art, life, prosetry

On Writing & Suffering

Pain depends on me to be its host:
suffering is the needy child,
and I’m the parent who never says no.

*

As long I write, the pain is necessary. If I stop, the pain becomes unnecessary, pointless, all for nothing apart from what it is, which is inherently bad. I am a hostage, and if I stop transforming the pain into something better I will essentially be throwing away all chance of survival: I will not make it out alive, merely allowing myself to become another casualty of a sinister, seemingly unstoppable higher power who tortures me daily even though I have nothing to reveal, nothing it wants, nothing it needs. The pain becomes sheer cruelty with no objective other than to destroy me. As long as I write, I stave it off, I delay my death day. The narcissist in me likes to think that my torturer is secretly looking forward to reading what I write next.

*

I don’t invite the badness but once the pain decides to stay, it becomes hard to turn it away. The pain of unhooking it from my skin is enough of a deterrent. Easier to let it stay: less bloody that way. So I turn it into something else – something creative, perhaps even something beautiful, or helpful. I try to, anyway.

*

I’ve been given a life sentence.
I’ve been punished, blacklisted, labelled evil.
But it’s not me. It’s not me.
I’m not the villain.
It’s my mind!
My mind is the guilty one.
I’m not the evil one, my brain is!

My decisions are not mine to make.
My actions are not mine to take.

Everyone called it “attempted suicide” but it wasn’t,
it was attempted murder, my mind tried to kill me,
it was my mind, it was my mind, not me!
My mind is the one that did it!
Why can’t you see?
Don’t you believe me?
I have proof.

*

And the evil things that it does to me, all that badness, I try desperately to turn it into something creative, into words on a page. All of these filled notebooks, all of these poems, all of these scraps of paper: the proof. The proof. The proof that I have suffered for two decades, against my will.

*

Writing feels to me like an attempt to prove my innocence. They all have me down as guilty and I’m stuck on death row. My execution date is drawing ever nearer and writing is my last ditch attempt to prove my innocence. It feels like gathering evidence from the confines of my cell and presenting it to my unsympathetic lawyer:

Look.
Look at how I’ve been tortured and beaten and terrorised.
See?
Look at all these years of misery.
You’ve got to listen to me.
I deserve to be free.
I’ve done nothing wrong.
My mind made me do it, made me do all of it, and all of the stuff that I didn’t do, too. They’ve got it all wrong.
Look at all this pain.
Look at it.
LOOK AT IT.

But it’s too late. I myself have been forgotten, and only ever remembered as mad, sad, bad. I stay locked in my cell, sharing a skull with the real danger, a bed with the real monster. I swallow my pills and eat my greens and am polite to those unfortunate souls whose jobs have led them to encounter me, the ones that are always unable or unwilling to help me, the ones who have written me off as mad, sad, bad, bad, bad. I play sudoku and collect smiles of pity. I keep writing and suffering, collecting my evidence. I suffer and I write, night after night after merciless night.

*

I dream of my grave and always smile when I see it. You dream of your name in lights, I dream of mine engraved on a marble headstone. Sometimes it says I died in 2008, sometimes 2015. It varies. The stone is always clean, polished. Someone’s been looking after it. Lush green grass has always grown over me perfectly, evenly, even beautifully; the first true natural equilibrium that has ever befallen me. The world is a better place. I smile until it hurts my face.

Upon waking from my latest grave dream, I reach for the box of evidence that is stowed under my bed. I unlock the box for the first time in a long time, so long in fact that I almost forget where I’d hidden the keys. Starting in 2003, I begin to read. Even though it is my own story, I am shocked at what I read. Look at all this pain. Look at all this trauma. Look at all this sadness. Look at all this writing. Look at all this suffering. Look at it. “Look,” I say to no one. “LOOK.”

*

My biggest regret is taking myself for granted. Appreciate your intelligence, your personality, your abilities, your beauty. You may wake up one day and find that your own brain has decided to take all of your goodness away.

