life, poetry

Thoughts @ 5 p.m.

[Written 12 days after my dad died]

cigarette
window
matches
snap the first one
drop the second
fire
half-moon
sirens
lungs
orange sunset
another sunset without dad
shard to the left
church to the right
college to the right
black smoke coming from the chimney on the college
smoke from the roof
smoke from the cigarette
smoke from the chimney
smoke from the gas chambers
Auschwitz
Sylvia
“Daddy”
Dad?
“Daddy, Daddy you bastard, I’m through”
no
no no no no no
i don’t want to
i don’t want to be through
i want my dad
where’s my dad?
look over towards hospital
the silver shed of the morgue

once upon a time in the 70s:
dad had a job painting a hospital morgue
they stole lots of drugs from the hospital pharmacy
the ex-cons he worked with stole jewellery
straight off the fingers of the frozen bodies

dad in that morgue
dad in this morgue
dad in a morgue
dad?
dad on a slab
dad in a bag
dad in a bag on a slab
tears
dad?
half-moon
tears
fuck this

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

She is the only one

Dear World

these days you seem to have structured yourself around

those who hate anyone who is not heterosexual

and all the rest; the pansexual, extensions, reinvention

new words for the same brand of suffering

when I was younger there was only Bi and it was a dirty word among lesbians

(though behind our scowl we may have fancied the more Bi of the group)

it was, you see, just self-preservation

hard enough to compete with one gender, let alone two

can’t stand up and fist fight a man for you

though if it were a war of words … mmmm

I devoted myself to the shedding of labels

they don’t describe a beating heart

but when prejudice comes knocking, you realize how

there is safety in numbers

I joined my lesbian sisters

though they did not welcome me

I did not act the Femme

I did not look the Butch

I liked men too much, wasn’t adequate bra burning feminist enough

though i’d go to the ends of the earth to defend us

for there is a special hell reserved for women who do not defend women

or those who feel it’s a meat market and they’ve got the biggest cleaver

Type A Personality who leave the quieter woman to the side

learning their dismissive strategies from the history of men

oh how cruel we can be to each other in pursuit of

a tiny fraction of nothing important

the person I take to bed doesn’t possess a penis and that’s just how it is

love between women isn’t about sex it’s something

in the grey matter that turns to starlight

when it became known I was gay

the bisexuals came to town

in a little red wagon

by then I’d decided I couldn’t condemn them

for more the merrier isn’t a crime

though I was not of their ilk

I was born in a violet hour and

given second sight to see a woman’s heart

it was unnatural to me to imagine loving a man

such things are part of who we are

as a tree is a tree and a river a river

still they call and ask

would you like to play with me?

when my husband is at work

and I wonder, do some hard-luck girls say yes?

do they ask the lesbians, figuring her vulnerable to

their beauty?

it is true, I don’t see much I like, in our small lesbian community

too many masks, unhealthy stereotypes in place of reality

most of the time I am condemned for not being lesbian ‘enough’

ultimately, labels are ridiculous

we’re all just trying to meet the one (or the two, or the four, or …)

when I met her, I saw instantly

she was my mauve butterfly

waiting for me to land beside her all along

I would not share

I would not replace

she is the only one

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Exhaling grief

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

If you made a sound

This is the sound you would make

exhaling grief

Mauve in color

Straining to speak

What do you say?

Sitting at the family table

All my ghosts

In carried repose

And the new

Who replaces you

Has no power to stake

Your claim

On me

Because I am

Watered by indifference and throwaway cruelty

Fed on your critique

It is your bed – I like in to sleep

Integrating nightmares

Your brand of survival

So sore and foreign to mine

If you made a sound

Would it be a crow

Or a blackbird

At night when birds used to sleep

And now

Wary of rasping day

They call out

To their unseen maker

As I suppose

I call out to you

As I suppose

You hear and

Disregard

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Low Flame

Sisters+-+SliderYou damned me with your penchant for

betrayal

only the smooth hollow of a quiet buttoned up body

resting now, untouched chalk and mortar

lain still so long, breath has left

I did not want to wake up

get dressed

pretend to function at the end of tugging string

there was a place in my head that dissolved living

a spindle that gathered all my yarn and knitted something else

not me

back into a shape I did not recognize

she went on without

this clockwork version of myself

whilst I followed the bath water down the drain

hearing your serpentine taunt

what was it you said?

you would feed me?

