Wednesday, 6 October 2010

christ it's been a while.

Blame the summer, it's been full of distraction.


“Put your hands around my neck,” she whispered, she moaned, she angled her crotch. They were fucking, they had been fucking for ten minutes now, and she could feel the choke in her throat. “Go on.”

He looked down at her and smiled like a goon, jutting away like a walrus lolloping across her icy traverses. He wrapped his arms around her so gently and kissed her on the earlobe, his arms a silver blanket around a car crash refugee. The feeling in her throat constricted.

“I know what happened you asshole, she told me, I fucking know,” she didn't say.

“Christ, I love you babe,” he did.

Across the street she could hear a buzzer ringing. His hands stroked her shoulders, he made a cough like a an engine turning over. The buzzer sounded again. No one was answering.

In her mind she wasn't lying underneath him in this bed, she was 13 years old, she was watching Aaron Nelson and Peter Wallace take turns in the playground, arm crooked and pushed onto the adam's apple of the other until they fainted, euphoric. She was watching the roll of the eyes and the sudden limpness, and she was wondering how that would feel. She was sat, a serious child, cross-legged before the mirror in a pleated tartan skirt, pushing the hollow of her throat with her thumbs, waiting for her own eyes to widen.

His fingers were in her hair now, she concentrated, held a lungful of breath. A bead of sweat gathered on his forehead and dripped onto her cheek; he thrashed harder. She thought of reaching into the fruit basket and her fingers bursting through the rotten flesh of a peach, the scent sudden and cloying.

She would sit there in front of the mirror and try, and then the wave of terror would hit, right at the point where the focus of the world would begin to narrow and the boundaries of her vision start to blur. She would let go in a hurry, fling her hands away from her neck, and sit panting and staring at herself, vaguely disgusted: coward.

They were in bed and they were fucking, they had been fucking for twelve minutes now. He was wrapped around her and whispering about love and she was trying to hold it in, waiting for the blackness, waiting for the euphoria. Her throat was on fire; his fingers were clutching the tops of her arms. She let the breath out with a gasp and he took this as affirmation – “Oh GOD!” He thrust himself in with a judder, face crumpled in a grimace, and ejaculated with a long, feral moan.

“That was incredible babe,” he said.

“I know,” she said.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

ohh, greece.

Time has slowed to a murmur.

We snooze, squash oranges from the grove,
my thighs sweet and sticky.

We chew the tart, salted cheese and
ponder about dinner.

For three hours, we train
a circus of chafer beetles to balance,
perilous, on a lemon's rind. They look
so good, so green and so shiny.

The afternoon's arduous tasks
taken care of, we surrender our skin
to the torpor of the sun.

Monday, 31 May 2010

all the fun of the fair

Trouble. We shifted the stick
like Copernicus, the axle skeewiff.

Our gestalt moved in a murmur
of limbs, a judder, the flurry that

capsized the sullen ship. Your
fingertips rock the Pirate's like

a pendulum and we let go
of the metal bar, unclench our thighs.

We scream, inhale the burnt
popcorn, plead faster, we know

there will be trouble to pay when
this all comes to light. Skipped out,

seduced by the party lights
wooed by the freakshow,

I decide it's worth it

for the sticky-pink cotton candy
I bury my face inside, for my stomach

at the crest of the arc.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

beginnings of a breaking up

“I-don't-want-to-be-with-you-anymore,” he said, and she stood looking at him for a long time. She stood looking at him so long and so silent he began to wonder if he'd killed her with that sentence. Her eyes were like two worn pebbles pushed into clay.

“I'm sorry,” he said, and she kept on staring, holding out the plastic tray of blueberries like a handshake. She didn't even like blueberries. Ben thought about running away. He could do it, he could turn around and sprint in the opposite direction and ten minutes from now he could be sitting in a bar with a long drink, condensation bubbling on the glass. He could be talking to a bartender about the state of the bus service and he wouldn't have to explain. Everything would be easy. But he also knew that if he did, and he ever walked down this street again, she would still be standing here like a myth, like the wife of Job, suffering forever with her cold pebble eyes.

She didn't know what to say. It seemed like normally her brain was full of words, overflowing, words tucked into dressers and drawers, words spilling out unbidden, scattering like the seeds of dandelion clocks, words words words. Now all she could find was cold metal edges. She kept looking at him, rummaging for a spell that would keep him here. She wondered if she stayed incredibly still she could trick this moment into going away, like pretending you're dead when a bear attacks. Her lungs tightened and she realised she'd been holding her breath. It seeped out in purr.

“I'm sorry,” he said again, because he didn't really want to hurt her. He began to feel a little afraid. Things weren't working out how he had expected. He thought there would be tears and shouting and demands for explanations. Then he could explain and shout back and she would whip round and storm off, and he would go and see the other. Things would end and this would be done. But he couldn't argue with her while she stood there with her tears all tucked up inside, brimming. If an apology could prod her soft spot, nudge her into hysteria, he could turn his back on her screams, so a third time he looked at her and said; “I'm sorry”.

Three is a magical number, three is rich in lore and fable. The genie grants three wishes and it takes three monkeys to see, hear and speak no evil. Third time is the charm, three to one is the odds of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost. Even Pythagoras agrees, three is noble. Three is the number of golf balls on the moon. Ben turned to Alicia three times and said “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry” and the spell was broken, the die were cast, and she looked at him and she screamed.

“Be quiet,” said Ben, glad that she was yelling at last. He was not breaking the heart of a pebble-eyed princess. He was leaving his hysterical girlfriend because this is what she did, she threw histrionics, she caused a scene, and because somewhere in an apartment across town the Russian gymnast with the tiny feet was curled in a duvet, yawning prettily, with his number written in biro on her arm.

Alicia shut up, because Ben had told her to, and maybe if she played this exactly right, did exactly what he said, things could work out. There are ways of tricking the fates, of playing out the hand and she could find one, it would be fine. She would give him the chance to say “I'm being stupid, I'm sorry” and if he didn't take that, well, she had other tricks up her sleeves.

Because the truth is that all women are crafted of angel beads and amethyst vials. The truth is we are built to bewitch with no need for the chubby cherub's arrow, we have the polished red apple to hold outstretched, pomegranate seeds in the palm. Alicia could get anything she wanted simply by the secrets in the folds of her body, by the promises which wafted from between her thighs. Like Salome, she could slip off her veils, render him powerless and prone.

Ben was not thinking about this, Ben was thinking about the arch of another back, Ben had forgotten that the scorecard was stacked against him with his puppy dog tails and the inclinations which flip-flopped in his loins. He was no augur, had never learned to read the future in the flight path of birds. Alicia had the arch of an eyebrow, don't forget. Alicia had the waves and the moon.


Before First Coffee

Before first coffee,
and she's nattering.

Tussle-haired and chockfull of places
we'll go, in the afternoon, but

I missed the dreamless slumber
of Odysseus in the cave, I tossed.

I was bitten by the alarm
you set to snooze, princess,

and there's no sullen drape to pull
between our tangled corpses.

I'll tape a grapefruit to hold your
loose lips prone. Bind your morning

wrists with Fruit Loops so you're wide-eyed
and waiting once my coffee has brewed, for

this universe is 90% dark matter and
I am not always sunshine
at the crack of the dawn.

Monday, 3 May 2010

wow, that was fun.

This month has been wonderful. It's nice to erase the tatt-ometer and lay yourself bare in writing once in a while, and there has been some fine tatt and some good things too, and many mornings woken up hungover and uninspired with nothing, and forcing the words to start, and finding something somewhere.

