Relative darkness

In times of darkness
They always tell you there is light
But in the darkness

You can’t see the switch

Do you think there is someone else there
At the end of the tunnel
Who’s going to switch it on

For you

That’s not a real expectation
Instead the darkness becomes gloom
Your eyes adjust, the world becomes

Clearer, less murky

In the gloom
You realise you don’t need the switch
You can walk on in the semi darkness

Because you’re human

And you can adapt
And then one day
The gloom is just

Normal

Its not gloom anymore
Its kind of like living in the light again
There was no

Miracle

No point at which
The switch went on
And if you see the light again, its so

Bright

Its so glaring and so overstated
And you don’t want it
And you feel

Uncomfortable

You can see the faces of the ones you love
In the gloom
And it is all perfectly

Good

And there is no going back
And the gloom is just normal
And we are all, all of us

Ok

Because what you thought was darkness
Was not an absence of light
But a light that was

Different

To what you were expecting
But you got through
And the platitudes and positivity

Useless tropes

In a world that shone

Differently

To the light we have now

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Sunscreen: Super smooth

There is death here
But then there has always been
Except now you can very nearly
Although not quite

Smell it on the wind

I’m sitting this one out
In the middle classes
In a green and pleasant land
And not a shabby urban flat

There’s a garden and some rooms

The birds still sing
The grass still grows
We are fucking irrelevant
And we didn’t even know

I mean I guess we did but

We never really thought about it
I mean I certainly knew
That we just don’t matter
I’d simply forgotten

That nature is deadly

I soothe myself with
Documentaries,
About nature
Knowing that

It is the bastard responsible

In the middle of it all
I play guitar quite badly
I buy myself a new notebook
So I can write earnest words

As if I am truly at risk and suffering

I am worried
We are running low on crisps
And biscuits
It is keeping me awake at night

I now look at my expensive hand bag, differently

Or at least one day I will
I went to the supermarket
And I think that makes me brave
I don’t get my groceries delivered

Like some

Although there is the milk
I am positively a saint
I waste toilet paper
Which to us in the middle classes

Is the ultimate sign

Of our superiority
These days.
Didn’t I make good choices?
I understand viral load too

This virus is the great equaliser

I can’t say it enough
There is no dust here
Except the bits I haven’t cleaned myself
But I will clean

Right after my online yoga class

And the heat
Comes from the central heating
And the extra sweater I bought
Just before this thing broke

I will reduce my sweater buying habits

Because I don’t understand supply chains
And I am not hungry
Dear God, I am clever
It is proving I am more equal than you

Somewhere there in the darkness, there is a light

Because I can afford to pay for it
I have missed the lesson
I did not hear it
It is not this virus that will equalise

But it might be the next, or the one after that

I look at my stockpile of sunscreen
One day I will die from something horrible
In the comfort of an A and E ward
Surrounded by bravery I cannot imagine

And my skin will be super smooth

The Door

No one goes out
No one comes in
I look at the door
No one is coming to the door
It is rendered useless now

Purposeless

I worry about the door

I look at it each morning
I wonder if it knows
Doors are not sentient
I whisper that
Quietly to myself

The door is unmoved

Literally

It has not moved to open in days
I have started saying hello to it
To wonder if the whole thing
Is some kind of,
Some kind of front door conspiracy

The front doors of the world just wanted

Rest

I am starting a door appreciation society
Because it can’t hurt
Because maybe it’s the cause
Because it might help us at all
Because I want to do my bit

I have been in this house inside

Too long

Yet the door is there
It remains resolute
It neither opens nor closes
It just remains shut
Like a shut thing

Tall and proud and

Shut

I touch the handle
Some mornings I kiss the glass
Some mornings I rage against its
Steadfastness
The door remains unmoved

It does not express any emotion

Shut

Meanwhile our house has a regime
Of post-it notes
Of rules we neither agreed
Nor can be bothered adhering to
At the end we will tear them all down

But not the door, we will leave

The door

The door is not a post-it note
I speak out loud to the door now
In the darkness and in the light
‘I promise we will use you again’
There will be an end.

The door remains

Motionless

All those deliveries
The days I carelessly flung it open
I fiddled with the keys in the lock
I opened it just a crack
Leaned against it to chat

I miss those days

Door

I stare at it, shut
I wonder if I shouldn’t get the axe
And bash it down
Even though I have a key
And we don’t own an axe

It is not the fault of the door, the door is

Blameless

I need to make my peace with the door
I sit before it and speak
Words of soothing and calm
I do not blame the door
It is keeping us safe

It is then I spy the shoes

The shoes

I turn my attention to the shoes
All of them in a row,
Sitting there unused.

