poetry, prosetry

The Flies That Fasten That Shadow To The Ground

One thing is to be, another is to see, just the way I wish you’d see me. One too many phrases like that and they found themselves confused, adrift, and said my positions lacked grounding, something concrete, which in my head rendered cartoonishly into weighted feet sinking to the bottom of the Neva because, naturally, I like the facility of pseudo-homonyms and the presence and absence of consequence mixed with oblique references to macabre historicity. “You” can be anyone, so long as you’re an idea at heart with a questionmark head—how’s that, clarifying enough? I’ll start there, for want of any special introductions, transmitting these little vibrations to the ambient air no matter how “they” swing over “there.”

Speaking of specificity and tonewood, the server’s name was Azusa and she heard him say I don’t have any friends here, now, zero, he said, and in a split second the recognition, delicious and troubled, traversed her face. It’s like that when you read me, just that, word for word as if starting from scratch but tacitly knowing it all might as well be connected like how I’ve got four days off and you and I are right on time but twice removed. I should be overjoyed at those simple facts after three straight nights of deep sleep the likes of which just might make a person feel more settled and singular in their multi-selves. It’s not the qualities, anyway, it’s their fucking manifestation—how’s that for clarity and intention despite the maths and all that counting. The strength needn’t be audacity, the laughter needn’t be defense, the assertiveness needn’t be boisterous. These are the things we think about, independently, within and without definition, no matter what articularities we might share over dinner or through coffee or around spirits, here, there, later, now, so let’s stay in and eat some cheese and fish and a little drink and a little smoke and listen to music. A little. It’s only life so let’s have us an easy spectrum and see who we are where we land.


Originally published here on Art & Insolence. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been “away” for a while. I hesitate to label this a return, but it is at least a reappearance. I hope you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you.

Advertisements
Standard
fiction, photography

CODA

Chris R-1-101 Image by Christine Renney

Peter walked behind the shops, not a shortcut as such but it seemed to him a better prospect than the high road at rush hour. It was bitingly cold and, hunched in his jacket, he trudged with his head down.
He heard them first and, looking up, saw the girls, pole dancers, huddled in front of the door at the back of the club beneath a small oblong canopy of whitewashed concrete. They shivered, drawing hungrily on their cigarettes, teetering on stiletto heels, naked but for a little shimmer and sparkle.
It struck Peter that this would have made a great photograph and if only he had his camera how easily he could have captured it. But he hadn’t and as he stood watching the girls the irrefutable fact that he couldn’t change this caused him to feel nauseous.
Forcing himself he turned away and moved on. Walking toward home Peter re-played the moment in his head. He had watched the girls for a minute at most but this would have been long enough. He could have taken ten, fifteen, even twenty shots, each of them a masterpiece and all potential prize-winners.
Peter couldn’t accept that he had missed the opportunity to photograph the dancers. To contemplate the idea that the image didn’t exist and that he wasn’t responsible for its existence was simply too much for him.
Before he had reached his flat he had managed to convince himself that it wasn’t too late, that the girls would of course reappear the following evening and that all he needed to do was be there, armed with his camera.
The anticipation was almost unbearable and that night he rested fitfully. Over the course of the next week or so he revisited the back of the club. From late afternoon until the last of the light died he paced with his camera, a stone’s throw from the busy high road.
Each day his impatience lessened just a little and at last Peter raised his camera and started shooting but the girls failed to emerge and the door remained firmly in place.

Standard
life

30 Things To Do Instead Of Dying

Unorthodox coping strategies, distraction techniques and self-harm prevention methods that I have utilised when I’ve wanted to end my life but decided to stay alive:

1. Instead of punching somebody, scrub the shit out of your oven

2. Sign every petition on change.org

3. Give yourself a tattoo

4. Grab a cactus with all your might. Spend the following hour(s) tweezing the spikes out of your hand: it’s less of a pain, more of a major irritation. You will not be able to think about anything else, trust me

5. Reminisce on celebrity interactions, like when you touched George R. R. Martin’s beard in the lift, or when Tyra Banks approached you on a street in Barcelona and said, like Regina George, “You’re really pretty,” and you turned bright red and ran away, or the other night with that SAS guy off the telly with the laugh that didn’t reach his eyes, and wonder why these humans are rich and you are poor

6. Meditate by a motorway

7. Edit the Bible. Modernise it. Swap the names of the gospels, add topical references, update the 10 commandments. “Thou shalt not manspread on the Tube,” “Thou shalt get that bread,” “Thou shalt not be attracted to Ted Bundy,” etc.

