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In the winter of 1962 my mother


gathered up her baby her trembling soul
climbed into the Mini my father had bought
as penance for his bad behaviour drove
until she found herself on Hyde Park Corner
travelling round and round in shrinking circles
not sure how to execute the move outwards
into another lane never having been
properly taught how to make an exit

Judith and Holofernes

Her brush moves across the surface of the deep
to meet with rage in red jets, blood-wet shots
of justice, women with vengeance in their grip.
Teamwork: our two conspirators are caught
as silk assassins, queens of hack and spill
who, spotted at this scene of carnage, seem
so close to ecstasy, they’re beautiful.
Life gives you filth, but you can paint it clean.
Focused on this moment of release,
blessed by the spin of crimson breath
they bask in glory. Judith holds and heaves
and plunges in, making art from death.
This is a better life; she lives in it.
A woman paints herself; flagrant, illicit.

you do not have to be wise you do not have to be kind you do not have to be right you do not have to be good

& that revelation is like a cold shower after

you’ve been stuck in the pot for years boiling

your loveable self to death until you notice

there’s a ladder for climbing out & out you climb

& turn the taps to full the kind of cold shower

that causes you to dance & yell wet & reckless

until you are cleansed & nude & proud

& Neanderthal touched by the twin deities

of Hell & No the kind of shower you can share

with all your sisters of the pot the kind of shower

that sends you roaring into the day where you can say

No More No Way you can say No you can say

No No No Hell No

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