Friday, 31 October 2008
It is the bloodcurdling scream that comes after a knock on next door
that makes me realise how context changes everything; and just how sweet
fake blood is always surprises me. Three layers of latex and a hole picked in it,
some maroon nail varnish, or syrup with red, coffee and a drop of green.
The verb zombify, or clothes torn anywhere but the seams. The obvious disdain
at obvious costumes and sudden admiration for two-faced makeup and a real-life raven.
All of these things make me decide on a costume I've already worn once,
with a concentration on blue and lack of fangs. Though it would be cool,
to have temporary fangs like that. To pretend to sap sugary blood.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
When the birds squawk
It is much as when a fire alarm goes off
at 4am and you're standing outside
in your pyjamas and a coat and you can only
dance along. It is amusing at first
until the deaths begin; waving tragedies.
The world is not a controllable beast
much as these birds will not shut up
because it is your morning.
When the squawking takes over the sky
there is little to do but shut up, or sing along.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
And we begin to draw up an inventory of all things excellent
in newspaper margins. It could be anything, really,
a collection like this, but we resort to making it up.
It turns out we can't decide what was true
and what was not. Suggestions fly.
There is always awry, or meticulous. Someone
thinks of the longest word but we do not write it down.
It is hard, when it comes to it, to think of things to say.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Where there is no door
I think I am awake but the logic
of how I got in escapes me. Perhaps
this is one of those moments of wakefulness
that eludes wakefulness, the time of day
as irrelevant as what I'm not wearing. Either way
it takes time to locate the lightswitch and
feel my way across the floor. I can't remember
where I left myself, or my shoes, and dread
the trip that reveals them, but no.
It is the door I miss the most; its easy use
and reliability. I check for the logic of it,
but find the whole room wanting
in no other way but this: escape.
Monday, 27 October 2008
It was a green as spinach day
the day I meant to tell you.
Your hair was sprawling and
the toaster had just popped.
We could always see the street name
but today it loomed large
from the kitchen window.
Something stopped me. Perhaps
it was the butter
I was just about to spread
or the clash of colours
I was dressed in all of a sudden
coming clear in the sun. It had risen
earlier, but I only just noticed it then.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
You have sent me a postcard of you as goodbye.
Something tells me this, but it isn't you
who stares placidly. I can only see your contours
and nothing of your colour.
You are younger than I remember, with your arms like that.
Perfect. It's been a long time
since I touched you; but you know that of course.
You are not looking at the camera, or me. I note this
as an exercise in delivery and take heart
that the stranger is a woman which goes to either
prove or disprove a point. The t-shirt you're lifting
is one I bought you. That memory must stay now
as I am; an exorcise in black and white postcards.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Self portrait as an object of thought
Yes, I am
pretty, but only because you say so. I may be
fat instead, but why should it be either? I am
this, and that. I am next door and moons away.
I have hair like that one off the telly, I am mean
with my smiles, but only for you. I am a tease,
half-dressed, on my way, at the end of a long
long night. I am good at it, but rubbish
at what I should be doing. And now I am changed,
but how would you know
from over there?
Thursday, 23 October 2008
You wonder where he got to, with a bollock like that
The memory you have is of its outline on the chalkboard
in your form class at school. But I remember the hilarity
for you; how he pulled his trousers down, weighing one
against the other with sweaty hands; finding one wanting.
There was a darker side, of course, how everyone turned
their heads and kept shtum when the teacher came in,
his head framed, when sitting, by the shaky chalked line.
No-one embellished the picture with wiry hairs, or legs.
No-one suggested a visit to the doctor, assumed
it was under control. But where is he now, with a bollock like that?
How long has it been, for the swelling to fade?
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
My mother and her sister watch their children, Scarborough 1990.
Not one of us was dressed for the summer wind,
all hippy skirts and billows with our hair caught in our mouths.
They weighted the blanket with their own selves,
secretly admiring body parts and underwear
in sudden flashes of sea wind.
We were genetic opposites, this cousin and I, and well aware
of our mothers' shame. In a moment of doubt
we turned the distance from our mothers into an excuse
and tucked our skirts into our knickers. We got our whole selves
wet in a rocky stream-slide, stopping just before the waterfall each time.
