Sunday, 7 June 2015

On Not Being Adult

There is a crucial point of engagement
I haven’t perfected.
The characters flake-up.
I am typing ‘friends’
This is my story

I sit in silence
 I have something to make
They have ascribed my sentence, ‘writer’
Downstairs a ‘mother’ in role,
In grievance,
‘Daughter’  and looks
Into the fire.

In flames
We see the possibility of removal,
She exhumed to grandmother instead
Thinking of the adult hunched over typeface, larger
Than ten year old she tucked in the same  bed.

She does not read the words, only looks
At lines as if they present a path
The grandparents ease the phrase of self-absorbed
Over the television’s canning laugh.

For their idea of definition  
The possibility still in hands
Is for ‘work’ to making a living

And yet I adopted the typist’s stance.
The lowering of the gaze, prepared
That to the old I shall never make a life
Answer to the pine of my own wrists

When all they want is space to cry

You've made it
When I lose the art of pretending, faking
Curl my mouth
And feel it – ache.

We throw nouns around
Like we know where.

I suppose you’ve done it too
Bursting into tears still in the stairs
Of your family home
Now just a house on an avenue.
Parts returned, but nothing there.
And in the night you lie alone
Note the space your palm occupies
Open, on the pillow
Caching cold
The look you will never see
In your own eyes

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Preparations She Makes For Age

I push the knife below the skin
The almost intimate secret of
No mark at all
Just the smile of slit, right
Where I dig my nail and start to pull.

Disrobing becomes a part
Of what is expected

Over marble, a slab indecent
Flecked, as if with ash
And parts, tip the units, surrounding
-          I hold the onion in my hands.

The skin comes away with residue
Birthed too early, slimed
Tinged blue - the hurt,
The hurt not on my hands
But in my eyes

The complete coming away
Of a facade

How many weep in the family kitchen
Where the knives are displayed
Like invitations?
I guide the blade to the bulbs head
The extent of parenthood
Released on pressure, reflects in rings.

I move the knife, like a touch
With deliberate speed
The translucent ties, shimmer and break
And something adolescent
Over the vision

Falls as salt water.
I have spent, small
Looking up to the idea of adult
Only for the acridity of expectation
To bruise the knuckles
Like a root.

The utensils to do dirty work
After all
Look beautiful
Hung like streamlined game
Ripening with shine in the sick suburban sun
The kitchen’s fruit
Each one has a name

And I
Have one  -

Which bites my mouth as I begin to eat
Handfuls of raw onion, crave
For the confirmatory burn of defiance,
The anticipation of the others face

Entering the kitchen, the clatter on tiles
Of her heels she wants to make her ‘woman’
And yet seeing the girl crouched by the side
The onions
Ringing her as ‘mother’

Making her undone. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

I Eat and Drink Replicas

I eat and drink replicas
The paper cup, on the plastic dispenser
-          Small soldier
Upturned palms in the running river
Seem almost alien.

My face
A combination of hair shaven
And skin drawn-in
Floats between them.
I rise to the window
Confessing a morning
A stir the milk power
Through decaff coffee.

I taste

They flicker like television
Where I watch jealousy
Not sure if channelled or true,
To cement the cracks in my hands with
Cream assuming youth

And pretty looks from the tubed screen
The reconstitute food stuff
To bend a smile over

Though never enough.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A Dictionary for Delinquents

Every day I  break for the same things
In different combinations
Rearranging reference
On this same shelf.
The files
For aspiration, family, health
Are inspired before I am
I look at my signature work
Beneath  pen grit, paper layer
Postage stamp.

Commodity has taken
Combinations of syllables
‘Computer’ – falls from my tongue
Like heavy equipment.

I am not  a social ‘life’ but a ‘presence’
I sit in my  sentence
Or bedside a promotion
The eyes
The glass lends its lenses.

I have made myself ‘open’
Like the physical file
Metal rings in the centre

Clasps which snap twice.

She was testing her tongue – in the least crude way possible. Well, all ways of ‘testing’ seem somehow shameful, like the tongue is a small animal only ever intended to lap at a certain level, peaceably domesticated. The process was happening, heavy in her hands as she took a lipstick like a pen and pulled the expected signature round her mouth. It added a certain emphasis then to words like ‘hello’ and no.’

