Pipe Dreams

Pipe Dreams

I heard the news today:
young homeless girl,
open-mouthed, smiling
at the cold dawn hour –
frozen to death.
Burnt matches all around.


Shipped to London streets, paved with Hatton garden gold, diamonds flash past, wedged onto pudgy rollicking hands, the matchgirl settles in her spot, glacial winds needle her skin, deep in her pocket, she grasps the golden matchbox, grandfather’s gift –

to keep you warm in that cold town.

What do you see my little one?
Make a picture, tell a story.
Can you see the choo choo train
puffing doughnut  rings,
into the periwinkle sky,
put your finger through the hole –
one day you shall be wed.

Her father dead, this is where her path led – cinereous streets of London, fog-cloaked air chokes glaucous light, broken little matchgirl strikes, haloes of smoke hover over her head –

Grandpapa’s smile ignites,
pipe flumes burn the night –
the kindest man puts a shell to her ear –
Oceans of comfort – ssh, ssh, ssh…

Yet here by the rivers of Lethe, the biting wind cuts raw, arctic slices prick n’ snip the vinegary night. Jack Frost, Ripper or Jones – shadowy monsters own the night – men not ogres, but necrophiliac men, prey on the weak, looking to turn girlflesh into gold – in scabby bedsits, spattered across the city.

She fumbles fingers and thumbs, strikes a match –


in the puffs  of cloud,
Papapom smiles:
Vovo! Vovo!
My tiny puffafish girl,
love of my life …

this face she scaled so many times
warm craggy wrinkles –
deep ridges of a life well-borne …


flame flickers and stings,
ice-blue numbness clots her eyes;
purple fingers spread
– jacaranda blossom
reaching for the moon –
phosphorus night breath.


coconut girl, throw down another icicle –
rain-stalactites pelt down,
she raises her head, her tongue
a helter-skelter of desire
lashings of coconut juice
cascade earthwards,

My little pumpkin,
come try this,
Vovo! Let us sup!

she slides smoothly
down his chocolate pipe
into giant sandpaper hands
her frozen fingers reaching
for that fat old sun

Drink my little angel
drink every last drop
come with me
to paradise


I heard the news today
young homeless girl frozen to death –
must have been trying to warm herself.


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