 

 

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Your misuse

They can tell you

Because you’re not going to back down

You won’t sell your sisters for a side ways glance

You won’t burn your bra, you may need it to strangle someone

You have the same look

All of you

The ones with green hair and multiple piercings who say fuck off before you smile

The ones who rule the world behind the scenes and nod as their husbands slip inside

The ones who are glory and begotten and forgotten and eclipsed and insist

They still live

You can tell

Even as they spell it out in myriad ways

I am not your slave

You do not own me

But once I was hurt very badly

By my father, mother, brother, sister, best friend, neighbor, uncle, stranger

And I carry the brand around my throat

Once in a while when I lean over

You can see it quickening

I may stay locked at home with agoraphobia

I may dance on tables in mock euphoria

I may fuck you and your friends for a glass of red

I may be a nun or an abstinent

How I express my rage

Comes differently

But inside we’re all the same

The whores, the moms, the teachers, the tree cutters, the little and the large the quiet and the opera singer

If I open my legs it doesn’t mean I’m over it

Or caused it or needed that brand

If you repeat the violence, it may be the carousel in my head

If I close them it doesn’t mean I’m frigid or need a bit of teaching, by you

If I’m a lesbian that’s not the reason, if I’m into men, I’m not guilty of treason

Underneath we are the sisters and brothers of

Your misuse

And our pain doesn’t go away like Oprah said

Our scars aren’t magnified if we think about it thirty years to the day

We’re not stronger for forgetting, remembering, talking, staying silent

Violence, passivity, acceptance, rage

We’re not weak because at 4 am we find tears on our cheek

We’re not strong because we take it and carry it around

We survived

Just like a rock

Covered with water

Will remain whole beneath storm

But whittle down with erosion

So slow nobody can tell

We’re not your beloved or maybe we are

We’re c-sections and sterility and STDs and shame in every color

We’re nymphomaniacs and we’re disgusted, we’re relieved, we’re open, we’re closed

We’re sisters and brothers of fire and brimstone

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Uncategorized

Black book

Apparently

men can gather bed notches and

this elevates them socially

whilst women of the same history

are sluts plain and simple

therefore

I am a whore

not because you tell me so

or for any notches or black books

but for the raspy feather in my chest

when it tickles

I gather up my fancy

and I imagine

all the rides I’ve taken

which is as far as I go today

given my propensity for not coming back

but there was a time

I let four boys into my room

not all at once or even

in the same afternoon

they were as different as

the rules for men and women

one I found ugly and angular

his penis was a sharp hungry thing

that burned the desire out of me

another was vain and glorious

a cheshire cat apt to lap his own cream

his was large and unwieldly and

whatever they say about size isn’t really true

it’s about what you can do with what you got

the third had a penchant for drugs

and redheads and he had the best music collection

and the prettiest member

but I will when I die

think on the fourth most of all

short and a little fat with a tiny prick

that boy knew the secrets to loving

and we climbed all night

on divine ladders to heaven

where I briefly told him I loved him

and he bruised my womb

with his insistence I was his alone

which sadly I never was

by then my counterfiet heart

had been scattered like confetti

I was no more able to trust

than a painted lady selling her wares

It was the cheapened version of me

I let hook herself out on a line and dangle

you do that sometimes not for attention

but the disgust you have for yourself

and all the smut that got you to that point

and all the grubby fingers that wouldn’t quit

invading your right to peace

by then I had no feelings other than

roll another one, turn the record up

come here and let me suck

that pain away

it seemed the perfect solution aside

knowing the world would brand me a slag

concubine at best

but there is it

like the condom filled trash

stinking and real

though if you get stoned enough nothing

lasts long enough to peturb

including grateful boys who give their all

and in that five minutes of bliss

you learn a thing or two about transactions

how they salve the pain you never reveal

how being abused can make you turn around

and do the very same thing

though they’d never understand why

molested girls will open their legs to strangers

it’s one of those sad dichotomies

that’s also got a gender inequality label

for don’t you know it’s not always

piss and vinegar

makes a young man rut and rut?

we’re all carriers of some brand of pain

and those damaged souls

recognize each other

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Maelstrom

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The betrayal is deep. Maybe made more so by the stupidity of trust I possessed. It was as if he severed that last remaining piece of trust I had after all the other stuff had happened in my childhood and without that last piece I became a maelstrom.

So you are a maelstrom because you are me. Right now. Sitting in your bedroom listening to Aria with the windows flung open and the scent of jasmine in the air – you are a wild untamed fool who is a maelstrom.

You wanted to be special to someone. It was that simple.

You knew you didn’t have much chance of that because the girls who grew taller than you and had darker skin and more fawn like gait, were far more likely to be the objects of love than you. You were ordinary. You hated that about yourself and when anyone told you otherwise you hated them for lying.

Nevertheless even ordinary girls have dreams. When he told you about his girlfriend and how much he felt for her, you listened to his words and you inserted yourself in her place. But she wasn’t you. She was and still is, a beautiful, tall, glowing golden girl who brought her cello to school every day in a big leather case and walked with the wide stride of a confident and yet demure girl-woman. She had lips like the film you’d just seen and skin that seemed to drench itself in sunlight and you were a flake of dried skin in comparison.

