the heart laid bare

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No Apology
the thunder
tinder
VERBAL PORTRAIT OF A CAT OWNER
critical shortage
the sky we thought we knew
CIRCA SOLEM
almanac
baby
dearest orlando
FIVE MONTHS
A LETTER TO THE UNDESERVING
cactus heart
would we
the fall of giants
paradise lost
Dad
after you've gone
time
a smile from the eyes
trepidation
why so cold
fix this
swallow me
untitled 8
insular
cry alone
robin
quicksand
laces
D.I.S.C.
stripped
waving goodbye
your open eyes
enemy within
mortal
untitled 4
sleepless
outsider
untitled 9
come dream with me
in the face of adversity
one word
the dark of the night
untouchable
one and one makes two
you burn me
see me
this shaken core
my lover
helen
my room
his words
foolish
rita
chalk drawings
the longest night
stupid skeleton
CLOTHES MAKETH
FIRST LASTS
STELLAR
TODAY
I WATCHED A MAN DIE TODAY
THREE WEEKS
this slippery slope
untitled 5
Arrows
First Kiss
The Talk Of Love
Nicotine
Blackout

No Apology

In one swift stroke you brought down your axe
And cut away a piece of the ground I stood on.
In one swift stroke, tilting the earth
That was already unbalanced -
For there were places left too empty
And I wasn’t enough for them by myself.
 
As I tumbled forever Alice-like down that rabbit-hole,
Filling the air with stories of myself,
I could only hope that you would understand
That I had to look inward to watch for cracks and crevices
In my oh-so-brittle shell.
I did not –
Do not still –
Have the strength to watch my watchtowers.
So I did not notice
That amongst those eyes that shone vigilant at the borders
There were some that grew dim and turned their backs.
 
And there were words that hurt to say and hurt to hear;
Tiny barbs flung thoughtlessly from my lips
To stick upon the meat of me, 
While in growing consternation I watched
Far too late to catch them before they fell.
I could not seem to catch them before I fell;
I could not seem to catch myself at all.
 
Would you have had me fall silent?
My bitten tongue plummeting to lie still in the dirt?
Would you have had me stand and drown in the choking waves
Of my own wounded blood?
Or pin a plastic smile to my face,
Dress myself up in tainted greasepaint and lies,
And play make-believe for my audience while the poison slowly killed me?
Would you have had me perching forever in your fair-weather dock
Pretending that it wasn't raining?
 
No.
I will not apologise for my grief.
And I am not sorry that it changed me so drastically...
Sometimes to encourage the strongest growth,
Everything you know
Must burn to the ground.
 

© mjc 20 March 2017

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the thunder

[potential anxiety trigger warning]

There is thunder on the inside edges of my ribs.
 
I have been laid here in this place
With cold feet and trembling hands,
And staked to the earth
Like a wilted climbing rose in the middle of no man’s land.
Watching with eyes too tired to cry
And bones too weary to pull against the fetters,
And ears upon which fall grating even the sweetest of sounds.
 
There is thunder on the inside edges of my ribs
And stifling stone upon my throat.
 
The battle cries rise high into the air,
Standards are flown,
And spears clash upon shields
As the onslaught begins.
Rushing waves of boots and bayonets
Crash and meet, and separate, and crash again.
As the sightless dead slowly pile up around me
Like vines reclaiming ruins,
They block the sun and bury me in blackness.
I haven’t the strength to fight their weight
For a tiny glimpse of sky.
 
There is thunder on the inside edges of my ribs
And stifling stone upon my throat,
And earthquakes in my head that unsteady my stride.
 
Each day I wake from restless sleep
To pour sulpha into yesterday’s wounds,
And strap myself together with field bandages.
Each day, with my trembling hands,
I fasten the straps of imperfect armour,
Gather twine and stakes,
And begin with tremulous steps
My forced march to the battlefield.
Each day knowing I will lie helpless in the path of pitched battles
Fought on every front.
 
Steeling myself for the crushing noise of battle 
And the pierce of the stake
And the too-tight binding against my aching wrists,
I make my way to no-man’s land
With thunder on the inside edges of my ribs.
 
This war is far from won.


© mjc 17 February 2017

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tinder

You slide smoothly between red-painted lips
With unfamiliar hands upon your thighs that slightly shake as you delve into the unknown.
A twitch and a gasp in a darkened room,
And a silent search for keys
By the moonlight leaking in through someone else’s window.
 
We are so cautious, so careful
Playing minesweeper with every step.
Hold your cards close to your chest and for god’s sake don’t let them see if you have any hearts.
You’re judging resumes based upon the appeal of the stamp on the envelope.
And you grasp at these tiny sparks that could become flames,
But you’re too eager and you’re afraid
And you smother them with the sweat of your body.
You bare your skin to a stranger without a second thought,
Even as you wrap your heart in snow clothes and Kevlar.
 
