life, poetry, prosetry

This Doesn’t Count

Do I dare immortalise you?

No, I dare not write your name in ink.

If I turned everyone into a poem
I wouldn’t have time to drink,
And if I don’t drink then I have no excuse
To see you, no courage
To speak to you, no bottle,
No reason, no appeal, no point.

*

I’ve fallen before
For the married man,
The invisible man,
The dangerous man,
The man twice my age,
The man who didn’t want me,
The man that Papa told me not to.

I tick off the clichés as I collect them
And write their names in black
On the back page of my book
Like pressed flowers grown in fields of promiscuity.
(That way, I can clearly see the repeat offenders).

Do I dare immortalise her?
No, I dare not write her name in ink.
The barmaid at the Anti-Social Social Club?
No, surely not.

Another day, another cliché
Committed by a mess of a human
Who’s allergic to inertia,
Susceptible to flattery,
Game for a challenge:
The actions of someone who is fine to die tomorrow.

*

Stop the world, I wanna get off,” she said.
With you,” I said, too quickly.
IT’S A SONG!” I said, caring too much,
Dropping the Queen of Hearts
I had hidden up my sleeve.
She flashed that smile of hers,
The one that scares and thrills me
And walked away, knowing she was winning.

She’s cooler than me, sharper than me, harsher than me.
I can’t possibly have met my match, not here, not now.
Not her, surely?

*

When I see her I fluff my lines,
Avert my eyes, die a bit inside.
She gets me into trouble.
She hates my boyfriend and lets him know;
Oh, I thought you were single! You act single,
She announces, talking about me, loudly, to me, in front of him.
She enjoys watching me squirm.
She digs me out about shit I say when I’m drunk,
And I only ever remember our arguments
When she tells me about them the next day,
But I catch her staring at me between the taps
And she doesn’t ever need to remind me about that,
No matter how many “Basic Bitch” drinks she serves me.

*

Imagine my surprise to see her on The Other Side one night,
On my side of the bar, planted at my side, with her hand on my thigh.
No, I can’t turn her into a poem. Then she’s important. Then she’s real.
Do I dare immortalise her?
No, I dare not. Then she’s Someone.
I can’t turn her into Someone when, to her, I’m probably another No One.
No, I won’t write about her.
I daren’t immortalise her.
(This doesn’t count).

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life, poetry, prosetry

Fantasy girl

37945898_225058491668746_2704218410081845248_nShe

has a fantasy girl

her fantasy girl

who is not hers at all

doesn’t know she exists

because existence is

overrated

like a star struck teen

or perhaps not at all like that

more a wreckage that has refused

to completely destroy

that last ember that says

please have some hope

things can be different

she climbs outside of the

mistrust and inability to believe

all the lies people have told her

in such a short life OH how many there were

she puts aside this giant reality

which of course in the real world she never could

because it’s proven itself too many times

to be the most real thing she knows

in this fantasy land

she trusts and believes words people tell

which of course would be suicide

if she wasn’t making it up

but here she is untouched

by the horror of trusting a promise

having it burn through your skin

into your oily marrow

as a lie

here, she controls the fluted outcome

and it is golden

her fantasy girl

you may not look at twice

walking down the street

she isn’t the beauty some of those

she shared a bed with were

she doesn’t have the tawny hair of girl 2

or the azure eyes of girl 5

or the coltish legs of girl 3

she doesn’t even possess

a particularly pleasing shape

or long neck or soft bottom lip

but she is incapable of deception

won’t lie even under pressure

isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear

or feel pressured to appease your query

she will

take you in her arms

and honestly give a damn

if she had scars

missing hair

ingrowing toe nails

threadbare clothes

faded underwear with stretched out elastic

and an unflattering sag

she’d be the best girl she ever let inside

where once there was only bleach and scouring brushes

from cleaning out heartache

now, she can open

the latched window to the garden

smell the chasing breeze of fresh air

knowing she’s not going to be burned in some

unguarded moment

like you feel when

you put everything into a bag

give it to someone and say

here, here I am, TAKE ALL OF ME

but be gentle, I am breakable

the person nods and promises eagerly

because they have yet to

try you out

but once they do and it becomes

an old thing, a worn thing, something

already accomplished

you are the yellowed paper

of yesterday’s fish and chips

tossed into a cold fast running river

sinking … sinking … sinking

she will take anything

even a sharp knife or a thick rope

or two fistfuls of pills and a warm oven

over that kind of destruction

where you feel scouged and robbed

of any ability whatsoever to

believe a single WORD

about love and forever and promises

they are the sticky gooey false

stomach sickening lies

that close your wind pipe

keep you vomiting over a dirty toilet seat

in your pretty dress you stupidly bought

thinking it would be such a lovely day

no let’s not return to that place again

even if it means giving up on

all of it

living instead

in the barrel of a gun

when you fire

you turn to

silver

 

