Issue 25: Guinevere Clark

December Unslept

He’s the man of the house 8-year-old. The Equality Act. It’s killing my chest wait in a long dance of tin cans bread banks for afterschool club are waiting for me. I’m a single mother can’t shake it an excuse a flexi-policy an indifferent difference raising. If you want a dog you have to walk him. Now I’m licking my own wound for the angle of him. Lost a stone. I adore his biceps. There’re no condoms now and I hate FIFA. Can never be truthful but I must be cool. My biological clock tock but always a microscopic dot of love. Dog smells vile. The father? May as well be a fucking line of them dip one toe into the real womb blood tick. Responsibility. Rhyme is ok. I hate poetry anyway. Stick that on the radio waves as I hang out your sheet blast. Wind of washing line magic writing messages to the snow hills. Fuck the dust of this heart tamer. Lion is asleep to my snake charmer. Handbag of dark Victorian themed school plays comet snake on the ladder dice carpet. He called himself fuck-boy. Intelligent though. The parallels of dichotomy are wooing me to whisper. Dog sleeps on peaked mountain. He can only draw volcanos. Great spin-wind bought in shell hammer of house nest from Sketty. Hill white sea myths by my bed hillocks of toilet paper. That’s where the toilet roll went when I needed it and the bread expired. If you can unravel the pain and face it we win. Food on vouchers if you really want that chocolate you can but your teeth will come out your teeth have come out. Beach is romantic aged 7 size will fit but not for long because 3 months in that’s when they make it or break it. Shame if the chalk board falls in the wind. Snake notes on books pans need a good scraping. Tap chugs. Pot Goddess incense charred Grandma’s green vase glowing with no flowers. Some red ones that he said weren’t for you. Late. Sponge of ratatouille suddenly got me. Sloths football cards. Alice in Wonderland clock. His face leaves me. Drawers are easily slotted outside a long squirrel. Leaves dripped gold. I’m still fucking working and it’s Christmas the best baubles are long. I’ve reached capacity there’s no curtains. Retro writing desk from the woman with a black eye in Sketty was it him. Wine. Two deer kiss under pines. Shaman log pixie waiting confounded head. They said it’s going to fall that mirror. It’s going to fall on your head but it hasn’t fallen in the storm and there’s been a storm all the time. Tricky bit a masking tape keeps the light on but he gave me some anyway and a bad MOT. Had to cry. Van’s gone. I’ve got a Lidl bag with nothing in it and a washable bag. Black flip flops corners of dust with tube slat. Pants opened because that’s the only dress. Farce choice. No way to ask or tell just make sure the red belt is tight because then he won’t see what’s underneath. If he wants to he’ll take it off anyway. Lamp shade up didn’t fall off filaments that make lots of heat they need watching best to turn them off. Man came. They always come and go. My grey cardy is for a twelve-year-old. Dog ate my flipflops like meat but the dog’s only a cat. She thinks there’s someone in the cellar. Dylan’s cold pantry. Uplands that was romantic because there were dishes half done I was alone he was on his phone when he could have taken me from behind in history kiss. May as well not have happened. If you stop thinking it will stop. Don’t forget to clean behind the shrine get all the dogs mess from every blade of grass. Want daily quote. We’re ok. I’m not saying don’t. I’m saying yes. 6am piece of equipment to shut son up so I can think more about the best angle of my poetry. Nauseous festive candle. Hip wiggling boy come and show me your life and I’ll show you what used to be mine. Don’t kick heavy balls in the house. I’ve had enough breakage. Unearthed. Cycle. I love mould upon mould of wash cycle tragic didn’t mention that your Dad never came on Christmas day or even said he would. You had a device he called for a portion of your attention was lost anyway. Scrape out the jelly from my ovulation always feels good and tell him when he can come inside. Pray Kali won’t dispatch a tiger she was a fucking washout lost tubes lab chaos. Time means temporal hat looks so good on you but you’ll never take a selfie or ask me to send you pictures of my tits. The dog healed himself but wants more bed still got blood on the sheets and two lots of come. I like trance. 52-page books that give me a sense of why I like poetry now. Bits of wrapping bath bombs. Protection from discrimination and public bodies that promote on the grounds of pregnancy. Weight of nest good job the tug won’t split it. Resolved unresolvable a shattered torso snaked in Christmas lights. Boy has a certain gait I’d know from any surf trip of wrong carpark. If they all left where would I. Without the couch love stretched in his mother’s blanket. Yes I want to own his flotsam and feel his paw like a prism of old rooms. Chandelier whisky jar of no scrabble nights.  If only for a moment on a bench I’d kiss you like a suave bitch do unspeakable things to you in the summer.  How can I be useful to myself without converting? Christmas horses on sand. Sacramental time. Smell of fish from peculiar places stretch and pain of my breasts. I want to make milk again. If you suckle me and you will no-one will know the pain except us or maybe just me because women have a great way of hiding stuff sometimes until they just stop talking. Unicorns long gap consider termination. Casual quiet slink. I like ‘recalcitrant’ only reason I don’t understand that your vampire leaves me vulnerable to anything that’s why we work darling. Remember the door mat is actually a baby towel so easy off the rub. People rely on statistics subject lost in manipulated digitalisation of passion. He calls it affection is not in love with me. My poetry is usually free. Bothersome

Leaps and Estimations

Happy, Happy Birthday, baby! A world.

