Body Building

Comfortable in my own skin
For a thousand years or more
Inner calm and outer grin
Oozing from every pore

Tender care for follicles
That blossom forth with fur
Showing off unruly curls
That underline his ‘her’

Nibbled nails that niggle
Catching, snagging, telling tales
Tiny scars that wriggle
As hands flex and curl and wave

Gentle as a monolith
That towers high above
The pillory of Lilith
For whom Adam held no love

The Anti-Social Conscience

Fear of flying
In the Erica Jong sense
Is not wrong – even for hardcore feminists
We are all intimidated sometimes
When faced with the prospect
Of successful seduction
In an post-AIDS era.

Fear of flying
Bugs with the power to infect
The next generation with long-term consequences
Is a logical response to a natural phenomenon
So we avoid the tropics, where possible
And wear trousers, long-sleeves
And poisoned perfume.

Fear of flying
To exotic climes
With local customs
Hostile to strangers
Would appear an acceptable
Response to the xenophobic
Fury of others – so unlike our own.

Fear of flying
Seems perfectly reasonable –
A socially acceptable phobia for a reduced carbon footprint
Unless, of course the sufferer happens to be
The passenger in the next seat (adjacent to me)
Quaking in their Birkenstocks,
Passing gas, and sweating cobs.

Winnipeg

Cry me a red, red river
A river of dust and bones
Of hearts that bleed and shiver
From broken and bruising homes

Blow me a kiss of willow
To echo a mourner’s moan
The ache of an empty pillow
Another child’s fate unknown

Cry me a red, red river
To fold me within its bed
And comfort the cares that slither
Through thoughts of unending dread

Bring me a message, finding
Too late what you had to face
My anger a knot, a binding
A coiling of thoughts that race

Cry me a red, red river
Reflecting a distant star
A chorus of souls, a quiver
That calls to me from afar

Paint me a cold moon rising
Surrounded by frozen waste
Still warmed by a hatred, blinding
For victims that leave no space

Cry me a red, red river
From words that no longer mean
An end to the dreams that linger
Its path a forgotten scream

Soothe me to sleep through Winter
To wake in the roar of Spring
With gifts that are carved to splinter
Where birds cannot bear to sing

Cry me a red, red river
And lay there upon this shore
The past where I long to wither
And hold you again, once more

This was written for the Red River Women.

Flounce, Fluff and Flattery

There is a world of difference
Between those who seek the
Company of women
To bask in it
Hanging on their every thought
As one transported
By the beauty
Of a strange and fantastical mind
And those who fancy
A quick in-and-out
Ego-boost before
Zipping their feelings,
Upping sticks and moving on
To the next conquest.

The difference is obvious
Even to the most casual observer:
One is the stuff of
Fantasy and freedom
Of late-night talks
And deep discussions
Long philosophising over
Personal projections
Maybe with a bit of
Barefoot dancing
And a casual pinch of laughter
Thrown in for good measure.

On encountering the other,
I will take the lonely
High road to nowhere
Hiking in stupid, pretty,
Too-tight shoes
Risking my own skin
To preserve sanity
Rather than share transportation,
Food or drink
In exchange for temporary
Flat-footed flattery
With bondage-grade
Strings attached.

I enjoy womanisers
Who enjoy women
In all their complexity,
But have no time
For bed-notch chasing
Egotists with
Straw for brains
And cloth for ears.

Indiscriminate Despair

A million subtle put-downs
In a thousand different ways
A wasted opportunity
Career path gone astray

A couple of promotions too
That went to someone else
With not as much experience
Nor vision, knowledge, skills

Adjusting one’s ambition
‘Til it fits within the norm
A lukewarm lover’s mission
To accept what still goes on

We breed another row
Of middle-rankers in our turn
Forgetting what we wanted
Was the change we couldn’t earn

That’s OK! (by me)

Never try to date musicians
Actors, players or politicians
All who make fame their lifelong mission
Feel compelled to keep ambition

Uppermost in their mind’s eye.
Resisting those whose hopes may lie
In other kinds of pie-filled sky,
Aspire to happiness: decry