Walking up later, our dresses wet through, only the dog
was still carefree in the breeze, her fur parted and flowing
at her flank like fields of rape. Our mothers covered us
in towels with their own skirts firmly tied. We ate eggs
looking out to the wind-tossed sea.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
You were right there
The night was something to remember
if only for the lights, colourful and on our faces
like emotion, unbridled and clear. I tried
to take pictures but the red light left us blurry
and the purple too dark. And you were
right there, but far enough away to be elsewhere:
smiling but not for us. We could touch you
but you never stayed still. The lights
lit you up and they kept shining until sweat
was everywhere and every word spent.
Monday, 20 October 2008
The Golden Fleece
Drinking coke in the oldest and most haunted pub in the city
we sweat in the heat of over-compensation and await the chill
which does not come. And even when the quiet fades to quieter
whilst we sip through lime and ice, other people's attempts at fright
are not enough for fear. It is all far enough away
that we do not plan a return for psychic evenings and ouija boards,
though the myths and scratched black illustrations on the walls
resemble stories we have told in the dark.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Your Facts of Bracken
Smothered, I see the mountains now
enduring coolly; occasional sheep do not eat it
but gather ticks from it into their ears.
It glows russet, casting its death already at the height
of summer: comes back green, like I do, year after year.
And you have recast Scotland for me,
where carcinogens become the only colours
I remember, the only texture of countless walks;
walks that now, I find, I can't recall.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Someone has to do it, but only she proves the rule
in her striplit first-floor office with a perfect view
of York Minster. She wears a navy pinny, does not glance
up, avoids the window and contemplation.
Or perhaps she has had her fill of the history
that must follow on from this; she is more in awe
of the technology for suction than the brick on brick
that brought God to such a city. I think I caught her once
sweeping the wide stone floors inside, walking backwards,
her navy pinny next to lime green and golden robes. I looked again,
and though the floor was clean, she'd left no trace.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Environment conscious, my rubbish is sorted by strangers.
A man in a fluorescent coat sifts through as we pull away
and half my life is spread out on the skip edge; the chef
puppet I used to not play with catches the breeze in his hair,
the Don't Be a Mug mug cracks as it's thrown in with the ceramics.
I am not sad, but there's something about the way they smile,
these men, as they pick up each thing and consider it
for itself. Half my life, context-free, and all I can see are the reasons
diminishing through the wing-mirror with an echo of hilarity
over the sand-filled lizards I used to weigh things down with.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Sometimes it's all it takes to express a moment;
your knee is unconstrained and wild. It aims high,
and gets there. It gets us there, in time and
distraction free. It is the only part of you that is the music
though the rest of you creates it. You are nice,
on the whole, but your knee demands otherwise:
sharp, sexy, in control. But you are nice, and your knee
is just a means to a beat; and errant.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
It is late, now, and I should be sleeping. Again.
There is sleep in my face and it is shaped
like the bed my head enjoyed for a while, deadweight
on a pillow built for support. There is nothing but sleep
in my head for much longer than is necessary
and I am finding it difficult to focus on any of this,
anticipating, as I am, the next time I can lay down
and surrender all sense to the dark and the radio.
It is World Service by the time I am ready, and sleep
is shaped like the perfect yawn just before it's time.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
You have had me about as much
as you've had this view, and in as many ways.
There is only one viewpoint but we
have never been there together,
and there was no-one watching when it came to us
I think. I remember you here
as I gaze out, flowers behind
and mist in front. Two facts that obscure
the truth of it.
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Rag & Bone
There's a time I would rush
from the other side of the house
just to see the horse walk past,
blinkered and dusted with graft.
I envied the boy, dressed in shorts
and a white shirt, riding up front
with his legs dangling as cars shined past.
I envy him now, as I'm sure he does
his past, for I haven't seen a team like that
in as many years as I can think.
The rags, the bones, gained worth
and the pony's services too risky
in the cloying fumes of summer.
I would find something for them, now,
if I were to hear their holler.
