Thursday, 26 March 2015

STENCH

it’s been fourteen days &
already my room reeks

this house has gone to cunt

I come home
from teaching astrophysics
of little words

(I tell them:
de-spell yourself
repent your galaxies
admit the pineapple allure)

I come inside
tripping on wet yellow flesh

all my surfaces
sticky with syrup

already too late
in the day for coconut

I pour rum
in the crescent
of the moon

I come inside and
fuckdrunk particles swarm
my nucleus

barbs catch
in the crust of his cloths

these drawn curtains
are a snare for the stench

that hangs like
rotting dessert meat

thick & wet & pinker

I close my eyes
I open the fruit

I beg: give me
to the tropical gag

Thursday, 19 March 2015

How to get what you (didn't know you) want(ed)

When he breaks your heart, let him. Don’t ask why, don’t argue, do not make your case with manilla folders and filed obligation.

Kick the puppy with steel toe-capped boots. Punch him once, punch the wall, howl your thick & throaty Hieronymous howl. Gouge red gymnastic ribbons in your cheeks and in your thighs.

Practice total acceptance in the form of a blank fist.

Then drink. Drink until you cannot dredge the shape of his ribcage from your own ocean floor. 

Pass out. Wake up. Open your arms to the world, open those long haul legs. Let your lips part like shiny-glass bank-reception automatic doors. Throw away the voodoo dolls, the burnt hair, the vaseline.

Rescind your right to the joke’s punchline and to the narrative arc. This is not your tale to tell. Someone else has subsumed your story.

Cut holes in your pockets for his coins to fall from. Don’t try to untangle the snagged hairs of your heart. Snip them once and let the matted clump sail to the floor.

Become the hero of a thousand stories. Become the witch of a thousand woods. So many tales sent out into the world, you’ll barely notice the ones they send back.

Stop trying to be the skipper of your destiny. Let yourself get distracted by waves. 

If it is meant to be, it will come to you astride the horse with no horn: clip-clop, clip-clop. A silver mane tossed like lathe shavings. Stirrups for your feet.

It would be wrong to call this waiting—you can’t wait at the speed of catapults. He won’t come back, but he might catch up, eventually.

In the meantime, leap through fiery hula-hoops with a neon-knickered princess. Wrestle with gold-furred tigers on the barroom floor. Be cute, be brave, be the punchline yourself. Hurtle through a universe of pomegranate seed stars.

When the past re-materialises with its bubbled lip, do not waste the rest of time with fingered scabs and septic regret.

Ask yourself: am I happy? Am I so happy I can feel my own teeth ache?

If the answer is no, still your grasping claws. Sit upon your hands. Ask not if you’re entitled to the toxic swampland; that marsh will burn the soles of your shoes.

If the answer is yes, you may now helter skelter. Give yourself to skin and stupidity. Unbutton everything. Howl a thick & throaty Hieronymous howl.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Viv


"I can tell immediately by their expressions that the studio engineer and producer are not happy to be doing this session. They keep telling us that we can’t do this and we can’t do that. The same obstructive attitude and closed-mindedness we encounter everywhere we go. If we didn’t have each other, we would have been crushed by guys like this ages ago.

Our guitars keep going out of tune and these two guys act like they’re so superior because they know how to tune them. They think the whole music industry turns on whether you can tune your guitar or not. Well, maybe it has, until now; we’ve only been playing a couple of months and yet here we are in a studio. Nobody’s recording their songs, no matter how well tuned their guitars are."

Viv Albertine, Clothes Clothes Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Playing

It’s good, because the cello is big between your thighs. Big as a torso. You can grasp it by the neck, punch your arm forward like a salute, and spin it around. You can sit, in thigh high boots or gold trainers, tensing all the muscles in your legs. Sticking out your elbows. Clenching your fists. Rocking back and forth on the freakouts, cunt against the drum stool.

None of the boys know how to play. So it doesn’t really matter when you fuck it up. They tell you, in the studio, it would be better if you played in time—in tune—but you don’t and you can’t, so. That’s not really the point in this anyway, and you bet they can’t do better. You show up in long socks and hotpants, too many stripes. You think: the men don't know, but the little girls understand.

