poetry, prosetry

Not A Mother

“You can’t say anything It’s not your problem Don’t get involved”

Sometimes I want to knock on your door
and grab you by the shoulders and shake you
and look into your eyes and say:

Listen to me I know it’s hard I know you’re tired but you’re doing it wrong

I’m not allowed to because I am not a mother

I can only watch (silently) and worry (secretly)
and I do every day because although it’s none of my business
although I’m not a parent although I shouldn’t care at all
although the crying always stops eventually
I was a child once

“You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors”
“Well, I do I can hear it Through the walls All day long”

And I wish someone had shaken my mother and told her
warned her of the type of future
that she was forging for her daughter
through her maternal ambivalence:

a future fraught with fear fear fear so much fucking fear
a future of pain and anxiety and confusion and doubt and misery and rejection
a future in which her daughter decides so adamantly so young
that she will never ever become a mother:

a future promising no future at all
promising nothing but fear

“Who are you to question someone’s parenting?”
“You’re right I’ve got no right I’m not a mother and I never will be”

I can only smile and wave and worry and pray that one day
your kid finds the tools from somewhere
learns the skills from someone
to nurture her own future
to forge her own way

“You can’t say anything”
“But—”

“Promise me Promise me that you won’t get involved?”
“Fine”

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Moving toward light

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

When I am sad, a voice, not unlike my own

chastises the impulse

if it is that, wishing to rise beyond, crush of emotion

when I am sad, I make myself sadder

by listening to those inherited echoes, telling me how I should feel

shutting down the validity, condemning feelings less than

knocking walls already fragile, disqualifying the emotion

when I am sad

I think of your disappointment

how much you wanted me to be

a thing of steel

reflecting only brightness

nothing dull or sorrowful

how I became in irony, almost everything you loathe and detest

I would say I am sorry, for your distress

but I learned instead of words, to be sad

maybe in part, because I saw, that flint in your eyes

nothing else was there

though in truth I was sad, at six years old

watching kids bully each other

knowing then, inequality and inequity

imagining the fight before I had, grown tall enough

hoping The Magic Faraway Tree

was real but knowing if it were

children grown to adults, would cut it down

when I am sad

sometimes it helps to think

love cannot be broken

by sadness or loneliness or grief

love stands as our first flower

even as it no longer exists the scent remains

to save us from disappointment

of so many other things

including each other and our infinite ability to be cruel

I am still the child with the blue rabbit

watching adults lie to each other

and kids emulate and pinch, the very stuffing out of hope

for if there is a Magic Faraway Tree

I think it would not be

for you or thee or me

like all magic things

only reveal itself to those pure hearted enough to know

sadness is manufactured by what we do to each other

with each cruel act it grows

if we let it and if we don’t

then next time I am sad

I will think on other things

like your voice and how

you make my heart quicken, just in your use

of words, the familiar cadence a worm

reaching deep into my heart

moving toward light.

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art, fiction, life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Pure & broken

Emily-DiDonato-Nude-Narcisse-Magazine-Spring-Summer-2017-Cover-Editorial03Lie in bed

Child

Lest what stands beyond threshold

Threatens calm

Waking to the sound of winter silence

Clutching at inanimate objects

The seen friends who do not reply

Delve deeper into the mind

Where disturbance is held away

By merciful imagination

How long can a child

Pretend

And make-believe?