I would offer my own bones, perhaps, as something
they could try and sell for profit
from the back of the wagon.
Friday, 10 October 2008
Every time I turn my back on myself
I have gone and changed state again.
Something is tense and now
something else saggy. I have lost all sense
in my posture and my toes are bent.
My fingers know more about typing without me.
My hair is all curls
and in my face, but before long
greases again. I am relaxed but my arms
are too floopy, my chin to my chest.
Even my shoulders are all wrong, at once
a definition and structure of self.
Every time I turn my back on myself
I am changed. It is all in the showmanship.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
It has worked; sandstone
emulates beach that we aren't walking on
and the benches look like boats.
Treat yoursel' love suggests a man
with little tubs of fish on offer,
before he sees the greasy paper bag I carry,
with a 60p donut cooling in it.
A man with a walking stick has icecream
smeared all over his top lip. Further up,
on the harbour wall, a woman lies in the recovery position
on decorative gravel that emulates pebbles.
The distant Fantasy Forest plays us four types of music
to ignore her by. Her friends
seem calm. The ambulance is silent both ways.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Portrait of a train-rider in coversation
And soon scabs will form
on his right-hand, and the conversation
he isn't having with me will
stop. He isn't bleeding
at the moment but his palm is swollen.
He tells some other traveller
of his daughter and no worries there
and it could be me, except this dad
has his eye on his bike. This dad
is not invincible when it comes to fine rubble
and a corner. This dad was fascinated
by utility vehicles set on checking
telegraph poles, when he should
have been looking at the road.
He had forgotten about his hand, but now
he tries to use it for his coffee
he is reminded.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
By the time I return
I am not me and before long
I am gone again. The nights are longer
and they take their toll, even
when the sun is bright and my cheeks
take the brunt of it.
Idyll is unattainable, but respite
is not. I leave the dust to its gathering
again, but without my skin to form it,
what will it be? The gathered storms
of housemates; even my own dust is not me.
Before long, the smell of something else
will be where I was, and my clothes
will not fit. I am not above growth.
I carry something with me that is changeable.
Perhaps it will deliver me from where I've gone.
Monday, 6 October 2008
Self portrait taken from a mobile phone
There is nothing of me here: only
response and request; times and places;
an odd draft of something, long out of date.
I do not keep everything I should; you
are long lost, even that photograph of us with
the Tyne bridges glowing. It is years old now. And gone.
Anything here is loose in its understanding.
I do not keep sent messages, only those
received. I am blameless, and absent;
a bundle of thoughts towards me
that almost converge, except meaning
is lost. Ah, but there, see? A photo, of me in red.
I am trying to find my way from a field to
somewhere. I don't recall where from,
or my escape.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Self portrait in Legends's toilets
For ignoring someone once I find myself
reflected in their makeup here. My skin creeps
to meet my eyes; they are hollowed and smudged
black. They see me harder looking back, meet
my surprise with sheer disdain. I understand.
I wait for a cubicle, lock the door and force my mouth
fish-open with a long silent laugh, ugly and grudging.
Mirrors are not on me here. I keep my trousers
out of the piss on the floor, watch party-boa feathers
swimming in it. I hold my pants, and laugh.
My reflection disappears as my composure
settles. Too soon I am dancing again. Pink
feathers fly from my feet and clipped explanations
from my smudged-out eyes. I have left
everything somewhere, and somewhere it laughs.
Friday, 3 October 2008
A man is singing everything to me,
from love to enclosure, but I don't watch
anything sad. I spend my time
whispering nothings, unsweet,
into the ears of those that don't care.
Those like you. I don't watch anything
sad, but I like to test my sensibilities.
I envy your broken television, aching,
as I do, over the tear from it.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
There are no mountains here.
Except I build them myself and drive them
down from the sky. Everything has turned
in the time it's taken to return and hat weather
has begun. I have unpacked, it was
the first thing I did without you. I have washed
everything I own, removed the dust of my absence,
cleared my inbox. And so the lists
begin: to do, urgent, remember. I have torn up
any hope I had about forgetting. I forgot – I
always do – and yet survived, only pennies poorer.