life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Pas de capital

On monmouth street, the devil lingers

smells the blood of things to come

fingers dipped in black magic

cigarettes and hashish on a double decker bus at midnight

feeling muscles pulled tight from dancing for hours

they left their bloody conscience by the door, it stuck, it did not close

well at all

wanting sex and drugs and and end of time

condom wrappers litter festival floor like signets

her father invited different women each weekend to sample

his sorrow and she

climbed down drain pipes to go where all

kids without structure hang

an empty playground with burnt spoons and plastic needles

the boys there, let her be, they liked their meat less

tenderized

one year she read eighteen plays of marlow and

three anais nin, the latter had her wet and thirsting

but the bathroom door possessed no lock

wax your legs, but not your crotch, the feminists at

night-school implored, she was one of them but not

able to summon the desire to behave well

where do night birds go when they want to devour?

Different to everyone here and the same

a pulse urging movement, willing escape

fucking strangers without pronounceable names

tight buttocks, red hose, patent shoes, broken heals

against radiators leaving stripes down her thighs

such is the transpose and yield of hormones

one day you’ll look back & regret will not be what you see

sleeping on fur coats in the dressing room at 23.00pm

platinum hair on your lapel, can you survive her

blistering disregard or is it what you want?

Sitting cross legged eating tinned asparagus as he

jacks off to henry & june, the part where uma thurman

and her incredible triangular breasts, reach

lighting up blunts on promenade des anglais

grinding hips in la croix des gardes after the gates are locked

no protection, you’re already ruined thrice over

with someone who leaves you before they’ve begun

your grandmother is jarring jam from fallen fruit and she accuses you

of stealing her cigarette money which you did not do

you were out in the garden playing in the faraway tree

eating scabs and letting the neighbor undo your shoes

they fall like birds wings without bird into pond

once you drove your bike into that water and leaches

left their love kisses on your arms

like that boy who fed you clafoutis, calisson and cough candy

when you ran a fever and he sucked on your flat bosom

like starving tight rope walker

running down le suquet in search of brown eyed kids

to buy alcohol and pastille du mineur, danging white legs

and tanned toes into dirty water

one said; You are too flat chested I like them bustier

you smiled in relief, punched their thin arms and ran off

secretly desiring the older sister who stood silhouetted against

setting sun, darkness of her skin reflecting thrashing waves

like she had been born from the urgent depths

her lips large and angry with her age, gauloises yellowing

hardly smoked just flung from painted finger to finger

you longed to reach underneath her blouse, to

black lace, brown skin, white lines

on her dressing table, saints, glaring disapproval

she liked boys with mopeds, tight jeans, long hair

no matter how hard you tried you could not

interest her apathique boredom into desire

instead punishing yourself, with last minute trains to other cities

necking at le grand rex, with sour tasting boys

who supplied black smokes and soft necks

in the darkness of raspoutine snorting on her thigh

leading to empty windows and

the feel of late summer on clammy nude skin

he tells you to close the curtains, watching as you

turn, slender and warm, toward him and away

mother at la main bleue, her own lithe figure

sharpening history, walking into rooms without

locks, a family legacy.

In tenerrife they say without a tan, stand outside

too young for adults, too mature for boys

an urgent pulse, the stage a bouquet of bodies

a turkish man gives me a rose, says I remind him of

sissy spacek, I lend

a blushing danish girl my last pesos, she

returns an hour later and shares a lemon ice

her long tongue licking it between smiles

it’s midnight and the buses run by the half

in earls court where whores and rich men

laugh, knives on board better to walk

he’s holding me up, he’s holding me down

we create a child, we lose ourselves in curling throng

when I see him again, it’s ten years later

his black eyes have bags underneath, he looks like he’s

been carrying grief for the children of pont des invalides

to battersea bridge with green birds no longer there when

it was cold and her art in the water lost

nobody but I believed it happened

je n’ai jamais voulu être blessé. Je voulais être aimé. Violemment.

now she has a child and I ache to hold

onto that time with

both hands.

Standard
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 The War

Coffin shopping and cryptic crosswords

LSD and the ghost of Keats on Hampstead Heath

Tampon strings and sewing machines

Vaping 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 accidental 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


