Hey Doll

Take it off.

Take it all off and show your skin.

Peeling dried

smooth cheeked

sun-bleached fringes of dull jaded fern

You hate it, I know,

You hate the limits that your skin has an end

That air touches you and makes you real

That you watch so many things from a window

Orb of yellow, pool of spite

Light in your eyes

distorted with layers of temperature and current

You are not real you are a vapour trying to keep its form

What form will the spaces give your face now

Will you be pious?

Good little girl, brave face

Sliding down in beads of water

Hardly seen

Coming up again in a cloud

Hardly seen

You have no touch you are painted over

Hello, doll.

Trauerblumen 1917 Painting by Paul Klee; Trauerblumen 1917 Art Print for sale

From Space to Nothingness

Open that green door into the house

 

A flutter, and my heart with its visceral beat

Blackbirds and fowls running amok

Between the walls like antler velvet

Old oak beams groaning in time to the cobwebs’ string

singing black glossy feathers like comfort and warmth.

 

Come through the battered door, if only I could

I have everything to give, everything shaped

By you, unknown you.

 

The trees are silent in a gnarly golden wood

Floating above a beaten silver water’s edge

melting to sky,

 

And the blue paint chipped pots

Wait on the wooden table

pockmarked with soft red circles in a smoky whitewashed kitchen

I have dreamed of places to fill

And to be

 

It must be nice, it must be nice

To have a landscape loved pooling around

It reminded me of the burgundy shawl flapping

 

Bat like, bad omen, the moon rising steep,

Smoke rising, Vaughan Williams in grey skies, a false note on the river Dee

I see you, Haven.

 

I see myself, too.

If only I could

come home, finally, to pitted wood and

Sweet walnut gravy with caramelised onions

burnt in warm voodoo fires and old ersatz friends

 

The nut filled aroma of pleasant dusk and spat-out violet sparks

And light shining through the foggy day

Into unreal domesticity

It must be nice to have a thing loved,

For I will love you well, even the dead.

 

I have everything now

And all I am is waiting.

 

Flight

There was a shape on the grass

A tree rising over it like the skin line of smoke

Smooth gloss rub and

Nacre black feathers

With vanes like blades of water

lying by the tar soaked edge of a beach.

The eyes were of shifting metal,

Melting and dropping and reforming,

What or if they saw

They saw madness

I put my hand on the crow

Not crow, not alive, not beak, not black

But mine.

Faint webbed skin lying against sleek feather

kneeling curved over small crumpled body

Dotted black on a flat spread line of green,

A strand of feather against the billowing blue sky.

And the grass russet against the head,

Rushed away from the body

It rolled green towards the edges

Ran into stalks of gold swaying warily

And then down, down into the brown earth sinking into purple.

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Day

The street by the house is a frame straight line,

riddled with gaps and fixes filled with water

between now and then and now and when

these puddles lie reflecting rainbow sheen.

I forget nearly always, I forget how it felt

In the spiral of it all, the close coupling of routine,

I forget the lines beneath the skin and the flash of deep sea

The blue lines lying underneath with red

And I find it infinitely easier to remember

them as buildings and objects,

that silver foil stuck to that bench, for instance, that’s you

That red bucket upturned over prickly grass is you.

As darkness falls a memory of suspended water and light

I begin to chase the fog, down the street past the restaurant,

I chase the fog, I run

holding head above water hoping I see clearly

I run through the sky winding flutes, I don’t know where or when

Perhaps happiness breathes its breath in a lifelong meal,

strands dissected and held together over pockmarked breath

But somewhere a burning sun

now, then and when,

surely somewhere a perpetual red burning sun.

tilia_film_4

Paddling

It strikes me that we will never be great

Like those grey dots separated by nothingness

On a flickering screen brighter towards the center.

The world is a tapestry woven




For each of us, to forever hold

Sacred and watch

And watch

And watch




Watch with these frightened eyes,

Frightened of what, we do not yet know.

Watch through tears running down our cheeks

Arising from the crest of the undertow.




