Saradha Koirala



She unpacks an endless suitcase
in a room she shouldn’t be in
the woman on the bed cries, “This situation,
you don’t understand,” the woman on the bed is her.

She pulls out clean clothes, dirty clothes
old clothes neatly folded
unfamiliar clothes
that she somehow knows are hers.

A crowd gathers to watch
hovering over her as she removes
evidence of life, receipts, used tissues
the debris of getting on with each day.

“The trick,” she tells herself
lotus-legged and wise
from her position on the bed
“is not to unpack too much at once

not to pour out your heart
when there’s nowhere to pour it
no one’s cupped hands for it to trickle into
be held gently in for a moment

before it’s handed back
more than just neatly intact.”

On Being Solo

Some days it seems all the couples
are the perfect couple.
Old people hold hands in the street and you know
those hands have found each other so easily
every day for years
upon years.

Or young couples smile with possibility
amazed to have found someone who looks at them
that way when they look at them
that way.

And on these days your own edges
tingle in their extremity
your fingers dangle
into the cool space around them.

One could run a knife around you on these days
a baker’s trick to loose a cake from its tin
or pass a hoop over the length of your hovering body
as a magician might
to prove there are no strings attached
the illusion will be real.

Other days the couples walk
with thickening space between them
faces set with contradiction
or even anger

justified in their tones of voice and sharp opinions
an argument that could go on for days or
even more disconcertingly
be forgotten in an instant.

On these days too the air
can touch every surface of your own self
lift and let loose your hair
you smile knowing everyone
and no one cares how you feel
not enough to haul you up on it at the traffic lights

but enough to let you own it
let it float past you in whatever city
whatever street you desire to be in.

Tuesday Poem – Words (to be spoken)

When I was a kid we had a retort
– it was a lie -
but a reply we could use to respond to any verbal taunt
we said, “sticks and stones
may break my bones
but words
will never hurt me.”
It made us strong
but we’ve always known
that words cause harm in other ways.

Those bones you broke in fights
or falling off the jungle gym
were set in cast and sling
A plaster cast
Graffitied with good wishes from your standard four class
and those bones healed.
But souls and spirits and a small person’s sense of self worth
can be worn away by unkind words.

And it’s not that we were wrong
to use an adage to feel strong
untrue, perhaps
but the comeback
brought power.
A force field of our own words
to repel attacks.

Words have always been my tool
but a tool can be turned around
its handle used as a weapon
or even the end designed to fix, create
to join two things together
with a different motion
and in different hands
can be deadly.

But then, your words can’t hurt me
because I’ve learnt of strength
not in muscle or size
not in an intense stare from dull eyes
not through volume, curse, anger
I’m not strong because I stride through life fists clenched
ready for a fight at the first sign of danger!

Strength is integrity.
The way things hold together.
You might be tough with battle scars
lines on your face that show me your life’s been hard
you may be hard
but be strong.
Use words with gentle intent
speak calmly and know yourself
again through your own words
your own way to discover truth.

Choose words carefully
Don’t shout me down
firing off a poisonous round.
Then I will speak to you with respect.
and I’ll hand you my tools
handle towards your open hand
so you can use words too
not like sticks and stones
but as sling and cast to healing bones.

That autumn

Miles out of town down
gravel driveway, dog-
greetings at the gate, incidentally
alone but for smooth jazz
volume 2, log burner I’m yet to light
cups of tea, books. So far
away from the stresses that keep me
awake each night of the week
keep me weak, in a trance as the
working day ticks by, shaking
thin, anxious prone to injury
far from the thoughts, advice
demands. Miles out of town a valley
lined with leaves that dangle, cling
refuse to fall just yet.

Your words, my lines

I’m hard work, you said to me
Black ink pools bear rocks for sure.
New paths will be forged to set us free
I’m hard work, you said to me.
On windswept dunes it’s hard to see
The late waves power their tidal lure.
I’m hard work, you said to me
Black ink pools bear rocks for sure.

Black ink pools, you’re indelible, for sure
but concealable in the tidal flow
that comes and goes beneath my eyes
with rhythmic tug of lies, reassurance, lies.

Those waves might seem to lure you now
the power, surge and brightening foam
until the jagged rocks appear
and words alone can’t forge a new path here.

So who works hardest? The patient or demanding?
Whose painted smile keeps her near.
Perhaps too close. On windswept dunes it’s hard to see
yet I’m hard work, you said to me.

Tuesday Poem – Midnight Slugs

Several nights now I come home late
find fat slugs feasting on the cat’s food
in a corner of the kitchen.

They must find their way
by smell, extrude slimy bodies
beneath a gap in the door, sucker
their mouths onto meaty biscuits
gorge themselves until girth and greed overwhelm.

Slow slide back out into the garden
a mere glistening trail
by my morning’s approach.


More Tuesday Poems here

Hot water cools (eventually)

A burn the shape of a swift bird in flight
fades slowly from my hand
reminds me my sleepless week


I wrote this as an exercise for an amazing online Iowa course I’m currently doing. When I’m stressed and exhausted I do clumsy things and injure myself. It’s well documented. But it’s always reassuring to find that tiredness can be remedied; flared tempers (of others) can be calmed; injuries heal and I find something to laugh (or write) about every day.



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