Spilly over with words

So on Saturday I went on retreat.

You know, I thought I had a terrible attention span but actually I just needed NO PHONE and NO INTERNET. And to be fed and watered all day like a particularly lazy housecat. I didn’t have to think about anything, and because I didn’t have to think about anything my brain kind of unfolded and all the bits that had been hiding or buried under shopping lists and PE kits and appraisal forms and those knickers (I was wondering where they’d gone) – those bits, they reappeared. So I chased them down and now I have some more poetry to show for it. In fact, I finally have enough for that pamphlet I’ve been banging on about for years. Perhaps you will even be able to buy it at some point this year. Certainly I’m planning to go on retreat again. And I have all sort of other ideas swirling about too now…

I can’t recommend it enough, if you never seem to have time to sit down and truly be with your writing. You can find out more about the one I went to – including how to book your own place – at Chez Goldberg.

Here’s one of the things that turned up whilst I was sitting quietly and looking at the clouds racing up and down the Shard (I didn’t mention the view did I? My God, the view.)

Type: Writer

I’m not judging you. No. I’m not that type.
Best counsellor face on; head to one side,
Handing you tissues whenever you cry,
Tugging out things that are best kept inside.
Your secrets are spilling straight up from your gut,
You think that your stories are safe with me but
I’m reserving the right to polish them up,
To twist them about with a nip and a tuck.
I’ve stored them all orderly inside my brain,
Until the right moment to use them again
and put them in writing toward my own ends.
But judging you? No. Of course not – we’re friends.

I’m just… that type. Writer.

I’m not using you. No. That’s not like me.
We have fun when we’re out and you’re good company.
If I seem a bit distant whenever we kiss
It’s only because I’m remembering this
lad in the Midlands who once sadly said
I was never that ‘present’ when we were in bed –
Maybe cos I was thinking of ways to describe
The feel of his hands as he parted my thighs.
You think I don’t care and that’s not really true
I’m telling our story to my whole Writers Group.
Things seem more dramatic than they need to be?
It’s only because you’re involved with me and

I’m that type. Writer.


Schrödinger’s Fuck

Are we something?
Or is it nothing?
Until someone notices:
It’s both

We are happening
And we are not happening
All at the same time
Of all the many worlds
We have found a way to inhabit two at once
Clever us
Quantum explorers

An abstract equation
expressed as the simplest of diagrams
Your straight lines against my curves
Our fundamental interactions unobserved

We’re keeping a lid on it
This dangerous experiment
Keeping the lid firmly closed
With us inside
Any act of observation would lead to collapse
The choice made for us
Before we’re ready

Are we something?
Or is it nothing?
Unless someone notices:
It’s both.

(c) Em Fleming

Postcard From The Pennines

We take one of those silver sinewy roads that snake up over the hills
Driving into the mist, listening to Nick Drake

It’s a strange situation
Finding ourselves visitors
To this bleak and melancholy landscape
Where once I made my home

This land, my land
Bruised purple with heather
Her soft curves scarred over with stone walls
And stories of dead children
And villages lying drowned under reservoirs

We park up and tramp like tourists over the rocks
“Desolate,” you say, into the silence


Back in the car you put on some Artie Shaw
And we head back south

Into the sunshine

(c) Em Fleming

I ♥ My Ferret

My ferret has merits beyond compare;
All snuffly and muffly and hidden down there.

If you want to meet her, her hours are crepuscular
You’ll scent that she’s there, you can tell by the musk of her

She’s earthy and gamey with honey beneath,
Tangy and salty and also quite sweet.

She’s a sleekit wee beastie if ever there were;
All slinky and playful and covered in fur

She’ll slip through your fingers, she’ll tickle your skin
She likes to be out, you can’t keep her in

She’s funny and naughty, she’s nobody’s wife
Destroyer of worlds, she could ruin your life

If you’re good you can rub her little pink nose,
But just mind your fingers – she’s sharp teeth, tha knows.

(c) Em Fleming


I should have known
We were both still fighting a war
Pre-dating us by 500 years

That for all the motorways and express trains
The Pennines could still beat us

That your theatre would confuse me
And I would clap in the wrong places
Just as my words would confuse you later in the night
And I would have to keep repeating myself

I should have known

When I let you hold me in your factory strong workman’s arms
When I let you put your gritty industrial hands all over me
That it would take more than a few hot baths to wash the inky
fingerprints off

I should have known

That when I said yes and thought I was strong
I should have known
I was wrong I was wrong I was wrong

(c) Em Fleming

Apologies to AA Milne

When we walk down the street
We watch our backs
We step in the squares
And avoid the cracks

We hold hands and I swing you high and wide
Over the lines without breaking my stride
You are three and I am ten times that
You’re relying on me to lift you over the cracks

And one day you say
‘Mummy what’s down there?
What hides in the cracks
Between the squares?’

So we stop and bend down
And we both take a peek
With our knees on the concrete
And our hands on the street

I can feel you breathing next to me
And I ask you ‘honey, what do you see?’

‘An alligator with snapping jaws
A family of bears a-sharpening their claws
A lake of fire, a pit of spikes
Sea monsters, dragons and evil knights’

I can feel you breathing next to me
You look up and ask ‘Mummy, what do you see?’

‘The girls and boys who’ll break your heart
The exams you’ll take, the bands you’ll start
The mistakes you’ll make, the people you’ll lose
The paths you’ll forsake and all the paths you could choose’

So we stop and get up and head off down the street
Swinging our arms and not needing to speak
You are three and I am ten times that
As long as I can I’ll lift you over the cracks

(c) Em Fleming