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Six Poems

Catherine Woodward

Afterlife of Children

now that you’re here in the afterlife of children
you are a penny at the bottom of the well
of yourself

and the Ode to Joy is playing

this is a happy time
so happy that you’re crying tears
the shape of little cartoon skulls


I Have Seen This Before 1

Question: Where were you born? in protest I was hopeful and packed with greenery soft as a salmon egg on the 104th day a voice came to me and said don’t trust the voice that says it’s with love and then I did not When were you born? when the fishes packed the sea and the lion ate of them when the windmills turned upon the earth all merrily but that question is not my business to know now is it? on the 351st day a voice came to me and said I am with love Why won’t you tell the truth? if you heard it you would surely die the future’s bright it’s a forest fire

I Have Seen This Before 2

Big black silence secretive as a mushroom and enormous as a state silence is the shape of an expanded chest and is a reply to nothing and it does not do these are the things I fantasise about at night sleeping diagonally I should like to be a big black silence to reply to nothing and not do I should like to be silence big and black the future’s bright it’s a supernova whispering pines wash up a thought of water lap a cry of bird which is both a knowing and being between one place and another tableau if you can stand a word like that or rather chorus of eyes suddenly open under an umbrella in the freshly rained fen a crow three times and sun blast through the dew-drop alive it is and thinking all the corn here breathing in the way of corn all the mirage ghost sails of boat and the silver-leaved willows all the o o o don’t let it drop don’t swap the swallows dry heat red-cheeked this is this is a wild raspberry sourly bleeding and a certain snake by the twitching of grasses and the grey light of its loud dry passing it pays out and out like a misheard word it could go with a choke hard falling as if from a dream of the street on which a child you lived on which a child a child you lived the fence posts are all broken and I’m scared of the neighbours’ boys and girl their faces so dirty and their black eyes with such a poor poor evil light

I Have Seen This Before 3

I hacked up a word it was ‘unprogressive’ I hacked up a long word it was ‘drown-the-loved-ones-in-a-dark-skinned-sea’ the word I hacked was ‘linguistic-violence’ I hacked up nothing but quote marks they clung to the ceiling like flies I am the lady of flies the fly-lover which means loved-one-hater crush a fly beneath your clean pink thumb crush the violence and love love you can die of the dry heaves you can die of maggots you can die under a clean pink thumb the greatest evil believes it does the greatest good am I an evil child? I am the enemy of all that is good in this world I hate the peace that is and the peace that will be I am the enemy of love my words are cruel and unnecessary I am not a kind person I lie and I lie to end all that is good in this world I hurt everyone especially those who do no harm I will hurt you because I do harm I am queen of lies and the Ruin is what I mean actually I feel shrivelled as a dead root all things having been misdirected I am aware that I am a fat root all things having been misdirected I must be a sick root all things misdirecting should I sorrow? o o o

I Have Seen This Before 4

Conservative politics is just indirect love and that is why it burns as if suffering were a specific noun in someone else’s language as if compassion were auto-guilt comfort-shame I shout and cannot breathe in again I shout consciousness washes up on the shore of a red-legged bird and in her brayed ugliness-song I am a me there hearing such grey-feathered red-legged goddesses the many such waters of many-ness surfacing for a while bird-like and singing a song to someone there on the shore the future is full of invisible light the future is bright so bright so very bright I cannot see it


This Spring I’m Doing a Fire Party

Tristan in the car
Tristan not in the car

and that other thing
like men singing

Michael by the river
Michael on the river

next to me

to love boys
like green and yellow



These poems are taken from Sphinx (UK Orders / Non UK Orders), Catherine Woodward’s new collection available now from Salo Press.

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