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.

star part II

read part I here

I wrote once
a little while ago about
a burning hot star that
scalded my palms and
blinded my eyes
I wondered why I was
so paralysed by its beauty
and so afraid of its power
I plunged my hands into it then,
not knowing how to harness its purity
I gilded my fingers silver
and skinned them to the bone

stars are all white gold
and full of dreams
but they don’t travel through galaxies
and now that I understand how to
work my telescope,
instead of staring into the light
with bare-eyed fascination
I can see that the star, so far from
my breathing earth
is burning itself into static death
going out in a blaze of beauty
that will suck the life out of every
little thing around it

I look away from the endless sky
and down at my feet, tempered in their
little leather boots
and see the leaves swilling around them
I see the pearls of dew drops glisten
and grass growing through cracks in the pavement
a sparked single match lights a
wood fire somewhere to my left
and I realise that a burnt-out sun
a thousand light years away
could never warm my healing hands
could never captivate and delight my eye
the way my left-hand fire could

trip

six months of an acid trip
life is full of revelations now
little epiphanies woven in
to my days
threads so glittering wind
through the halls and
stairwells, turning
cobwebs and dust into
pretty paper chains

“girl,” he says
looking up from the ground floor
“why are you always so
guilty?
let go of that conscience, girl”

I say fuck
I always had the words to
describe myself but
I placed them on the page like
newspaper cutouts
a ransom letter to myself
I never glued them
down, so they blew away
into the wind
and I shut my windows hoping for
sense

I sink into my trip
but I’m not in a daze anymore
not a passive witness
not a powerless princess by
the closed window willing
my hair to grow a little longer
this trip is mine now
I embrace the others
that join me
and kiss the ones that
leave me to soar

and I don’t feel
a stitch of remorse
or pain
or shame
not anymore, girl

caves

the water washes over me
the wave cleanses me
i was a shipwreck
but there is no
longer any driftwood
splitting from my keel
the currents are warm
rough
calm
exciting
new
old
all at once

i looked out onto
that bay and its
frostwhite-tipped waves
for so many
years, never really
knowing it at all
instead I preferred to stare
at the grotted river bank in
the next town
heaving corpses from
the mud with my bare
hands and bones
trying desperately to
bring them to life
what a thing
to see such an ocean from
my own window
to pass it no thought
other than a drink at
a beach cafe table
now and then in summer

what a thing that
something so known
could be so new
could be such an adventure
could be so full of
fear and magic

i praise mother earth
my own bay
may not be in any
tourist guides or
hiking holiday books,
but it is here
at my window
and it is mine
to explore,
from the lapping shallows
that kiss my feet and ankles
to the deep and dark
storm-waves that crash
between my breasts
to the doors and caves in dripping rocks
full of natural treasures
that I can discover

all of it
has been here
all along
and what a joy of luck
that only now
have I begun to see it

be

If I look back, I am lost.

the above is a quote from the ever-popular character of daenerys targaryen in the song of ice and fire books written by george r. r. martin. throughout the books, we go on a journey with daenerys, as she is thrust unceremoniously into a very adult (albiet highly fantastical) life. we follow her as she attempts to navigate not only her hostile environment but the people who surround her, their intentions and what, if any, end goals she should be focusing on.

the phrase touched me when I read the books, resonating with me as I wander through my own journey of self-discovery and healing. I have a large tendency to over-analyse and dissect in an unhealthy way; I attempt to break these negative thought patterns using things I learn in therapy, though a lot of the time it feels like replacing one over-analytical stream of thought with another. at present it feels like my thoughts are just an endless barrage of questions; whys, what ifs and hows chatter relentlessly away as I try to navigate grown-up life.

a recent obsession that has been festering away is the fear that I will never “cope” with life, that I will never “get better”, that I will continue to be hurled and burled through life on an emotional rollercoaster, with no semblance of achievement or satisfaction to be found, no more true loves to be had, no enjoyment of anything for too long lest it become too stressful, too difficult, too triggering. the mere thought absolutely terrifies me to say the least, and my anxious brain works its hardest to find unequivocal proof that this is certainly the path I will be forced to tread. attempts to control and relieve the anxiety brought by this particular stream of thought generally manifest in hours spent googling and researching, desperately throwing unanswerable questions into the echo chamber of the internet, hoping to find some magic words, some proven theory that will provide me with the reassurance I so urgently crave. psychological theory, psychiatry research papers, comments sections and self-help articles of varying quality; they all get consumed, processed, churned out and considered as evidence. I think back to the very darkest times of my life and constantly self-assess to see whether I’m feeling now as I felt then, whether I’m hurtling head-first back into that terrifying black chasm of helplessness and despair.

