life, poetry

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (2)

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (1)

(2)

I will be reborn
several times in my life.
I will be many different people
and wear many different faces
and I will get a thousand chances
to be better:
I will even take some of them —
when I’m being brave, I will pick
my chances like cherries,
roll them between my fingers,
undertake inspection for any imperfections,
and then (once I know that
the chance is a goodun)
urgently devour the possibilities
that dwell within the skin
and try to be better —
better at this business of living.
But other times,
when I am feeling weak
and tired from the fight,
I will gorge on the ugly ones:
I’ll wear the juice of those cherry-chances
like lipstick, let all the wasted opportunities drip
down my chin, and spit
out the pips and, knowing that I’ve
missed a chance to be better,
just try my best
to not to get any worse.

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poetry

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters

(1)

I am standing on an upturned bin
looking through the little barred window
into the room that I was born in
and everyone is happy
and everyone is asleep
and I pray to a god who keeps on disappearing
and I ask the silent shattered stars above
to make sure that the baby in that room
turns out to be nothing

like me.

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prosetry

This One Time At Camden Lock

I watch the man in the crumpled white shirt take a swig from his can of Stella
and remember how anything looks beautiful when set against a pink September sky.
I catch his eye through the smoke trails left behind by infinite Marlboro Lights
and then he picks up his guitar. I notice that there are flowers painted on its body,
which feels unfair as he will never see the flowers inked on mine.


I come here because I am unknown here.
Here, I can be anyone. I can be anyone I want.
Nobody here knows my name or my situation or my secrets.
I can talk to strangers here and know that they are strangers.
Here, nothing is expected of me, and all we have are first impressions.
I can hide what I like, reveal what I want.
I don’t have to say a word but I can also say them all.
Whatever I say or do here exists in its purest form.
Here, I have no history.
I am not known for my past transgressions, I am not known at all.
I can be whoever I want to be.
And here, I always choose to be me.
Because here, I can.


I laugh out loud at the groups
of young girls who look exactly the same from behind,
clones, pretty clones,
with their Instagram lies and bad blonde highlights,
all wearing the same beige trench coat,
drinking the same sugary cocktail,
taking a photo of themselves pretending to drink it,
no delete that one oh my god I look disgusting,
take another one!
no, I don’t like that one, delete.
One more.
Ergh, no!
One more.
One more, one fucking more,
I despair at the state of my generation.
I imagine what the girls look like
without their eyebrows drawn on.
Who are they trying to deceive?
I shake my head in disbelief.


I am overwhelmed at the tragic haircuts
these young white males are sporting –
another deluded bunch,
convincing themselves daily that they don’t look like utter twats.
I laugh again because they look ridiculous
and I don’t know why they’re here,
they don’t look old enough to drink,
and I wonder why their parents haven’t told them
that they look fucking ridiculous
and I remember the time I was leaving the house
and my mother told me that I looked like a prostitute
and she meant it as an insult
but I took it as a compliment
because that’s what it is nowadays.


The most grotesque PDA is taking place to the left of me.
The girl has a blade of grass in her hair.
I wonder if I’m the only person on this earth who knows that it’s there.
I think I am.
The guy keeps staring at me, leering.
He has a horrible laugh. It is false and it makes my skin crawl.
He bites the girl’s bare shoulder and keeps his eyes fixed on mine
the whole time and everything suddenly feels a lot colder.


This place is saturated with vague memories
of the midsummer evenings of our glory days
and we sit here pretending that it’s not all over.
Plastic sunglasses and plastic cups,
a dropped kebab and cigarette butts,
we all sit on the dirty concrete ground by the water
and watch the sun cringe away behind the buildings
embarrassed
not wanting to stick around
to witness our demise into debauchery.
The summer has gone but there is a lot of skin on show.
Heavy winter coats are being thrown
on over denim shorts and tiny vests,
and the more we drink the less
we notice the temperature drop
drop
drop
the degrees fall away
with our dignity
and self-respect
until there’s none left.


