sky

it hurts to look up to the sky
into that deep
perfect infinite blue of the universe
why do my eyes ache in the light?
I wait for an answer,
and turn towards it anyway.
the power of victim is strong
and sticky,
but I know
as the sun wrings tears from my eyes
that it is not more than the
power of truth.
the power of perfect is strong
and incorrect.
a vision of material attainment
burns holes in my soul –
and that is just,
despite the child’s protestations of
need and want and why.
new beliefs are delicate like
virgin shoots from the ground
and the galaxy eyes of newborns.
and samely, bring the deep
joy of reality.
I am still healing,
still connecting to the gratitude strand
that ties the experiences of cruelty together.
without loss
I could not be me
and the time that I screamed against
all that I was
is over.
into the stars, or the sky, or the eyes of
newborns, the fresh shoots of spring
or the dying leaves of winter;
I allow the ache in my eyes,
and I live.

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demerara

he certainly looks a superhero,
defined in blocks of
masculine warmth and prowess
all wrapped up in demerara skin and eyes
but it’s not so dramatic
the way he holds his hand out to
cradle me in my fear
I shine a light to the sky when
I see a burning building in the mist
and he arrives on time
gently turning my face to the present
“darling,
a flame in the oven
does not mean the building burns”.
I don’t know whether to
call you brother or father
or both,
or neither.

neither.

my comrade in doubt and kindness,
I channel strength to you and from you.
your beautiful soul hurts, I
know it does, yet you
are the fireman hero
jumping into the fire despite the
smoke already bleeding in your lungs.
you are the human hero,
you are.
but this does not mean
that you must never be weak.
be weak, my friend
because you can
because you are strong
because you have me and us to
cradle your mind as
you have cradled mine and ours.
we survive always
you help me heal my burns
I see yours itching for ointment.
your kindness could
never be contained by pain.
expand and
let’s let go
and be the
delicate
strong
powerful
tangible
human
embracing heroes
that our children
always wanted to hold onto.

lover

our friend with the red-haired
beard became my lover.
and like no other he
pushes and pulls me up and down
hills and planes.
I guess I spill my guts out onto
the floor more than he’d expect
and being so stoic and sweet,
I don’t know if he knows
what to do when a girl comes to him
holding out her own intestines.
but it doesn’t matter,
because my red-haired lover will
try anyway.
toaster’s broken,
fuck knows where to start, but
he starts.
that’s why I like him.
stoic and sweet and full of
practical advice and
reminders that life really
is not that serious, girl.
and when the sun comes out
and illuminates the flecks of
gold in his red-haired beard
god, it makes me feel sweet
and I revel as I feel his
elasticity sweat into my skin
and my softness dripping into
his open mouth.
lover,
I hope we don’t ever
step on each other’s hearts.

pairs

pairs of eyes
(mostly blue, one pair brown, one pair hazel)
I looked into wishing for
eternal love
unconditional, magical love
I begged them not to leave mine for
a single second.
so, well, when I saw the girl
in the mirror, I spat at her.
she stared into my skin
taking in every blocked pore
and said nothing but “I’m sorry”.

not good enough!
I said,
and I spat at her again.

I locked the door
looked down at my feet
jammed cotton wool into my ears
and when the outside light burned in
(at about four o’clock)
I shut the curtains, too.
not good enough! I said,
and I hung a scarf over the mirror
so she couldn’t look at me any more.

it hurts, I said.
it hurts so much (I gripped my knees and
rocked like a child fallen from a climbing frame).
I looked over to the mirror and its scarf
and I couldn’t see her
but when I picked the cotton wool from
my right ear to replace it
I heard her whisper from behind my improvised
iron curtain.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
“I’m sorry”.

well, I went back into the outside light
after a little while
but still I avoided her in car windows and shop fronts
and mirrors
and oddly metallic hand-dryers and sheets of foil and ice
she caught up with me eventually, though.
and by habitual force
I cleared my little throat ready to
gob right at her, the insolent bitch.

she was still saying it.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
“no time for that,
I’m on my way to
meet a blue-eyed surgeon who’ll fix my pinholes and chips and
prevent that nasty infection from returning to my
badly sutured wounds”.

she said nothing

then

“I’m sorry”, she said.
“I said no time for that!”
and I lifted my hand to silence her

wait
what
she reaches back delicately
she doesn’t grab me like the last blue pair
nor shout like the first blue pair
she doesn’t scream and hit like the brown pair, either

I stare down at my own hand, and shuffle off
to meet the surgeon
but I begin to wonder what would happen
if I looked at her a little more often

dominoes

everybody else fell
down like dominoes,
slick and lacquered and
all inevitably spread over the
carpet, getting lost under
the sofa. but
they were not dominoes
no, they were not dominoes.
no, pain did not exist in
that house that smelt like sweet
clean pickings of herbs and tea
and essential oils in the bath –
not to me.

there was no punishment in
the sweet house
there were no laws to break in
that clean air, there.
well, they had pain all the same,
those protectors of angels.
pain all the same and worse than most,
but they did
not turn into dominoes
or instruct me to lie face-down
and upon be placed broken
sacks of boulders.
no, they did not turn into dominoes.
I didn’t really like to
play dominoes but
it didn’t matter because there was a hundred
jokes and a hundred games of
chess and a
hundred slices of honey on
toast and a hundred discussions
of the best books on the shelf at
forty-five minutes
past bedtime.

protectors of angels don’t
have to say a magic phrase or
read a magic book or
know a magic spell or do
much more than
love unconditionally, practically,
not really.

so tell me when
you look into the eyes of children,
do you find it hard?
to be their books
honey
computer games
shit television shows
fart jokes
to be the acceptance of
their tears and joy?
I used to wonder if
I should thank the universe
for their love,
or god,
or some great beautiful uncontrollable
catastrophic cosmic power,
but why should I
thank anyone but them when
they were the ones who
chose to give it?

no,
no god or cosmos
no higher power
no luck or chance
is responsible for
soft sheets or
allowing a ten year old to
use all the hot water,
so gratitude goes
where it goes;
to them, a choice as
conscious as all of theirs.

thank you.
I love you.

float

I know. I know
it feels so unavoidable after
all the things that have cruelly
unjustly happened to you
I know. I know
that it is so unfair how
you have suffered and trialled
and how it seems impossible
not to stand in front of the mirror
and cry at the girl there,
imperfect and scarred and
lost
I know. I know
how it feels to want nothing
how it feels for dreams to exist as
nothing but a dull black hum
how sleep is the only thing
that takes the edge off of your
jagged existence
but I know. I know
that misanthropy is not forever
it does not have to be your way
the purity of living is here
for you and you
do not have to drown yourself out
of being
you are bigger than the
sum of your tragedies
come to the healing pool
expect pain in every
new place you go
float on its salt waters
and throw your heart into life
again
because you know. you know
that whatever you have to fear
is not worse than
isolation and hatred.
survive, darling
I promise
you will love
your life again.

titanic

a girl
just as lost as I was,
reached out with
a perfectly manicured hand.
queen captain of the new Titanic,
weathering a storm you
could never know
(not even in your worst nightmares).
the lies of boys brought us together
brought us to a three-hour phone
conversation before we even knew
who we were.
that’s not how us damaged girls are
supposed to act, but
even then we knew where
our blood was best directed.
a girl,
with more beauty and soul than
you could ever understand
(or would deserve).
they should be the ones eating our pain
digesting it whole and
letting it fester in their rotten guts
but that
is not how life works, so on
and on we will go.
she does not need to prove anything
to you, but look how she
glimmers in the light as
a pearl
even when you try to cast your shadow.
fuck you,
we live.