely notable

and stared mystified, not yet misty-eyed

but a thought filled her head.

‘Who am I living with?’


In front of the bathroom mirror

he’d vacated not five minutes before,

she didn’t scream or cry out at what she saw.

A big huntsman hunched in the corner of the glass,

watching who knows what, maybe the fly

buzzing down to where the tiles joined

the plaster of the wall. Sophie sighed,

strode silently to the kitchen cupboard

under the sink; ignored the spray and grasping the dustpan,

took the spider and set him down easy on the porch

where he scuttled off into the dark.

Super-scared or not afraid at all,

she wasn’t sure if David would answer if she asked him.


The fertiliser failed to do its job but she

wouldn’t be downtrodden,

it wasn’t the only thing she bought from the shops.

She appraised her reflection as she slid

the silk of her new underwear

past the stubble and up to her hips.

It didn’t look right with the grease

still staining her hands. She’d had

to change the oil in the Mazda

because David said his finger was sore,

thought it might be infected.

No, it wasn’t, she told him

firmly as a doctor would if they checked it.

She did it anyway as she didn’t know

what else to do. She couldn’t scream

“Why can’t you?” It would only

raise a meek response, their

recent conversations were permeated

with more than a few of them.

It was like he didn’t want to raise his voice,

frightened of its volume, its texture

or something else.


Finally bedtime again, Sophie removed her clothes

bar the black and red lingerie

and walked into the lamp lit room.

He was bent over sitting on top of the quilt,

his phone hidden down between the bed and dresser light.

David looked up and quickly shut it off

but said; “Honey I’m so tired.”

Quiet, she stepped into the ensuite

to be sad on her own. There she found

evidence of a claim she hadn’t yet made.

In the lukewarm wash of the light bulb

she spied her razor glinting. Nothing odd

about that but what gave her pause

were the dark hairs, resting weightlessly

in the still-sharp blades, she was certain had never

been shaved from her pores.

She rushed back in,

pushed him on the quilt and tore the

fabric from his skinny frame, forced him into love.

His smooth calves slipped in the sheets,

her bristly thighs felt conscious on his skin.

Everything felt wrong and all he could think

was that he’d like to try those panties on.


In the morning she told him she had to leave.

He took her hand. ‘We need to talk.’

His gaze pleaded like an adolescent child.

She put her arms around and placed his head

in the crook of her shoulder.

Her single tear splashed on his face,

while his trickled down to wet

the engagement ring held precariously on her necklace.

Words Can’t Express

When the doctor said ‘cancer’

I immediately stopped smoking.

Went home, opened the fridge

but the salad was all gone.

The blueberries were there though, my very own superfood.

I ate two whole punnets

and felt my kidneys grow back.


Months Later.

Took a wheelbarrow out to the shed,

put everything I had in it.

Rolled it down the hill to your house,

said it’s all yours now.

You replied I wasn’t the one who was sick.

‘Yeah but I told her

to take me with her

if she was never coming back’.


Years Later.

My liver couldn’t withstand all the stuff

I drowned it in over the years

so now my guts are fermenting,

every breath I exhale

is poisonous and every one I breathe in

isn’t much better because the world has gone to shit.


Present Day.

I put my headphones on

as I stride toward the double doors.

No expression on my face as I push through them

apart from the strain in my eyes.

I go searching for my sister,

where they have her hooked up to a machine they say is keeping her alive.

but I’m not so sure.

Doctor asks me a question:


‘Why would I do that for?’

I’m told she can’t beat this,

she’ll be gone one way or the other.

Gone forever and I’d be left tied up like a dog on a post.

Move to the coast, get some clean living,

let the sun dry the tears

before they run down my face.

Forget how good all the bad things taste

and how bad all the good things are missed.

Expected Shocks

Eggs cr ack in-two

feathered faces.

Eyes open

for the very first time.

beaks split ting,

taste sharp air.

Nights still get cold,

wind still whistles

through open windows.

Insects popping in fire,

in flame

to pierce ears

with the worst of inevitable thoughts.

On cliff edge

death is always tangible.

A resting crocodile,

a loaded spring

flowing smoothly

through liquid glass.

Role playing nose-twitching gazelle

while tiger creeps,


misses you.

Weather balloons float by,

decide it’s safer to land.

Vast empty sky

speaks knowledgably

of kindness.

Its gentle way,

permanent presence, grandfatherly.

One more step,

take one more step

and you never have to hear the phone ring.

No one sees the water



varnish blue balcony rail.

Each year onwards

morbid celebration.



being blown


People are glad

it wasn’t their family.

Tease you

for buying canned corn

(they wanted cob)

a couple hours later.

Wander away,


if you had not answered

to hear mother’s tears

wash down the line

would they still have sprung

and would oxygen

have continued to fill his lungs?