the author gives instructions for his deathDon't sanitise me when I'm dead.
Don't dress me in a suit, fill your heads
with notions of perfection I couldn't fulfil
in life, and never can in death.
Don't erase the parts of me that hurt you -
don't delete my dubious history.
Rip out the rings from my pin-cushion face
coat my tattoos in makeup to hide
from the world things which made me look unique
but don't hide from the world my true warts
my faults and foibles, don't
pretend I was a saint.
Don't dress me up as special when I'm gone.
Don't stand at an altar spreading lies
about what a good person I was
in life, when you know that's not the truth.
Don't forget the parts of me that made me human
made me imperfect, that you hated, that
made you want to kill me until I was already dead.
Remember the parts of me that made you cringe
or shake with anger. Remember my personhood,
remember my humanity and never
forget the sinner that I was.
The CallHe whispered down a cold telephone line
voice crackling with crisp anger
dripping threats that chilled my soul
"Why did you tell him I raped you?"
Heart beating to an out-of-time drum
hairs standing up, reaching away from me
as I wanted to get away from myself
but mostly from his voice on the line.
No words. No murmur. Barely breath, even
the world stood still and I panicked
guilt and shame rising in my throat like bile
stinging my unmoving tongue. I must
have made a noise, some involuntary sound
a death-rattle from my heaving stomach.
"Why?" he repeated, and I could barely think,
let alone speak the words. Because you did.
Because you did. Because you did.
I gathered my trembling wits and breathed out
slowly, so that he would hear that I was there.
I put down the phone, and he disappeared.
ALBERT ROAD AT NIGHTA fox skitters down the street on claws
sharpened on kerb-stones and dumping-grounds
It glances up at this two-legged stranger
as it passes, speeding up to escape perceived danger.
A man sleeps in a doorway; it is a warm night
so his possessions bundled make a resting-place
for his weary head, and he sleeps uncovered.
The fox pays him no mind, he is part of the furniture.
A drunken group sashays along the pavement, the silk-garbed
crowd parting for the casual stroller in denim and boots.
Giggling, they speak in high pitches of nothing at all.
The fox gives wide berth, fearing the noise.
Two men, loud, walking along the middle of the road
white lines providing guidance, kicking food containers
like so many footballs. The fox senses real danger,
and like the two-legs, is on full alert.
The men pass, the women long-gone, the man sleeps.
The traffic lights change from red to green, but no cars
are out at this time. Distantly, a siren wails.
The road is quiet but for the skittering of the f
thrillsthe roughness of the top of your head on my lips
the day after you've shaved away the hairs
sends tingles through the core of my being
the roundness of your belly pressed against mine
when we are skin-to-skin like newborns
is warmth and joy and lust-filled friendship
the fingers tough from plucking guitar-strings
tracing unknown words into the small of my back
feel like secret poetry written through my skin
and I'm no good at writing love poems
even into the soft skin of your back
and I'm no good at telling you my heart's words
but you need to know your body thrills me
and you need to know that even though
I find words so hard they stick in my throat
I love you, the core of you, your soul
fits mine like tiny puzzle pieces nobody can solve
but us. I have no words but these
and these are all I have to offer.
Untitled 08.07.2014And now we wait for the magic to begin
with scarlet lights in our eyes
and stars twinkling in our veins
we watch, noiseless and screaming
and wait for the spectacle.
And then, then it begins
every dot of carbon in our bodies
effervesces in glittering fireworks
and our minds write poems in the stars
which course through us like lightning.
And then the moment peaks
and we swim through the artist's strokes
painted with a brush floating through clouds
each of us a mirror of the other
reflecting star-filled words on words.
And finally, post-crescendo breaths
skim softly rounded pebbles on our hearts
leaving stardust as they gently bounce
and our souls come back to earth
until once again, the magic begins.
Cigarettes and BirdsongI roll another cigarette. The sun
is beginning to come up; tiny rays
of hope for another day
as the rest of the world sleeps.
Birds sing softly, songs of joy
and pleasure. I am alone
yet never alone. My world carries me,
the Universe has plans for all of us
and I sip slowly on hot tea
and contemplate its plan for me.
I roll another cigarette
and listen to the world awaken
around me, tiny stirrings of hope
for another day for all of us;
the saved and the damned.
I wonder if each morning I hear
the same birds, if they sing for me -
and feel too self-important, they
sing for anyone with a mind to listen.
We spend too much time not listening.
I roll another cigarette, and filled
with the tiny burgeoning of hope
the knowledge that not all of my days
begin this way, that my mind so quickly
slip-slides from side to side,
becomes untied; but not today.
I want to grasp this day, this peace
and imprint it on my mind, sear it
into place like a brand, a tattoo
of joy and peacefulness on my heart.
what's in a name?What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet
but what a name really means no-one knows
a word we give each other when we meet
and meaningless, for some, who feel that they
are nameless, who lack identification
with the label they were given on the day
that their so-kind mothers gave them incarnation
Even names we've chosen feel like clothing
that doesn't fit or rubs our skin too hard;
to speak aloud our name invokes a loathing
for that which others use like an ID card.
And so we nameless avoid speaking aloud
the name of which we're meant to be so proud.
HazeI spend my days in a haze
of nicotine, caffeine and codeine
so I can function; there's no option
with a kid who needs me upright
compos mentis, sweetness and light.
It keeps away the headaches
burning skin and aches and pains
so he can hug me and I'll feel him
without wincing and pushing him
away because my skin is burning.
And I've been tossing and turning
all night, aware that my plight
is that of hundreds, even thousands;
it helps to know I'm not alone
that others' skin, muscle and bone
betrays them, they're also in a haze
that keeps us sane, contains
the bane of our existences
sustains us, maintains
our ability to function for our loved ones
hoping we can outrun our bodies
and fretful minds, the lines
get blurred sometimes
and that haze keeps our gaze
from glazing over when we're loving
from a chair or bed that's crushing
our self-worth, confidence in our
ability to truly see the world
through our children's eyes
and we're surprised when those kids
accept us like it's normal