poetry

Savage Dance

The scythe told me

Your depression is a choice and a weakness

If you are a writer there are no excuses only

Discipline

The scythe is a girl who has long been a cruel woman

She judges me worse than I judge myself

Her reason lies in anger

Not the rumpled clothes sort

The burning brand of not getting what she feels entitled to

And that is me

I have told her

But she holds me close and afar and plays me with her passive aggression

I am not able to exit the game

Though it exhausts me and is

A sharp tasting whip

Sometimes it feels like

She captains my life and I am a boat

Continually drowned by stormy seas

People would say

It’s easy … just break the chains

Walk away

Tell her to go hang

Lose my number

Go fuck yourself

But I can’t do it

I have a matchbook heart

Strike me once

And I’m in it for the long haul

The perfect patsy

A groveling bullseye

It only reinforces a sense of self hate

Which she stirs with bolognese

Sadists are usually unaware

Of how much they practice their art

In every card game

She pinches, pushes and pulls

I am a lopsided puppet

The times I tried to

Go it alone

Ended badly

Sometimes the Devil

Is the only hand in the dark

And not many of us are brave enough to release all toes

Fall away without harness

Especially when it takes most of what we possess

Just to survive

So she has my life in her rubber bands

Every day she yanks me to my knees

With the nostalgic ejubulence of a professional killer

It is I fear

A form of savage dance

And only one of us will survive

Sometimes I catch myself wishing

She’ll go first

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life, poetry, prosetry

The hands of the lost

Sometimes

You pick the sinking ship

Recognizing within

Carousel parts of

Your own visit on earth

There is much wrong

In repeating mistakes or

Returning to well worn habit

When outcomes have proven they are

Dead roads and broken boats

It is not that you are

A martyr

Or even a fool

You do not wish

To bring yourself lower

But if you imagine life

As a well worn stoop

And whom you should feel

Most comfortable sitting there with

Then you will fathom

The type who finds themselves

Supporting the broken-down and

The fractured

For the sheer honesty of their response

And that well earned familiar

That you have known over and over

In the apologetic eyes of your own

And that trembling hand teaching through time

Asking you to

Be patient with my mistakes

There is something

Comforting and real

In a flaw

When all the city lights try to attain pearly perfection

Something you’ve never related to

Another language for

Early risers without grime stains behind their ears

The kinds who are punctual and routine

And do not make shoddy excuses for

Why they cannot lift the weight of the world

From their shoulders

People who may

Go on to take office whilst you seek

To survive and advance by understanding

What keeps the world turning

Which

Can be discovered

In equal amount

From the hands of the lost

As those who are found

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

She predated the moment of her autopsy

1234908_469437609824109_1609513967_nWhat you don’t know, can’t know, won’t know

is she flushed it all

and now she’s ten pounds lighter

no womb

no baby

it’s been carefully dissected and left for students

to place in formaldehyde and trot out when exhibitions

are in town

rather like her

with her avuncular spirit that even when pissed on

from a great height

keeps joining the circus

you wouldn’t have wanted her if she was the last girl in the room

and she was and you didn’t

but fornicate you did

the way young skin seeks anything for a thrill

even the mildly disgusting

where did you get the scar? you asked without needing a response

but she told you everything, the whole dirty bag of it

because she wasn’t going to last. and you

weren’t going to listen

when they came knocking on your door

inquiring if you knew her

at first you said no, I haven’t heard that name before

but of course you hadn’t, you never asked

she didn’t volunteer much besides

the opening and closing of her legs

scissors chopping the thin thread

they showed you a photo

someone who had light in their eyes

not her with darkness on her breath

but it was

those scars

the dissected girl who was cut open

and *audience cheers*

found to be empty

of life

she predated the moment of her autopsy

with a slow smoked cigarette and some warm cum

leaking between her legs

giving her the courage to believe she’d been alive

before she fell like a weight seeking reclamation

the air rushing and pulling her down

to where she lay in an impression of sleep

I don’t know why she jumped, you said

feeling no guilt for nameless sex

it was just two consenting adults

hooking up after a night of drinking

I couldn’t even tell you anything about her

other than she didn’t say no

he closes his eyes and he feels her hands

touching his shoulders softly

pulling him inside her as if she were

hungry and full at the same time

no I didn’t sense that she was sad

or wanted to take her own life

I smelt her perfume it was

like flowers

left in water

too long

 

(photo credit: Nona Limmen)

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life, poetry

Crash

In the split second / Before we crashed

I finally discovered / What it feels like / To be alive.