A’s been in bands all her life, so she’s cooler, but you played in the classical orchestra, so you know some fancy tricks. Or you did, before you forgot them, but that doesn’t really matter either. You’ve both got kids’ stickers to show you where the fingers go: doughnuts and boats and choo-choo trains. If you shudder the bow fast enough, you can trick yourself it’s in tune.

See also: distortion pedals. Cymbal solo. Shrieking.

You get fingerprint bruises on the inside of your thighs. But it’s been a while since he was here, hickeying the skin. You ponder them in your underwear, and it takes you until the next practice—the twinge—to understand.

When you get too excited, you clamp it tight. 

For the show, you bring the hairspray and the feathers and the lipstick; she brings the cables and the pedals and the snare drum. You book the shows with the queer kids and the anarchists; she, the ones with free drinks and neon lights and a cut of the door. When they hand you the envelope, you feel indestructible. You cycle round the city under a full moon, singing your own songs, loud.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Oh Lux.

 "People think that we're funny, I kinda feel sorry for them because it means that they think it's a joke. We've spent our lives searching out incredibly wonderful things that most folks just don't know about yet."

Lux Interior

a small private decadence

There are things that feel decadent to do when she lives alone.

Such things include: breakfast pancakes, a bunch of tulips on the desk, candlelight, the hob and the oven: both on, using the heated towel rack, using the heating in more than one room at a time, miniature bottles of bitters, owning Tabasco sauce.

Sometimes, she does these things anyway. There are always going to be difficult times and when she treats herself like a rare precious creature—a thing that needs wooed—it is worth it, for the pale orange light it casts upon the rest of the day.

Of course, she also feels decadent for living alone. She feels decadent for working two days a week. Sometimes, she hears her voice complain from another table across the smoky bar and she wants to leap upon and wrestle this idiot to the ground, laughing, her hands entwined in her hair.

It’s not really like that. It’s hyperbole. But still: she might as well enjoy it. She might as well be small, gentle, and kind.

 The days of late have been grey and swaddled, but this Thursday morning is an anomaly: a gaudy clownfish amongst minnows, a startling blue. It feels decadent to eat pancakes in a fleece dressing gown, to sip coffee slowly and think, to curl by the radiator with a stack of books, to slip outside and wander along the frozen canals.

Still. The day is going to turn with or without her penance. The internet will howl and scratch up the table legs, shit on the carpet, no matter what she decides to do. Besides, who knows what inspiration will seep into her brain from this rabid white snow globe?

Her decadent fingers sink into the skin at the top of her arm, and she yanks herself down the stairs.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Hysterical

An excerpt from the story I wrote in January about a laughter epidemic, rape, and the media. And the darkness! Oh Berlin, your winters are stuck in my bones.

They said it was the darkest winter since records began. When I heard that, it made sense. I mean, it had to be something. We can’t always be so brittle, so close to cracking. But on those shifty January days, when the light barely nuzzled out of the holes in the sky, it was hard to stay on track. I felt it. And when everything began to unravel, it was hard to feel surprised.
    I don’t mean to downplay the causes. It was more than the weather: it was the violence too, of course it was, the horror that this could happen here, of all places. It was him. Still, I can’t help but think that it wasn’t for that thick grey that swaddled everything that winter, things might never have got so out of hand.
    When you read reports of it now, they use the word “hysteria”. As in “mass hysteria”; as in “those bitches were crazy”. Women, amirite? But if everyone else’s reactions were crazy, then I guess that means mine was sane. And I want you to know: it wasn’t. I’m not the smart one here. If things were different for me, it was for a whole other reason. And I want to explain, because for all I have to say about the darkness, the weather, I am also afraid. Just because I did not laugh. I want you to know: I was also afraid.

fine fine fine

The most important thing to remember is that you’re doing fine. There are about a million other things to remember, all shooting off in different directions like spider silk from your wrists, but as long as you got the important one, you got this. You? You’re doing fine.

Having said that, we do all wonder if perhaps you aren’t spending just a little bit too much time online. Having said that, that’s a lie: that “wonder”. We’ve decided. We talk about it. You are definitely spending too much time online.

