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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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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fiction, prosetry

Teeth

She looks down and sees her bottom jaw resting on the ground by her feet. Carefully, she picks it up to assess the extent of the ruin but it is clear: her mandible has entirely detached itself from her head and now sits quietly in the palms of her shaking hands. It half-smiles at her, just as it had done so many times before at handsome strangers and bad jokes.

As if newly erupted from the grip of the ivory bone, her teeth form a sparkling semicircular row. She studies the teeth, noticing that where they are not laced with blood and saliva they are obscenely white, almost iridescent, like menstruating pearls. They look delicate and indestructible.

She begins to run and so does the blood: it trickles through the gaps in her fingers, collecting in the crease of her elbow before dripping on the pavement, leaving a trail behind her. The blood is gooey and viscous, and though it looks too dark to be fresh it keeps on flowing. A mess of bloody saliva pours from her jawless mouth, down her neck and settles in a sticky pool on her chest. When she tries to spit out the taste of rusty nails and panic, she discovers that she has no tongue.

The unfamiliar residential street is surprisingly busy for 3 a.m and she knows a lot of the people that she passes. She stops to ask everyone she sees to help her put her jaw back in place. She is met with bemused faces. She screams and shouts and begs but no sound emerges from her, just the occasional crimson gurgle. She looks pleadingly at the passersby then looks down at the jaw in her hands, motions fitting the jaw back to her head and then looks back at her potential saviour, praying they’ll understand. They look at her with pity and faux-guilt, apologise and say things like, “Sorry, dear, I’m in a rush,” “I’m not a dentist, unfortunately,” and “Oh, I don’t really want to get involved.” The fact that she can’t properly communicate to ask for help, or even find out what has happened to her, frightens her and causes her far more distress than the fact that her jaw has fallen off. She tries to communicate using her eyes; she is certain that her eyes must surely convey the horror, confusion and desperate need to be helped that she cannot speak aloud. But no: she is ignored and unsaved. Tears tumble down her cheeks, over her top lip and straight down to her chest to mingle with the rest of the mess of fluid. She tries to spit again but grows frustrated upon remembering that she can’t. She runs out of tears and sits under the glow of a street lamp, with her bloody, perfect jaw beside her, and hopes for somebody to throw her a tissue at least.

Sometimes she wanders about the strange town for hours, begging for help through her eyes, frenzied, covered in blood and clutching her jaw in her hands, rocking it slightly as if it were an injured bird. Sometimes she gives up after a few minutes and resigns herself to living a life of silence, with only her bottom jaw for company. Sometimes she smashes her jaw against an orange brick wall, sometimes repeatedly, hundreds of times, but it always stays whole. Nobody ever helps. She no longer truly believes that someone will eventually come along and fix her because nobody ever has before and she knows that if she expects nothing, she will never be disappointed, only ever pleasantly surprised. She remains mute and hungry and ugly and cries and cries and cries, but she never dies. She is, after all, built of the same matter as her jaw: she is delicate and indestructible.

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poetry, prosetry

Pablo

I saw a Picasso painting and it fucked me up
because it wasn’t oil on canvas, it was a mirror.

Her pain was contagious, her skin all sickly and diseased, all yellow and green, her hair in blue and purple streaks, matted, heavy, left unwashed for weeks.

She was stifling her screams and catching her tears in a tissue made of broken glass, muffling her sobs with icy crystal shards, alone, in pain, insane, confined within the edges of a 60 by 49 frame.

Those eyes held stories of the lives of every person she’d ever known yet betrayed no life of their own. Black holes filled to the brim with untold horrors, her eyelashes holding back the weight of a thousand lies, a pathetic barrier between the tsunami of torture within her and the face that she wears for the world;

but it will not hold, it will not hold, the wave breaks the boundary, spewing poison, rioting down her cheeks and into a handful of glass, the tears fall and fall;

and her lover only watches on, making her a spectacle, a beautiful and tragic sight to behold, not one to be reassured, not one to be consoled. He studied her pain because he wouldn’t face his own, just as you study mine because you will not face yours.

She and I, we are the same:
a sight to be seen,
a suffering machine,
a perfect exhibition
of devastation and depression.

I immediately recognised myself as the subject of the portrait
although I know that you’d say, “No, that’s not you, not at all,”
but I’m so certain that it is me, I am so certain.

