lytle books


(chapbook, Jordanhill Press 1998)

he was her solemate..
7 1/2 B in black leather
laced to mid thigh
she tossed him off
and sat naked
in a pile of his letters

she could still smell
the sweet hide
but she giggled
as she wriggled
her toes

Carrie Berry
© 1997

a fourth of a fifth gone
precursors of silken scars
   blaze hot and hard
         hell hanging on for hours
      guilt hanging on for centuries
quiet memories scream
         in silence
         never still

        please, let me
                  let me

         in darkness
                  never void

         god, let me
               let me

Carrie Berry
© 1997

I lit candles
invoking your spirit

you blew them out
and made a wish

and stand
on ceremony
covered in hot wax

Carrie Berry
© 1997

(An esoteric, topical and personal poem)

he cleaned his clock daily
and a well oiled piece of work it was

“chance favors the prepared mind”
he always said,

“you never know when
your time will come”

Carrie Berry
© 1997

you slipped
into my life
into my hands
a cache of your poems
bound in trust

I find myself
slipping away
to savour the passion
of the youth
who wrote them

Carrie Berry
© 1997

between rising
and setting suns
come the reasons

come the seasons
of seeding and feeding
of gleaning and death
and your fields
they lie fallow

no song to be sung
no breath for the pipes
no Angelus bells
to be rung

only tears
shed in silence
too late for this sun

(for Frannie)

Carrie Berry
© 1997

have we sung
the song
too long

to the same page
we sing
from different
how will we ever master
heart and soul
if you refuse to play
your part as written?

(for MY Jimmy)

Carrie Berry
©15 May 1997

not exactly your idea
but you saw the potential
and gave it wings
to see if it would fly

it got away from you
before you were ready –
before you could
add the finishing touches

by that time
no amount of rethinking
could make it anything
more than it always was

Carrie Berry
© 1998

you wear his habits
like an old coat
oblivious to
his shadow
crumpled underfoot

a dark remnant
of formidable warp
twisted in its
own peculiar bias

to last
for generations

Carrie Berry
© 1997

it was once called the house.

I don’t know –
why do you ask so many questions?

I didn’t spend much time in
the house –
I mostly kept to the front room.

sometimes it hurt
to be alone in
the front room
but not nearly as much
as being alone in
the house.

now it is called
the other room.

we moved out.
years later dad died.
mom threw out
this chair and that one
and broke up the little table.

now it is scarcely more
than a boxy space above
an oak floor
where I lie spread-eagled
asking questions.

and it still smells
of wax and dust
and fear.

Carrie Berry
© 1997

when I was a child
I never spoke, acted or thought
as a child

now that I am grown
what can I put away?

he stares at me
through the glass darkly
unclouded by reason
of insanity
or passion
with a stranglehold
on a future
condemned to death
by the past

Carrie Berry
© 1998

she said I could never
   fill his boots
“you are no match for him”
   and as long as she lived
   I couldn’t

but she’s gone
   and now there’s nothing
   I can’t do

today I filled his wellies
   with petrol
and found I had the match
as well as the bottle

Carrie Berry
© 1998

Tartan Quilt

(chapbook, Jordanhill Press 1998)

daily bread
are the best part of the bread
but you can’t eat them first because
they keep the rest of the slices from drying out
life is a constant struggle to get through the loaf
with enough time to savour the good bits
before the mould beats you to the

Carrie Berry
© 18 May 1998
dark particles
people dance naked in poems
but not in my head
where the light is too bright
and there are no shadows
to partner

and what would I dance?

would you have me
trip the light eurythmic,
or slaughter the muse
to a slow handclap?

or I could just stand here
and let you watch..

just don’t mess up my floor

Carrie Berry
© 21 August 1997
I find myself
down again,
let myself
drown again
in the heaviness
of my own heart

your bright mettle
shines through the muck
like a found penny

heads up
I manage to survive
never seeing
the other side of the coin

we are a pair
not drawn to

parallel lines
never to cross

(for maggie)

Carrie Berry
© 06 September 1997
chinese acrobat
tuckered, burned and fagged out
platters tumble with illusions
spinning madly to the floor

let them splatter, doesn’t matter
it’s a gimmick
hardly more

still it’s quite an act to follow
difficult at times to swallow

from still muddied waters
filled with flotsam, jetsam
then some

more’s the pity, little pretty
put your petty
burdens down

each by each
they seem so simple
hardly worthy of the strain

bound at last to
no known master
you’re not spinning any faster

why then must you
wear your freedom
like a blasted ball and chain?

Carrie Berry
© 13 September 1997
Help! I’m being held captive in a shortbread tin
God, you’re easy –
you know I am playing, don’t you?
No. How would I?

Where I come from
Celtic is curly, never kicking
and a football shouldn’t
be hit with your head –
where pissed is not a state
but what you’ve done
after you’ve arrived there.

