Friday, 29 May 2015

A Performance in Anger

I feel angry
They have taken my form and have hanged me
As if my flesh is to be fancied
Sheared from the bone.
I have lost what romance is
The familiarity of home
Clings to my fingertips
On whatever I grip
I have chanced it.
I have no fixed abode
The irony of ownership
Also does for the throat
It vomits forth misunderstandings
Red into the bowl.
Someone sits on my shoulder
But it is not Saul or an epithet
Rulers and teachers
I have grown out of those - 
I have grown out of my clothes
With a kind of bone
Which makes the skin remarkable,

I have invited a darkness
To occupy the slats and the spokes
Of a skeleton,
A shade at my feet
And I repeat
I am angry,
As I cross over the street
I am angry
No occupancy
May define me
Within me I do not hold
But nurse a folly
Like an infant
Gouging at that incision

A mouth
A breast
Are all witnesses to the degradation.
I am angry roll up, roll up  -  spectators
And we can smoke the evening together
Or if you prefer
We can kindle my limbs
Or use my hair to blindfold ourselves
I am inviting you
To the time in which I am angry.

It is customary, normally
To Die slowly
In style
In front of a lot of people
Fighting one  fiction or another.
The body battles a laugh
I sit in the corner of a life
And wonder
The physical effort
Of placing my cheek to the soul of my foot
The body crunching horribly
And animation sliding forwards
Like an afterbirth.

Oh let me speak
I am angry
The expressions of time – the working weeks
Penned for employment
Those loose occupants of friendship and art
And enjoyment
Mean nothing.
My friend
I am angry
At the edges
Where the fibula grinds through the flesh
And captures the morning
The morning
Like a strength.

People speak, they speak
But no one ever replies
see that rejection flaring
In their whites of their eyes
A nervous curdling of the unset flesh
Upon  which the thoughts chair themselves
And the fingers swear
On the keys
In anger
Or tie with rings
In anger
As I trace my lines in anger
And write to fill them in
In anger
And live within that theatre
Of other people’s lives
In anger like a stage hand
I wear black

The smiles impersonal

The curtain my mural. 

You notice when you stop

It was one of those mid-winter days where the sun begins to coagulate in the sky mid-afternoon, turning the sky to sickly pallor before finishing in a bruise of black by 4pm. Beth began to notice this as she was finishing her lunch-time shift in the restaurant – the absurdity of the time of year where people consumed food endlessly into the day, clutching comfort where they could get it.

She threaded between the tables under the incessant stare of artificial orange light and the twisted paraphernalia one may manage to associate with Italy when under the influence of alcohol. Plates were stone cold in her hands as she lifted away the finished meal from the table of an elderly couple – a meal that looked barely different from when she had served it. The strange empty eyes of the old man, the shrunken skin hanging against the jaw, made her want to cry. A young couple argued at an adjacent table, the clockwork gesticulations of their hands seemingly  attempting to compensate for empty words – such horrible desperate gestures! Gestures drawn by thick sluggish pulses of blood and wine mulching in the veins like a sickness.

She had had enough. Enough of the forced fa├žade people had fastened to their faces – the whole room seemingly an exhibition of synthetic sympathy. It made her sick! Sick as she heard the regular Click, click, click – from the wall-clock perhaps, or the sharp shocks of knife in the kitchen, splitting the heads from spring onions in a bitter execution. Only ten minutes left. Damp hands shook in the fold of her apron.

Ten minutes of waiting. She wanted to open her mouth and ask them – what am I actually waiting for? Am I waiting for you to fill my life with some menial activity so I can feel money cold in my palm and go home to return again? Am I waiting for you? Am I waiting to say the anticipated words at anticipated times and mirror your gesticulations so you feel safe? Do you want me to wait, dripping with cordiality?

