Every word I’ve ever known

I have cut my nails
I have pulled out all my hair
Slashed the bottoms of my feet
And let them bleed on the stair

You have to look it in the eye
You cannot back away
You have to look straight at it
Say what you have to say

I pricked the end of every finger
And every single toe
I climbed into the bath
I am letting it all go

There’s no other way to get it
You can’t let yourself obscure
You’ve got to know you’ve got this
Rather than half sure

I looked at bloodied water
And out loud, I said my name
And then I simply began
Because I will never be the same

You cannot hold back
Give it half of what you’ve got
You’ve got to give it everything
If you want the lot

I just said them all
Every word I’ve ever known
And when I was finally finished
I was finally alone

I rounded them, caressed them
I let those words go free
Sent them out into the world
No longer part of me

Then I closed my lips quite tightly
I let my tongue finally rest
I am wholly ready now
I am at my best

I go back out into the world
Scarred yet fully formed
And I live my life

In silence.

In total silence.

And in my silence,

I will deafen you.

The ‘Me’ Muscle

I spread wide
And then I contract
Like a muscle

I release
Then hold back

I command the room
I take up all the space
I expand

Next day
I cannot find my place

I ebb and I flow
Then I flow and I ebb
I hide behind the sofa

I sleep
Under the bed

None it makes any sense
None of it feels really me
I’m never really sure

What you get
Is never what I see

I hear my own voice
I hear the words I say
I say them out loud

In my head
The voices never go away

I am not completely sure
If I am ever really me
Is there someone

Somewhere else
And I’m just pretending who I’ll be

Dawning in Essex

I saw trees
Spiked against a grey sky
In the distance
A horizon flat and even

I took in great gulps of air
And tried to belong
Under a muddy, grubby sky
In the glimpse of a full moon

I stood at a station
And told myself I could do this
When every moment was a struggle
I still went on

I gripped the greyness in my fist
And pulled it around me as I slept
I took that even line, and wore it
As a belt on my waist

I waited, I was patient
As I took stock
Of power lines
Skittered across an empty landscape

I listened to crumbled words
In the dawn in coffee shops
The stories of tradesmen
Who hesitated in my presence

I painted my nails in desperation
I gazed at the orange, the white
At the dazzle and the glitter
And I let it all seep in

Until the spirit of Essex
Was embedded in my soul
Not to replace my home
But to let me be here

And still be whole

Divide and multiply

I want to know why
When I undivide
Pay my full attention
I don’t multiply

I am simply whole

I unseat myself
I stand up
And shout out loud
No one hears me

I don’t under-stand

I stand up really straight
I don’t slouch
I make noise
I yelp, I scream, I call

No one responds

I unkind them all
Repaying all the kindness
I take it back
And pay it over

It does not work

I unhinge
And take the door with me
When all I had to do was
Was turn the knob

I want to fly

I need to resole
To find my spirit again
Not a simple make over
I don’t need to resurface

I dig deep

I decry
Let the pain slip away
I unwind
Closing the door to the breeze

Yet still I am ajar

A bottle
On a window sill
Liable to fall
To break

An infinitely impossible number of glass pieces

I recede
Plant myself firmly
in the ground
Hold back, then go forth

Redouble my efforts

I redouble
I multiply
And there is the answer
I spread out across the universe

I come apart

And I spread out across the universe
And it is joyous
To see the world again
To re-view

I give it my undivided attention.

The Chair

Do you have malevolent furniture-how do you know?

There’s a wooden chair in my kitchen. Actually there are four, a set, around a little wooden table. We use the table and chairs at breakfast but otherwise eat in the dining room.

There are three of us. Which means there is one chair that is never used. One left over chair. A solo. A loner. But its become obvious to me that it is more than each of us just having a favourite spot. If you move the chairs, that chair is still the chair that everyone avoids. No one has sat in that chair. Ever.

It’s like it has human repellent sprayed on it.

Not a family member, not a guest. No one. Ever. It is an unused chair. It has experienced a total failure to fulfil its reason for existence. I wonder if there are other chairs like it. Elsewhere. In the houses of other people.

People I don’t know.

Even at parties, and we’ve had a few, that chair is avoided by those reprobates who hover in the kitchen, the ones avoiding the dancing and drinking everyone else enjoys. It is so repellent that I never even offer it to guests anymore. I have thought of selling it but then I think of it alone without its wooden siblings. I can’t seem to part with it. Plus I have high hopes for its reform. I have been thinking about it. I am sure it just needs to be sat on once and then.

Then everybody will want it.

Anyways I have decided this week I am going to break with tradition. I have invited my very obliging friend Bea around. And. I am setting it up so she must sit in the chair.

You heard me, I am setting it up, so she MUST SIT ON THE CHAIR.