How did Pablo know me so well so many years before I was born? It seems that the only people who ever truly knew me are two dead men who found beauty in the forlorn.

And so I’m left behind
with these tidal waves of grief
and a disintegrating heart,
wandering around empty galleries,
and wiping away my tears
with shards of broken glass.

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poetry

Hymn

754db3cdda166e833971a8c8cfd1b855

The dancer has purest art

no need for vocabulary

rules apply not to those

born unable to speak or justify

their choice

language can become a snare

numbers lead to label

you confine yourself by

obeying

while the dancer

her feet in balance

listens to the spinning harmony

of chakras recharged

within as fingers whirl plates at dizzying rate

all is harmonious

a child irrespective of years

charged with equality in all sphere

her center cannot be punched out

not her strength shoved in passing glance

the mirror shows elegance

tamed fire creating music on the floor

needing no conflict or measure

she could be herself in braids with unhinged head and intact hope

or winter bird dying in first snow

living above and beneath

no need for shape or illustrate

hers is the simplicity

bound to no-one

dare to define

she will your bonds

break

and in step with

a deep hymn

spin as fast as lights

glazed on still water

appear to unlock

submerged secrets

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art, fiction, life, prosetry

Such is the inequality of them

egon-schiele-the-family

Night before

his letter landed on the hall way mat like a whisper

she was in the top bathroom, where the wicker shades made everything warm and orange, taking a hot bath, a purge of sorts

her bags packed, she bathed, no urge to touch the frozen parts of her, threatening to disrupt her plans, outside was monochrome, the dullness of impending Winter shifting itself stiffly in chair

still and far from her, he knew he had the power

the letter read ten pages, one message, come out into the night and sit with me I have to win you back before you leave

if she could go back now in time she would say to herself sitting in hot bath, wiping the condensation and seeing her youth

don’t

instead she went, hearing his call like the sound of blood, she went and she opened a vein and he drank deeply

they had nowhere to be alone so they climbed over the gates of the bowling park and he pressed her against the cherry trees in his departing lust

then she ached, between her and for her, knowing by saying yes, she was creating an impossible journey

Day of

Her father’s car stolen they drove a large rental van with her futon and toys in the back she left most of her books and hardly had any music, though she packed frugally she took with her the biggest thing, that stone wrapped in twine threatening to drown her

he watched her as she turned the road and the white van recedes like a winter bird

he felt he had captured the bird again and for this, he was glad

arriving she saw the sterile room, the bed punched to the wall hardly large enough for even anorexia, like a shelf bidding her to climb down and sleep in trees

her father tried not to cry so much his face turned to chalk and they walked down by the lake and watched the birds shimmer on the cold surface without seeing their reflections

when he left she tried not to howl, retreating to her room she hid like she knew to do so well and soon the others in the dormitory thought the room was uninhabited and they were partially correct

The day after

She called him from the pay phone, she wanted to say, come up, come up and wipe away my emptiness

instead she said it was okay and talked about the rabbits and the birds and the classes she had written down on a long list next to her books and her packs of cigarettes and her emptied stomach

he felt content knowing she was on a shelf waiting for him to pluck her in dissection

The week after

It isn’t hard she thought, to leave this world and inhabit another

by day she walked the concrete catwalk of the college, watching fat cheeked children, doused in piss and vinegar, play at maturity

by night the children of mirth drank themselves into glasses, and she who could not afford to eat, sat outside her room on the balcony and wanted to jump

The month after

The counselors proclaimed her fit to continue, she knew how to out fox any psychological tests, her eyes did not give her away but had they looked underneath her sleeves maybe then she would have been packed on a train and sent to a calm room with a larger bed

he visited briefly, enjoying the unfurling countryside whisked past on train, and the feeling of being out of the city, as much as his devour of her and her increasing thinning skin, illuminated by moonlight

they lay together, smoking and reading, he took frequent sips of her until she ran dry and then he took another long draught, ensuring she knew who marked her for possession

when he left, she cycled back from town, wobbly from not eating, light-headed in a dreamy way that made it easier and switched to sleeping on the floor

