Instant Love

There you are solid and real
Again for an instant
Strong arms to lose me in,
To love me in,
And then you are gone again
In an instant.


My Alphabet

There is something missing
From my alphabet
Like the black hole of an O,
The I that misses a dot
Or a T that’s not together if it doesn’t have  a cross.
There’s something missing
From my alphabet
Like the feel of an X pressed to my lips,
As the lost Zs of dreams fade at dawn
Where the rain of consonants
Fall like jokes
When only a vowel will do
To complete my lover’s alphabet
For a Q that’s missing…


If my words were colours
I’d paint in shades of red,
I’d paint them on the canvas
Of that cheap hotel-room bed.

I’d paint my colours everywhere
In every cloud and tree
So on days we spent apart
You’d only think of me.

You’d find my art distracting
Like melting Dali clocks
That tease of time that disappears
Like matching pairs of socks.

My work would be a masterpiece
Red to guard against the blue
Red is the only colour
The colour of me; of you.


What is this 4am place
Of half-realised dreams
That blur into the guilty gaping wounds
Of half-realised dreams?
Do you have a foot, hovering over the threshold
Of these half-realised dreams
As you teeter on the precipice
Scared to fall into them?

What is this 4am place
Of half-realised dreams
That calls to you like a siren,
Pulling you under with the panic of breath,
The erotic asphyxiation
Of half-realised dreams?
Do I appear during that subtle shift from dark to light
In these half-realised dreams,
Dressed only with your smile
As we fall into them together


MUSE by Jo Shapcott

When I kiss you in all the folding places
of your body, you make that noise like a dog
dreaming, dreaming of the long run he makes
in answer to some jolt to his hormones,
running across landfills, running, running
by tips and shorelines from the scent of too much,
but still going with head up and snout
in the air because he loves it all
and has to get away. I have to kiss deeper
and more slowly – your neck, your inner arm,
the neat creases of your toes, the shadow
behind your knee, the white angles of your groin –
until you fall quiet because only then
can I get the damned words to come into my mouth.

Jo Shapcott

The Potter


Throw the clay roughly to your potter’s wheel.
Watch it spin between your legs as you stroke it gently,
Play with it,
Make it wet.

Press thumbs into it, fingers,
Quicker, deeper and with more urgency
As sticky clay opens up and rises to meet you
Threatening at any moment to lose form,
Collapse in on itself: An inverted whirlpool
Of a million possibilities

Stay firm, leather hard and resolute to your task.
Run the dripping clay through your hands
So that you feel every curve and swell,
Hollow and lip of your creation
Slide and slip beneath your godly potter’s touch

Until it comes finally, with kiln and fire, to life.



I sit at the table
Trace wooden knots of hidden stories
With fingertips.
I wait.

Somewhere, out of sight,
A clock is too busy ticking
Out of time.

Too fast
Too slow.
Precious seconds
Perfect minutes,
Lonely hours
Another voiceless day.

I tap my fingers impatiently
On the table top,
Waiting for words
That have drifted carelessly
Away into the silence
On the wings of dandelion seeds.



There is a far off place
You go to.
I see it in your eyes
When you are sitting next to me.
I wish you would take me with you,
Guide me with loving hands
To this hidden world of yours and
Show me

I am there with you already but do not see?

The blind invader of your dreams
Who has fallen in love with every
Beautiful, rough edged landscape of your mind
And who has taken up permanent residence
Refusing to leave
Because it’s too far to travel back
From this imperfect place
That I wish to conquer,
Not destroy.

I am there already?

Your imaginary captive
Blindfolded and chained
To the thoughts that unnerve you,
The desires you can’t articulate,
That live there in your heart of darkness.
Lock me up.
Throw away the key.
Let me see.


You asked for the other side of the story,
The one that lies behind the wall
I’m slowly piecing back together
To stop the flood,
To make you feel safe.

If you could look over the wall,
The other side might look different:
A constantly shifting sea
Of grey and blue and white,
Changing with the wind,
Of you.

To me both sides are the same:
Swells of untameable love
That rise up and break in waves.

It’s just,

On one side I ride them recklessly with you,
Whilst on the other they quietly drown me.