The sounds of fighting through the walls

Even the deaf hear

The crack in plaster grows wider

Each day carpet higher

Till jungle swallows child

Alone

Her own words ingrowing

Dance when no one is looking

For nobody did

Turned faces absentees

Hunger for attention

At first an annoying shame-faced thing

Then the end of longing

Acceptance

You placed me in a room of my own and said

Thrive

I did not

Instead

Half of me turned into plaster and chipboard and carpet fibers

And half climbed out windows and got lost

Letting her feathers be plucked early

By stranger fondling hands and false words

Prophet’s without prophecy

Girls born without reason

Growing in one ache

The silence their lover and their torment

Sliced in half

One, a creature straining to survive herself

One the albatross of finely dressed humans

Absenting themselves from responsibility

She says

You damned me

You shut me up

You expected me to thrive and grow in darkness and coal

As you closed the door and said entertain yourself

She switched the camera on and let them come one by one

Watch her fall beneath the lights

Mayhap dancer, mayhap pornographer

No words escape her

She moves her pain

Above you like light streaming down

Pure and broken into prisms

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prosetry

Like Alice

She was wearing that little face that she makes when she has a Big Question to ask a Grown-Up: like she’s worried and uncertain but so curious and excited to learn the truth, all furrowed brows and wide eyes, the face that only an inquisitive six year old could make.

Auntie, what happens to all the tears when you cry? Where do they go? How do you get new tears? Are there lots of tears in your head and they fall out of your eyes when you’re sad? Can you ever run out of tears? Where do they go?

Into a tissue
The sleeve of your jumper
All over your pillow
Into the toilet bowl
Onto his shoulder
The ends of your hair
Into a box of popcorn
Onto your pet’s fur
Mixed with the bathwater
Into your glass of Chablis
Hospital floors and church floors
Down your legs and into your shoes
Onto letters and photographs
And birthday cards and newspaper articles
To the ground
To the sky
Back into your eyes

Auntie? Are you listening to me? Can you run out of tears?

Yes. No. Yes and no.
You can feel like you’ve run out of tears sometimes but trust me, there’ll be more left hiding in you somewhere for another time.

If I cry too much will the room fill up like the sea like it did for Alice when she cried too much?

No, baby, that won’t happen. You might feel like you’re drowning in your tears but I promise that the room won’t fill up and the tears will go away and you’ll be okay. I promise.

Well just in case it does happen and I don’t have a boat, I can just hide in a big bottle like Alice did!

No, don’t ever hide in a bottle. Hiding in the bottom of a bottle is for cowards. You just have to learn to keep your head up and swim as hard as you can until you’re home and dry.

“I sort of know how to swim…”

You’ll learn, sweetie, I can promise you that. And if you don’t learn on your own, I’ll teach you. I’m a really good swimmer now.

“Are you as good at swimming as a mermaid?”

I’m better.


Fun fact: whilst looking for an accompanying image I discovered that Alice fell down the rabbit hole 152 years ago yesterday, on 4th May 1865 [gif source here]
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prosetry

Sink

He said he never brought girls back to his place because he was embarrassed about his flat.

I told him that I’d lived in some horrible places myself, with mouldy wallpaper hanging off the ceiling, mildewy curtains, bloodstains on the walls and a ground-floor window fashioned from cling-film and sellotape;

and that one time a guy took me to a crack den on our first date and he tried to kiss me while we were sitting on a damp mattress that had previously been set on fire and a rottweiler was trying to eat my handbag;

and that my friend dropped a hot microwaved chili con carne on his kitchen floor 4 years ago and it’s still there;

and that another friend’s bathroom contained a toilet that was worse than The Toilet in Trainspotting, there was no light or running water and someone had stolen the shower-head and taken a shit in sink so when anyone ever needed to take a leak they had to leave the house and go to the cinema down the road to use their facilities;

so I’m sure his flat would be lovely.

And it was. It was spotless. It was a really nice modern studio flat, high ceilings and big windows, and loads of books and records but not messy or cluttered at all.

“Got any booze?”

He hesitated.

“Yeah, there’s some beer in the kitchen sink. And some vodka, I think.”

I went over to the sink and sure enough found some bottles of Bud bobbing around in the bitterly cold water that filled the sink to its brim.

Oh, and some vodka. Not much, but enough.

And 2 pints of semi-skimmed milk.

And a pot of strawberry yoghurt.

And 500g of extra mature cheddar cheese in a ziploc bag.

And some kind of ham in a ziploc bag.

And half a cucumber in a ziploc bag.

