prosetry

Smiles

​I stepped outside and you were right there, ground to a halt at the zebra crossing, left hand gripping the wheel, right arm slung casually out of the open window. Our eyes met for a moth’s wing-beat of a moment and then my legs stopped working. My lungs seized within their ivory cage; my skin recoiled, terrified, clinging on to its muscle beneath, trying desperately to appear less on fire than it actually was. You were so close that I could touch you. You looked the same: as before, as always. I looked unusually good, even better than you’d remembered: this excellent coincidence confirmed my suspicion that God is female.

Instead of speeding off, you stayed put, and everything around me came to a standstill. I looked in every direction apart from yours and yet all I could see was you. Without even looking, your face was all that I could see. I fell in love with you with my eyes closed in the first place, after all. You were smiling at me; you were happy to see me. It wasn’t your old smile though, the one I have chalked on the wall of my skull. This smile was heavy, so fucking heavy, anchored down by heartbreak and regret and shame. For the first time in some months, we were breathing the same air as one another. But this air was hot and stale, saturated with the vicissitudes of nostalgia. The memories that we had so carefully created and curated fell from the open sky and smothered us, a fusillade of love and pain and love and hate and love and loss and love.

You were waiting for me to acknowledge you: with a wave, with a smile, with a middle finger, anything. And I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I ignored you but my heart was being fed through a paper shredder and I didn’t want you to see me suffer, or rather, see me still suffering because of you, tragic and dismissible like a half-mangled fox dying by the side of the road. It would’ve been kinder of you to run me over, to put me out of my misery. That would have hurt less than it did to see you smile.

I realise now after all these years that that smile you wore was saying “I’m sorry” but, back then, I didn’t want to hear it so it fell on deaf ears. Now I want to listen to all you have, to all you are, to all you have become without me. We are older but none the wiser. Love is love, no matter the style of our smiles.

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prosetry

Man On The Moon

​On nights like this I often wonder where you are. I never had to wonder this before because I always knew where you were. But the fact that I don’t know where you are anymore means that I shouldn’t be wondering about you in the first place.

Tonight the air is still and the city is still and I still miss you. Love and hate share the same propinquity that our bodies once did. But I think that even if you were here next to me, you’d feel a million miles away. You always were my man on the moon.

But you are not here with me tonight and this truth serves as a painful reminder to me. Your absence should remind me not to waste my wondering, wandering, wonderful mind on futile thoughts of you.

I don’t want to wonder about you, about your new life without me, but it’s so hard – the memories that are the easiest to remember are the hardest to forget, they’re the hardest to erase. Why should I wonder about you? After all, you don’t wonder about me on nights like this. You probably do not wonder about me at all.

I no longer occupy your heart and yet you still occupy my late-night mind. That is the greatest injustice in my private universe. And yet still I wonder if, secretly, you still wonder about me on nights like this.

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prosetry

Want

“What do you want?”

I want to chew on your bones

to go back and stop her from going to that house in Brixton

you to bump into me in Mexico

to read all of the books

to be adored

to be ignored

to un-sleep with 95% of the men I’ve slept with

to give you a philosopher in exchange for a photographer

to discover what it feels like to not be in constant pain

everyone to just fuck the fuck off

you to tell me that the collection of dead wasps in my hands look “good enough to eat”

to dance on the train tracks with you like we used to, in the dead of night, drinking a bottle of Veuve through a straw, wearing novelty sunglasses and fur coats, shouting the lyrics to Losing My Religion and running away from track engineers and transport police

to go to the aquarium and count how many of the stingrays are happier than me, with their fucking smug little faces and all their smiley pals

to ask you what happened

to be your sorry-ever-after

to stop becoming emotionally invested in things that have nothing to do with me

to change your mind

to be formally introduced to the monsters that live under my bed and shake hands with the devil who pitched a tent on my shoulder

to kiss your knuckles before they find my face

to kiss your knuckles after they’ve found my face

to never speak another word

to go back to that restaurant in Alicante where all the food was on little sticks and at the end you take your sticks to the counter and pay according to how many sticks you have and the manager didn’t know that I had hidden six sticks hidden in my pocket so I’d like to pay for the six sticks of food that I didn’t pay for at the time

to stop faking it

to say that all I want is world peace and the end of global poverty because that’s what everyone is meant to say but I’m not everyone, I’m a terrible human being, and even if the world became a rich, plentiful, beautiful utopia we would still find things to argue about and people would die of greed and jealousy, and we’d probably still be fucking miserable because too much is never enough, it’s always more, more, more

to check if our initials are still on that tree

to hear you tell me that I’m electric

to hide under the surface of the sea, so that you know where I am but can never find me

to stop loving myself “less than the potential of one more night going mental”

to eat the belladonna first and trust that you will eat some too

to see myself through your eyes

to pinpoint the exact moment that everyone got so fucking boring

to stop being so afraid of living

to stop being so afraid of dying

to stop being so afraid

to just… stop.”

“I meant what do you want to drink? Tea or coffee?”

Featured image source here.

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prosetry

Day of Birth / Night Crawlers

Day of Birth

04:45

She had taken the day off work but forgot to turn off her usual alarm. All hopes of a lie-in were demolished. She was not ready to turn 29. “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

05:22

She wondered if the ravens knew that their continuous cawing is the most consistent, reliable thing in her life.

