30 July 2012

and I between the cracks

never fallen never fell
fell how far fall so deep
dead bolt dharma
karma wrapped like barbed wire
tight in its coil
tenements and fields
thaw across a concrete mind
and I
between the cracks
and I
between the cracks
imitating daylight
in constant
never fallen
never fell
fell how far fall so deep
"you will be amazed at how strong
you are
in the scar"
she said
through syntax and circuitry
I am gulf
a living canyon
give me your rivers
so they may be canted
oblique uneven
intones a silent
never fallen
never fell
fell how far
so deep
I am lips
palate tongue
I see the lock
I see
right through it
how the light
leans in

16 July 2012


Bastille Day

writing in two columns not
the tiny words of the Brontës not the slanting
desk of Austen not
the dance of ink that
Plath seemed to do
not the lists and
hand drawn maps of
Orwell not a dead
brothers notebook
where is my voice when
I stare at these
margins in dark
light which river
should I cross these
words with who’s
shore do I heap them on
the cobblestone
is pregnant outside
her home like some
kind of apparition

a living house a dead
house we looked for ghosts
for her
ghost and found a
wild garden no
not even that
someone else's home
that we were staring at
discovering words already
dead when I read them
what is this landscape
pits rivers
railways rocks
the wildness of urbanity
these streets
don’t feel like mine
they are everybody
else’s I shall adore
every footstep
each is holy
even I
am holy 

this ten tonne
tongue hot slag
a harmonica that
beats the vivid pulse
the howl of a train
this swarm of text
conned into
being between these
library walls
history or something
similarly magnetic
what is history anyway
all these twisting
contexts licked clean
with academic prowess
using words in a way
I can’t quite reach
just my fingertips

not my fat hands
that want to
squeeze and pry
and pinch
green and brown
time and moss Blake’s grave
I place my penny
except its 2p
disturbing the
symmetry of strangers
a thankfulness that
the rain understands
but not the screaming
german child climbing
in the tree beside me or
the squirrel in the bin
rooting through our lazy
the more facets I inspect
and magnify explore

the more
I see everyone not
just my chosen heroes
but those who’ve hurt me 
used me tore me
broke me so many versions
of myself
written right to left
like the thick cement bricks on the crane
standing like an awkward
insect in a building site
all floors no walls
grey and slow
a building born
our interiors
filling filling filling
time a small girl
these streets are every
night a simile
when none is needed

we are transient as
stone suddenly still
I am a burial
pennies in a line blue plaque
suicide scream
I am none of your words
and none of mine
I twisted and
glistened at your
pages kissing the
glass between the walls
the doors
these matrixes are mouths
dripping down an escalator into the
moving margins of
this city starts to come
alive in my mind

it’s callouses and curves
let’s count the mortgages
the yoga mats the
bikram yoga bitches
and their almost
debt free lives polarity
is a plum in my mouth
its not that their
different but that
were almost the
same these degrees
of difference only
hidden gardens
we smelled (you smelled)
that honeysuckle 
on my tiptoes to see
the yellow breath of
it’s shape
we are constant
in motion
always weaving
weaving weaving

a door
that shouldn’t be in
front of me Sylvia
death is mainstream
it’s a big river
one you nor I can
sky captain
earth captain
anchors tattooed in
our skin
I find my flaws 
close enough to reach them
pass a paper finger over
their berth
lost a little in this
world of dead poets
other realness in the fields
waiting like hay bales
heavy and collected

11 July 2012

rapunzel's library

salvage (part two)

It was a fevered sweat that woke her.The bare bulb gulped into light, the coil of tungsten purring into an incandescent blur. It hung from the ceiling swinging gently as the breeze from the open window compelled it into a pendulum like dance. The emulsion was still wet, the smell permeated everything. She stroked the skirting boards noticing a few brush hairs caught in the gloss. The brushes were laid out where she’d left them, milky water dripped off the bristles onto the pages of an old newspaper.  The curtains were neatly folded by the bed, dusty and mildewed. She pulled them into her lap and stroked the seams. The hooks nestled in the pleats looking like tiny Picasso ears. She began to unhook them one by one, it felt like pulling treble clefs from a sheet of music. So much undoing had happened, the paint knew it, the curtains knew it and she, she most of all knew it. Starting over, starting again had pealed all her energy.

It had been three days since the extraction. She had spent most of that time stripping the room of its ingredients. The more she took away, the more she scrubbed cleaned and painted the better she felt. Élan stroked the small scar on her finger. This was the price she had paid. Art had dripped like blood, down her palm twisting around her wrist as the man had collected it. He used an instrument that looked like a needle. It had a square nib and two small blades that looked like wings that had seemed spread out from the stem of the sunk gently into her hand. She remembered the man had pressed a small metallic disc into her palm as he did it, like some kind of twisted communion. 

She was nothing like the great artists. They had endured numerous extractions and had continued to make art. She had grown up hearing their stories. Nine Elm was her favourite, he had gone through 27 extractions eventually losing a finger to the process.  Whether it was her misguided adolescence or sheer sheer lust for life, this is why Élan had moved to the city, his city. His art was all over the walls of her borough. The authorities would scrub and clean it away but it would keep reappearing. He was a beast of a man with tattoos that twisted around his fingers over and across his extraction scars, he would pace the streets in her area lost deep in thought constantly stroking his fingers.