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poetry, prosetry

In A Pose Of Sweet Indifference

Sometimes you write a nice, strange note to a nice, strange some kind of acquaintance and it falls flat, or seems to, right through down into the cracks between fiction and restraint, you know? Perhaps not, thinking better to go breathless in the old style colorful like those white blue red and gold plastic signs hanging over the entries to sad corner brick first floor pubs with black windows and bars and read from the waterfall behind your eyes till you stumble over the perfect line to pick for them to choose: but sense is not here for the making only rather messes and the occasional mild ultaviolence done to banausic expectations in unorthodox places like certain Irish crooners in Los Angeles with Amish-esque beards singing have you come here to save me, have you come here to waste my time again in the style of rhythm and blues touching my rhythms and my blues from so many miles away: places absorb the attitudes and actions of the people who live in and on and with them, countering boredom and chastities of routine and habit, seeking animalistic excitements and pathological thrills in the confines of colors and clothes and without them, choosing to be as we are, and choosing to cease: you choose to peer in on a man at home, slinking down the sidewalk on the absurdity of living by principle when everything is as it should be because it is as it is and is is close enough to should while nevertheless seeking meager thrills and secrets because they are too. I am here, still, each and every wound self-inflicted and healing always healing, still making a world that swells and breaks like high tide against the barnacle- and foam-covered wooden pillars supporting the piers of what I wish: one day, one day I’ll make my way, I’ll make my way all the way out to the end to hear back and then