I don’t need food

I don’t need air

I am existing on memories

of being fearless and before erosion

the wonderlust of the young and close to flame

possessing no sticky cleavage, no rub of thigh

or need to sup

the fealty of those who have not yet

watched their bones dissolve into chalk

this theatre is cold

like love when it is left

on a low flame

catching and diminishing

as most will rest

and one dances

mad arms flung

like sticks of liquorice

beneath restraint

have you ever known what someone was like?

but somewhere along the journey, without any good reason, forgotten

gone on forgetting until all the things they are capable of

are lost and you see them with fresh eyes

just as wrecked and pulled to pieces the next time, they tear your fucking heart out

is that forgiveness God? When you forgive and you don’t forget?

except the very act of forgiving means you do forget

the extremity of pain and its after effects

how can you walk next to someone capable of pinching off

all their emotions as if you were snuff

turning out the light on you

just. like. that.

harm stains the mattress a livid hue

as if I were given a blood transfusion of pain

tell me please

who do I have to hurt to stop?

myself, or all the years

I wasn’t myself?

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life, prosetry

Hard To Explain

I called him to say that I was just about to leave home, but that I needed to buy some smokes first and then I would meet him outside the £1 pizza shop in fifteen minutes, that I’m putting pineapple on my half of the pizza and that I didn’t give a shit about his fruit-can’t-be-a-topping argument because tomato.

I texted him to say that I wasn’t feeling too clever, that I really wasn’t feeling good at all, that I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t walk anymore, I couldn’t walk anywhere anymore, that I needed to sit down, that I wasn’t on this planet, that I wasn’t in my body, that I wasn’t anywhere, that I was nowhere.

He found me lying on the floor underneath the bus stop bench. He put his face parallel to mine on the ground. He said my name over and over and over again, each name feeling like a piece of gravel falling on me, all these little stones with my name on them crashing all about us, raining grains of grit, not hurting much but still hurting a little bit. He was there and I was there, and we were here but I’m not sure where.

My outer body was convulsing violently, my hair, my teeth, my nails, shaking, but inside I was still, I was dead still, but he couldn’t see that, he could only see that I was shaking worse than usual and that my eyes were full of cloudy tears and then we both heard my voice crack as I whispered, “I don’t know where I am.”

I was terrified but he was terrified-er. He scooped me up and carried me to his car, wherever it was, wherever we were, whoever we were. I remember that he put my seatbelt on for me and I told him not to bother: I think I said it out loud but it may have been a whisper and it may have never left my mouth. He double-checked it was secure and locked the doors. He said, “It’s my job to keep you safe.” I remember driving down roads I’d never seen before while tears fell without me moving, without me asking them to. I remember that I couldn’t move my legs, that I had set concrete in my veins instead of blood, that my shoes were anchors. I remember that I couldn’t speak, but that was fine because I didn’t know any words.

Some hours later I realised that I was at his house, tucked up on the sofa in my usual corner, wearing his big comfy clothes, with Only Fools and Horses on telly and a pint of water and my meds next to me. He was cooking Sunday dinner. I could hear him stirring gravy in the glass jug.