It is a peculiar existence / For those of us

Who only feel alive / When on the cusp of death.

In the minute / Before we crashed

He took off his seatbelt off.

He was not afraid of death / For he was alive / And he knew it.

He had lived for a long time / And had been alive all the while.

Death can do a lot of things / But it can’t undo

All that living.

And Death knows it.

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art, poetry, prosetry

On Art

[Free-written at the Tate Modern, London, 2015]

ONE

Art is about shaking things up,
subverting everything that is safe and familiar.
Art sends you a link to a video
of your cosy little norms cheating on you,
in your own bed, with a handsome amalgamation
of everything you loathe
and then when you cry about it, Art just shrugs.

Art is about,
“Shaking up the still”
“Art as an extension of the body”
“Describing without describing it”
“Disrupting the settled”
I write these things down as I wander through the collections.
I am not settled, I will never be settled.
I am disrupted, severely, unfortunately.
Settled. I do not know the meaning of the word:
this truth makes me feel unsettled.

TWO

I’ve been told before that I’m a work of art –
each person who has said this meant it in a different way –
it doesn’t matter how, not really –
subjective, objective, neither.
But if art is about disrupting everything that is settled,
what am I? How am I? How do you disrupt the already disrupted?
Can you break the broken?
Maybe it would be real, true, genuine artistry to settle the unsettled.
Perhaps to rectify the disturbed would mean to
uncover the masterpiece underneath.

But no. This canvas may look pretty
but still been stretched and abused and exploited,
stared at, gawped at, criticised.
The framework in the centre of this sculpture
has crumbled; I fold in on myself
because I can’t hold this brain up anymore
with of all of its heavy thoughts and mind-fuckery.
But as long as my outermost layer stays easy on the eye
it’s fine for me to be ugly inside.

THREE

Art may well be about disrupting the disrupted
a test, an experiment,
to see how much disruption the disrupted can take
before they break
another layer of paint
let the cracks show
gloss over it all
keep piling on the paint
like the pressure that we’re so used to…
am I talking about art or psychiatry?
You can’t hang me on a wall
if I’m hanging from a tree.

We are disrupted daily hourly
subconsciously subliminally
tirelessly
effortlessly
cruelly
above all, wholly.
We are entirely disturbed.
If art is about shaking things up,
I am the pre-packaged subject.
Life has rattled me, and
I am still shaking
recoiling from the things I’ve seen
with eyes, in dreams
running from my archive of deleted scenes
shuddering in my pathetic tent where I live
wedged
reluctantly
between the edges of some temperamental tectonic plates;
the tremors, the tremors, the never-ending tremors,
they are like noisy neighbours, disrupting me at all hours.
It is possible to disrupt those who are unsettled,
it’s just a little less easy.

FOUR

Nobody pays to see me anymore.
I am no longer part of the collection
although I am still on display
in a lesser, unassuming way:
I have morphed into a nameless metal figure on a toilet door
I am bald, I have a triangle dress
and all of my scars have been polished off –
plus, I have no eyes or ears,
so no more lies and no more tears.
No longer the exhibitionist I was before
when I was a whore
when I was adored
when I was unconscious on the ballroom floor.
Things are quieter now.
But I’ll never be settled.
No, never settled.
Forever rattled, never settled.

FIVE

If someone hears that I’m settled
they might decide to disrupt me
to shake me up
to make me into art.
My coffin in the ground
will be the grand finale
The cemetery will be the gallery
and people will come to see me again
not as a life form, but as an art form, immortalised.
A masterpiece that’ll take the art world by storm
see here, one who was ultimately unsettled who now lies settled!
My body in the ground
six feet under
a cheapo headstone bearing the official details
of one of my various personalities
some yellow roses, a pack of JPS and a vodka miniature
perhaps some rain
My most disrupted self, finally settled
The opposite of art
This final installation is named
“Girl, died
in pain,
in vain,
in sane.”

