I stole the flowers in your garden. Break of
day. Only the petals. Picked them off
one at a time and lined my dusty holdall.
They really were too bright. Stinging torches
blinding my walk. The stems stand tall now
guarding your homes, but not from me.
Your classy, vibrant, in-your-face doors were
far too much. Lightning streaks of colour
burning my cheeks. I’ve sloshed black paint all
over, removing their glare. They look the
same now. It’s fashionably dark.
In fact, I’ve trashed all the garden’s
ornaments: plant pots, obnoxious gnomes,
fake animals ridiculing themselves.
I even ripped your sunshine chairs,
leaving only their dull, lifeless insides.
You can live now without your smiles,
without your laughing hyenas and dressed up,
cherished darlings. My walk is now bland,
spiritless, and as thrilling as the back of a queue.
Just how I like it.
I scooped handfuls of pink confetti,
gave it wildly to the sky and watched it
float down to my hair, cheeks, nose, wings,
and there I was, perched on my branch of blossom,
singing thanks to my velvet landing and
wings of release. My beak looks fine, don’t
you think, playing this rousing tune to all
around, collecting delight in my chocolate
opal feathers, skinny legs, like hers down the
road and royal stretching wings? But I can’t stay.
I need to taste the lift once more, feel the rush
and hover light, knowing I’m safe.
I’ll return to the grind when I’m done,
these wings show me what it’s like to soar.
Come now, ride with me, you won’t
stumble in clouds.
The Beast Outside
The anxiety of night delivers
an unfamiliar howl
crawling in through windows
circling the room,
the miracle of morning never
arrives on time.
I count my breaths
until I realize I’m alive,
then thank the day for letting me in.
I expect to see a fierce grey cloud
hanging in our street,
people wrapped in tattered clothes,
their faces covered in grime.
The beast may be here,
but it all looks the same.
For now, I’ll shield myself inside.
I’m sheltering fear,
but I won’t hold your hand.
The constant crawling, itching, delving around my skin,
I can never bring an end,
I can never show you it’s there.
The rumbling vibrations buzzing inside,
I cannot stop their infuriating moves,
I cannot show you they’re alive.
The ice-cold trembling delivered for no reason
in a room warming its guests,
the burning feet leaving no ashes,
I cannot collect any proof,
but it’s there.
There’s a hidden shadow cementing its presence,
forcing all motion to weaken.
You’ll never see it land,
you won’t watch it randomly steal a word,
the power of concentration, or
a thought on the verge of escape.
How can you see pain biting inside?
A blurring eye in an exhausted body?
A muscle refusing to stretch?
I’m a factory working hard to produce a mystery,
a collection of broken parts awaiting an answer.
If you search long enough,
you may be blinded by the truth.
A Spring Appointment
You stand there welcoming me,
a beaming smile,
allowing flowers to bloom.
I’m offered a bench to rest
and speak my worries.
like the dutiful parent
waiting on spirited children.
Here is a spring morning
listening to my words,
answering calmly and precisely
before a change bursts in.
I’m nervously glancing up at birds
spiralling in the dimming light.
This is your time, doctor,
tell me what I don’t want to hear.
I shake my head
in the thundering rain,
stamping out my frustration
in sodden pools,
before lifting my hood
over my disillusioned world.
Soaked to the skin, I walk away
to a glorious cloudless sky.
Julie Stevens lives in Cambridge, UK. She has had MS for 30 years. Her poems tend to reflect the impact MS has on her life, as well as other topics close to her heart. Her poems have been published by Runcible Spoon, Ariel Chart, Burning House Press, The Blue Nib, Nine Muses Poetry, and MS Trust and MS Society magazines. Her poem ‘If I Can’t’ was a winning poem in Bespoke Verse’s poetry competition in association with National Poetry Day 2019. ‘Bird’ first appeared in The Honest Ulsterman. Learn more about Julie via her website.