I dragged myself to the kitchen and stood in the doorway. He was startled when he turned around and saw me there. I quietly asked him what had happened. He said he didn’t know. I started to panic. We sat down and he told me:

that I was supposed to meet him at the £1 pizza place, that I didn’t show up, that I sent him weird texts about feeling unwell, that I wasn’t answering my phone, that he went to the shop where I buy my fags and Bossman told him that I was there earlier but that I looked drunk and that I walked down the road,

that he walked around the area looking for me, found me at the bus stop, the bus stop by my house, by Bossman’s shop, by my secondary school, by the station,

that I was really frightened because I didn’t know where I was or who I was or what was happening, that I was screaming into my wrists and couldn’t move, that it took 15 minutes for himself, two passersby and an off-duty nurse to get me to trust him enough to let him grab me from under the bench and pick me up,

that the girl under the bus stop bench wasn’t me, that it was someone else entirely, that I was like an orphaned child waking up alone in a foreign land, like a ghost of an infant, that my eyes were dead and didn’t recognise his face at all, that I didn’t seem to understand how people were existing around me, that I didn’t understand how I was existing, that I had no idea where I was,

that it was as if I was seeing for the first time the area that I walk through multiple times a day and have known like the back of my hand for 20 years, that I was scared of the buses and the people and the cars and the air and the pavement and the sounds and my heartbeat and my skin and my voice,

that he’d never seen anything like it in his entire life, that he thought I’d taken a meth overdose, that he thought I’d been smoking crack, that he thought I was possessed, that he thought I was going to die, that he thought I might kill someone, that he thought I might kill him,

that he thought he should phone an ambulance but he knew that being in hospital would terrify me more and make me even worse, that he will never forget the state he’d found me in, and that he’s quite frankly terrified of me but would do anything to get me to return to being the girl that he knows and loves.

I didn’t remember a single thing, apart from a minute in a car. I didn’t know what was real or right or wrong or true. I just didn’t know.

He said, “Look,” and pulled my sleeves up. Bloody great bite marks on my wrists, the back of my right hand, my forearms. All red and purple and violent and frantic, punctures in my flesh where my teeth fit.

I looked up at him and his eyes were soft and safe, like golden syrup. I knew then that I would always be able to find a safe place in the irides of his eyes.

“I’m scared of me too,” I said.

He hugged me, being careful not to hurt me, and then mumbled into my hair, “Do you want one Yorkshire pudding or two?” and I laughed and cried into his chest, unable and unwilling to make sense of anything in that moment, other than that one question.

“One and a half, please,” I said.


Original version of ‘Hard To Explain’ posted on 13/07/17 at The Magic Black Book. Revised version above for Hijacked Amygdala.

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life, poetry, prosetry

Broken Mirrors

I’ve broken 4 mirrors this year.
If superstition is to be honoured
I will still be reaping bad luck long after I am dead.
All these broken reflections,
what is the universe trying to tell me?
The obvious: ugly, imperfect, Picassoed girl,
from a broken home, with broken bones,
who breaks bottles and spirits and noses and promises.
But too obvious.

The first humans thought that their reflection
was their actual soul, their other self.
I know that mine is damaged:
I went to a spiritual healing centre
and it was just like an AA meeting, everyone sitting
in a circle, talking quietly and drinking shit coffee,
except when I walked in, everyone stopped talking and stared
like I was Satan in a mini-skirt.
A lady quickly ushered me out, without touching me.
“Oh dear,” she said. “Your aura is dark, a dark, dark mess, a real mess.
You’re in trouble.”
She made me sign a contract,
promising not to release my negative energy
onto anybody else in the building,
not to break anyone else’s spirit,
like my badness was contagious
and could ruin others.
I asked if the others had signed a contract
promising not to break mine.
She laughed and said, “No, dear.
You can’t break something that is already broken.”
I said under my breath, “That’s not strictly true,”
and we walked down a dark corridor and she said,
“Hurry. We have a lot of work to do.”

The Romans believed that it took 7 years for life to renew.
I was disappointed on my 21st birthday when I didn’t feel like a new person.
I don’t believe I’ll see my 28th. I don’t want to.

I read a story once about a girl like me
who was at the end of her metaphorical tether
wishing her neck was choked by an actual tether
when she accidentally broke a mirror
and that was it:
the straw that broke the camel’s back,
the mirror that shattered the girl’s last shard of hope.
She was petrified at the prospect
of 7 more years of badness
so she succumbed to the tether
and hanged herself from the back of the bathroom door,
the shards of her other self, her soul, the mirror, scattered all about.
I can’t remember where I read this story.
Oh, I do remember: I read it after I had written it.

