The Place For Breath (Developing Collection)

The place between me and you. The place between words between sentences is the same between pictures in a gallery. I find that which we have in common and fill in the gaps between our chat on telephone or in fact. Each time I am left with a different picture of you to contemplate. A different pause between one part of a sentence, and the next. I’m afraid at some point reaching a full stop.

Whispering Breath

I’ve not told you everything he did to us.
(whispering breath)
Why I’m sat on edge
of bed using upstairs phone.

Got to speak quietly.
My fault.
He keeps telling me

(conspiratorial breath)

I caused it
by what I did.

(questioning breath)
Is it something in me that’s at fault?’
Have l something wrong with me?
Am I a good person?

 I’m afraid of him. What he might do
If I do this or the other.
I have no feeling for him.

(accusatory breath)
He says I’ve made the Love go.
He threatens me
because this is the only way


get it back.
I’m terrified, love.

(weeping breath)
Doesn’t lack of love mean more love needs to be given, not hate?

(angry breath)
He likes Old Testament. ‘Eye for an eye … ‘
calls himself Christian.
Knows the Bible off by heart.
Laughs at my attempts

 to read it and so argue against him,

(determined breath)
Each person’s got to be responsible for themselves.


The Brandished Knife

I notice her breath when she tells a tale. Almost breathless as if she cannot tell it fast enough.

A Filey Clairvoyant

You will meet the Right Man and know it in two years time.

His name begins with,

I can’t quite distinguish

a P or B or R.’

 Well, I’d had- a Bernard and Paul.

I feel sorry for Ray

tells me his fat

girlfriend just sits

around house

no housework.

He prepares all meals.

She just sits

reading Mills and Boon.

drinks and sleeps

Never together when out.

She with her friends, he with his.

He goes out,

 returns she’s brandishing a knife,

 interrogates him

 where he’s been.

He is a designer

 witty with it.

 Manager at my workplace

 he sends me a picture

of an American Indian

 with palm up

and five statements on how

we should get together.

I ask

 Why haven’t you moved out?

He says

When my last marriage broke up

my wife got house and everything

 and my girlfriend won’t move out.

He makes sense.

I want a boyfriend with either

 motorbike or a landrover.

He’s just sold his bike.

Landrover is soft topped.

Takes me and Ben out walking

 to Dark Peak.

We enjoy pictures rather than words.

He makes meals for the family.

My friends said if my last husband turns up


would not hesitate to lay him out.

We spend evenings planning places

 things we can do, together.

He smokes

socially when he drinks, like me.


Christmas he moves in.

On way out to a Parents evening

 Ben’s school I tell him

We’ll talk when I return

On return I find all drink gone

him crashed out drunk in my bed.

In morning he says

Please forgive me.

Over the next month we go out

hold hands, and are gentle

down by the bridge while Ben plays

 ahead with our dog.

Over next month he fills my wardrobes

with his clothes

my shelves with his CD’s.

Then I notice

him going to pub straight after work,

returns home crashes out to sleep.

he works drinks sleeps

Comes from work after pub

says he’s tired, sleeps rest of night

I wait for him downstairs.

I sit alone in house on an evening

or when he is in

he gawps at TV in bedroom.

He does not let me to go

out with my friends.

We go out again after I have words.

Two weeks later he is back

drunk and sleeping again.

On few occasions we go out

he leaves me on my own

 he spends evening talking to a biker

or someone at bar.

 I talk to his fat girlfriend Sophie.

She’d been holding a knife because she

was cutting veg, as she always did

preparing meals for him while he went

Out and got drunk.

He catches me talking to her


‘Don’t believe her, she’s a liar. She’ll say

anything to get me back with her.’

Tells me all the girls at work

are after him.


I talk to them.

They wouldn’t touch him.

He promises me I’ll not go drinking

starts excuses when I smell it on his breath

 told him so.

I say

I’ll go to a counselling session with you

He’s having none of it.

his tears when I phone him at local pub and tell him

Your stuffs in the driveway.

 Down on his knees he is, tears and moans, begging me to reconsider. Says

Your right in everything you say. I’m at fault and I’ll change.

He is really suffering. I nearly break

 but people never change.

 I meet him a month or two later while out with my mates.

He comes in pub.

Sends one of his mates over to mr

Ray wants a private word

 I say

 Whatever Ray has to say he can say while my mates are present.

Anyway he comes over.

I aske

Hows Sophie?

he tells me

 Eff off.

I feel nothing.

Mark is the man for me, but he is married and she is kind. I have known the family for ten years now. It is only recently I admit to myself I love Mark. I would not hurt their kids . I have seen them settle down round meal table of an evening. I come home, collapse on sofa and cry for I know we would be good together. want to settle down. For a time with Ray I forget about Mark. Ray never knew about him. I see Mark less. I will not move from this cul de sac because I feel safe with Mark down the road and the fabulous view of the moors. Perhaps because I love Mark I find it difficult to love anyone else.  I’ll keep looking.

She breathes looking at me for a reaction.

The Two Words Make One


I lay with you. Two words make one.
You say ‘You’ve strong legs. Your too heavy. ‘

No space for breath. Our words.

Make too short. A sentence.

I kiss you.
You say ‘You have a firm jaw.

You smother. ‘

My word does not make room for yours.

You lay with me. Two pictures make one
My heart bloody in my mouth.

 I want to crush you into my frame.

You kiss me
I press till all feeling goes.

