life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Untitled #39

I forget

What I lived for back then

Maybe just hope

That indefinable future stretching unknown

It always baffled me how the young

Could give up and try to die

When there was always hope

And some sympathy for their tender years

I want to say to them

Wait until you get here

Then the going gets quiet

People don’t check on you

There is no sympathy for your failing

We’re supposed to be stronger

What doesn’t kill us, right?

Not true

Everything that’s destroyed me did not

Make me more resilient

That’s a lie we tell ourselves and our friends

Or maybe for some it’s a truth

Not for me

I feel with every battering less and less

Less willing to stand and fight

For why?

The illusion things will change?

The care that rarely solidifies

I am so good at lifting others up

So poor at building my house

Because I gave my faith to them

And made nothing for myself

Instead I hear, the voices of the past

Telling me why I’m worthless

And it isn’t just the past

It’s recent and the scar

Never heals

I am

Broken

I survived only to

Fall

I am hurt beyond description

I ache and feel pain every hour

Nothing I do seems to change

The sorrow of every day

It’s too easy to dismiss it away as

Clinical depression

It is not

I simply wish I could safely die

I wouldn’t even feel guilty anymore

I’m too tired to care

Maybe when you’re not cared about that’s what happens

I find it hard to understand why more don’t share my sentiment

I don’t enjoy life

I have no purpose

I have been left by those I loved

I stand alone

Not blaming anyone

Just seeing through

The bullshit

I wish right now

Life were a dream and death reality

An external sleep

No trespass no hope

It has long been gone

And I have tried for ages to hide my belief

There is no point

For whom?

There is a crack in my heart that runs so deep

Maybe it was all a mistake

I wish I could rewind until

I ceased and never had been

It is hard to want to undo yourself

As you continue to flourish

I am tired of trying

I feel that’s all I’ve ever done

It’s a bit of a delusion

Trying and being in pain

Why try? For whom?

If there is no one

I hear the bus

Letting off children

I remember

Being a child

I wasn’t happy then

It’s not who I am

My mother was right though she was wrong

Maybe I’m a lesson from which others learn

There isn’t as much meaning in everything

As we are told

Sometimes we just exist without meaning

And it’s ugly and long

Too long

I wish I didn’t know

How most books

End

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fiction, life, poetry, prosetry

Magic trick

There is something wrong with the post man

he forgets my house

drives away in that flimsy cart

humming to himself, oblivious of

my need, he be wrong

return and fill

the emptiness with

some approximation.

There is something wrong with the phone

it lays silent and sleeping

unlit and needful of

nothing rung or called

I shake it and stare

in the absurd notion

by doing so will cause

something done, to be undo

a knot we can pick

with stiff fingers and

urging pretend

all is well when

it is broken and lost

to the gravity of

changing seasons

flickering, mirrored, illusionist light

turning fear into something golden and bright

then just as fast, back again

taking away certainty

with deft slight of hand.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Unaided by light

I was not born for loving

doctor said; It’s a girl

nurse thought; What a shame, life is harder on them

psychiatrist thought; She doesn’t want to be a mother, but let’s not tell her

grandfather thought; Another generation to abuse, watch her grow, but not too much

grandmother thought; Turn your face away. Do not witness, then it never happens

mother thought; I never wanted you.

when I carried you

you reminded me of a rock

I wanted us both to drown

except I would lie and float above

whilst you gulped salty brine

and free of your clutch, hail a boat

take myself somewhere, far from children

I never wanted

trapped by circumstances

anything to escape the confines of my day

but how?

I told this story many years later

by then I was

much older than my mother had been

when she gave birth

and in that jaundice saw

her lot

and shook it off

as any woman escaping shackle would

I do not blame her a bit

nor for her inability to love

me

though others she loves quite well

like folding napkins can be

an art

I do not feel anger toward her

even when she turned her voice from

human to machine

told me to go hang myself when I was ill

“you are too dramatic and I am not

going to take any of your soap opera anymore”

I should have tattooed those words and others

that cut deep and left a permanance

all over my body

because I hear them in my sleep

but the needle was blunt and my favorite song

played in someone else’s room

and the breeze was fresh and I wanted to

like my mother

run away from pain

so I did not hate her because

she is as much survivor as I

just doing what she has to

to maintain some semblance of

denial

it is not the fault of the broken

they cannot perform on cue or

find ways to put back together

shattered trust

though why she picked me of all the people in the world

to loathe

that I shall never understand

I can imagine she would respond, given the chance

oh but darling it’s because you are not worth loving

you are a disappointment and a liar and all things foul

she thinks I don’t know

she is wrong for once or twice or always

such is the calamity of overestimating intelligence

I did no such thing; keeping my mistakes out like a flag

when she left me to drown I only partly did

then and now

just as others have also taken their leave

it is a bloodied procession of grief

she would say it is evidence of

my UN-likability and a pattern is a sign

I’m the issue, I’m the cause, common denominator

does she think I don’t hear those thoughts?

