pore

I peer at all the constituent parts
and touch them pore by pore
feeling for which are more
pleasing to the eye and the mind
I wonder why it
is so unacceptable to be imperfect
in mood or mind or
visual appeal
I wonder what it is like to
be free from your own jagged scrutiny
my face is so covered with labels
I try to peel them off
but they leave trails of glue and whiteness behind
I wonder
is it more of a crime against
my fellow man
to let go or cling on?
and why is it
that no love given ever seems enough?
shapes hang over the questions
that have no answers
and so I dream of what it would be like
to be the honest accurate whole

tomb

in the late london skyline
the real london skyline
the landscape buzzes with the lights of
a hundred rooms
not the billion-dollar investments
nor the phallic financial monuments
not the architect’s stone wonders
nor the flags of palaces
no, in the real skyline
stand a hundred homes
stacked in squares and rising
above that bridge-road.
a hundred mothers
a hundred children
a hundred rooms belonging to
kids you sat next to in dusty assemblies
a hundred kitchens that
could be full of anything at all
maybe some with an excess of plastic bags in
a larger plastic bag
maybe some with new mixer taps
maybe some with letters in a dishevelled pile on the table (have you seen my letter from the hmrc)
maybe others with letters pinned orderly to a cork board (I put up your letter from the hmrc).
in the blocks for hundreds
only a few lights remain switched on
at this ungodly hour.
the mothers and the rest now asleep
the stacks loom dark
but promise life
with the lights left on in kitchens and stairwells and bedrooms.
yet
among them
splitting the sky open like a great
glaring wound
effervescent with hot bubbling blood
stands the great black tomb in the sky
the great black fucking tomb in the sky
the great burnt shame in the fucking sky
it seems bigger, somehow
than the breathing blocks around it
that make so well this skyline that I love
it seems bigger.
this carcass
this ode to death
this ode to greed
should be full of us,
full of life
full of joy and sadness and ambivalence and
shit dinners and good dinners and irritation and
nights in front of the tv and
parties that go on too long and
noisy upstairs neighbours and
neighbours that never make a sound at all.
but instead, now
this ode to greed
this ode to murder
this ode to a community’s hellish grief
this ode to their screams of anguish and injustice
this ode, it
cries it’s message into the city.
and the blistering corruption of death
coats us all.

so pay attention
because we live
pay attention
because they rest in ash
pay fucking attention
and hold onto your humanity
dig yr nails into it’s flesh and don’t ever
let it go
pay attention.
to what happens
pay attention.
pay attention.
(don’t forget them)
pay attention.
pay attention.
and dismantle the chain reaction
of tired decisions that
lead to the destruction of our humanity
pay attention.
and don’t
you ever fucking forget them
don’t you ever
forget how they rest in our skyline
pay attention.
pay attention.

womb

to the other family,
the one who gave me all the
loveliest
warmest memories.
how do I thank them now
for their homeliness?
I never
wanted to go home –
whether creating
hard-hitting remakes of
the sim city newscaster on
your video camera, or
jumping off the climbing frame,
or getting chocolate
everywhere in the kitchen, or
getting all of you
round that glowing kitchen table by
the range cooker to
laugh at my jokes or
us getting all to
collaborate in a group impersonation
of a father ted scene

I never
wanted to go home
not from that womb of a place

going off on one

alright, forgive me for going off on one… a combination of having to write an essay on the Israel-Palestine conflict, hearing stories of abuse towards innocent young people and seeing a homeless man basically choking to death whilst overdosing on drugs last night plus this MOTHERFUCKING ELECTION have wound me up to the point where my heart is literally hurting.
 
I refuse to stand by and bitch when I could be challenging people to think more about the real impact of social justice. if you are someone who is able to turn the other cheek – who can ignore the suffering of millions of people not just in the wider world in war-torn countries but in the UK as well, right on your fucking doorstep – then you are FUCKING LUCKY. the fact that you get to prioritise your own financial interest over the fact that there are people fucking dying on the street, that there are children being abused in their homes who have nowhere to go, the fact that you care more about losing a relatively small sum of money to tax than you do human suffering… OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES! it is circumstances of luck and privilege that allow you to have these views, nothing more. one tiny event could change your life forever and you could lose that.
 
turning the other cheek is so prevalent in human history that it makes me burn with rage. reaching out with your hands and your heart, engaging your empathy and doing something worthwhile for your fellow humans – facing the truths that make you uncomfortable, that make you sad – that make you angry – it has never been more necessary. I wish for one moment that more people could engage. we live in a society so focused on personal progression, wealth, and individualism that we have completely forgotten what it is to truly be human.
 