In the spirit of honesty, I tell you that those thirty poems are dedicated in no particular other to the following people who star in them – dan gorman, alex and ben, beavis, chris and niina and all the owls, ms era, dai, tom, vangelis, his taxidermist flatmate, my husband, lee hazlewood, martin mclaren, miranda july, duffy, carlos, marc hug, and everyone I've let in my menagerie. And probably more, besides. You can probably work out yourselves where you fit. Perhaps this could make a fun afternoon puzzle of mix and match.

Anyway, it's hard to come up with fresh inspiration every day for thirty days, so I stole a lot from the real world, and if you think I'm writing about you, you're probably right.

Now for the next thing.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

my, how tardy, how typical Jane!

Slipped up on the final hurdle, you fell
face-flat and knickers in a twist. Blame the
Brooklynite, blame the bruises, the
vials and tinctures which kept the
hamster wheel turning
when the shutters drew closed.

Sixteen puddles of retch on the road
marked the tumble into May, and he said
“maybe I'm done with this, maybe
we'd be better relocating to
the downy duvet and the real world
at last.” Maybe, but we are

outlaws and trollops and dolly-mixture
princesses, and we have no heave for
quitting. Exfoliate this filth from your
crevices and wash the weekend away.
You are fine. It was worth it.

And in twenty minutes is the train
to the next thing.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

I'm drunk and full of dinner, nom

Broil me scallops, toast me
brioche and tamper it down my throat
in bed. You offered me candy,
a striped cane to lick upon.

I concurred.

We feasted, knew the meaning of
blanch and shock, we gorged like
emperors at the last-chance saloon.

The hog roast tipped his hat at the
assembled gentry and the pea and
parmesan promised us immortality
if we could make it
to the dessert. We could.

It was glorious. We binged
until our bellies ached, until
we were taut and unbuttoned.

It was glorious. We thrashed like
epileptics at the apple-bob and
we made sure the call for doggy bags
went unheard.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


My head is crinkled, is a
sopped sponge that oozes
dishwasher liquid, grey and
sudsy. Don't pull the
curtains, stay clear of
curiosities, drink a coffee
which is fearless and black.

You are not cobbled together
for the mornings. You taste fetid
and old, and your corners are turning
rancid. Remain horizontal
for the time being. Wait for evening,
and start again.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


They come in threes, so triplicate
your holy spirit and hope for better
luck this time. Place a wager on

liberty, equality, fraternity, place a stripe
of red-white-and-blue. If third time's the
charm you're a charmer, you're the

debutante fresh from finishing school.
You've got three monkeys on your back
and on the count, you'll take off, you

will run. Pythagoras whispers in your ear,
you are noble. Three is also the number
of golf balls on the moon.

the same old question

So, what do you do?
- and my answer is cropped, troubled:
I pour drinks in a bar, Guinness
for the curmudgeons. This is what I do

for money. What I do is other things, also,
I tinker away at words, smooth the edges
until the square peg slips

into the round hole. I lacquer my lashes
and bat them like the master marksman, I scream
expletives at the moon

when it's full. I keep small, polished secrets in
my bottom drawer, I ride a
circus pony in frocked lingerie, and

I top up the Guinness, slowly,
so that the head is smooth.

Monday, 26 April 2010

pick me up

Real life has never been so good, I swear,
an ice pick embedded in my skull like a flag
on the moon. Raped, beaten, and
wanted by the mafia, a psychic camel said

sister, he's no good for you, go get-em,
lose the twenty pounds of flab clinging to your
handles. Your mother's reincarnated
as a Vespa and voodoo is cancer's next cure.

Remember, snagged nails can be filed on a matchbox
if you have no emery to hand. Just like
real life, hangnails are a bitch.

panda smut

They showed Chuang Chuang and
Lin Hui a randy video, a depiction
of the business to get down to. Said,

wipe your smeared mascara eyes, that bamboo
spear can be kept for caning. But there's more to the
hump than insemination
and not every bearcat's willing for the public show.

It's tough enough at the munch to find
the kink and the click, so spare a thought
for the pandas
who can't get it up.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

I've been busy and I'm behind

I like the cut of her
jib. She's got sequins
on the underside, she's been
tiddlywinks at the emporium,
waiting for her date. Something
in her ruche and ramble gets me graceless,
when she twists a figure-skate
on the schnapps-sodden corner
of the dancefloor. I wait
to take her hand in the fluorescence
of the toilet queue. Tamper down,
unfortified, and wait for the twirl.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

been hanging out in the locksmith too long

I lost my keys and Alex has been getting a new piano lock, so I have been spending a lot of time in the key-cutters. They smell so good, like burnt metal and antique bookspines and the soles of people's shoes.


Tattoo a mortice to her wrist
so she will ever have her keys to
hand. She's been locked outside

three days this week, banished
to the kerb until the boys
came home. Bind her to the

fob or just seize her up the stairs
like Rapunzel, pull the dead bolt
close. She's been running around

on fleeted feet, round this small
town, and you're mortified. You'd
better padlock your baby down.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

VULVA original

This morning I have been enjoying this video, and the FAQs which follow...

The Germans wanted to bottle her,
formulate a technique to ransack her musk
and pin it to a vial.

First, sop her fluids with animal fats and
absorb the heady blend of
chypre and ambergris and labdanum.

Once saturated, take the pomage
and distil with alcohol. Repeat until
you are left with something pure.

This is not a perfume. This is
a complement to an erotic fantasy, a tool
to crank the axles of desire.

Apply the essence in tiny droplets
to the back of your hand. Inhale anywhere,
cross your thighs, and beware the pheromones.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

taxidermy! oh!

I met a real taxidermist last week. Wow. Priscilla and I had a chat about this today and we agreed taxidermy is somewhat awesome. Then I wrote a poem.

He skinned the cat's carcass, set it to
soak in acid compote for a week
and a half. A magician with tinctures
and vials, he will cure the fur
like bacon, like tuberculosis.

Our pocketbooks will be the finest
in the city and we shall stitch ruffs
to the collars of our gloves. We will make
small soft lions of the palms of our hands.

A polyurethane trickster, his threads
evoke the missing myths, the skvader,
and the chimera. Limbs cobbled and
glass eyes, they exist in stitches
and inclinations.

When I'm done, donate my body to his
tricks, wrap my heart in his pelts
and sew it to the moon. Stuff me in a
corner of curiosities, in a dime museum
for ogling. Tuck me careful for display
so that the seams do not show.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

bruises in a bed of glitter

There is glitter on the carpet
three days later, three days of
inhalants, huffing hairspray, and
the glitter is like constellations and
shooting stars, the glitter is the
dying will of an ageing supernova.

We haven't been to bed
or left the bed, we have bruises
like the lakes of Canada shaded
on our thighs. The record played out
long ago, it keeps on scratching and
missing the itch.

My retch is the colour of
mutant-turtle trading cards and
we all ache like muscles that forgot
how it felt to be used. Tenderised, like
meat, we pull the curtains
close and carry on.

Friday, 16 April 2010

it's hard to be serious when the sun keeps on like this

The next day, the daylight came. The Craggs burned
ochre until your retinas ached, the sky
took a blue and infinite revenge. Day was

bigger than usual, day was stretched out,
taut and pigmented and unforgiving. And the night
seemed ridiculous, your pulse
too close to your skin.

If you dwelled in Icelandic winter,
woke in darkness, black shadows
on the parts which provoke - then you could
skulk sordid and carry on.

But your city's volcano has
no time for ash clouds and
the day is bigger than usual, and
in the glee of the afternoon, in the sun,
you blush.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

keep at it, ok?

Keep at it princess, when it's all as
saturated as Atari spectrums, when it's
stretched out and quivering as a bubble's
liquid skin. When inside the exhaled smoke
curdles and the mice play kiss-chase
on your bathroom floor, and you're
faster than an earthquake, you're a faultline,
but you're not to blame.

