Tag Archives: Gaia Holmes

Gaia Holmes’s ‘House Clearance’

House Clearance
Gaia Holmes
Slowly she’s started clearing things out
starting with the useless items:
chipped china cups,
trust shot-through with hairline cracks,
orphaned plugs and fuse wire,
cupboards full of arguments,
the broken stereos
he’d planned to resurrect.
And then there are the things
she’d like to keep
but knows she’ll never use:
those bright, rich nights
that no longer fit,
the creaking songs
of the bed frame
now dull and flat
and out of key,
the sugared lovers’ lingo
that has settled like cobwebs
in the corners of the room.

And love, what’s left of it,
she boils up the bones,
flavours the vapid broth
with stock and spice,
sets up a soup shack
on the ragged edge of town
and serves it to the homeless,
the hungry, the loveless creatures
of the night.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘When he comes’

When he comes
Gaia Holmes
So this is it.
This is the night.
Downstairs the sofa
doesn’t know me anymore,
my occasional china
is cracking with boredom,
the front door
is guarded by foxgloves
and throttled
with toad-flax
and this is it.
This is me;
mad woman in the attic
sifting the air for gold-dust,
a circle of crushed moths
patterning the carpet
around my feet,
cold coffee at my elbow,
logic in a hip-flask
and I’m drinking wine
that tastes of hay
and Salamanca in July
and we’re all waiting
for the storm, an answer,
a fag-burn in the sky,
words etched into
the slick streets,
the soft porn
of rain
on the skylight window.
We’re all waiting
for our dead dogs
to rattle up the stairs.
We’re all waiting
for our grandmothers
to polish our eyes
with spit
on the corner
of a vest.
We’re all waiting
for someone to say our name
with meaning.
We’re all waiting,
ears angled cat-like,
for a car to pull up,
for inspiration
to open the door
and enter
smelling of life,
of blood,
of little deaths,
of unspeakable notions
and say I’m yours.
Take me now.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Jesus Feet’

Jesus Feet
Gaia Holmes
I’ve wept on them, wished on them,
prayed on them so many times
but nothing’s come of these little acts of faith
and I’m giving up.
I’m putting your skinny Jesus feet
in the top drawer of the freezer,
squeezing them in between the oven chips
and the frozen garden peas.
Elsewhere you are someone else’s salvation
and you are working miracles.
You are driving her to important meetings.
You are baking stylish golden loaves of bread.
You are turning her bathwater into good red wine.
You are putting up shelves.
You are curing her worries.
You are saying her name with meaning.
You are coaxing the tensions out of her spine.
I’d be happy with half a miracle,
something close to a blessing,
a tender visitation
but I’m tired
of all these late night vigils
with the kettle ready to be boiled
and the tea bag ready in your cup
and our bed laundered, scented
and ready to be filled
so I’m replacing my hope
with a lack of expectation.
I’m replacing
the technicolor image of your face
with the faded, dog-eared poster
of an unimportant saint.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Blessed’

Gaia Holmes
Your grandmother
had tins full of prayer tags
and soft Garibaldi biscuits.
She kept gossip like hymn sheets
folded into the back
of her breeze-block bible,
kept a row of icons
above her fireplace
with garish hearts
like rotting plums,
reserved the best bone china
for priests, saints
and other visitations.
If you were lucky, upon leaving
you’d be blessed with a dry kiss
pressed upon the brow,
otherwise you’d leave
drenched in a frenzy of spit,
Hail Mary’s and Holy water.
You said I’d done quite well,
made a good impression
but I could tell by the way
she edged her way
around my name
and how damp I was
when we said goodbye
that she thought
I’d burn in Hell.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Sloth’

Gaia Holmes
And it comes to me
as we drive through moors
clotted with burnt, black heather,
where the air smells of sulphur and honey.
Inland, away from you
the sky is a finger painting:
stale streaks of dark clouds daubed
above the slated roof tops.
You have to learn to register these things:
the sweet and the sour
moments of life,
each dead pheasant you pass
fluttering like a ballgown
in the motorway breeze,
each blurred wasp you see
pulped against the windscreen:
the frail mortality of colour.
Remember – this is the way you breathe,
like a symphony of echo
trapped inside a shell.
On days like this
there are certain things that you recall:
the clinging breeze loaded with salt,
dead fish rotting on the tide line,
the way that the edges of the land
blurred and spread
and sunk into the sea.
Remember that day when we woke
because the sun beams nudged us
out of our sticky nest of sloth.
Our ambition became sobriety.
We binned empty wine bottles
and sour milk,
scoured lust off the dishes,
sat out in the garden,
and waited for our hearts to dry.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Charm’

