Bathroom Hymn

These moments – cold,
in the bathroom,
naked except for the blister plasters
and the indent across my ribs
from the new bra.

Before the eyeliner is scrubbed away.
Before I’m back to that flushed girl
with big dreams.

These moments – fresher
than the rest.

And in the end, always,
I’m churning everything inside me,
making pretty songs. But especially moments
like this.

Moments with clothes curled
on the tiles, with blue clarity,
the moments wondering if it matters
that my tits are lopsided.

Always poetry.

There are boys swimming in my head,
boys I once knew,
boys I might know,
girls I want to find. All
poetry.

Suds down the drain. Sponge on skin.
Every moment in every bathroom –
every grimy, cold bathroom,
stacks of them, in my head.

Holy baths and sloppy showers,
moments for renewal,
moments of dirty thoughts.
Underwear kicked off, inside out,
door locked so only
this moment
exists – here – in front
of the mirror, the same crooked
grimace, the same curious brows.

Moments of steam and condensation,
bed socks twisted together.
Cold weight of wet hair, always
the same cycle. Water
rolling down my back.

I am my own voyeur, in all these moments.

 

attics

Sherlock Holmes said that your brain is like an attic, and ordinary people stuff it full of unnecessary boxes and junk. I’ve been thinking about that today. My headspace is all jumbled up, bursting at the seams, my thoughts are nothing if not erratic. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and full of everything, and other times I feel completely empty. It’s hard to find a balance. No matter whether I’m full or empty, I always get things wrong. I never know what to say to people, or how to just be normal in conversation. I’m so terrified of doing too much that I usually end up not doing enough. Even the shortest conversation is a struggle, sometimes. I’m good at getting things wrong. It’s a talent, really.

grading

How does poetry pass the test? How do you give a poem a grade? Even in workshops at uni, I can tell which are good, which need some work, and which are utter shite. But how? They’re just words on a page. Last year I got a First on my poetry. If another person marked them, I could’ve gotten something worse.

I think it might be an instinct thing, a gut feeling more than a physical grading scale, but no two instincts are the same. How does it stay fair? I used to think writing was something some people were good at and some people were bad at. Now I know writing is a skill to be learned, just the same as anything else is, and as long as there is the will to improve, anyone can do it.

I want to get better at it all the time. Sometimes all I know is the drive to write better, the hunger to make my words do more. Other times I feel like I’m too close to my own writing to know whether it’s good or bad. I have words in my head that don’t stop kicking until I’ve written them down, but there’s always more. Will the kicking ever stop? Do I want it to stop? No. Never. I never want to be without the comfort of words. I don’t know what else can carry me through the same way writing does.

Angel Verse

You: cheeks stained with opal drops,
lips smudged with ghost kisses.

Film star smoking in the dusk light,
wearing her wrap around coat and a frown.

Give ‘em hell and make them pay,
or cower beneath the blankets and shiver.

She’s a solid punch to the nose
but she does it so well you’ll praise her fist.

And she lets you take the stage for a while,
so she can watch you swing your hips.

Watch her through the frosted glass,
follow her through the demented nights.

Let her make you crazy.
Let her make you cry.

Swan Lake

My soft soul is too human
for this animal pain
that rips like a ghost upstairs;
uninvited but present, wafting and cold.

It presses a silk hand over my eyes
and drives a silver knife between my ribs.
It kisses my white lips
and forces its’ breath down my throat.

I can cry and I can fall
but can I love with a heart of glass,
full of shards that find comfort
only when bathed in my blood?

My soft soul is too kind
to this animal pain
that preens like a priest at the altar;
promising redemption and forgiveness.

It folds me inside out
and blows, gentles as a Sunday, on my hair.
It speaks in rich tongues
and the only translation I can find is red on teeth.

I don’t bend and I don’t tremble
but instead, I collapse, with my glass heart
shattered like dew drops
on a spiders’ web.

Letter to Henry

“I think they make it ugly on purpose,”
you said, and yet
“beauty is terror”
is always the mantra of the intelligent.
Live forever?
But why? What for,
to treasure the gift we’ve been given?
That smell of rot is a reminder:
ignore the aesthetics of the thing,
Henry, you don’t understand.
Life is fleeting, evil
swallowed up by love.
Henry, put down the books, you’re
dreaming.

Dreaming
Henry, put down the books. You’re
swallowed up by love,
life is fleeting. Evil
Henry, you don’t understand –
ignore the aesthetics of the thing,
that smell of rot is a reminder
to treasure the gift we’ve been given.
But why? What for?
“Live forever!”
is always the mantra of the intelligent.
“Beauty is Terror,”
you said, and yet
I think they make it ugly on purpose.

– a specular poem inspired by the character Henry Winter, from The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

self.

Your head hangs low as you sit up in bed.
It’s blustery and you have to wade
through mulch just to get to the door.
On the street now, every eye is averted, or oblivious,
to the cold grey fish casting you in it’s shadow.
The bottle clinks on the rocky shore,
holding you in its belly of slime.
You do not look up. Are you afraid
of what you might see?
Your thoughts have been scrambled,
pasted in the wrong place, a child’s first art project.
Begin the endless wait, with it’s sluggish pace,
until the wave hits, and you are lost in the depths.
Who bolted the window that has you trapped? The moon
is small, heavy
and eventually day breaks: cloudy,
a weight in your arms.
Who is watching you perform? Can they see the spectre
over your shoulder, the eyes at the trapdoor?
Remake yourself, a new outline,
copy your shadow but not your Self.
There’s miles to go -a hill to climb,
a cave to brave,
but know this:
whether you return or arrive,
you’ll find what you were looking for
with it’s glow and it’s light
and you will be warm
at last.


modelled after The Red Tree by Shaun Tan.

summer.

It’s like the weather. When it’s been hot for so long – long enough that it feels like you have a permanent headache and you can’t shift the clammy smell in your armpits – there always eventually comes a chilly, overcast day to clear the air, and you find that you can breathe easier.

When I’ve been happy for a while (or at least, not sad) there is always a day where I wake up solemn, knowing I’ll feel teary but also that it’s OK – it’s just clearing the air, reminding me. I can ride these days out, roll with it until I either slide back into the rhythm of the happy days, the summer days, or flail for a bit because I can’t find my way back to the warmth again.

But once you’re there, once you’re back to smiling without thought again, the cold days see a lifetime ago – an untouchable memory that you can’t look at for too long. It’s more difficult in winter, but just the same: ride the cold out, wait for spring to arrive like it always does.

~ another journal entry

renaissance

she goes bump in the night –
dawn crawls closer and she shifts restlessly.
thud. thud. thud.

she is your heart, embracing rebirth.

she is claustrophobic, tired
of this cramped pit.
she aches for your sunlight. aches for your ocean.

she is the loose change that clinks in
your pocket she is the hair tie wrapped around
your wrist she is the goddess you pray to in
winter.

she stumbles through hibernation,
her silhouette presses the
filmy chrysalis, a sticky
kiss.

may she unfurl her wings, blow the shackles to
dust. open your ribcage, she reveals herself

Resplendent.

bowed

A corpse inside and out,
the glass fogs thick,
concave, ready to crack.
My neck keens and twists, but still –
there you are.

I eat my screams to nothing,
teeth marks embedded in my desire.
Permanence beckons,
tells me I can sleep if I wish, but still –
there you are.

Past skin, past bone – there’s
my heart.
Your ringleader and your acrobat.

Still it doesn’t know.
Still I wish it did.