The complex marketing campaigns
To fill your dreams with endless strains
Of violins, and chilled champagne
(Someone is selling something vain)

You’re not obliged to join, partake
In putting out, appearing, fake
So falsely cheerful, on the make
We don’t all want the same big break

And there are many paths to tread
That do less harm and keep you fed
You could just read a book instead
To fill your soul, first fill your head

Trad Family Values (Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault)

Just lie down and take what is coming to you
You are what you did, so we’ll do what we do
It’s justice in action, reaction that’s true
Too carefree? Consent! That’s a license to screw…

So grab her and hold her, we’ll strip and unfold her
To shame her and mould her until she is colder
And never, forever, will she dare to tether
Her hopes to a world run by men for their pleasure

For women are worthless, a hot mess of curses
Who pepper discourses with breathy remorses
Before we’ve an ear for our sisters or daughters
Let’s hear from a father (who’s worth our resources)

We’ve room for opinion from lowest caste minion
But suffer no slights from a beardless cotillion
Whose lips tell us lies underlined in vermilion
Until our frustration will brook no Brazilian

Aesthetic. Pathetic, we seek an emetic
For things so erotic they threaten ascetic
Erratic, and segregate tastes so prophetic
We hasten to hide how out-dated our ethic,

Our very existence. No matter the million
That march to a man to protest latrocinium;
We lie on our laurels; inviolate vision
Society’s structure investing our mission

For power that lingers for hangers and clingers
On scales that still favour us dissolute whingers
We’d rather waste time and resources on mingers
To hide behind preachers and ponces’ long fingers

As patriarch beams in the light of the dawn
With funds for a future of cultural norm
Where birth heralds gifts for the fortunate pawn
Ignoring the cries of their less favoured spawn

The female, though fated one half of our destiny’s
Much underrated when it comes to progeny
Gains more of Percy, than man’s greater mercy,
Imprudent, heretical, breeds controversy

These creatures that litter the cracks of society
Were cast-off to bear any bare impropriety
Innocence spares them no bolt of anxiety
As toys for affections of gendered variety

And what of the male as he wanders the land
Silver spoon in his mouth, and a viper in hand
Teasing Eve at his leisure, all going as planned
A man for all seasons, the first of the damned

So clothing was tattered and fluids were spattered
By elders and betters, by people who mattered
Unwanted attentions that blistered and battered
Assault is a compliment, you should feel flattered!

Tradition dictates we must buy them by rite
Postponing delight for our own wedding night
But those who are wayward and troublesome might
Be the better for all that you force on them. Right?

By the width of her bosom or breadth of her seat
You can tell what she wants in her life is your heat
Just ignore what may pass for false modesty, cheat:
If she struggles, you’re stronger, why beat a retreat?

What use is a woman that beggars belief?
But an ornament, decorative, for relief
(And it isn’t a rape if you aren’t a thief
Of virginity), so she’ll submit to your brief

And untalented fumbling, your grunting and mumbling
For out after dark, her experience humbling
Is nothing she doesn’t deserve, just a tumbling,
Yes, shame is the answer, to curtail such crumbling

Societal pillars, though riveted girders
Are challenged with change, so before we go further
Afield for our leisure, let’s talk about murder
And those whose encounters may help feed our fervour

But careful, what soft thought may break through this wall –
The footsteps grow louder, the voices still call
For a change to opinions, stacked for a fall
Bring an end to such violence, once and for all

Second-class

In tweeds and furs and pearls and curls,
The rows and rows of lovely girls
Are strolling arm-in-arm to school
To find their niche; to earn, to rule!

In baseball shirts and well-worn shoes
The jean-clad, beltless, feckless youths
Go slouching to the DSS
To bail them out of worklessness.

The worker-bee that scurries fast
Avoiding trollies, hastens past
While pensioners crowd tiny shops
And squeeze the fruit and veg to slops.

The mothers juggle work and kids
And pets that piddle, nibble; fibs
From all of those who claimed that life
Would soon improve as someone’s wife.