And a handful of grapes in a ziploc bag.

I heard his voice behind me.

“This why I don’t bring girls back.”

“Why?”

“Cos I don’t have a fridge. People think it’s weird. People think I’m weird.”

“Why though?”

“Cos everyone has a fridge. They don’t know how I survive without one.”

“I mean, why don’t you have a fridge? Do you just not want one, like how I don’t ever want a TV so I’m never going to get one? Or maybe you only eat fresh stuff?”

“No, it’s not that I don’t want one. I just can’t.”

“Oh, I see… Your electricity bill must be lower than everyone else’s though, right?”

“No, well, yeah, probably. I just can’t have one. I…”

I can see he’s starting to panic.

“Hey, it’s alright, I actually think it’s cool that you don’t have one. No pun intended on ‘cool’, either.”

And then he blurts it out:

“I’m scared of fridges.”

I say nothing.

“And freezers. Fridge-freezers. Fridges. Freezers. All of it.”

“Woah. Okay. Erm. I’m guessing you had a bad experience? Did you get locked in a freezer once or something?”

I laugh and open the beers with my teeth.

His face pales.

“No. Not me. Someone else.”

“Jesus. Sounds pretty—“

“Bad. Yeah, it was. It was really bad.”

I remind myself that I am a listener, not a therapist. I am a listener, not a therapist. Listener, not therapist.

“Wanna talk about it? Come, sit with me.”

We sit on the window ledge and dangle our legs out. I light us each a cigarette.

“It was ages ago, when I was a kid. I was 9. And a half. We were playing hide and seek in the scrapyard near my old house. Me and Tommy. He lived a few doors down from me and we used to play out after school.”

I stare at him for a second too long and then flick some ash off my tights. We watch it fall one two three four floors down until it disappears. I half-hope that he’ll change the subject but I’m also massively intrigued, so I say nothing.

“We were playing hide and seek. It was his turn to hide. I counted to 30 because the yard was huge and there were so many cool places to hide, like old cars and empty skips and that. I looked for him for fucking ages. Fucking ages. In the end I was shouting TOMMY I GIVE UP. COME OUT NOW. I GIVE UP. It was getting dark. I guessed that he had just gone home cos he got bored or cos his sister came to get him or he had gone off with some of his own pals.”

Beer. Inhale. Exhale. Beer. Exhale.

“Anyway I heard my mam calling my name to tell me that my tea was on the table getting cold. So I shouted LAST CHANCE TOMMY, I’M GOING NOW, I’M NOT JOKING, FINE, I’M LEAVING NOW, BYE. Went home, had my tea, forgot all about it. Went to bed. Then my mam woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me if I’d seen Tommy cos he didn’t come home for his tea and his mam was worried cos nobody had seen him and the police were downstairs and wanted to ask me if I’d seen him. I was scared cos I thought I would be in trouble and I thought the pigs would take me to jail and they wouldn’t believe me if I said I didn’t know where he was even though I would be telling the truth but grown ups never believe kids so I didn’t say nothing.”

Inhale. Exhale. Beer.

“Next morning everyone went out searching the scrapyard, neighbour said they heard some kids playing there the night before, and we all used to play down there all the time so they started looking for him there. They had sniffer dogs.”

He tenses up.

“Then at school in the middle of last lesson we all got taken into the hall for an assembly and the headmaster told us that Tommy Greenwald had tragically passed away. That we were all devastated by the loss of such a bright young lad. That the funeral was on Friday, that the school choir would be singing You’ll Never Walk Alone at the service and we were encouraged to wear our Liverpool shirts to the church. That we would be making condolence cards in class that would be passed on to his mam and sister, and that if we see his family in the street we must treat them with the utmost respect. “

Inhale. Exhale. Beer. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

“Long story short, they found him in a fucking fridge. One of them massive industrial ones. The pigs in the assembly warned us of the dangers of playing in the scrapyard. They suspected no foul play, that this was a tragic accident. How he must have opened it, got in, shut the door and of course it don’t open from the inside, does it, and it was sealed shut so he fucking suffocated. Nobody could hear him scream because the yard was so big. His screaming made him die faster. He was 7.”