Élan lived three blocks away from Nine Elms. The nine elms he had planted were still young trees. The oldest was 9yrs. He had been one of the first test subjects and had been imprisoned until the i.i floated on the stock market. He’d become a local hero and for that reason the authorities kept him under close watch.  His original works of art, especially those created after his first extraction were collected and destroyed. But his myth perpetuated and it suited the needs of the elite to let it, people thought they could beat the system and were therefore more willing to volunteer for an extraction. After all it wiped out all of your debt and that of your loved ones. The rules were complex and protocols were strictly adhered to. Most people put their name on the list at aged 16 which is the earliest you can. Research had shown that is when money means the most to people with just the right amount of naivety to paper over the cracks of what exactly they would be surrendering. This is exactly what Élan had done.

10 July 2012


who am i
context is a skin I'm in 
I'm in
this excess
con den
a drip drop
a shower a storm
perception portioned and
of charity
of giving
this tapestry of tongues
are words sentient
when we speak them?
if it's beyond my own interest
can I feel it
can I feel
what I omit
my limits connect 
and contribute
am I responsible for the rain
do I
grow momentary roots a kind of
help me look 
look up from this desk
its stain
I am morally responsible 
for more than I can see
is not a contract
I have inherited 
advantages disadvantages
our unequal 
dear affiliate
the death of me
it's accent surrenders fallibility
I am allowed pleasure
I am allowed
to be
intensely alive
a verb is an abstract
a persona
a puppet paradox
time is loss
is a gift
why wish 
for the whole thing?
time is real
i think the rain 
ached down the window
soft pedal

09 July 2012

salvage (part one)


Élan did what everyone always did after an extraction. She sat down at her desk and inspected her scar. The cut was on her left hand, it was small starting halfway down her little finger and running down into her palm. The line wasn’t perfectly straight it curved like a wayward eyelash the blood had dried and darkened and a scab had started to form.  She brushed her fingers over it, it felt rough and mottled. When she clenched her fist the dull sting disappeared, when she opened up her palm and stretched her fingers fresh blood bubbled up from beneath the half formed scab and the pain was sharp and thudding. It gave her something to focus on. 

Her body was recalibrating. It was adjusting to the absence but her mind was slow to catch up.  She reached for her pen, positioning it between her fingers as she had so many times before, her thumb bolstering her grip, fingertips pressed against the black plastic. She touched the nib to the paper noticing the faint blue lines and the mathematically positioned margin. It was in the middle of this thought that something strange happened. Her head told her she had done it, that she had tricked the extraction and was writing line after line after line. She was writing so fast she wasn’t even sure what she was writing. At the same time her body, calm and efficient compelled her to follow its instructions. It was several minutes until she noticed the pen was back in the pot and her notebook had been pushed to the back of the desk. What most disturbed her was realising her hands were sunk deep into her pockets as if they had been there a while, patiently waiting for her to notice. 

She pulled her hands out of her pockets and opened the notebook to check. There was nothing there, not even an ink blot. She took the pen out of the pot and repeated her actions, this time she was acutely aware of her body’s rebellion as it disobeyed her and placed the lid back on the pen and put it back in the pot. Her throat was dry and her tongue felt swollen. She couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. She made her way to the small shared kitchen keeping her head down and demeanour suitably cold in order to prevent any kind of conversation with the other tenants in the block.  She found some rye bread in her cupboard and poured a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a coupette that still faintly smelt of whiskey. She carried her food back to the room, laid it out on her desk and tore a small square of rye bread off dipping it into the dressing. The balsamic vinegar smeared up the glass and drizzled over the edge dripping down the rim. She chewed slowly enjoying the sharpness of its taste. 

The syringe played on her mind, such a strange device. It wasn’t really a syringe but she didn’t know what else to call it. She tore another piece of rye bread off and dipped it, swirling the dark ink like colour of the vinegar and trying to make it blend with the oil. The walls of her room were covered in prints, paintings and photographs, a few small collages and a couple of vintage posters. Above her desk was her favourite print a pencil drawing by Liu Dan. It was a pencil drawing of a flame in preparation for a larger body of work. It mesmerised her, billowing in and out, twisting, unraveling in constant motion in a perfectly still picture. The feeling rushed up her throat, she ran to the small sink by the door and vomited what looked like muddy river water into the bowl. She twisted open the cold tap and watched it swill down the plughole. She splashed water onto her face and cleaned her hands. She glimpsed herself in the mirror pale and sweaty. She opened a window and moved to the bed lying on top of the duvet. She closed her eyes leaning her head back onto two neatly piled pillows and felt the evening breeze flicker across her face. The only thing that comforted her was the bare bulb and the plain white ceiling. There was something about that clean uncluttered space.

When she cast her eyes around the room, glimpsing the objects in it, the urge to vomit surged through her body. She gulped gently, fixing her eyes on the ceiling. This was how she fell asleep staring at the tungsten coil focusing on the faded white ceiling, she knew what she had to do and in the morning she would begin.