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Just People

I look at my to-do list

And its just people

A list of names.

I have not been on the train for two weeks
I did not go to the supermarket this morning
Right now, the washing seems beyond me

I stare at the list

Its just people

A list of names, to contact

I stayed up half the night
On a video call
We talked about a Zumba class
I will not leave my house for Zumba

The to-do list

It’s right there beside me

Its just peoples names

Each one a twinkle of light in the darkness
Will any of those twinkles go out
I am having coffee without cake
I have given up cake
It makes me feel like I am in control

Its like my list is living, breathing

Beside me

I look at it again

My weekend to do list
The ordinary one that I do every weekend
I have not cleaned her school shoes
Although I went to school with her
Everyday this week
I did a meeting in my dressing gown
But the extraordinary thing is still the list

The list, the to-do list

Its people

Its just people

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Everyday

The same woman is in the coffee shop

Everyday

I am in the coffee shop

Everyday

Our lives intersect
but we never meet
We are in a permanent state of never meeting
She looks at me, I look at her
Life plays out around us

Everyday

Take that couple
Who are not a couple
He is talking at her
I note the wedding band
His not hers
She talks work
He talks innuendo

Sometimes its the same words just different voices

Everyday

He is dispensing advice
Like an advice dispenser
About egos
I think he knows about egos
He leans forward, leans back

Which looks best

He is wearing a brown jumper
That never looks good
He blends in with the coffee
She is not getting the vibe
He is being nonchalant
Judging his chances

He takes a misstep

Notices someone else
But she saw
She wasn’t here for that anyway
The world keeps turning

Another one of us comes in

There are 3 of us now,
Another middle aged woman
Clutching a coffee
Sitting alone

Observing life

It is no longer a cool place
The vibe is dying
Literally
It is full of women who dye their hair
And not because they want to
Pale skin and garish lipsticks
They cling to a the ship of youth

But it’s sailed.

He looks around now
Realises his error
He should have taken her
Somewhere the sisterhood
Wasn’t manifest

This place is too lowbrow
The whole thing has cost him £6
For no return
He scowls into his coffee

The coffee does not react

We sit there like guardians
She talks on as if nothing has happened

Nothing has happened

Our coffees have gotten colder
He asks if she knows what he means
She is not a mind reader
I have heard the whole thing
Its not hard to know what he means
She deliberately avoids knowing what he means

Over average luke warm coffee

Six pounds, 35 minutes he won’t get back

The woman who is here everyday
We make eye contact
We have seen this before
We see this all the time

We see this

Everyday.

The commute

And the girls in Boots
And the boys from Fitness First
Convene before the Clinique counter
Who knows what they say

From above its like a river
People flow into the station
A tidal wave of brown shoes,

Grey shoes, white shoes, black shoes

Every pair matching shoes

Trip, slip, tap.

Tickets at the ready
They follow lines they cannot see
Ebb, flow, flow like the tide
They bend around the ticket machine
Over the waterfall stairs
That lead to the toilets

They constant rhythm of a beeping gate
Ticket holders seep along the platform
At first coalescing but then,

The lines grow ragged and thin

The front of the train
The back of the train

In reverse on the platform

There is the faint smell of coffee
And clutched newspapers
Doors open

They swish, they shush

Commuters ooze inside
Each one gaming for that favourite spot
Their coveted seat

By the window

Not by the window.

Mythical non-existent leg space
Space for a bag

If the centre of the station is a stomach
These are the chambers for waste disposal

Its 6pm and its convulsing

People chewed up,
Churned out.
Allocated, randomly

However conscious it might seem

There’s a late platform change

A tidal surge
From one place to another
Like a lunch being heaved

From one bin to the next

Its peak hour

Its like the station has diarrhoea

No one stays
Everything goes straight through
Sometimes fast.

Sometimes slow

But everyone has a movement

All played to the soundtrack,
of a security announcement
Don’t leave your bags alone
Even if that means leaving your children behind

Although they don’t say that

We all know thats what they mean
They blow up bags not children
Make sure your children aren’t dressed as bags

All of us can recite it, that announcement,

But none of us have ever heard it

There are stairs and toilets
And side attractions that we never see
There’s an information desk somewhere

We are altogether

And yet all alone

Except for the couple kissing

We all look away

And then like a sick child

Denied the bathroom for too long

The station throws us out of every orifice

We plummet out of holes into the darkness

Headed for the sewers of suburbia

Before tomorrow

When like a recurring virus we infect the station floors again.