Of the mirrors I’ve smashed this year
I’ve kept the best shard of each,
hoarding them, hiding them
around the flat, my secret accidentally-formed knives.
My favourite one is a menacing hook shape,
long and sharp and fits right in my palm with plenty to spare
so I can make controlled slashes, if I want to,
like if there was an intruder say, I could give him a perfect Chelsea smile
and be pleased with my work.
These secret shards are not my weapon of choice
but it’s nice to know that they’re there
and sometimes I take them out and hold them and stare
into a piece of my soul, a section of my face,
and become anxious (because the image is always one I don’t recognise)
but pretend not to be (because this “reality” tells me that the face is just me).

If I use them for damage, before I hurt myself
I look into my eyes and marvel at how wild and unfamiliar they are
and I can sometimes talk myself out of it, but it’s hard
when I can see that my eyes are, for once, so clear of fear.
It’s like snorting a line off a mirror.
You see yourself with a note up your nose
and look into your own eyes
and say inside, “What the fuck are you doing, girl?”
but then you blink and sniff and do it off a DVD case for the rest of the night
because you don’t want to face your self ever again.

Seeing yourself in that moment before you do something bad:
that’s the real you.
And only you will ever be able to see the real you,
through your own eyes, into your own eyes, with your own eyes.

I went to buy a new mirror.
At the counter I asked the guy,
“Would you mind just opening the box for me and checking that it’s not broken, please?”
“Sure,” he said, struggling to open the taped edge with his bitten nails.
“Thanks, I appreciate that. Imagine if I got home and it was broken, hahaha,” I laughed,
painfully, because I’m British.
“Yeah, imagine! Hahaha,” he laughed, because it’s his job.
“That would be just my luck,” I said.
“Yeah, the start of your 7 years of bad luck!”
My face must have changed because his did too.
“Look, it’s not broken,” he said, marking the perfect surface with his greasy fingertips.
“Amazing, thank you so much,” I said, wishing I could swap it for an unmarked one, but it was too late and that would be too awkward and I was already sick of this man and his fingers and he hadn’t even touched me.
I told him to save the trees and not print a receipt.
I walked home and took the mirror out of the box.
It was cracked. The 5th broken mirror of 2018.

And thus began my 35 years of bad luck.
I shan’t complete 7 on this earth,
and don’t intend on bringing the outstanding with me,
but it would be just my luck if it transpires that even the dead can be unlucky.

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life, poetry, prosetry

I stuck with the outcasts

2011-07-16-15-24-10-2-the-11-year-old-girl-named-sydney-trube-of-melvind

Dignity is delicate

You want to fit in that’s why you join things

like phony academies and sororities

to be part of what you never are

with your four eyes and your freckles

and funny way of not fitting in

from the start you stuck with the outcasts

though your calcified family warned you

you won’t get anywhere hanging out with them

we built forts against cruelty

we had camps in our imagination

where you didn’t have to be remotely resembling perfect

not everything was a competition

you were told once you were at the pinnacle

could decide did you want to keep going or

let go

you dropped from the monkey bars – free-falling

ran as fast as you could

because the taste of mainstream and shared potluck burned your tongue

you didn’t know then

you would be many other minorities

only your left-hand knew

You weren’t like the others

who had to be the best and

always had the most

one day many years later you said

You wish you’d been free like others were

it’s not easy being an outcast

not fitting in

but if you don’t seek acceptance and love

instead, wait for it to show up

when it does, it rarely leaves

that’s the folk tale anyway

you always had trouble believing

in God’s, in tales, in other’s

It wasn’t narcissism, just a challenge

to fit the mold

shapes can change

children grow

some become

unwieldy and unaccustomed

to the yearning of cities

humming in the night a chorus

channelling dragons

you stayed on your rooftop

you didn’t climb back

and dawn brought silence

as the rest of the world dreamt

you watched deer

crossing man-made roads

before the rush hour came

and mowed them down

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