it is prudent to remind myself that self-assessment was not my strong point when I was stuck in the aforementioned chasm; I had no questions, because I had almost completely accepted my “fate”, my fate being that the only real answer to my emotional suffering was death. It is quite the opposite now. the questions nowadays never seem to stop coming, but none of those questions are “how to tie a noose” or “painless ways to die”. recalling memories of that time are utterly painful, and I feel sad for myself, and those who lived through it with me. I have come a long way, but it appears there are still hurdles to jump over and knots to unpick.

so I shall keep going forward. I shall keep trying. if I look back, I am lost, and playing psycho-detective will amount to nothing if not further pathologizing of perfectly normal human experience, which I don’t think is a good thing (although at this point I could probably sit a Bachelors psychology paper and pass it, so that’s something). I’m just a human; a big soggy bag of flesh and bones and organs and electricity; and I truly believe that nothing except personal peace and happiness are important. we are one tiny dot, in a vast ocean-sky of planets and solar systems and galaxies and possibly universes. our lifetimes are breath on the skin of the world, let alone the universe; our supposed failure and suffering are eternally meaningless in the scheme of things. we feel important, but that doesn’t make us happy or peaceful. we should do for the pleasure of doing; be kind for the pleasure of kindness. to be clear, this is not some hedonistic analogy; you won’t be happy or peaceful if you spend your days chasing chemical highs and being a cunt to people you sleep with in the name of “absolute pleasure”. cruel people are cruel, and lost people are lost, because they suffer inwardly and place excessive responsibility on external experiences and objects (and their effects) for their inner own peace and happiness.

the key, I believe, is to live outwardly, and reap inwardly. to absorb the joy of the world, of living, of being here, now, at this very moment. to be child-like, to accept the utterly bizarre systems humans have brought upon themselves (like council tax) and fret not over what you achieve, but what you learn, and just be.

just be.

when your brain starts ticking with questions, with self-doubt, with suffering and memory;

remember, just to be.

torches

yes, she brings me flowers
wrapped tight in a tesco bag
more than one smile
dances on her face, and
so I look and learn there
in that great establishment of education

she never grieves
she lives
she puts pain in the
wicker basket on her bicycle
and cycles into the sun
no matter how heavy it may be

she is a stream, river
and a fountain waterfall all
together at once, not
without mud or silt but
flowing, flowing, flowing always
washing us clean of
our sins and sorrows

with this power of water
she could erode us
but she chooses to make us float
she could drown us
but she chooses to cleanse us
she could guide us foolish sailors to our deaths
but she chooses to hold great torches up as guides

thank god,
thank god for her
I think as milk comes out of my nose
while I snort and shriek with laughter

mirror

I saw her there, in the drunken mirror, reflected in the glass dirtied with smears of black and orange, fingerprints and hairspray trails. I saw her there in her purity, and I marvelled at every inch of her being; a drunken mirror, maybe, a dirty reflection, but one so pure and bright I could not ignore it.

a little woman, she stood there in black, peeling off her layers of wet clothing and laughing unfettered, until they were all laid out to dry. she stood twisted and I marvelled still, at each perfect fold of skin; where her thighs met her buttocks, and led down legs of gold and grey and black, to the gentle lines across her stomach, the creases beneath her ribs worn in from how she sat.

and she did sit, I knew, in the past; but now, she stood, and turned, touched her arms at their angles, one by one. more she touched and more I marvelled, at her skin so golden-bright and smooth, so proud with its pockmarks and scars and stains, bearing such a dreamlike contrast to the streaks of dark hair that danced so lightly on her back as she turned to laugh more, more, more.

I looked and sought her, perhaps only for a second, and saw so much that I had to look away as quickly as I went. what a thing of beauty, what wholeness she emitted in only a moment, I thought, I thought, I thought. I longed to touch her, to reach her, to smell her, perhaps forever, forever and ever more. in the mirror there was only a moment, but I learnt so much I felt tears prickling in the corners of my eyes. I wondered if I dared to look again, what I may see, if those paradises so absolute could possibly remain, of whether perhaps they existed only then, in that light, in that reflection, at those angles?

who is this, I asked myself, that can stand and turn and laugh so readily, so beautifully, so purely and freely, who can posses such vibrancy and gleam in nothing but a moment in a grimy mirror?

I dared, and I saw her again. staring back into my eyes, seeing me. she is. I am. and I soar past my years of hatred and coldness, my denial, my pain and pointless suffering, my self-loathing and denigrating. I am her, with the golden legs and soft stomach and black hair and curved ribs. I am her. I am, I am, I am, and I sink heavy into bed that night elated with the knowledge of the truth;

I am, I am, I am.