But golden girl didn’t like him overmuch. In fact if memory serves, golden girl soon got together with son of an important man and they were a couple for eons. Golden girl was slumming it with boy with the nice eyes and she knew it and cut it short before anything irretrievable was done. But you didn’t ‘get’ that then, you didn’t really understand much. I wonder at that, because if nothing else you were smart, so how couldn’t you see the writing on the wall? Still you didn’t, you only used those malformed equations to equal your own chance with him, lapping up her left-overs like the fool you were.

He didn’t have an interest in you at all but you remembered something your father had said many times. That since you didn’t have the looks or the pretty little ballerina shoulders with the tawny skin, that you’d have to hook em with your winsome personality. And that was something you could do. You could crack jokes like a sailor, you climbed trees better than any other boy, and knew all the rules of soccer. Hell you’d even bet you could kiss well based on all the films you watched and that unreal world you inhabited when the vagaries of this world disappointed. Armed with those tools you set to world, the one and only time you set out to possess someone.

And he fell for it because he was 15 and he wanted to get his rocks off. It didn’t matter that you weren’t her, when you kissed in the park in the rain and your dark hair dye ran down your faces and turned you both grey, it didn’t matter when he rooted around in your bra and found little of interest, it didn’t matter when you weren’t her and you didn’t have her pillow lips or the sunlight in your huge brown eyes. He’d have taken anything and you convinced yourself that the little lies boys will tell girls was the truth.

Of course it wasn’t. He didn’t think those things about you. He was still talking about her. When he touched your hair and muttered how soft it was, he was reminiscing, when he traced your clavicle it wasn’t you he shared the sofa with, it was her, she was there all along. But you denied that, as you denied that you had gotten him by default, on a plastic rebound from a young goddess to the flats of his disappointment, only ameliorated by your willingness.

And you were willing. Less so than most teenage girls with low-self-esteem perhaps, but only because you didn’t really like his string-bean legs and his concave chest nor the length of his fingers nor the hard knot in his neck. You probably already wanted her, though you didn’t know it, you only knew it didn’t feel good being unwanted and you’d do anything to grasp for yourself a morsel of attention. But his attention wandered almost the moment you began, his eyes always lifting over your head and into the distance. For a time you tried not to notice that but as the false promises and the cheap silver ring on your finger attested, you couldn’t pretend forever.

One night, not hungry for you but hungry for the act, he pushed you down onto the narrow bed in his unmade room and filled himself with your giving. He took without notice, he wasn’t even there, it was the rise and fall of a moment, branded in your psyche eternally. To this day you can see him, giving less of a damn than if he’d been asked to act like he didn’t, a fine performance, a knock-out example of two people and one emotion, dividing them like a snake.

He didn’t like your breasts, he didn’t like the color of your skin or the breadth of your shoulders, he didn’t like the color of your hair, the size of your lips, the way you felt inside, there was nothing, literally nothing, that did it for him that you possessed. If it had been the most important thing in the world to claim him for your own, you would have failed, you did fail, you were a humiliation to yourself and you hadn’t even seen it yet.

So when he told you things they weren’t true and he knew it and anyone with a brain would have too but you had given up on truth, you’d decided you were going to buy it, hook line and sinker and I’m sure that only made him despise you a little more. Because he did you now, despise you, in the way that young boys do, when they don’t get their fantasy and they have to make do with the girl next door. You tried every art in your collection and they all fell flat, but just the calves of a dark-skinned girl with curls down her back could have driven him to his knees and you didn’t own a thing he wanted, not then and not ever.

Giving up that precious space within you for the insertion of trust and another’s soul, is no easy feat, and when you let him inside, he fouled the future with his lies and your acceptance of them. What was worse? That you’d been such a fool or that he’d felt it was acceptable to let you act the part? It was obvious he got less than he wanted but more than he’d get with himself and his hand. You could have been a hole in the wall. You could have been a blancmange or a hooker, maybe you were, maybe you were worse, a happy hooker who falls for her client. What a little idiot you were.

The self-hate only grew like a mask behind you as you strived without success to garner some interest. He found it hard to climax with you, he said it was from drinking but you knew, there was nothing about you that excited him, he may as well have been dry humping the sofa for all the investment he had, you were a living, breathing creature who wanted to be loved, to be special to one person in this world, you’d lived with that need all of your life, you didn’t see why you’d be denied it and then he showed you the horror of how it really was, that no matter how much you may want something, sometimes the absolute underbelly of life will show you the reverse.

