life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Something of

Joan_of_Arc,_by_Gaston_BussiereThere is something

about you

they said

and they were right

in that way that isn’t universal

she did have something about her

and then she gave it to you

and you had

something about her

locked around your filigree neck.

When you whistled

only she heard your call

came running time and again

hands powdered with flour or words

losing each moment

something about her

because that is what happens when

girls give it away

without thought in little hand-made envelopes

as if it, and themselves, were

a paper boat let loose to rent

how then to remain whole?

they have to have it

to be

something

about

them

or they stay as tinsel in corners

gathering misapprehensions dust

no one remembered to take down

after the celebration was over

as hollow as old marzipan

left to suck up dry cupboard air

when placed for safe keeping by soft-hearted child

leaching color onto old towels

still smelling of beach and sand

how to build on sandcastles turning to powder

how to make bread rise when it rains

or dry clothes in damp

girls who grow from weeds

standing on asphalt

as cars spit exhaust and the world

is dirty and cold

how do they remember

the something about them

to keep going?

when rivers dry and the shape of regret

lies like a trace of memory

itching in place

we find our strength through

lifting others toward light

where for a moment they remember

in the purity of being held

tightly with grace

something of

 

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prosetry

Red Flag

Overnight, Cordelia built The Ritz out of silk.

It was extraordinary. I’ve never seen a spider web so complicated, so stylish. Multiple floors, layers upon layers of intricate netting, stretching from one corner of the window to the other, with apparently solid foundations and an impressive roof that glittered in the sunlight. It was too big a space for herself alone and every day I expected to find that her family or her lover had moved in. But no, just a fly here and there, caught, I imagined, when I’d carefully crack open the window to let out cigarette smoke. I loved her. Even when I was alone, I wasn’t, because Cordelia was there in her castle of cobwebs in the corner, working on her art or dozing in her floss-like hammock, listening to me sobbing, or distracting me from stabbing my thighs with a steak knife by nimbly dancing across her silver threads.

How did I know that you weren’t The One for me?
When I saw the ease and total disregard with which you destroyed Cordelia’s mansion.

A thing of beauty, a product of hard work, pure, innocuous, a place of security, of safety, a home, built by nature’s magic, harmless. I told you not to. I said I thought it was pretty and I liked looking at the web and seeing how it developed and I had named the spider (as I name all insects that come into my home) and she wasn’t hurting anyone and I thought she looked pregnant so leave her the fuck alone. But you, with your pale blue shirt-sleeve, just wiped it all away, just like that, for no reason other than to remind me how easily you could destroy things that are beautiful and fragile. And with relish, too: your stupid smile when you wiped the remains of her life’s work onto my leggings despite my fury, you laughing when I jumped up to try and rescue her from the floor before you stepped on her.

It was a warning and I took heed.
If you could do that to Cordelia, what the fuck would you do to me?

(I have a new spider now, called Regan, and you are not allowed in my house ever again)

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Spilt milk

13a5b9be8e210daf638060aeccad7bc9

I don’t have your poise

or formidable intelligence

I haven’t inherited your coloring

or the savagery with which

you tear people out of your life

I used to believe I was weak

because I felt so much and could not

turn away in anger

a trait much prized and perfected

no, I was

clumsy enough to be feeling

and try as I may, the ice

did not stay in my veins

just as resentment doesn’t hang on me

an internal coat

nor grudges devour

my peace.

While i am not always happy

I do not fashion that unhappiness

to break and grind, the bones of others

I was told so many times

I was nothing more than a dumb beast

trying in vain

but those people were proven wrong

for this dumb beast

accomplished everything she attempted

perhaps just to prove them wrong.

It is my road

the one alone

and I ache for you when it rains

like the six year old

listening for the sound of your key in the door.

I cannot expunge the pain, I carry it, inherited, a scar of many faces

you were a pattern I mimicked, knowing nothing else

maybe now you are released from your bonds and I from mine

we will be free to make our own new lines

though if I could choose, I would return

to the feeling of loving you, within your murmur

for yours were the first words I heard

curled in a c within your body.

You can cut me out and there I gasp

but I am tied to you,  as the sun will

pay her travail and always love

the moon

climbing out of what we always knew

to lay wreaths of crimson in homage

to spilt milk

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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