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.”

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.

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.