poetry

Mugshot

Babes,
I think that,
from now on,
whenever I get so sad
that you don’t know what to do
with me you should
gently
remind me
of the fact
that in my police mugshot
I have bright green hair
and the specific type of smirk
that may only be worn by those
who are entirely fearless.
Remind me
of the existence of that mugshot:
the hilarity of the image itself,
the absurdity of the surrounding events,
the possibility of seeing it printed in the newspapers
and the memory of a time when I was free
will always cheer me up
(or at least distract me
for a moment
while you hide all the knives
and pour tranqs into my cup).

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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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prosetry

Day of Birth / Night Crawlers

Day of Birth

04:45

She had taken the day off work but forgot to turn off her usual alarm. All hopes of a lie-in were demolished. She was not ready to turn 29. “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

05:22

She wondered if the ravens knew that their continuous cawing is the most consistent, reliable thing in her life.

05:23

A murder of crows. An ostentation of peacocks. A parliament of owls. She had no collective. She just was.

06:42

She buried her phone under her mattress so she didn’t have to face life just yet. She began to read The Glass Bead Game for the fourth time. And for the fourth time she didn’t make it past page 28. Having said that, she hadn’t expected to make it past year 28, but she’s only bloody gone and done it.

10:08

She never opens it in front of her, but she receives a card from her mother every year. If she shakes it hard enough, the hollow words fall out of the envelope like dirty feathers so that by the time she’s gathered the strength to read it, the inside is blank. It’s easier that way, for everyone.

11:29

She crossed herself as the bus rumbled past the church, just in case. In case of what, she wasn’t sure. In case hell doesn’t turn out to be as hot as everyone says it is.

12:45

She found herself at a park that she used to go to. As a child she spent hours in the playground, being pushed on the rusty swing by someone else’s parent, playing quietly with snails and stones and empty fag packets.

And as a teenager she used to hang out down by the brook with her fellow delinquents, getting trashed on ketamine and K cider. She couldn’t decide which of these periods was more of a waste of her finite hours.

13:10

She went to the playground but was fearful of doing so without a child in tow. It had rained last night and the smell was familiar. The playground floor was still comprised of wood chips and loose pieces of tree bark, like it had been over 20 years ago.

She remembered lifting the larger pieces of wood after rainfall and finding woodlice to play with; giving them names, loving them, and then being devastated when she wasn’t allowed to take them home. She did the same now. She named him Stanley and put him in her blazer pocket. There was nobody around to tell her not to.

14:29

She stood beneath the statue to read the card from her mother.

She used to climb the statue as a kid. She thought it was the closest she’d get to seeing the Statue of Liberty. Now there’s a gate around it: health and safety gone mad. The blue woman looked so severe, so powerful, so strong, holding her book and sceptre, a wreath around her head.

She is called The Bringer of Peace. Some kids climbed up her and blowtorched her breasts. She now has a large charred black circle on each tit. It makes her look silly. The Bringer of Empty Birthday Cards.

14:35

She realised that she’d spent the last decade fighting the urge to lie down in the street, at the bus stop, in the frozen aisle of the supermarket. She was so, so tired.

16:52

She forgot where she’d hidden her phone. She received an email from an old lover, wishing her many happy returns. She will never return to him. Tears pricked her eyes as she recalled his parting words to her:

You are impossible. You are as impossible as trying to roll a cigarette in a tornado, without any rizla. You’re the fucking storm and I’m in desperate need of a smoke.

17:11

She checked her pocket to see how Stanley was doing. He was gone. She hit her head against the wall 29 times, hard. One for every year of being a terrible person.

17:51

She suddenly remembered someone telling her about how their mother’s pregnancy craving was piccalilli. She couldn’t, for the life of her, remember who said this. Or work out why it was in her mind. Did anyone ever say that? On tv, in a book, in a film? She cried because she’ll never know. She had 10% of a memory but will never regain the rest. She wasn’t even sure what piccalilli actually was so she cried some more. She was so tired.

18:25

She always cried on her birthday. Every year without fail.

19:02

Why the elevator has carpeted walls, she will never know.

19:36

She felt the burn of a thousand champagne bubbles rioting down her throat, each capsule of carbonated misery filled with the vicious irony of celebrating being one day closer to her death. And a day closer to yours, too.

20:56

She locked herself in a cubicle and shovelled snow up her snout. She hoped Stanley was safe somewhere. Just thinking about him made her well up. She decided she would never have children. She couldn’t even look after a woodlouse.

21:15

She sat on her friend’s lap, smoking a suspicious-looking rollup. The garden was lit up like fairyland. She was grateful for her friends, and as the sky was turning purple she saw his face illuminated in the gaps between the fragmented chunks of cloud. Even nature is broken, she thought aloud.

22:49

She made a wish when she blew out the candles on her extravagant multi-layer cheesecake. “Please kill me.”

23:48

(But it won’t come true because she told me what she wished for).

Night Crawlers

00:23

She didn’t want to go home because it didn’t feel like home at all. The empty streets felt more like home than her little studio room so off she went.

00:57

He knew she’d had enough when he noticed that it took her eight seconds to decide if it was a star or an aeroplane.

01:11

He knew she’d had enough but he did it anyway.

01:13

He knew she’d had enough and said No No No No I don’t want to Please No Please Please Stop Get off me Please No Get off Please but he did it anyway.

01:17

He did it anyway even when her screaming stopped.

01:19

He did it anyway even when her breathing stopped

01:38

He dumped her all those years ago with a nasty line about her being a storm and him wanting an easy life, saying she was impossible to live with.

01:39

He dumped her down by the brook and hid her body under some pieces of wood. They were damp and covered in woodlice. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.

They crawled over his hands, around his wrists and up his shirt sleeves. They got into his shoes and ran up his trouser legs. He shrieked and yelped as they climbed his back, over his neck and into his ears. He jumped around like a madman, trying to shake the bugs off him, but every time he’d cleared some of the woodlice off him, another army had arrived.

The commotion happened to alert two police officers that were doing the rounds of their patch. Since the statue had been vandalised, night crawlers had been drafted in to keep an eye on the park after dark.

He was sentenced to 29 years.

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