4 Poems by Amy McCadden

Four Forbidden Senses


Having arrived looking for answers I
found I had asked the wrong questions when a
bolt from nowhere arrived or


so I thought until I retraced my steps, which
took me all the way from a room to across the pacific to
this country straight to this gallery. Had


the impulse been waiting all this time? Or does it
sit in the nothingness until I will it into
existence, it’s intent a private mystery?


But still it arrived and came barging in,
rudely I would say if it were a person but
its only an idea so I thought better, standing


in front of these four paintings and thrumming
with the sudden energy for line breaks and nouns
and iambic pentameter of all things and now


when I ask where does it come from or
if it will ever come again  I simply
let the thing do as it must



They hang over the poems as
the dead often do, mostly quiet but
kicking up enough fuss to get the


the shape as you think they
want it, inch by inch a
little less you a


little more Eliot, Pound,
Yeats, Bowie, or whichever
flavour of the week you choose.


But try giving them nothing
and you’ll get nothing back,
since the trick is


knowing they’re not real
it’s all your words but you
just haven’t realised it yet



Nothing arrives, the
thing itself deliberately
hiding from me in the white


space out of reach. Too
often do I try to goad it
into the words, only


to be greeted with
the sleeping muse. Most
guidance distracts; advise


rituals, meditation, stopping when
it gets good, not stopping at all
or in desperate cases; prayer.


The most useful approach has
been the one I apply to most issues;
patience, or failing that, arson.



Now the damn thing is finished it
immediately slips between your hands;
the words are yours but the rest is up for grabs


this bowl that sits before me,
pulpy mass, cold to the touch
appears a million miles away 

perhaps it is the weather or
the radio perhaps it is
my idle daydream perhaps
it is some invisible mist
out to suffocate me

 i sit before this bowl,
pulpy mass, cold to the touch
appear a million miles away

Dear Girls

the blade snagged on 
the ribbon in my braid
when it fell i was a child
again and papochka’s
warm hands nimble as#
he twisted each lock
into place dear svetlana
patting my shoulder
this officer patted too then
the present arrived rushing
back but his hands were
scarred the same red as the
ribbons that fell across the
the floor shocking against
piles of plaited hair the
others left behind then
an unfamiliar breeze on
the back of my neck same
felt too when i first heard
dear nurse as soldiers lay
slowly rotting i went to
to hide in my hair but
i could no longer and
other girls said it is
a small price for such
an honour but
after we returned
markets were ruined
row upon row of
meat lifeless that same
redness it haunts
my dreams
all this time later
some nights i still wake
in the dark they’ve cut
it off again but no
just a dream now it is
only a dream now

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

Not fully prepared to see it
up close before I was charging towards
it headfirst the wind blowing something fierce
and my knuckles red raw from gripping violently my god
were these people aware the wind was about to carry this waif
into the waters below     the bus called my bluff and drove onwards into
the arms painted ‘International Orange’     had I not been gripping so hard I would’ve
thought about painting my house that colour a sharp cut against the backdrop reaching up towards
the heavens and I’d bet it really got there since nothing gives you the feeling of something greater than ourselves
than  a metal skyscraper  punctuating the sky the American dream poured into a form and built entirely by union labour
the tour guide says nothing of this as he stretches across the seat     the navy wanted the bridge black and yellow for
visibility  but who’d write a poem about that more than half way across and it seems almost effortless
to be sat watching the sun setting for us   a team player    scatterings of other tourists think so too
having the herculean task of taking a photo with one hand on their hat and I’m so
engrossed I almost miss the tour guide’s joke about the city’s original name
of ‘Yerba Buena’ I’m one of two who laugh since
those Spanish really knew what was coming
but really is this bridge anything
on the Humber
if you’d driven through
you’d really get what I was saying
even if the colour leaves something to be
desired it still has that unconscious magic to it’s
build I promise you’ve ever seen such elegant concrete
and now the Golden Gate looms back across the sky we’re to
cross once more  my constitution trembles     though I could plaster my home
with tacky magnets of this view    even with Pollock’s phantom fleets nowhere to be seen
we’re told the city banned graveyards   now bodies rest in Colma it’s hard enough to rent here
even the dead can’t catch a break    but the body’s final place is not the spirit’s and they could never relocate
something so vital if I were buried a million miles away I would still stand firmly by the Tyne bridge
jaw dropping as this bridge is    there’s no curve like hers not even the one in Sydney
and the wind is still whipping me and the sun has gone enveloped by the
city and the last of the painted steel before we leave its grand
embrace behind instant relief to my tense body
though the event left its mark looping
endlessly and all I could think
was how much I liked
the feeling

Amy McCadden is a poet based in the North-East of England, dreaming of elsewhere. Read more of her work on her blog, https://femalewithapulse.wordpress.com/

Ryan De LeonComment