poetry

Mugshot

Babes,
I think that,
from now on,
whenever I get so sad
that you don’t know what to do
with me you should
gently
remind me
of the fact
that in my police mugshot
I have bright green hair
and the specific type of smirk
that may only be worn by those
who are entirely fearless.
Remind me
of the existence of that mugshot:
the hilarity of the image itself,
the absurdity of the surrounding events,
the possibility of seeing it printed in the newspapers
and the memory of a time when I was free
will always cheer me up
(or at least distract me
for a moment
while you hide all the knives
and pour tranqs into my cup).

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prosetry

Maladapted Modern Martyrs

On the night we first met, you told me that I would be the death of you. I remember we laughed at that even though it wasn’t funny. Lots of people said that, together, we were an accident waiting to happen. We couldn’t have agreed more.

Over the weeks and months we did lots of stupid and brilliant things together. We always had to push it, to exceed the limit, to go one further. We outdid ourselves, just to see what would happen. Anything that previously felt safe or comfortable we inverted, we wanted danger and knowledge and discovery. Everything became an experiment, a question of “How far can we take this?”

For example, we took deliberate drug overdoses for fun to see how much our bodies could take, to see how strong we were, to see how our bodies would recover from abuse, to see if our minds would improve from the experience or deteriorate from the overexposure, so that we could tell everyone,“This is how much Class A you can take and still be a functioning member of society, THIS is how much you can take if you want to get wild for one weekend, and THIS is how much you can take before you permanently forget your own name and believe that the black plastic bag on the floor (which you lovingly pet for hours) is a tabby cat named Greg.”

We’d replicate crimes committed by working-class black males and see how we were treated in comparison, being young white graduates: they’d get 3 years in Scrubs and I’d get a slap on the wrist. We had to commit the crimes to get access to all the people that we wanted to challenge. You try getting a Detective Chief Super on the phone for no real reason other than you want to outsmart him and subvert the corrupt policing system: trust us, you can’t do it. The only way that we could infiltrate CID was to become Criminally Investigable. We had to get in there and create change.

We had to attempt various methods of suicide so that we could tell suicidal people that, “THESE METHODS DON’T WORK! DON’T BOTHER! YOU’LL END UP WITH BROKEN ANKLES AND ONE WORKING KIDNEY! AND THE LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES WON’T HELP YOU AT ALL AND YOUR FRIENDS WILL ABANDON YOU BECAUSE THEY’RE SCARED OF YOU AND YOU’LL LOSE YOUR JOB! DO IT PROPERLY OR DON’T DO IT AT ALL! THESE WAYS THAT WE’VE TOLD YOU ABOUT DO NOT WORK!!!

We wanted to do all of the bad things that nobody really wants to do so that we could teach people about what actually happens if you do these bad things. We saw ourselves as sort of Maladapted Modern Martyrs. We were doing all of you a favour. And anyway, we were in love.


We didn’t have the money to do all the experiments that we wanted to so a lot of our questions about life went unanswered. After years of trying to teach people about being bad we felt that we had nothing more to give. We had one question left that we could answer but it could only be answered by and for ourselves. The answer would not be shared to wider society but we felt like we’d given out enough truths to not feel guilty about keeping this one to ourselves.

We pitched our tent on the darkest corner of Mulholland Drive. We drank silken brandy straight from that fancy crystal glass decanter, laughing about how silly “bungled burglary” sounds (say it 10 times, fast). The tent felt neither safe nor comfortable and we were happy, cackling as the cars whizzed by, their tires growing ever closer to us, trying to catch the flying grit in our mouths.

We were sat almost on top of each other, existing as one skin, one being, so that we would find out the answer to our big question at exactly the same time. “Foolproof,” you said. “Perfect for two fools like us, then,” I replied. Then your nose started bleeding, trickling down over your lips and dripping off your chin and I have never seen you look so beautiful. I kissed you and wore your blood as lipstick; it tasted like the final stanza of that poem about Lolita.

“We are all waiting to die,” you said.
“Yes,” I said, “we’re simply more enthusiastic than others.”
“More excited than most.”

Then you burnt holes in the roof of the tent with the end of your lit cigar, “So you can see where we’re going,” you said. But there wasn’t time to see the stars, only smiles and cars and imperfection and sparks, our sparks, the last ones that’d ever fly between us.

Spoiler alert: one of us got out alive.

You discovered the answer to our most important question, the answer that only deadmen know. I am still picking shards of warm crystal glass out of my hair all these years later and I can’t drink brandy anymore. And we’re all still waiting to die.

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prosetry

Day of Birth / Night Crawlers

Day of Birth

04:45

She had taken the day off work but forgot to turn off her usual alarm. All hopes of a lie-in were demolished. She was not ready to turn 29. “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

05:22

She wondered if the ravens knew that their continuous cawing is the most consistent, reliable thing in her life.

05:23

A murder of crows. An ostentation of peacocks. A parliament of owls. She had no collective. She just was.

06:42

She buried her phone under her mattress so she didn’t have to face life just yet. She began to read The Glass Bead Game for the fourth time. And for the fourth time she didn’t make it past page 28. Having said that, she hadn’t expected to make it past year 28, but she’s only bloody gone and done it.

10:08

She never opens it in front of her, but she receives a card from her mother every year. If she shakes it hard enough, the hollow words fall out of the envelope like dirty feathers so that by the time she’s gathered the strength to read it, the inside is blank. It’s easier that way, for everyone.

