poetry

Elizabeth

she looked like a girl I knew
but stranger
a creature
dental-floss hair
ice in her eyes
tattoos on her toes
tequila on the tip of her tongue
where did she come from?
that whole afternoon
we told stories by the pool
about parents and books
and drugs and the moon
and smoked cigarettes on the beach
with the sea up to our knees
and shared hugs and kisses
and promises and secrets
and I told her
that I’d rather be happy and never write again
than feel this sad/bad/mad forever and have poetry in me
and she said no no no
you must love your pain, your sadness is you
and I told her
that I wished more than anything
that I had nothing to write about
that my notebook was empty
that my heart was good and full
that my life was simple and easy
that my brain was quiet and dull
and she said no, no way,
no way, that’s not true
oh Elizabeth,
my darling girl,
you have no fucking clue.

 

Originally published at Treacle Heart.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Mahogany

The train to my heart is very slow

Stopping at many stations

On the crowded platform a young girl watches her mother go

She never turns around, the mahogany of her hair becoming indistinguishable against fading day

A girl who since loses sight

Listening rather than seeing

Smelling the impression of movement

Folded like a Spanish rose on my chest, I breathe you in

How you form words with your quick violinist arms

Taut tense musculature, willing air demons

Those same arms clutching me to you, heart beating, no words

It rained that day all day from morning to night

“That never happens here” you said, mouth full of plum

“The desert doesn’t like to give up its ghosts. Come here to me, come back to bed”

And I

In my shedding evening dress, trailing thought

Confessed my sum;

The train to my heart is very slow

Stopping at many stations

None to embark

Stay the course

In our chalked circle

Tracing abbreviated land with invisible hands

Till cactus give wild her bloom and color reborn

Your eyes in darkness, catching light, like wine beneath glass

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Ransom

black and white body dark feet

Photo by John Rocha on Pexels.com

she’s ransomed for chunk change

by the betrayal of her inward gaze

pain and her varied pins

the reddened lips of an untruth

poised to strike

she stopped writing then as if

they etched her into stone and left her to moss

and rain

fall.

As a child she was told again and again

you will fail

she, being headstrong and determined

never did.

They said she wasn’t clever enough so she

left the first place prize on their desk with the words

don’t destroy futures

carved into the wood just like

her tomb.

As an adult she decided

there is no fate, you make of life what you will

by never giving up

and that worked well until the illness

turned her into a wraith and sucked the life force

out

leaving emptiness within.

No matter how hard she tried,

living

and its delights

did no longer appeal

she had a vested interest in

letting go.

God

did not speak to her

she tried calling but

the line was busy

all she could hear

voices under water murmuring

prayer, curses, little confessions

wrapped in violet leaves and cast

from sight.

Her blind faith

had improved

in the darkness she stumbled

alone because when you hit the bottom

there is rarely anyone there to pick you up

those people who pretend to giveashit really

don’t

they only suck the same air as you

noisily like cattle at trough

it is rare to find loyalty or even true depth

especially in people made of

empty promises.

So easy you see, to say, yes you mean the world to me

in fact if you did not exist, I would die surely

my life depends upon yours and I am unable

to imagine a day without you.

Such little words, running like little ink

spreading like little lies, falling like

little shoes thrown into lakes

before the drowning.

See here? Your smile and the benificence of

your factor? I could measure

the extent of your professed heart ache

in jelly beans and find

sugar is too sweet

truth has a bitter taste

especially when it lies

dormant and wilted beneath your tongue

a key without opening.

your falsehood, like an actress pealing her stockings down

slow and smooth

I think of the times I wanted to believe badly enough

I swallowed the whole cocktail

syrup and all

just to feel for one moment

something was real

and we all descend

like discarded play things

compelled to stay beneath the surface

lower in gravity we sink

until air is a daydream

until breath a distant memory.

Your loyalty had a hole in it

the size of your folded lies

and in darkness we find all things

reveal themselves

including the tarnish sitting just beneath

glittering promise.

So then, what of the day above? And its

mercy

radiating like hands

pulling us up through weeds

long have we been submerged

in the weight of betrayal

there in, our sickness no end

just the owl leaving treeline for his prey

sharp eyes scouring landscape

just the lost embrace before you

punched your ticket and entered

the void.

Here I am swaddled in

soyousaids

and words do not hold much

resonance with me anymore

I am a creature of pain and unsettling

rinsed in regret, I find no place

to feel certain

only that time will continue to count down

toward something eventual and quiet

like the sound of a clock that persists

after the end of the world

has bid her leave

to tick.

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fiction, photography

CATHEDRAL

Chris R-1-166 Image by Christine Renney

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not quite there yet but this place has begun to grate a little, to nag and gnaw at me. Feels as if I have conjured it up from out of nowhere and I’m not sure why or how.
A tiny square in a sprawling city, a city that can’t be contained. It is spreading and thriving despite the degradation, all the empty and dilapidated buildings.
I have settled here and I stay until I have the cash, enough for what I need. And in order to get it, I walk elsewhere, a little farther each time. And yet still I keep making my way back.