8. Steal your neighbour’s cat: would kidnapping a cat be called catnapping? take a catnap. take some catnip. whatever, just… cat

9. Go to Poundland, pick up any random item, ask a member of staff how much it costs, be surprised when they tell you it’s a quid, repeat, repeat, repeat, until you are asked to leave

10. Tell young homeless girls that you were them once, that it doesn’t have to be forever, that it can get better

11. Go to a graveyard. Challenge yourself to find the oldest birth date and the oldest death date, and marvel at the curious causes of death that were engraved on Victorian headstones

12. Flirt with an old man, make his day

13. Get on a bus at the start of its route and stay on it until the end

14. Organise your carrier bag collection into 5p, 10p, 20p and £1 bags

15. Fall asleep in the bath: wake up choking on cold soapy water: your body won’t let you die right now so don’t even bother trying

16. TTT: tramadol, tequila and tomato soup

17. Dislocate your fingers

18. Throw your phone into the Thames. Throw your whole handbag into the Thames. Fuck it, throw your clothes and shoes into the Thames, JUST NOT YOURSELF

19. Start a fire

20. Find someone equally helpless and drag them to the nearest pub

21. Go to an AA meeting: shit coffee, free biscuits, great stories

22. Cut your hair (a bit of it, most of it, all of it, just chop chop chop (your hair instead of your arms))

23. Bet on a horse. You have to stay alive to see what happens, to see if you win. When the horse loses or dies, you’ll have a new thing to be angry or sad about

24. Pop your finger bones back into place (so satisfying)

25. Write a list naming everything and everyone you are afraid of, then eat it

26. Indulge in primal scream therapy on Hampstead Heath

27. Plant mysterious and/or sinister notes in library books

28. Revel in the fact that you are not a psychopath (yay you!)

29. Bake a cake

30. Eat it too


This post is in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week (UK)

I DO NOT recommend acting on the advice above (apart from perhaps baking and eating cake): the above points are just some things that I’ve done during severe mental health crises instead of self-harming or attempting suicide.

This is post was inspired by the coping strategies that the NHS recommend to me when I’m in crisis, techniques that (while they do help lots of people and thank god for that) unfortunately do not work for me. If one more health professional teaches me “how to count to 10” or tells me to “hold an ice cube” or “scream into a pillow” or “go for a run” or “do yoga” or “snap an elastic band on your wrist” I will snap. So this post is a response to the (ineffective and patronising) advice that mentally stable people give to unstable people when all they can feel is rage and sadness and hopelessness, and all they can think about is destroying themselves. Because sometimes breathing exercises just ain’t gonna cut it.

If you are struggling with your mental health or have any thoughts about ending your life, please seek help: from a doctor, health professional, family member, colleague, teacher, friend or even a stranger. If in crisis, call the emergency number.

Do not feel afraid or ashamed to ask for help. You are worth helping and you are worthy of life. If you know somebody who is battling mental health issues, reach out to them. Lending a sympathetic ear, giving somebody a hug or sending a simple text message could save someone’s life.

Let’s all be kinder to one another. Let’s be honest, patient, supportive. Let’s be good, good people, good human beings.

Mental illness costs lives. Kindness costs nothing. ♥

Click here for a list of International Suicide Hotlines.

Standard
poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

My forearm

Has your fingers circled around it

My waist

Your hands meeting each other

The tattoo of your movement

Across the salt of my plains

You chisel my rise and fell my present

Into your eyes I tumble

As velvet dark becomes elongating heaven

Your fingers brush my cries with storm

I am beneath you, as infinite waterfall

In your shadow, from your shade

Eclipsing to return, cycles of moon

Blur what is real, against imagined.