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poetry, prosetry

The Great Escape

Accidentally OD’d.
Honestly, it was an accident.
Remember going downstairs.
Remember going out the door.
Remember speaking to a man at the side of the road.
Woke up in a hospital.
Bed. Ward. Harsh lights. Ugly gown. IV drip. The usual.
Two nurses counting the silver rings on my fingers.
What is happening?
Ah, helloooo! She’s waking up now, good, good.
What the fuck is this?
You’ve been unconscious for some time, darling, but you’re in the hospital and we’ve been looking after you.
What?
You just stay still and I’ll call the doctor.
No, what? No.
Hey, hey, hey, this mask stays on and just keep your arms there for me. Are you hungry? You should eat something, little lady.
No, no, I need to go now.
Blackout.
Woke up to a nurse trying to spoon-feed me custard.
What is happening?
Just try to stay still.
No, no, no, no.
You have to wait for someone from the mental health team to see you but it’s going to take a while and you need to stay conscious long enough to sit and talk to them, okay?
No, thanks, no, I’m fine, really, I’d like to go home now please.
You have to stay here. You’ve hurt your head and your body is very poorly right now.
No, I’m fine, thank you, I need to phone my dad and check he’s okay, where’s my phone?
I don’t know, darling, is this your bag?
Yes, that is my bag, where’s my phone?
Ummm… there’s no phone in here.
Where’s my stuff?
This is all you turned up with.
What? How did I get here?
Ambulance I guess, darling, you were on a different ward before you came here.
Oh, what? Fuck. Is it very early morning? Or just morning?
No it’s dinnertime, coming up to 8pm.
On… Wednesday?
Nooo, it’s Friday night!
You’re fucking joking me.
Hey! There’s no need for that language.
I’m so confused. I don’t like this. Oh my God.
Just try to relax, please, come on.
I need my meds now if it’s dinnertime.
No, no more medication for you.
No, you don’t understand, I need my meds. I need my lithium, venlafaxine, quetiapine, propranolol, I have to take them now otherwise I’ll have a breakdown, withdrawal symptoms start straight away if I don’t take them on time and it’s so horrible, please, I have to take them at the same time every day, please, I’ll get so ill if I don’t have them, you don’t understand.
No, we can’t do that.
But I need them.
Well, you’ll have to wait until you’re stable and you’ve seen the psychiatrist and we’ll see what the doctors decide.
No, please. I need them now.
Just stay there, I’ll try to find a doctor. Keep the mask on.
10 minutes drifting in and out.
I have to leave.
I have to go home and get my meds.
Where is my phone?
The security guards finish their shift at 8.
Must leave before the new guards arrive.
Limited time frame.
I’m on a mission from God.
Mask off.
Disconnect wires.
Gown off.
T-shirt on.
Shoes on.
Sunglasses on.
Grab bag.
Try to walk in straight line past nurses station.
Run.
Hide in the toilets.
Wash face.
Peel off all plasters, bandages, visible ECG electrodes.
Rip off I.D band with my teeth, wash off blood and make-up, try to look like a passable human being.
Run.
Realise that I’ve successfully absconded without being chased by security or stopped by police:
normally I get caught at the bus stop.
Blackout.
Wake up on my kitchen floor.
Grab my meds.
Find a note in my letterbox saying “Feel better x” in unfamiliar handwriting.
Panic.
Get to a bus stop.
Wake up on his doorstep all confused.
Do you have my phone?
Oh my God, you’re alive! No I don’t have your phone, what the hell happened, we were so worried?!
I don’t know what happened.
Come here.
Hug.
Please can you help me?
Of course, you’re safe now.
Can you please get all these fucking ECG stickers off me? I think I missed some.
Yeah, let me have a look at you.
Just get it all off me, I don’t want it.
Cry.
You’re safe now, babes.
Thank you.
I’ll put the kettle on.
Thank you.
Hang on, what’s all this?
Oh, shit. Another cannula.
Wires and tubes dangling out of my arms.
Rip it all out.
Shower.
I’m so tired.
What happened?
I don’t know.
You don’t have your phone?
No, I thought you had it.
No, I don’t.
Fuck. That was my dad’s phone as well, it had all his photos and contacts and old text messages on it.
Shit, don’t worry, we’ll look for it, baby. Maybe the hospital has it?
Doubt it.
Wait, so you ran away whilst on psych watch and you’ve lost your phone… they’re going to go to your house, you know. They’ll be looking for you.
I just want to sleep, I’m so tired, baby.
Sleep.
Something bad happened in Barcelona, didn’t it?
I don’t think I should tell you about that right now.
Sleep.
Brucie’s dead.
I thought he died ages ago.
Nah, you’re thinking of Terry Wogan.
Sleep.
My favourite pizza.
Meds.
My favourite person.
Try to stay awake.
I don’t think I should drink champagne.
You don’t have to, I’m just celebrating the fact that you’re alive.
Just about.
Just about.
And it is Friday night after all.
Sleep.
I need to sleep for a while.
I need to sleep for a week.
I’m sorry.
I love you too.
Sleep.

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poetry

Savage Dance

The scythe told me

Your depression is a choice and a weakness

If you are a writer there are no excuses only

Discipline

The scythe is a girl who has long been a cruel woman

She judges me worse than I judge myself

Her reason lies in anger

Not the rumpled clothes sort

The burning brand of not getting what she feels entitled to

And that is me

I have told her

But she holds me close and afar and plays me with her passive aggression

I am not able to exit the game

Though it exhausts me and is

A sharp tasting whip

Sometimes it feels like

She captains my life and I am a boat

Continually drowned by stormy seas

People would say

It’s easy … just break the chains

Walk away

Tell her to go hang

Lose my number

Go fuck yourself

But I can’t do it

I have a matchbook heart

Strike me once

And I’m in it for the long haul

The perfect patsy

A groveling bullseye

It only reinforces a sense of self hate

Which she stirs with bolognese

Sadists are usually unaware

Of how much they practice their art

In every card game

She pinches, pushes and pulls

I am a lopsided puppet

The times I tried to

Go it alone

Ended badly

Sometimes the Devil

Is the only hand in the dark

And not many of us are brave enough to release all toes

Fall away without harness

Especially when it takes most of what we possess

Just to survive

So she has my life in her rubber bands

Every day she yanks me to my knees

With the nostalgic ejubulence of a professional killer

It is I fear

A form of savage dance

And only one of us will survive

Sometimes I catch myself wishing

She’ll go first

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poetry, prosetry

Pinned Like A Note On A Hospital Gown

Wednesday at 8pm on the back of a plain white business card, the address below. 4256 N Ravenswood, the ominous Brothers Grimm-ness of which is not lost on me though any sense of numerology very much quite most certainly is.

