life, poetry

As You Lay Dying

I got our ‘goodbye’ wrong.
All of those rehearsals and I got stage fright,
fluffed my lines, fucked it up on the big night.

What I said: Please, Dad, don’t die, I’m begging you, don’t leave us, don’t you dare fucking die on me, we need you, I need you, Dad, please hold on, don’t die, please, don’t let go, don’t die, don’t go

What I wish I’d said: It’s okay to let go, Daddy, it’s okay, you can let go, I’m here, I love you, you can let go now, you can let go, you’re safe, let go

There is no ‘next time’
in which I could get our ‘goodbye’ right
so I’ve been praticising our ‘hello again’,
making sure it’s perfect for the day we reunite.


life, poetry


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.



​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,



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
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.



these relentless, finite minutes of mine
he says we have to make ours count
but I just count them 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,


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,
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
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)

poetry, prosetry


I held a staring competition
with the Sun
in a bid to kill my sight:
a romantic way
to become blind,
cleaner than acid,
tidier than gouging,
a funny story to relay
to the masses
when they say
“What happened, lady?
What happened to your sight?”

She was beating me 2-0
when I realised that even if I
blackened and burnt my soulless eyes
I would forever see
in my mangled, broken mind
you in that bed
and your tired chest
as it rose and fell
for your final breath
and your yellow lids
over your familiar soft-boiled eyes,
once expressive,
now blind
to my tears and my heartbreak,
to the world that you loved
and loathed with all of your might

I could be blind
but I’d still see
everything inside
my head;
I cannot unsee
Death holding out his hand
for me
to take
to shake
but you grabbing it instead
and leaving me there
so painfully awake
so painfully alive

Even if my sight had died
I know that I’d
still miss you every time
I blink
and if I
threw my pretty
empty eyes away,
chucked them into
the kitchen sink,
washed them down
the nearest drain
I’d see it all again
and again
projected in technicolor
on the walls of my brain

(and the Sun won the battle
against my sight
I gave up at 4-0
in favour of getting
blind drunk,
the tried and tested
fail-safe way)



Another spontaneous Saturday night, you and I, rock and roll and warm white wine. We share a moondance, barely clothed, twisting in the violet light and baring our teeth to the omniscient and unforgiving sky.

You replace the cigarette that dangles from my tired lips with an urgent kiss and I can’t quite believe that I’m here again. Every time is always the last time. In spite of how dangerous this situation is, we feel safe. You are bad for me but I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be, although you probably wouldn’t agree.

As we dance, a framed picture on the wall won’t leave me alone. We keep spinning until you suddenly reach out to catch a large silver moth in your hands: its wings beat louder than your heart and I pray that you will never trap me in such a way. The picture in the corner demands my attention so I go to take a closer look.

It’s a blue biro drawing of the crucifixion from an odd perspective. The wooden cross is captured in alarming detail, the sweat and blood on Christ’s skin practically glistens, and I can feel the rust on the nails as if they had been driven through my own palms. I am astounded by the intricacy. Some people don’t care much for detail.

I ask you about the drawing and you tell me too much: your schizophrenic uncle, the troubled artist, the tortured soul, brilliant but ‘not made for this world’, died young, ‘not cut out for this life’, ‘in a better place now.’

I may know you intimately, physically, but I am reminded of the fact that I know nothing about you as a person. I don’t know your birthday or what you do for a living, but I know your name and your address. I don’t even know your phone number. I can see that you are sad and I am sad for you. I realise just how much I want to know you, even though I shouldn’t.

You don’t stop. You let your guard down, more than you planned, more than I expected. In between lines of cocaine and lines of Hendrix, you talk about your late mother, your sisters, your childhood abroad. I just listen, amazed at your openness, pushing back thoughts of the panicked moth and wondering whether my selfish and stupid sins are worth Jesus’ sacrificial suffering.

You talk about carrying your mum’s coffin and, for a moment, I think you may be about to cry but words fall from your eyes instead, and I let you talk. You are too old for me. You are twice my age and I start to believe that you have suffered twice the pain. I tell you that it’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here, I’ve got you. I have a horrible feeling that you don’t remember my name. It’s okay, it’s okay. Your hot breath on my neck makes me believe my own words. We are safe.

Do you believe that you’ll meet them again someday, somewhere? Your mum, your uncle?

Yeah, I do. We have to believe it, don’t we, otherwise what’s the point?

I kiss your shoulder twice and I say nothing because there is no point. In that instant, all of your sweet vulnerabilities dissolve on my tongue and you revert to type, back to swigging Stella and pulling my hair. You bite me til I bleed and call me filthy names. You always treat me badly in the best way. And every time I leave, I tell myself that this is definitely the last time, that I deserve better, that I never want to see you again…

Barefoot, I walk home in the pouring rain, drenched to the bone, bad to the bone. The moon accompanies me through the silence of the abandoned allotments and over deserted wastelands of burnt-out cars and fly-tipped furniture, and as I feel the crunch of broken glass under the soles of my feet I notice that, tonight, these streets don’t scare me like they usually do.

I walk slow, I take my time: no one is waiting for me anywhere, I have no place to be. I get lost in thoughts of moths and masochism and when I finally get home I realise that all I have to confirm that any of this has happened are my scrunched-up knickers in my pocket, the bruises between my thighs and the everlasting vision of a man whose eyes have seen more pain than mine.

Earlier version originally published on The Magic Black Book – January 2016.

Le Macabre


Le Macabre – 23 Meard Street, London W1. A popular cafe during the 60s which used coffins as tables, bakelite skulls for ashtrays, skull-shaped milk jugs, murals of skeletons and graveyards, and a jukebox that featured the Funeral March. (source)


I am eating the oxygen of the 30-something man sitting next to me. One day he’ll be dead. I do not know his name, I have never seen him before, I will probably never see him again. I imagine him decomposing under the soil. When he smiles at me I see that he has worms in his teeth and grit on his gums. I think he may outlive me.

The sleeping baby, the Brazilian barista, the old boys smoking in the doorway, the schoolgirls in the corner, the young lady on crutches, the suits discussing business, the man washing the windows: you are all going to be dead one day. Nothing but dead.

I wonder who will die first, I wonder how soon it will be.

I wonder who will be buried, I wonder who will be cremated.

I wonder who will die surrounded by family and friends, I wonder who will die alone.

I wonder who will die happy and content, I wonder who will die sad, angry, bitter, unfulfilled.

I wonder if anyone in this cafe will die by their own hand, I wonder if anyone in this cafe will be murdered.

I wonder who will be next, I wonder who will be last.

Out of all the twenty-odd people in this cafe, I don’t want to be the first to die. I don’t want to be the last to die either. Someone in this room will outlive every human who was in this cafe, in this town, on this day, at this time. I look around. It will not be me. It will not be me.