Where blokes stay home and watch the box;
Dads clean their cars, and wear odd socks,
Mere gentlemen frequent the gym,
The pubs and clubs, but rarely in

A frame of mind to brook disdain
Belittle those who’d challenge claim
To right of birth: Y chromosome –
All call the world their very own.

HarMonica

Why is it the ‘other’ woman
Brings us out in rash hysterics
Howling at the moral failings
Of our politicians? Clerics,

Parents, teachers, doctors, shrinks
All united in their hatred
Of a figure that still stinks
Clad in pot pourri de tabloid

That blue dress, evocative:
Events that should be long forgotten
(Youthful indiscretions hid)
Provocative, with gains ill-gotten

We suspect and we accuse –
Cynical, the cuckold’s friend
And tap out mindless platitudes.
While vain, her struggles to defend

What shreds of reputation, scorched
And tattered to her yet remain;
We gather up our pitch and forks
And stoke the pyre once again

Anticipating further fun
Rough justice for another’s slight
We gather at suggestion
She might escape unhappy flight

Delighted at the sacrifice
Of one more soul to unjust mob
Let he without sin cast the first
(So many more the crowd will lob)

In brave hypocrisy at what
No doubt too many may have done
Themselves and not been hotly caught
Entrapment by ambition

Pilloried or harried hence
Built to take a desperate dive
Fashioned into common, dense
Unfit for consort, Saints alive!

The very thought a woman wronged
Who made a choice that haunts her still
Might be allowed to face the throng
And live down public shaming? Ill

At ease with those she counted on
Whose turncoat ways still cause distress;
We won’t allow her to move on
And rake old muck to make new mess.

What is it we hope to gain
Constructing walls to keep her caged
When influence she held through fame
Is long dissolved and disengaged?

A public life, her sentence stands
With little room for private grief
Unhappy Recognition’s hands
Control where she may find relief.

Now with a cause she would promote
To shame the bullies that still flaunt
A woman’s infamous deep throat
For speaking up for truth not taunt.

I wish our morals stretched as far
Restraining tongues at twitter time
Realpolitiks remain sub par
We’ve little else to do online

Slut-shaming is our dearest trend
As one more hussy kicks herself
For lending hands and more to end
All dignity, career and wealth.

This altar calls for fresher blood
I fear the next will pay a price
The mob is in an ugly mood
With barely-legal sacrifice

Lined up for entertainment here
Soon rubber-necking, righteous louts
Will crowd around to shove and leer
At those who try to tough it out

We’ll see them crawl and cry and squirm
Extracting vengeance from each one
With twerking fervour: all must burn
Up goes the cry – the hunt’s begun.

The Subordinate Clause

Junior, but capable.
Menial tasks dominate
Your working day
With their mundane diversity
And shared glance of frustration:
The single sheet of paper
He couldn’t be bothered
To retrieve upon printing
From three feet away;
The letter he asked you to fold
And envelop in its papery cocoon;
The thirsty plant he brought from home
Sat on his desk and parched
To an impious stink
Until he insisted you water it –
Just like you water him.  His
Endless calls for cups of something
(Coffee, tea, squash, water, milk)
Every conceivable beverage taken
In all possible forms.  Fickle;
His feeble tastes changing
From one day to the next
Just to trip you and trap you
With an unavoidable misstep.
Perhaps he did not receive
Sufficient attention in infancy;
Missed out, jealous of the other boys
With their doting parents, playmates?
Surely some great childhood trauma
Intervened somehow, to cause this
Arrested development?  Some event
Stunted emotional growth and maturity
To make him such a needy adult
Crying to be mothered constantly.
The paradox remains;
Self-important in matching socks
And padded shoulders.
Despising all the while
The weaker sex in the workplace
With casual put downs
Carefully couched comments
To denigrate capable colleagues
Whose sole crime is their very
Feminine mystique.
I hear him, wincing at the over-emphasis
Sweeping generalisation
Sniping at insignificant Susan with
His policy of PC imprecision.
Nudge, wink, snigger.
Calling you over, time and again
As if standing to speak to you
Is more trouble than you’re worth.

How my palms itch with the weight
Of the burden you carry.