I’m not saying you “have to” or “should” give fifty quid to the next homeless person you see. but we should ALL think seriously about our own values and suffering. think seriously about whether you really care about frittering away money on pointless bullshit that will never make you happy. to find your cause, to really truly, actively GIVE something – will bring you freedom, joy, humanity… (aka THE ENTIRE POINT OF BEING ALIVE!).
 
yes, we all deserve to be comfortable and selfish sometimes. I would never suggest that anyone put themselves in any kind of peril to do “the right thing”. life only works when we give and take, when we remind ourselves that we both deserve to receive the kindness of strangers and that it is absolutely imperative to give it. of course it is so much easier to ignore the horrendous aspects of humanity and say, “well I would never do that” – but evil things are not so black and white and obvious.
 
if you care – which I think the enormous majority of people do – take your focus off of yourself for one moment and think about whether your self-interest really brings you any joy.
 
if everybody gave back… if everybody engaged with the deep humanity they are capable of… the world would be a better place.
 
I do not enjoy being confronted with the very real, very present stories of suffering that I hear in my job. they make me feel sad, angry, frustrated, exasperated and heartbroken. but then I remember I can actually make a FUCKING DIFFERENCE – and those emotions ebb away quietly and I feel a deep satisfaction and joy knowing I have given something worthwhile, even if it’s only tiny.
 
give something – you will be surprised at what you get in return.
 
gonna go and dunk my head in a bucket of ice now 

saul

you are jesus christ messiah
and I am saul of tarsus
I roam in the nowhere and
murder your blind followers with
daggers from my eyes and breasts
but still heaven
opens and your voice saves
me and gives me my name
and you don’t seem
to care much about my
past persecuting.
and as your transformed apostle,
oh –
I feel gifted to be the one
who waits
(as many aeons as it may take)
for you to wake from the dead.
for now,
I will accept simply the vision
of your resurrected body
in my mind’s sky
it sustains me more than
bread and honey
and appears, clearer
than the shimmering
glass eyes of the ones
we left in our wake.

god

how can it be so that the
dead god I worshipped for so long
is not who everyone
told me he was

how can it be that my
dead god in golden coffin all
wrapped up in ribbons and
pearlescent papers
could have been so
cruel and blind?

my dead god was unwearied in
my heart and soul. his
fountain of goodness sparkling
leaving shards of curled gold
in my hair and skin
embedded so deeply like
lead splinters from classroom pencils.
stabbed and bled by his preciousness,
holding onto his dead hand
and screaming for guidance and release
as his voice stayed silent and
he stayed, as ever, below me in his grave.

how can it be so
that I am paying the penance for his
cruelty?
how can it be so
that I mourned so deeply for the loss
of the monster under the bed?
a dead god,
a torturing god,
unleashing the fury-storm
on the defenseless.

how can it be so that the whole
ocean poured from my eyes
for a knife such as this?
am I wrong, wrong, wrong?

the tribe of guilt makes a fire
in my mind, dancing their
dance of ceremony.
would other children be not
so terrified, I wonder?
would other children be
more robust and red-cheeked?

o, tribe.
you love the warmth of my gold mind.
but you
and the dead god you worship
must be shown to the exit
or I fear all the good I reap’t,
will go.

significance

today, I got a whole bunch of ink injected into my left arm. because I am an adult and can spend money on WHATEVER I WANT (spoiler: what I want is rollerblades, tattoos, and platform shoes. I’d also like a mortgage or a car one day, but I’m only a millennial, what the fuck do I know). whilst getting a tattoo might seem like quite a run-of-the-mill activity for the everyday goth, this was such a significant event for me.