Seething, she cleared away the detritus from the corner table – the table where a young woman had sat by herself all evening, eating with painstaking slowness like a kind of sacrilege, poised like she had been preserved amidst the strange sour smell of vinegar. Beth remembered how the red wine had stained the woman’s lips – appearing, from a distance, to be a slick incision scoring between pale cheeks. The cutlery was eerily clean. Beth picked up a napkin smeared damp with mascara, crumpling it into the bin. She wondered why people visited restaurants in that grand old exhibition of public life, as if affirming that they had a kind of self-consciousness, operated like others. For everyone seemed so unhappy.

A birthday cake coated in candles emerged from the back – it seemed to drip flames, circulating the restaurant interior. The illuminated boast – look who’s survived another year!  Manic applause and laughter, horribly cavernous smiles to cover the unrepentant sadness which slid through the blood as coarse as salt.

Those who looked especially unhappy were those who would usually ask for their meat ‘rare’ – as if they envied some mistaken form of exclusivity, desired some strange sense of identification. What of the identity of flesh and blood and grease and sweat?

Very little. Beth supported soiled plates against her chest like a porcelain doll, taking them mechanically to the back of the  restaurant where a boy, not much older than herself, would clean them. It was strange how so few seemed to think about his task – his hands against the saliva of speech, coursing away those empty words and teeth-marks. His fingers flexed in the water is as if stirring a vat. Beth turned and choked her apron against the whitewash in its own noose. She had 4pm leave to return by 6pm. There was no comment from anyone – just table after table of greying skin like some dreadful metaphorical tapestry, the clash of glass being scoured, the choking gasp of hot oil left too long in the pan, lobsters screaming.

Outside, the sky was still slightly flecked with cobalt and instead of walking, she ran.
The restaurant was some kind of highly-idolised, rural composition for those who had convinced themselves they were passionate about location, having lost self-location long ago. For those couples with cavernous cars they could use to construct some idea of identity – parked row after row like new-shined coffins. Beth crossed behind the restaurant over a stile and into a field. The grass cast against her legs, almost serpentine, an endless dark mass in the dying light opened up languorously like liquid. Silence was treasured, and here it glistened as it seemed to sink her to the ground, her hands crystalline with dewdrops as she lowered her head onto the earth.

Staring upwards, the magnificent expanse of sky domed like an arched spine. How everything pulsed and throbbed – these terrible organs of the world! All flashing lights and loss and screams! The blood pounding through her ears, the occasional click of the pheasant, the throbbing lungs crackling as if sifting ice from the chill air. She hated herself – for having eighteen years of experience and still not knowing why she felt such inerasable sadness, a sadness which would smite as if sewn through tissue.

Her body lay heavily whilst the ground seemed to force upwards, like in her suspension she was amidst some terrible conflict which strived to crack her ribs apart. Her tongue trilled against her teeth as if nervous in the hiatus, anticipating hysteria. For the World cannot cope with those who stop, that was what she told herself as her work clothes became saturated against her back, beyond any form of identification, the body clotted inside a single skin. Cocoon-like, a chrysalis. Tears trembled like globes to decorate the cheeks. It was as if a weight brooded in each half-open palm, fixed to the vague texture of the earth usually scored only by footfalls and floodlights.

The stars peered through the black bandage of the sky like poorly shrouded puncture wounds. For the whole thing was rotten, she knew. Her mouth opened in a half-cry as if to taste the sudden seep of silence, the hot salt of the advancing evening in which people may hold each other, some image, anything to flee like desperate animals the immeasurable pulse of loneliness which continuously creeps over unassuming flesh.

She thought of the cries in the restaurant, the exclamative assertions announcing ‘I’m so happy!’. How bitterly she laughed, how she laughed as she felt something so cold and beautiful against her palm, the arms of the night flexing towards her mouth. It could have been hours, she let the earth cradle her like a corpse. There was an annihilating cold, the world a globe  beneath the sad plinth of her spine.

