Monday, 30 November 2015

Rabbit Skin

Rabbit Skin

It's raining again. I've been hoping for snow, but the weather's not listening the way you're not listening, and that's okay. I've put my rabbit skin on again. The dust in the seams is making me sneeze, but it's better than crying. The whiskers don't fit any more. I should give them away, but no-one wants anything of me, and that's okay.

I dreamed I was a doll last night, because of that song. You slipped me under your pillow and wrapped your thumb and little finger around the threads at the corner of my heart that can't stop fraying. Then you fell asleep, and I was trapped. Luckily dolls can't be smothered, just unravelled. Just bitten. Just discarded, left behind. But that's okay too.

The air of your adulthood, I'm allergic. But still you make me breathe it. Inflating my lungs with puffs of impatience. And all I can do is cough it out. Cough it out and watch it ghost away, a dissipating dogma being eaten by the ether. Until all it does is haunt. Yet one more thing inclined to a mimicking of you.

This rabbit skin, it sails in with its tiredness. I'm battening down for a giving up. Anchors of apathy - I think you'd appreciate that. I'm broken of course. Some wreck being eaten by sands and the constant persistence that turns the indifference of tides. Out. In. In. Out. A heartbeat of hopelessness inflated by the winds of going away.

Like you did. Like you do. Again and again in my head. Do all dead things do this, or just you? Haunt and haunt, on and on. In the dream of me as that doll, you pinned all your secrets on me as you slept. On my left eyebrow, the bones of a could've-been-happy puppet jangled its echoes. On my right knee, the skin of a might've-been-a-murdering inflated itself morbid. In the curve of my bottom lip, I got greedy, claimed you for myself. And then I woke up.

And you're still dead. Still gone. Still holding me captive in the lyrics of certain songs. Still unknitting me with all of your needles, all of your patterns. Still throwing me backwards, still turning me inside out. The boy with the ball and all the walls to bounce against. The Mr. Wolf that stole the time. The one that darns me statue-like as you prowl closer and closer to whisper, 'why aren't you running, lass. Why aren't you soaring?'

It's the rabbit skin of course, the rabbit skin stalls me. Holds me in place as the memory of you begins its howling. And I try to wait, without shivering, for this day to perform its devouring.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Goose Down

Goose Down.

She used to put eggs in the bottom of ponds to test their freshness. If they floated, the were stale, but definitely not witches. She'd cackle that as she plucked them out and began folding them into her dress hem. When the eggs remained sunk, she'd wade into the pond, tucking her skirt into her knickers as she went. She was always wet and caked in clarts.

In winter, she smelled of slithering things stopped by frost. Her hair could knot down the Northern Lights, although they were always in her eyes. She was a night-thing, full of vixen secrets and the endless press of eternity. She flowed in tides and forests, a border lass born from lochs and locks.

In the city, doors disgusted her. Alleyways catted her memories with scratched-to-stinging possibilities. The way of her walk unwalled abandoned churches and community centres too detached to care. The flare of streetlights stalled her, especially in the rain. Too much brightness for a lass bred beneath star points and the rumour of sky whales.

When they broke into the bed-sit, skeletal leaves fell from her pockets as they carried her down the stairs. She was lighter than fog in their fingers, lighter than hurt. But heavy as shadows caught in corners, heavy as love left to flounder

They buried her in a unmarked plot, unremembered her in the drizzling rain. But the eggs in the pond, and the Northern Lights, they sang as the snow goose soared off with the wind.

Monday, 23 November 2015

It's Sticky: Lampposts & a Shoal of Moths

It's Sticky: Lampposts & a Shoal of Moths.

I thought once that gluing my hair to lampposts
would give me the magic to master shadows.
My own lightning rods - metal haloes to lasso
the darkness before it could bolt.
Like logic says everything does.

The street doesn’t understand the moon.
Or the stars. On the inside of my left arm,
an orion’s belt of freckles itches to be remembered.
Itches to be included in some mythical retelling of me.

Maybe they'll say my skin is too much gone
with the foxes. Or too much gone with the mists.
How the claws of me leak inwards before ghosting
over the fenceposts of familiarity they try to stake
around this peculiarity - a girl in a camouflage of clouds.
A girl of the rains that drizzles in, capsizes lives.