She is arriving at 10 past eleven. Which is very soon. I have put the other two chairs in the dining room. I have put a cake in the oven so we must drink tea in here until its cooked. Me in my chair and her.

Her in that chair.

I look at the chair. Bea is so eager to please. It seems such a nice idea that she should be the one to break it in. I am not manipulative you know, its just she is the most obliging of my friends.

IT’S ONLY A CHAIR.

That’s the doorbell. Time to swing into action. I invite her in and head for the kitchen. So far, so good. I see her look slightly disconcerted at the chairs. I ignore it. I begin to make the tea. I have sat my scarf over my chair as a point of ownership. I can see her hesitate. Look at the chair. Hesitate. But I know she will not take my chair. She is too polite to move my scarf plus I must sit next to the oven to observe my precious cake.

I invite her to sit down.

She shuffles her feet a bit. I invite her to sit down again and point at the chair. She says she’d rather stand. I am not defeated. Not yet anyway. I put the water in the tea pot and wait for it to brew. We are both standing. I can see the look of reluctance on her face. She does not want to sit in the chair.

I will not be diverted, I will succeed.

I put biscuits at the centre of the table. She has to lean across the chair to get them. I see her recoil as she touches the back of it. It is an odd chair. We are at something of an impasse. Both of us standing, pretending this is not happening.

But this is happening and I will succeed.

She suggests moving into the dining room. I say no. My daughter is carefully placed there doing homework plus I need to stay with the cake. Honestly I tend the cake as if I am giving birth to a child.

I make the tea and put her cup down on the table. I put mine down and sit down in my chair. I sense her desperation, her confusion, I see it being overridden by her desire to please.

Her desire to be liked.

I can taste victory. She looks at me with a plea for reason. I pretend not to see it. I look into my tea nonchalantly. I take a bite of my biscuit. Nonchalantly. Triumph is within my grasp. That chair will be sat on before this cup of tea is finished.

And then she does it.

Slowly. But she does it. I see her reach for the back of the chair. Pull it out. Slide into it. My face breaks into a triumphant smile as hers distorts as if I have betrayed her. It’s a chair, I want to say.

Momentarily there is a vision in my head.

A child. My child, a child I know is mine but a child I no longer have is sitting in that chair. I am pushing her into it because someone must use that chair. That chair. I feel horror. Its momentary. It passes. I look at the chair.

The empty chair.

I blink and look into my tea. I feel sure of a triumph that eludes me somehow. I have won something but I don’t know what. My mind goes blank. Oddly there is another cup of tea across from mine.

I seem to have made myself two cups of tea.

How weird. I have put one on the other side of the table. As if someone were sitting in that chair. Which is odd because no one ever sits in that chair. There is something totally repugnant about that chair.

That chair.

I pour the tea down the sink. I get the other chairs back from the dining room. I can’t remember why I put them there anyway. I look at all the chairs in the kitchen. The fourth one, the odd one, always looks fatter than the others. As is its just eaten something.

I must get rid of it one day.

Later that day I have to call the police. There is a strange car parked in our driveway. I really should sell that chair I mutter to myself as I cook the dinner. Yet somehow I feel like it has a part of me, a part of my life in it, despite never having sat in it.

A moment with the darkness

I look at the body. Everybody always said he was so full of life. Bubble. Pep. Verve. No one can believe he is dead. No one ever said I was full of life. I have always assumed that meant the flipside.

That I was full of death.

Perhaps in looking at him lying there dead, I am looking in a mirror. Is this how I look to the world? I get that these are thoughts I should not be thinking at a funeral. No one seems to have noticed I am here. You looked right through me. Its as if I am walking among the dead all the time. In your defence I want to be overcome with grief .  

But I am not.

I want to sob loudly and profusely. To let it all out. To do the occasion justice. But it is not my way. I have shed a tear. Just the one. A restrained one. Yet I tell myself a meaningful one.

I am stricken, in my own way.

If he sucked the juice out of life in his 28 years, I have sipped slowly in the corner in the dark. Where no one saw. I am not bothered. Everyone is wearing black.

Except for me.

I have chosen deep purple. Odd because I always wear black. I needed some way of differentiating. It is the most colourful I have been in awhile and I doubt my mother approves.

My mother never approves. Approved.

The word approved comes out in my head. Quiet tears streak my mothers face in an endless stream. They are all for him. I know what they think, what they are all thinking. Why take him? Why the beautiful golden child? I don’t pay attention to the end of their sentences. I want to scream -perhaps he got bored with your adoration? 

Your endless adoration.  

Perhaps he liked me most because I thought he was at best ordinary and at worst pathetic. Perhaps that is why I was there when it happened and you weren’t. You were somewhere else. Even now I think you are looking right through me.  

Instead of at me.

It is true he would have brightened this room in a way I never will. I walk with the darkness like a cloak. He walked in the light like the sun. It occurs to me that in that moment, the one does not exist without the other. The light without the dark.  