Keep at it, princess. This hour is too
late for reneging, your footfalls cannot
be traded. The hurdy-gurdy man
waits at the corner and the tin cup
aint filled yet, so thread the silken straps
through your eyelets and wind up those
dancing shoes. You've got a way to go,
girl. You've got a satchel's worth to prove.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

a wistful love haiku

The morning after:
Lee Hazlewood, rope burns, oh!
My heart feels tipsy.

portobello, for ben&alex

The children came, a drabble of
rabid brats to the photoshoot. They took the
drumsticks, the discount cava, they called us
alcohlic-abuser-greaseballs, gays. We said
yep. They kicked sand like
comic-book bullies, outraged.

The children were mangy dogs seeking
soft spots, furious with that vile
beach. They could smell it on us, the
reek of coconut contentment and
our boys had long hair
they hadn't washed in weeks.

We weren't supposed to be
laughing. We should act our age, not our shoe size
but we were on the beach
and our feet were bare.

dinner at new love

We wait for the onions to caramelise, to turn
from sharp white corners, translucent,
to turn to something else.

The heat is low. In time they will melt
like wax figurines pirouetting a final ballet,
white to clear to butter to brown.
We will make soup.

We will melt gruyere and toast brioche and feast
till we are belly-full and sated. We will lay on our backs and sigh.

I think about tarragon, flakes of black pepper
and his hand is in my hair. The kitchen linoleum is
sticky and the brown paper shells crinkle
beneath me. I sigh.

We wake to the wail of the smoke detector and
our onions are charred pyres. Dinner is toast, the
dregs of brandy and the new maps
we have left to explore.

I know you've missed me

Chez montague has been without internet this week, so although the writing of poetry continues unabated within the confines of this mac, I haven't been posting them. That means the excitement of FOUR (count-em!) poems today. Hell yes! Starting with something thoroughly miserable about love.

When he told me he didn't love me
(I can't do this, I don't love you) anymore
he asked if I had something more comfortable to wear,
if I could swaddle my heart in worn terrycloth
and feel fine. I couldn't

because my heart was the pricked shards of a wineglass stem
in his palm and because I am polyester hemlines, always
and the creak of satin. I turned

and I tucked my corners and hooked my
eyelets and folded my heels inside. I was
the coin-operated jerk at the end of the parade.

I walked home with
ratchet feet on ratchet legs,
worse than all the mornings after,
in the glare of the day.

Friday, 9 April 2010


No fucking way, svengali, with your
tartan-top shred-leg pantyhose and
two-fingers-up-ma'am chords. Conniver,
swindler, orchestrator of outrage, you tried
to twiddle the strings of the marionettes
but they fought back, like Pinocchio,
and bit off your nose.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

assignment 51

If it's me, first, I would like you to
blanch and shock my kidneys
and feed them to the cats.

Take a flamenco fan and glue
Myna-bird feathers inlaid with my
lashes to the crest. Dance.

Save my clippings, keep a ballerina
box for the parts that keep growing.

And kiss me. And the other thing.
This chance won't come again.

Fire my teeth from a BB-gun aimed
at the spire of the Empire State and
fling my hacked up limbs in the water
and mix the ashes with fireworks and
hold a parade. Then

braid my hair into a Persian magic carpet
and take it to the cliff and
teach yourself to fly.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I dreamt about you last night

I dreamt I seduced his girl like a trick,
three aces overturned, jack of diamonds.
He discovered by the soft of our hands, by the glance
and giggle. He lunged.

The slap was the surface parting
in the winter pool, the wallop of bass,
the reverb. Suddenly we were faster than
the speed of sound. But past the boom
it was quiet. My heart and I were racing.

I looked at him with my chin upturned.
The promises of my pout were not
apologetic. I intended.

Halfway between dreams and waking, his punch
was a promise too.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

pretend this was posted yesterday

That was the first weekend we turned
the thermostat down. And the world
was Battenburg cake and fat roadside

That weekend he washed my hair, after work.
He sank into my scalp with bergamot and
ylang ylang and a whisper of jackdaws
skydiving over the crisp clifftop bay.

He worked like a seamstress and unravelled
the hems of the day, teased and picked at
my heart's tangles. He left me rewound,
long threads and bobbins.

The days were getting longer but
it was ok. We were fit for handling the extra hours.

We were fortified, like sherry, and we had
the palms of each other's hands.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

jazz bar, for beavis

The painting was a jazz band
with fishfinger heads and we wore
black like Guinness, we

drank. They listened to her voice,
like candied orange peels and
blue satin shoes. And
the drunks were quiet.

Six pm and already we were
skinned knees and slipshod,
scravenging on the floor.

Already we were rancid and
caked in coloured pastes to hide
behind. Already loud and spilled,
like secrets.

They forgave us, though, because
of the voice, the peep of lace, and the
pecan. Because we were pretty then,
it was early, and the night spread on.

Saturday, 3 April 2010


Scorpio, he said, in a voice
like a Mariachi band hired
to woo. We laughed

because it was festival and
because everything that month was
fuse-lit fireworks, spaghetti-straps,
and the scent of shoulders,
hot and sticky and coconut.

That cobbled street was thick with people,
harsh-voiced macaws adjusting their plumage,
handing tickets to another show.

We didn't need theirs.

We had hearts like the
trombone unicyclist, like the
seven-colour lazer, like the glitter-copter
that rained Christmas in our hair. We had
kisses. We had thirty-one days and
we were electroluminescent Scorpios,
feet bound for dancing.

We were our freakshow and
we wooed ourselves.

Friday, 2 April 2010

the burryman (for dan gorman)

Moist and scratchy, he slurred,
when I asked him how it felt to
be paraded in a velcro of green
to that Tesco they hung the witch outside.

In the cul-de-sac he was lost
and addled and done
for. Summer had erupted.
I wanted to bring him home.

I thought of his heart swaddled
like a ticking clock beneath
his burrs, bells wadded in gauze.

We would ride him to town
on a penny farthing. Ride him and we would
roll around, like a tumbleweed.
Moist and scratchy.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


April is National Poetry Writing Month on

Here is a poem about owls;

That winter, we saw owls
everywhere, wrought iron owls, owls
stitched on jumpers and ceramic teapots
crafted in the shape of owls.

I did not feel wise like Minerva. I was
trampled glass and cassette tape
unraveling like guts as
we stood, our hearts tawny, before the altar.

I said yes and then the
next thing began.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

or, if you prefer a poem

It was supposed to be fun, she
said “This side of things, it was supposed
to be fun.”

She thinks about the word affair and it sounds
almost translucent. It sounds like
picnics and wicker baskets and the baking summer.

She imagined a vacation from the wrack of reality,
with kisses like feathers,
their embraces fat, fuzzed bumblebees.

He punches the wall, the wall
that always wins and he swears

he will end this, because
the wall is concrete and his fists and heart
are loose scabs.

He swears, but she is
a wall to him, too, and
he doesn't know how.

an easier affair

It is supposed to be fun. This side of things, she said, it is supposed to be fun. There is place plenty for the real world in her real relationship and this one, the other one, it is supposed to be fun. She thinks about the word “affair” and it sounds light, ephemeral, it sounds almost translucent. It sounds like a thing that can be rolled over the tongue, it sounds like picnics in dandelion fields in baking summer with wicker baskets. It sounds like the small leather straps that hold the plates in place and it sounds like pushing one another, laughing, off the warm rocks and into the icy-cold water, of splashing, of laughing. It is supposed to feel like a holiday from the real world. It is supposed to come without responsibility and it is supposed to weigh nothing. She should be able to carry this and many others without a care in the world, barely noticing, she should be able to stuff her pockets with these boys and vacation to them when she feels the wrack and ruin of reality. The kisses should be feathers, the embraces should be fat, fuzzed bumblebees. Her back should not be breaking.