Gaia Holmes
He could charm the poison out of fox gloves
and used his skills to quicken my heart.
I wondered what he fed on: frayed liturgies
and the secret dreams of women,
toxic spores translated into messages
of lust, slivers of the dank March sky
rolled up like pickled herring.
I never knew. He always skimmed me,
left me hooked on some potent pollen,
some sacrificial line,
some cold gap between sentiments.
His fingers were like cathedrals,
too big to untie my delicate knots
yet he knew me inside out like he knew
the names of flowers and bats and clouds,
like he knew how to throw daggers
without skewering the soul.
He could sniff out creeping wolf-men
and crack their backbones with a lazy wink,
worked my fingers to his throat
like a snake charmer,
made me slide and arch with his singing breath.
After we’d loved and I was doped up on glow
he laid wet silver on my eyelids
believing it would bring him luck.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘All I can do for you is dream’

All I can do for you is dream …
Gaia Holmes

I know you’ll be awake now.
You’ll be out in the garden shed
as far away as you can get
from the house and its damp wreaths,
its stink of grief and lilies.
You’ll be sitting amongst
plant pots, pegs and windfall apples
smoking cigarettes.
Here the street is sleeping.
I skulk around the kitchen
in the dull fridge light, avert my eyes
and tiptoe past the pink Sloe gin.
I could drink now.
I could drink for me, for you,
for the whole of the island.
I could drink for remembrance,
knock back a teacup for all the dead souls
searching for that bright crack back into life.
I could drink now but it’s 4am
and I’ve got an empty bed to fill
and dreams to dream for both of us.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘The Banshees’

The Banshees
Gaia Holmes

He heard the Banshees singing
weeks before she died.
Each night their cold blue keening
stained his dreams, or in the day time
one of their discordant notes
would find him, get lodged in his body
like a trapped wasp, somewhere
between his heart and his brain.

I tried to diffuse their mournful racket,
trained myself to coo like a wood pigeon,
breathe, like yeast expanding in proving dough,
whisper, like the soft crackle of crocus shoots
pushing through the crust of a bulb.
I asked the wind to sing something gentle,
told the moon to hum as it nosed its way
through the dark, worked hard to raise
the volume of our bodies as we loved:
our hearts thumping, our blood roaring,
our bones colliding.

But on that day I had no song strong enough
to hold them back. They came wailing,
whey-faced, raw-eyed, stood at the end of the bed
and sung him the long, demented opera
of her death.

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Desires’

Gaia Holmes

We keep our desires
in small cast-iron boxes
with impenetrable locks,
carry them with us
wherever we go
and they weigh us down,
make our hearts feel
like toothache.
Sometimes sounds creep
through the metal:
bird song, slow ferns uncurling,
rain on greenhouse glass.
when we’re not concentrating
scents slip out
of the miniscule cracks:
crushed orange peel,
fevers and hot summer skin.
Sometimes our desires
are beyond our control,
they make whirlwinds
in their prisons,
rock their boxes,
scream for honey
and fingertips.
We try to ignore them,
blush and fidget,
smother them with our coats
and talk about maths.
Sometimes we’re cruel,
we fill the bath
and hold them under water
until they stop babbling,
deprive them of our dreams.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Night’

Gaia Holmes
The bedroom window is open.
The coldness of the coming storm
masks the thick scent
of last night’s love.
The moon is low
and I am thin as tracing paper,
nothing left but my outline.
My head is full of voodoo,
my frail breath
like brittle oranges,
and you lie on the bed
in your crucifixion pose.
My task is to keep you alive
with the voltage
of my yew-tipped fingers,
to make you cry like a new born.
The dome of the mosque
glints at me across the rooftops
like a fat and mystic eye.
Outside, children crazy on the electric
dance in a trance,
heels thumping, hair streaming,
plastic sandals flapping on warm tarmac.
Tonight the world is full of sprites.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)