A group of cows huddled softly, gently in one corner of the field, their long eyelashes brushing the bottom lids with an eerie regularity, keeping their gaze cautiously, almost tenderly.
Beth rose, for she knew she had to return the restaurant – to return to the instrumental, the sprockets and springs with the desired femininity of consumer efficiency. Nothing more than a pylon, throbbing a few fields away, dully, numbly. Why had she been given the capacity to feel? Granted the capacity to hurt like some great greased weight?  The wood of the stile was a bare bone beneath damp hands, a human skeletal arrangement for some  kind of convenience.

She staggered into the restaurant – the thickened air of forfeited joviality swam through her nostrils, the familiar persuasive sedative. The Click, click, click like the strange sideward motions of securing ammunition, lock, trigger. Beth put a hand to her head. To her left, another waitress sat entwined on the bar stool  -  some ornate ornament, adding  to the complimentary furniture.

The fork had stopped halfway to her mouth. The meat seeped, still pink.


There is the endless possibility
The open mind extends
Learning a language, or musicality,
Reading politics, your friends.
A spotless girl on the library steps is leading
A talk on ‘how to be successful today’
And the mutterings of ‘straining’ and ‘stressful’
Dissolve on the lips of the blessed as they pray.

For I too may idealise after such a disguise
That some call ‘effort’ and others just ‘enough’
And question, whether flawed or perfected

-  leaving what is believed to be love. 

Ballroom Victories

There is a cold, which cracks the ribs
From the beneath the crown
Of the human heart, and you dig deep
My love, and I feel the dull gold in my fingers
Infinitely chilled, infinitely valuable.

It is a trick, sometimes we perform
Beneath those shrill lights of the morning walk
Where lines carry their candles, arm in miserable arm
And all I see is the waves
And ask
Is it warm?

The casket of your hands, my love
The chalk, of that fine-drawn mouth
Where you talk, talk, talk.
You are a geographical entity.
Incense meshes the breath
and you come back to me.

It is on another edge I pause
Ah, we’ve been here times before
Take a long dry draw of the winter
And watch it dissipate, plate those lips
With ice
As you bear me up through this
Veritable flood of
Old hands which have shaken

More than twice. 

Monday, 25 May 2015


Becomes an accustomed action
With parental aggression
I open my eyes a fraction, for the call
‘Go to bed’.
My back to the wall, knees pressed
To my head
I have broken the room
The lamp harbours shade
The day becomes dregs
The pelt on the plaid.

For I stare at the red cotton
 Cast on the carpet
Like a  splashed actress

Sounds like a fine material
When you let the words fall
On your own skin
I forget
 How I open my grin
In all its incision.

Curtains hide the disgrace
That I
Have learned nothing

For ‘bed’ becomes a dial
Replacing the eye
Not meant to have vision
Not yet
At this time of night.

It is half past eleven
My fingers pass through the ply
Of pixelation
For now I am really myself
 A mistress

Or is this a child
With bed still an address
Where the spine lies, embryonic curve
Of bed below body
Waiting for the verbs?
The pulse like a damp drum

But nothing ripens.

Screwing time
Lying into the morning
Still assumed to be night
With a smile undeceiving
-          Ah those tokens of truth
But the parents have spoken

The eyes are hidden

For another evening . 

Monday, 18 May 2015

Drowning in the Kitchen

Consumption is reciprocal
For body it will take until
The sick
Slow heave of bringing
Items back.
Downstairs then, I went to see
How much water
I could drink

To gain a certain confirmation from the weight
‘Daughter’ ‘Dear’ a ‘would-be-shrink’
The liquid lurch then of identity
I had not quite caught up with yet
Prepared by breath with burning tea
To ascertain no feelings left
-          Life in one measure or another
My tongue – a shape to condescend
Plugged my speech then as a funnel

A experiment a bit of fun, a ‘friend’’
For that was what I’d served before
The same with water, tepid
The kind of purge which needs take in more .
The raw alumni there of anticipation
Sealed the body where the unknown breaks
Let in liquid, and began to choke
Transferring pressure, the familiar ache.
Was deeper then
The sleeper’s spill – of not knowing when to stop
The water entered by a tilt
There was no direction of ‘enough’.

