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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poetry, prosetry

Advice For Alcoholics

ONE /

The woman with the ugly shoes
tells you that “alcohol and depression don’t mix.”
She is wrong. They do mix, well
deliciously and often.
You may be mental, but you are also a mixologist.
You make cocktails:
3 parts vodka, 2 parts lethargy, 1 part lemonade.
3 parts tequila, 2 part tears, 1 part orange juice.
3 parts whisky, 2 parts grief, 1 part diet coke.
You mix them together then pour the beautiful blend into fancy glasses
serve them with little paper umbrellas and a heartbreak garnish
or with crushed self-esteem and a tiny straw
depending on the day, depending on your mood.
You drink them down and you feel less dead than you did before.

TWO /

The man who always carries a bottle of Fanta
tells you something that his Jamaican gran’ma told him
when he first started this job
“You can leave the rum out of a fruitcake, but you still got a fruitcake.”
He is right. He tells you that even if you quit drink and drugs
you’ll still be sick,
you’ll still have problems,
you’ll still be inherently mad.
You tell him that if you quit drink and drugs
you won’t survive
you won’t be able to cope with life.
He agrees.
You agree.
You never see him again.

THREE / 

The woman with the silk scarf and kind face
tells you that “your mind is a machine.”
She says that your machine isn’t working properly,
that it’s broken and has been for a very long time.
She is right. She also tells you
that your body is like a car that runs on diesel,
and that every time you drink alcohol you are putting petrol into your car,
which fucks up the machine, your mind, the engine, your heart.
She tells you that it’s stupid to keep putting petrol into a diesel car
and expecting it to work and being surprised when it doesn’t.
Together you attempt to lift the hood, to look under the bonnet
and see what’s wrong with your machine, your car.
You are one trip away from a breakdown.
You are one key-turn away from being a write-off.
You stop drinking.
You fix your car.
But everything under the bonnet is still rusty
and all of your parts are in the wrong places.
You are beyond repair.
You belong on a scrapheap.
Then the wise woman abandons you.
You drink because she’s no longer there to tell you not to.

FOUR /

The man who is your friend’s Dad
tells you “never mix grape and grain”
after he has to pick you up in his car from a park
when you are 13 years old and paralytic on a Tuesday afternoon.
He is right. You think of this piece of advice often:
usually when you drink wine and then beer, or beer and then wine.
What was the rhyme? “Wine before beer, you’re in the clear”
or was it “Beer before wine, you’ll be feeling fine”?
Either way, it doesn’t matter,
you’ll always feel better
then much, much worse.
Grape and grain.
Embarrassment and pain.
You managed 52 days sober once
then reaped litres of relapses from your acres of shame.
You gained another admission to rehab.
You failed to attend.
You went back to your old ways.
You lost your friend.

FIVE /

The woman who stares at you in the mirror
tells you that you can’t carry on like this.
She is right. You decide to do Dry January again.
She hasn’t had a drink in 52 hours. She feels dreadful.
Your tendons tremble under the strain of her twisted muscles,
loaded springs with no release, no relief, and a headache sent by Satan.
You know that you will make up for losing one addiction
by indulging in others: coffee, food, cocaine, shopping, books.
You don’t know if you’ll make it to the end of the month without booze.
But the woman in the mirror wants you to.
She really wants you to.
She tells you that you’ve got shit to do, things to prove.
She’s rooting for you.
You’re rooting for you, too.

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Salem

woman in black dress holding animal skull

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

We are not made in the image of our keeper

but divested of iron roots

fly liberated into soaken cloud

joining specter who, watching

sees our folly

silly human toil

petty argument, for the sake of greed

 

What the corn, what the seed?

Shall save us from subversion

by our bashless vanity

this possessed nail

dispossessed pleats

betwitched vein

Salem itches without choice

if bewitched, innocent

if possessed, invited inchantment

strange sexual undertow in all

 

Maypole season fitting in grass

grasping poker of control

children accuse stiffling, starched adults

who pinched their playtime to pieces

power wielded in fragmentary follow

no power! I have no power!

I’m a child!

 

So dunk, dunk, burn, hang, get it?

