I wrote this a while ago but realized I hadn’t posted it. This was written about someone I felt sorry for…


I saw it all while she spoke. It flickered past in that space between thought and vision, the silver screen of the mind. I saw her parents never quite register her presence. She burned brighter, hoping to turn them like moths towards her. All that sound converted to a humming light. She jumped and danced and twirled: nothing nothing nothing and then. Changed. Subtly that first time, a lengthening, a darkening. Perhaps this creature they will notice. No? Perhaps this? Perhaps this? Each change more and more rapid the phenotypes blurring in their succession such that, like a film strip, only change was visible, motive, highlighted.

The creature became one of change, its only existence in its own transience. The film strip came loose, flailed against the light. I saw that boy gripped her arm made her feel safe things begin to slow like a carousel ending she could have stepped off could have but did not step off and now too tight not safe that boundary between safe and imprisoned crossed. Saw how he held her back saw that he did not stop when she said no and she clung to something safe to be in love with that could never hit back or leave. I saw her love the music and clutch it to herself as she turned and turned again in the maze. No! That way goes back where you came! She stamped and shrieked into the crosshatched shadows. I saw her get up a thousand times, saw her never leave the bed. She did not know why, just that she had to go on. Each day on and on and never why just grinding down the enamel of days. But not knowing why is somehow not going on. Some small part of her knew that she was beautiful and was sad at the stretches of blood like drying raindrops. I saw every moment fractured, turned inside-out, reflected and half-reflected, splintered and reformed.

She had forgotten my name. From something so small it came like a lash. I realized that she hadn’t meant it, she hadn’t seen the shadowplay, the marionette all tangled in its own string. But that was just it. It was unthinking. This glass creature so focused on not breaking, every moment created and destroyed, eventually is bound to leave fragments in its wake. Stark sparkles they attract us like sharks to blood. So much blood. None of us ever mean it. We never think at all, any more. And that is how.


Poetry: Cold Office

This insolent office

Has the cold indifferent hum about it

That is almost life

(a scar is almost skin)

The circulating pattern: lights on, lights off

Endlessly turning motor

Of the sestina

When we sit deep in the lights-off systolic rush

Slow coma of time

Until they start again, exhale, the fans

Breathe and the diaphragm elevator

Plummets towards the basement

In that slow burn

Like a cigarette brand on skin

The world constricts cellophane-tight, breathless

Around us

Gradually the flesh blisters under heat

And is gone

Replaced by the bubble of a budding scar

(a scar is almost skin)

The seamless join between

Skin and not-skin

That flesh is heir to

But we do not flinch or pause

The country of pain

Is wide and borderless

Conscience’s cowardice dims

The hand that reaches again

For the screen colleagues

Fluorescent lights, the unforgiving glare

Is stilled

Editing poetry: Dry Ice on the Palm

The title of this piece comes from an incident when I was living in Japan some years ago, although the content is more recent. For a bet in a bar, I placed a piece of dry ice on my hand and held it there until it all disappeared (or all sublimed if you wish to be technical). The burn did not fade for a long time. The analogy I suppose is that I seem to have a similar effect on people in relationships. In this case, I did warn about all of this in advance, but it is very difficult to believe that you will not be able to deal with something while in the grip of infatuation.  The lines ‘can it be sin to know/can it be death’ are from Paradise Lost. Hebenon and iocane are the poisons used in Hamlet and The Princess Bride respectively.

i warned you with my blood
soaked it in rags
shirts and eagle feathers
i told you
of my month-long scars
the battleground poem
in shaky hand
the sour quill’s black ink
typewriter blade
shuttles and fences with itself
as i recoil back
such sweet poison
the body makes
amaretto and cyanide
we both
wanted not to heed or hear
can it be sin to know
can it be death
meet these blameless eyes
and soon they will not see you
meet these antidote lips
and soon they will whistle you out
the wound on the edge of the picture
is meant for you to see
it burns when we touch
dry ice in the palm
a lesion
i heal so fast
do not listen to me
i am hebenon to the soundwave
in its drunken hazy crash
i am iocane
when i am gone
there is no trace but a scar
no dust but neglect
no memory but a lie
i am fire and ice
frenzy and doldrum
touch me
and somehow you will burn

via Editing poetry: Dry Ice on the Palm.