I awake in the grounds of the Cathedral. Hands in the short and wiry grass, I push myself up and gaze down at the City. I try to pick out the place from which I set out, the one to which I keep on making my way back. But it is so vast, a dense and cubist scrawl. For months now I have been walking further and further from this particular part of the City in order to find an off-licence with an unfamiliar face across the counter. Someone who won’t recognise me as I purchase the bottles and the cans I need. And this time I didn’t turn myself around. I kept on walking for longer than was necessary and eventually I settled down.

Glancing up at the Cathedral I shudder to think that I have slept here in the grass; in this carefully tended, this perfectly and painstakingly manicured graveyard and, that as I did, someone tidied around me, removing the strewn cans, even prizing the almost empty bottle from my hand. Taking it and the last few drops I hadn’t quite managed to drain.

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poetry

My Own Ghost

I am being haunted by my own ghost;
after all, it is me and all my selves that I fear the most.

The spectre that loiters with intent
at the end of my bed is my own reflection,
clearer than any mirror.
She conjures a portal to our pasts
and cackles as she presses Play: there, by my feet,
a montage of my transgressions and overlooked indiscretions,
a projection of my ugliest traits and most deplorable thoughts,
all the things that I tried to bury deep but keep
on creeping up on me,
on display in perfect clarity for human-me to see
the worst aspects of me presented on a loop
through wicked, unsolicited reverie.

I have been disturbed, tortured, cursed
by the various versions of me that I hate the best,
the personalities that I present that never asked, never meant,
never wanted to be created but exist;
born out of malice,
mothered by hatred,
fed by abasement,
but, for now, diurnally sedated.

Sometimes solus,
sometimes en masse,
that old menace escapes
from the gaping crevasse in my brain,
they bring the noise, she brings the pain.
Ultraviolence through the night
and then, at daybreak, silence:
I am the only living creature on earth
but even I have abandoned me.
Only one more version of me left to destroy,
the best of the worst.
When she joins the rest of her selves
there’ll be no girl left to haunt.
I wonder what we’ll all do next.

Maybe when there’s no one left to blame
and you’re playing a losing game against your own brain,
it’s fair to say that I hurt me the most;
I am being haunted by my own ghost.

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

The Wolf

wolf

Photo by Brenda Timmermans on Pexels.com

Again the telephone rings

Shrill and haunting

I would rip you from the wall

Hurl you where I could not retrieve

And break every electronic component

If it meant

I could not be found

Always I have desired to be found

Saved from emptiness

Saved from myself

And the loneliness that shouldn’t be inside

But remains despite this

And to spite me

And now when I am hunted

I turn inside like a wolf eating innards

The glove

Dropped in the pond on a cold day

The hand

Left to freeze without it

I want nothing of you

I want nothing of all of you

Except to be allowed to vanish

Except to be allowed to return

Another time

Not this time

Not now

But when I can finally see

That my loneliness is cured

That I am captured

That I am free.

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fiction, photography

MORE

Chris R-1-135 Image by Christine Renney

I have money now, just a few coins, and gripping them tightly, I delve deep into the lining of my coat as I walk. I work a coin between my thumb and forefinger. I take them out and move them from hand to hand. I thrust the coins deep into the pocket of my jeans only to take them out again and again. I can’t stop doing this, looking at them, checking.
I drop one of the coins and it rolls out into the road. I run after it, suddenly worried that someone will take it. I stamp down on it with my boot and, crouching down at the kerbside, I quickly snatch it back. I have wandered away from the centre and there is no-one around.
Rising I place the coin with the others in my pocket. I have an odd feeling inside. It is something like purpose and yet I haven’t any idea what it is I intend to do.
I reach a parade of shops and, stopping in front of the plate glass windows of the off-licence, I peer in at the bottles, at the wine and the spirits. I don’t have enough but then I see cans of lager in the cooler at the back of the shop.
Although I am still unsure that this is what I want or what I need, I am already pushing through the doors and I know how it works; I spend what I have and then I get more.

Can alcohol still take hold? Get inside and make its demands? Or am I too full of holes and will it seep through the scars?
I have separated the can from its companions, freed it from the plastic ring and set it down in front of where I am sitting. Leaning back I stretch my legs out across the pavement and I can’t reach the can between my feet.
The others, the passers by, are forced to step over me and many of them glare angrily and I am glad of it. I don’t want some good Samaritan crouching down beside me. But if I sit here for long enough and drink myself into a stupor I know, of course, that this will happen.
What I want is for one of them to knock the can over and I don’t care if it is intentional or not, as long as I can watch the lager pool onto the pavement, the damp patch spreading between my legs and soaking into my trousers.
But despite their impatience and the scowls, the passers by are graceful, balletic even, and they don’t touch me and they don’t knock the can.
If I were to draw in my legs and reach out, snatch the can and drink from it would I feel it? Can I still know it? Can a ghost carry that conflict and walk with it?

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