A criterion short

By Spangle McQueen

When he told me, I laughed, creased up in fact,
like an origami woman, being folded 
in someone else’s hands.

Later, much later,
my solicitor warned me that
laughing hysterically at members
of the psychiatric profession — 
even if they are called Dr Bottomley
and are sporting a hideous yellow tie
is not advisable.

Too late.

Paranoid, he said that I’m paranoid.
Paranoid — an adjective:
Paranoid — about what everyone was 
saying about her — comes after the noun:
His wife found out about his paramour

kept woman
fancy woman
bit on the side

What came first?
The paramour, not the paranoia.

Did you notice — 
It’s her not him
Wife not husband
Girlfriend not boyfriend
Fancy woman; bitch on the side
Not fancy man, not dog on the side?

Paramour, not paranoid….

They said I was mad.

Paranoid — I could have told him a thing or two about paranoia
if only he’d stayed to listen.
But no, he didn’t have time to find
sufficient criteria 
to even give me a diagnosis,
just a prognosis.


Not mad, not even sad,
just bad.

Would you like me to sit and pray with you?
The soft Irish tones of Sister Paul’s kindness
Have almost been enough to turn me to Catholicism.
She sits in silence beside me for five minutes each day
and she prays.
I am beyond prayers 
tho’ I wear my pale pink plastic rosary in disbelief 
and I wonder at her faith.

And I wonder what she wonders about me

I remember her
the shop window angel with almond eyes
a bindhi on her brow
standing before me with her white fairy light halo.
Massive plaster cast sculpture,
mosaic of thick shards of glass
splintering all that dare
to be
reflected in her glory.


She shattered me into a million shimmering pieces.


Do you know we are all made from stardust?

A happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield UK.