This silk drops from a great height,

Travelling through time

Through dust born by gimlet eyed carriers

As the path leads we know not where



And the ripples scatter like ducks over a pond

Even as we cry and hope and laugh and rage,

We raise a gun, and take aim.

 

saskatchewan_duck_hunting

 

I really like the bleakness of cold mornings when people go hunting. I don’t know why. It seems very arborial and antiquated to me – hunter gatherers of the present.

I don’t have a lot to say about this poem, I wrote it just now, so it’s quite clear, I think. The picture is from somewhere in Canada, I wanted a very cold and foggy one of the lake district but I couldn’t find any. It’s a very cinematic shot, it’s so organic and beautiful, and those are geese curving their wings, not ducks.

The more primeval parts of the lake district make me think of Seigfried and the dragon and it’s all very medieval Germany for some reason. Or is it Saxon? I don’t know.

Bide

They make the roads very straight here.

Men pour cement and purple black gravel and flecks of sticky tar,

And these roads, they run into cities under burgeoning black skies on golden

Rollers and golden lights, shining paved and strong.




By the road, by the silver night, the shore of a river

Lies belly-up; brown slick mud exposed like innards

And beyond that on both sides is the dark.

The trees rise rustling black, gaping against the




Light purple edges of the sky

Enclosing a blackness so deep that I have become a seer.

I see pale gold leaves just beginning to bud in the half light

I see dried blue cornflowers glowing faintly




I see pale faces looking out from between the trees.

The gorge falls to me on the other side

In facets of lavender and sapphire and wisps of smoky rock

I smell the lavender as it falls down and it smells sharp and old.




The tears roll down those mute faces.

Did your blue-eyed girl go away? Or was it father, enemy, or friend?

Does it hurt like glass forcing its way through your veins?

The world would be a better place if we bore each other’s pain.




We don’t. 

Do you cry, my invisible friend?

Do you feel?

Do I make you laugh? Do I make you cry?




Lives flash green and sparkling in the dark, running with childlike glee.

On and on they spin, without questions or answers, ensconced in

just a low domestic roar of conversation and cutlery and glasses clinking-

Where is that red warm hand that we all seek?




The horizon lights up in a white heat

as strokes of lightning cut the pale glittering dust of the sky

The ground rolls and shakes like a green wave

And the roads crack.

 

peder_balke-nordlys

 

The illustration I’ve chosen for this piece is by Peder Balke, a 19th century Norwegian painter. He is vastly underrated. He painted the aurora many times, but this is the one painting that I find absolutely mesmerising. It’s in black and white, taking the colours away from a phenomenon that is famously colourful, and because of that it is so true.  They are like curtains of light forming mirages of worlds in the night sky.

There is no aurora borealis in my poem, but it also features a mirage conjured up by the actor of the poem. I had the inspiration for it while on a bridge at night; the bridge looks out to the city on one side and a huge mass of untamed, hilly woodland on the other. A river flows silently underneath. I usually stand on the side of the woodland. As I looked out into the night, I saw colours. It was very dark and it should have been too dark to see anything, but I saw  colours in the trees. They weren’t bright, you understand, just subtle shifts in greens and blues so slight that it’s entirely possible that I imagined them. But they were there, and it was like a fourth dimension, it felt nearly miraculous. It was wonderful.

But I don’t know.

Drunk

My stars come down to my cheeks.
I paint my face,
darkness in my eyes and hope in my ears.
Blood dripping slowly from the world.

I know you. 
I know you through these restless vapours
I know you through the paint
the smell of people, the stink of them.

Did you think they smelled like magnolias?
No, darling, they smell like vomit
They didn't tell you that did they, at school
Or even at your deathbed.

I hear those beads.
I hear turqouise beads clashing like snow
setting off sparks of blue
I never forgot them, I didn't.

I am sorry I did, your beautiful pale face
trying to be polite, trying so hard
but I hate it when you are polite.

Be terrible. Be like a fifty foot
tall wave that destroys. I don't 
love you. No one does. 
Love doesn't exist. But nature does.