This is a tourist hotspot. This is why I can be unknown here.
I can spill my soul to a stranger, steal a wallet, fall in love, punch someone in the face: I know that I’ll never see them again and that any witnesses are gone too, so the damage is deleted. They’ll be gone tomorrow, or next week, or next month. What happens today never happened tomorrow.

Ah, Camden Lock: you never see the same face twice.
Unless you want to, of course.

So everyone around me is chatting away in various languages and I am writing and quietly singing along to the lyrics of the songs that the man with the guitar is playing.
We are all listening but not really.
We clap when we’re supposed to but this is just a man who’s singing for fun, he’s not supposed to be here, we didn’t pay to see him.
An old man who looks like a shit version of Iggy Pop dances around the guitar man, spilling his can of Scrumpy Jack’s on the floor.
He gets on down on his hands and knees and licks it up.


So, this guy is playing a free acoustic set
for the ignoring masses
and suddenly I feel bad for him,
like I’m the only one who’s listening
and appreciating his presence.
He plays songs that I know and love,
by Cash and Dylan.
Then he points at me and says,

‘Your boyfriend will probably come and beat me up for this, but I’ll take my chances – this song is for you.’

And then he starts singing Brown Eyed Girl
because of course, fucking of course,
because that’s the song that you would always sing to me.
And my throat gets really tight
and the tears begin to rally together on the edge of my eyeballs
and I don’t want to remember anything anymore.

I can’t look at the guitar man.
Or Shit Iggy Pop.
Or the PDA guy.
Or the chav youths with bad haircuts.
Or the girls pretending to drink their drinks.
I just stare into the canal and let myself zone out,
lighting a cigarette, ignoring my heartbeat,
wondering how many prostitutes are rotting away at the bottom of the lock,
attempting to conjure x-ray vision to look through the algae to see the bodies below,
trying to remember what the Camden Ripper’s real name is,
estimating how cold the water is,
mapping out the route of the canal in my head,
thinking that I’d rather drown than be burnt alive,
and then everyone starts clapping because the song has finished
and suddenly I’m no longer in the water
I’m dry and warm on the concrete
and I smile at the guitar man
and he winks at me
and then he starts playing American Pie
and I’m fine again,
I’m fine,
I’m fine,
I’m fine…

Standard
prosetry

The Retrogression of Self

ONE.

With every drink
comes degeneration

and every disco dabble
brings deterioration,

the reckless demolition of
a mind that thrives

on vague ideas of happiness,
promises of something better,

and desperate attempts to
experience whatever it means

to “feel alive” while being
mostly dead inside.

Devastation comes with freedom
and my worst version of myself

isn’t worth my immersion and
participation is what is commonly known

as “having fun.”

TWO.

Maybe some people
don’t suit fun or don’t deserve it,
but I simply don’t understand it:

my definition of having
a good time is as warped
as my vodka-vortex vision.

I have no hair to let down,
I ripped it all out.

I do not care for my safety —
everyone that I love is a stranger
to someone.

I smashed the tiles
that I was meant to dance on.

I spend half my life trying
and failing to order more drinks

for people who I don’t know,
with money that I don’t have

long after the bell for last orders
has rattled my rib cage

and leaving after the lights have gone out
and staying after the staff have gone home.

I feel gross and I know I am a mess,
but I pretend that this is fun,

that I don’t have a drink problem
that I don’t have a drug problem

that this is what everyone my age is doing,
that I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING PROBLEM ALRIGHT?

and I am an exceptionally good liar
(as all addicts are)

so sometimes
even I believe me.

THREE.

Do you enjoy it?
Do I enjoy it?

Sparkling powder on dirty cistern
on painted thumbnail
on shattered iPad
on kitchen counter with breadcrumbs
on dusty dashboard
on pirate dvd
on corner of stolen credit card
on someone’s wriggling stomach,

with banknotes
with unsuccessful lottery tickets
with a strip of the Evening Standard
with doctor’s notes
with fluorescent straws
with glass test tubes
with torn-up takeaway menus
with your brass house key,

up it goes,
up a nose that never asked
to be involved.

No

I don’t enjoy it,
not really.

Oh

but if you’re offering,
yeah, why not.

It would be rude not to.

