Tempting as it is, to turn inward, write of long Winter and why
capture in ice outshines
the languid motion of sharing
tempting as it is, you are the subject not I.
A linguist of worlds
using your machine to stitch together discrepancies
you see no undertow
only thick muscles of rowing souls, garnering energy toward shoreline
and I envy you, Neon Dahlia
your simple, productiveness
how from nothing, comes nothing and still ..
unaware you are treading water.
I could tell you
look here, can’t you see? The futility
but I already know your answer;
what is futile, is in the mind
all else, just imagined sabotage
here in this seized moment, is the bare humus of your life
you live only once, don’t you want to fill it with all the experience you can gather?
your arms aching with fullness like flower sellers under hot tarp, salvage hunger with each purchase.
When we offer our wares to others, in rosary of conversation
people catch your drift, their eyes lit by your straightforward certainty
it’s all worthwhile, prophet.
I once told you, you could be a preacher, a cult-leader, a milliner of minds
you could repair holes in fabric like a peach grower will
tend bruised fruit carefully until they heal
It’s all about faith, you radiate certainty
whilst I, gather mud for drinking and sloshing
in my opaque jar
like an unlucky fisherman will
repeatedly cast into shallows.
All my life I thought I knew
and the only thing I knew
was fear and habit, giving in to safety.
Take a risk, you urged
planting your runner beans, spinach and kale
in straight lines like braided hair
gleaming against fecund soil
and my fingers already felt
I had lifted the world by its rudder
held on long enough to solidify, all possessed calcium
it was impossible to find a way to cast as you did
watching the silk of your net, catch sunlight and fall
glittering into emerald tide.
The funny thing of course
you are afraid of water
and I, a prodigious swimmer
often likened to merfolk
coming from an island, I thought by speaking loudly, I could ward off choked demons
caught by the foot in gullies and rivulets
but they only submerged like setting sun
will drink up light and diffuse emotion
becoming part of me
as surely as you
set an example
unable to emulate.
This is the green bark of us
defined by lines of growth and pause
long enough to extinguish, tentative pathway.
You have your courage
buried in a tinder box deep within
it needs no flint to ignite
whilst I, scrabble and flounder for matches, in deluge.
Fate ridicules the human
who thinks themself free of need
believing they can exist without
the certainty of man-made God
and reassuring bleating call, of others of their kind
gathering their flock tight, before darkening storm hits.
We all beseech uncertainty
when trembling, frailty picks herself from floor and witnesses
that vulnerable moment, nude and dried, by calloused hand of self governance.
I may not share your peace of mind
nor ever, the nimble way you stay
calm like unbroken water
in face of specter and uncertainty
your heart beat steady, like a bow needless of guide.
Mine is the anxiety, of my generation
thwarted by ourselves and that throbbing vein
dearly seeking for meaning, in tea leaves
your glow only brightens
the further out, you wield
that impossible certainty, you polish
with the soft foot fall, of early Spring
The day after the November 2015 Paris attacks
I was standing on the platform with my eyes shut, listening for the familiar rumble of the northbound train. As the train was pulling up I saw how busy it was and thought, Saturday night, last tube out of town, of course it’s packed, I definitely won’t get a seat, bugger. But then the carriage that stopped in front of me had an empty bit where nobody was sitting or standing, an uncharacteristic gap in the sardines. I gathered that somebody’s obviously thrown up everywhere or that perhaps there’s an unconscious drunkard lying on the floor. Wincing at the prospect of the smell of piss and/or vomit accompanying me all the way to the last stop, I got on the train. But there was nothing there. Only a young man, dressed in traditional Islamic clothing, sitting quietly with two bags of groceries at his Adidas-clad feet. I was baffled. All of the seats around him were free and clean and dry and yet everyone else was standing by the doors and acting shifty. I looked at the other passengers for an explanation, thinking I must have missed something, but they all looked away or looked down or inspected their fingernails, so I said What the fuck? and sat down opposite the young man. I gave him a brief nod, took my book from my handbag and began to read, and then the man said to me, Thank you, and I said, I’m sorry
i feel ambivalence towards a lot of things in life, but i think my past is what i wonder about most. sure, i wouldn’t be who i am today without key elements of that, but has it really been worth the travail? it’s not like i’ve “arrived” at some meaningful sense of completeness or accomplishment.
if anything, i’m a ghost of my former self. with each passing day, bits of me fall off and get left behind. it’s a maudlin stagger of unepic proportions, and i’m headed towards whatever the hell kind of finish line is fated for me. until then, i’m just a zombie who used to worship another zombie.
i’m just an unformed thing.
I am a bible carved out of stone, sitting quietly in the corner of the empty prison cell of your mind.
When you find yourself trapped in the cage that you have built for yourself, I will be there, smug, waiting for you to pick me up.
A sick enjoyment will come from being your last resort and it will be astonishingly easy to make your hell become my paradise.
You will run your fingers over me like you have done so many times before, trying desperately to prise me open but you’ll find that I have no pages.
I am a singular block of stories and ideas and lessons and epigrams that will one day end up tattooed on kids’ wrists and ribs, but I will not let you look inside me.
In your hour of need I will be all that you have. You will want to devour me, you will want to ingest my contents but you will never open me up.
You may throw me against the wall in frustration but I won’t break. I won’t let you read me, for you do not deserve my poetry.
But I do not need to hurt you. No, you will beat yourself up for ever having doubted me. You will kick yourself for ever questioning my authenticity. You will regret not believing in me when I was the only real thing that you ever possessed.
And you will regret abandoning me in my own descent toward death, now that I’m witnessing yours and I am all you have left.