Sunday, 5 March 2017

Negative Space

The light’s different again. It’s away with that thread it has in March, the one being pulled by hares. The horizon sits higher, like the ache of its spine is torturous, like the very bones of it need a realignment. The seasons of a body, they know it too. Winter is dying the way love is dying. It clings on with its claws, but they’re split. They’re ragged in their uselessness, still too afraid in the giving up, so you give them a push. Something learned in Cruelty 101. 

In a faraway bedroom, Pre-Raphaelite paintings are committing suicide on a windowsill giving in to a rotting. Rossetti’s ‘Day Dream’ has hagged itself horrid. The book on Morris’ knee has turned into a harpy that screams and screams until the room dreams of running away. Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ is chopping down fabric trees that are unthreading from the curtains spun from the spindle of Siddal’s depiction of ‘The Lady of Shalott’. They’re too damp of course, too almost done in their drowning. So the trees stick, and Ophelia just laughs.

The bathroom of your head, it's haunted. Bits of broken moths blend themselves insane along the skirting boards, dredging up dust, dredging up dread. Sometimes everything feels halfway dead. Halfway gone to not giving a fuck, if only there was a surety in that. But not giving one, it’s a lot like love. Numinous, ethereal, wispy - a bit of a pussy. Weak. Like sunlight through mist on a morning in November. Like sunlight in a bathtub, being drowned for the arsehattery of artistry.

Once, there was a leaf that imagined itself a whale. A humpback whale in a shoal of books. A battalion of books, all waterproof and ready to battle with the army of apathy. But the books couldn’t swim, and the humpback wasn’t a whale, but a leaf. A leaf on the wind, imagining itself in that other world. A world where it believed it could fit, the poor delusional leaf that was already dead. Dead and gone with its future of decay, calling and calling, a siren on the wind.

No-one listens. No-one cares. People are velcro discarding their hooks. Trying and trying to commit to this grabbing, this sticking. This futile way of mattering to something, anything. And the ghosts, they gather. Like dandelions gather. Like midges do, in the haze. Like love - fuck you, you prick, go away! And all the little matchstick girls, all the little sisters, all the Briar Roses in the garden, all the little Gerdas, all these lost children with the weight of their broken tales with no map back into Neverland. No map to unchain them free. And no-one listens, no-one cares, not to these lost little lasses trying to grow into wearing their misfitting fur.

It’s the negative spaces you see, they way they have of remaining hidden. The way they have of tripping your eyes until you’re not really sure if you’ve seen what’s really in them. A hobbled fox, a three-legged hare, two witch sisters covered in velvet. The head of a stag singing from above a mantelpiece, its mouth stuffed with lost Socks, with regret. A ship in the distance, made out of eggshells and lollipop sticks, sinking into a horizon of longing you refuse to acknowledge, because you’re scared of what it will mean. Scared of where the paint strokes will take you if you allow yourself to believe these things are real.

Monday, 27 February 2017

...Then The Skin Rises Up

Fox-gone and forested,
a pollarded promise catches
in a throat rubbed raw from crying.

Rubbed raw from trying, an antlered tinge.
The rut of regret bellows out, words worn
down to a slackness - skin hoofing bone.

A lone memory, soft in its shedding.
Hands held around a glass of cider;
cupped afternoon light, a tilt of gold.

Laughter leaked out, a sieve of intimacy
that danced with dustmotes unsettled by
the brilliance of a thrown-back head.

An astronomy book disguised as porn.
The lurid positions of a waning moon.
Constellations of contentment plotted

out properly in an orgasm of extraordinary.
Disguised among seams of stale cigarettes
streaked through spilled kisses of whisky.

The pity of strangers pattering in, like rain
to this moment - a betrayal by goosebumps.
The unexpected eclipse of, 'never again'.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Pull out the Better Parts

Snow, the lean of castles into sunsets.
Like how an otter can be a metaphor
for the love of sisters. Don't drown.

Vinegar, a bitten lip. Darkness lit up
on the breath of an owl. Questions about 

birds, whether feathers have accents.

A boy with a knife able to slice pig throats
quicker than glasses of water photographed mid-fall.
Winter through the hills, how it winnows.

Footprints at dusk. Tiny traces of rooks.
Snowdrops in a churchyard, a bone white beauty.
The grace of subsevience, to mud.

Stolen spoons that chisel an unexpected room
inside a heart familiar with bathyspheres
and depths. Dead whales in the blood.

An estuary of everything, squelching roots.
The invasion of river rats. How the gloaming

shivers shadows to entice starlight out.

Spelks that stick in, that ache. Like love.

Cuts that kiss knees, scab over. Like love.
Clouds that collect everything. More snow.

How the weight of it births up a blizzard
in a head. How even in a watching, this thaw.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Night Swimming

The sky is saturated.
In the next village, a girl
puts a puddle of pond in her pocket.
My heart is a goldfish dream. It leaks.

Last night as the hoarfrost left,
an owl died - not yours, thank god.
One of those born from a barn
behind the pylon of peculiarity.

The one that electrifies these fins
that wriggle underneath my skin.
The ones always swimming
and flipping, for you.

Someone's nanna once said that Elvis wasn't dead.
That the King of Rock & Roll had abandoned Graceland
for a glass bowl on a table in a kitchen with too many cups.

That he discarded his quiff for the circling, watery bliss
of back-finning through a place where sound swims slower;
hooks in deeper. Penetrates scales like buoys.

We laugh. Go home that night and fuck.
Imagine whales singing from jam jars on dusty shelves
belonging to some matronly deity adept at bread-making.