Get it? We’re the Tarot

the pigs fat marrow taking over carnival

with pantomime sriek

you witness, see us, take seriously

our untethered play

 

I spin

Witch, wizard, gargoyle, goblin, phantom, spectral

girl in bondage, corset of metal

what lurks beneath this town’s sheets?

white and starched

so violent, so lush

like saved up passions, positions

monsters lusting after our darkest parts

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poetry, prosetry

Now You Are 71

In the darkness I swayed, numb and unsteady in platform heels, outside the place where you used to live, looking up at the window where so many hours were spent smoking, people-watching, daydreaming, counting how many motorists weren’t wearing seatbelts.

The lights were off: there was no one home.
This statement can be applied
to the apartment and your brain
in your final days.

I tried the gate:

locked.

Wriggled a shaking hand into your old mailbox:

empty.

Looked for the label with your name

taped next to the buzzer for Flat 1:

gone.

With my heart in my throat
I turned and walked away
into the warmth of the pub next door
where so many friendships were made
where your laughter once roared
where memories were shared
of you, an extraordinary man,
and glasses were raised
to you, my darling Dad,
on what would have been
your 71st birthday.

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Royal Jelly

honeycomb close up detail honey bee

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our era

The anthropocene

Age of humans

Extinction soars overhead

We sit in chairs facing cocktails

Rising CO2 levels

Habitat destruction

We witness the 6th Extinction

Caused by a single species

Resetting the evolutional clock

And Mormons still ask us to have more children

Abortion a sin, the value of humanity

What’s the price of Extinction?

Are we value or flotsam

Bee or rat? Vector or Hunter?

Tearing down clean air

Adapting to plastic, drowning in toxic denial

We don’t need more of us

Maybe new species afterwards will

Enjoy deep time without

Devouring all the honey

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prosetry

The F Word

“What are you afraid of?” she asks, pen poised over the page of her notebook that is otherwise blank apart from my name and date of birth written at the top.

“Nothing,” I say, “I am fearless.”

“Come on now, everyone’s scared of something…”

I roll my eyes.

“Well, the thing that I was most scared of has happened. And it can’t happen again. So it’s all good,” I say, sticking both thumbs up.

“And that was…?”

“My dad dying.”

She says nothing, just stares at me. She wants me to elaborate but I don’t think she deserves to hear about my father. She has done nothing to earn it. She writes DAD DEAD in capital letters under my name and draws a circle around it twice.

“How has your mood been lately?”

“As it’s always been: oscillating wildly between extremes with no warning or explanation, no pattern or logic, no control or constraint,”

“So would you say that you ‘blow hot and cold’?”

“Yes. Hot and cold. The people around me would definitely agree with that. Cot and hold,”

As soon as it’s left my mouth, her lips curve upwards and £ signs appear in her eyes. Having been perched nervously on the edge of her chair, she now settles back into the cushion behind her, making herself comfortable.

“I meant ‘hot and cold’,” I say quickly, panicked, “not ‘cot and hold.'”

“Why do you think you said ‘cot and hold’ instead of ‘hot and cold’?” she asks wryly.

“Because I’m tired? Because I’m still drunk from last night? Because it’s an easy mistake to make?”

“I think there’s more to it than that, don’t you?”

“What, you think that my unconscious mind has sneakily revealed, without my permission, my innate longing for a better childhood, has hinted at problems since birth, has invited you to ask me about my mother and whether I was loved as a child?”

Were you loved as a child?”

“I made a mistake,” I say, firmly.

“Do you think that you were a mistake?”

“Jesus Christ, it was a simple slip of the tongue!”

“A Freudian slip,”

“Yes. No! No. I don’t know,”

“‘Cot’ and ‘hold’ evoke, in me anyway, images of babies, or those first few years of life,” she says, “do you agree with my interpretation?”

“I guess so, yeah, to some extent…”

She waits.

I am annoyed that she would waste a perfectly good page of a notebook by writing only 4 words and 6 numbers on it. There is more to me than my birthday and my dead dad.

“I didn’t have a cot when I was a baby. I slept in a fruit bowl,” I tell her, now annoyed at myself for entertaining her psychoanalyst nonsense.

“And do you remember your parents holding you? As a little girl?”

I am suddenly struck by the realisation that I have not one single memory of my mother holding me, or hugging me, or kissing me, or playing with me, or letting me sit on her lap. None at all.