11:29

She crossed herself as the bus rumbled past the church, just in case. In case of what, she wasn’t sure. In case hell doesn’t turn out to be as hot as everyone says it is.

12:45

She found herself at a park that she used to go to. As a child she spent hours in the playground, being pushed on the rusty swing by someone else’s parent, playing quietly with snails and stones and empty fag packets.

And as a teenager she used to hang out down by the brook with her fellow delinquents, getting trashed on ketamine and K cider. She couldn’t decide which of these periods was more of a waste of her finite hours.

13:10

She went to the playground but was fearful of doing so without a child in tow. It had rained last night and the smell was familiar. The playground floor was still comprised of wood chips and loose pieces of tree bark, like it had been over 20 years ago.

She remembered lifting the larger pieces of wood after rainfall and finding woodlice to play with; giving them names, loving them, and then being devastated when she wasn’t allowed to take them home. She did the same now. She named him Stanley and put him in her blazer pocket. There was nobody around to tell her not to.

14:29

She stood beneath the statue to read the card from her mother.

She used to climb the statue as a kid. She thought it was the closest she’d get to seeing the Statue of Liberty. Now there’s a gate around it: health and safety gone mad. The blue woman looked so severe, so powerful, so strong, holding her book and sceptre, a wreath around her head.

She is called The Bringer of Peace. Some kids climbed up her and blowtorched her breasts. She now has a large charred black circle on each tit. It makes her look silly. The Bringer of Empty Birthday Cards.

14:35

She realised that she’d spent the last decade fighting the urge to lie down in the street, at the bus stop, in the frozen aisle of the supermarket. She was so, so tired.

16:52

She forgot where she’d hidden her phone. She received an email from an old lover, wishing her many happy returns. She will never return to him. Tears pricked her eyes as she recalled his parting words to her:

You are impossible. You are as impossible as trying to roll a cigarette in a tornado, without any rizla. You’re the fucking storm and I’m in desperate need of a smoke.

17:11

She checked her pocket to see how Stanley was doing. He was gone. She hit her head against the wall 29 times, hard. One for every year of being a terrible person.

17:51

She suddenly remembered someone telling her about how their mother’s pregnancy craving was piccalilli. She couldn’t, for the life of her, remember who said this. Or work out why it was in her mind. Did anyone ever say that? On tv, in a book, in a film? She cried because she’ll never know. She had 10% of a memory but will never regain the rest. She wasn’t even sure what piccalilli actually was so she cried some more. She was so tired.

18:25

She always cried on her birthday. Every year without fail.

19:02

Why the elevator has carpeted walls, she will never know.

19:36

She felt the burn of a thousand champagne bubbles rioting down her throat, each capsule of carbonated misery filled with the vicious irony of celebrating being one day closer to her death. And a day closer to yours, too.

20:56

She locked herself in a cubicle and shovelled snow up her snout. She hoped Stanley was safe somewhere. Just thinking about him made her well up. She decided she would never have children. She couldn’t even look after a woodlouse.

21:15

She sat on her friend’s lap, smoking a suspicious-looking rollup. The garden was lit up like fairyland. She was grateful for her friends, and as the sky was turning purple she saw his face illuminated in the gaps between the fragmented chunks of cloud. Even nature is broken, she thought aloud.

22:49

She made a wish when she blew out the candles on her extravagant multi-layer cheesecake. “Please kill me.”

23:48

(But it won’t come true because she told me what she wished for).

Night Crawlers

00:23

She didn’t want to go home because it didn’t feel like home at all. The empty streets felt more like home than her little studio room so off she went.

00:57

He knew she’d had enough when he noticed that it took her eight seconds to decide if it was a star or an aeroplane.

01:11

He knew she’d had enough but he did it anyway.

01:13

He knew she’d had enough and said No No No No I don’t want to Please No Please Please Stop Get off me Please No Get off Please but he did it anyway.

01:17

He did it anyway even when her screaming stopped.

01:19

He did it anyway even when her breathing stopped

01:38

He dumped her all those years ago with a nasty line about her being a storm and him wanting an easy life, saying she was impossible to live with.

01:39

He dumped her down by the brook and hid her body under some pieces of wood. They were damp and covered in woodlice. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.

They crawled over his hands, around his wrists and up his shirt sleeves. They got into his shoes and ran up his trouser legs. He shrieked and yelped as they climbed his back, over his neck and into his ears. He jumped around like a madman, trying to shake the bugs off him, but every time he’d cleared some of the woodlice off him, another army had arrived.

The commotion happened to alert two police officers that were doing the rounds of their patch. Since the statue had been vandalised, night crawlers had been drafted in to keep an eye on the park after dark.

He was sentenced to 29 years.

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poetry

Mine

Come here
lay beside me
in the dark
we’ll feast on pieces
of each other’s broken hearts
and eat jalapenos
straight from the jar
and while you’re busy
finding stars in the knots of my hair
I’ll ignore the world outside the window
that’s damaged beyond repair

and you can read
Byron to me
and describe the faraway lands
that I’ll never get to see
and I can be your
favourite little coke whore
and then we’ll curse society
for making us slaves to wanting more
and more, and more, and
I’ll say, “At least in prison we’d get 3 meals a day,”
and you’ll laugh and say,
“Darling, we’re all on death row anyway,”

then when our veins contain
more bourbon than blood
we’ll go Bonnie and Clyde
on this sorry town –
we’ll hold up the offie
we’ll hold up the sky
we’ll rob them for candy
and sparkling wine
with the moon as our witness
we’ll run for our lives
I imagine that you taste divine, but
you are not mine
you are not mine.

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