Maybe then
Art will seek to settle the disrupted
before it’s too late.

SIX

It is probably the case
that art saves more lives than psychiatry.
But when you’re standing graveside saying
what a waste, what a waste,
you won’t think of my soul at all
you’ll just think of my pretty face.

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poetry

She

​She is no oxygen thief.
She isn’t stealing something
that doesn’t belong to her,
she is being force-fed it,
being gifted the same terrible present every birthday,
being given something that she doesn’t want
in relentless abundance.

She has had the same headache
for a decade, and can’t remember
life without it.
She doesn’t know the definition of ‘well.’

She looks forward to blinking
for the last time,
to closing her eyes
and never opening them again.
It’s exciting not knowing
exactly when this will happen –
aren’t you excited? You should be.
It’s a once in a lifetime thing.

She doesn’t want to breathe
but it keeps on happening.

The copper said, “No sudden moves!”
as he tried to decide whether to
get her off the edge of the roof
or get the carving knife out of her hand first,
thinking of the paperwork he’ll have to fill out later.
She said, “But all I have are sudden moves.
Isn’t my heartbeat just a series of sudden moves?
Isn’t yours?”
Her words got caught in the wind.

She balances on the edge
thinking about how we see the world,
and then we don’t –
or perhaps we do
but from another angle
in another realm.

She doesn’t like the view from here,
buried above ground,
and hopes that the world will look prettier
once she’s buried in it.
Unblinking, unbeating, unbreathing,
unfeeling, undisturbed,
underground.

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poetry

Brexi(s)t

when you want to live
but, at the same time,
you also want to die
you do neither:
you merely exist
like dirty laundry
and electricity,
like abandoned cars
and stagnant air,
like unwritten rules
and unused ink,
like your potential
which you feel certain
will remain
unfulfilled
whether you live or die.
but you also exist
in the same way
that tomorrow’s newspaper exists:
you need Tomorrow
in order to Be:
and you’ve got stay alive
if you want to read the headlines.

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life

Death of a Star

At around half past 3 in the morning I decided that I would go for a crafty cigarette. I was at my grandfather’s house – he didn’t (and hopefully still doesn’t) know that I smoke and I didn’t want to wake him by going downstairs and outside, so I thought it best to hang out of the bedroom window and smother the smell with perfume afterwards.

I opened the window, jumped up on the sill, dangled my pyjama-ed legs out over the edge and, before I could spark up, my attention was diverted to the meteor shower that was performing its drama in the space above me. I’d seen such sights before but never this clearly. These fizzling stars seemed so close, as if I could reach out and catch them. I half expected a piece of hot rock to land in my lap and burn through my shorts.

A voice shocked me back to Earth.

“Are you gonna light that or what?” my father whispered, a little too loudly.

“JESUS CHRIST, DAD, YOU SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME!”

He chuckled until his chuckle turned into a cough, which he tried to stifle. He was also hiding his habit from granddad (his father) – he had promised him a year before that he had quit. But here he was, also hanging out of his bedroom window, a few metres across from mine, smoking a joint and watching the shower.

He put his finger to his lips and said, “Shhh,” and then pointed at the sky.

“I know,” I whispered back.

We stayed that way for a few minutes, together but apart, smoking in the silence of the night, watching the meteorites falling so effortlessly from the heavens, knowing that they look pretty from here but up there the scene is one of violence and destruction. We were quite content to revel in the magic of the display, ignoring the science and calculations and unfathomable numbers behind it and the reality of our insignificance (although these things did cross our minds).

“You know how stars die, don’t you?” he whispered to me, again a little too loudly.

“Erm… supernova, is it?”

“Nah. Overdose, usually.”

I giggled into my hand, before whispering, “For fuck’s sake, Dad,” in his general direction. We didn’t know that Amy Winehouse would die from a suspected overdose the next day.

We spent another minute or so watching the sky. I looked over at my Dad, his face illuminated only by the stars. His smile had gone. He looked wistful, possibly even sad. Then I felt sad, knowing we’d be back in London soon and unable to see magic like this through the pollution. Back to London, to depression and money problems and bad decisions and drug dealing and dangerous dalliances and trouble trouble trouble.