 

drinkingbardrunkillustrationpubillustratortomerhanuka-bc0247b9654217c73bd3d700c417d33f_h

I have written this while drunk. I went out to a party. And I felt what I always feel after getting drunk – rage. I was ‘snarked’ to by a person. While trying to help another person who was ill. In that moment I wished all the dogs of hell after her, I wished for storm and rage and the black, black seas to drown her. We become so narcissistic when drunk. The only smell I really associate with being drunk is a sour smell of dried vomit. And sweat.

And now I’m writing this the morning after. To be fair, I don’t think I was being very helpful to the ill person, I was busy being engaging, funny, and interesting in my ‘quirk 5000’ disguise. I don’t like myself when I am drunk, I become the  worst caricature of every girl who has ever been drunk in a mainstream film. I’m having fun in the moment, but it acts as a false bridge to other people. And once it fizzles out, all the goodwill and the good-natured part of me that bursts to life on drops of gin, I feel very angry.

Which is when I wrote the things above. They’re not very good. They’re shit. I think because I was consciously trying to be poetic. Also because it wasn’t a very good night. It didn’t provide much for dramatic or poetic potential. It was just dull. A little depressing. But then all things of the night seem depressing in daylight.

I’ve written loads of stuff while drunk, though nothing good enough to turn me into an alcoholic. I find that drunk writing is propped rather heavily by one feeling, usually sentimentality. I find that strain running through all of my drunk writing. Even through the one, and only, drunk text I have ever sent. Thankfully it wasn’t too embarrassing objectively, but to me it was intensely so. Sentimentality is uncomfortable. Revealing things is distasteful. And I think that’s the point, drunkenness takes the fine point away from intentions and emotions and leaves them lying in broad, mingling, primitive pools of slime.

Here’s something I wrote in a club last year in October. I was astonishingly out of it, standing in the midst of people, typing away at my phone.

 

I was with some people in a club standing next to them texting and when I looked up I was with a completely different set of people. People replace people so fast. Everyone I’ve ever know is mediocre, with normal houses and families and normal aspirations. I become a more gregarious person when I drink. What I really am I is melancholy. You feel as if you can do anything. You feel sad, desperate. All these people around you to forget. We shouldn’t have to forget. Heady heady feeling rushing to our heads we should rush each other. Rush to do the extraordinary. Rush to become what we are not. Every sinew will scream against it but do it, darling. Do the chit chat and do the impossible. Because you can. Because it doesn’t  matter. Because the auto correct on your phone works. Because despite being barely able to stand you are typing this down. Because I love you, this other part of me that transcends things. That cries for me. Never let me go because you keep me and you make me sane. Oh darling I feel you beside me in the cold. Please stay with me forever.
Red light on their faces and everyone is so happy. I wish they would remain like this forever. I apologise. These faces frozen in that red light. Would that be how they want to be immortalised? Distant voices saying drunken things. That’s all that’s left. I can’t do this anymore, it makes my head hurt. I cannot pretend. Singing high and pure, alone, that is how I want to be remembered. A strain of voice unafraid and pure, transcending us all. Something bigger than us keeping us stable. My voice in time. Frozen in the red like theirs.

 

Now this is – I don’t know what this is. It has some soaring rhetoric edged with a kind of ecstatic, almost religious, pleading. It’s terrible because it’s so clumsy in what it does, it knows that it’s clumsy and it’s pretending to be good writing when it’s not. It’s actually trying to be the kind of writing it thinks people might read and might be moved by. It’s an imposter. It clings and draws away, runs through sentences headlong and arrives in a clumsily executed skid. The tense is also strange, it starts off as if I’m relating an experience, and then it becomes into the experience, so the writing an active part of the situation and the writer turned into something very similar to a documentary filmmaker.

But you don’t really hate what you end up writing. Even though it makes one cringe, even though it’s terrible – and believe me, I am not one to quibble over writing styles and format, to each their own – there is something in there. There is something I am ashamed and proud of, there is the unabashed inebriation. I have written a thousand words trying to explain my drunk feelings, but that paragraph is it.