The body a thick obstacle
I will dilute eventually
Like they who stand at my tides
With dirtied hands
Waiting for the pools

Of muscle-memory. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Why when someone breaks down are they breaking up?

Thinking is a dangerous thing.

I think in recycled strings – like a passed on virus.  As I wake up, I think that there should be a vague comfort in my hand clutching another; only I pull them apart and find that they are both my own. Wiping them across my face, their salt dampness stings in my nostrils. It congeals with the smell of blood, though I am not  sure whether dangerous or natural.

I am attempting to perfect the art of ‘pulling myself together’. Some do it exceptionally well. Like on the screen which has been running all night beside me, a man stands in a pressed pink shirt with a tie several shades darker, he is preened like a rasher of ambiguous meat people attach adjectives to like ‘quality’  and ‘lean’. His mouth seems to chew over silence. Mine does too, only the jaws cracking open with a gesture that makes  my ears pop and reminds my body of the compression of sleep being lifted. There is a pain below my stomach but I am not sure what it is.

My feet feel inordinately swollen as I press them to the carpet. I seem almost to sway to the bedroom door, before hunching my way uncomfortably down the stairs. These were the stairs I once threw myself down, as a kind of experience. Everyone else related to the incident seems keen to emphasize the factors  of ‘birthday’ and ‘alcohol’ but I do not remember either of them. All I remember was the hot compression of my body crumpled above me whilst my face felt the cold of the linoleum, watching  the patterns of grease  composing secret footprints. It seemed almost unfortunate that people regarded it a ‘shame’.

I reach the bottom of the stairs and retrace  the routine aisle towards the kitchen.

The door handle  seems slippery and overworked. I put my hand to the brass and then against my tongue and back again – the taste of touch. With it in one sense,  socially unacceptable sense. It is a guise that I seem to fall into.  The succession of libs flailing, whether my own or another’s, as I offer my stare to a person on the street.

Now I offer it only to myself in a place I call ‘home’. I watch my own eyes in the glass panel of the kitchen door. There is a black rubbed around them, like a kind of war paint.  My body is painted too, coated with a close fitting material which spreads over scrapes and knocks. I am not sure if the sensation is pain or cleanliness or tiredness or them all.  I guess there is a relief shared as the door clicks open.

I occupy myself quickly in occupying past actions. There is the smell of quickly cooled instant coffee, the type  my mother drinks from a wide-brimmed cup in hasty, unbreathing mouthfuls before leaving the house. She calls it a ‘home’ but I guess in my case it is ‘house’ – I am not meant to be here, by default. I say that to a variety of people and it usually results in an agitation of hands, tears and a GP referral.

On the table, still glimmering from damp cloth, is a handwritten note on old yellow paper and a packet of diazepam.

Initially, the paper appears to present a kind of artistry – a black line carved into curls and flicks, the type which make my eyes swim. Then it blends to figures.

“I collected your prescription. Will be back for lunch. Love u, mum xx”

I liked how she has  shaped the ‘u’ with a light wobble, almost in the imitation of flesh, a personalised hieroglyphic. If she has already left, it must be relatively lake in the morning,. The digital clock on the microwave swims and stings. A little like the ‘x’s’ at the end of the message – sharp, stinging little crosses, perhaps her confession of anger. Angry at what so many ascribe as my ‘waste of time’ – the time I lie, debating with sleep and consciousness, attempting to pull words, myself, together. If I manage to write though, it redeems itself. Well it will once it is transferred  into print sandwiched between two glossy covers with a price tag attached. Apparantely.

Apparent but not real. That is how I feel often, that is how I feel  as I flick the switch on the kettle. I  indulge myself in the assumption that there is water in it, it could be one of those magical moments when there is not and there will be the shriek of gas and confused heat, followed by the slow surging smell of burn. It provides an excellent distraction, then  again, if there is water, there is the possibility of hurt. All it takes is a  flick of the wrist to douse the contents just as easily over the table as into a cup. Over my own chest. I would not have to pay to watch the mornings entertainment, raised flesh and that array of sensations we so easily constitute as ‘pain’.

