Best Charlotte Puddifoot Poems

Below are the all-time best Charlotte Puddifoot poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

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October: I'm eighteen, shortcutting home
through an autumn-burnished churchyard -
copper-lustred leaves, moss-skinned stone -
a jaunty swing of skater skirt and arm,
college folder square-sturdy in my hand.
In the moment. In the last pale pulse of sun.

"Hey, can you tell me...?"
I halt. I turn...

Cold earth. Colder blade dimpling my skin.
My coral cameo earrings scatter,
daisy-dotting the green.
My back is spiked by needles of yews.
Sun skews, sky side-slides
until his face is the firmament.
I'm staring into the tumid blank-bloat of blue;
the ground hardening beneath me,
the death-spike trees stiffening.

Heavy Special Brew breaths.
Grubby, moist fingers
like grubs crawling over my breasts,
and, weirdly, I'm smelling pepper -
horror-spice of pungent lust,
its acrid nose-thrust -
and woodsmoke is drifting from somewhere...
lung-flame, tongue-flames
of searing words - his words -
blazing like the umber tumbling leaves.

Fear-forced bargaining, but I'm beyond care.
And I'm aware
of the church steeple rising,
its phallus penetrating sky.
The tilting church could topple
as tears crystal-crush in my eyes.
Fear-faint, already half gone
in a soundless scream, my muted mouth
mouths silent goodbyes
to Sarah, to Mum.

Time slows to a crawl.
I try to call. Nobody comes
but the man who has me ground-pinned.
Bleachy stink of semen
whitening my ripped skater skirt,
but some things don't fade
and there is no clean in this, just dirt,
wet leaf-mulch, shame.
Ineradicable hurt.

Sacred soil is soiled, sullied.
Stunned, I stumble
shoeless, knickerless,
into the trees and heave
into the mud, into the leaves
strings of spittle-sick,
my thoughts strung out,
reality spun out.

From stinking, pulped leaves I retrieve
crushed coral earrings,
ground-grimy knickers,
my white court shoes
that whitely scream the 80s,
the scattered tatters of essays -
white, like fallen feathers, sunk in the sludge,
muddied, the red-inked words bloodied.
I gather them together.
Gather myself.
I go

forward into my future, stained from pain
and tainted touch, the smears of fear, self-disgust.
And oozing slime-soft into my ears
the mire of incongruous apology: I'm sorry
don't tell anyone - I won't.

I don't.

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2016

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Recalling Her

It is thirty six years ago, and I am with her in the garden,
where July is a picnic of egg sandwiches, cress-stippled,
fuzzy-downed peaches, yellow-tangy lemonade.
Her fingers have the delicacy of dancers
as she deftly mixes paint on a palette blue as the sky -
blobs of acrylics bright as sweet shop candies.

Summer is a sizzling colour wheel, spinning in its heat hues -
cadmium orange, pyrrole red, gold ochre -
those fever-flames that blaze across her page.

My small world is warmed by the sun in her smile.

Russian vine stitches a delicate doily over the shed roof.
The heat-glazed garden shimmers and buzzes.
There is a twilight world under sweet clusterings of lilacs:
a cool shock of shade, pendulous-legged black flies
hovering in the murky mauve.
China white stars of jasmine light my way.
Please keep me close. Let me stay.


It is twenty six years ago, a morning of mourning,
and the notes of the dead bells toll
as, mist-muffled, they roll
through November's sleet streets.

I close my eyes and the sun in her smile parts the clouds.

Sober-suited people crush and cluster in pews;
row upon row of perylene black, winter-pale faces titanium white.
Stained glass windows filter and warm the ash-grey light
until her coffin is a vibrant palette of rainbows.

There are stories - lots of stories - anecdotes,
a crimson-backed journal she wrote,
a painting she painted, coffin-propped,
a poetry reading - one of her own -
Tapestry is a wondrous thing, in it the lovely colours sing...

Creamed rice-colour roses heap sweet
on her stone - a slate plate serving up a dead name -
and carnations splash cadmium scarlet
like blood throbbing from the gash of grief's raw wound.


It is now, and I am alone, taking a short cut home
through evening's rich palette.
Elegiac elms shed viridian tears
and the sky is a burnt sienna explosion.
October's umber seeps into November's sepia tones.

My mind is coloured with her and then.
I hold a small cameo box that held
the colourful spill of her pills: kaleidoscope planets
orbiting my loneliness, spinning off into nothingness...

