Untitled

July 18, 2016

they leave
Holes behind them,
Wide open doors, worn out spaces
Where they used to sit
before they came to halt
And stumbled out
beyond the horizon of whispers

They leave,
Behind them,
absence of their speech
Small trinkets in wood and metal
new patterns you have to draw
And lack of warmth in silence

They leave
so that you can stumble
but baby i know i know
that your narrow walkway
Will end in a light switch
and not a moon eclipse

They leave
Holes behind them
Then we fall in
Then we crawl out

 

Passing lights

April 3, 2012

She says
‘we all have to start somewhere’
keeping her eyes on the road.

milestones flash by through the night like cigarette embers,
and promises of other lives
wink wink wink
through the windows of houses we pass.

in the dark it’s hard to see.
bugs splatter against the windshield
as tens of life metaphors a mile
correct the wrongs we think.

her rubber smokes road
inch by inch.

the engine sings

She says
‘we all have to start somewhere’
keeping her eyes on the road.

diners go by like missed opportunities
every other hour
while we follow the words of the GPS
instead of a compass
because voices in the sky never lie

She shivers against the night
hands at ten and two,
clutching the wheel
just hard enough to turn her knuckles white
and I change tracks on the CD again

Untitled

January 3, 2012

Be patient ladybug
as I am now
while new year’s first born darkness
drags its lovers lips
along the footsteps
we are yet to take

Let’s jump
through every doorway that we find
like our every step
was the last one
that we would ever hear,
and every day the last one
we could sing

Pretend we leave no fingerprints
and breathe no sullied air,
and only need the light
to fill our lungs

Pretend we dance like children
jumping on a bed
oblivious of springs and rules and running time
and maybe
we will burn again,
So be patient, ladybug

Still summer

December 19, 2011

It was still summer.
The wind blew in construction dust
in a stream of profanity
that fingered my windowsill
in a Japanese subway game of
grope-the-girl.

Upstairs, men with thick fingers
used power machinery
cutting the day into ribbons.

in the holy space between houses,
a squirrel hissed at a cat

the neighbours watched news
instead of Dr Strangelove
on tv sets that filled my room
with mute light
from across the street

Somewhere out of mind
bombs were probably falling,
and one tyrant or other
was on his way
to getting dragged through the streets

there was shit to do
and people to have
but I couldn’t bear it;
the cheap port tasted like sugar
but I poured another three fingers
and closed my eyes

just for a moment

Camilla was a poetess

December 11, 2011

Camilla had faith
and she felt the embrace of her lord
In the smile of a baby,
her daughter’s voice,
the smell of grass,
the silky sensation of bath foam against her skin –
all of that stuff, you know?

She was a glass half full
kind of girl.
I imagine she never
danced on the table
fucked on the first date,
lied, cursed
Or traded her body for favours.

She wore her hair short,
her metaphors close to her chest,
and the mountains that surrounded her
were a fortress
instead of a prison

Shoes

September 18, 2011

I know she’s arrived when the buzzer
warns me
to wait
as she comes
up the stairs

I tell her I’ve just
ran the vacuum
so she takes off her shoes
and her toenails
are painted
deep red

I point to the sofa
a dirty old thing
used to skin and sweat but
I’ve turned the pillows and
we sit like royals
side by side

She tells me to get her some wine
but I haven’t any, not even bad one
so I make
her tea and
we sit
in silence
until the sound of my neighbor coming
stops flitting
through the floorboards

In seventynine

June 15, 2011

In seventynine,
my birth,
was accessorised by:
my umbilical cord
wrapped five times round my neck,
and my mother’s refusal to cry out

Later, a doctor pointed
to her and said
to another woman:
‘Be quiet! If she had screamed like you do,
her child would not have made it’.
Then I was brought out,
a caterpillar wrapped
in a hospital blanket
and held like a prize
for the brave and the silent

Years later,
she was the one wrapped
in a blanket.
She was breathing heavily –
a wheezing fuse
of life
almost at an end
and
and
and
she opened her eyes (the last time) and
her head jerked towards me.
Her eyes opened, then she passed,
and they closed again.