Illustration by Tomar Hanuka, find him at thanuka.com

 

Holiday

The cottage was long, settled in the grass with a pleasant grunt
Everything fit
The whole world compressed
And gently shaped
We spent a summer there
My room was mint green
with rocks everywhere
And a mirror in a green frame
encrusted with cheap, faded rhinestones.

My bed was near the window
with copper rocks on the white sill
dull hay lines running through their sides
And the ceiling sloped down towards the other night

The living room was downstairs
with big windows looking out to glowing tin roof sea
The kitchen cupboards were full of labelled jars
We loved cinnamon so much the whole cottage smelt of it
No one could decide if the smell was sweet or savoury

We weighed everything down with sun warmed rocks
That's what rocks are for.
Books, paper, plates, doors,
and folded up clothes.

The books in the house were all unknown
thrillers and love stories and Reader's Digests
and I remember I mocked them
We wrote things on the beach with sticks and rocks
they wrote 'happy birthday' in the sand

And I wrote on paper 'promise me don't cry'

After noon when it began to get dark
he would get jittery for food
stomach cramping sweat breaking
We would all twist our wrists

Faster & faster & faster & faster
till the clicks were not clicks
And I cut sandwiches, white and clean,
horseradish paste - strangely pink
And crispy leaf

But we never ate in the dining room
A long room with a long oak table
shiny and dark and polished
With a filigree turquoise lamp hanging overhead.

She lay next to the dull, glowing lights of the car
green grass and grey tarmac in pale yellow light
And breathed in the smoke & smiled
her hands stopped roving
As if caught momentarily on pale string

The steps were so small that only my feet fit
We ate Italian sausage 
and buzzing, static rocket
with juice running down our chins

The sun fell again in golden olive lines
inside an amber dome
through tall leafy trees and their rust shade
And we went about our business,
sneakers crunching on purple gravel.



We sat near the window & flies
flew in
and couldn't fly out
And we swatted them for being lost.

I haven’t posted anything new in a while, but this is a fairly long poem I wrote this morning. I’ve been developing it for a few weeks now, and the idea first came to me when I was on a train on a very sunny day.

This was the result of spending a few days in a cottage that we rented somewhere in New York a few years ago, so of course the sea mentioned above

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isn’t really a sea, it’s lake Erie. I remember that the cottage was both fresh and musty, and my feelings for it ranged from an overwhelming infatuation to a vague disquiet. The atmosphere of the holiday was electric, to say the least, and the ruralness of the setting was not something everyone was necessarily used to. The quiet was nebulous and threatening, unfamiliar American countryside.

I think I take so long to post things because I am very reluctant about my writing, I don’t think much of it is good, and I struggle to come up with things that I feel will be worthy of sharing with people. That has never happened, I think, and when I do post I post in a quick haze of writerly occasions when I type things right onto the blank screen and click post. And then I think ‘oh God, this is really not very good.’ But I leave it there.

Inside

I’ve been feeling strange recently. It’s summer so I’m home for a bit. My dog has started acting hostile towards me. My head hurts all the time and I feel crushed with some massive invisible weight. I think it’s the weight of all the future. It’s just so daunting, that way, that trek to reach the threshold you’ve set for yourself and I just can’t stop thinking about how much time it’ll take me, how hard it will be, all the horrid, grimy little details.

My mind wanders off in strange unsettling directions. Violence. Xenophobia. I suddenly no longer recognise the world I live in. It changes like the weather, and why do we develop feelings of trust if human beings, collectively, change like the weather? 

Sideways and onward, hitting walls and splitting bones

we move like a juggernaut crushing

ether, nails, and fists that make cornerstones

everything the air the sides of the invisible

crusting over

with hands grasping climbing choking blocking

thousands and each other and grasping their own throats

circle

circle

everywhere and nowhere

we sink and we rise

though fit to be despised

 

Everything I write seems to be of a sour colour and I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my head above everything. 

Who I want to be

Underlined and no longer inside