FOUR.

I don’t want any of this anymore.
I don’t want to be like this.
I don’t want to fight
this person anymore.
I want to kill the bad half of me,
just strangle her while she’s in bed
with another stranger,
smother her silly
until she enters a sweet forever-sleep.
Oi, leave her,
just let her sleep,
she’s so tired.
She doesn’t want to wake up
to face the morning
Don’t let her wake up
and remember what she’s done.
Don’t let her.
Just let her sleep.

FIVE.

I fill the void with
two litres of cheap wine
and morph into a monster in a mini-dress.
Really though, one sip is all it takes
for the worst version of me to arrive,
uninvited, aggressive, ridiculous.
I want to strangle her
and I think other people do too.
Some guys do, in bed,
but I tell myself that’s different.

SIX.

“Something’s gotta change.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“I need to change.”

THIS IS IT.

And so I quit, cold-turkey it, miserable, isolated.
Usually something bad has prompted my decision
so I just hide inside and want to die.
And the change is bad,
and the change is good,
and the change is very good,
and then I go back to my old ways and it starts again.

RELAPSE.

I hear them mumbling something about leopards,
and spots, and dogs that can do tricks,
and how an addict will always be an addict,
and that I’m going downwards and backwards
and upside-down at an astonishing rate
and they mention spirals and catastrophes
and concerned and worried and disappointed
but I’m not really listening because I don’t want to
hear it,
I’m gorgeous and I’m laughing
standing at the bar
and knocking back another jar
all eyes on me
the version of me that’s the crowd favourite
everyone gets to see this crazy show again
and I entertain for free –
I don’t mention how much
my party-girl persona costs me
but fuck it
as long as we’re all happy
then that’s good enough for me

SEVEN.

The next day I always feel
more panic than shame:
it is dread, utter dread,
and fear at what I have done and said,
and it’s terrifying.
I try to push it out of my mind. “It’s fine,”
I say, “it’s fine.”
I forget that other people’s memories
work far better than mine.

EIGHT.

“Oi, Party Girl, why do you care so much about everyone else, but not yourself?”
“That’s just how it is.”
“Well, you should. Start caring for yourself.”
“Nah, I’d rather invest my energy in others.”
“But you deserve to be good to yourself.”
“The damage is done.”
“No it’s not, it’s never too late to change. You can turn your life around.”
“No I can’t.”
“Stop being so fucking pessimistic.”
“It’s like when people continue to put food out for their pet after it’s dead and buried.”
“What?”
“Like shutting the stable door after the horse has already bolted and run miles away.”
“You’re not an animal.”
“Oh, aren’t I? I know a few guys who would disagree with you on that one.”
“For fuck’s sake. Fine, I give up. Destroy yourself. But I’m not going to play a part in your death.”
“Oh, thanks. It is your round though…”
“No, fuck you.”
“Large chardonnay with a dash of lemonade please, darling.”
“No. Why do you do this to yourself?”
“Because vodka is cheaper than dialectical behaviour therapy.”
“What’s that?”
“And I get to hang around with you fine people.”
“You’re the most frustrating person I’ve ever met.”
“Why thank you, kind sir.”
“If you were a bloke, I’d probably have hit you by now.”
“You’re so sweet. No ice.”
“What?”
“In my spritzer. No ice.”
“Agh, okay, but this is your last fucking drink.”
“Fine.”
“For fuck’s sake.”
“Thanks, you’re a real pal.”
“We’re all worried about you though.”
“Hey, enough of that. Now hurry up and get me a beverage, there’s too much blood in my alcohol stream!!”

NINE.

It’s all fun and games until

it’s no longer fun?
it’s no longer a game?
you struggle to remember the last time it was fun?
you begin to think that drinking and drug-taking was never actually ever fun?

It’s all fun and games until you admit that it was never fun,
nor was it a game, but rather 12 years of socially-acceptable self-destruction made excusable because of my youth and troubled childhood.

“The fun stops here, kiddo.”

TEN.

Something has got to change.
I think that “something” might be me.


Featured image source “You will drink and drink till you die!” from The Windsor Magazine, 1902.

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