We're not supposed to do this with words.
Allow a drenching of ourselves to burst out.
Spark from light-fittings, realign ourselves with stars.
We're supposed to sponge ourselves to shallows,
become a blurred around the edges shadow.
And we're supposed to deny every jellyfish,
abandon the language of whales and Whitby jet.
Beach ourselves in quietly, until we're nicely dead.

But the fox in the marrow of certain lasses’ bones,
it aches for the re-wilding, it aches for every furrow
slashed through the mud-charts of meadows.
It aches for selkie sanctuaries, not a slow drowning.
It aches for a chaining of dog daisies with alchemy -
A bathysphere existence of delicious and distance.
Of narwhals and wolves racing far away constellations.

A place where lampposts snag nothing more than rust
among shipwrecked streets - the occasional shoal of moths.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Iris

Iris.

He said her eyes were beautiful, for a mistake. For optics conjured from a broken strand of something rooted in a time when all of the memories of them were still exploding, he said they were startling.

"Like a flower, in some border, standing out. Yes, like that."

He was a tulip dreamer. A student of strands mangled in the plans of some mythical creator. He appreciated flaws. Imagined them cultivated on a pedestal, blooming.

"To breed one bulb without disease, without the need of deadheading even though it's a mistake. How divine!"

His mind was a stem she wanted to break. Wanted to lean into, wanted to become a trellis to trap him. His fingers were bees she wanted to sting, wanted to bud for. Thoughts of him pollened her gaze.

"If I tethered you, took a cutting from the part of you that decided those eyes, if I was clever enough and had time, I could feed it into a flower, fuse the two of you together..."

The clouds frowned. The wind shuddered. The sun in the western sky slid itself cowering beyond the horizon's spine. And still she wanted to sniff him. Arrange him in some vase, press him forever among the pages of her favourite book.

"...a fabulous freak, that's what would become of me mixing your genetic patchwork with the tapestry of its stamen."

She blinked. He sighed.

"It's impossible of course...So I'll offer you this goodbye in place of a posy that would only die."

She watched him petal away. Didn't hear his final whisper as he turned the corner and left her thorned forever:

"Still though, such beautiful eyes. Forget-me-nots for sure."

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

First Brushstrokes on a Matryoshka Doll

First Brushstrokes on a Matryoshka Doll

Imagine Malyutin,
hunched like a wish opening
above that table, holding his doll.

His brush dips delicately,
becomes a blue beak seeking
wooden skin to petal.

He smiles, paints the surface
with a gliding softness a lover
envies - he gives it flowers.

I imagine you, and the yous
you have been and will become;
perfectly slotting together

. . .and I wish I could be an artist
with colours on my palette worthy
of affecting a miniature part of you too.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Cigars and Ashes

Cigars And Ashes

The bats woke up last week;
those pummelling pieces of dusk
that rub this scar of you back to blood.

Back to fugged up windows and smoke.
The skin of hips and lips - a delicious licking
of time sparked up and life inhaled.

There’s a box, pipe-caught and flat-capped;
insider laughter inflates glass shells,
sleeping bag memories that shatter

the bells of you and the clocks of me
to a million madnesses, a million sighs.
A million delusions waking to fly.

Like bats at dusk, the rake of settled embers.
Black meteorites streaking a mind 

as it tries not to remember.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

They Heard Me Singing, And They Told Me To Stop

'They Heard Me Singing, And They Told Me To Stop'

Find your voice, they say. Find your voice and when you do, don't ever let it go.

I check in yesterday's jeans pocket. It isn't there. Just lint and memories, a crumpled train ticket, and a claw from a dragon. And this shadow, that I can't define the edges of. So I push it back in, and try not to flinch when it bites me. No voice though, not in my pocket. Just a soundlessness. Not even an echo turning itself inside out. Just those yesterday things, in need of washing.