Bury into the lock. Dirty kisses. Dropped

fever. Crown us with spring’s puff and fervour.

Evolution. Mortis. New family. Split

skin. Plastic will save us. Push a window,

sing, clap. We know each other more now,

in the dry wi-fi, war of stalking coughs.

Queen Gaia is breathing, washed.

Un-clocked days. Bare, warehouse prayers.

Gold dust. Hospitals. Stop. Matrix

blocked. Spit, for revolution! Masked.

Fact check us – we’ll be with garlic buds,

a new totem pole in the woods. Epicentre.

Lungs resolute tug. Hug in hand, risking love.

Potty Training on Mother’s Day

My teabag swells        waits

like a monument to be circled as

I squeeze water

through the tubes of life.




Peg lines, murmuring

                the ends of nursery rhymes.

Sinking back into the sheets,

they seem to speak, carry the tales

of a weary night, wear a clock,

                     never sleep.

The day has been streams



Delicate son – in this locked

steam, I teach you

what I do not know,

wrestle nappies from your

clutch, stumble with words,

reach for the right tone,

answer, look, book!

Dressing you like a toy

for the freeze, my side,

the heat, the future.

Layers unravel and the globed

face of our washer grumbles.

Bursting from the house,

onto the High Street,

all cake breath,

bath water, cocoa tears.

I stop like a city fox

at the charity shop.

Layers of Mother’s Day gifts

sparkle on the glass slats:

             fabric hearts, aprons,

             books (on mothering),

             angels, mirrors,


It is enough –

just the pollen drops

of another woman’s potter,

the presence of her display,

edged in blossom and reels of cotton.

Breathing to the window – gifts mist.

I think of my son sleeping

               under the fat lemon moon,



like an astronaut. His brain

learning dreams from dreams.

Does he still rumble

with my commands,

my faltered bribes and coos?

Or resting on his new

                           smooth sheets,

is he too at the cusp

of simple refuge?

The Apple Tree

I stayed up all night –

       heart crushed

       from love;

read healing myths of apple trees

                        that bent to rescue

                                         the lost.

The next day, I didn’t wash

or eat. I made a crumble,

harvested our only tree,

                 seasoning silently in this


lifted our son, fingers fluttering

          into a bustle of leaves,

          to grip

his first apple. It was exactly


Crying like a crow for our family,

moments as this – 

                     with no witness.

Even the birds left us

         and we filled the bowl alone.

In the kitchen – hands cracked

with apple acid,

I sliced off bruises,


                  with an endless stare.

Boiled the sap,

slugged sugar, threw in a prayer

bottled the cloudy remedy.

It bubbled like an ingot

and I kept my hands glittered

                          with crumble.

Under the patio branches,

insects reeling,

            he squeezes

     the last soft cores,

twirls them to my head,

one shaky baby hand

                  gripped to the shed.

That night, the TV blazed

                   and our small son slept.

I watched you – my

                          I don’t give a fuck lover,

   shovel the

                    breast of the pie,

slid to bed, unnoticed

under moon’s lamp,

to dream in green,

of my apple tree, morphing.

Into your bitch,

                        your witch.

Your fruitful mama.

Sun popped. Medicine

and I check him –


             stark white

             as his favourite bread.

Window Cleaner

He didn’t take off his boots, just trod softly

as if the mud wouldn’t loosen.

All he cared about was waving at the sky

until it rushed into each room.

He knew every cloud pattern, spire’s cross,

slit valley and fire pit of Swansea.

Nose and fingerprints, dog licks, mildew,

drips. He’d massage them off the glass,

closing in and in on perfection.

Green eyes gleaming greener

with each long wipe.

I don’t even know the colour of his hair,

only see the fractals, floating in his eyes.

I pace, mutter jobs at the dog,

fold clothes to the rhythm of his swishing.

Would it be two halves

too powerful, if I faced his reflection,

his silent suds and polish.

He climbs from the solace of his ladder –

all corners saluted to, leaves

with a few small warnings:

the coming of hail, a leak in the leading.

The air smells cut, metallic. Even

the mirrors will dream a new dream.

I tie back the curtains, watch moon’s tilt 

like a lover – moving at my side.

I had a Baby

Turned into a foetus,

folding up my legs

to the sulk of my bulk,

the       slow       mend

of red muscle.

              Nothing to say

from these thinned teeth,

                  gaps    in    bone

on that funereal drive home.

Unslept. Undressed,

kicking through the rift

             to the hard flesh of you,

                                     my lover,

elbowed from this kiss.

Guinevere Clark is a Swansea poet, single parent, part-time nurse, dance teacher, and PhD student, completing a second poetry collection and an exegesis titled ‘Dissecting Narratives on Isolation, Expansion and Liminality within Motherhood’. Her first collection was Fresh Fruit and Screams (2006, Bluechrome Press) and she has recently published work in Minerva Rising, The Atlanta Review, Magma and Black Bough.

She was commended in the 2020 Ambit Poetry Competition and a made a commissioned contribution to the 2019 ‘Dear Christine’ touring feminist arts exhibition based on the life of Christine Keeler. Guinevere aims to work in radio and academia, and to champion feminist poetry - particularly at the intersection of motherhood and feminism - on new platforms and for new audiences, see

Copyright © 2021 by Guinevere Clark, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.