The Coloured Bird


The Coloured bird 

Is back today.


Rolling vivid polaroids

And posting them

Into my ears.


They unfurl lazily

Inside my head,

Stretching long corners

Into my brain.


And I hear her voice then.



In every colour.


Painting crotchets 

And semi-quavers


Into landscapes

Of ochre, magenta,

Cerulean and jade.


Her voice

Like brushstrokes

Along the soft inner curve

Of my skull.

What You Thought


You thought you felt

The scratch of dirt

Along the walls 

Of your veins

And arteries.


But I could have told you

That something shimmered there.


You thought the dust

On your pores and eyelids

Was attracted like to likeness.


But I could have shown you

Bright skin and iris.


You thought that lips

Embellished with lies

Were the only ones

For kissing.


But I could have given you

Nakedness meeting.


And so when blood and skin

And eye and mouth

Were pummeled

And cracked open,

And all your beautiful faces

Spilled out

In the night

To lie in the gutter

Before evaporating,


I could have whispered -


See, they were there all along.

Why not here?


Where skin thins


Like fallen autumn leaves.

Where tears and sweat

Flow like sap and rain

In sodden, muddy earth.

Where softness hardens

And melts.


Where we come

When it’s time to go.


And if it must 

Be somewhere,

Then why not here?


On clean sheets.

In bright glass rooms

Where we look out

Across field and forest

And remember how

We saw them

Through fresh spring budding,

Golden summer filters,

Bronze autumn fullness,

And white winter’s truth.


Where beds are dressed

With friendly faces

And flashy outdoor colours.


If we must start

To say goodbye -

Then why not here?


In good company.

Where false fads and 

Passing hurts

And old anger

Drop like loosened dying fruit

And are covered 

By a softening drift

Of smiles and kind words -

Piling against and buffering

Pain and loss.


Where souls are loosened

Like wind in the trees

And set free to fly

Like birds.


Where naked branches

At last

Hide no secrets.


And standing stark 

Against bright blank skies

We find that


Underneath the 

Changing colours 

Of our path

And long seasons


Etched there

In the bark


All along


Was love.

Bathwater, Extract From Beginning of Scene 1

Jos:      1st January 2017

The day my life changed … well, it was night actually. When my life changed, I was sleeping. I used to have this blanket that I always took to bed; it was blue fleece. Real soft. And this night, I had it in bed. And course, I was asleep. Cos I always used to sleep alright with that blanket. And so everything that happened, happened while I was warm and cosy at home. And I didn’t know anything about it. Funny that, innit? How your life can change, and at the time, you don’t even know. And it was like my anchor that blanket. You could use it like a pair of arms, giving you a cuddle. It was like safety. And it smelt like toast. It used to smell like toast. 

Vicky:  It’s January 1999, in Hull. In an ex-council house, now private house, a two-mile drive from where I grew up. I’ve just dropped out of college, for the second time. I’m 19.

His palms are pressed against mine.

calloused and strong, they pulse with promises;

bass-lines to stories he whispers, trawling the air above us.

They echo through plaster, rafters and brick,

shake the sky, so that light spills down

in lines; illuminates his words.

We are transfixed by the glow

of the future we’re drawing out

in these biting black empty rooms.

We lie on the living room floor. 

No mattress. No bulbs. 

Walls hold off rain, but not the cold.

We protect ourselves from the January freeze;

these words, low gas, body heat


Jos: I wish I knew where it began.

The seconds, the heartbeats that change everything.

Vicky:  He was my new year’s day. 

Smiling face an open question.

Whole lifetimes playing out across his palms.

I was his New Year’s wish.

Barmaid in his local pub. But not to him. 

To him I was a princess. And he would drink my bathwater.

This Place, by Vicky Foster

There’s something about this place, something about the way it holds you that you don’t forget once you’ve felt it; and it’s not just the wide muddy Humber pulsing past below you, stretching out in front of you and to your sides. It’s not just the wind pushing up against you, forcing you to stand up straight, stretch out your back, steady your face against it and breathe in. It’s not just the millions of footsteps that echo back off the pavers, the million souls that passed through between countries, and sometimes stayed.

The Deep stretches out a proud chest towards the opposite bank and a lone figure, raised on his stone plinth, echoes its reach – eyes steadily gazing outwards towards Iceland or Grimsby, or maybe just into the current of the wind. And you know, if you’re from here, that he represents the links of this city to Scandinavia, to trawlers, to fishing and the cod war and all the heartache of lives lost in these cold waters. The Deep is a fitting construction in this place – the muted colours, its hull-shaped profile, the fact that it’s full of water and fish, mean it fits. It’s accepted. Not out of place on these muddy banks – a modern throwback to the things that built this city.

If you’re from here, you’ll also know that running out behind you are cobbled streets and warehouses that once held fruit and fish for the market – but now house art, history, music, theatre and food. This place is changing, there can be no doubt, but it’s roots are still evident in these modernised buildings, like blue twine has criss-crossed the rooves, and steel rivets have been planted in all four corners and along the seams, holding us firm in our history, making sure we don’t get too carried away with fancy beers and steaks on slates.

When you’re held here, the rush of the wind and the water pushes all thoughts from your head. There’s something elemental about standing in this place. Your hands on cold metal railings, your feet on stone – looking out at the same river where Vikings in longboats navigated the tides and the shifting mudbanks using only their five senses. The speed and strength of the wind in their faces held hidden messages we can’t decipher now; the earthy smell of the banks was a navigation tool; the alkaline smart of a plumbed bob on the tongue could tell how far inland they’d travelled. Though we might not speak their lost languages, they’re still about us, scrawled in air and water like soot markings in a cave, if only we knew how to hook them out and read them.

There’s something about this place. Something about the way it holds you that you can’t forget. And if you’ve felt it, then you’re from here. Because that’s the most important thing about this place – it’s populace has always been transitory, it’s population swelling and falling with the currents and the weather and the changes sifting up from the mouths of men in rooms down south. But once you’ve felt it, you carry it with you, whether you stay or whether you’ve just stopped off on your way to another landing.