I go to the window, and open it. In waltzes the rain. Three threeing itself all over my skin. Like it's some kind of diva. Or a memory, maybe. I can't make out its words. Just this wetness, and this urgency, pushing at me. Then the wind falls in, drunk. Topples the nodding sunflower I keep on my mantelpiece. Ignores the candles though, and the spider trying to cower in the corner. Then it falls asleep on the settee. I tut and refasten the window's lock, push the wind's feet up, so it can properly sleep.

In the kitchen, the oranges are laughing. Giggling themselves silly next to the cauliflower and history of every cup of tea I forgot, in the pursuit of some aloofly distant plot. Above the place where an old man's ghost once jumped to a pretend-death because his doctor forbad him toast, a dead moth stalls itself in a crack. But there's still no voice here, still no quest that's near to closing. Just this wondering where to look next. Where a voice would hide if it had stropped off vexed with being ignored. All the bloody time.

I switch the lights off and listen. Something sighs from the bedroom. Quiet at first. Then it does it again, louder. My ears flatten. The fur on my imagination rises. I hackle my hope and it expands outwards. I follow the sighing to the door I know wasn't open before. In the inbetween space, there's something caught on the door handle. Something small, that flops around.

One spring, we found a sheep caught on barbed wire, in a field we weren't supposed to enter. Its throat was cut. A vivid grin of red bubbled patterns onto its tangled wool. I wanted to vomit. It wailed as we walked closer to it, and shook itself harder. The grin became a leer. A leftover stain from something belonging to the horrific side of life. And then there was a death of course. I still remember that sound. That slash, how it shuddered into its stop. Shuddered into us.

The door handle entices like that. Whatever's hanging there, it's leery even as it tempts me to trace myself closer, become something it can paint itself against. In the darkness, everything changes; colours cower, light loses itself, silence starts screaming. But there's still no voice here, nothing I can touch my ear to, nothing to anchor my heart to.

I sneak back into the livingroom. Wonder about calling you even though it's late and sleep's in love with you like I'm in love with you. I look at the jamjar that plays on the shelf next to all the dreaming books. I see pieces of you in there. A rusty key, a sliver of dead tree, a bottle with some girl inside - a girl that never tries to climb out. And everything's singing. The seaglass in the velvet bag, the octopus with too many legs, the two bears that know the secret names of you.

All these voices, everywhere. Singing and singing as they sever my heart. Letting all the bad things out. And letting this ache of you - this need of you - letting it all chorus up into this love, and roaring itself right back in.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Subtext

Subtext

“Oh. You look so well!”
(where are the exit wounds from all those bullets of betrayal?)

“Do I? Hmm. How are you?”
(I hate you! I hate you! I've spent a thousand pounds on pins just to voodoo you!)

“Busy, you know? So much to do.”
(When I left, I died. Fell into an abyss of aimlessness, and died.)

“Haha! Me too. Life, it's so good, no?”
(I grow nettles now, in my heart. Saves the effort of seeking them out in the dark.)

“Babies?”
(oh fuck me, please! Squealing little snivelling things, that never give you a moment's peace.)

“Hmm? Well, not really. You?”
(My breasts are full of stones, dragging me downwards, to remind me you’ve already had me drowned.)

“Oh. Eventually, you know? Being so busy and…”
(...still in love and loathing of you. How can I give my freedom to another someone that isn't you?)

“Yeah. Hmm. Sounds like a plan. You and your plans, eh? Yeah.”
(I'd have massacred mountain lions for you. I'd have wrestled every single one of your imaginary monsters for you. I'd have torn Gods from their pedestals just to give you a better view of the world you scoffed at having to belong to. I'd have lost myself, for you!)

“Well, you know, there always has to be a plan. Ha! Ha?”
(When you said you'd marry me, disbelieve in fairies for me - when you said you'd lose your wildness for me, temper down your flightiness for me - when you said you'd forfeit your wings, I never believed in their truths. So I tested you, tested you, tested you again. And every one of those you passed, I needed the barriers of exclusion to extend.)

“Indeed. It was nice. Seeing you, I mean.”
(As nice as thistles in my soup. As nice as needles in my soles. As nice as silence on my birthday. As nice as being haunted in our bed by the ghost of you, fled. As nice as Morrissey without Marr. As nice as fuck yous screamed out of an accelerating and leaving car.)

