The Hornet



The sun, reluctant to move, lay where he was:

We suffered underneath in pleasant shade

Of beer-garden birches, blue sky above awash

With relished light. No single word was said

That was not laughter. Your collar coolly opened

Like a flower; you had half-devoured the nectar

Of your drink; a separate shadow floated

Nearby, making shadow sounds: a mixture

Of leafy rushes and something, just what was it:

Something seething. I rose my dreamy head

To nightmare: back arched, jerk-kneed in the panic

We leapt, careering over the table’s wood

To fly from the hornet. Heavier than sound,

Duller than dread, it thundered motionless

About our wine – table, abandoned now,

Like Chernobyl or Nagasaki, sparse hopelessness.

It presumed droit de seigneur over your glass

And, as a lord, plunged graceless to the wine –

No truer horror have I known than this –

And in its drunken spite, spat out in bile

And spurts of yellow-stinging suicide,

We looked on as orphans at the animal,

The beast that bereaved us. It thanklessly slid

Into your drink, gargled like a broth

Of foulest brew, it frothed and spat and we

Could not believe how long hate took to die:

Leaving a half-preserved atrocity

Floating in wine, glass prism, mortuary.



Based on true events. There is nothing in England – no predator, natural phenomenon or otherworldly presence – so foul and abominable, monstrous, reckless, undignified, capricious and putrescent as the hornet. Here, I have tried to use the hornet potentially as a metaphor for a certain topic of conversation – something bigoted and unwelcome – descending upon us during an otherwise pleasant afternoon at the pub. It ruins the day. It ruins everything. It gluts on our wine and feeds, grows fat and loud in our company. It brings us to the level of a revolting and vicious creature.

Although in all honesty, this was originally just a sort of written therapy to exorcise from my memory just how bloody horrible the hornet was. 




Confession of a Househusband


I suppose because I’ve broken out

The finery – the candles, scented;

Bottled romance, glasses brimmed

As I, with expectation – that

You think I’m up to something. Something’s

Up. The crockery; a slice of torte,

Its corner pointing descriptively

To you, is such a telltale sign

That you can even taste it. Wine,

Sweet wine, and scents of music kiss

The air… how, quaint? I waited for your time,

To kick off shoes and grumble how

The whole deal went. And here I am,

Bringing out whatever I’ve been roasting,

Carving it up. You’re half expecting

Bunnies boiled like coq au vin, my dear!

You see the way I welcome you:

You dread to think what’s in the stew.

I’m aligning plates – you note the cutlery,

You clocked the knife – a rose delights

In a handsome empty bottle. I suppose,

I say, as I caress the plate’s white rim

And bite my lip, taste wine-blood doing so:

You’ve thought this day would come, have seen

Sweet threats before – but honey bear,

You married one. You married tension:

And dear, although we both adore Glen Close,

I’m simply happy that you’re home. I know

It’s cruel to loom, to seem so sinister:

But tell me that the warmth of bubbles, so

Luxuriant in our bath, won’t ease a smile.

The joke is, you’re entirely adored.

So yes, I’ve spun a home to ambush you:

The truth is, I have set a place for two.



Somewhere between delightful househusbandry and neurotic, bunny-boiling spitefulness lies marital bliss. 


Clear water stream pic

And now I see – though clear, invisible –

The nakedness of water. See her form

Delight on shores and stones, poured over rocks,

Dance in cascades, unclothed and without care.

I wonder if she saw me watching here,

Would she cover herself, or rush to hide from me:

But I think not. Though her moods do shift and stray,

She’s wiser than that. She moves as she will move,

Clear water in streams: no shame in what she does,

Like the day she was born, open, in her time.

Jealous Moon


If you love the moon so much, you cried,

Then marry her! You even turned her way

To stare her out: as if to put the moon

Back in her place (that is to say, in orbit).

She blushed, in a bloodless, pretty kind of way

And I laughed. However, though you mock it much

I care for her; and though you feign jealousy,

If you look too long perhaps you’ll see, my love,

That the moon is deep with jealousy of us.


Leaving Early


We hadn’t so much as sniffed a drop: but still

We staggered back like villains. Not yet night,

The evening hadn’t petrified: the sky

Was not stone-black but ochre, molten, vast

In consequence and crazed inconsequence:

Clouds fell like wounded soldiers, wings ablaze,

Portrayed in crimson-spilt angelic war;

The vapour trails of planes played tricks on us,

Demonstrating such finality,

Yet gentle definition to their form.

And I too burnt from laughter. Could not stay

One moment longer: gasping out, you smile,

A hardly-hidden, rude conspiracy:

We’d never known such awful company.

To call it a night, we’d said, before too late,

Before the blood weighed heavy in our limbs,

Our lungs, our eyes: to leave on a good night,

To dance like villains into the street, a fire

Alight from heaven’s war above our heads:

I’d say, the perfect time, to call it a night.



For Jac, who has chuckled and giggled and conspired with me on many an evening, under many different skies. 




Perhaps it is the curse of photographs

That they long for the future. See us cheering there,

Unaware we delighted in the past,

Impatient for life – how bright our faces were!

Smooth as retrospect, as Vie en rose.

Cider traps sunlight, shell sounds trap the sea;

And there were we, enraptured by them both.

We should have known that, even as we posed,

Some God had had enough. Without caption

Our wordless smiles are muted epitaphs.

In images, we see, we longed for more:

And perhaps it is the curse, that those who stare

At photographs, now see what they have lost.


“Spoken Word Night”


When I said, I was too tired to go,

I thought that you of all would truly

Know. But out you went. Keys

Churned the door tight. You left

To a reasonable night, and I

Bereft of reason, turning inward, sat.


Make an excuse. Say your lover

Is under arrest: that he has confessed

To treason and theft, has been detained

Under order of court. Say that I

Have spurned the sun, gone troglodyte:

Have gone deranged, half-drowned in port;

Or instead, that I have drowned in molasses,

Or a rather enormous water feature,

Or have been shanghaied; that seagulls roam


About my head, have flown the cage,

Whatever gets you back, tonight:

That your mother has found her lost, estranged

Piano teacher. Whatever passes

For any excuse, to come back home.



I actually had a great night in while he went to the poetry reading. I finally penned five drafts and learnt ‘Mary’ by Scissor Sisters on the piano. But the sentiment largely holds true.