While we’re at it, we’ve also been thinking about the time you’ve taken to compare yourself to other people. You spend a lot of time panning the dust of the internet for shiny golden nuggets, from which you craft their present intentions. Their past indiscretions. They ways in which you are: better/worse/kind-of-sort-of the same.

If it wasn’t for the time you spent on the internet, and specifically the time you spend on the internet comparing yourself to other people, and specifically to those other young women writers of a certain age, style and indiscretion, we can help but wonder if you might not have written a little bit more by now.

You might have a book, is what we’re saying. We might be sat by the radiator with a big blue mug of fennel tea, unfolding the pages, letting the spine crack—there! right along your name.

But we are not. There are so many stories we haven’t read yet, is what we’re saying. There are so many bookshops we haven’t snuck inside and signed all the copies with secret messages, because there are no secret copies, and all the messages read:

“Hurry up” at the bottom of every left-hand page, and

“Take all the time you need” on every right.

Perhaps the reason we are telling you this now is because of that message you sent your agent this week, the one with the 60,000 word manuscript attached. We are stirring up your soup because the only thing more terrifying than never finishing anything is the thought of finishing something and putting it outside.

Sooner or later you are going to have to hack out your heart and send it out into the world inside a box. You would like to be there when they open the box, to whisper in their ears “be kind”, but you will not.

But that’s okay. The most important thing to remember is that you are still going, still making things better. The most important thing is not all the things you did wrong to get here. The most important thing is you. You. You, doing fine.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

scum

Winter is dark and beds are warm, and the girl needs some kind of power to help her transition from her nest to the world. It is not a big transition—she thinks often of much larger ones, of her friends, their bodies playing catch-up with the Me that is stuck inside—but it is a tricky enough one for this day, when it is cold outside.

She puts on clothes. She puts on the necklace that gives her power, the long trashy pendant with the dense red heart, a heart which nestles somewhere around the crux of her ribcage, reading SCUM. Despite the self-deprecation, the insult, the necklace makes her feel as if she is doing fine. Whenever she wears the necklace, she cannot keep from fingering it, from placing the tip of the heart between her teeth.

She tries not to do this when she is teaching or during official appointments, but it is a thing, like fingerless gloves or the feeling of her own collarbones, that fills her ribcage with packed orange embers, transforming her chest into a glowing catacomb. In all probability, the world cannot see the glow, which is swaddled beneath layers of weekend clothes. It’s okay. It’s enough that she knows it’s there.

Perhaps despite is not the correct word. When she thinks about it, the word SCUM is precisely the thing that makes her strong. What are you to this world? Little, or nothing, so what does it matter how you act? Such a relief. And then, at the same time, this is so blatantly false that the lie, in itself, is a kind of pleasure.

Sometimes the girl gives voice to her deepest anxieties by allowing her hand to speak them aloud. She bends her elbow and her hand turns to face her, and it becomes a tiny dinosaur, or the head of a swan, or Stage 2 of the art of fisting. It opens its mouth and lists all the ways in which she has disappointed the world: chronic and acute.

Earnestly, spitefully, the hand-duck-dinosaur-fist says, “They all detest you because you didn’t answer that email in time.” “Because your voice was booming at 5 a.m.” “Because you’re shamefully over-excited by the world—don’t you know they roll their eyes when you’re not around?” The hand’s voice echoes in her empty apartment and the girl raises an eyebrow (the right one). “Really?” she says. It is hard to take the hand seriously.

Sometimes, she even lets the hand talk to certain friends. A knows how to put the hand in its place. “Wow,” he says, letting the word hang in the air like pre-storm thunderclouds. “What’s wrong with you, Handy? When did you get to be so mean?” “But…” “You can’t hang out with us if you’re going to be such a jerk. No one likes it.”

And the hand leaves, taking some of her stupidities with it.

“That guy,” says A. And she knows what he means.

The necklace is like this, in some respects. A talisman that makes her worth more than scum. Or perhaps it is just that she hangs it around her neck and dresses in a black catsuit and she looks like a girl gang leader from a dystopian future. So tough, so cute. The girl sharpens a fluoro-pink scythe, and steps into the world.