poetry, prosetry

This Time

We’ve said it seriously a few times before we really need to stop we cannot possibly carry on like this we can’t keep doing this shit anymore this is getting out of hand we’ve got to calm down we’ve got to stop and this time this time we really truly mean it

so we pledge and sit indoors on a Friday night sober and tired shaking and wired phones buzzing ignore ignore ignoring wake up Saturday morning wow how good it feels to have slept to feel clear in the head to have spent nothing no fights no sex no shame no regret

so let’s celebrate with a bottle of wine and some shots and a few lines because now we know that we can do it or rather do without it so we’re fine and we deserve it because we’ve worked so hard all week and we’re young and it’s fun so why should we impose these crazy rules on ourselves life is for living drugs are for taking drinks are for drinking music is for dancing so fuck it let’s live it let’s do it let’s do this

and then in a couple of days when you’re sick and skint and I’m a depressed mess we can have our little chat again and pledge again and

this time

we

really

fucking

mean it

right?

no seriously
I mean it this time
I know
we’ve got to stop
yes I agree
so do I
right then
that’s good
that’s fine
we can do this
yes
we don’t need any of it
no
everything is gonna be just fine
yes

 

 

 

is it really though?
what?
is everything gonna be fine?
yes

 

 

 

silence

 

 

 

 

 

I could really do with a line
same

 

 
one last line
for the last time
the last line for the last time
yes

 

 

 

 

I really fucking mean it this time
so do I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(’til next time)

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prosetry

The Eclectic Lucozade Acid Test

I woke up in an unfilled grave; you were licking the morning dew off my face and I thought it was 1953.


A wise man once told me, “Never write about your trips,” in the same way that people say you should never write about your dreams, because no one was there, no one would understand, no one cares and (no matter how precise your descriptions or how excellent your storytelling) no one will ever see what you saw in the way that you want them to see it. And this will ultimately frustrate you, and force the words, “You had to have been there,” to pour out of your mouth before you’ve had the chance to cram them back in. Then you sound like an utter dick and it’s too late and nothing good has been achieved. But then, I argued, what the hell did Kesey build a career on? The wise man was silenced. I wrote notes about my trips.


FRIDGE-FREEZER

We went to the construction site/fly-tipping spot behind the pub. It was dark but Venus followed us, the eye in the sky. There was an abandoned fridge-freezer laying pathetically on its side. We opened the doors and were disappointed that there was nothing exciting inside. We wanted there to be a suitcase of money or a severed head or a gun or a baby. Instead there were only some crisp packets, empty bottles, old newspapers and a used condom. The disappointment on my face must have been palpable. You took off your boot and produced a pack of tabs from underneath your insole. “Classy,” I said, while you hopped about. “You game?” “Always.” I stood on the fridge so I was eye-level with you. You balanced a tab on the tip of your index finger and said, “To fathom hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.” “I already know hell,” I said. “Well then, you’ve got nothing to fear, my little angel.” You put the tab on my tongue and we were off.


MOVE

Some general merriment ensued, we went back to the pub and drank tequila, there was an incident at the kebab shop, then we carried on drinking at the working man’s club and I beat you at pool but then things around me started to move so we made a move.


TAKE ME TO CHURCH

Remember those evil gargoyles at the church? How they were alive but couldn’t leave their perch, and one of them spat at you? They wouldn’t let us in the church: we weren’t welcome there, we were too bad. They snarled and clawed until we were out of sight. I remember we counted, and there were 12 of them, 3 guarding each corner. We seriously pissed them off. I’m surprised they didn’t eat us alive. I went past that church last week and it doesn’t have any gargoyles. It’s not even remotely Gothic in style. Also, it only has one clock face, not 10. But there were definitely 12 gargoyles. Or perhaps it was the tequila.


MR. GANESH

By the church it started to rain. The rain hurt me. The drops were hitting me and going through my skin, then either coming out the other side of my arm or staying inside my body. Like acid rain dissolving a statue. It wasn’t horrific but it hurt and I didn’t like it.

We ducked into Mr Patel’s corner shop. He said, “I’m just about to close,” and you said, “We just need orange Lucozade. Not the red one, the orange one. It has to be the orange one. I need it. It’s very important,” and I said I only needed cigarettes and a purple Ribena. “Very well,” said Mr Patel. Behind the counter stood Mr Patel, and behind Mr Patel there was a colourful, A4-sized poster of Ganesh. I don’t know how but suddenly the two beings merged. On the poster was Mr Patel’s shrunken head on Ganesh’s body, and Mr Patel was handing me my smokes but his head was Ganesh’s elephant head wearing a magnificent gold crown. “Anything else?” asked Mr Patel from inside the poster. “No,” I said cautiously, passing a tenner to the life-size Ganesh who was standing behind the counter, wearing Mr Patel’s clothes. I said to the poster, “Mr Patel, you are a God amongst men,” and he chuckled in the way that he always does and told me to clear off and stay out of trouble.


