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.