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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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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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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prosetry

Love, Or Whatever This Is

You call this “love” but I can’t.

Whatever this is feels like being wheeled into the operating room after years of waiting for surgery, where I’m not entirely convinced that this operation will work but I’m willing to try. It’s the final hope, the last resort after exhausting all other options and, though I am hesitant, I pray that I’ll feel different when I wake up, if I wake up. This feels like “Now, count backwards from 10 for me, slowly…”

Long before I met you a doctor told me that I’m rusting from the inside out. You can’t see my diseases: pretty on the outside, decaying on the inside. Eventually, the rust will reach the surface and you will understand why I disagree with you when you tell me that I’m beautiful. I know the devastation inside.

Last summer I received a letter informing me of a pioneering new treatment for rust-removal, a feat never before performed in its entirety but successful in parts. The surgery involved keeping me sedated, peeling back my skin and scraping out the rust, then patching me up with dissolvable stitches. It was going to be a very difficult, very painful, very time-consuming operation, with no guarantee of success. But the letter was full of optimism and hope, the hard facts and risks peppered with positivity and reassurance. Week by week I would be anaesthetised and parts of my inner workings would be revealed and cleaned, piece by piece. You are the doctor who wrote and signed this letter. You said you’d look after me, and while it would be a testing time you had faith that I would turn out brighter and better than ever before.

I’ve always been in possession of lots of unanswerable questions. (Maybe that’s why I turned out mad). One which I still cannot answer is this: is it better to feel everything or nothing at all? I’ve tried both, several times, and both ways of living simply aren’t quite right. Almost but not quite.

Whatever this is feels like you numbing me up, trying to fix me and putting me back together. When the bad parts of me present themselves, when you find the rust without even having to dig that far, when you merely scratch the surface and see the wreckage beneath, you anaesthetise me, douse me in vodka and scrape scrape scrape away. It hurts, it has always hurt. But you make it hurt less.

You keep me ticking over, alive but trying not to feel so much, with prescription drugs and drips and alcohol and class A, always keeping the edge off my pain so that I don’t crumble under its enormity.

When the rust under my skin starts to itch you keep me topped up with a steady supply of champagne, cocaine and comedy shows.

When the panic surges up from a source you thought you’d already numbed, you give me air. You make me breathe.

And when the anaesthetic on my heart wears off, when I remember the things I try so hard to forget, and the tears pool at my feet you quickly give me laughing gas. You are my steady, ever-reliable supply of nitrous oxide there to make me laugh through the tears, to make me cackle until I can’t remember what I was upset about in the first place.

But I can’t stay numb forever. Believe me, I enjoy it, I enjoy this and I try to make the most of this curious state of discomfort, of not being able to feel my legs or my face or my heart or my hands but knowing they exist, and I love the strange sensation of being there but not there. Would my life be easier if I never felt another feeling ever again? Or would the nothingness be the death of me?

One day this experiment of yours will be over. Perhaps you’ll dig too deep or you’ll unearth a level of decay which is simply more determined to stay with me than you are. Or perhaps the money will run out, or you’ll find a prettier, less challenging, more rewarding project to work on: another sad girl, another bad life.

Either way, when you leave, your faithful supply of numb-ers and uppers and laughter and vodka will leave with you. And once all of your magic tricks have worn off, the pain will hit me with a ferocity that’s impossible to anticipate. I will begin to self-anaesthetise but it won’t be the same. It’ll have an entirely opposite effect. The rust will grow through your handiwork and break the surface. My tears will only help the rust to spread, damage erupted over my skin like freckles born from darkness.

Love, or whatever this is, is anaesthesia. You are my favourite anaesthetic: they ought to bottle you and sell you in pharmacies. You can’t make me forget about the rust completely: I know that the rust is still inside me and it hurts, but you make it hurt a hell of a lot less.

We must enjoy these dreamlike days while we still have them. Keep on keepin’ numb. Because one day this, this anaesthesia, this love, whatever this is, will wear off and the pain will be unlike anything we’ve ever had the misfortune to experience before.

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Empied of harm

Passion, you may feel it in obvious ways

How he leans in with his enveloping strength

Or, in the thunder of your chest, riding imaginary horses with your best friend

Forgetful of arithmetic and teachers who felt you’d end your days in borstel, because you did like running rings around them, didn’t you?