And then I realise the truth.

I look around me again. My mother hated me wearing black. Today of all days she dressed me in purple. I see again the stream of tears streaking down her face. Just for him? And you looked right through me. You didn’t see me. And now I hear all the words. I finally listen to the end of the sentences. Why take the beautiful golden child-too.

Two.

Two caskets. Two bodies. He was full of life, light. He has dimmed and died. I am full of death as always. Unchanged. I stand here. Unseen. Only I see now.

In some worlds the light does not need the dark.

Death changed him. It did not change me. I am gone to my corner to sip at my straw for eternity. As always, no one notices.

The great unwritten novel

They have just released a list of the best books of the century.

My book is not on it. In their defence my book is neither written nor published.

Still I feel a pang of disappointment at an opportunity missed.

We are only twenty years into the century so there is still time.

And being honest I think their list is a little premature.

Although perhaps after this point we are stopping books.

They have heard that on twitter and I have not.

Because I was not on twitter that day or didn’t follow the right literary society.

Perhaps I should be running out and stock piling books right now because not only are there no more to be written there are no more to be printed. It might be about the trees.

It might not, maybe there’s just a government decree.

I look around at all the books I own.

Will this be enough? I look at my unread pile.

It will be enough.

It will certainly be enough.

What is going to happen to all the authors?

Some will be ok, some have made enough to survive but what about ones like me who haven’t churned out their great novel yet?

Or maybe they are going to rationalise?

Perhaps everybody is allowed one novel apiece and this was simply the last list where it was a free for all. Perhaps right now they are allotting single novel slots and I am missing out. I need to follow twitter more closely.

I sit looking at the list of great novels. I am unsure what to do. Unsure who to call or where to turn. What is going on out there? How can I find out? This was the very morning I was going to start my great novel. And now I have no idea what to do.

This might be the end of my writing career. The one I haven’t started yet. I need coffee. I look nervously at my phone. No notifications. Silence. That is probably because my notifications are switched off. Should I switch my notifications on? How do you even do that? I look at the computer screen. I bring up a new word document. There is no way you can make that phrase sexy or interesting. That isn’t just me, its just not possible.

I stare at the screen.

At the blank page.

Mild panic. I don’t know what to do.

I am only certain of one thing.

Today is not the day to start my novel.

I go downstairs and have that coffee, congratulating myself I have not wasted time on writing anything.

What colour are the tears you cry?

What colour are the tears you cry?

Are they rainbow tears
for the people you accepted
Or flecked with dark
for the people you rejected

Do they stain your cheeks
with tracks of blood
Are there dark streaks
Like tracks of mud

Do you even feel it
Do you wince in pain
As I hear you shout
Your hate again

And then one day I see you cry
And the water comes out plain
They don’t hold your memory
You cry the tears of rain

If you’ve never spoken the truth,
you don’t know when you lie
If you never feel the sadness,
you can never really cry

Consequences have actions,
actions never sleep
The run right through your veins
Staying buried deep

You know that death will come for you
Even if you don’t know when
What colour are the tears you cry
What if you live again?

Can you re:

I don’t think we can re-connect
I’m not going to let you call me

Names again

I’ve been trying to reduce
Open the door
Get the apples out
And squeeze them again

I am going to renew

Reform

Re-form
Into someone else
Into something different

I will wake up tomorrow
And be anew

A new what

I can reinvent
Look at a light bulb
And do it better

Re-in-vent
Breathe in, deeply again
And then exhale

I can regurgitate
Tell you all the lessons
The person I was yesterday has learned

I can remistake
Do those mistakes over
And then

Relearn, re-understand

I can repurpose
Find my fulfilment somewhere else now
A different way

Re-happy

I can renew
Like a library book
Being read by someone else every week

Being reread, over and over again
I can recover

Dress myself differently tomorrow

I can repose
And ask the same question again
And again

I can reword,
Make all my sentences over
And I can reawaken every day

Refreshed, reinvigorated

Re-alive

I can re-imagine and re-be
Just who I am
and who I want to be

Eyeball to Eyeball

If you could take your eyeballs out

And get one to look at the other

What would you see

Looking into your own soul

Half seeing the other half

Would each one be surprised

What if there is nothing there?

When you clap your hands

Do they come together?

Or are they coming apart?

Simultaneously pushing away from each other

Is one hand quicker,

More cautious,

More fretful than the other

Does one arrive before the other

So the clap is not quite in the middle

Is one stride longer than the other

Does one leg know its better

Stronger, safer, more sure

Does your heart lean to the left

or the right

Does it hover in the middle-undecided

When you put your feet together

Does one quiver in fear

Is one foot afraid of the other

Does your body know things that you don’t

Is it comfortable with itself?

Are you sure?