Something close it quakes  close to where I assume  my stomach is. Perhaps it is hunger. Perhaps it is thrill – the thrill of knowing the unacceptable, the knowing that I could pick up the paper note and grind it down between by teeth and experience something different. There would not be so much written on that, perhaps  there might be some kind of congratulation for being ‘experimental’. There sometimes is, there sometimes isn’t.

‘Sometimes’ seems just to  be one of those assemblages – hanging as  part of that indeterminate barrier between acceptable and unacceptable. I take the routine regular two diazepam as is accepted, popping them into my palm with the similar gesture with which one pushes pus from a wound. I guess that it is unacceptable. It is too as I  take another three. And I don’t take them with water, I chew them, clenching the sour little pips against my teeth with my dry tongue.
Strange – the barrier between two and  three which turn me from ‘sensibility’ to ‘insanity’ within seconds.

A milder version was the morning  I didn’t go on my ‘ paper run’. I had to go in the sense that the newsagent expected me at 7am, a series of  people anticipated the familiar ‘drop’ of the paper through the door. Instead, that morning, I created a talking point, a different narrative. I was the author of interest. I lay  there, head stiff against the pillow, and created something different.
I didn’t go on my paper run again. My parents attributed terms to it like ‘insane’ and ‘mad’.
Would they have understood if I said I was making interest?

Still, I have been pushed into a different profession, one way or another. the polished surfaces in the kitchen begin to glisten, they tell of human hands, not only the family hands, but the hands cutting, shaping, transporting. Everywhere is hot with touch and yet I am cold. The newspaper laid open on the table is cold, as if a body, defencelessly exposed. I take the invitation of its pages and watch them burr between my fingers, falling text after falling text. The text which constitutes the ‘opinion column’ – those certain assemblages of recycled text deemed to be more worthy than others.
I could be ‘wasting time’ or gathering evidence.

I take the paper to the fire some indeterminate time after. I watch the leaves lapse and gasp over the embrace of the flames. There is almost an affection to reduction, I think. Like the tenderness with which I extend my hand, I feel the heat growing close, closer to touch.

I am becoming a better actor.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

We try to live for art yet die in trash

I was sitting sat the edge of the thoroughfare, rather idly, though I can’t say minding my own business. Each second my eye would follow the striking individuality which lay in a strange shade of clothing, a particularly cruel belt buckle, the agitation of veins patterning the surface of a clasped palm.

That day I felt particularly generous, sitting there with the cup at its customary angle to my knees.

Any spare change please, Sir, Lady, spare change; the same old melody, mixing words which seemed insensible – what did the words ‘spare change’ even mine? Why attach the adjective of ‘spare’ to something that is never normally considered as cash? Money is not an assemblage which goes much spare these days, anyone can notice that. Human hearts seem more frequently spare than money is, and I almost wish to claim that as a fact. I can claim a lot, from just having sat on the street with the cup between  my knees. A high-heeled girl clicked past, her feet like precision timers. She had no control in her life otherwise, you could tell by the set of her jaw, it quivered when she walked, yet almost paused when I directed towards her my usual question.

That day I felt particularly generous, sitting there with the cup at its customary angle to my knees.

I didn’t change, but your face did as I asked. I looked up to you.

You didn’t look back.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Last Laugh

The last laugh still on my lips
Coughed out
Like some provincial kiss
I hold my breath

My fingertips

It is an art I have not perfected yet
To trace the angles and edges
The tongue in the mouth
Like a stone.
It has endured centuries
Of apathy, curiosity and abuse
To let the mind pass through

Feeling, with haste
The shattered teeth
The roof, the rivulets
Above, beneath.
It does not have the time to eat.

It tells itself
For  there is a finer thing unwrapped
Like the chime of bells
Once to the metal were so fondly clasped.
There is a task.
There is a task.

Is time passing or am I
I raise life’s hand
To my mouth, by the wrist
Though the skin as dry
And the speech sits
And silence fits

There is the last laugh

Still on my lips.