especially from myself

though in truth and without the need

for shrinks to proclaim

I know it’s neither

but some kind of family recipe

repeating itself in clumsy tragedy

I tried to stop it

but some things were in place before I got there

lucky really for bad luck

I wanted a baby of my own

she lays now in formaldehyde

along with my womb

the scar shines in the sun when I

walk to the kitchen in my turquoise panties

I think then of you my darling

the contrast of death and life

your flawless skin against mine

mottled with shorter time and longer

suffering

we were like two cats

let out to search for cream

except I fell in love

even as the rule book dictated

haven’t you learned anything?

I was not born for loving

though love was all I sought

it is the whimsy of the neglected and unwanted

such a cliché, such a burning shame

to follow a trajectory set before you knew

this is the path for idiots, follow carefully until

you too, fulfill the prophecy of fools

I think too often still

of the past, though it will never

save me and only devour

any compunction for peace

I dream of her telling me, she hates me

it feels like petals upon my rotten cheeks

I see her dark eyes retreat and in sleep

reach for her, like somehow

all the scars can be healed, though

nothing I say will ever make her believe

the truth she insists, is a lie

in fact she says;

I am one giant lie

from my name to my ethnicity and birthright

and maybe she is telling the truth

for I have lost myself in make-believe

and catching butterflies

since very young retreating to

what I could pretend and not what was

real and crawling toward me

with the unwavering tenacity of

cruelty

if I could I’d rewrite the future

as I know what it portends

one or other of us shall die

the rest will grieve eternal in fractured silence

such as its always been

generation after generation

losing before truly lost

nothing repairs a pattern sewn

before you were born

and I, as I’ve told you

was not born for loving

though it consumes me still

especially when I am weak

which is often as

the sunlight will predispose me

to fantasy

thinking I see you reaching for me

taking all the pain back

returning your heart to where

as a child I placed it

high and gleaming

the greatest illusion of all

warding off my fear that

reality was

real

so

whitewash the sky my love

paint the steps

polish the lamps

this evening we will watch

the night flowers perfume

and bloom

unaided by

light

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prosetry

The Immaculate Depression

The girl often wondered where it had come from. Why was her life so much darker than yours? than his? than hers? than most? She grew up too quickly: she knew that for certain. The girl had seen more pain and experienced more suffering in her short life than, it seemed, others would expect to bear in their entire lifetimes.

She wondered if she was being punished – for a sin committed in a past life, because she did not sin in her current life. She asked God for answers and was met with silence. Books did the opposite: they shouted a thousand possible answers at her.

Perhaps she was born with a broken brain. Perhaps society made her that way. Perhaps she was gifted bad genes from her parents. Perhaps she had invented the pain, invited the darkness.

Perhaps if she had been born a boy, she wouldn’t feel everything so very much; perhaps she would have learned to compartmentalise, to care less, to worry less, to feel less, to just get on with it. Perhaps she would grow out of it. Perhaps she was just a “normal, hormonal, moody teenager.”

Maybe the moon was to blame for her mercuriality. Maybe she was like this because she was poor. Maybe it was because of the school she went to. Maybe it was because her parents didn’t love each other. Maybe she had hit her head when she was small. Maybe she had drunk poisoned breast-milk. Maybe she didn’t eat enough vegetables.

Perhaps she was cursed. Perhaps she needed Jesus, or an exorcism, or a month in the Siberian wilderness, or to join the army. Perhaps she needed someone to shake her, slap her across the face and shout, “STOP IT.”

Maybe there was nobody else on the planet like her; maybe she fit into no category; maybe there was no textbook written about her and there never would be, for she would die before being discovered. Maybe she had been born in the wrong generation. Maybe she was on the wrong medication. Maybe she was simply not made for this world. Maybe maybe maybe.

The doctors didn’t know. They just shrugged and gave her green sheets of paper on which were printed the names of medicines containing x’s and z’s and numbers like 375 and 2.5 and 600 and 40 and 3 times a day. The specialists, the experts, the professors: they did brain scans and shined lights in her eyes and interviewed and assessed and pretended to listen and made notes and watched her do jigsaw puzzles and analyse inkblots and build towers out of wooden bricks and studied her through a two-way mirror and locked her in a padded room and, once they realised that the girl was smarter than they were, they gave vague explanations but no real answers, and disappeared off the case.