“Dad,” I said, quietly. “Am I going to be okay?”

He looked over at me from his window and smiled, and said with such certainty,

“Yes. Yes you are, babes.”

In that moment, I believed him. I locked that exchange in my heart, archived, for future reference. Then I stubbed out my roll-up underneath the window ledge and buried it among the leaves in the guttering. Then I replied to my Dad,

“Are you?”

But his window was shut and he was gone.

 

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prosetry

Watch

Minutes
these relentless, finite minutes of mine
he says we have to make ours count
but I just count them down
down
down
down
more concerned with surviving them than living them,
with tolerating them than filling them,
watching the spokes skip
around the Death Counter’s dial,
studying the perfect face of my bedside clock,
knowing that the meaning of life is that it stops,
it stops
but not soon enough
for me
(too soon for most though,
apparently)

*

Our love died when I lost track of time:
we thought we had so much of it.
But while I’ve been writing this
the clock has stayed in my eye line
and you’ve crept a minute closer to your death
while I’ve leapt a minute closer to mine.
Oh, we had the time of our lives,
all that time, all of the time.
(It’s really nice knowing that neither of us will make it out of this alive)

*

In the hours when I cannot bear to be alive
I just sit and watch my watch,
watch my past growing,
watch my future decreasing,
knowing that I can always find comfort
in the movement of those metal hands
that live on my left wrist,
in the glow of those green lines
shape-shifting in the corner
of the darkened room,
watching you sleep away your minutes
while I think away mine.
Every minute propels us forwards
toward a good thing, or great things,
a tragedy, an opportunity,
a nightmare, a breakthrough,
a love, a loss, and our deaths.
(It’s only a matter of time)

*

I stand outside the jeweller’s shop
and stop
and watch
the clocks:
High Street Hypnotherapy.
I light a cigarette and press my forehead to the glass
and watch the watches,
trying to catch one out for being too slow,
or maybe all the others are fast?
But they move like,
well,
they move like fucking clockwork
and so I remain with my head against the pane,
killing time in the rain,
in pain, killing time,
literally watching time
disappear.
You’d call this a waste of a time
but it’s not, it’s progress,
it’s necessary progress:
staying alive until the time comes to die.
Now that I’ve written this,
I’m three minutes closer to that time
and now that you’ve read this
so are you
(closer to your time as well as mine)

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life, prosetry

Ivy

I bought 10ft of artificial ivy once, off t’internet, for pennies, as part of the Poison Ivy costume I was making myself to wear at a Hallowe’en party. I didn’t go to the party in the end – I hung out with you that night instead.

The ivy remained coiled up in its plastic bag. I hung onto it though, certain I’d find another use for it, planning to make art of it, but it collected dust alongside all my other great ideas.

A year passed and I relocated. Having to declutter and still unable to find a use for the ivy at my new house, I binned it, scolding myself for wasting £2.89. Then I walked to your place and we watched University Challenge. You failed to answer a single question. You were catatonic. You barely said a word. You were not my dad, you were a skeleton bobbing in a sea of morphine. I hoped that you’d be better after some sleep. You always got better.

Three weeks later I was standing in front of your coffin. It was decorated with ivy vines, it was wrapped around the wicker handles, around the edges. I touched the leaves: it was real ivy.

I said to mother, “How much did that ivy cost us?” and she said £90. I laughed incredulously. “You do know the ivy’s going in the oven with him, right? You are quite literally burning our money!” She told me to stop being difficult. You would’ve been absolutely horrified to know she’d wasted £90 on ivy. (That’s £90 of booze we’d never get to drink at your wake!)

Then, as I kissed your casket goodbye for the last time, you said to me telepathically through the wicker lid, “Hey, where’s that artificial ivy you couldn’t find a use for?” and I realised that was your last bit of advice to me:

what we lack in finances we more than make up for in ideas, and what we lack in assets and material possessions we more than make up for in mind and soul, so stay creative, stay humble and keep on keeping on. And don’t let your mother make any more decisions.

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