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I spent the day reading a diary I had written in when I was a young a girl. It was a strange experience reading moments from my past, while simultaneously recalling the described events in my head. Quite a few of the entries recounted my most poignant childhood memories, and I wonder if the act of writing them down had cemented them in my mind so strongly that I recall them even today. There were of course many more entries that completely took me by surprise. My favourite one is from my twelve year old self. It captures both the freedom of growing up in a small Texas town and the randomness of a girl’s mind. How funny that I wrote a poem for a diary entry…I don’t at all remember writing it. The best description ever–wavy waves!

Diary Entry: June 24, 1990 – Texas

Today, me, T__, J__, V__, J__ and his little bro went in the field looking for hornytoads. We didn’t find any but we found a turned over car, leg bone, dead trees, scorpions, beetles, and a well. The well had water in it, but it was dirty. It was made of rocks and cement. The wooden top fell over already. It was very deep. We are going to go to CA this summer. I’m still not sure how. Gotta Go.


The wind was blowin’ the grey clouds through the wavy waves as the fog drifted to the seashore. The leaping whales seemed to float weightlessly across the clouds. My eyes stunned as I saw the magical sun glide through the thick fog and warm up the whole earth. The wind then backed off and blew the clouds away over the sun. The sparkling rays of sunlight struck through the waters and down into the caves and holes where all the animals and fish live, waking them up and ordering them to start the day, while on the other side, the sun is just setting and going over the horizon. The purple sky darkens as the moon and stars magically appear. The shimmer of them glisten over the houses and shower dust of sleep to end the day and begin the night. All of this I see. All of this you see. Only, you don’t see it.

Mary (age 12)


The north wind blows through February trees

starlings take flight in the faded London sky

black shadows ebb and flow

murmurations mirroring my thoughts

Stop worrying it’ll drive you crazy

he likes to tell the future

it makes him feel divine

his words dig deep—roots that take hold

How will I know when it happens         

he doesn’t hear me above the wind

it whips against my cheeks

When it happens how will I know

he shakes his head

Panic! I want to grab his throat with clawed hands

a crooked branch twists round my legs

he catches me with a ruthless grip

jaundiced leaves lie unsettled

like a thousand broken hearts scattered at my feet

Does the silver birch mourn

I need to know

the answer hangs between us

he snaps the offending branch in two

I’m free

a fleeting thought

he pulls up my collar stiff against the wind

I can do it myself

rough wool scratches my neck

a banshee’s wail races the wind

invisible fingers that tangle my hair

How long is forever

starlings swarm in the winter sky

inkblot algorithms that endlessly transform

the swirling ciphers hold encrypted answers

Is it happening now

I chew the words over and over again like cud

Everything is happening now

his voice

a gentle push towards an idling van

(M. Bracht, 2015)

Tourists in London

People whirl in a time lapsed blur

Below gilded spires and ancient brick

Along the banks of the blackened Thames

Faces framed in photographic light

A thousand selfies shine in the ether

But none as bright as the white moon

A pinhole pierced through the evening blue

A thousand Wednesday protests pass in Junghak-dong,
But still they call you liars.
Your aged backs bend beneath their hate.
Why is it easier to believe that you are whores,
Than to believe soldiers become beasts?
Who are these deniers of history?
Look at every nation, I say to them,
Show me an army that does not rape.
Sierra Leone—there is no end.
The truth of war is known: ‘And I will gather all nations against Jerusalem for battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women ravished…’ At least Zechariah documents his shame.
To you grandmothers, I say, Bend no more, the shame is not yours to carry.


Come out for a night of poetry at the Duke of Wellington Pub in Dalston.

The Birkbeck Poets host our fourth event Sunday, 23 November, at this wonderful pub. Readings start at 7pm. Join us for a pint (or a glass of wine) and an intimate night with poets in East London. Details here.


Blue sky, green pastures
A slice of yellow light
Cuts through the cold winds
Warms my goose flesh skin
Until the light fades away
Alone in quiet shadow
Except for Poe’s lonely raven
High in a black clawed tree
Neck stretched toward me
As I pass beneath
One eye cocked downward
Watching, watching
Waiting for the end of night
To call the lost ones home

I carry my voice in a brown paper bag, the top rolled down three crumpled turns

to seal it in real tight but not tight enough that I can’t get it out when I need it.

I carry my brown paper bag in my right hand, my arm barely swinging at my side

through these London streets. I hold my head up high, my nose tipped slightly

above the horizon line, but diverting my gaze from oncoming eyes

they never lock with a passerby’s, my feet travelling in straight unswerving lines

even in front of crowded tube stations because we all know it’s eye contact

that gives them courage to stay their path and knock you off yours.

But if they don’t see me, their noses pointing down into a glowing screen

I unroll my bag ever so slightly, two uncrumpling turns in preparation,

just in case, I may need my voice, my words to alert, warn and yes, even scold,

for failure to notice my approach, my steady path through this city’s space

untouched, unmoved, unscathed. And if they don’t yield, and I don’t yield

and our bodies touch, an elbow in my rib, a briefcase in my shin, a dirty look

I uncrumple that last roll of my paper bag and hold it open like a gift,

offering them to peer inside and always without fail they stop and do just that,

like the curious cat that was killed, and my voice it rises up from the paper bag

like an encompassing fog, swallowing them whole, like Jonah’s raging whale,

washing over them until my throat is raw, my lungs deflated,

and my red, sweaty face aching, my wrath spent in one fiery blaze

that knocks them in the gut, they sidestep, out of my path, a clumsy dance,

and then I roll the top of my brown paper bag down in three crumpled turns

seal it real tight but not tight enough that I can’t get my voice out when I need it,

and continue on my way, this! is city walking.