Dark figures fill the park: silhouettes, shadows
following me home; spirits stepped from her portraits,
faces pushed down into coat collars, crinkled with frowns.

Paint-pinned people in their primaries and pastels,
on canvas, under glass; stopped heartbeats of the past.
Trapped moments on paper and boards.

I close my eyes and see the sun in her smile,
recall how, since her passing, life has become a free fall,
a parapet leap without parachute.

And the smudged charcoals of memory
are beginning to blur, fading like her watercolours...

in memory of my grandmother

2nd place in contest 'Anything Goes', date judged 4/12/2014
date written 11/3/2013

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2013

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Moonlight on the Ward

Midnight. This white ward drifts softly through chalked moonbeams shifting walls argent to cream, sifting sterile halls. Full moon fingers reach within touching each silvered sheet-shroud. Jaded nurses drowse, vials drip crystalline hope elixirs into sick veins, bedside water jugs shimmer with ivory pearls, glimmer-gentle light soothes pain. Shades of frailty flit, whisperings of the once-well; escapees from harsh daylight's hot taunts of the sun. Reality receding, moonlight kinder to dreaming. Caught between two worlds, health and no-way-out unhealth; fear smoothed by the balm of calm. Lustrous illusions, in this vault of dream we wait for morning's impending fate.

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2011

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Living With It

It crouches above the ripe strawberry of her left nipple -
a swelling blot on the flawless skinscape of her breast;
a mortality reminder, a dead bell echoing in her ear,
eclipsing future hope and all she holds dear.
Mornings, in the bathroom, she absently fingers it
and feels the ice-curl of chill around her heart

as subterranean steam February-frosts the mirror with a hazy gleam.
Nightly she lies thigh-to-thigh with him.
He tastes the vanilla butter scent of her skin.
She tastes horror's metallic tang, crushing close to him,
sweaty with anxiety and morbid with imaginings,
slipping through the cradle of his arms, that fault-line crack,

as the earth and her world quietly shatter apart.
And she knows words are helpless to hold back the fear-frosted air.
The horror is strung between them, taut as a tightrope
across which creep all her figures of fear -
the dream demons who whisper constantly in her ear.
And all she wants is normality's reassuring touch -

a benign, safe hand upon her arm.
She tries to hide within the details of daily living
and takes small comfort where she can:
mundane morning rituals, clatter of diurnal routine;
dishes dunked in foam-bubble water,
telephones ringing, voices asking.

Snowdrifts of hospital appointments pile up on a table.
And she feels isolate and separate as a snowflake;
a temporal frailty melting on the heat-pulse of humanity.
She no longer feels human.
Cells mushroom and proliferate within her body's twisting maze;
sickness spreading through labyrinthine arteries,

darkness shadowing veins' corridors, gathering in nodes.
A hidden malignity glitters in the web of infinity;
her skin shimmers ice-iridescent with radiation.
Cold mornings close in.
She prepares antioxidant-rich fruit in a bowl,
slicing strawberries with surgical precision.

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2011

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In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter,
long ago.

- Christina Rossetti


My mirror-face is pinched pallid as, colourlessly, I go over and over his last journey, and shudder like a train on a track. His last tracks...tracks in the snow...train tracks. Tear-tracks damp-bead my ashen cheeks, but tears, though summer-hot, don't thaw the bone-chill of alone.

his snowflake letter
cold on an empty car seat -
no explanation

Just sorry and people don't always understand, I only hope you can and goodbye.

I took to my bed as the ripped days bled, pulled the duvet up over my head, shaken by a blizzard of dread. Fingers in ears, didn't want to hear about last movements, CCTV footage, forensics. My words fell snow-silent, and, as people have pointed out to me since, now I only speak through poetry's voice, its mediumistic mouth.

I'm reading a book, Coping With Suicide, well, I'm trying to read. But each page is a snowdrift muffling my mind, each word is a curled black whorl of hard-iron earth. I've stopped counting the days and nights, they've merged into a blizzard blur of winter-white. And the hoarded condolence cards all cry winter in snowflake whites and star silvers: In Deepest Sympathy ivory-traced, With Sympathy silver-etched.

Who would have thought grief had so many shades of winter? That death had a colour? Whilst others died with a heart attack's red squeeze or cancer's black rampage, he died with suicide's expanding white, its barren blank.

Poking food around my plate, staring sickly-numb, dumb, at the mounded happy orange of carrots, the yellow smiles of corncobs. Ashen faces in sifting ashy light, voices ermine-soft in empathy.

friends coax-feeding me
at a table set for one -
his chair is empty

Sleeping with his photograph, well, feigning sleep, through each silent night. Nothing holy in loss and lonely, just a hole blown through the heart.