That’s today’s first certainly is, and it’s after 7:00. The next two are that the street is split by train tracks, and it’s the west side I want, southbound, quite certainly, because south is down and west is away from my shadow. Dial intercom 242. 2-4-2 on the intercom upon arrival, that is, more properly. Meet 3rd floor, less so.

Well at this rate I’ll be there by 7:50 and the sun will still be up over this the great shared world and isn’t it just beautiful and don’t you just want to smile? You better, because each and every single last fucking one of us is hurled nightly into a sleeping world all our own though I bet you didn’t know I just stole from S. Ocampo to say it so who’s to say whose is whose.

In transit, I consider language and liberation, considering that language may in fact be liberation and yet all I can seem to think to scribble are stories of how we’re living and obscure directions to other destinations.

That’s the problem with seeming to think. Better to just go on and do it, and leave all that seeming to the wanting, particularly the wanting each and every thing to be the thing, because we only get one shot before the next transmogrification.

So, taking mine, I push the envelope into another envelope and insist this time I will be delivered, now that I know the address. The sun has been fierce today and I wipe the fear from my brow with a no less fearful forearm, an act which merely smears the beads into streaks of misfortune.

How absurd it is to try so hard to be so tame when every single very last pore pronounces total freedom.

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life

Tantrum

January 10th 2007. I had just broken my New Year’s resolution which was to attend whole days of school, from 8:40 to 3:15 every weekday, instead of leaving at lunchtime or walking out mid-lesson or writing the whole day off and failing to turn up at all because depression was killing me from the inside out. Apparently I had to go to school because it is the law. There should’ve been a law in place to protect minds like mine being infected with lugubriosity but I suppose parliament were too busy dealing with the impending smoking ban to really care about the rapidly snowballing mental health epidemic. They’re still too busy now.

Anyway, it was 12:40pm and I’d just walked out of Physics. I knew mother would be at work. I knew father left home to go to the pub between 12 and 12:30 every day. I dragged myself home to our disgusting council flat on the A1000, silently praying that I’d feel even just a tiny bit better after having a cup of tea and a spliff, whiling away the afternoon lying on my dad’s bed, staring at the ceiling and listening to records with only our cat and the voices in my head for company.

I turned the corner into the entrance to our block. My dad’s car was still outside. Shit. What is he still doing here? I thought he’d be out. I needed to steal some of his tobacco for my spliff. Damn. I ducked behind a bush and threw away my roll-up. I didn’t want him to know that I smoked. He’d be disappointed and blame himself. I dug around in my bag and found the sickly sweet body spray that I’d nicked from Superdrug a week prior. I sprayed my uniform and my hair and my hands. (In hindsight, this makes it more obvious to parents that you’ve been smoking but at the time it was all one could do). I stuck a chewing gum in my mouth and spied on my dad.

The car boot of his fourth-or-fifth-hand-definitely-belongs-in-a-scrap-yard Vauxhall Cavalier was open. It was a red car but was so faded it was practically pink. The back seats were folded down. He was throwing full black bin-bags into the car in a semi-organised fashion. ‘Girl From The North Country’ was playing from the tape deck. What the fuck is he doing? I crept out from behind the bush.

“Dad?”

“Hiya babes. Give us a hand with these bags, would you?”

“Sure, what’s all this? Are you taking stuff to the charity shop?”

“Not today.”

“Ohhhhh, you’re going to The Dump?”

“No, I’m dumping your mother.”

“What?”

“I’m moving out. I can’t take it anymore. I’ve found a flat. I’m sorry, princess.”

“Are you fucking joking?”

“I’m not going far.”

“What about me and T? You can’t fucking leave us with her, you CAN’T.”

“You can come and visit whenever you want.”

“Aren’t we coming with you? How many bedrooms is it?”

“Just one babes, it’s a one bedroom flat.”

“But we can come and live with you, right? We can sleep on the floor? We can get sleeping bags? You said we’d all leave her together, and it’ll just be us three, the way it’s meant to be.”

“I’m so sorry, darling. I’m so sorry. You can call me anytime. I’m still your dad, I’ll always be your dad. Nothing will ever change that, even if we’re a million miles apart, I’m still your dad.”