The second month after

Starvation is an art, rarely employed willingly she knew those who did, were certain of their actions, whilst she, only knew what she did not want and she did not want to be aware of herself

the instructors noticed the girl in the back of the room wrote thoughtful essays if a little disordered, and she did not seem to talk to anyone else

she saw his absence, the welt on her ribs, and knew if she had not accepted him again she would now be feeling nothing of his rejection, it was only her and her alone who was at fault for being weak enough to believe stone changes from stone to water

the boy without eyes scratching surfaces, turned to her with his savage instrument pointing her way, and with his mouth spoke entreaty and she felt sorry for him and let him into her small room and her tiny bed on the floor and they broke themselves into pieces trying to burn each other out

afterward a life flickered dimly, hardly holding on in the shrinking of her, it clutched at her resource like a rabbit seeking burrow at night fall

he did not visit because he had found that other flowers grew by the side of the road and one in particular, a night rose, had petals he was addicted to

Three months after

She bore with all her energy, the watery rose-tinted creation who without breathing, moved and then died in a grave of her tears

she buried her grandparent and her child on the same hill overlooking the lake, in her heart, and stood still enough for birds to feel safe and land nearby to search for worms beneath the frosty grass

he came once more, enveloped by the smell of others, curious more than longing, and this time he was not kind and his eyes looked away when she bled and hurt for his return tore her open, when she had been deliberately folding herself like a stained sheet back into perfect square

leaving the school she walked up to the furthest point of the hills above the lake and lay down, a blanket of wool and some pills the doctor mistakenly trusted her with, a quart of something that would drowse regret

the boy without eyes did not know she was fading, he was writing songs about his conquests and his heart was full of excitement because he now knew his own power and the taste of a girls acquiescence

it was never told that she carried a part of him within her, and had he been aware, it is doubtful at that time he would have cared. Twenty years later it was a distant regret and no more, he didn’t even spend time wondering what became of her, or consider the soil beneath which, his flame slept

he grew rich because he believed in himself and his infallibility, and the women who passed through his bed, they confirmed this, with their nodding heads and compliant thighs parting to show him where he could plunder

such is the inequality of them

Twenty years later

She lies still for the surgeon, he cuts and perforates whilst listening to Chopin

soon a part of her that made life, is dull and suspended in formaldehyde

she has empty arms

his arms encircle her waist

imagine seeing you here in the city again after so long!

she is still as slender as a reed, he has a little balding but has the same sharp teeth and black eyes

are these your children? she asks nodding at the little hands clasping his trouser legs

yes this is Amy she’s ten, Mark is seven, Sylvia is five and my wife is holding Jo he’s only fourteen months

you have a beautiful family

thank you it’s so good to see you again you’ve hardly changed

as they part ways, she feels the heaviness of his hand around her, and the flicker of interest on his lips wet with speech

A week later

I thought I would call and see if you’d like to go to lunch?

I would love to

they meet in a place they used to go, his suggestion and that’s how she knows

that evening

your company gave you this apartment in the center of town?

yes for late nights, it’s easier than commuting to the suburbs, my family understands

he lays her down by the fire-place on the rug, and the years between them are no longer

where did you get this scar? he points to the thin silver crossing her pubic bone

it was an accident

he takes off her clothes, she is still concave and white like a pearl in the reddened darkness of the room, he has a slight paunch and several strains of bacteria picked up from riding horses until they dropped

you’re the same slip of a girl you were when I first met you, your hair is still red, and you still smell like autumn

as he lowers himself onto her, he feels her mouth on his neck, a whisper, like an envelope falling onto mat

i loved you so much

then a stinging feeling, light-headed, almost pleasurable, he doesn’t understand why everything is slightly tilted

now he is lying on the rug, looking up at her, she is dressing, she doesn’t bother with her buttons and throws her coat over her cold breasts and shivering

he cannot form the words, if he knew what they were, he would like to say, as edges begin to finger indistinct he might say you are still so beautiful, he might say, I never loved you, I planted an abomination in you and I left, glad for my freedom and your neglect

and she would say, before closing the door quietly, no I am not beautiful I am dammed, and I am empty, and I have drunk my fill of you and this has set me free and now I will run with the wind until it gathers me up into pieces and flings me every which way, so that I do not exist and you do not exist and this, this we made, sleeping in earth, can be still at last

such is the equality of them

 

 

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