Originally published 24th February 2017

Standard
poetry, prosetry

A Sorry State Of Affairs

Good morning, London.
If you’re reading this, congratulations!
You’ve lived to see another Friday.
Good morning, London.
If you’re reading this, commiserations.
You’ve lived through 1000 days of Brexit.
Another day, another death by blade,
another hashtag, another have-a-go-hero.
Atrocities peppered with royal babies,
terror on the back burner
to make way for another celebrity suici—
BREAKING NEWS
Reality TV Stars are Humans with Feelings!
(You say ‘stars’, I say ‘participants.’)
Anniversaries and gofundmes,
Westminster and Manchester,
Dunblane and Hillsborough,
Grenfell and 7/7,
stranger murder and internet danger,
lest we forget:
lest we forget that these events are out of our control,
we can only sit back and watch the horror unfold
from the comfort of our council homes
on our fancy new smartphones.
Victims getting younger,
prisons getting softer,
vigilantes getting punished for doing God’s work,
remember when this little island had so much to offer?
Oh my goodness, a D-list celeb has gained weight
“Look at the state of it!”
Religion preaches kindness,
ignorance breeds hatred.
Who’s Afraid Of ISIS State?
Sorry, we’re too busy to deal with
our own homegrown caliphate, sorry,
I’ve got to send Tesco a passive-aggressive tweet
about the absence of tomato in my BLT,
and come up with a witty response to theirs –
sorry. Sorry. I’m so sorry. Sorry.
Ah, our glorious nation,
built on a solid foundation
of queuing and apologising,
of sarcasm and profligation.
You’re blind, you have no legs, and you have 3 months to live?
Sorry, you’re not eligible for the full rate of disability benefit.
But the bloke down the road who is a roofer on the side
and can run up and down stairs?
GIVE HIM ALL THE UNIVERSAL CREDIT!
A sorry state of affairs.
Darling, #woke and #Brexit cannot co-exist:
the two are mutually exclusive.
But London’s burning,
and you can live stream all of it!!!
The newspapers are an endless torrent
of stories of hatching, matching and dispatching,
vile comments, casual racism and mansplaining.
Make sure you Instagram your #prayers
and Tweet your reaction,
live, as it happens
but, other than that,
do NOT take any viable action,
do NOT try to make a change,
do NOT get involved,
just collect your pennies from your plugs
and remember that you are #blessed.
Make sure EVERYBODY knows how much you care.
So I’ll see you for the revolution at dawn?
No, of course not. You wouldn’t dare.
The murder count rises
faster than the cost of cigarettes.
15p added on the price of a pint?
Oi, Hammond, you wankstain, you want a fucking fight?
(Anybody else still wondering how Tony Blair sleeps at night?)
How about we try to Make Britain Great Again?
Because we are actually were Great, once upon a time.
Silver linings, swings and roundabouts,
county lines and Leavers doubts,
4 hour wait for an ambulance,
and votes of No Confidence,
but when times get tough
we can all sigh with relief and say,
“At least we don’t have Trump!
Put the kettle on, love,
we could all do with a cup.”
This isn’t the Wild West.
This is a test.
And we are failing.

Tune in next week to find out
how many people are arrested for no reason at tomorrow’s march,
which members of Pizza Club ordered which toppings,
what Tommy Robinson’s been up to,
which actor has been denied planning permission,
and who has been a very naughty boy!
Don’t forget to like and subscribe! @me!
@mememememeit’sallaboutme
Abusive comments will be [screen-shotted
to be discussed in Daily Mail Online
before being] deleted because
WE DON’T TOLERATE TROLLING.
Stay woke, stay blessed and,
as always, stay safe.

Standard
prosetry

Pablo 2.0

For context, read ‘Pablo’ here.

*

I went to McDonalds at Waterloo to buy a cup of Fanta to pour my vodka into. As I was doing so, an announcement sounded over the tannoy:

Please can ALL passengers and staff exit the station IMMEDIATELY.

A modern air-raid siren began wailing, echoing through the suddenly silent station. Everybody stopped what they were doing and stared at each other, unsure what to do. Whispers of “terror attack” rolled through the concourse first in rivulets, then intensifying in power, tsunami-like, as it gathered more fear, more panic. Most people up and left, scrambling for the nearest exit, pushing each other out of the way. The staff behind the counter slowly disappeared into back-rooms. The guy next to me took his headphones off and watched me unscrew the vodka bottle while listening to the announcement:

Please can ALL passengers and staff exit the station IMMEDIATELY

and then:

OFFICER *crackling noises* DOWN.

The guy looked up at me and asked, “Is this for real?” “Sounds like it, but who knows,” I replied, mixing my drink with a straw, half-anticipating the sound of gunshots. “Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough, init,” he said, biting into his hamburger and putting his headphones back on. Then the tannoy shouted:

REPEAT, OFFICER SANDS, STAND DOWN.

I shrugged at the guy and he laughed, shoving fries into his mouth.

Outside, Southwark smelled of burnt rubber and sour milk. It turned my stomach.

*

I’d last seen her fourteen months ago. In fact, that was the first and only time I’d met her. I saw her every day in the postcard tacked to my mirror, but I hadn’t expected to see her in the flesh ever again. I was frightened of her because she looked like me and I am frightened of myself. I had assumed that she’d have been moved on, moved to a different city, to be pored over by fresh, foreign eyes. I was shocked when I entered the room and she was there, in the corner, right where I’d left her.

She was bigger than I remembered, which was a pleasant surprise. I watched the people looking at her. Well, they weren’t really looking at her, they were taking photos of her on their smartphones, looking at a version of her on a 5 x 3in illuminated screen. Nobody actually looked at her, even though I could hear her screaming, “LOOK AT ME! FUCKING LOOK AT ME!” from behind the glass. I was scared to get close because I had a feeling that she’d reach out and grab me and keep me and refuse to let me go. But as soon as I was in front of her, I found myself a nose away from her nose. So close that I could see a rogue hair from Picasso’s paintbrush stuck in the oil.