Over time we learn

neither exist more than other

it is our capture of this moment

held in elapsing abeyance

within some sphere beyond consciousness

evoking mislaid emotion

flame lit against sulphur hearts

and we climbed the mountain, sweating and fatigued

thinking … why even bother?

Those wise voices, challenging us as children

take each experience, infuse it

with the richness of YOU

here’s the camera, snap a shot

twenty years later, we are still staring off

color changes over time and people

will leave and return like cuckoo dolls carved into

clocks.

Unexpected are the faithful and true

we smile because we’re told to

soon sides begin to droop, if held too long

spontaneous and a little dangerous

leaving the washing for another day

floors need cleaning, beds changing and perhaps …

if we stand still and instead, wait

they will see our outlines if

they’re not in a hurry

but everyone is too preoccupied

with staring at the red moon

to notice our climb

over the globes circumference

flying we take hold, of each others seek

a creature of bush fire and opal.

She told me once

don’t wear them, they are bad luck

I polish now, the angles of my semi-precious face

to ensure nobody knows my true thoughts

save you, you who built

the universe and with your existence

I have no need of foolishness.

We are what we are, because

there is a flower blooming

only at night and

the frangipani spell stays

rich and heady

all through the long

hours

of our union.

Standard
poetry, prosetry

’til Death

1. It looked like the scene of a crime and I suppose it was:
manufactured by a fucked-up mentality and fuelled by pity,
it was a crime against sanity, a crime of stupidity,
and now I’m gonna have to serve my time until one of us dies.

2. I’m stuck to you with claret glue but you are bad bad bad news.
I’m bad news too but you think I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
That’s just one of the reasons why it was a fucking stupid thing to do.

3. Your dark red dabs remain underneath the fresh magnolia paint and I had to throw your jumper and my t-shirt away. It was a good idea at the time: the unification of two bedlamites, the formation of an everlasting alliance between the perpetually misunderstood, but the knife in the drawer and the scar across my palm reminds me that you do me far more harm than good. Blood smeared on our faces like war-paint and Eminem elected as our patron saint, how we laughed and thought we’d finally found our place in the world: together, against it.

4. “Dream Team, baby.” “Nightmare Pair, baby.”

5. Now that we are family, bound by loyalty, I can’t get rid of you. Well, I can. We always said we’d go out on the blades of glory and this is definitely gonna end badly. You think you’re Sid but, trust me, it’s more likely that you’ll end up like Nancy. Ah, God: it would be way too easy.