HOME

The rain stopped and after we walked for what felt like two years, we got to the cemetery halfway down the hill. We were welcomed there with open arms. I remember you saying, “We’re home!” and grabbing my hand, and your palms were cold and sweaty but I couldn’t have let go even if our lives depended on it. The trees knew our names and the dark clouds kept us warm – we wore the sky like a cloak, draped around our shoulders, billowing behind us as we played among the graves.


INSTALLATION

We wandered around the oldest graves but I knew that there were no bodies there. I explained to you my theory, that these crumbling graves were actually an elaborate art installation that had probably been created by a local artist only last week because they knew we were coming to this cemetery, they knew that we would come home eventually. Because people always go home, eventually. “This is just an outdoor art gallery, not a burial site,” I told to you, with absolute conviction. You bought it, of course.


CHIMES

Lots of graves have little decorations but the infant cemetery has plenty. It seemed like there were at least one hundred wind chimes on each tiny grave. They were loud, the only thing we could hear, but not in a deafening or annoying way: the sound was just beautiful. Those gentle chimes dancing in the breeze played for us a lullaby, written, performed and orchestrated by the stars in heaven. I have never heard a sound so pure and I doubt I ever will again. It was truly a magical set of sounds. I lay back on an old brick wall and your drummed your fingers on my rib cage, playing me like a xylophone, accompanying the clinks of the chimes, in harmony, so heavenly.

We heard wind chimes following us around for weeks after. But, in reality, when the colours have dulled and your shoulders have regained all that weight they’d lost and you’ve repossessed your worries and cynicism, the twinkling of wind chimes just makes one think of baby-sized coffins and dead children. (You got me a wind chime for my birthday: I daren’t hang it up).


KISSES

You kissed my skin all over but it was the most asexual thing. There was absolutely no lust or love in this closeness, there was no suggestion or motive, it was kissing in its most basic form: simply placing your mouth on me. You said I tasted like vanilla custard, “proper, bright yellow custard,” you said, “not lumpy school-dinner custard.” My mouth tasted full of fizz. Not champagne or soda or sherbet, but the sound of fizzing. That was it: all I could taste was the sound of fizz. Time for another tab.


THE BIRDS

Your hair felt like feathers. I wondered if you’d been a bird in a past life. I guessed you were a game bird, a grouse or pheasant. You said, “Maybe that’s why I’m so passionately anti-guns.” At the time that was the most profound thing I’d ever heard. Now we laugh about it.

Above the wind chimes but below the blanket sky, was a murder of crows. We discussed how excellent that collective noun is, along with a parliament of owls, an unkindness of ravens and an ostentation of peacocks. Corvidae are my favourite group of birds by far, and I have always felt an affinity toward them. These crows were so very powerful. They did not seem sinister or ominous at all, rather they were our guardians, our protectors. We knew that nothing bad could happen to us under the watch of the crows. They were truly superior in every sense, majestic even, and we felt enormous respect for them. We discussed going to the Tower of London to see the ravens but the last train had been and gone. Suddenly I saw yeomen warders hopping about the cemetery in their full regalia, picking at the grass for worms, coins and stale bread. All of their faces were the same, like the archetypal beefeater carbon copied to create exact clones – like whatever you’d imagine a beefeater to look like, that’s what they looked like, times ten. They didn’t bother us at all. But they wouldn’t have, not with their masters circling above us. In a fantastic turning of the tables, the yeomen were bottom of the pecking order.


REALITY

After this I lost a few hours. I can’t remember anything noteworthy. I know that it got very cold and that we went to sleep in an empty grave. Upon waking the next morning, I knew it was 1953. I have never been so sure of anything in my life, until I climbed out of the grave and wandered around. If it weren’t for the twos and ohs on the headstones jolting me back to reality, I wouldn’t have known any different, and I did, for a very slight moment, think we may have woken up in the future. My green scarf was discarded a little away from our sleeping place. You saw it and thought it was a snake. You liked it. I let you keep it, as a pet.