They are sitting in the small corridor beside the bed and they are pretending not to hold hands. This is difficult, because they are drunk. They believe themselves to be cocooned in the thick liquor cloak of invisibility and they think that these hands, their hands, are subtle explorers shrouded in disguise. They are not. Everyone in the room can see they are holding hands, everyone is not mentioning the fact that their hands are making their way into one another and their eyes are grinning. Everyone is not mentioning this fact because everyone wants to believe in the myth of the weightless, translucent affair. The room is playing dress-up at being bohemians and insisting that we can all kiss and swap and swoop on one another and it won't hurt at all.

The room is lying. Somebody is going to go home in tears. Somebody is going to punch something and someone is going to forget the wall always wins, we shouldn't take on the wall. The wall is made of concrete. Your heart and your fists are cast from loose flesh and reopened scabs.

Nobody is having fun. The moment of first kisses and topsy-turvy love has passed and the first rush of spring they'd thought they were promised has given way to another snowfall. It is cold and I don't want to get out of bed. I don't need to, I am alone with the duvets pulled close. There is place to sprawl. I lock the buttress walls and pull the portcullis, and I take my own vacation.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Cat Bag

I am thinking “who let the cat out of the bag?” and I am thinking about Schroedinger and I am wondering what it is about all these cats in containers and the secrets they hold. I am bad with secrets, at least with my own. I have a face like a billboard and a propensity to drink. This makes me confessional. I can't help it. I want you to know the soft spots beneath my skin.

I would like to think of this trait as charming, disarming, adorable and fine. In truth, it is probably none of these things and, undoubtedly, there would be dignity in restraint. Perhaps I could be like Bacall if I just shut up. Tilted my chin and looked to the sky and kept my mouth firmly closed. Or open just a smudge, like a pout.

But I am not this way, I act like a fool and then I spread out for the world to observe. I am a storyteller, always, full of extraneous detail I peddle to the world. Wandering with a sack on a stick from town to town, crying out with a bell what we got up to last night. Ignoring the monkeys with the hands on their ears. Babbling about cats.

It would work out better if I could just smile. Grin a harlot's grin of secrets tied up with silver bows, say nothing. All you really need to hear is this: things are going well, I'm happy. Things are wonderful. The world is fine.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


you should know by now how I feel about cheerful pornography and garter belts.

dance party please

It has been a while since I have been out dancing properly and I am thinking about Friday with a gleam in my eye. I plan to do it properly, let me tell you. We will start early and start slow, huffing hairspray and painting our faces with glitter mixed into Vaseline, to stick to our cheekbones and reflect the lazer beams. I will eat lightly because all my attention will be focussed on piling my hair into some elaborate concoction like the coiffure of Egyptian princesses and gluing feathered eyelashes to my face and sipping beer. There will be music beforehand, during and after. I have been getting excited about music recently, remembering how much I adore it. Sometimes I forget to press play and sit the afternoon in silence. I don't know why. Sometimes I do other ridiculous things too, like wasting a summer Sunday on Facebook or dating a boy who isn't quite in love with me. Well – no more of that! There will be synthpunk on the stereo and vodka shots, just because, because. We will feel severe and Russian, and I will put on Polish electronica and cackle. Then I will force everyone to listen to High Pressure Days on repeat until they get up and leave.

Of course, there may be no one else there until I go out, this often happens. Perhaps I will be sat alone with my curlers and my alcohol and my pretty plots for things to happen. But in my imagining of Friday evening the friends I adore are eating cheesesticks in my bedroom and helping me apply temporary tattoos and goading me to trim my fringe. They are telling me stories about the girl they will try to kiss tonight and I am telling them how to go about it, and we are probably laughing because who am I to say? I'm so easy when I go about it. But besides. We will prepare with lipstick and drum machines. I will at least. And if I can dredge up some lady friends and the sequinned hotpants jetset, so much the better.

We will go to a club that spans two floors and where the people who play music are beautiful, but by this point it won't matter what they or we look like. It will be dark and drunken and dancey. The walls will loom and ooze sweat and I will be spinning and giggling and clutching at arms to support me in my heels. Because Edinburgh is small and because I used to be some kind of person in this town, I will run into people that I know in many of the nooks and crannies. Because I am drunk and because it is wonderful I will hug them ecstatically, and then leave the toilet queue and go off to dance. To buy cans of Red Stripe lager. To find myself a new mischief and a new familiar. To make eyes at the DJs and scavenge out some fun that will make the world swoon topsy turvy.

I will dance until my careful hair is plastered to my head and my palms are slick with sweat. I will whirl and whisper and think of dervishes, I will sing the lyrics to songs I've never heard before at the top of my lungs. They will all be wrong and it won't matter one iota. I will thrash and writhe and dance dance dance all night long, until I have lost my friends, until I have lost my mind, until I have made some solemn vows to form a band and begin a revolution of sorts, until I have forgotten my vows, until I have fallen over, until I have woken up again in a ditch with dirt in my eyes. I will dance until the lights come up too bright and shiny, and then I will grimace and duck for the corners and afterparty. We will got somewhere that there is a bed laden with people I like, and we will listen to more music and recline in a puddle of affection. Or we will find a tabletop to dance on an suck down shots of mystery booze and gin. Perhaps we will find laughing gas and balloons waiting and we will inhale exhale inhale exhale until the loops in our head go darling and everything is hilarious. Certainly, there will be more booze. More booze until I can't even bear any more in my mouth, more booze until it is lunchtime the next day in the cocoon of a beer garden and cloudy cider.

I have high hopes and dancing shoes for this weekend. I'm excited. It hasn't really been a while. But it's been long enough.

Monday, 15 March 2010

tom chambers

Just, I like this photo. A whole lot.

Friday, 12 March 2010

one for my ladies

Hey kittens! Hey meerkats! Pretty ladies and wishers of the wild! I'm up for an adventure on this sunny morning. I'm up for pulling on our cherry-print catsuits and curling our hair and leaping over the low door of a waiting convertible. A bottle of Prosecco in one hand and a wicker basket full of dragon fruit and avocado and bubble liquid and crayons, plates buckled in with leather straps and a thermos flask of sangria made from the cheapest gut-rot red. I can't take any more of the leechers and deriders, chiselling clouds into their linings. I am itchy with the idea of fun like the crackle of corn in underwear from a day spent kissing and rolling through a yellow field.

There is a field somewhere with ten sunflowers growing in a glass box, straining their necks against the see-thru ceiling and waiting for the crash. There is a parallel world where you are on day three of a gin-tonic bender, on a sofa in your best knickers, drawing biro tattoos on the arms of strangers. There is, somewhere, behind closed doors and up ladders, a mad scientist trying to irradiate the bones of roses, a pair of lovers washing their feet in a bath of port wine, a masked ball with a spit-roast pig under a chandelier sky. I would like to take some time and find these things, or at least craft our own adventure out of sewn sequins and ankle garlands and open windows and space rockets.

I am sure if we head out there into the big old world there will come a moment when it all goes wrong. We will find ourselves hot-thumbed and without a ride. We will wake up hungover in a field surrounded by our own detritus, mouths tasting foul, eyes too puffy and pissed off to look at one another. In a bar you, or I, will get too drunk and head home with the asshole with the neck tattoo, just for a change, and because he shared his full pack of cigarettes and bought round after round of bourbon. And you, or I, will wake up feeling sordid and empty, like a charm bracelet where all the charms have fallen off so that all that is left is the chain.

