Only a pack of cards – RTMM

“It’s only a pack of cards” she says
and he watches her hands
as she shuffles and deals,
holds up the heart that he chose
and folded deep into the pack
only seconds ago.

She’s smiling that half smile
that intrigues and repels,
and he wants to know what she did
but all she will say is
“It’s only a pack of cards”
and she shows him again
and he watches her hands,
and again, and he watches
her eyes, and again
and he asks and he asks,

’til she stands with a shrug,
and tells him it’s magic.



Her dress was blue –
forget-me-not –
and her eyes were blue –

She hides in the long grass
down by the pond,
peeking through the green stripes,
watching us.

She sits at the edge
of the lawn, under
the hedge, snuggling
into the shade.

She strings chains of
daisies, white against
her blue dress.


Trust me – RTMM

Alice said “Trust me”,
like I had a choice –
like it was not just
her and me, backed in a corner –
no loopholes here, no
rabbit hole, no looking glass,
no tiny door locked
with a tiny key…

all the same, Alice said
“Trust me”, and her face
had that expression on it –
that one that conjures
aging knights in rusty armour,
that finds a seat at any table,
that laughs at pompous people
and their pompous ways

and so I trusted her.



Riding the mushroom again.  I’m making the most of these prompts – they finish at the end of the year…

The Lion and the Unicorn – RTMM

And in the red corner
it’s him – all tawny hair
and dazzling teeth. He laughs –
a lot – he’s not read
Harry Potter, but he’s seen
the films. And in the blue,
she’s looking on, purple
bruise dress, black boots,
arms folded …

and all
Alice has to do now is decide
if she will spend the evening
at a noisy party, dancing
til she sweats, and shouting
to be heard above the music,
and laughing, always laughing,
and heading home at dawn
in last night’s dress…

or if
she’ll head down to the river,
with some vodka, maybe, and
watch the moonlight on the water,
and talk about the real things
that really matter, and watch
the sun rise over the grey streets…

and she
can’t decide, and all the time
that old rhyme beats a drum
inside her head…

Riding that mushroom one more time…and over using ellipses…

The game of croquet – RTMM

If this was all that was required of her –
to be this girl,
in this white dress –
frilled and flounced –
to walk forever to and fro
on this green lawn,
wending and weaving
between these hoops,
and carrying this ridiculous
croquet mallet, smiling politely –

how would that be?

If this was all that was expected –
to be pretty enough, to talk,
to laugh at the right moment –
and not at any other –
to sip tea
from a bone china cup,
to breathlessly decline
to play again –

would that be sufficient?

Or would there always be some part of her
that feared
the shock of anger
a sudden spilling of blood –

bright red, staining
white dress, bone china,
green grass.

Back on that magic mushroom...

Off with her head

Alice is off her head
again –
she should never have drunk
that tiny drink, or eaten
that little cake, so small,
and so innocuous – and now
her face is bigger than her head
and her feet are a million miles away –

but even though the room is
kaleidoscoping round her
and the walls are tumbling
and she can only swim
in her own tears

she thinks she can find
her own reflection
and emerge through that.

Who Stole the Tarts?

I know who stole the tarts
because I saw her – jam-smeared
mouth, red as a raspberry,
and fingers all sticky –
I saw her slipping out
into the garden, crumbs
trailing her.

I know who stole the tarts
because I met her
by the sundial,
where the roses
sun themselves,
all red and white,
and she smelt of sugar

and she was smiling.

In the house of the Duchess.

In the house of the Duchess
the Duchess sleeps
in a white room, dreaming
of lambs, whipped cream
and white gardenias,

while Alice flickers
like a flame
down endless

where the carpets
are soft white moss
on naked feet,

past the room filled
with spirals of blue smoke

and the one
where music tumbles
heedless, needless,
across the threshold,

past a row of mirrors,
reflecting Alice
like a ticking clock,
and all those
ice white
marble statues,
straining to move,

down endless twisting
stairs, past windows
that look out
on snowy lawns,

past the room
of purple tears,
and the one
where strange plants
coil and creep,

until, finally,
she leaves the scent
of lilies far behind.

Another ride on the mushroom.

Humpty Dumpty – RTMM

In this photograph, Alice
is sitting on the wall,
glossy hair tied back,
clearing her solemn face.

Looking at it now
she can remember being set there,
by two strong hands, gripping
her waist, over her tartan skirt,
swinging her up, effortless.

She can’t remember whose the hands were.
So many jolly uncles, laughing cousins.

Alice is not laughing. She
is contemplating flight.
If she jumped now, would she fall,
a great fall, crashing down,
crumpling like a broken doll?

Or would she soar
upwards, white socks and patent
leather shoes skimming
the tree tops, white blouse
bright for a moment
against the clouds?

For Riding the Magic Mushroom. Humpty Dumpty is the prompty dompty.