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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life, poetry, prosetry

Morning after

A few years ago I used to get off on

drinking from the bottle

torn fish nets

bar flies who told me

little baby you look so young

then the apocalypse came

we ran out of liquor

bare legs grew chaffed

I felt every year

sometimes it takes a storm

to see through your own bullshit

and coming out the other side

look around for those who

held on

attracted to a pinch of sleeze

nothing too clean

if you couldn’t understand me

what was the point?

I’d rather you had lines around your eyes

showing trace of unbearable moments

than a smooth face

acknowledgement of our plunge into pain and its returned baptism

I’d rather a portion of sickness in your blood

than clean without trace

we smoked ourselves until we were ash

stayed up all night breaking beds with rocking pelvises

my nipples the color of damson wine and indigo bites

you hurt me in ways holding rapture of delight

your tattoos stung my eyes with the fierceness of needles

pushed too deep

don’t hold me to promises I can’t keep

you whisper in your sleep

and I was told I’d die at 50 once

so time is ticking down

Fat Tuesday for the sober

a turquoise kitchen clock

in some distant home

where people make their beds and leave their

dirt beneath the surface

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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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poetry

Fight Night

After too much truth serum,
I was after a fight.
“It will all come out in the wash,”
the wise man used to say,
but those words of mine won’t,
the ones I spat all over you last night,
vodka- and saliva-laced
blood on your white shirt,
and your handsome face,
pale, bewildered and afraid.

Claret on cotton and hearts on sleeves;
words that hurt and eyes that bleed.

You weren’t expecting that venomous spray
and you should’ve washed up straight away
but those stains are stuck now, ingrained,
tainted fibre, they’ll barely fade,
merely to a lighter shade of pain
but it’s still pain, pain all the same.

Claret on cotton and hearts on sleeves;
words that hurt and eyes that bleed.

Blind rage, I disengaged
and, the next day, I don’t
remember the details
of my cruel tirade,
but can tell that it was harsh
by the look on your face,
your face that says,
“I know you’re sick, you didn’t mean it,”
your face that won’t admit
that I say what I mean and mean what I say,
your face that says,
“I will always forgive but I can never forget.”
Can’t you see that I’m trying to make you love me less?
That I want you to come out best?
I’m trying to make you leave me
before you get left.

Claret on cotton and hearts on sleeves;
words that hurt and eyes that bleed.

And you can just buy a new shirt anyway,
one that’s pretty and pure
and free of pain and free of stains,
easy to iron out the kinks,
easy to maintain,
better quality than me,
longer lasting than us.
She’ll fit you just right.
And, in time, you will forget
the unwarranted malice, cruelty, spite
in the words that I spat all over you
during a nasty drunken fight
we had, late one October night.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Low Flame

Sisters+-+SliderYou damned me with your penchant for

betrayal

only the smooth hollow of a quiet buttoned up body

resting now, untouched chalk and mortar

lain still so long, breath has left

I did not want to wake up

get dressed

pretend to function at the end of tugging string

there was a place in my head that dissolved living

a spindle that gathered all my yarn and knitted something else

not me

back into a shape I did not recognize

she went on without

this clockwork version of myself

whilst I followed the bath water down the drain

hearing your serpentine taunt

what was it you said?

you would feed me?

I don’t need food

I don’t need air

I am existing on memories

of being fearless and before erosion

the wonderlust of the young and close to flame

possessing no sticky cleavage, no rub of thigh

or need to sup

the fealty of those who have not yet

watched their bones dissolve into chalk

this theatre is cold

like love when it is left

on a low flame

catching and diminishing

as most will rest

and one dances

mad arms flung

like sticks of liquorice

beneath restraint

have you ever known what someone was like?

but somewhere along the journey, without any good reason, forgotten

gone on forgetting until all the things they are capable of

are lost and you see them with fresh eyes

just as wrecked and pulled to pieces the next time, they tear your fucking heart out

is that forgiveness God? When you forgive and you don’t forget?

except the very act of forgiving means you do forget

the extremity of pain and its after effects

how can you walk next to someone capable of pinching off

all their emotions as if you were snuff

turning out the light on you

just. like. that.

harm stains the mattress a livid hue

as if I were given a blood transfusion of pain

tell me please

who do I have to hurt to stop?

myself, or all the years

I wasn’t myself?

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