Regretting those petty rebellions later

Then in the crisp light and imagined stampede

Thrashing to the furthest point in your mind, bathed in fantasy

A place hard to reach, even splayed on cold Mexican tile, pretending your hand was his

Even, swimming underwater, until your lungs burned to surface

It was as if, once you grow up, the way back becomes harder

Like a secret language, only known to children, daunting you with reminder

The tree house of your neighbor, as you take the prescribed walk, your cardiologist insisted upon

The first rain lillies urging through Texan soil against all odds, their impossible fragility, an exquisite reprieve from cracked earth

Have you gone so far child? As to forget the combination? 

Here, where verbena and lemon grass, pummel air with magic 

Here, where you didn’t need anything, but the cupping of your hands, wonderment running through water, like you were born again and again, empied of harm 

Full of the vigor, of not knowing, the beaten path, to adulthood

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prosetry

Killing Time

In the hospital there is a shop. It sells newspapers and sandwiches and biscuits and cans of liquid sugar and tissues and balloons that say IT’S A BOY. Just outside of this shop there is a crate of books. There is no real literature in this crate. Just books that are easy to read, books that help you to kill time, books that probably aren’t going to change your life in any way. Some are 50p and some are £1. This isn’t much money to spend on temporary escapism. I always look at the books but never buy one. I only read soul-shattering books. I enjoy trying to put my soul back together afterwards. I looked at the books and wondered how many of them I’d actually bought.

When my father died I got all of his good books, his ‘proper’ books. The hundreds of crime/thriller novels he had amassed over a 20 year career in Time Killing were no use to me. I used to work in the Crime and Thrillers department of a top publishing house. I’ve read enough dreadful manuscripts with flimsy plots and ridiculous twists to last a lifetime. But they are perfect books to waste time on. So I donated them to this hospital and to a day-centre for homeless people. When I was a frequenter of that day-centre I remember being sad that there were no books. If anyone needs escapism, it’s people on the streets. And if anyone needs to kill time, it’s people surrounded by death and disease, waiting to receive their own slice of bad news.

So I’m looking at this crate. I spotted a few titles that I reckoned were my dad’s. I ordered a lot of them off the internet for him. He loved the idea of paying 1p for a book. I never told him about the £2.80 delivery charge. He always paid me the penny he owed me for the book. Even though that man owed me nothing. There was a Simon Kernick that I was sure was my dad’s. Its pages smelled like cigarette smoke. There were some James Pattersons and Lee Childs. I didn’t want to look at the books anymore. I went upstairs for my appointment with the neurologist. It was an appointment I had waited 3 years, 4 weeks and 3 days for.

I didn’t know that the neurology department is right opposite the ward where my father died. I did not like being there again. I paced around and around and around. An elderly woman stared at me suspiciously. “My dad died in there,” I said to her, pointing at the door. “Oh,” she said, walking around me. A man with a laundry trolley came towards me. “My dad died in there,” I said to him, “right through there. He died.” He said, “I’m so very sorry to hear that, my girl,” and went on his way. I told every person that walked along that corridor, “My dad died in there.” Anyone who’d listen. Anyone who wouldn’t listen. Some mumbled things, some expressed condolences, some looked frightened, some ignored me altogether. I just had to tell them. I don’t know why, but it was essential.

I punched the wall outside the neurology department and caught my little finger on the edge of a wooden frame. The frame fractured and I got a splinter caught in my skin, right on the joint. In the waiting room, a man was reading a crime novel. I didn’t read a crime novel. I picked at the splinter on my finger. I kept clawing until my name was called, long after the splinter had come out. The neurologist told me that my brain is broken and my nerves are shot. I told him that I already know that. I waited 3 years to find out something I already knew. And in all that time that I spent waiting for a letter, a referral, an appointment, an MRI, a CAT scan, a thousand blood tests, in all that time I didn’t read a single crime novel.

I went outside for a cigarette. On my way back in I looked at the books. There was a book called Private Vegas, part of the ‘Private’ series by James Patterson. I remembered ordering 8 books of the ‘Private’ series off the internet for my father. He paid me 8p. I picked up Private Vegas. It was well read. I had bought it for him second-hand. I opened the book and tucked in the back page was my receipt from the Book Depository. I put the book back in the crate.

I went downstairs for my blood test. The receptionist was reading Stuart MacBride. I introduced my father to MacBride when I worked at the publishers. He was always chuffed to bits when I’d bring early proofs or publicity copies of the latest thrillers home to him. He was so proud of me. Living the dream. Living the nightmare. The phlebotomist gauzed up the hole I’d dug in my little finger.

As I was leaving the hospital I walked past the crate of books again. Private Vegas was gone. Sold to another stranger killing time. That’s all life is, though, isn’t it? Killing time. We are all just killing time.

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