Why was she like this? How? What happened? She needed to know.

*

When the girl had survived adolescence and school and the moon and the curse and the whole business of being a girl, she became a young woman. She read more books and met more experts and became even more uncertain about the life that she had been forced to live.

Her father was the same but different. He had a black cloud too, but he dealt with it differently. He dealt with it well, not badly like she did. Perhaps it’s because he was born a boy. Perhaps perhaps perhaps.

One afternoon the young woman was making her father a cup of tea. While she was waiting for the kettle to boil, she stared at the spice rack and thought about her Immaculate Depression. She couldn’t remember an angel ever turning up in her room and bestowing this life-changing thing upon her. Like Mary, no one had asked for her permission. There was no contract signed. No terms, no conditions. It was just put on her. But not by an angel. No, she would’ve remembered meeting an angel. It must have been a devil.

Perhaps when she was a baby, a devil had swept into her room and watched her sleeping in the fruit bowl (no crib) and said, “Here! A gift for you. The Immaculate Depression. To be experienced for the rest of your life. With compliments, from Hell,” and thus she was resigned to spending the rest of her life feeling everything too much, perpetually on the brink of tears and obsessed with damage, destruction and death. Yes, that had to be it: it was an explanation just as likely as all the others that she had been offered in all her years of searching.

The young woman was distracted thinking about this. She was stirring and stirring and stirring the tea in the mug, around and around. She added milk and then realised that the teabag had split. Its contents spun around the cup, like an upturned snowglobe but inverted: black grit twisting amid a blizzard. She had stirred too much. She burst into tears. She felt too much.

Her father asked the young woman what was wrong. She sobbed, “Dad, why am I like this?” He threw the ruined tea into the sink and hugged her. “Was I always like this?” she asked, talking into the shoulder of his old denim shirt. “Was I sad as a baby, as a little girl? Did you know I was always going to be this sad?”

The young woman and her father sat down on the dusty pleather sofa.

“I knew,” he said. She was too stunned, feeling too many feelings, to say anything. He told her a story.

*

When the young woman was a little girl, barely 4 years of age, she left her bed in the middle of the night and went down the dark staircase to find her father. She had tears streaming down her face but she was not crying. She was holding a tiny clenched fist up to her chest.

“Daddy?”
“Hey, what are you doing out of bed?! It’s way past your bedtime,” he said, scooping her up.
“It hurts.”
“What hurts, darling?”
“My heart, in here,” she said, pounding her sternum.
“How does it hurt?”
“It’s too loud. I don’t want it.”
“But everyone has to have a heart, darling, it’s very important.”
“But it’s too loud. It moves too much. It moves all the time! I want to take it out.”
“You can’t do that!”
“Please can I have it taken out, Daddy, please? I don’t want it. I don’t like it.”
“You have to keep it, darling, you need it. Everyone needs a heart.”
“I don’t want it. Please, take it out. Please please please,” the girl begged, clawing at her chest, trying to rip her heart out.

The girl cried for a long, long time until she was all cried out. Her father carried her up the dark stairs and tucked her into her bed. Then he cried, quietly, barely: he rarely cried but the tears were there. He cried because he knew. The Immaculate Depression had befallen her when he’d had his back turned, when he wasn’t looking, when he was asleep. He cried because he knew that she would always feel everything too much. He wrote in his notebook that night, “Must teach daughter (when she’s old enough) that it’s better to feel everything too much than to feel nothing at all.”

*

He found that old notebook a few days after the tea-stirring incident, tore the page out and posted it to his daughter, along with another note:

To the girl with the biggest, loudest heart,
To the teenager who was too special, too smart,
To the young woman who must turn her gift of feeling into art.

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poetry, prosetry

Inheritance

You left us nothing but your everything
You gave us nothing but your all

no bank account, no savings, just that envelope of drug-money:
enough to pay for a cab to the crematorium, your wicker coffin and a good old fashioned piss-up afterwards

your microwave, your hunting knife, a tin opener, a wooden spoon

over 40 years of poetry in smoke-stained notebooks

a box of photos of girlfriends past, birthdays celebrated, weddings attended, funerals suffered

that ugly glass squirrel statue that I always hated, that you insisted I must keep after you die, so that “whenever you feel sad, you can look at the ugly squirrel and laugh

morphine, temazepam, lorazepam, zopiclone: all the good ones I swiped before mother swept in and threw the rest away (she never saw an opportunity for money-making like we did)