And in that moment I realised that this would be one of those scenes in my life that would be called a “major life event”, one that in the future I would look back on to see how greatly it affected the course of my life, one that therapists would ask me about, one that might be described as a turning point, a new chapter, one that cements a new fixture on my timeline, a “before dad left” and an “after.” I knew that this would be something that I one day write about. I had to do it right.

I realised I could do this one of two ways.

I could either kick and scream and shout and throw a teenage tantrum of epic proportions. I could tell my dad that I hated him and that I’d never forgive him for leaving us with her and that I’d never trust him again and that he’s a bastard for walking out like this and that I never wanted to speak to him or see him ever again. I could cause an almighty fucking scene, shout louder than the traffic, grab the bags from the boot and toss them into the road, strew clothes all over the street, frisbee his vinyls into the trees. I could beg him not to leave.

I could cry and hold onto his legs like I did when I was a small child. Every morning when he left to go to work I would grab onto his legs and refuse to let go and I’d cry and cry because I didn’t want him to leave. He’d peel me off and escape through the door. I’d sit by the window all day waiting for him to come back. I’d look out, nose pressed to the window for hours until I’d see his head bobbing up the street, then I’d run to the front door which I wasn’t tall enough to open and wait to hear his keys. He was always so happy to see me. I could guilt-trip him into staying. I could try to persuade him to let us live with him somehow. I could propose that mother live in his new flat and us three continue to live at this place. I could just keep screaming and crying until he realised he couldn’t leave me in a state like that, that what he was doing was wrong, was mean, was bang out of order. Was unforgivable.

‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ started playing from the car.

“I will always be your dad and you will always be my girl,” he said.

Or I could be delighted for him. I could be pleased for him. Pleased that he’d escaped the asylum, the house of horrors. He was getting out of this place alive. He wouldn’t die in that room, as I’d feared he would so many times. He’d be so much happier in his new place. T and I would have a safe place to go after mother beat us or kicked us out. We wouldn’t have to sleep in the park, we could sleep at dad’s! We’d probably get to see more of dad, since he largely avoided the house other than to sleep and bathe. It might even be cool – I could leave the house with no need to make up mad excuses about where I was going, I could just say, “I’m going to see dad” and she’d never know because they don’t speak, she’d never call him to ask. When I’d get in trouble I could go to dad’s. When I’d get into trouble at school they could call dad, instead of the wicked witch on the landline. Maybe things would be better for everyone. Maybe with dad gone, she’d be less angry in general, and therefore may be less angry at me and T. He must feel so guilty for leaving us as it is, I shouldn’t make it harder on him. I should help dad move out. I should help dad move out. I should support him, just like he’d support me if I’d moved out first. He’s free. I should revel in his freedom, breathe it in like second-hand smoke. He wouldn’t have to deal with mother anymore. He wouldn’t have to see the violence and feel powerless to stop it. His mental health would improve. Maybe even his physical health. He was free. He was free. Finally. A week after they’d ignored their 17th wedding anniversary. Free.

“Why aren’t you at school?” he asked, breaking my chain of thought.

“Black dog.”

“Shit,” he replied, worried that I’d inherited the same madness that he’d been plagued with for so many years. “Come here.”

We hugged by the car and he said,

“I’m not leaving you. Or your brother. I’m leaving her.”

“I know,” I replied.

I decided that I didn’t want to look back on this and be ashamed of my reaction. It was up to me now to protect myself and my brother. I had to keep my shit together. And I didn’t want my dad to spend the last stages of his life riddled with guilt. You should never trap or try to contain a free spirit – the best parts of them are always the first to waste away.

“Give us a hand then?”

“Okay,” I said, walking head down into the block. “Hey, Dad?”

“Yes, love?”

“Seeing as you’re moving out and you’ve got the biggest room… can I have your bedroom?”

“Course you can. But you’re probably gonna have to fight your brother for it anyway.”

“Challenge accepted.”

I picked up a box of books and heaved it out the door to the car. ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ played. “They are indeed, Bobby,” my dad said quietly, sighing.

Then I went inside and emerged with two of his acoustic guitars.

“You know what this means, don’t you?” he asked.

“No, what?” I replied.

“You’re gonna have to find someone else to steal tobacco from.”

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