We walked down the hill, bedraggled but full of new thoughts, to the cafe for a fry up. We walked in near silence. I took that to mean that your dreams were as unnerving and terrifying as mine were, and weren’t something to be discussed for fear of bringing the other one down. Or maybe you didn’t dream at all. But anyway, a wise man once told me to never write about your dreams. So I’ll leave it at that.

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prosetry

Burnt Teaspoons

“Oi. What colour are my eyes?”

Up until that moment, I had deliberately avoided looking into his eyes.

Eye contact is a connection, and I did not want to be connected to him in any way. He also sort of repulsed me and slightly scared me. I was glad to have somebody to buy me drinks and distract me from my all-consuming misery and self-loathing, but I didn’t want to look at him.

My intentions were good but applied far too late: I didn’t want to lead him on because I wasn’t attracted to him in any way and, like I said, he kind of makes me sick. But I probably should’ve made that clear before I slept with him.

His eyes weren’t nice. They weren’t bright or captivating, they held no sparkle, no promise. They were the eyes that belonged to so many men in this town: a dull and disinterested mix of grey and brown. Plain and passive. Eyes made of marijuana smoke and manual labour. Eyes that belonged to a soul with all the depth of an egg cup.

His eyes weren’t curious or animated like the wild orange marbles that lived in my sockets. His eyes were in a self-induced coma, made dull by a lack of education, absence of ambition and resignation to the type of mundane life that I could not bear to experience even for a day let alone a lifetime.

It was dark in our corner of the bar and my own eyes were vodka-glazed. And I didn’t want to look at him. But a quick glance confirmed my suspicion that his eyes were the same dead eyes that I’ve seen sleeping in the skulls of one hundred tired men before him, and will see in one hundred tired men after him, too.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if they were grey or brown, and I have an irrational fear of getting things wrong. Which is terribly ironic considering the huge mistake I had made with him a week prior.

“Burnt,” I told him.

“You what?”

“Burnt. Your eyes are a burnt colour.”

“What the fuck does that mean? Burnt what?”

His eyes were the colour of burnt heroin.

They were the colour of scorched silverware, the colour of that bubbling class-A treacle on a teaspoon, the colour of the dried blood in the crook of your elbow.

But I didn’t want to gift him with this powerful comparison so I said,

“Sticky toffee pudding.”

He laughed and said,

“Oh, right! You could’ve just said fucking ‘brown’, you weirdo!”

“I know.”

Everything about him annoyed me. I struck a silent deal between my heart and my brain to stop befriending and humouring total morons. I drained the dregs of my drink and disappeared for a cigarette in the dark where nobody would be able to notice that my eyes were on their way to becoming as dead as theirs were.

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prosetry

Party & Bullshit

I had a flashback of this house party that I went to a few years ago, where I was sitting in the kitchen sink drinking lukewarm vodka out of a Sports Direct mug and talking to a guy who had a portrait of Jack Kerouac tattooed on his right pec and he was gorgeous but a total arsehole, much like Kerouac himself, but this guy looked like a member of the Riot Club, all upper-class-pretending-to-be-middle-class and floppy hair and perfect teeth and skiing holidays and bonkers opinions, and we were arguing about a popular quotation that he thought was Bukowski but I knew it was misattributed and I wanted to punch him in the face but instead he lifted me out of the sink and carried me

through to the front room where everyone was rolling spliffs and fixing CK lines, that’s a mix of cocaine and ketamine that goes up your nose and makes a thousand tiny holes in your brain but it feels like one massive hole right behind your eyes, so we had uno lino por favor and were attempting to speak Old and Middle English to each other because nobody else knew it and it was like our secret but we only knew words like meadhall and shield and protector and riverside and jewels so it wasn’t much

of a conversation, and then the person whose house it was took this big, ugly urn off the mantelpiece and opened it and said, “This is my nan” and he poured out some of her cremated remains onto the table and got a credit card and made a line out of her and fucking snorted her ashes saying that he wants to feel close to her, and we said well, do you? do you feel close to her now? and he yes, yes I do and then this crazy

girl, the kind of girl who looks like she isn’t actually alive because there is so little blood in her drugstream, she weighs about the same as an Argos catalogue and she sold her soul to a man who rapes and beats her in exchange for a gram of speed, like if she were a cartoon she’d have black crosses where her eyes should be, that kind of crazy girl decided to snort some of his grandmother and then some other girl licked her finger and dabbed it in the pile of grandmother and rubbed her bone fragments and burnt skin onto her gums and when she smiled her teeth were greyer than they were before and then suddenly this bloke was racking up lines of his fucking grandmother and people were rolling up notes and receipts and snorting her and it was fucked up even by my standards, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some fucked up shit but this