05:23

A murder of crows. An ostentation of peacocks. A parliament of owls. She had no collective. She just was.

06:42

She buried her phone under her mattress so she didn’t have to face life just yet. She began to read The Glass Bead Game for the fourth time. And for the fourth time she didn’t make it past page 28. Having said that, she hadn’t expected to make it past year 28, but she’s only bloody gone and done it.

10:08

She never opens it in front of her, but she receives a card from her mother every year. If she shakes it hard enough, the hollow words fall out of the envelope like dirty feathers so that by the time she’s gathered the strength to read it, the inside is blank. It’s easier that way, for everyone.

11:29

She crossed herself as the bus rumbled past the church, just in case. In case of what, she wasn’t sure. In case hell doesn’t turn out to be as hot as everyone says it is.

12:45

She found herself at a park that she used to go to. As a child she spent hours in the playground, being pushed on the rusty swing by someone else’s parent, playing quietly with snails and stones and empty fag packets.

And as a teenager she used to hang out down by the brook with her fellow delinquents, getting trashed on ketamine and K cider. She couldn’t decide which of these periods was more of a waste of her finite hours.

13:10

She went to the playground but was fearful of doing so without a child in tow. It had rained last night and the smell was familiar. The playground floor was still comprised of wood chips and loose pieces of tree bark, like it had been over 20 years ago.

She remembered lifting the larger pieces of wood after rainfall and finding woodlice to play with; giving them names, loving them, and then being devastated when she wasn’t allowed to take them home. She did the same now. She named him Stanley and put him in her blazer pocket. There was nobody around to tell her not to.

14:29

She stood beneath the statue to read the card from her mother.

She used to climb the statue as a kid. She thought it was the closest she’d get to seeing the Statue of Liberty. Now there’s a gate around it: health and safety gone mad. The blue woman looked so severe, so powerful, so strong, holding her book and sceptre, a wreath around her head.

She is called The Bringer of Peace. Some kids climbed up her and blowtorched her breasts. She now has a large charred black circle on each tit. It makes her look silly. The Bringer of Empty Birthday Cards.

14:35

She realised that she’d spent the last decade fighting the urge to lie down in the street, at the bus stop, in the frozen aisle of the supermarket. She was so, so tired.

16:52

She forgot where she’d hidden her phone. She received an email from an old lover, wishing her many happy returns. She will never return to him. Tears pricked her eyes as she recalled his parting words to her:

You are impossible. You are as impossible as trying to roll a cigarette in a tornado, without any rizla. You’re the fucking storm and I’m in desperate need of a smoke.

17:11

She checked her pocket to see how Stanley was doing. He was gone. She hit her head against the wall 29 times, hard. One for every year of being a terrible person.

17:51

She suddenly remembered someone telling her about how their mother’s pregnancy craving was piccalilli. She couldn’t, for the life of her, remember who said this. Or work out why it was in her mind. Did anyone ever say that? On tv, in a book, in a film? She cried because she’ll never know. She had 10% of a memory but will never regain the rest. She wasn’t even sure what piccalilli actually was so she cried some more. She was so tired.

18:25

She always cried on her birthday. Every year without fail.

19:02

Why the elevator has carpeted walls, she will never know.

19:36

She felt the burn of a thousand champagne bubbles rioting down her throat, each capsule of carbonated misery filled with the vicious irony of celebrating being one day closer to her death. And a day closer to yours, too.

20:56

She locked herself in a cubicle and shovelled snow up her snout. She hoped Stanley was safe somewhere. Just thinking about him made her well up. She decided she would never have children. She couldn’t even look after a woodlouse.

21:15

She sat on her friend’s lap, smoking a suspicious-looking rollup. The garden was lit up like fairyland. She was grateful for her friends, and as the sky was turning purple she saw his face illuminated in the gaps between the fragmented chunks of cloud. Even nature is broken, she thought aloud.

22:49

She made a wish when she blew out the candles on her extravagant multi-layer cheesecake. “Please kill me.”

23:48

(But it won’t come true because she told me what she wished for).

Night Crawlers

00:23

She didn’t want to go home because it didn’t feel like home at all. The empty streets felt more like home than her little studio room so off she went.

00:57

He knew she’d had enough when he noticed that it took her eight seconds to decide if it was a star or an aeroplane.

01:11

He knew she’d had enough but he did it anyway.

01:13

He knew she’d had enough and said No No No No I don’t want to Please No Please Please Stop Get off me Please No Get off Please but he did it anyway.

01:17

He did it anyway even when her screaming stopped.

01:19

He did it anyway even when her breathing stopped

01:38

He dumped her all those years ago with a nasty line about her being a storm and him wanting an easy life, saying she was impossible to live with.

01:39

He dumped her down by the brook and hid her body under some pieces of wood. They were damp and covered in woodlice. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.

They crawled over his hands, around his wrists and up his shirt sleeves. They got into his shoes and ran up his trouser legs. He shrieked and yelped as they climbed his back, over his neck and into his ears. He jumped around like a madman, trying to shake the bugs off him, but every time he’d cleared some of the woodlice off him, another army had arrived.

The commotion happened to alert two police officers that were doing the rounds of their patch. Since the statue had been vandalised, night crawlers had been drafted in to keep an eye on the park after dark.

He was sentenced to 29 years.

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