Monday, 31 December 2012

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tu ne quaesieris (Ode I.11), Horace

Don't be too eager to ask

what the gods have in mind for us,
What will become of you,

what will become of me,
What you can read in the cards,

or spell out on the ouija board,
It's better not to know.

Either Jupiter says
This coming winter is not

after all going to be
The last winter you have,

or else Jupiter says
This winter that's coming soon,

eating away the cliffs
Along the Tyrrhenian Sea,

is going to be the final
Winter of all. Be mindful.

Take good care of your vineyard.
The time we have is short.

Cut short your hopes for longer.
Now as I say these words,

the time has already fled
Backwards away--

Leucono├ź-- Hold on to the day.


Translated by David Ferry.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Frohe Weihnachten!


 My inspiration.






My sweet, sweet reality.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Schnee

Let's take to the outside, let’s draw Mandelbrot sets with our feet in the snow.

It's cold in this flat, a bright wallop of morning and my fingers are not yet fit for keyboards, not quite there on the pirouette. I am trying by tricks and treats to get them whirling, fingerless gloves perhaps, a hot diner mug of coffee to curl around like winter stoats while waiting for the thoughts to come. Soon, I will be a sprightly, sequinned dancer with a white rabbit fur leotard and a tiara of unicorn’s teeth. Any minute now, I'll get going.

The city has been taken over by this shovel of pure white snow, and we can no longer distinguish between the streets and the sky. Try not to fall upwards (or down). Try strapping snowshoes to your feet and building an igloo in the park for the red squirrel army to bunker down. Try staying curled at home with fairylights and poinsettias and red stick candles. Try this duvet and his hands out for size.

After London, we are struck dumb by the generosity of the city. We drink Gluhwein and Amaretto from paper cups in the square; we spend the coldest days roasting in the Therme. After the Aufguss—a sweltering box wet with eucalyptus and sandalwood—we stand naked on a rooftop and douse our bodies with armfuls of snow. Everyone’s skin is billowing, like we are all laundrettes in January in Brooklyn. We are pink and happy and ripe with steam.

I am stuck halfway between cosy winter hibernation and a wild desire to run. Take to the outside, make snowmen and igloos and ride in a whirling circle on a big wheel painted with ribbons and fire.

Or bake bread and make soup, curl with notebooks and biographies and anthologies, light everything with red lightbulbs, make sure that there’s whisky to cradle.

Look: I have a bottle to spin between these options, to see which frog to press my lips against. I have a good feeling that everything is about to come up princes.

You'd better have warm gloves to slip on your paws; I think I'll drag you by the neck from this lair.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Pushcart!

My story, The Stars of Track and Field, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by the delightful people at Bound Off!

This is kind of how Kathy Acker and Raymond Carver and Joyce Carol Oates started out. Perhaps they will pick me and I can spend the rest of forever getting away with just making things up.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

On writing, whenever

Also, I relish the times when it’s super miserable, when I haven’t slept or am hungover. If you can sit down and write when you’re completely uninspired, completely miserable, hating everything you’ve ever written or thought, and just stay in the chair until something happens, then you know you’re going to be OK.

 Michael Fitzegerald (co founder of Submittable)


Write in the good times, when it comes like quicksilver—darting, liquid, cool to the touch. Write in the bad times when you have no words, when your head is sopping with yesterday’s wine and this process is eking, an old towel that needs to be wrung. An old towel tied between donkeys and the donkeys told to walk. Come to the table and open that strange small place and force things out, pick up these cardboard boxes stacked there and walk outside and place them on the other side of the door. Leave them in the street for vagrants and vagabonds to pick through your laundry (these boxes are not your responsibility any more; you did what you could). Step closer to the things from which you flinch, open the palm of your hand, remember that a burn will carry on searing your skin, even once you’ve fled from the source of the flame. All I am asking of you is that you show up and start whispering because maybe your nonsense chants could make sense to the ancient Polynesians, maybe you’re tapping into a chattering seam in the bowels of the earth. I would like you to keep going because I wonder that something is coalescing and figuring out the gaps between matter and dust. I wold like you to keep going because this stuff and these boxes and the donkeys are, just maybe, all that there is: a world, you living in it, trying to craft some structure, some sense out of words.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A rainy Saturday afternoon