your watch collection (for brother)
your guitars (for brother)
your records, tapes and CDs (for brother)

more notebooks, filled with the profundity of others, in your handwriting

I am angry that you destroyed your journals
but I suppose if I’d read them I would probably have begun to believe
that I didn’t really know you at all
and that would hurt more than any secret stashed in a suitcase

your denim shirt; your PROPER CORNISH jumper; your old fisherman’s smock;
none of which I dare wear, lest your scent disappear from the fibres

an unpaid electricity bill,
12 unsolved crosswords,
half a tin of Amber Leaf,
97 packets of Rizla,
5 lighters (2 working, 2 needing fuel, 1 needing a new flint)

no trust fund
but total trust
and so much fun

your good books, your good looks

the gifts of our gabs
the depression gene
the addictive personality
the grey-hair-in-your-twenties gene
the too-much-of-a-good-thing tendency
the “you’ve got laugh or else you’ll cry” mentality

a beautiful black Ibex horn
which fits perfectly in my grip;
which I use to shut my Velux because I’m too short to reach the lock;
which is solid enough to kill a man if I were to smash it against his skull

an address book with personal numbers for celebrities, royalty, tycoons, sports stars and political bigwigs

manners & morals

your blue Salbutamol inhaler
affectionately named ‘Sally’
that you used 30+ times a day instead of the prescribed 3 times a day
that I use about 3 times a month when I’m having a really bad attack
your voice in my head saying “Breathe, babes, just breathe,” and “It’ll all be over soon”
I fear the day that this inhaler runs out

no property, no vehicles, no investments
no valuable antiques, no precious heirlooms

but you were the valuable antique
and we were your precious heirlooms

passed down a generation
to be passed on to the next

the carefully curated wisdom,
the ferocity of our love,
our soft-boiled eyes,
our way of bearing our bones
to those who get close

the (hi)stories, the DNA, the surname

all of the skills
all of the lessons
all of the laughter
all of the memories

no “assets”

we were your biggest asset
and you left us us:
your chef-d’œuvre,
your magnum opus,
your greatest achievement:

you left us
us.

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Uncategorized

On the chapped lips of lovers

Somewhere

Forgotten over time

A place that hurt

So terribly an ache

Felt like a fresh burn

Has been badly covered over

With paving stones uneven

Moss and lichen veiling crime

If someone deserning of pain

Saw

They’d immediately recognize

A broken, disturbed surface

Jagged and ill repaired

Lake without mirror

Time, a sad blessing

Where grief is concerned

What you thought you’d never recover from

Cut like totem in marrow’s deep

Doesn’t cease to be devastating

You simply forget the intensity

In order to not fall dead

The lessening is like laying a road, or putting up wallpaper

Layers and layers

You think it’s insulation

In many ways it works

Til something unexpected

Reminds you of how you really are

Behind all those layers

In all those crocheted boxes

Stored in denials, fickle womb

That pain you thought, softened

Is as strong as the day you first felt it

Love

Does not

Just whither up

And die

It twists blade upward

Unwilling, yet deftly

Cannibalizing those morsels

You thought most delicious

Til they become tormentor

Even licking fire, preferable

Than one minute more

The scathing and seal

Of pacts

Made in silent war

Where nothing is said

Hate and love, inside out versions

Of the same, mad drum

Beating relentless

Till one falls, one stays standing

Panting in flickering light

Of damage, desult and sate

On the chapped lips of lovers

Wicked in their apportioned

Vengeance

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Uncategorized

Live again

The day I stopped feeling

It wasn’t a tap turned all the way to halt any drip

or wet socks left on radiator until cardboard stiff

through muslin sheet I felt a wistfulness

like poignant ending of a film

or sad story of someone else’s life

but you did not feel part of me anymore

when I touched your hand, it was flesh and blood

not a girl I was connected to

neither stranger, but some

distance stood solid like forging tree limbs

seeking electric charge from rain after storm has passed

I had moved beyond you without

marking the spot, I put down my heartache

this is surely the most human thing about us

our ability to keep going, not fall down and wither

knowing we are finite and fallen

watch a child lose a friend on Friday

gain another come Monday

grief is a litmus test

a sorrow we shrug on and eventually off

I convinced myself of devastation

when Tuesday brings change even as we don’t seek

it comes drawing out like elongated stretch

I never thought

I’d feel nothing

looking into your eyes

but you closed yourself off

In time, I began to look away

Into the distance

where the unknown glistened

like a mirage

of things bidden

by places within us

that say

O please

live again

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