sockets

plugging the fingertips
into
sockets of suffering
sends an electric current straight
into the heart
pain into the palms and soles
and cynicism into the brain
you could ask
how do I solve the global problem?
not only now
do the eyes see,
but the heart feels
and where do we draw the line
between selfish ignorance
and hopeless engulfment?
thinking positively
does not stop
children being abused
or wars from breaking out
but neither does
drinking the mercury of suffering
what do you do with the anger of injustice
when you see it everywhere?
cut it off, the discarded stem of a vegetable?
become the righteous adjudicator
of opinions?

neither
do much to
keep the homeless warm
or the vulnerable safe

mostly
I wish I could eat the pain
of others
mostly
I wish I could
disappear my own

perhaps the best thing I can do
is turn it into compost

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the dirt

women, the balm
balm for my wounds
seamstresses of my heart
blood in my blood
those men never related to me
they just wanted my eyes wide
and my mouth wide
maybe I wanted their eyes wide too
or maybe I just wanted a new father
but they are not in my blood,
like you women are in my blood.
come, warriors
on the other side
of the world
inside a phone screen
or ten tube stops away
come,
over bread and oil,
or cigarettes
or creating –
you warriors,
you make my bones strong
and my mind agile.
let me do the same for you
and let me stop apologising
for needing you
you pearls,
you islands,
you sisters.
cry,
and I will cry too
and we will
lock our fingers together
and keep growing out of the dirt.

snow

little moon baby
eyes like mine
deeper than black holes
telling tales of destruction
her hand rests on my hip
and I would never compare her to
a doll, but
the words to describe someone so
precious and delicate escape me
her skin is snow
so how do I melt when
it’s mine that is warm?
we will never understand us or them
those beasts of brawn and hair
they fill the holes but don’t heal
I wonder if I want to love her
as I wish I loved myself

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

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

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.

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.”