a year of no home – home/less home/more home/free

For a year now, I’ve been flitting and have had no fixed and settled ‘home’. I decided to mark time passing by posting some fragments about it all here. Other fragments are in my Isolation Blog. The problem with fragments of anything is that they’re easy to lose. So at least here, some of them are kept in one place.



She left home barefoot, placing a small metal circle

under a streetlamp’s glow to mark the beginning or end of a line.

As she walked away alone, she sang of horizons.

Chanting languages, she sang each of her heartaches

and dropped them away:

fractured gales through barbed wire

cymbal clashing sunlight

bowed cellos in shadows

off-key tenors: hawthorn branches

xylophoning water under moss, over rocks, through rushes.

Her voice a stream, a river widened to an orchestral ocean.

Ear-deep in salt and moonlight,

her song subdued to gasps

she trod water, rising.

Placed one sole then the other,

emerged dripping sound,

stepping from one sharp star up to the next.

She’d often wondered what sounds stars made,

if they had voices, tone, pitch, modulations.

But the notes the horizon sang, aeons ago

became silent stars: a trap for songs of human hearts.



It’s not that I’m home / less, it’s just that for now,

I have less than a home.

Without a home, somehow the weather gets in

too deep, or just right,

on one particular day, or an / other.

Emotions are now out / side, left on coaches, roadedges, hills.

House walls, dry stone walls, boundaries.

Blocked walls of cities, towns, villages

as if no place is any different to any other place.

Every / where looks the same

no / where looks like somewhere to feel at home in.

Returning to these borrowed-cottage walls, knowing

they’re only holding me here for two months more.

And then out

to some / where, or no / where or every / where?

How to decide, to think, to know

looking for guidance from rail maps, cloud shapes and tarot cards,

seeing symbolism in temperature changes

and the shapes that the stars dangle themselves in.

But none of these things answer back.

How to know where would feel home-more

when some / no / every


divides to make boundaries

claims ownership

hides what’s behind it, from the sky.


Sleeping Beauty

Back to this, the relentless

pull of quiet gravity.

A hankering for the damp of soil,

the company of bulbs, roots, shoots

the smell of rotting leaves

of apples – fallen, worm tunnelled.

Oh soil – you’re a blanket, a coat,

an over-loved dressing gown

which homes every

millimetre of pale skin,

covers dangerous beauty

with dirt, you uglify kindly.

Oh prince and princess

king, queen or witch –

do not wake these lips,

there is no kiss for you.

Just let me live this silence

drawn by stillness, soil and sleep.

I have a whole piece of sky

which I’ve torn from a cloud

clutched in the palm of my hand.



I can’t tell you anything new

all the same I’m wondering why

my heart’s gone blind

another thing I can’t give you

now these hands are scraping spades

shifting soil or coal or lead

bury me a dead leaf

an unwritten letter

that ring I gave you

nothing comes back that’s been given away

so I’m tunnelling, searching for stars.



I wake before the alarm alarms me

but waking still startles me into each day

in whatever bed I’ve found myself

because it matters that I’ve nowhere to live

and I tell myself I’m not homeless

that I chose to unhome myself.

Each morning, alarmed, I check

I still have both feet

knees, hands, legs, wrists, arms, head.

Breasts, bum, waist, thighs.

The rest, I don’t much care for

I don’t need to check for the clench

in my jaw, I can feel it.

My eyes, ears, teeth

are always present, uncorrected.

This broken nose that strangers

never comment on, more polite

than some of my friends used to be.

My black bag is spilling charity shop clothes

and carrier bags onto someone else’s carpet.

How long is it possible to remain lost?


Stop Being Thistledown


though softer than air              lighter than sunshine

twisting more than other people’s keys                       carried pocket-deep

reminders of what home, walls, doors which close and open again mean.

Not everything in the world can be a                                     trap, so


stop being thistledown

because now I’ve done what everyone I’ve ever met                         seems so afraid of –

I’ve lost everything                 gone spinning away

on the north wind which really does blow,                without snow. If I can


stop being thistledown

after this year of nothing owned, this year of            refusals to borrow, watch TV

or commit, to communicate or read anyone’s news. If I’ve                detached my trust from

promises, to fly wind carried, can I    land on some architectural pediment? Is it possible to


stop being thistledown

because what am I still                                                fleeing

in this rush of missing?

Why allow gales to decide the travel routes, why not now choose the direction? But to


stop being thistledown

when at first, air seemed the only freedom                it’s become dizzying up here

does this mean            the moment to see light is near, notice temperature – there’s altitude to                                                                                                                     consider

before landing to field, plinth, pavement, or some beach no one goes to. If I could


stop being thistledown

and find time’s meaning again

stop tearing the top corners                                         off newspapers,

detaching dates from the news, avoiding columns of drama, lies, crumpled promises.




To Displacement

You and your charity shop clothes – those

throwaway coats, button-loose trousers

which fit you, don’t fit you

while you wide, thin, wide yourself again.

The seasons change you, losing gloves

scarf, tunic, hat and shawl

to find a jacket, waistcoat, shirt.

Why do you clothe yourself in empty pockets

when you steal things from mine

and then throw them away?

A strand of precious hair, that shapely twig

the seventh pencil from a set of twelve

a square of silver-wrapped chocolate,

and a half-written letter.

You are sewn on, my Siamese twin

stealing my scissors, losing my hairbrush

taking my painkillers and pocketknife

picking holes from my socks,

discarding threads I’d have found a use for

you pinch my pebble mementos

and drop them in drains.

You leave handwritten lists

of train times and my passport

splayed on top of each bed we sleep in.

You never want to shower

preferring us to carry grime

in the warp and weft of skin and clothes –

you call these stains maps.

On a bench at a railway station

you make clouds from lint and

throw them at my worn boots.

You can’t steal my thoughts.

I stare at an impotent train carriage

and wonder if the patterns in its rust

are predictions or memories.




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