The dog was deaf by then
and slept peacefully.
He thought that two people he loved
were in the room.

Ringlets of smoke

June 6, 2011

She said “you’ve changed, I think. maybe
you look older.
No it’s not that.
I don’t know, something.”

She was drinking wine
and i was hitting the tequila hard
trying to confuse
the voices telling me
to stop and breathe

She offered her glass
But I wanted
the anger to blend with the swill
and I lifted the bottle like
men in the movies,
even though I wasn’t one

She smoked and
ringlets of poison
waltzed towards heaven,
only to dissolve.

I drank some more.
Maybe I needed to die a little
but I didn’t think so,
I needed to come alive
a little,
to stomp on some feet or
earn morning trophies

She looked away,
finished her cigarette and got another out.
She looked over to the couple next to us,
the guy passed her a lighter.

Cars drove past. People passed on foot.
We would not part
for another hour

A story for Biscuit

May 16, 2011

So Biscuit,
your daddy, he goes
to east London on Tuesdays to
a rented flat
in a house of brown bricks
where children play cops and robbers outdoors in the summer, and
women gossip and hang laundry out
their windows to dry.
Your daddy goes, Biscuit,
and knocks on door 22B

She lets him wait, Biscuit
She lets him wait two minutes, maybe five and then
opens the door
in her knickers,
lets him in without a word and he enters
without a word

So he comes in, Biscuit, and the flat
smells of smoke and her perfume
(like heaven)
Her black skin reminds him of coffee and gold
and her ass sways
as she walks to the kitchen
while his palms sweat
and his fingers burn

He grows hard, Biscuit, grows so hard
that he thinks he might die,
that his heart will stop
And Biscuit, I don’t know if he even
still likes her,
but a girl’s gotta live,
and daddy pays rent and he fucks like a prince.

When he closes the door to 22B
two hours later
he knows, and she knows
that they never
closed
their eyes,
even for a second

Tea and poppy rolls

April 26, 2011

Tanya pours me tea
and offers me poppy rolls and candied ginger cubes.
She tells me that
her feet hurt more now,
so she doesn’t leave the house too much;
and money’s scarce, but she gets by.
Some times,
she takes the underground,
four stations to Tensta,
and buys fruit at the market.
Meat is cheap there too.

I stir a spoon of sugar into the tea,
and tell her of my brother starting
on his own;
a little owner of a one bedroom slice of propriety.
She wants to help, of course,
How will he do his laundry, can he even iron?
I tell her that it will be fine, and
promise that we’ll tell her when we go to Ikea

The TV murmurs in the corner,
as Russian figure skaters
put on a show
for an easy audience.
I used to skate too, she says, but I started too late,
and I danced, for real, on stage

When I depart,
the cold spring sun shines in her hair
as she waves to me from her balcony

This is no Orleans.
the mirrors of the beautiful
surround me
In a cacophony of monkey voices
Dreaming
of minimalist sofa groups
Lust? Allowed, but through ethanol curtains
Desire – can’t find no parking space
Everybody answers their phones
and that’s a lie too
(voice mail smells like success on Thursdays)

mama, let me get thousands of roses,
your grave matters
are the only valid ones and
the Dog is out in the cold too
while understanding faces
Repeat last week’s lottery numbers and
the wronged
dream of shopping and spa treatments
Not me though,
I only want
The blonde across the bar

so tell me nothing, stranger,
we are children only of salt
and our blood and come
keep us from slipping
on winter roads

The snow fell slowly

March 21, 2011

The snow fell slowly.
lonely flakes drifted downwards
in diagonal memory lanes
of purple,
from a stage
where a band kept their smiles on like light bulbs,
panting washed out hits
over a mellow crowd

The base banged my lungs like a drum, while vodka and red bull
made my legs twitch.
I started dancing in the snow,
like a fool but for real,
as the hi-hat poked my gut like a finger.

She was smirking at me
and I said:
“Sophie, don’t. We are only alive for seconds.”

