The words unfreeze in my mouth

How do I beseech the
guardian of words
to thaw, to unfreeze
the ice that dwells in
my stomach, in my
shoulders, my throat and my mouth?
Such ice also lives in my heart and
occasionally melts when the
stuck, trapped phrases
are warmed with fire and are
sparked and sparkling and tumbling
with joy both out and upon
the air skipping jauntily upon my
parched twisted tongue
where they
pool, dance and scramble
streaming once more along
tapping against my
hard ceramic teeth
where they
find life and scatter…


The words unfreeze in my mouth is a Golden Shovel poem based on four lines from The Kalevala, a Finnish epic poem.

“The words unfreeze in my mouth
and the phrases are tumbling
upon my tongue they scramble
along my teeth they scatter.”

(1: 7-10 Oxford World’s Classics edition translated by Keith Bosley)

Golden Shovel

“Terrance Hayes invented a poetry form he calls the Golden Shovel. You take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire, and use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem while maintaining the order. If you choose a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long.” Taken from

New Year (after Rimbaud)


The sorrows of loss and
of times past collide with the
shock of the new.
We measure the year
review what is trailing
behind through thick mist
of sentiment that drags
us back to the
days we’ve squandered. Comforting folds Read More

flotsam jetsam

When your constellation is not as it seems
it should be; like
it is for others, who speak of us and we
but don’t include me. Yet together they are
aimless, like flotsam drifting
on pulsing wavelets, further and further
out into the vast nothingness and
forever into the further
until it all breaks apart

…seems like we are drifting further and further apart.

Cold in the earth (after Emily Brontë)

The bare walls of her body ooze breath of cold
trapping the bones in
soft cocoon of damp flesh where the
air reeks of sodden earth —
She moans with mute numbness and
counts to fifteen
heavy with blubber she is wild
yet dead like all the Decembers
and all their frosts from
ages past until now, those
icicle mornings that turn grass blades brown
and cover the hills
with a ghostly hue and have
long since melted
the spring

A Golden Shovel poem based on two lines from Emily Brontë’s poem Remembrance:

Cold in the earth — and fifteen wild Decembers
From those brown hills have melted into spring:


Why can’t she recognise love, or
is she primed to reject it? She wonders why she does
this when she thirsts for connection; the
one thing she needs like land
beneath her feet. She wants to lean
into love, let it weigh her down,
to fix it in place and to
let it lift
her and lower her again, to baptise her in the
cool, cleansing sea. Read More