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A stash of words

And I collect up the words
And put them in a stack
I stick them in the wardrobe
Right at the back

Words I have no use for
No place said out loud
I won’t be using them
Not even in a crowd

Words like ‘averment’
Ones I refuse to write
I’ve put them in the wardrobe
They are out of sight

I can’t tell you what they are
You can never know
I have made them disappear
I have made it so

And now when
There are things I need to say
I will have fewer words
Because I put some away

Now I will be concise
Brief and to the point
You can be all wordy
But I will not be drawn

I will say it shortly
I will say it short
My words will all have meaning
A sprint and not a walk

I think that I have said it
What I want to say
I have put them in a box
I won’t let them play

And yet I keep on writing
8 stanzas in the end
I thought that if I hid them
My writing might amend

But my pen just keeps on working
Like each sentence adds a thought
I can’t seem to stop
Even though I know I ought

I have had an idea now
I know what to do
I will burn the pen
And my notebook too.

A passage of judgement

And the sky went pink, vivid pink
Like all the bubble gum I had ever eaten
Had somehow come out
And been spun into clouds.

I stayed in bed

An unnamed woman,
She came into my room
She sat on my bed
I saw the indent where she sat

But I couldn’t see her at all

I felt her weight as she sat down
I felt the bed move
I turned over
Pulled the covers over my head

I tried to pretend she wasn’t there

I thought it would be easy
Because I couldn’t see her
But I could feel the weight on the bed
I knew she was there

I could feel the bed move with every breath she took

She didn’t say anything
She just sat there
She was judging me
I could feel the weight of her judgement

As heavy as the weight of her body

On my bed
I looked out from under the covers
The sky was still pink, vivid pink
I wished I’d closed my curtains

It was the middle of the day

I had nothing to say
No defence to offer
And she was just sat there
Waiting, like a cat for a mouse

I stayed facing the other way

And I couldn’t see her
But I know she was there
Judging me
I hid under the blankets

Waiting for the weight to be gone

But she was there
And so was I
I pretended to sleep
Then slept

And when I woke in the morning

The sky was blue
And I was sentenced
Without a word said in my favour
I breathed out

I did not inhale again.

We Cleave and we Cleft

Every weekend its the same
We halve and divide
There is only enough for one of us

To get through

The other sits inside
Chained to the mast
Trying not to catastrophise

We are two sides of the same whole
Like a coin that is flipped
One of must land flat

And the other must squeeze her nose into the floor

And sniff the carpet
I wished it wasn’t this way
I know it won’t always be this way

One day she will stride out of here without me

Proud and strong
And she will vent her anger
That I held her back so long

She will want me to explain
How whilst I walked in the sunshine
There was so much rain

Because they are never truly real

They never become new
Until they make themselves
Separate from the parts of you

I try and hold her close, but it is never enough

They don’t want.
I never wanted her to be
A mirror image of me

We must divide and separate
She must become her
And I must stay as me

We separate and come back together

We cleave and we cleft
We go right
Then we move left

We dance this dance together

One day she will be fully grown
And I will dance this dance
Alone

Dismembered and Unjoined

The noise of the train is a kind of silence.
We have to lean forward to speak
Strain to hear each other

I think its deliberate

I can’t be this person today
The person that I normally am
She has up and gone away

I have disconnected
Dismembered
Unjoined.

All the things that join me up

I have let them go
To run amok on this train
Without consequence

I have released my fingers for example

Released completely
From their obligations to obey me
They are splayed knowingly somewhere else

Strung out on the seat next to me
Pretending to play a piano
That does not exist

Taking up a space that is not mine

A woman looks at me.
She wants to sit down
But I have ceded control

They can do what they want.

My toes, my feet
Have simply walked away
Gone into the next carriage

They have left my shoes
Along with my socks
Astray in the aisle

My lungs are heaving in great chunks of air

They hate the train smell
They are hanging out the window
Sucking in the moist morning fog

My heart is beating to a tune I have never heard

Thumpedy, thump, thump, thump
And thump again
I think about my liver

It might have remained loyal

But my eyes are resolutely closed
I am in a darkness
Against my will

My mouth is making shapes
My ears are on my knees
And my nose is running

It is more of a jog to be honest

But it is unpleasant.
For me
and for other passengers

My elbows are poking people I can’t even see

It is one of those journeys
Where I just don’t feel like me
The shapes don’t fit

Nothing makes any sense

My body has run amok in the carriage

And no one will speak

Train noise is a kind of silence.
It hypnotises.
Its a kind of social blindness.

As we pull into the station,
I put out a call to arms
Thankfully my arms respond

They collect all my pieces
Put them back where they belong

I may not be me

But I will be whole again

At about midday
I wonder about my liver
I wonder, is it loyal?

I am still not sure about my liver