Editing poetry: Dead boys

This piece has vacillated between being a poem and a very short story. The only reason that I’d keep it in this form is for the repetition in the second section.  This is inspired partly by the excellent Patrick Wolf song ‘To the Lighthouse’. The lines ‘a candle with a broken wick… I have been’ come from Saul Williams’ ‘Release’.

He falls from the train
An elevator from the 28th floor
To the spikes of the railings.
The notebook swallow-dives
With him, lands.
The red
of the cover leaking into the pages,
The white
of the pages leaking out to the cover.

You are star-eyed, windows on a centrifuge,
Black sparsely flecked with life,
Your eyes in black orbits,
Skin flushed deep red and the palm
Of your hand
Red smacks down on the wooden desk

This is much better, anger for tears,
Papercuts and salt water.
You have realized
Like a dark dream unfolding
That he never gave you anything
Real enough
For them,
No locket, inscribed metal,
Acid-etched glass. Your name, his name,
A vestigial pleasure in access after the fact.
All you have is his words
A candle with a broken wick
A puddle that reflects the sun
A piece of paper with my name on it

All that I am I have been

Eventually you get a ride, red palm stinging in the back seat,
To his apartment,
All the appliances still holding their breath,
The dishes stretching and yawning in the sink
Like black cats, their fur damp,
Not quite understanding.

As you enter, the silence clutches you,
Forces all oxygen from your body
You sit heavily
The furniture should be covered
With dust,
Yellow police tape,
Not just the same like it’s still waiting.
You slowly open the bedroom door,
The present you left for him is still
Sitting on the pillow,
Neatly folded,
The floor falls away,
The black sheets curve, spiral like a galaxy,
Collapse into infinite gravity.
You are compressed into a singularity.

Months later you have taken to carving his name
Into everything,
But you don’t remember why.
At first it was just flesh,
Arms, legs, chest (while standing in front of
The mirror,
You cried for almost an hour when you realized one letter
Was backwards).
Now in the margins of books,
Scratched in wood and metal,
Idly traced in bath water.
The compact lettering is somehow

Once you had covered a
Whole journal page with his name,
And the next page
‘it’s not my fault’.
The word ‘my’ lines
Up in a sloping line across the page
Like a scar.

What I’m thinking about changing:

I would like to present this piece another way. Perhaps with the journal page as a background and the words over the top. Or maybe as a short flash fiction piece with some unusual spacing to allow that red/red/red repetition to stand out more.

via Editing poetry: Dead boys.

Editing poetry: Assembled According to Diagrams

This was written about someone who I believe used to create their life to cause little tragedies in it. It’s rather a fun pastime, although it can be exhausting when done for too long. This piece contains a couple of little linguistic jokes that I found amusing at the time…

You set yourself up for a fall
Unfold paper and pull out the tabs
Assemble the tragedy
Explain it with
Dark, full-fingered gestures
The germs of throwing sharp nails

Tell him why you
No longer wear the ring –
Because something runs
Down its awkward spiral
Collapses with you
Lives in your tired veins

You reason in short form
Condense – 祝いてる
Tendril words
Probing nothing stretching in
Languid misdemeanour like an orgasm
Explain it with those
Complex lopsided shrugs that
Cannot be conveyed
In moving patterns
Ones and zeroes

Tell him what you
Found under the bed
Those flimsy lines
Scratched out on paper
The first hesitant parting of skin
When you were still frightened
By the blood
Something lies under those lines
Buried in the scattered glides
Tell him why you looked