I began self-harming around eleven years ago. what started as a foolish copycat activity to fit in to a subculture became a desperate coping mechanism for much of my adolescent and adult life. I dealt with a lot of pain and sadness growing up that left me emotionally scarred and vulnerable. I adopted many destructive coping mechanisms to survive this pain, one of them being self-harm.

physical pain allowed me a release from the intense, swirling powerlessness I continued to feel on a daily basis into my twenties – sometimes it was in response to real, horrible situations (the suicide of a friend; sexual assault; impossibly painful relationships) and sometimes it was in response to my own overwhelmingly powerful negative feelings about myself. it most likely sounds completely warped to those who’ve never had the inclination to deal with intense emotional pain by digging sharp things into their skin*, but self-harm became a safe expression for me. a blunting tool for my suffering that ensured I didn’t hurt anyone I cared about with my blind rage; that I didn’t give in to abusing drugs and alcohol; that I didn’t make any rash decisions based on horrendous panic attacks triggered by childhood trauma. the “only” person it hurt was me, and as I literally did not care for myself in any way, I continued to use it to cope on and off until 2016.

*have you ever punched a wall whilst angry? said awful things to someone when heartbroken? felt like tearing your hair out when frustrated? gone out on a drink and coke binge after a really difficult day at work in order to ignore your pervasive ennui? then yeah… you’ve either self-harmed or at least thought about it. sorry bro.

whist 29th february 2016 is the official “end date”, I had been abstinent for two years prior to this, but I never really lost the urge to express my emotional pain physically; I just got better at ignoring it. up until that day, I still (and bear with me, because I know this sounds fucked up) dreamt of slicing open my arms and legs with razors any time I felt “unacceptable emotions” like anger, guilt, shame, sadness, depression, grief, disgust, self-loathing, et cetera, ad infinitum. it was 2016 that marked the final occasion I actually engaged with that dream, and it was during this final occasion – a single cut to my left arm – that I smashed headfirst and rudely into reality and felt the true horror of what I had done to myself. it was 2016 that I said no moreno more, not ever. 

I became interested in tattoo art at the age of about fourteen, probably. I drew pages of tattoo ideas in my journal and wrote long, excessively complicated lists about the anime characters and cradle of filth lyrics I was going to have indelibly inked onto my skin as soon as I turned eighteen. thankfully I grew up (a bit) and have since acquired several beautiful pieces. I was always desperate to have my forearms done (prime tattoo real-estate) but one reason stuck in my mind every time an artist suggested placing a design on one of them.

I was absolutely terrified of losing the space where I inflicted injuries upon myself. most people can probably relate to the feeling of losing something important – imagine the child when they start realising they’ve lost their mother in the shopping centre. what is your safe place when you feel the worst that human emotion has to offer? perhaps it’s a parent, a grandparent, a peer. perhaps it’s drugs and alcohol. or perhaps an activity – say you play an instrument, or a sport. either way, this safe place is everything to you; it provides you release, focus, a way of feeling good; a distraction from your sadness, or your anger, or your heartbreak. perhaps, in dire times, it is the only way of feeling even moderately sane. a failsafe red-button. imagine the idea of never being able to access this, or similar, activities ever again. add to this a sense that awful, fucked-up things are just hovering round the corner from you at all times.

this was how I viewed my self-harming; the only way I could escape from torment. since the age of around seventeen my self-harm was infrequent, but I was still so attached to it. I felt, desperately, like I needed it. maybe not right this second; but at some point, in the near future, bad things, terrible things were going to happen, and what would I do to cope with those bad things if I didn’t have my trusty left arm?

I avoided any tattoos on my left arm specifically for this reason. but after my revelations last year – my commitment to actually fucking liking myself, to enjoying life, to properly working through my traumatic past so I could heal and be free of the broken child inside my heart and mind – I decided it was time for me to make a symbolic commitment to myself and my healing.

so yeah, I got my arm tattooed today. when placing the designs on my arm, I remarked to the artist that I wanted some more coverage over the scars. she adjusted the stencils, and then remarked that she thought I should leave some of the scars visible. I was a bit puzzled, and asked “how come?”. she paused and looked at me.

“so that you never forget how far you’ve come.”