Remembering: winter woodland walks hand in hand, plans we made, foundations laid. Frost-framed photos, snapshot days: a memory mural. Each shared moment freezing to a cold grief-pearl. Blanched branches window-tapping, and I'm thinking it's him.

filigree window
vista of Christmases past -
heart-held memories

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2015

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Confessions of a Baby Snatcher

This is my last confession; there will be no more.

I am impercipient and slow from last night's sleeping pill,
wincing away from the harshness of day.
Kitchen cold, the room tear-splintered,
sunlight striking a watery rainbow in my eyes;
air smothering-stale from my hopeless coffee-cup crying,
whilst life outside the window ticks on relentlessly.
Seconds turn into minutes turn into hours...

When you plashed your pearlescence over my pale skin
I never guessed the inner ugliness of those seascape pearls
encircling each ovary, stubbornly adhesive, leaching new life.
The scanner's screen sizzling static, darkening to nightshade depth,
its impersonal probe trailing damp viscosity over my belly;
shockingly sticky as the first time you came on me
but lacking the warmth.
Puppetted by pity, you brought me pink carnations,
crushed their bright, baby-frail faces into a tacky hospital vase.

I am weighted with a multitude of baby-frail faces.

Indifference cold-eyed me at the hospital: histrionic, hysterical,
a blubbing huddle of neuroses - "Doctor will I conceive again?" -
a collocation of surgical steel and wonder drugs.
Drugs to inflate the ovaries with a Botox bloat.
Drugs to wipe clean the scribbled slate of the mind.
You left me to weep amongst white hospital sheets,
coffin-cold, my hands folded on emptiness,
a paint palette of blood inks seeping from me.

Brushed by the soft wing of silence, what was being concealed?
The products of conception, screened from view?
The unseen dead, faceless and nameless,
trundling on trolleys through sterile corridors
to the eager heat blast of the incinerator - their crematorium.

They said I could try again
but barrenness occupies my bed;
it is a womb-burrower, fattening stealthily on menstrual blood.
The claw of infertility is clamped on my shoulder:
torturous flesh-hooks digging at my skin.
I ache all day from blanched almond ovaries;
fragile finger-fronds stilled to nothingness...

I find myself miraculously in the shopping mall;
my feet have no memory of the pavement that brought me here.
Fruit machines flicker and wince like migraine.
I circle the shop floor, keeping a safe distance.
I am not dangerous. I am not predatory.
I only seek to protect the meek;
to shield them from the vodka bottle,
the beatings, the needle in the arm.
Beneath the strip light's dizzying glare,
tenderly fingering bootees soft as puppies, mittens like kittens,
the meek sweet sleep smell pulling me in.
My purchases earn me a benevolent smile
from pretty Pollyanna at the cash till.

The tapestries of faces at school gate gatherings -
faces daffodil-bright, sunstruck and open with joy;
the happy heaving hordes.
I am not dangerous. I am not predatory.
I only yearn to merge with the scenery of domesticity,
immersing myself in routine and normality.

Noticing individuality,
the way it blossoms in every pram,
hazed by the human differences.
Vertiginous spinning of kaleidoscope and rainbow;
the park a synaesthetic playground:
blood bursts of poppy, fire flames of freesia.
My audible emptiness clattering; a hollow pod rattling
amongst bud bursts of green, fruiting trees, flowers heavy with pollen.
A sickly size six drifting diaphanously;
the scenery of pregnancy swelling around me.
Encircled by circularity: round bellies, round faces,
roundabouts spinning, globular beach balls and balloons,
blossom spheres shaken from trees shivering to the ground.

Awake again last night in smothering, starless dark,
that tiny bloodied form beating like a trapped butterfly inside my head;
face pressed into a tear-damp pillow,
recalling the bathroom's midnight chill
as I knelt in raw ruby carnage on the floor.

This is my last confession; there will be no more.

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2014

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Mother and Child Divided - Damien Hirst

Bisected cattle. Divided
by nurture, not nature.

Fumes seep from amniotic tombs,
corrosive, curling round curiosity.

Curio cows entombed, split
and suspended like the herd hanging

speechless, tongues silenced
after lunch munching on gossip

bovine, tethered to turquoise time.
Glacial wombs separate, untouchable.

But no cow is sacred
in this slice-and-dice life

and the dismembered world
reflected in an onyx eye is unholy.