And if we eventually visit her, we'll watch 'Love Me Tender'
bubble through water that always turns cloudy on tuesdays.
And because of that slowness, how sound swims through water;

memories of long-gone fathers
crooning little things never said
or done from storm-wracked rooms
in far-out-to-sea houses where love

learns to drown inside nets of broken songs
singing from hinges of wardrobe doors
in corners full of darkness and air.
Until shoals of fish wearing skins

of little lost girls, learn how to paddle
through shadows without fear of lit fuses
reeled from fangs of dynamite monsters
that explode the soft ponds of living to pieces.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Two Dolls in Knitted Nests

Once, my nanna took me and Yvonne to a jumble sale. It was in a church.  And I think what made it memorable was that my paternal nanna was not the sort for jumble sales, not the sort for church.  We must've been about eight or nine?  Maybe a wee bit younger.  And I remember the smell of the place.  Old, a bit damp, a bit dirty.  Old dirt, the kind that collects in creases and never really gets washed out.  The kind of dirt that defines fabric, reveals its story a little.  Of course, it being a scent, sometimes it's off putting.  Sometimes the stench keeps others away.  And I guess that's how stories don't end up being told, they stay trapped in those places that never feel sunlight, but always manage to hold onto the rain.

Anyway, at this jumble sale, there was one table that had allsorts of stuff thrown on top of it.  Literally as though everything had just been dumped there so that the ladies of the church could go and make sure the cake stall was pretty, or the vicar had enough sugar lumps in his tea.  I remember at the time being drawn to it, because when I squinted my eyes it looked like the fells.  It looked like the places we used to run away to get away from all the noise, from all the bruises.  And why can't a pile of discarded jumble not be as welcoming as the slopes of the fells?  We both started rummaging, through old skirts, through solitary shoes.  Leather ones, tan colour, buckled.  Creased like the lines on the faces of the women in the church.  More places, collecting stories.

Inside the mound of jumble, inside its belly, right in its womb, we found two dolls.  Tiny things.  Four inches long at most.  Plastic.  Big, wide, staring eyes.  Misfitting knickers, I remember that.  Their too big knickers, billowing around their plastic bums.  White, what else?  What was special about these two dolls though, they were each sat in the middle of this knitted thing.  Imagine a hanging plant pot, but made out of wool.  And imagine that someone has gotten carried away and knitted all the sides up as well.  So that the plant pot, this one made from wool, it's like a nest.  And there's a satin ribbon tying the tops together.  Pink.  Baby doll pink, the inside of a kitten's mouth pink.  Skin that's just lost a scab, that kind of pink.  And these two dolls, they're sitting in the middle.  Huddled in, in the dark, the two of them.  Separate but somehow together, sitting silent in the murk of fingered wool and abandoned dreams.

We bought them of course.  Peculiar treasure from the stomach of a church, how could we not?  They smelled too, the dolls and the nests.  Like spilled face powder, the one my nanna used to call rouge.  The one that came in its own circular box with its soft, soft sponge.  The one that smelled of things I was never able to really figure out.  And there it was, curled around these dolls.  Knitted into their nests by a someone we never knew.  All those stories, in the creases of everything.  All the forgotten moments - the loves, the losses, the dreams, the things spooling out trying to become could-have-beens.  Sitting in a mound of jumble.  Other people's discarded hope, building themselves tall, becoming fabric fells.

And those two kids with heads full of this numinous future where anything was possible.  Where death didn't dwell and the knitting pattern of DNA strands somehow decided everything would end up being alright.  Being good for two dolls in their nest.  For two lasses that hadn't started that treacherous descent into adulthood, not then. Not in those moments.  Not yet.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

thoughts from...(xi)

In some star-padded street, a comet chases its own tail. Behind the bins where Saturn's rings roll themselves square, a shy sparkle slinks along the cracks of the cosmos, avoiding light and anything else tinged with the lure of L words. This is real-life. A modern world full of anachronistic space architects too lost in sky-pie puzzles to move on.

Instead of twirling hair-ends, I twirl my heart. It looks a little like an etch-a-sketch experiencing that shaking stage. When I close my eyes, the clouds tilt in. Become more grains of grit caught in the troposphere of a tear duct. I cry daisies and dreams until my cheeks sleep.

Somewhere in the middle of the road, a fairytale witch dances on a packet of juicy fruit. She has broomsticked herself broken. A pigeon passes and beaks her up and is gone. Even the street where stars meet has its unfair share of conflict. I swallow quietly and slip into madlish again.

Do we dress like god for fun? Or Gorgons? Hissing our heads like some holy anomaly on a dreary noneday holiday? The kerbs have become contagious. Big breathing things with too many legs. They offer pockets and chaotic choices. I want to become an attic. Cobwebbed and cornered where wild things wrap shadows and shooting stars for the dark. I want to feed my soul spacedust and watch it glow.

The broken-beaked crow sends me moths. Powdered things without their wings. He is a magnificent masochist. And of course, I have an arrow ready for his heart.

Today, silence ticks like tourettes. I flick my feelings and skip home.

Write what you know

Distance, two ferrets on leashes, Northumberland Street.
Ghosts rising from spilled coffee and ripped polystyrene cups.
Lost Socks, always lost fucking Socks.

The Smiths, beef paste sarnies, hazy memories sharper
than knives - time. Always time. And clouds and clouds,
meadows. A headless mannequin through your window.

The first breakfast, Christ wearing a Hello Kitty skinny tee.
Me floundering on the threshold of your door after you're gone.
Your mam and the nun, strange familiarity. All of these books.

If you have a minute derision. Part comprehension in a takeaway carton.
The wonderful addition of Chris and Martin, flute-boys with wings.
All the special things in a pocket. Your death, always that.

November does this, with its deceptive softness;
barbed wire paying the toll of memories with autumn leaves.