Let the crisps fall where they may –
how can I know
you’re calling a spade a spade
when a cake is a sponge
a cookie’s a biscuit
and I’m not any wiser
after I’ve picked up my messages?

If I am so damned ‘easy’
then why is this all so hard?

Carrie Berry
© 27 April 1998
washed up
      the little line is gone
      the one that reminded me
how much water to put in the mop bucket
      I scrub things to forget –
sometimes I can’t remember what –
      I guess it works
      I woke at dawn and mumbled
      through the morning small talk
wiping tears on the back of my hands
      while he turned to put on his tie
      and blamed my runny nose
      on a cold
      I must be getting
      when he left
I said:
      have a nice day
I thought:
      get out
      so I can scrub things
      now everything is spotless
      and my knuckles are raw
      but there is still a
gloom brooding
      and I don’t know
      what kind of cleaner
      will make it go away

Carrie Berry
© 1997
(un) jeu (pour) deux
turning (to)
(and) returning (from) to (you)
turning (two)

(and) returning (two) from (and)
turning (two)
(is) returning (still) to (four)

turning (to)
(and) returning (from) two (you)
turning (too)

Carrie Berry
© 26 October 1997
we shed our skins as we grow
piling them up along corridors

outgrown overcoats
that have served their use
but always manage to find their way
out of the oxfam bag

the piles get larger
but we learn to dance around them
hoping no one will notice
as we flash our latest

Carrie Berry
© 12 November 1997
morning dithers
from a grayscale palette

a recluse tree hunkers all squint
varicose branches crawling the sky
in quiet agony

I feel like an intruder
but can’t not look

the cold pane intervenes
and empathetic tears
fall wasted to the sill

Carrie Berry
© 19 November 1997
beige on beige gets on her wick
screams neutral to a fault

trusted fingers save her
rusted scissors hover
the candlestick
drawing incineration
from a can of irn-bru
ignite a tufted flaxen canvas:
a pyrotechnic pastiche
from an ungodly palette
burning down the house
in flagrante delicto

smouldering orange reflects gingerly
in pools of green cliché

igniting preconflagrations
of blue tomorrows

Carrie Berry
© 17 April 1998
these presents partially typewritten,
partially printed
and partially screamed into the night
are subscribed with
blood, sweat and tears
by the author of fairy tales,
by blind passengers on a
smoke-filled bus
and sterilised imbeciles
selling big issues
to small minds
on the 2nd day of June
Nineteen hundred and ninety nine

Carrie Berry
© 2 June 1999
being depressed is hard work
    a science
    an art form
    a way of life
what if I can’t get it right?

I just want to lie down.

Carrie Berry
© 29 May 1998

Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of my bent-electron art. Each is a collector’s item in its own right—not because of any special artistic quality, but because it captures on screen, suspended in space and time, a frozen moment of poetry.

still life

illusions have
kept you afloat through
countless storms
with female names

tired of being tossed
torn from your sanity
you long for peace
but what you want is
another illusion

don’t come to me for peace
I am another storm with
a female name.
a tropical nightmare
sure to rip you
from your moorings
and toss you to the sharks

my poems are paintings
heady brush strokes splashed
on too tightly woven canvas
a gouache of ravenous reds
biting greens and sulky grays

you want an object of focus
escape from your turmoil
there is no still life in my poems
none in me

still life is death

Carrie Berry
© 1995

(Salvador Dalí to Federico García Lorca)

come alone with me
in parallel solos
on a twisted stage

drink my fingertips
with tears
and Seville oranges
in bloody sips

I stroke your cheek
with the hair of a camel
  soy hombre
  soy hombre

you caress mine
with a black dove’s wing
  soy hombruno

I take flight
with a pair of breasts
  soy galán

you cuckold me
with death
  soy impotente
  soy nadie

my trembling flesh
remains unshadowed
  soy viejo
  soy muerto

5 noviembre 1997
© Carrie Berry


to life
for minor refractions
of self
programmed in
unix layers

steel blade
peels pungent flesh
incites tears
encased by self

last pack
of cigarettes
traded for favors
from prism guards
caught stealing
at self
in funhouse mirrors

Carrie Berry
   © 1996


sometimes I need to make a pot
sometimes I want to play
sometimes I long to wallow
in the wetness of the clay

sometimes I want to watch the wheel
and listen to it sing
or contemplate in silence
why I ever bought the thing

I wonder in amazement
when I wander off in thought
not knowing whether I’ll return
as potter or as pot

Carrie Berry
   © 1997


corded threads
of frazzle ragged
strips of sinew
fitful fraying
no surprises
scattered beads
of sharp vermilion
claws are tripping
scratching sanguine
seeking refuge in
dark corners

Carrie Berry
© 1995

return to a bird on the head