“Yeah, me too. A stranger, don't be one. Ok?”
(Please? Please? Oh for heaven's sake, please? Come back and claim me as your own! Someone said if you love a wild thing set it free. Only do that to wild things that aren‘t me! I miss you! I miss you! I miss you. I'm a mess. My life without you is just one long leak of light and laughter depressed. I've become a deflated balloon. Without the air of you to raise me, it's impossible to seek out the moon...)

“Take care of yourself. I'd hug you, but you know…”
(I'd begin, and forgot to unlatch myself. I'd never be able to let go.)

“Bye, love. You really do look well…”
(and as I watch you walk away, the street's emptiness leans in again. The sound of your footfalls as they collapse into echoes, that’s the mixtape on repeat in this compartment that’s you shaped, in my bespoke vision of hell.)

The Onion Man

The Onion Man.

It’s that magic of being under a table
while the grown-ups are going through
something grown-up and sad.

And you know, even as you sit under the table
watching legs from the knees down drift past,
that when you come out from under the table,
everything is going to change.

So you keep sitting under that table,
occasionally taking a peek from between
her Sunday tablecloth and the chewed chair legs,
up to the Onion Man sitting on her windowsill,
at the single tear that forever rolls without reaching
the end of his pottery face.

And he's the colour of beetroot, the Onion Man,
though he's supposed to be brown - but an aunt
believing earth hues sad - painted him with a bottle
of nail varnish, the brightest betalain red.

But you still don't come out, you just sit there.
And you close your eyes, and pull your knees up
to your chest, and try not to hear the voices
from the other room sing sadder and sadder.

And then it starts raining, and her window
where the Onion Man sits is leaking
because no-one remembered to shut it,
and you're too little to reach even if you could
crawl from under the table, but you can't.

And then the Onion Man really has tears,
and they're rolling down his nail varnished face,
while the dog barks to be in but no-one lets him
because they're too bewitched with being grown-ups and sad.

So you look down at your knees, and the scab on the left 
is like an octopus without legs, and the dimples on the right
are like eyes in a face, and because you're a kid, you kiss the face
and try not to think about the other stuff in that other room.

Just about being under the table
as the rain comes through the window
and washes the onion man happy because
finally he can illustrate the intricacies of tears.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Stings Always Linger, Even In Books

Stings Always Linger, Even In Books

Inside, scribbled memories;

black biro tipped kissing
and an intimate leaning.

'for the last time you were happy -
              slapped by a jellyfish
                            in Oban
                              xx...'

 

Small cases and dots.
 

And a head full of comets
as I touched them and left.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The letting go

The letting go

The leaves have begun a letting go.
Throwing their decisions into the air.
I watch as the wind encourages them,
'come fly away, my pretty dead things,
come fly away and be gone.'

Geese are gathering above the river;
an intricate stitch in a weeping sky
that snags the greyness of last goodbyes.
You were always such a pulling thing -
a kitestring, an old book. A whale.

Skies forever tumble thoughts like this:
The memory of returning swifts; frost leaning
in to caress exhaled breath; shrugging away
the birth of a kiss. A gate, its creak. Love lost.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Smoke

Smoke

There are moments when memory sparks me;
bits of broken flames catch on the sticks that life
whittles around the ordinariness of my myopia.

I see shades of you in the embers that rise
with the surprise of discovering a field full of crows
warring themselves mad above cut-back wheat.

You buy baccy the day before you die, and skins.
Such simple things to lick and roll into the mythology
that is going to become the hurtsparks of you.

And sometimes I can't remember the ways of your walk;
the ways of your hands, how they always dance as they
sing louder than your no longer world-hooked whisper.

And notice how I do this all in present tense?
Pretend to myself the dynamics of death don't matter
because you're still here, not floating fragments in the ether?

I miss your open window, those 5am mists rising
from the womb of your city as it sleeps, oblivious
of its occupants, as much the exiled child as this lass
that still sits by the spectre of your feet in the dark;

inhaling the memory of smoke rings rising.
Ghosting towards dissipation as reality leaks in.