But this is no time to be morbid! If this happens, we will be fine, like we are always fine. We will crawl back to each other with bruises beneath our eyes and look hangdog. By the time the sun is high in the sky, all transgressions will be hilarious or forgotten. We will write our own pirate treasure map and cover it with kisses and find presents at every cross. We will bandaid the spots that bleed and we will nap in a field of dandelions until we wake up and everything is fine. And hilarious and happy and ever-after, until the next mishap crawls under our canopy.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

oh coffee


Coffee, the rabid explorer who comes with a scythe and clears the path from brain to fingers.

Coffee, powering up like a computer hacker and clickety-clacking over synapses, reprogramming, working a way through the fug and wilted flowers and the smudged stains of ash on the carpet.

Coffee is all I got, sometimes, because before coffee there are not words, there is just a long flight of stairs to stumble down and a tangle of vines to tear my satin skirt. Before coffee I poke fingers in my eyes and imagine I am leaping head-over-heels into an icy pool in a jungle grove, where the monkeys cackle and a waterfall pounds so high and so hard that all you can hear is white noise, ears full of water and static.

But then there is magic and unpicking and rewiring and clearing and scrubbing, and in my bra and pants I start to come alive again like a drunken cicada. I yelp and coffee yelps back, and perhaps the morning isn't such a challenge, perhaps the world is not a complex and heavy place full of trials to sit heavy on shoulders.

Perhaps the sun is shining and there is a mountain, and you are sitting on a rock near a high peak, drinking coffee from a tincan hot from complex brewings on a hand-gathered fire. You are alone and it is brisk but the sun looks intent on working its way to the very peak of the sky and bringing things up a notch.

Or you are in a small Greek taverna with the shadows of last night's ouzo lapping at your eyes, and an old man brings over a tray of coffee that is thick with silt and high with sugar and you learn how to heal yourself. Again.

Or you are late-night and still-up and it is balmy New York, you are sat on a stoop drinking iced coffees because you are scared of closing your eyes, of sleep, of what you might miss out on if you are not here to dance and to see.

Or you are just here, in bed, sneaking flirtatious glances at the window, wondering what promises the outside has to offer as the sunlight creeps in. Thrilled with the knowledge that the percolator is still warm and there are plots and plans afoot for the day. Ready to drink another cup, lift the window high, and dive.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

yet another thinly disguised Jane story

ElectroGirl is wiring her fingers up with LEDs, braiding baby-doll lace into her hair, dying her knee socks fuchsia. She is tired of not causing a stir. She is bored of the vitamin-junkies and the shoe-lacers and the look-both-wayers, the ones who are normal and unconsidered, the ones who never wonder whether automatic doors get depressed if you don't go inside. They are out there, the kinds who have never staked a dollar bill on the waxing of the moon, who don't collect pencil sharpenings in their toolbelts for confetti, who never lie awake at night in terror that the earth is a great shard of rock with fire in its belly, hurtling through the inky-everlasting, even when the sun shines. It isn't easy to subsist in the same strata and zipcode as these people. It takes finesse and patience, and a long and dampened fuse. Unfortunately, ElectroGirl has only the first of these and gets by on her wits and wings. If nothing else, she can make a hasty exit when a hasty exit is required. ElectroGirl has daddy-long-legs and isn't afraid of tripping at all.

The party is to celebrate the fact that the weekend has finally shown up after the long mulch through the working week. This doesn't mean much to ElectroGirl, who has spent the past few days trading candy hearts with a jack-in-the-box and trying to train the spiders to lead a revolt against the flea circus, but ElectroGirl gets lonely sometimes and has to scuttle around the real world for an hour or two. If nothing else, there will be people and dancing and she can try and convince herself that she really exists. Sometimes ElectroGirl gets nervous that she doesn't. Sometimes it's hard to tell. The rest of the town swarms around like stop-motion animation flies and she sits and wonders if the words in her mouth mean anything, or whether they are just small crafted curiosities made out of spaghetti-Os and pygmy dust and cats cradles, little use to anyone at all.

Late at night when she is alone with her computer and worrying, ElectroGirl trawls the internet for Missed Connections trying to find herself. She is convinced that one day she will recognise herself in the world of subway stations and morning commutes. Somewhere out there someone has been following and staring, and this would be incontrovertible evidence that she is, in fact, real. However, no matter how long she wades through the red-haired girl in striped socks reading Wittgenstein on the L train, and the blond flat-top cutie with the piercings in Trader Joe's, and the stunning one in the dufflecoat picking nervously at her nails near Union Square, she never finds herself. Sometimes she wonders about placing make-believe adverts for the people she sees in her dreams, because maybe in the act of doing so she could bring them to life. But then she thinks that is silly and she logs of and heads outside, trying frantically to make a stir, to agitate the pot.

It is a long climb to the fourth floor on heels crafted from silk bow-ties and purloined gold fillings. The stairs are thick with people and cigarettes and ElectroGirl feels herself tottering. She is not yet cocooned in the fearless coating of alcohol that would render her charming and conversational. She would like to pretend that she is thrilled to be a unique vibrating butterfly, drawing raised eyebrows and glances, but in truth she is terrified. Sometimes she feels like a roulette wheel ball, clattering and racketing around as the world spins faster. So long as she keeps moving, everything will be fine and there will still be hope, but as soon as she stops the world will crystallise and the boundaries will set. ElectroGirl isn't ready for that kind of responsibility or that kind of ending. She keeps drinking, careering around corners, keeps going. She runs up the stairs.


Monday, 8 March 2010

exciting times

I am wondering if it is possible to carry on forever like this. Things are good. Things are awesome. I dance all night on feathered shoes, and in the daytime we bury ourselves in duvets on rooftops and inhale laughing gas and cackle at the airplanes troughing white lazers trails across the sky. I am letting myself kiss and be kissed and think nothing sordid of nuzzled affection. I am being kind to myself. I am trying to be generous. I discovered that I am heart-wrenchingly lucky and I am having fun. The weekends stretch three days four days five days until there isn't any week left at all to worry with, until we are just drunken-soft fetal tissues, curled up together on sofas, crumpled together in pockets. Sometimes I feel as if we have managed to crack a hole in the continuum of normality, we have tricked the universe into giving us away in style. On Sunday afternoons, when I sit addled and breakfasted and pints-again with the ones I adore, I think about forever and I hold on tight. I sigh into the cocoon, into the abyss. Spring is coming. I can smell it.

The time to let loose is starting again.

I can't wait.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

this fugly life

I wake up and the room smells fugly like crusts in the corners of eyes. No breakfast before writing, I say, and I sit cross-legged in my palatial bedspot and try to sort out my life. I have been observing my life a lot recently from the viewpoint of the awed spectator. I have been standing back and observing its great warty heft, and I am shocked by how unwieldy and ridiculous it seems. There are carbuncles and nobbles and unfinished affairs, old bits of string hanging off frayed and tattered and damp with saliva. There are waxy residues and hang-nail skin flaps and the whole thing is bloated and oozing in various directions. It is not a pretty beast, not polished to a high sheen and there is something inherently unstable in the atoms, in the way they crackle and hiss. Nevertheless, I feel taken as a whole it has a certain something. There is finesse in the creak, there is charm. It retains the particular beauty that belongs only to those things which have no actual point at all. I have been standing back and observing and giggling. It is hard to believe that I invented this all and that I know its every corner and grub intimately, like no one else, and the parts that jag and head off-kilter are mine. I tug this beast of a life along with me wherever I totter and sway and I am tickled by its resilience, by its inability to crumble when the machine gun world rattatatts on its soft spots. This life, I expect, will outlive them all, will be there long after the curtain calls, still slumped stage left with a brandy and cigar. Despite everything, it will continue to mutate and expand forevermore. It will be the gnarly elephant farting in the corner when the party comes to a close and all that is left is the cigarette-butt detritus and the dubious stains and the last-dash attempt at a grope in the corner. I am learning not to be embarrassed by this. There are worse things, for sure, and it wouldn't help anyway. Sometimes it doesn't listen to me. Sometimes it doesn't know how to behave.

