Off cuts

For Anu –  “sometimes find myself in unvisited minds”

With Anu’s beautiful design


Slip Alley XVI

Sveta smiles,
wandering other minds
is most satisfying.


Ollie stands in his kitchen
thinking about the note
he found with Jane Doe
in the train.

The kettle whistles,
he makes a pot of oolong tea,
grabs two willow pattern
stoneware cups, some
French Madelines on a plate,
joins Greta in the living room
with a cosy tray.

“Tonight you are safe here,
tomorrow we will arrange
an apartment and a guard.”

Greta’s eyes fill with tears,
she shivers breathing in
the fragrant steam
of her tea.

“Maybe you can help me
with something,” says Ollie,
as his cat fiddles with a pen
on the coffee table, “the red
bearded perp, why did
he have your mobile number?”

Greta blanches,
clasps her slender fingers,
tears a corner off
a newspaper,
starts to fold an origami crane.

Her voice is breathless,
as she answers
locking eyes with Ollie,
fingers busy creasing,
“I really have no idea,
no, no idea at all.”

Ollie’s eyebrow itches,
the blue cat rolls a coin
with a clatter across
the parquetry floor.
Ollie lets the silence grow
with a sympathetic face
waiting for Greta to continue.

She talks about the new apartment,
Ollie’s mobile bleets,
the red bearded perp was seen
going into Greta’s,
they have a watch at his place,
Ollie smiles and congratulates
his men.

Yet Greta still looks very anxious.

Slip Alley XV

Eric stands
under a yawning street lamp,
red beard glinting
with dark lights.

He has her number now,
the apartment building beckons,
ghostly birches wave a welcome.

He flies up the stairs,
finds the right door,
takes out his pick lock,
turns the reluctant barrels
whispering, “come to Daddy”.
Finally, a satisfying click.

The door swings open,
the flat is bare, inconvenient
witness gone, Eric swears
about bestial intercourse,
heads for home.

In his letterbox, he finds
a gilt edged envelope,
inside a note
smelling of violets,
a name, address
and photograph – same offer
as before.

Offered for

Poetics ~ It’s a matter of Choice..

Slip Alley XIV

Sveta taps her newly manicured
emerald nails
on the cold glass of the window,
the silver is pretty, matches
the clouds in the sky.

What to call the man
with the silk tie and red beard,
she taps an SOS, Eric, of course
she thinks, Eric the Red.


Eric checks the ATM. Sure enough,
10,000 dollars but why a woman,
and why a beauty,
still the deed is done
and he is much richer.

Yet a face from a passing train
nags, he mistimed his lunge,
the train wasn’t supposed to be there,
he’d checked the timetable,
and now –  a witness – her white doll face
seared into his retinas,
each time he shuts his eyes
there she is, an afterimage.

He hasn’t slept peacefully
since that night. He carefully
tracked her to her street, following her
as she strutted with her Prada bag
and violet kabuki made up eyes,
all paint and front, he thought,
tonight she’ll be collateral damage.

He finds a pub, his stomach rumbling,
he orders steak and chips and beer.
The food arrives,
the waitress young and pretty,
he is old enough to be her father,
he flirts imagining all
the carnal secrets
he could teach her,
she smiles politely
bustling away even though
she isn’t busy.

He stabs
his steak with a blunt fork.
He calls the waitress
to bring another beer, chews
the tender bloody meat
his eyes glaze over lustily.

Tonight he’ll strike. His favourite
silk tie lies uneasily
in his inside pocket.

Slip Alley XIII

Thi and Isamu walk
along the water,
the sky endless blue,
floating limestone dragon
mountains lurk in a haze,
sand cool silk beneath their bare feet,
“Jack has a contract, signed,”
Thi says.

Isamu nods making
the sign of the cat in wet pressed sand
with a curved sharp stick.





Sveta stretches her arms
over her head, her neck feels tight.
She walks to the window,
looks at the moon,
blood tinges deepening,
the eclipse has started.


Ollie buys a posy of pale green roses.
He figures it’s safer than
deep red, the yellow didn’t feel right,
too cheerful and the white,
too funereal. He finds a number,
springs up a flight of stairs,
adjusts his coat and knocks.

He hears footsteps, and a pause,
the door opens. Greta’s hair
is freshly washed. Her violet eyes
are red rimmed,
bruised with shadows

The red bearded perp
has been seen
by an anonymous observer.
She must pack
her things.
It’s not safe
to stay.

Greta packs.



A lake of souls, unfathomed,
uncertain, gentle, without impatience.

I walk the shore, through rushes and mud,
a startled ibis rises, wingbeats deafen me.

Now, when ghostly waters press,
the swamp weeds choke me.

I left a skin there composed
of lost memories, mine and others.

Yet nothing composed is ever lost,
I have just forgotten in my impatience

and discord, ever after, obsolete
when nothing is all that’s left behind.

Sources of inspiration for this collage include Theodore Roethke, Raine Maria Rilke, Mary Oliver, Louise Glück, Adrienne Rich, and Jessamyn Johnson Smyth who developed this technique of poaching lines that ignite the imagination and playing with them to make a new poem. This is my offering for dVerse’s first birthday celebration of poetry.

Ars Poetica – Poems about Poetry