The tongue endures its fair share of cruelty, she thought – brought to the edge of admissions, like a sport, then bitten back. All these, metaphors of course, and she knew that, creasing her lips over her teeth in an acceptable smile. She brushed her hair with a hiss of old bristles slowly breaking down something natural, using the television as a kind of mirror. 
It was 7.23 am, as the ‘News’ announced on the screen – emblazoning the digital time with thick white digits in a red bx. There was something almost angry about it, like teeth bared over a mass of mouth. Yet she tried not to think, but to watch the ‘news’. It is one of those word ‘news’ – now an idiom tossed like a vinaigrette for the public appetite; there is an assumption of a slight refinement to it. A TV show that not everyone watches. But everyone seems to have a conception of what ‘new’ is - original, something different. This screen wasn’t. Someone had been shot, a politician was involved in a sex scandal, and the weather was mixed. She sipped her tea which tasted more of the tanning of the tea bag than the leaves themselves. She had managed, after all, to convince herself that this was the form in which she liked ‘tea’ – like a kind of absence.
Though perhaps she was lying to herself. Would she lie to herself? Her eyes regarded themselves in the mirrored surface of the screen like one insect confronting another. ‘Lie’ was another one of those words; though there perhaps is something a little sleazy to it – it never seems positive. With the word ‘lie’, a kind of horizontal limitation comes to mind, of body plastered, side-down to a surface. Even to be accused of ‘lying’ with another, is deemed like a form of limitation. A ‘lie’ itself is; like an envelope spat from the slat of the post-box, it had no direction, does not fit with intention.
Yes, she lied, her eyes brought horizontal – closed, open, wide. She messed with her stare for a few seconds. The television she noticed, in its top corner, announced it was ‘Live’. Strange. She thought to ‘live’ was what people were supposed to do, not television stations. The number of occasions at which she had been told to ‘live a little’, like when she sat at her desk and stared into the distances that only a computer face can constitute. Living was meant to be the awful, in-your-face amalgamation of harsh physicality and a kind of exertion people assumed to be ‘feeling’. yet behind a screen, it was permitted to be pale and two-dimensional, paper – looking at ‘live’ from layer behind layer. It was an old television, so a screen with a vast empty space behind its bulky screen-frame. They have become ‘better’ though, televisions, thinning, slimming, to conceal the space behind.
People don’t seem to like knowing that there is space in places. After all, the words don’t quite fit for a start. Perhaps that is what ‘work; is for. That named occupation which swum up as the digits shifted on the screen . They managed that activity known as ‘reminding’. Perhaps that was what her smile was like, a little digital box, flickering for arrangement in the face like it did as a child, the same phrase ‘look mummy it works’ – only now, slightly tamed, typed. She remembered bringing down the magnifying glass on the ant in the sun and shrieking ‘Look Mummy, it works, it works, it works.” Testing her tongue over the remains.

Monday, 1 June 2015

On Time

(Place your hands where you please)

It’s been set up
The custom-black couch, the embroidered
Gold watch
The long corridor with water tanks,
Barred windows.  The backstage
With public access, so not a full truth
Only half
I watch my reflection in the glass
I have already drank

I rinse my laugh
As the doctor says
‘You will mature over time,”
The body  hung, as by  wire or  vine
Like an exposed joint above the fire.
I nod for the  flames to swill my sides.

He says,
(making the note of fingers
On my face, tracing the lumps)
Raised mouth ignites like a match’s nub
-          You have time yet
I already watch my wrist in greedy snatches
As if looking for a pulse

I am out of it
As ‘they’ would say, the audience  in the wings
Of the provincial angel
Pulling the crown
Of triumph
Over the eyes as the child still sleeps.

Or keeps, time in the palm
Like an animal plucked from space
Like a wish, a metaphor
A habitat missed

Too ashamed, like surveying the catch
Consciously, of fish now hooked
Yet knowing that is losing time
And looking for the line, like something stitched

Yet rather than had, it is something told
In silence, on the last platform, alone
Its paradox of in and out is given, found
In the hands

Yet is never known.