Friday, 26 February 2010


tell it like it is

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Whoopee! Kapow! Woof!

Whoopee! Kapow! Woof! The girl in the diamond tiara hitched a freebie in the back of the ice-cream van. She promised sprinkles and carnations and accordion solos, so they picked her up outside the 7 11 and went on their way. They were going to tour the Northern coasts and become a band of lovers, mutants and bejewelled outlaws. All the promises of tax returns and plastic recycling programmes and buy-life-get-life-free had been bringing them down. It was time to move on. Whoopee!

They brought with them a full-sized stuffed tawny owl and a bucket of flying saucers and a handbag filled with superlatives they could bring out if things started getting too ordinary. They carried their official documents in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle packed lunch box which they were sure would pass the tests of theft and fire. The plan, so far as these things can be planned, was to find a new home which was amenable to the parade, the freak show and the firework display. The plan was to make a pact with the coyotes and discover the vowel sounds which speak to the moon. They were going to stare at the sea through 3D glasses and see if they could work out its depths and they were going to fire rockets crafted from tinfoil and Bakelite and see if they could shoot a hole in the sky.

If it really came to it and the world decided to rear up like a Mongolian Wild Horse, the clouds mushrooming and the mountains collapsing, they figured they would have the best chance. If the zombies began mutating and the mammoths rose up from the ice caves, they might have a chance if they were versed in caps lock and infinity and neon ideas. This wasn't just about conspiracy theories and apocalyptic survival though. There was another payoff too: the Whoopee! the Kapow! and the Woof! When it gets down to it, that's all any of this is really about.

What this is really about is the grinners. The honest-hearted lothario and the cupcake space cadet and the girl in sequinned hotpants who says the word “wheee!” This collection of noises is about the whistle-stop kiss and the ruby-haired rent boy and flash and peep of pink lace. These symbols, they are here to represent the tricksy slippery ludicrous path which leads to trouble. The only thing worth causing in the world: trouble, trouble in its headdress and mischief, trouble without a care. Trouble worth riding to the ends of the earth for, in an ice-cream van playing rain dance music through a plastic speaker on the roof.

Take the baton, encrust it in rubies and tar it with feathers, make off with the yea-sayers, make out with the soothsayers. Be a horseriding princess on the Appalachian Trail. Be excited about where this story is going. Kapow! Hold your breath. The skyline has started to explode. Aren't you glad to be here at the end of it all?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

a hopeful romantic

Always I have been stupid and dreamt of pinatas and voodoo and tiaras and pyramids and mystic wonderment that comes from the loins and the looks and the backward glances. Hopeless hopeless romantic mind, always wet and dreamy with thoughts that do no good. It's a lot of fun and it's hard to keep alight in the daylight hours, but whenever it comes to the red-drenched hour when the princesses dance and the outlaws bring tequila and whisper gorgeous lies, I realise I haven't died yet and I am ecstatic. There are things that I want and they come from outer dimensions where I believe in lazers and kissing and a milky-way-galatical tracer trail built from a bride's trickle of roses. I think it is possible to build a snowman out of lily petals, lipsticked ringpulls and UHU glitter glue. I think it is possible to build a relationship out of longing for the solar system. I think that I Want always gets if you really want, if you know how to ask, if you're willing, if you do. I think a lot, and I crackle and wince, and I know that it is not real if it doesn't glow fuchsia under the moon, if it cannot levitate over the Igauzu falls screaming pitfalls at eagles, if it doesn't know the meaning of strange.

What do I want? I haven't joined the dot-to-dots yet. I'm getting closer. I know about buildings so tall that your centre of gravity does the loop-the-loop of first kisses and rollercoaster love. I know about a skyline that learned to undulate and twinkle like viper vines crawling desperate to the sky. I know about baked alaska and torn lace and broken lightbulbs and I know how it feels to be broken, how it feels to devastate, how it feels to be pushed and pinched and punched. I know how it feels to believe truly that you are about to die and I know how it feels to want to draw blood, fistily and momentarily. I have tucked these things away in a pirate's trunk and promised myself I will not forget, and when I know, I will ask, and I will get.

I believe that the moon is crafted from the cremation dust of Pharaohs and I believe that shooting stars are wandering the universe looking for their way home. I believe in Prometheus. I believe that there are secrets hid deep under our layers of flesh and I believe we can excavate each other like drunken architects foraging for the hidden truth. I believe we probably shatter things in the process that should never have been shattered but I also know that it's ok, it's the only way.

Sometimes, it is embarrassing and teenage and I wonder how it would feel to be blasé. I think about cynical words and about being older and wiser. I pretend sometimes that I am, but when I rummage deep I find that my heart is built of shattered jadestones and torn fishnets and a field of dandelions that whirl clocks to the sky like a tornado. Hopeful romantic, always. With a sack of disguises and a ticket to the next place.


Sleep late and wallow. For now you're allowed. Breathe. Swallow. Learn to write again. Package the experiences you had in a plastic bag and suffocate till you feel the wriggle and kick.

A boy sneezed three times and told me I was too pretty, it turned him allergic. I fell for this line because I fall for any line. We kissed until his girlfriend screamed. Once again, I didn't know. I never know. But the girls blame the girls like Medusa. The girls fight with claws, the boys get the kisses.

It's so funny to type with a wedding ring. I never wear jewellery, though I love to be adorned. Maybe my husband will never come home. I don't know where the words are today.

There are words like cataclysmic and rapier and rabid and whoosh. These are words for this year. No more napping and no more distractions and no more making do. You are not second best any more. You are running in a gossamer toga, ripping on twig branches, drawing blood, but taking first place at the Olympic Ball. You are nice, really.

I tell you this because you need to hear it from somewhere. I write it down to make it true for the records. I write it because this is all I have got. Lady wordsmith, make it true.

It was always the other ones who were assholes.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

all things considered

All things considered is the mantra here, when you fling into walls and plunge into mayhem and wake up terrified to turn over, scared to see who is breathing next to you. All things considered is what we whisper to ourselves when we are standing in the registry office and when our gums bleed. All things considered, you are doing great, you are doing great, you are doing fine. In the retelling of stories, all this will be hilarious. You don't need to cry on street corners and you don't need to be told. In one week you will be back in your bedroom, staring at peachy walls, wondering how you managed to keep upright all this time. You will be full of stories and you will vow to tone it down a notch, you will chew on your experiences and make them into fairytales. You will wonder if any of this really existed and you will vow to do it all over again. You only regret the things you don't do, right?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

assignment 40

Following Miranda July's assignment

(written in the hyperbolic midst of broken-heartedness)

Remedies for a broken heart:

Go somewhere else which doesn't smell like them and where their memories are not hiding. Another city is good. Another country is better.

Reapply your makeup. If you cry again, clean it off, and reapply. Repeat this until you are no longer crying. If you really can't stop, forget your eyes and apply red lipstick and sunglasses.

Listen to a mixtape someone else made for you (preferably a previous lover). If you have no mixtapes, call a friend and demand they make one for you. Remember that people will do whatever you ask them right now.

Write to the people who really care about you and ask they send you messages which explain how amazing you are and how pretty. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Confess that you have been broken.

Find good shoes and walk and walk. Across bridges is best, but also along clifftops, across mobbed junctions and up hills you can scream from. Find places that make you feel tiny. It is harder to be hysterical.

Cook good food for other people. Handling knives is good for heartbreak. So is eating.

Make eyes at strangers on the subway, in the strange city you have found yourself in. Blush and look away and get off at the next stop. Fantasise about what might have happened.