A rainy Saturday and our home is too many stairs up to worry about leaving, so I make pizza from scratch for breakfast and spend the afternoon in the company of Barbara Gowdy necrophilia fables, Mary Gaitskill interviews in the New Yorker, Wikipedia articles about cannibalism, and my own made up worlds.

I want to tell you stories of circuses and beautiful women who smell of sawdust, magician’s assistants with scars like barbed wire on their stomachs. I want to dig up the past with a garden fork, turn my sordid memoirs over, heave the worms and wriggle amongst them. I want to talk about locksmiths and Janus and the Hierophant Tarot card; I can’t stop thinking about snibs and latches.

So, did you know that human flesh tastes like nothing so much as well-developed veal? Have you heard of the mellified men in ancient Arabia who sacrificed themselves by eating nothing but honey, until even their sweat and their faeces turned to honey, and after their corpse lay in honey for a hundred years it was sold as a sweet, sweet cure for broken bones? Let me tell you about the Leopard Men of West Africa who leapt on wayward travellers in their leopard skins and tore them apart with their leopard claws and ate their flesh, hoping for the strength to carry on. Carry on with their leopardy lives.

Come and gather round, it is early and I have a record player and a red stick candle and a warm blanket to tuck over our knees. I want to whisper horrible and beautiful and monstrous things in your ears until you shudder. I want to lock you in this room and I promise to show up every morning and chant nonsense until the words begin to catch and form.

Monday, 19 November 2012

This evening I am mainly

Reading But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, drinking a bottle of cheap champagne, eating anchovies and mature cheeses, having a crush on Anita Loos.


Friday, 9 November 2012

NaNoWriMo

This month is national novel writing month, where people attempt to write the first draft of a novel in 30 days. I did it in 2009 and ended up with lots and lots of words, and I wanted to write again this year, but couldn't think of a novel to do it in.

So! I will be writing 50,000 words of anything. Posting little excerpts and finishing stories long started. Drinking many coffees and listening to music with high bpms.

Yeow!

Extract

 After the operation, she had to stay at home for thirty days and all she had for her brain were other people's windows. She tried to read, but the words became soup and the white of the page was too bright, like a camera flash, too much for the letters. The stories that had once canted off the pages, the paragraphs she had leapt through feeling all the while like a pony in a meadow full of ever-decreasing wooden fences, they were gone. Or, they were still there but they were nothing: black termites marching to a tunnel too small to allow her entry. So, she sat by the window with a glass of gin and Rose's lime cordial and she watched the windows.

It wasn't as it used to be, watching the windows. When she was a girl, the windows had seemed like ever-flickering zoetropes, alive with stories. The light was a softer shade of yellow, like butter, and the people moved through the butter with a kind of buttery thoughtfulness. These days, the lights were brighter. The only candles were scented glass-clad cylinders in bathrooms, their only task the re-calibrating of the scents the air once claimed. Poetry does not flourish in fluorescence. The people move differently, or they don't move at all. Every window she looked in was just a box with its own windows inside, flickering multicoloured windows, epileptic visions and banners of unnatural colours. There is only so long you can spend staring at a person, staring at the television.