Alcohol can loosen the tongue and it did that night he told the truth. It was a strange witching hour, you wanted the truth more than anything and you couldnt’ stand the truth, you couldn’t stand to hear what he really thought even though it made so much sense. He spilt it gladly, relieved presumably from hiding it so long, all those nights he fucked you he’d probably have preferred his own hand or the hand of a stranger. You were less than that, less than anything he could want, he’d only stayed out of pity, or apathy, he couldn’t be bothered to do anything to change circumstance, he knew he was young and time would shift everything without him even trying.

And it did, the night he went to a party without you and a girl with a long neck turned toward him and he felt that absence he’d been searching for all those months, a longing, a quickening for her. They had made love in the garden, he had whispered things to her that he meant and he had been disgusted at himself for wasting that time on you, on your pallid complexion and your wan face and your unimpressive body. He probably found his own sister more attractive than you, he hadn’t thought of the rules that guide us subconsciously and cause us to direct our gaze toward opposites, incase we should get bored with those who resemble ourselves and our beige unsatisfying childhood.

The long-necked girl, she laughed at the desperation in your eyes. She never had such emotions, she could control a boy with the switch of her eyes, the tilt of her body, the smallness of her hands. She was an Audrey Hepburn in a sea of milk, she beckoned him with her tiny wrists and he came, suppliant and hungry with gold in his eyes. And you? You didn’t hear about it for a day or so, and then the whole ugly story came spilling out, a bag of steaming, foul guts, polluting your nice little fantasy that was ludicrous and childish and absurd and shameful, branding you with a ‘I told you so’ a hundred times over.

I told you so. I told you the specter of her father said, if a father thinks a daughter is ugly, that’s like a test of the rest of the world. What were you thinking? Why did you think you could be loved? Cherished? Adored? What dared you believe this was a destiny you could penetrate? You were only ever going to be a neighborhood shag for the bored boys who hung desperately like weeds on the road side and took anything that happened to be passing.

The first night you slept alone you saw it clearest of all and after that you began your lies again, the delusions you told yourself, the ability to forgive the unforgivable and soon you were going back on every promise you had made yourself, you were standing there crying, beseeching him, a part of you screaming at yourself for the sickness of being the one to do that, and the other part urging him not to leave. But he had never been so he couldn’t leave, he just wasn’t there in the first place, he was a face, a glance, a dismissal, that stung to the very marrow of your being.

And years later as you sit in your chair and watch the lustful gaze of men traverse your body and take in your face, you still feel that sting. You still remember with a lurching sickness the way he dismissed you. It would never be enough that nobody since had done that, it would never be enough that all you ever heard now was the opposite. You could be the most beautiful woman in the world or the least, and it just wouldn’t matter because it was no longer about such superficiality as it had been at 15, it wasn’t even then but you didn’t know it.

It was about being special. And you hadn’t been then. And it was the very end of a slow road of rejections and reminders, beginning with your earliest memories and ending with him, his flat eyes and his uninterested hands, pushing you out the door, a garbage bag of your belongings in one hand, and you were walking down the street unable to see for the tears that spilled out of you, tears for yourself, tears of hate, tears of permanency because ever since you had been that girl, the one who unimpressed, the one who didn’t matter, the girl who was overlooked and chosen last if at all.

You could climb a hundred mountains, be made love to and told everything you’d ever desired, and it would sit like a lie in your stomach. Poisoning any chance you had to change. You were wired this way now, wedded to the idea of your inadequacy, an altered picture, a dysmorphic version of yourself that was more real to you than anything echoed by anyone else. When they said wonderful you saw awful, when they said gorgeous you saw hideous, when they laughed at your jokes, you believed it pity. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing was ever believable again.

Except the truth of that first time. The honesty and brokenness of the moment when he infested you and you let him, with a life long supply of inadequacy and shame. When you closed your eyes you could see the look in his eyes when he took in your body and tried hard to orgasm. Failing. Failing. Failing. And that truth was the only truth, nothing that came afterward had the same degree of hideous accuracy and no matter how often you were told you delighted, you were still, underneath all the sham, the pretense, the bolster, the fraud, you were the same 15-year-old girl killed by apathy. No longer believing yourself capable of being special to a single soul in this world.

She needs to grow a thick skin and not give a damn about what others think and when she is old enough it won’t matter at all, none of it will, she will no longer be that fated creature who denies herself the pleasure of living because of one boy so very long ago. I hope you read this. I really hope you do. As you stare at yourself in your darkened mirror and wonder why nobody looks that way at you. I hope you realize, as good as it is to try for what we want, there are some things we should never want and one of them is to be the bed fellow of a disinterested boy who without even knowing, robs us of any potential to be something more. If he read this, he wouldn’t even know who I was referring to, I am absolutely sure he has forgotten you, and forgotten me, he is probably married to someone who made his eyes glitter and you, you will never even see the possibility of such things, because you are still there, 15 years old, feeling his uncaring imprint on your flesh, wanting to wash until you dissolve with the water.