Life herded to still life, dividing Mother
and Child, womb and tomb.

No place for mother and child
in this mausoleum of macabre

where Friesians freeze in formaldehyde -
a frieze of unease, soundlessly bawling

that bonds get broken,
that life's knife dissects us all.

23 May 2017

To view Damien Hirst's work go to

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2017

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Night Mares

The ceiling's dark is swivelling to stars,
but something stirs the sea, turns skies tidal:
the nightly mares who call from moon and Mars
and shake the shackle of daylight's bridle.
They plunder each planet with hooves of hell
and dream-stampede across black plains of night,
past Jupiter, silent as a dead bell,
whilst midnight milk-mists swirl, shining whey-white.

Moonlight churns pale curds from the Milky Way,
snarls clouds around gnarled trees' peridot knots.
The mares will maraud until break of day,
pulverize Pluto to an ink-black blot,
scrape shadows to scar Venus's fair face,
gallop to the outer limits of space.

2 May 2017

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2017

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They're all here, the disjointed pointers,
to peer, to leer, to jeer. They'll dig her out.

Oh yes she hears: voices with vices, snake-slimy
accusations hissing in her ears. Her lover ceasing to love her

and now in the arms of another. And that - that other:
shame swelling like her belly, stabbing, jabbing

his fevered finger-frisk and sweaty clutch of bedroom words
panted, panted and pushed inside her panties, slimy with seed...

...the scarlet slow-bleed, as her body flailed and failed,
gave way, betrayed and blooded the spirit-seed.

She entreats the ear-echoes to retreat
and hugs herself into a ball of safe

but there is no sacred space, no private place, no kindly face
or gracious spirit-hand extending gold-glimmer grace

as she crouches and cowers from tongues like whips,
the crashing crescendo of clashing voices

that become the bugling cries of a hunt;
fear flutterings of her frail-fox heart,

his spunk still sliming her cunt,
maw-slobber on tits, the hell-horn blown

as the pack closes in -
she's cornered.

'In The Corner' contest

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2017

Details | Charlotte Puddifoot Poem

Illness Is

a lonely place.
It's nothing to do with that person
who asked "how are you?" this morning.
It's to do with staring through
fear-frosted windows
as snow sugar-sifts the street,
watching through dark windows
as firework flowers burst to bloom in a New Year sky,
or watching day-jaded mums
dragging snot-nosed kids to school -
and wishing it was you.

It's watching cacophonous YouTube family vlogs
because you're so lifeless, so ghastly ghostly-wan,
you feed off the energy like some hideous vampire or leech.

It's listening to people moan
about doing the bloody washing-up
while you find joy in the rank sink-slops
of last night's rancid pots, giving thanks
when you're just able to do it.

It's sitting sweltering in 80-degree heat
under summer-scorched ashes
and looking grey as crematorium ashes.

It's coffee alone at 5am
waiting for the world to wake
or watching fluorescent clock hands creep round
until the hour is godly enough
to text or ring for help.

It has to do with rocketing house bills
because you're awake when the world is asleep
burning midnight lights and fuel.

It's the horror of an unexpected knock at the door or visitor
because it's 3pm and you're still slop-dollying round the house
in your dressing gown.

It's the horror of being buried alive in an MRI coffin-scanner.

It's taking comfort where you can with whoever
and seizing moments when or if they come.

It's the cliche of feeling alone in a crowded room.

It's about when they assume
the anorexia's back and you're on a fucking diet.

It's about cancelling appointments, leaving restaurants early
or making excuses not to go out at all.

It's shutting off the laptop because you're too tired to see,
disconnecting the phone because you're so weary
you can't speak, while a filthy grey fog
creeps into your head and mind-twines.

It's reading their words while you fumble
to find your words or the right words,
or being suddenly blessed with the write words
to squeeze out a line or three of poetry.

It's about family discussing the plot of a film
while you're losing the plot in another room.

It's snotty sobbing, screeching at doctors
and mewling for the fucking morphine.

It's that precipice where you teeter
awaiting the latest test result.

It's fear so intense you frantic-fumble
the phone book, scrabbling for a hypnotist.

It's a late night date with a suicide site
(you flirt but don't know if you would)
researching helium versus hanging
because you don't want to become a burden,
you don't want to lose your dignity.

It's about the outer you staying intact
while the inner you slowly disintegrates.

Illness is all this.

'And Now For Something Completely Different' contest

Copyright © Charlotte Jade Puddifoot | Year Posted 2017