Read. Fiction is distracting.

Write. Words are cathartic.

Do not be hard on yourself when you do the things you said you wouldn't do (everyone with a broken heart does the things they say they won't do).

Find a friend who doesn't know the person who broke your heart and do whatever they suggest. Especially if it is the opposite of how you would heal yourself.

Don't worry about being a cliché. You're allowed.

another woman

I keep dreaming about what I think is not on my mind. In these dreams, she is always shy and forgiving and we are at a party. We end up sitting together away from the others and we are on drugs and everything moves in odd ways, hours pass in rapid succession. She is tactile and apologetic and full with happiness like a red balloon. We talk about what happened without naming names or saying words, and laugh about how silly it all seems now, and I always say “I didn't mean it, you know,” and she does. Together we are like two characters from a Mary Gaitskill novel, or Jane Bowles, at the corners that are left when women come together. I finally understand things about folded hands, and forgiveness, the kind of things I have always eschewed. In these dreams I am a nicer person and so is she. We talk about inane things under a canopy that nobody else understands. The canopy is woven by the things we have done with him, separately, and people who have not done these things do not understand why they bring us in, pull us close and tight and woven. We do not spit tacks. She passes me the drink with a palm that is small and soft and I drink it and we smile the secret smiles of women. I wake up and I feel comfortable and then I remember that this is all make-believe. She doesn't like me and she probably never will. I don't have the words to candy the cracks. I wake up thinking “I didn't mean it, though” and it is true and I wonder if she knows. And I wonder if she ever wakes up nestled into his cricks and thinking of me.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


"Then we went to have ice cream under a green-and-white-striped umbrella. A living sea of pigeons boiled and ate bread at our feet. I looked at them and for a moment the world became strange to me. Then I remembered it had always been strange. I had a dish of pistachio gelato and remembered that the first time I met a model, I didn't even know she was beautiful"
Mary Gaitskill

Thursday, 4 February 2010

where I am happy

I am sitting at the bar at El Quijote, on a high-top stool with my feet dangling. My feet look good because they are in new red and black leather cut out boots with pencil straps around the calves. I have been looking at my feet all day in window panes since I bought the boots in the Salavation Army store on East 23rd St. Every time I catch a glimpse they make me smile. The boots are equal parts foxy and ridiculous.

The barman makes drinks so strong they don't fit into a martini glass. They are pure liquor. He waits with the cocktail shaker until the cherry is barely floating, and then tops it up back to the brim. He gives us free calamari and talks in an accent. He is pleased with our choice of drinks.

Sitting at the bar at El Quijote makes me happier than almost anything else in the world. The room is suffused in a soft dim lighting and all the tablecloths are perfect and white and starched. There are fixings cast in burnt gold and men who wear cufflinks. It smells like lobster. Sitting at the bar I do not need to prove anything to anyone in the world. There is nothing sordid. The barman folds a clean white paper napkin underneath my drink where it overflowed. In the bathroom, the sinks are inlaid with porcelain patterns and painting of flowers. I am warm and safe and slipping gently into a diffusive drunk, a drunk which is padded at the edges and does not throw up in subway cars.

When I drink at the El Quijote I feel like a character in an F Scott Fitzgerald novel. I am debonair and beautiful and my feet dangle from the bar stool. I can say anything I please. I am safe as a work of fiction and I talk about my life in grandiose and abstract terms. Chris feeds me forkfuls of squid and I hold forth at the bar, and the stories I have take on epic and heart-wrenching dimensions. I realise everything I am saying is True. I fold the room warm and close around my shoulders and think about the starched corners of handkerchiefs dabbing at the corners of eyes. Perfect white corners left moist and blackened.

I think of myself as an old old woman living in the Chelsea Hotel. I will come here every night and drink a Manhattan, I will subsist on lobster. They will know my order and they will keep for me a small table in the back corner, because by then my days of sitting at the bar and swinging my heels will be long gone. Though, I will still eat the glace cherry as I finish my drink and look carefully at the barman through my heavily made-up eyes.

If I ever live out this fantasy, I know when I walk past the line of barstools I will think back to these days when everything seemed so epic and intense and I will chortle. By then I will have lived through so many things that this time will be a distant and faded curiosity, like an old diary entry where the ink has faded away. I will look peculiar on the tears and bit-finger joys and shake my head at how foolish life is, then I will turn back to my overflowing drink, and sip it quietly until my entree arrives.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


sorry, right now this is all I got

Monday, 1 February 2010

the end of something recent


She hadn't planned on returning, but she changed her mind. She hadn't planned on it because the time she had spent here before had drawn out long and lonesome like a heart monitor on a dying man. She changed her mind because there were also the Stat! moments, the points where everything flared up and illuminated for a moment before reclining into quiet again. During these moments she was happy, of course, but later when she turned over them in her mind they took on epic, glorious propensities far in excess of the moments themselves. So she came back. When things were normal she missed that feeling that perhaps her heart could crumble.

The decision wasn't finalised until some time after she landed. She did not return definite on causing vengeance. She was thinking about riding the subways, wondering about blowing kisses, waiting to see if somebody, somewhere, would notice.

Nobody stopped her. Nobody told her she wasn't supposed to be here and nobody agreed she was, and she walked northwards with nobody paying attention apart from the one homeless guy who echoed up Lexington Avenue, hey beautiful, hey, beautiful! and then the corners and curbs began to unravel.

At the water, where the Staten Island ferry leaves Downtown, the moon hung heavy and twinkled like a tropical disco ball, beams reflecting. A boy and a girl held hands. He told her he had never met anyone like her before, never, and they sipped from a paper-bag bottle, thinking about forever. Below the surface the temperature rose and the fish began to sweat. The currents crackled and dragged.

The girl reached Times Square and climbed up the red-lit staircase. All around her the screens stretched up to the heavens and flashed a cornucopia of neon. She watched a Korean man stand, thumbs aloft, posing in front of advertisements. She wallowed in the colours and felt bad, for a moment. Then she peeled back the surface and pressed her fingers on the button.

Somewhere the ball dropped and the windows of the Empire State building started to peel off in the breeze like post-it notes in a stop-motion animation. They fluttered into the sky and furled out, head-over-heels, until they reached the ethers. The shell of the building squatted its shoulders and poised like a rocket, prepared for take-off. On the cross-streets people hugged their children close as the city dissolved.

The television screens turned to liquid and the stockmarket dribbled down the drains, and lumps of colour and shoe commercials and celebrity imprints floated away like bubbles in a lava lamp. The air smelled of burnt tires and permanent makers and popcorn husks. It was quieter than you would expect at the end of the world. Wide-eyed lovers held their breath and waited.

It was a gentle apocalypse. When the smoke and daggers cleared from the air, the inhabitants of the city found themselves seated on a sandy peninsula. The ground was soft and glittered, and ran through the fingers like hourglass promises. Nobody got hurt.

The sky was swirling like the Aurora Borealis, like fire and brimstone, like pink candyfloss materialising around the stick.

Somewhere around the Great Bear, a comet exploded blowing kisses at the constellations.

It was time to start again.

feb 1st

Start again. Pretend this never happened. Take out your tippex and daub it thick over the past month. Purse your ruby lips and blow.

When the white paste dries, you can walk over it again. Start with the whispered two-step of a stage-shy ballerina. Use your toes. Remember how it feels to move your legs. Feel them twitch: they will tremble, they will feel unsure. But you've never forgotten how to dance.

Catch the day on an updraft. Be generous. Let your rancid thoughts go like a flock of bristly-eyed pigeons. Clap loud, and make them flee.

Don't forget that you still exist. Grind footsteps into the snow and write marker pen haikus on the outside of subway cars. You don't need to bleed to prove you are real. You don't need to crouch and be beaten to get your insides clean.