was too far even for me, and then I noticed that the blind guy was missing and I hadn’t seen him for a while and I knew he’d dropped a load of acid and drunk 2 bottles of red wine in the space of an hour and had been boring everyone to tears banging on about the Byzantine empire and I know he’s a fucking accident waiting to happen because he lived in my building and once he drank a bottle of bleach and the mental health team asked me to keep an eye on him because I’m chronically suicidal so we had “something in common” which was literally like the blind leading the blind but still I felt obliged as a human being to find him, plus I didn’t really want a death on my hands, and besides nobody else gave a flying fuck where he was so I looked for him in every room and noticed that the front door was wide fucking open and I found him lying out in the street, a few doors down, rolling around in the snow and he said to me, “This is what heaven must be like” and I told him to come back inside but he wouldn’t because he thought I was Mary Magdalene and he didn’t trust Christian figures so I said, fine, fucking freeze to death and decided that I wanted

to fuck the Riot Club guy because fucking him would be the closest thing I’d ever get to fucking Jack Kerouac which is one of my many unachievable dreams so off we went but I had to fuck him with my left hand over his left pec the whole time because tattooed on his left pec was a portrait of Edgar Allen fucking Poe who, as much as I admire his writing, I definitely did not want to fuck because he sort of scares me and not in a risky kinky way but in a creepy uncomfortable way because whenever I think of him I think of him as a dead man and I see him as a corpse, sort of like the crazy girl who was downstairs snorting some guy’s nan’s ashes and screaming I CAN TASTE YOUR NAN AT THE BACK OF MY THROAT!

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prosetry

Life As We Know It (Now)

Fortnightly overdoses and falling asleep in the bath

Ridiculous wine descriptions and tattooed knuckles

Antiseptic and anticipation

Disappearing acts and swapping house keys

Superglue and frozen teeth

A stolen bottle of mustard and an Irish funeral

Forgetting and failing and faking and Fuck Forever-ing

Rusty kisses and missing the last bus

Betting slips and 56 missed calls

Vanilla vodka and the First Casualty of War

Coffin shopping and cryptic crosswords

LSD and the ghost of Keats on Hampstead Heath

Tampon strings and sewing machines

Vape sticks and scaffolding

Tinned peaches and bascule bridges

Hugo Boss shirts and serial killers

A shelf-less bookshelf and ignoring aeroplane safety demos

Swimming to Mexico and believing in angels

3-day stubble, you’re bang in trouble, double up for £1

Pinching each other because we aren’t entirely convinced that we’re alive

Marriage proposals and morphine dreams

Rhetorical questions and infinite eggshells

Spying on the neighbours and eating jam doughnuts with a knife and fork

Lordship Lane and waking up with two black eyes

The United States of Shock and Dismay

Blonde on Blonde and asphyxiation

A pint of daffodils and the view from the bell tower

Blood tests and a ouija board

Perjury and the 4 hour Happy Hour

Grey hairs and burnt toast and wondering what the hell it’s all about

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prosetry

The Retrogression of Self

ONE.

With every drink
comes degeneration

and every disco dabble
brings deterioration,

the reckless demolition of
a mind that thrives

on vague ideas of happiness,
promises of something better,

and desperate attempts to
experience whatever it means

to “feel alive” while being
mostly dead inside.

Devastation comes with freedom
and my worst version of myself

isn’t worth my immersion and
participation is what is commonly known

as “having fun.”

TWO.

Maybe some people
don’t suit fun or don’t deserve it,
but I simply don’t understand it:

my definition of having
a good time is as warped
as my vodka-vortex vision.

I have no hair to let down,
I ripped it all out.

I do not care for my safety —
everyone that I love is a stranger
to someone.

I smashed the tiles
that I was meant to dance on.

I spend half my life trying
and failing to order more drinks

for people who I don’t know,
with money that I don’t have

long after the bell for last orders
has rattled my rib cage

and leaving after the lights have gone out
and staying after the staff have gone home.

I feel gross and I know I am a mess,
but I pretend that this is fun,

that I don’t have a drink problem
that I don’t have a drug problem

that this is what everyone my age is doing,
that I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING PROBLEM ALRIGHT?

and I am an exceptionally good liar
(as all addicts are)

so sometimes
even I believe me.

THREE.

Do you enjoy it?
Do I enjoy it?