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prosetry

Tracks

​By the time you’d finished reading the LOTR trilogy, the grass had grown over the railway tracks where we used to lie.

How I loved filling those empty hours with you at the train station in my town, in that same spot, off the main platform, over the safety barriers, under the concrete stairs.

Tuesdays and Thursdays. Autumn and Spring. Never the times in between. Always evening. Always vodka. Side by side, sky high, putting the world to rights. “What we think, we become,” you said one night. “I fucking hope not,” I replied.

I cried a lot back then. You let me. But you never let me get too close to the fast trains, even when it seemed like my mind had already hurled itself in front of one. You were splattered with the viscera of my brain, but through my words, my stories, my secrets, my ideas.

No one likes to have their train delayed, not by a technical fault, not by staff shortages, and certainly not by a jumper. We hate so much for our train to be delayed even by a few minutes and yet we willingly delay so many great things in our lives, out of fear, out of diffidence, out of our minds.

You did not delay in telling me that you loved me. That was a great thing you did. It was urgent, as if you’d been waiting your whole life to love me. I think that staying alive is delaying me from attaining the greatest thing of my life: nonexistence. I am causing my own delays out of fear, fear of the unknown.

I am not as brave as you. I used to be fearless – you know, that’s when you loved me. Now you are fearless, just as I taught you to be, and thousands of miles away, while I am still at the station and I am afraid.

By the time I’ve finished reading the 1Q84 trilogy, the grass will have grown again over the railway tracks where we used to lie.

Our initials are still spray-painted underneath the 7th stair, above where we used to shelter from the rain. The black letters look as fresh as the day you sprayed them, a decade ago. I remember the black paint on your white shirt, and how I pierced your ear and you pierced my nose, and we lay our heads on the tracks and listened for the heavy electricity coursing through the rails and cables, the static jolts of the approaching train, stronger and longer, nearer and louder. We’d move out of the way at the last moment and laugh for England as the police chased us away. We have grown too tired and too cynical to thrive on adrenaline and blind faith like we used to. London has caught up with us.

You said you’d always be here, there, somewhere, not necessarily visible but present, like maggots in ketchup. While I delay in finding peace out of fear of missing the madness, I will not delay in saying this: I am still here, there, somewhere, not necessarily visible but present, like the empty vodka bottles that are under the stairs, at the station, where we used to shelter from the rain, by the fast trains, by our graffitied names, by the railway tracks where we used to lie.

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prosetry

Cover Up and Say Goodnight

Between us, I suppose did all the feeling. The inherent disobedience of singing our contrapuntal song above outside around the din was to me in my youth like tying dreams to kings and great things, though knowing better than to presuppose any manner of nobility coursing through our line of magnetic men of middling, modest talents and infernos for intellects, consumed by sublime, contemptuous ambition like true artists, was of course in the nature he so vigorously bestowed, father to son.

Then one day I felt a feeling of his. The effortful suppression, the stifled idealization harvested from exiguously-tended fields of experience, finding it easier to form a new habit of staying from the choppily selective remembrance of what it was like to “go there” than to actually still continue to try to (let myself) go.

Well, it’s about being, I’ve come to realize, after so many years of fevered, young becoming when there was always somewhere else to be. The line ends here, though, I say; I say I’ll be the first of us to release my grip on this familial melody and allow my ends to fizzle into truly new beginnings, and in the saying sneakily suspect I hear faint echoes of this verysame tune I now find myself singing, wondering if he’s heard them too, knowing I’ll never ask, finding contentment in a discordance I with feeble bliss presume to be my own.

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prosetry

Achieropoieta

The sun was low and melting through the palms and garish columns when we arrived after flight and frightful drive along winding shoreline lanes in a bus too large for such turns and twists.

We approached the front desk in the open-air lobby and I heard the ocean, fancying it was music, or heard music and fancied it was ocean, and for a moment I attempted in vain to consider the virtues of solitary companionship, nevertheless wondering why I hadn’t come alone.

Days later, I would walk out into the sea through the waves till they became eye-level swells and my feet no longer touched the soft sand beneath; I held my breath and sank in the ease of dissolution.

I should just keep going, I thought as I lost all touch and all taste for judging, suspended in merciful indifference, the undulations of the blue-green water washing away any remaining fear of what I’d learned and who I’d been and what I might become in the great vastness of the permeable and possible.

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