This jungle of flesh is so tempting,
But you’ve stayed too long
And you’ve strayed from your path.
Every berry you have sampled from every bush you have passed
Has slowly poisoned you.
You don’t even realise you’ve been dying by inches for years.
 
And as your fists sprout little tufts of dark hair that flow like blood toward your wrists,
You sigh and slide smoothly between red-painted lips
Before you even think to ask her name.
 

© mjc 10 February 2017

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VERBAL PORTRAIT OF A CAT OWNER

(or Things I Say Twenty-Eight Thousand Times)

 “… In or out, make up your mind!”
 
“Oh for crying out loud it’s grapes! You don’t even like them!”
 
“What have you got in your mouth? Give it here! Give… great.”
 
“How on earth did you get up there?”
 
“They’re baked beans! Beans! Not cat food!”
 
“Who’s a good kitty? You’re a good kitty! You’re the best kitty!”
 
“Off!”
 
*meow* “Meow!” *meow* “Meow!” *meow* “Meow!”
 
*sniff* “What’s that smel… oh. Oh god. That’s revolting.” *hork*
 
*yawn* “You have fish breath.”
 
“Boop!”
 
*purr* “Aw so cute - ow ow ow ow claws claws!”
 
“Get out of there!”
 
“For god’s sake it’s just water.”
 
“Jesus CHRIST it’s 3 in the fucking morning - it’s not breakfast time!”
 
“What happened to my shoelace?”
 
“No no no no not on the carpet not on the… for fuck’s sake.”
 
“Nawwww!”
 

© mjc 23 January 2017

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critical shortage

“… hi honey, it’s me. Are you busy?
Actually I was hoping you could hit the store near the office for me on your way home.
Yeah, I’m going over this recipe we talked about making together, the well-adjusted human?
Yes well we’ve got plenty of loving parents and intellectual stimulation,
And it won’t take much effort to whip up a batch of appreciation for beauty.
There’s that support network that our families brought around last Christmas, that stuff lasts forever.
And I have a bunch of open-mindedness that I’ve been saving just for this occasion.
We’ve got almost everything we need,
But we’re running really low on heroes…
 
…No I checked, we’ve run out of nearly all of them!
We just used the last of the John Glenn yesterday, and the B.B King has been finished for ages.
Someone took almost all of the Bowie earlier this year but didn’t say anything, and nobody knew until the container fell off the shelf.
And I thought we might have some Rickman or some Wilder or maybe even a small package of Natalie Cole, but even the Glenn Frey is gone…
 
… Well I don’t know what else we can use, really… I called all the local stores already. 
The convenience store said they usually have plenty of Terry Wogan and Florence Henderson 
But that even the Muhammad Ali shelf’s been empty for a while now and they’re not sure why?
The supermarket said there’s been a massive disruption in their supply chain, 
So they haven’t had any Harper Lee, George Gaynes, George Martin or Jon English for ages. 
And the gourmet store said that they had a limited line of Ronnie Corbett but once that ran out they weren’t able to order any more.
 
… I even tried to order some Leonard Cohen over the internet, 
But the online tracking said my order was delivered on November 7th and I never saw it,
I think someone might have stolen it off the porch.
 
It’s so frustrating! My mother had so many good supplies when she used this recipe! 
I mean sure, she ran outta Elvis, but she still had some John Lennon left, 
Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela were widely available
And you didn’t have to look for a specialist gourmet store to find Rosa Parks or Neil Armstrong!
 
… What’s that babe? 
No I thought of that, unfortunately – the newer heroes just aren’t the same quality.
About the best I’ve found are Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousef, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama - although that’s getting pretty old now. 
Yeah I know they’re great but there’s just not enough by themselves. 
… Gee I wish I still had some Sally Ride…
 
…Well if you can check for me that’d be great, hopefully you find something I haven’t thought of! 
Otherwise, as much as I hate to say it, we may have to rethink this recipe for a while.
I know – I’m craving it as well, but if we don’t have all the ingredients we don’t know what it’ll come out like, and I for one don’t want a disaster…
 
… okay thanks, I’ll see you when you get home. Love you babe – good luck! Bye.”
 

© mjc 09 December 2016

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Biography

Daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, friend, public servant; self-confessed hermit, confirmed cat person, sporadic baker, irreformable yarncrafter, voracious reader; occasional wit, voluble shower vocalist, frequent sacrifice on the altar of brain-to-mouth filter fails, random shit-slinger, unrepentant purveyor of puns and dad jokes, writer and poet.

I have always lived by the theory that no matter what you do for a living - if you are compelled to write, if you wake up in the night to scrawl the contents of your dreams on a notebook beside the bed, if no event in your life seems complete without you recording it, if you are drawn to comment upon the world - then you are a writer.

These are my words.