Stop thinking about what has been done. Write a love letter to an abandoned factory, send diamonds in the mail to your bridges, fall head-over-heels with the orange moon that sits atop the skyline and whispers about infinity.

Stop drying your eyes with pot scrubbers. Blink carefully.

Everything is going to be ok.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

there are lonely people everywhere behind their computer screens

like him and her and her and this guy

I wonder if they'll ever meet each other and my heart breaks, just a little.

100 words

Miriam didn’t die in the fire. Miriam didn’t break her legs falling, plunge scars into her palms on the axed-in windowpanes, or let her flesh blister and bubble like heated clingfilm. She barely scuffed her knees clambering onto the ladder, and it didn’t quite seem fair. In hospital, they wiped the sooty mascara from her face, stole her physical manifestation of tragedy, said she could find her own way home. Now whenever she goes outside, Miriam wears the scarf she had tucked under the door. People sniff as she walks by in her reeking shroud, and she feels better, occasionally.

pussy footing around

Just... wow. Wow.

the beginning of something recent

She landed in the city on the backwash of a raging comet. It hit the water just south of the Williamsburg bridge and exploded like movie premier flashbulbs. Nobody noticed, or if they did they assumed it was a promotional exercise for a celebrity perfume or the special effects from Hollywood's latest attempt to drop the apocalypse on New York. She climbed out of the water and over the concrete stoop, and headed inland to where the lights were pulsating. Her bare feet left wet moon crescents on the tarmac and a trail of drips which twinkled like traces of cubic zirconium scattering in her wake.

The girl wove through the backstreets and padded past the tall buildings, past the hawkers and laminate yellow shopfronts coated in hieroglyphics. Nobody stopped her. The streets were not empty, but there was a strange lull lying dense in the air. The late-night whee! was muted and the workers emptied lorries mechanically, passing boxes to one another like a silent conveyor belt. She stepped through them neatly with the softly-soft pad of an alley cat, brushed past their ankles and was gone. The unloading did not pause for an instant.

Somewhere in the Upper West Side of the city it began to rain dime-sized feathers of ash. They were luminescent, and swirled like beatific shoals of drugged fish. A dog-walker felt one land on her arm and it tingled like the tender nibble of a lover. She screamed. The air around her shifted slightly and the feathers danced a two-step hover. The lead whipped from her hand as she threw her arms above her face, and fled.

The weather should not have been this balmy; it was February, but by the time the girl crossed Houston she was dry. Although she kept her head down, behind her bangs she was grinning. Her lips picked at a smile that held secrets like a glass bauble, perfectly polished and ripe, tucked under her skirts and wrapped safe with cotton wool. She moved like Pacman through the grid of the city.

The steam which curdled from the subway grill at 28th St and 2nd Av glowed blue like a plume of smoke in a Marlene Dietrich movie. It billowed into the air and dissipated until the whole block was tinted, smogged with an additional atmosphere. It was as if the contrast had been turned up and everyone who passed by was slightly bleached out and slightly more attractive. For the ninety seven steps it took to walk through, things were better. If you listened hard enough you could almost hear the saxophone.

This wasn't the first time the girl had come here, hitching a ride on an intergalactic thumbed mission. Two years ago she had catapulted into the sewer system, her arms cramped tight round the neck of the alligator who lives in urban lore. She walked around the city for weeks and waited to catch people's eyes. The homeless and the crazies yelled as she went past, called her beautiful-princess and oh-lady and baby-doll. She rewarded them with shy smiles and flushed cheeks and thought about what she was going to do. She got lonely. After a while she went home.

She hadn't planned on returning, but she changed her mind. She hadn't planned on it because the time she had spent here before had drawn out long and lonesome like a heart monitor on a dying man. She changed her mind because there were also the Stat! moments, the points where everything flared up and illuminated for a moment before reclining into quiet again. During these moments she was happy, of course, but later when she turned over them in her mind they took on epic, glorious propensities far in excess of the moments themselves. So she came back. When things were normal she missed that feeling that perhaps her heart could crumble.


Monday, 18 January 2010


There is a moment of clarity which occurs just before the fist connects. She kneels on the hardwood floor in a blindfold, piss dripping from her hair. He touches her cheek, softly, pets her like you would a kitten just before you wrung its neck. This is the moment, when his hand draws back from her face and she feels the air shift between them, and she holds her breath in for a moment. She bites her lip and holds her breath, and as he swings to hit her again her head is clear hot noise, and she is ok.

He pulls her across the room by her hair. She scutters. She isn't thinking about anything. For the first time in months there is only this, the world concentrated into sharp pinches, the edges marked deep and defined.

They are both drunk. Time jump cuts back and forth: they are on the bathroom floor; he is spitting on her face; she is bent over the sofa, eyes streaming, as he forces into her. Later she will wake up alone in another room and shudder at the beginnings of bruises and the hot reek.

In the real world, the manager told her she was fired or her father suffered a stroke or her boyfriend admitted he wasn't over his last girlfriend and turned away when she tried to kiss him. This isn't important. What is important is that things were going badly and she woke at night, eyes wide with problems. Sometimes we all need to escape.

She thinks she could become addicted to this moment. She will reach for it again and again, holding her breath for the rush. It is best not to examine ourselves too closely. There are dark places under the parts we scratch.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


“Here was Chekhov telling us that, as we may have noticed, people often do terrible and irrevocable things for no good reason at all.”

Francine Prose on Volodya

I have been thinking about this a lot, winding it over and over in my mind. When we tell stories, we always try to aim for the kicker and the payoff. There is supposed to be a reason for the gun introduced and fired, we seek the clean course of motivation which sets things going in their terrible and irrevocable motion. Nothing just happens.

What if this isn't the way things really work? Children don't rip the wings off a fly to learn about the intricacies and wonder of flight.

Here I will confess: I have never been on the receiving end before. I am versed in breaking hearts and the best way to tug at the wings until the sinews and clear gum stretch out and snap, leaving a cold pus and useless socket. I never meant to hurt anyone. I killed the relationships which seemed like dying dogs howling, already half-spattered across the road, chewing at their paws to get free.

I don't believe this is like that. But perhaps that is what people say when they are on the receiving end.

There is no room for dignity. I howl and punch the walls and retch into a plastic bag, shivering and bent double. All that comes out is a thin bile. I am wearing nothing but a lace-trimmed pair of flourescent pink pants, and there is something horrifically shameful about this. I am heavy, wet meat, defeated.

He does not cry. I find this impossible to understand. I wonder how long he has known, although he tells me since yesterday only. The word is a thick lie like butter to smooth over cracks, but my cracks are hot and the foam turns rancid.

Scorpios are jealous. Always. But we are also right. She knew he was in love with me, he was destroying her with the useless truth that nothing had happened. I tried to be quieter, and bide my time. I waited while the jealousy feasted on my patience, thinking he had had his time with her, that what I was jealous of was not a future but a photobook of memories. I thought if I stayed quiet in the undergrowth I could wait this out, poised and breath held. I was wrong.

I could insist that when someone leaves you for their past it is particularly horrific, as it invalidates everything you had together. He says: what we had, it hasn't been all for nothing and I think no, it hasn't. It let you work out what you really feel for her. But any attempt to win points in some scoreboard of pain is disingenuous. In truth, all of this is wretched.

I keep coming back to Chekov, not the terrible, but the irrevocable. The things you can't take back. When I close my eyes people tumble out of skyscraper windows in grainy newsprint realities; they stopped believing what they had was worth something and the market collapsed. They stopped believing and everything they had plummeted in value until it was worth nothing. They were left with paper promises, impossible to trade for anything, not even magic beans.