At one point, she and I were the only true living things in the room. Dali et al were dying around us, fading into insignificance before disappearing from the walls entirely. I found myself smiling because we share a secret. She knows what I know. I felt the presence of a security guard hovering on the periphery. I stepped away from her, turned my back and began to walk away. Dali had returned to the opposite wall. I thought, and genuinely believed, for some reason, that she was no longer on the wall behind me. I quickly turned around, expecting there to be a blank space where she once had lived. I was relieved that she was still there. I felt so bad for turning my back on her, for abandoning her. She looked to be in more pain than she was before. I felt that I’d betrayed her. I went back to her and stood close.

Lost in our shared grief, my focus blurred and I found myself looking instead at my own reflection in her glass cover. I was struck by how unwell I looked. My eyes, usually kind, soft, approachable, were glazed and full of terror, like a rabid fox. I looked wild. “Help,” I whispered, reverting my gaze from my own eyes to hers. I didn’t realise I was crying until a teenaged boy in a group of Spanish schoolchildren pointed at me and said, “Look! The Weeping Woman!” and they all laughed, then started taking selfies with the only other weeping woman in the room, the one on the wall in the corner, trapped behind glass.

*

Back at Waterloo, it was business as usual. A false alarm, it seemed. Exhausted, I got on the Tube and promptly put my sunglasses on despite it being late in the evening. Eyes are too powerful. I didn’t want to look at anyone’s eyes or have anyone see mine. I’d seen enough eyes for one day. Suddenly, an announcement crackled over the system:

Ladies and gentlemen, this train will NOT be stopping at Embankment due to a person on the track. I repeat, this train will NOT be stopping at Embankment because there is currently a person on the track. The next station will be Charing Cross, next station Charing Cross. Mind the doors.

A woman down the carriage tutted too loudly, and the drunk man opposite me slurred, “Fuckin’ people on tracks, man, f’fer’fucksake.” I closed my eyes and filed the day away with all the others in my brain, in the folder marked: Another Sad and Strange Saturday Night in the Greatest City in the World.

Standard
poetry, prosetry

Remember, Remember

Fireworks over Ally Pally
A child cries, afraid of the noise
We flock to these annual events
Paying £8 for the privilege
Unconsciously celebrating an evil scheme
Finding entertainment in the destruction
Romance in the smell of gunpowder
Joy in the spit of crackling flames
Beauty in the violence in the sky.
Adding to the mix a stabbing, some muggings
A bottle of acid in a stranger’s face.
No such thing as ‘nice’ anymore.
Much to complain about:
Too muddy, too loud, no parking, long queues, overpriced beer.
We feel like we have to ruin everything.
Fun for all the fucked-up family.
“This city has gone to shit,”
“Yes, and we did that to ourselves,”
“All by ourselves!”
Bombs into Aleppo
A child cries, afraid of the noise
Or perhaps the child does not cry at all
So used to the shelling, the sound of terror
That they barely flinch
Actions of a different kind of rebel than ours
Imposed upon them, without having asked
Only ever daring to breathe when the sky was empty
When there was prolonged silence
When their house still stood
When family and friends had pulses
Knowing that celebration is pointless
Because there will soon be a repeat
Knowing that it’s out of their hands
They didn’t ask for this
None of them did
And still they harboured hope in their hearts
And dreamt of living somewhere safe like we do.
(Or should I say, like we once did
Before kids starting killing kids?)

Standard
poetry

Houseboat

Lazing riverside
Summer’s night
Splintered tables
Sticky thighs
Discarded suit jackets
Loosened ties
Abandoned shoes
Delirious eyes
Plastic jugs of booze
Dehydration maximised

Too much cider, too much wine
Collapsing on the Circle line
Starving grass beneath your feet
Grown tired of the city heat
Of fake Ray-Ban glasses
Of skin that peels off in sheets
Of volcanic buses
Of angry #heatwave tweets

I sit here, quietly,
Upon my molten seat
Catching drops of another nosebleed
Stirring my 2 litres of Pimms
Realising that it’s only ever
On days like this
Through the combination of having had
Too much to drink and enough of the heat
That I allow myself to dwell:
On where and who we could be
That I allow myself to imagine:
My God, how happy we’d be
That I allow myself to think:
If only we’d bought that fucking houseboat.

Standard
poetry

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (3 + 3.5)

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (1)

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (2)

(3)

One day when I walk the Seven Sisters Road
alone, I will see everyone
that I have ever known, and everyone that I
will ever meet in my various little lives
they’ll all combine and line
the street, here, where inertia
grows on trees, where a boy got killed
over a just-shy gram of coke, where the inhabitants
are broke but the system is broker, where I saw my
third dead body in the back of a Vauxhall Nova,
where Papa carried me to the football on his
denim-clad shoulders, my story will be laid out clear
for me here, for this, this is home
and it will always be
but I’ve got a long way to go
to get to where I’m meant to be.

(3.5)

Whenever I went down there
You would always say,
“Try not to get stabbed!”
It had always been a very real possibility
But now it’s no longer funny.

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