My frame has no blood.


too much leaves nothing else

a space, a breath, a gap. Almost a full stop.

 too little leaves an absence

a space, a breath, a gap. Almost a full stop.

is rare for both of us.


we put up each others

inspiration, expiration

for reasons to stay not to be alone

a single word, a single sentence

without company of another

a picture with a wall to itself, a room

to itself, a gallery to itself

reasons to be alone
but not to stay that way.

You are afraid I will wander,

hold anothers attention, anothers breath

in my mouth

because I am younger.

I think

how promises are never kept

 We both agree
‘Never’ and Always’
are not to be said. Words that do not belong in our sentences.

Pictures that we do not want on our wall


how she feels she must be tret:


to Mike,
libido disabled by drugs;
wound up on a Saturday night in the pub by wisos dropping their keks ;
 a Ieper
by people on the bus
she sits by him
aware that he’s tempted



Old man returns to his lonely house
she wishes could go back with him, 

give him company.

Has her own family chats to him
in supermarket


than she should.

Says she’s old-fashioned.

Likes a bloke to buy her drinks.

Treat her right.

I’m used to lasses
‘I’ll buy me own thanks.’
I feel it’s better if we share the price. You’ve no money so it makes sense.’

Old-fashioned is new to me.

She’s never made love to gentle.
I called it sex
Didn’t know any better.

She’s never been tret like this before.

None Has Stayed

Breathing in.

She brings men up
She can see whats in them.

Then they leave her.

None has stayed.

Her complicated breath

She swore never

 get hurt again.

Takes me

in her arms

 says ‘I’ve got a child already.

I don’t need another.’

‘I will not carry you.’

She curves my wet dreams.

Denies herself for her child,


‘My son is more mature than you.’

Her complex breath.

Makes each man she chooses

Then they leave her.

None has stayed.

She sees strength
behind their eyes,
in their arms,

Tells them it needs bringing out.

Her breathing confidence.

Every man has left his mark.

She asked them to leave.

None has stayed .

Breathing out

The Bridge And The Birds

First Saturday together

with your son at Bradford Museum of Film and Photography.

The bridge radiated

its structural pains

as the train ran over its spine.

I struggled to explain

to ten-year old Ben

why these shimmering lines of stress changed

with the altering weight

of the locomotives passage.

You urged your son to listen to me,

as you had urged him not to talk to strangers,

I was a stranger to him.

Behind its glass the train went nowhere, but out and back

across the same bridge

showing its structural pains

through special lens

to each curious onlooker.

The special lens of our eyes looking out the Museum window.

We wondered at the massed flight of birds dipping and arching

over the city as the sun faded.

Ben shifted from foot to foot

as I held your hand.

Ben drummed his fingers as I smelt your hair,

moving your body closer to mine.

Each bird adapting the air

under Its wings

as its partner adapted the same;

a swarm of grey specks.

We looked tor ages

through our lens

Ben asked why they moved like that.

The birds went nowhere

but out and back

across the same city.

Ben was a stranger to them.

Need to move

from a state of siege,
from neighbours eyes,
from counting pennies,
from doing without

from checking windows,
caught breath
from skimp, save
and charity,worn furniture

Clothes prying eyes
heated breath
 from called ‘permissive’, abnormal,
 idle, sponger, mother to undisciplined kids, a threat to The Family.

Indignant breath

to a new boyfriend
 who stays over
 without Social
 saying we’re married

after three consecutive nights,
 withdraw my book
 and tell him he’s to support us

From never depending on a man,
 his money his car, his reliabliity, his word

to a state of independence


The Cathedral

Cold chucked it down. Short. Frantic. Breaths. Pain. Neck a weight.
I opened the door
I opened my mouth.
Quiet took me.
deep intake bad dreams, sleeplessness, worries for others, his fists, noise
his Voice, filled
my lungs.
cathedral and myself kissed. All breath slowly expelled prayer.
Taken in by lungs cathedral this pain rose and out
till I could no longer understand it.
Taking new breath again
lungs filled with Himself:
I cried, quietly:
comfort acute.



Kitchen door dented

where your ex flew off the handle

 at the slightest.

 Your ears attuned to strange cars in the cul-de-sac.

open curtains, check.

 You could not
 say his name for six months

 you told him to go.


 Dumb-bell by your bedside.


Under your pillow baseball bat.

Knives on surfaces
 lead poker on landing,
 Or are these in your head?

  Knives sharp,
 dumb-bell heavy
 as stories of his holding
 frying-pan above your head

make his point,

 He is here
 in the household wait

for you to be alone
 to bring him out

The Home Of Breath

Her breathing place

 is at home sometimes.

familiar furniture,

pot plants, pictures.

Her conversation easier.

No annoying silences.

Her stomach chums,

especially when someone knocks

on door

phone rings

Especially when she recalls

his threats on her

childs life

echoes off walls

she wants 

 cannot afford to paper.

Front room window-frame crumbles

one day pane will fall out

her house open itself

to wind

 here family is close

 friends a breath away.


Death Sentence

Our chat was dead

 silence annoyed us

so much left unsaid


incomplete sentence

Chatty Christmas, New Year nothing left to say

nothing left to share

I tried too hard

 You worried his harsh sentence

a visit from him


his mates in suits

to you and Ben

alone in the house;

 invitation for abuse.

invitation for him

to invade, unplug phones,

demand she sit with him

answer again why

no love for him

last night we finally talked, a

agreed I would not physically fight him,

 feelings had walked,

saying ‘Let go.’ ‘I’ll hug you

 if you find pleasure

in the arms of another.’

Death sentence

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