6. The problem with a blood pact
is that you can’t take it back:
you’ve got me as a friend
’til the bitter, twisted end.

Standard
fiction, photography

IN A PARIS HOTEL ROOM

Chris R-1-93 Image by Christine Renney

When it happened they were away from home. The smell was so invasive that, for a moment or so, Harris was unsure of where he was. Lifting the thin sheet he looked down at himself and at Geraldine, sleeping soundly on her side. He remembered then that he was in a hotel room in Paris and although the smell didn’t lessen it did suddenly seem a little more bearable. He was abroad, in a foreign country and this was something alien.
Convincing himself that it was coming from outside he slipped from the bed, careful not to wake Geraldine, crossed to the glass doors and stepped out onto the tiny balcony. It had been raining, the air was still fresh and the street below was still wet. In the cars’ headlights the moist air glinted.
The smell didn’t dissipate and at first he couldn’t locate it. It remained exactly the same despite the open doors. Harris realised it was coming from him, that he was the cause of it and he started to claw at himself, to pull at his pyjamas, to sniff his underarms and his hands. Harris was sweating, despite the chill of the air, and suddenly he was aware that his awareness of anything other than the smell, of anything outside of it, was non-existent, that it was all he could taste.
He stepped back inside and, swiftly and quietly, made his way to the bathroom. He pulled the cord and in his bare feet he stumbled on the tiles. This was something at least, his fleeting blindness, his blinking, his needing to adjust but the smell, well it was still rife.
Standing in front of the mirror he lifted his pyjama top and let the bottoms drop. He looked but there was nothing.
Why?, he asked himself. Why here and why now, so far from home? How could he hide this, how could he conceal it from Geraldine?
He stepped into the shower and again it was something, the water hitting his face, stinging his eyes, burning his skin but he knew it wouldn’t last. And afterwards, wrapped in a towel, he dropped the toilet lid and sat. Had he ever felt as ashamed as he was about to? As embarrassed as he would be when Geraldine awoke and found him like this?
He seriously considered leaving, going home but how could he? He imagined himself trudging through the streets of Paris, hunched in his overcoat. How could he make use of public transport or take a taxi? And then there was the airport and the flight. No, it was impossible. He couldn’t leave, not like this. He had no choice but to stay and face Geraldine.
They were here for three days and Harris felt sure that it would pass. That if he could sit quietly in the hotel room he could conquer it.
At first Geraldine didn’t mention the smell, but although it was only a matter of minutes, to Harris it seemed like an eternity.
‘You’re not well, are you?’ she asked. Pulling her robe tighter around herself she stared at him. ‘You poor thing,’ she said moving closer to him and placing her hand on his forehead. ‘Well you don’t have a fever;
what do you think it is?’
Harris groaned. ‘I don’t know. Can you smell it?’
‘Yes I can smell it.’
‘Then why didn’t you say?’
‘I didn’t want to embarrass you.’
‘Oh.’ His heart swelled. ‘I’m sure it will pass, given time but I’ll have to stay in here I’m afraid.’

Harris insisted that Geraldine go out and explore, see Paris. He didn’t want her to miss out because of this, because of him. He realised as much as he needed her, that if he was going to beat this he needed to do it alone. But the idea he might lose her was something he couldn’t put out of his mind.
Geraldine had left the television on and, flicking back and forth, he eventually settled on one of the music channels. Turning the volume low, he lay back and tried to concentrate.
Although he wasn’t really interested in the constant stream of videos he found himself drawn to the screen and, despite himself, he watched the unceasing parade of forgettable pop stars until at last he recognised a piece of music.
Harris turned the volume higher and listened. It was Radiohead’s ‘The Pyramid Song’. When it was finished he hit the mute button and tried again to relax. But a pattern had been set and in this way he passed his day. Whenever the animated film accompanying the song appeared on the screen again he hit the button and listened intently.
When Geraldine returned that afternoon, nothing had changed. The smell was no worse and no better; it didn’t drift on the air and escape through the open window. It was bearable now perhaps only because she believed it would pass, that it would go, but when?
Harris was sitting stiffly on the side of the bed, waiting yet again for her to speak. She stood mute, trying to make some sense of it but struggling. It was like a block of ice that wouldn’t melt.
‘What have you been doing with yourself?’ she asked.
‘Trying to relax.’
‘Have you been reading?’
‘No.’
She glanced at the television.
‘Have you been watching this all day?’
‘Yes, well some.’
‘Does it help?’
‘No – maybe. I don’t know.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’ve been listening to the same song all day long; each time it comes around I turn it up and listen.’
‘Which song?’
‘Radiohead.’
‘Which song?’
‘The Pyramid Song.’
‘Ah.’
‘Do you know it?’
‘Yes – which album it is on?’
‘Amnesiac.’
‘And you have the album at home, right?’
‘Yes.’
‘Would it help if you could listen to it here?’
‘Yes, I suppose it might.’
‘Then I’ll go out and buy it and something to play it on.’
‘Yes,’ Harris stood and began to pace excitedly, ‘I think it might help. We’ll try it tomorrow.’
‘No, the shops are still open. I’ll go now.’
‘And the Messiaen ‘Quartet For The End of Time’ if you can find it.’
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘I’ll see what I can find. I know what you like.’
Geraldine lifted her handbag from the top of the bedside cabinet.
‘I’ll be back as soon as I have found them.’ Standing in the doorway she smiled at him.
‘I really do believe this is going to work. In fact, I think it’s working already. Just keep thinking about the music you want to hear and then perhaps tomorrow you’ll be able to see a little of Paris before we go home,’ and turning she pulled the door to and was gone.

Standard