Here are things no one has ever painted:
the blurry dark beyond the coach window;
the way the sun shines through your closed eyelids;

those floaty eye worms; the cold, sharpened glow
of sunset on a meteor; a dream;
the first true vision that you came to know

when you first opened your eyes in the womb.


Canto CLXX

With a firm and cupping motion, the midwife
located the position of your head,
you’re bang on schedule, ready for the strife,

the planned eviction from your snug homestead.
And now I know where your blossoming brain
sparks bright within your cave of darkest red—

I wonder how it looks to you within,
when bright light penetrates the full placenta?
Perhaps its just like when this skyline turns

from concrete grey to brilliant magenta.

Canto CLXV

Our girl opened her eyes sometime last week
on a world warm and dark as a bruise,
her hermitage until the waters break

and then she’ll learn to really sing the blues.


Each night, I speak a few improvised words
into the Bellyphone—I do not know
how well they travel, if they can be heard

within the swishing amniotic stew.
You’re not the one that lives in Plato’s Cave,
the world outside is where you’ll find shadows

that masquerade as things unto themselves.
The warmth of a body that’s not your own;
the low, sonorous music of the breath

beneath the shallow clatter of diction;
the warm and fleshy veil that serves to shield
you from the obscene glare of the full sun—

these are the only truths you’ll ever need.

Canto XCIV

You’ve just turned eighteen weeks which means a bone
has started to form in your inner ear
so that you’ll mark the constant, thundering flow

of blood through the placenta and you’ll hear
the deep injunction of your mother’s heart,
though there are other sounds you’ll come to fear—

fingernails on blackboards, daddy’s farts,
the screeching brakes of the arriving train
and worse, the anthem for the middle class,

the wailing din of Florence’s Machine.


The midwife moves the tinny stethoscope
across your stomach, waiting for a sound
as frantic as a horse’s full gallop,

reminding me of childhood afternoons,
travelling the span of the longwave band,
the foreign tongues and vinyl crackle tunes,

the shipping news read by the RP man,
all flotsam in the bandwidth’s constant hiss.
There was no target for my wanderings then,

while now we sample no Moroccan hits,
we only have your belly’s groans and whirls
until we find our child’s racing heartbeat,

a tiny drum heard from another world.


Remember when I placed an apple seed
into your palm and said it was the size
of the six week embryo you carried?

Well, ten weeks later, cells have multiplied,
organs have sprung from almost nothing and
the life within has gone from being a seed

to the apple itself. I place my hand
across your belly, close my eyes as if
performing some kind of Vulcan baby scan—

briefly connect to what lies underneath
so tactile nerve endings can boldly go
beyond the hardened bulge of your midriff

into a world that we could never know,
to test the slightness of its just learned grip,
to brush the downy fur of lanugo

and feel its footsteps on my fingertips.

Canto LXVI

Fourteen weeks in, twenty six to go,
your naughty bits should now be fully formed,
but we’ll have eight more weeks until we’ll know—

and if it means I’m going to be informed
that you are to be Daddy’s little girl,
then I’ll be on a state of mild alarm

to buy a grip trainer for any males
you bring back to the succour of our home
and I will crush that toerag’s hand until

I hear the crack of metacarpal bones
becoming chalk dust, then he’ll understand
that he must give some digits of his own

when asking Daddy for his daughter’s hand.


Within my every cell there is a ladder
that splits and multiplies as rhibosomes
read the body’s convoluted chapters.

Not one of these busy automatons
care for the person that I come to be,
a long haired, ex-Catholic republican,

scoffing at so called equality,
voted in today by sitting Lords
now chicks are alright for the Monarchy.

And I know nothing of these tiny hordes,
these microscopic sweatshops, where the shifts
will never end until I am brown bread.

And so it is that that my long suffering wife
is yet to feel the fleet acrobatics
performed by that near thirteen week old life

nor will it feel her travails, morning sick
a few weeks more before the promised lull,
just as those inbred aristocratic

parasites, waving from their gilded Rolls
will never know the nine to five dolor
of flag waving or finger flipping proles,

who are, by all accounts, their employers.

Canto XXXI

Week nine, and now you’re the size of a grape;
all organs present and you’ve lost your tail,
seven months until you make the leap

from viewless womb into the teary vale.
I’m at the blues bar, early for the stag,
I’m Nially No Mates, solitary male,

adrift from the revery of the pack.
I down my Murphy’s, fire off a few tweets,
outside the sun blazes, inside time drags,

the boys are running thirty minutes late.
I’m counting beats to Howling Wolf’s Evil
you mark the 4-4 of your mother’s heart

the both of us, snug in our darkened bubbles.

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