J.S.Watts is a British poet and novelist who weaves the fantastical and the literary with other vibrant strands to create glowing, multi-faceted writing. Originally from London, she now lives in Cambridgeshire.

Her poetry, short stories and non-fiction appear in a wide variety of publications in Britain and abroad and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio. She has edited various magazines and anthologies and performed her poetry across England, Scotland and Wales, but not yet in Ireland (should anyone from Ireland be reading this). Along the way, she has won various awards and had honourable mentions in others, but nothing so outstanding that she wants to make a big thing out of it.

J.S.’s three poetry collections, Cats and Other Myths, Years Ago You Coloured Me and Underword, are published by Lapwing Publications, as is her multi-award nominated SF poetry pamphlet, Songs of Steelyard Sue. Her poetry pamphlet, The Submerged Sea, was published by Dempsey & Windle. Her novels, A Darker Moon – dark fiction, Witchlight, Old Light and Elderlight – an urban fantasy trilogy, are published in the US and UK by Vagabondage Press.

For further details see her website: www.jswatts.co.uk

 

 

Waiting Time

(Sometime during 2020-2021)

There’s a Lou Reed vibe to this whole thing.
Maybe it’s the grim urban setting
me in my parked car in the cold
concrete box of this uptown car park
where time wanders off bored looking to score
leaving me to stare at the black leather steering wheel
hanging while life finds direction again.

I’m just waiting for my jab
struggling to remember when
words had music to pulse forward to.
I’ve lost the thought-framed melody
I was chasing as I fell asleep.
There is no dance to this line.
The words strike flat.

Advice is to follow the flow
let thought take you as it wants
but this line isn’t shooting sweet
is waiting for something to happen
but something is taking an afternoon siesta
or maybe it’s a year-long hibernation.
Time is much the same at the moment.

I turned up too early and this is what early does
eats up time you already can’t spare
because life has just eaten a whole year
and may choose to eat more
if you let it
if you aren’t careful, they say
if tomorrow’s just some other time.

© J.S. Watts

 

Making My Bed

 

A slow open hand slides across cooling cotton
chasing raised wrinkles from the crumpled white
persuading, kneading, smoothing
like spreading soft butter-cream icing
over freshly baked sponge
fingers painstakingly caressing away the creases
and all complications of thought
over and over and over and over.

Next I plump the pillows into leavened fullness
wafts of breeze-fresh laundry at the beginning
the cloying musk of humanity just before
the next sheet change. A routine established
to chase unkempt decadence at bay
started when I was unable to rush
into a morning without a backwards glance
when quarantined time was there to be filled safely.

Now my gaze is fixed on the bedding
my thoughts bleached as blank as white linen sheets
lost to repetition and sliding flatly towards tedium
the daily mind melt. Not even
the faint weave of the cotton against my dry palms
can bring me back. I tug
the upper sheet sharply into a divide across the pillows
a reverse underlining of domestic exactitude.

Tomorrow I will make these moves again
and the tomorrow after and after that
stretching into the future
like infinitely taut linens.
I cling to the routine despite gnawing boredom
for fear of sudden unexpected alternatives.
For now, at least,
I sleep well at nights.

© J.S. Watts

Not A Paper Doll Poem

No paper dolls were bought, sold or exchanged
in the making of this poem.
This is not, in fact, a paper doll poem
though you might think it is.
There are similarities.

When small I didn’t need an imaginary friend.
I had dolls of stitched cloth and butterfly-bright plastic.
Innocent blue eyes, kissable cherry lips
and a beautiful black baby who looked back at me
with my own dark stare. I played
at happy families and romantic intrigues.
I talked to them.
Most didn’t talk to me.

Growing older I fancied I’d a lover I could call my own,
a real life friend, with the emphasis on real,
shining blue eyes, passionately enticing lips
but words either spoken or written
are not automatically true.
For years I lived inside our fevered fantasy.
It is surprising how many contradictions
a person can believe without trying
though maybe it isn’t.

Dreams entrusted to paper.
Row on row lying flat
flimsy as tissue paper
torn and shredded as love.
The dry rustle of crumpled, thrown away opportunities
origami butterflies blown away on a gust
a papier-mâché heart lost to tears.
One of us always clinging to a blank page.

Reality is fickle. This is not.
I imagine him perfect, dark brown eyes
a lover to call mine.
I only have to reach out to find him
in my thoughts reaching back to me.
Someone to love while my heart beats.
Sturdy support in uncertain times
smiles in times of sadness
the gentlest of touches.
At night firm careful hands press my skin.
He dreamed me warm one winter
will cradle me through the next.
In my mind we walk a different country
a place of might have beens, maybes and might still bes.

Is this too surreal?
What more do you want?
My head space is secret
my precious concealments
mine to keep.
Is love flesh stroking eager thoughtless flesh
or believing yourself truly cared for?
Is a poem words
or the sounds of words
or the hidden echoes of words?
Lovers like paper butterflies
tumble down the breeze.

© J.S. Watts

Peepshow

I have come across lauded American poets
Publicly doing this
Stringing together phrases
That sometimes flow seductively & meaningfully
Sometimes leave you
Sucking on warm pineapple juice
So thick it makes you gag
Capitalizing all line starts because
America is so Big &
Introducing line
Breaks unexpectedly whilst eschewing
Punctuation Oh Lordy yes!
They’re hoping on the down low
For augmented frisson
An intimate connection to the reader
So the poetry will peek out
Between blousy lines
Like an unplanned clothing malfunction
Will wave enticingly seducing
You to peer underneath & between for meaning
Feeling excited & a little bit dirty
At the same time.

© J.S. Watts

Gridiron Flow

Stasis. 

               Starting from a point of stoppage. 

Greying tangled cobweb knots
old hairs caught
in the dry bristles of an old brush
holding on, holding back, tethering and tightening.

How to shed them
             flow forward into freedom.


Like letting stale straggling selves go. 


Accelerate so flakes fall
…..    way back behind
…………….like discarded soiled underwear
…………………….from a split broken suitcase.

Accelerate, unhitch
     the world plunging past
         smeared muddy rainbows of once upon a time colour
              wants, learned scripts, failed futile controls
                    layer after brown stinking onion layer
                         dropping away into history’s compost.

Pour onward into sundown’s transitory glow
            already dawn elsewhere.
………………..The freedom of nothing
………………………..framed golden by now
                              Immerse. Evaporate.
………………………………………………Blaze.

 

© J.S. Watts