“Jesus H. Christ.” 

“Seven.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.”

Beer. Inhale. Reach for vodka. Exhale. Vodka. Inhale. Exhale. Beer. Inhale.

“You know it’s not your fault, don’t you?”

“Isn’t it?”

“No. It’s not. Even if you told the police where you were playing, they wouldn’t have saved him any sooner. He would’ve… gone quite quickly.”

“Seven years old.”

“Jesus.”

Vodka. Vodka. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale.

“I should’ve looked more, for longer.”

“No. You were a kid. Something awful might’ve happened to you too if you stayed out wandering the scrapyard in the dark. You weren’t to know, anyway. You weren’t to know.”

I am a listener, not a therapist.

Beer. Spark up. Inhale. Exhale. Vodka.

“You’re the only person I’ve ever told that to.”

“What? Not even your mum, or Tommy’s family?”

“No.”

Beer. Beer. Inhale. End beer.

“Shit. I don’t even know what to say.”

“That’s okay.”

Silence. Inhale. Silence. Silence. Exhale. Silence. Inhale.

“Hey, I’m sorry to change the subject, but I’m gonna grab us another drink– I think we need it.”

“Go for it.”

“Is there any more beer in the…”

Exhale.

“Sink?”


[Featured image source]
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art, fiction

Tee-ball at a Picnic

I don’t know where we were
My brother and I
At a picnic maybe
There was a Hot-Girl
In tight pants
With holes in them
Her hair was short
She was smoking a cigarette
“Go talk to her”
My brother said
“She is out of my league”
I told him
He said
“A girl is only out of your league
if you believe she is out of your league”
It was simple
It was profound
It was inspiring
It was genius

It was
Wrong

She smelled like warm leather
and laughed like a hail storm on a flower patch

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art, fiction

The Red Headed Mutant

K and I
Liked to go to a playground
Near our house
It was a big wooden castle

It was built when I was a baby
I know because there are pictures
But none of the other pink hairless things at school believed me
Because S (A thing called a Hot-Girl)
called me a liar
and
What are pictures
Against the word of a Hot-Girl?

In the sandy part
By the swings
There were two things
The Homeopathic Doctor later called
Bullies
(Which are deformed things
that used to be children
but became mutated
after a series
of failed experiments
performed on them
by adults)

They cornered K and I
K stood back as they focused on me
“Take off your socks!”
they yelled
So I took them off
And they put them on my hands
And rubbed sand in my hair
They kept us there for over an hour

While they were distracted with me
K ran off
One of them went after him
I was left with the other
A Big Red-Headed Mutant
He kept pushing me in the sand
Told me he was going to bury me alive
He told me to start digging my own grave
All of a sudden the
Whole business
Began to seem quite silly
So I decided to leave
“YOU CAN’T LEAVE”
I just kept walking
He followed close behind and kept yelling
“STOP”
“No”
“Come back and dig”
“I don’t want to be buried”
“YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE”
I shrugged and kept walking
Till I reached the exit
Leading to the hill
Which led home
As I approached the gate
I saw The Homeopathic Doctor
run up over the hill
She looked at me
Then at
The Big Red-Headed Mutant
And she began to grow
Taller and taller
Taller than I’d ever seen her
She blocked out the sun
She grew so big
And her eyes so angry
She transformed into
MOTHER

The Big Red-Headed Mutant
POOFED from existence

I turned around and found only
The footprints
In the sand
Where he had stood
A moment ago
When I turned back
The Homeopathic Doctor was back
She waved me over and hugged me
She carried me back down the hill
A few weeks later I saw
The Mutant who’d chased K
But I never again saw
The Big Red-Headed Mutant
I wonder what MOTHER did with him

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