Lycia

March 8, 2011

Lycia meets Ben at campus. He is traveling and life is easy, Peru in the spring is full of colours. He doesn’t dance the salsa, but makes her laugh. His paleness contrasts her coffee skin and their eyes match.

Six months later he goes back to Belgium to continue his studies, he is smart and numbers flow from his fingers. Computers obey him. His heart is full of love, and he is only 21. Her heart is full of love too, although she is only 19. She wants to study politics.

A few months of text messages and Skype calls later, Lycia smells smoke in the air as Cairo burns while her international internship dissolves through force majeure full of anger and the discontent of an ancient people hitting the future head on. Lycia’s roommate is out in the city as it burns, camera in his hands freezing the moment again and again, while only angles separate him from both bullets and the images that make it into the New York Times. Lycia stays in her apartment. Her company asks her to keep quiet, remain discreet, and her pictures remain unpublished.

Lycia’s family is in a panic – their baby is caught in the kind of life that happens to others. They try to get her a plane ticket, the first one, anywhere, just get out of there baby, be safe. Lycia moves fast, her passport flashes the scanner at Brussels airport as she arrives. To say that Ben is surprised is to say truth, or nothing. She stays with him the first week and then sets out on her own. It takes her two days to find a room, shared with a Janet, or Gemma, also a brunette, also with smiling eyes, also into politics.

Some time later, her new flatmate invites her to a party. She arrives, excitement shining in her eyes. She is unprepared – it’s a masquerade and a German Snow White wearing a red garter dances to Dizzee Rascal in a living room that has seen no war, while Princess Fiona extends a green hand in welcome.

When she meets me, I am wearing black, and my mask is venetian. She tells me her story while I lean against a door post. Lycia is twenty, and she is excited. Life is full of wonders. Ben is sick at home and here she is. She wonders about what I do and if I have a degree. She says that she will publish her pictures of Cairo on Facebook. Maybe. She catches me by surprise, a real traveller moving through life among people who chat for a living. Her smile is alive.

She hopes she will find an internship soon. She hopes Ben will feel better tomorrow. She hopes she can get a drink. She hopes.

The music made no sense

March 1, 2011

The music made no sense.
I was decaying
one lead beat at a time,
twirling downwards,
The drink in my hand
a dead weight
pulling me toward void,
in an autumn of Everything Too Soon
that I couldn’t stop.

Too old to offer a smile,
too young to matter;
nobody could break out of the mass
surrounding me.
their joy blanketed me like flowers
and they were right, right in
Everything They Assumed.
I was wrong though,
in what I was, and where I was,
like plastic tulips at a funeral,
and I saw no way out but
the bus

It beckoned – a cure for the panic of being here,
of the error
inside and out

I wanted to wring myself dry of me,
to be as pure as them,
but feared losing myself.
I was still a coward
and the fear I carried
was safe
for today,
with no direction besides that of tomorrow,
and tomorrow’s tomorrow

I stayed,
until the warmth
of being surrounded
by the movement of people
pounding a road my feet couldn’t see
repelled me beyond
the threshold
and I realised I was alone
in the crowd

I thought:
Is there a poem here?
but there wasn’t any
so I started walking
through the noise and ethanol mist,
Thinking of
Dogs
and that time
when I danced like my life
depended on it

66 Wardour Street, W1F 0TA

February 15, 2011

Freedom’s open till 3 am.
Then freedom closes.

Freedom opens again, at four or five the next day.
Hours of freedom,
as long as you can afford the drinks at
nine pounds a pop.
The laughter of the free is pearly,
their movement your movement while their longing fills you until you’re bursting with freedom, longing to burn the bridges or fuck in a toilet stall,
to the beat of a girl who kissed a girl

Freedom’s open till 3 am;
then freedom closes
You feel the oppression when
there is no freedom to be had,
and you catch a quick cab for a quick rub and a quick death and a quick goodbye,
coming home to an expired milk carton and
laundry and
email and
Life
that
does
not
stop.

And you long for freedom to open, even if it will close at 3 am