“My dad held me,” I said, “there are photos. In all of the photos of me as a baby, it’s dad holding me, looking down at my squidgy face, beaming with pride and love and joy.”

“And your mother?”

I don’t say anything.

“Did your mother hold you when you were a baby?”

I look out of the window at the dying daffodils.

“Are there any photos of her holding you?”

With tears in my eyes, I shake my head.

Through gritted teeth I tell her, “I meant to say ‘hot and cold’ not ‘cot and hold.'”

She nods, places the pen on the arm of her chair, and twitsts the ring on her middle finger while staring at me with a searching look on her face.

We see out the final 17 minutes of the court-ordered appointment in silence.

On my way out of her office, I hover at the door. With my back turned to her, I tell her that I am scared of things. That I’m not fearless. That I’m scared, I’m frightened all of the time. That fear is eating me alive. The being alive terrifies me. She asks me again what it is that I’m afraid of. I tell her:

spilt milk
The Blue Meanies / policemen
tomato seeds
voices crackling through walkie-talkies
my brain
the inevitable death of Sir David Attenborough
being sectioned
my mother.

Then I close the door and walk over to the bored receptionist, a shabbily dressed guy who informs me, in perfect monotone as if reading from a script, that I’ve now completed my mandatory 5 hours of therapy and that I am free to go.

A silver thought flits through the dark behind my eyes: could it be that I don’t just need help but I actually want help, too? I think about making another appointment with the same lady, a voluntary appointment, one that I would actually engage in, one that might help me, might save me…

The guy stamps a sheet of paper, an official document declaring me to be sufficiently therapied and henceforth released from the care of the clinic, hands it to me and says, “Go on then. Bugger off!”

I take the paper from him and walk across the waiting room, thinking about his words. “You’re free to go.” I’m free to go. Free. To go. “Free.” After hearing the buzz of the security lock being opened, I push through the heavy double-doors. I’m not free. Not at all. Not in the slightest. “Fuck fear,” I say to myself, “I may not be free, but I am fucking fearless.” I drop my bag to the ground and run straight into the path of a speeding car. My final thought? “Free at last.”

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Present and glad

person with tattoo holds python

Photo by Sean Patrick on Pexels.com

We talk about the past

I used to like talking about the past

it was a favorite drink warming my hands

when Winter first called

this time what has gone before now feels

sad and heavy like wet wool blanket left to dry

in insufficient heat

it leaches the warmth from my lavender bones

I feel sorrow and weighted down by metal reminder

who was that girl? Who absorbed

grief and laid it on her arms in shapes and symbols

to be read years later by Rune interpreter

did she really? Think she had no worth

so much so the days became years and the pain

soaked so much of her blood she longed to eat

meat

you craved her up and steaming you fed on her

badly wound lassitude

she forgot herself as she pretended

love means forgiving time and time again

she forgot, she was worth something

that girl who didn’t have hands uplifting her from

the clamoring downpour

lost her way in cavorting storm

the spooling moon, a snake wrapped against tattooed branch

this way and that, the even keel of life forgotten

some days it took everything just to stand up

she mislaid the memory, she was not there to be crushed into

tiny pieces of herself and thrown for white breasted sea birds

to swallow whole

love should not force you to your thin knees

it should not destroy the tender parts of you

capable of feeling

fingers playing fiddles with tempura emotion

love is not a white flag of surrender

at times it needs to be a pirate ship

fast on its feet, answerable to nothing but

the truth of vanquished things

torn and shredded in haste

we talk about the past and

I used to like talking about the past

comforting me like a one-night-stand

until I became tired of hearing how I accepted

less and took nothing

raging against the dying light

life is after all

short and painful and full of unexpected turns

do not add to it by self-hate or diminishment

if I could go back in time, this is what I would say

to the girl who got used to having empty pockets

I would take her by the hand and remind her

you may have been broken or forged incompletely

darned with a yarn too coarse for fine needle

you may have been told this was your lot in life, you did not

deserve equality

but just as it seems true, the world will be submerged

when rain comes down pitiless and hard

it is not so

we rise then

we always rise

for one more chance and when it offers itself

hand in your bad habits and leave that moth eaten coat behind

take the tall steps upward

feel the sun on your throat

smile even as you don’t know

what lies around the corner

present and glad

for your very existence

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