Sparkling powder on dirty cistern
on painted thumbnail
on shattered iPad
on kitchen counter with breadcrumbs
on dusty dashboard
on pirate dvd
on corner of stolen credit card
on someone’s wriggling stomach,

with banknotes
with unsuccessful lottery tickets
with a strip of the Evening Standard
with doctor’s notes
with fluorescent straws
with glass test tubes
with torn-up takeaway menus
with your brass house key,

up it goes,
up a nose that never asked
to be involved.

No

I don’t enjoy it,
not really.

Oh

but if you’re offering,
yeah, why not.

It would be rude not to.

FOUR.

I don’t want any of this anymore.
I don’t want to be like this.
I don’t want to fight
this person anymore.
I want to kill the bad half of me,
just strangle her while she’s in bed
with another stranger,
smother her silly
until she enters a sweet forever-sleep.
Oi, leave her,
just let her sleep,
she’s so tired.
She doesn’t want to wake up
to face the morning
Don’t let her wake up
and remember what she’s done.
Don’t let her.
Just let her sleep.

FIVE.

I fill the void with
two litres of cheap wine
and morph into a monster in a mini-dress.
Really though, one sip is all it takes
for the worst version of me to arrive,
uninvited, aggressive, ridiculous.
I want to strangle her
and I think other people do too.
Some guys do, in bed,
but I tell myself that’s different.

SIX.

“Something’s gotta change.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“I need to change.”

THIS IS IT.

And so I quit, cold-turkey it, miserable, isolated.
Usually something bad has prompted my decision
so I just hide inside and want to die.
And the change is bad,
and the change is good,
and the change is very good,
and then I go back to my old ways and it starts again.

RELAPSE.

I hear them mumbling something about leopards,
and spots, and dogs that can do tricks,
and how an addict will always be an addict,
and that I’m going downwards and backwards
and upside-down at an astonishing rate
and they mention spirals and catastrophes
and concerned and worried and disappointed
but I’m not really listening because I don’t want to
hear it,
I’m gorgeous and I’m laughing
standing at the bar
and knocking back another jar
all eyes on me
the version of me that’s the crowd favourite
everyone gets to see this crazy show again
and I entertain for free –
I don’t mention how much
my party-girl persona costs me
but fuck it
as long as we’re all happy
then that’s good enough for me

SEVEN.

The next day I always feel
more panic than shame:
it is dread, utter dread,
and fear at what I have done and said,
and it’s terrifying.
I try to push it out of my mind. “It’s fine,”
I say, “it’s fine.”
I forget that other people’s memories
work far better than mine.

EIGHT.

“Oi, Party Girl, why do you care so much about everyone else, but not yourself?”
“That’s just how it is.”
“Well, you should. Start caring for yourself.”
“Nah, I’d rather invest my energy in others.”
“But you deserve to be good to yourself.”
“The damage is done.”
“No it’s not, it’s never too late to change. You can turn your life around.”
“No I can’t.”
“Stop being so fucking pessimistic.”
“It’s like when people continue to put food out for their pet after it’s dead and buried.”
“What?”
“Like shutting the stable door after the horse has already bolted and run miles away.”
“You’re not an animal.”
“Oh, aren’t I? I know a few guys who would disagree with you on that one.”
“For fuck’s sake. Fine, I give up. Destroy yourself. But I’m not going to play a part in your death.”
“Oh, thanks. It is your round though…”
“No, fuck you.”
“Large chardonnay with a dash of lemonade please, darling.”
“No. Why do you do this to yourself?”
“Because vodka is cheaper than dialectical behaviour therapy.”
“What’s that?”
“And I get to hang around with you fine people.”
“You’re the most frustrating person I’ve ever met.”
“Why thank you, kind sir.”
“If you were a bloke, I’d probably have hit you by now.”
“You’re so sweet. No ice.”
“What?”
“In my spritzer. No ice.”
“Agh, okay, but this is your last fucking drink.”
“Fine.”
“For fuck’s sake.”
“Thanks, you’re a real pal.”
“We’re all worried about you though.”
“Hey, enough of that. Now hurry up and get me a beverage, there’s too much blood in my alcohol stream!!”

NINE.

It’s all fun and games until

it’s no longer fun?
it’s no longer a game?
you struggle to remember the last time it was fun?
you begin to think that drinking and drug-taking was never actually ever fun?

It’s all fun and games until you admit that it was never fun,
nor was it a game, but rather 12 years of socially-acceptable self-destruction made excusable because of my youth and troubled childhood.

“The fun stops here, kiddo.”

TEN.

Something has got to change.
I think that “something” might be me.


Featured image source “You will drink and drink till you die!” from The Windsor Magazine, 1902.

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