In the backroom, which used to be Charles's office, were the chests. Inside the chests were his things and she had never looked through his things when he was alive, because a wife sometimes has to be a clear plate to reflect back the thoughts of her man. A polished glass beaker. The wiped corners of the drawer in the fridge. But then a man dies and the wife who has spent all her days being a surface and a mirror suddenly wakes up and there is nothing in the world worth bouncing back, and she is aware that her body is more than this, her mind is a thing. This is the point to die or to carry on, really, the options are less fantastical and less imperative than we think. And there is always a chance to make another decision when you pick the latter. So, she carried on thinking that maybe next week she would let herself go, but let's just see first, maybe. A wife can go a long time waiting for next week, provisionally, when she has become a widow. It seems so definitive to leave the table before the last card has been overturned. Besides anything else, it seems rude.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Swaddled

The world slopes to magenta and neon and radiator heat; a different kind of heat. A soft warmth that waits for your bones and offers fleece. I haven't left the house for two days, since we returned from New York. I am trying to tuck this fact in a secret place and keep it going. It is so very perfect here—all wooden and warping, all Leonard Cohen and the way he growls.

And there are no letters in the mailbox; and there are no grapes upon the vine; and there are no chocolates in the boxes anymore; and there are no diamonds in the mine.


Except, of course, my mines are full of diamonds.

I take the challenge of words like a woven rope hanging above a Mexican lake, surface speckled with the footprints of pond skaters. I feel the weft between my calloused palms and let myself entangle, throw this careless body out over a long still surface that could be an ice rink or a canvas or a deep dark hole. I speed the pace until I have no direct line to my thoughts anymore. I train my fingers to overtake the whippets in my brain and I let them delve into the afternoon Wikipedia research: Hierophant & skeleton keys & Janus & trickster gods & Diprosopus & the Holy See & Loki.

The internet is back.

Suddenly the air is full of flickering June bugs of html and secrets. I am addicted to this spill of ideas; I wish I could click forever. The blue lines are talismen and shaman guides through the soup that is a brain stayed up too late watching a hideous man try to convince the world he isn't really a lizard. Trying to pat the women on the head and hush their frets. It's ok, gal, I've got you covered and we know what's best. I couldn't turn off because there is, in my guts and my skin and my fingers and my womb, a rabid fury at their hands, blood smeared to the wrists, plunging into some unwelcome place. But by the dawn, it was fine. Things had prevailed.

But yes: things out of kilter. Waking too late and trying to grab at the coattails of daylight. Please, let your sunshine be my magic carpet. Let this grey mist whip us from winter's cavelike hole. I need a mantra against the damp that gathers on this season's walls. I will try the word "swaddled" in my mouth for size.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Negative Suck!

Autumn, in Negative Suck. Featuring words about Epping Forest, touching boys, and the future.

Read it here!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Wolves

Perhaps it is possible we set something loose when we opened the door to mushrooms, to totems, to wolves and coincidences blossoming like fresh blood in the dark.

(Tak.)

Perhaps the chemical was a key. Not like a lock, not like a solid metal shaft in the palm of your hand. I am talking about encryption and encoding.

Listen: we found the blueprint for the allocation of symbols and the undoing of syntax.

We tipped our lids and we summoned Ob.

(Tak.)

Everything inhaling and exhaling and the tall grass licking round our calves like snake tongues. Everything flipping colours through the spectrum like a loaded deck between the palms of a Tarot reader.

I howl my dalmatian lungs and feel the tremor of my ancestors’ paws padding across a mountain range crafted of silhouettes and distant houses.

“It wasn’t a hallucination,” says J. “It was that the moon and the trees were wolves.”

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Zoetrope

Paper folds over and we make tiny concertinas, tiny accordions, tiny lives that overlap and underlap. In the small caffeine curve of the morning, images flicker in my brain like a zoetrope. I want the words to describe:

DMT, ayahuasca ceremonies in the depth of the lush, leafy, Mayan ruins. A shaman waves his stick. Everything turns to liquid plastic and silk.

Burlesque atop a circus pony, a whip cracking, a stocking peeling back, silk scarves, champagne corks, crimson lipstick, and the midget ringleader in the top hat walks in circles, cackling at the big top.

The gods pick up the globe like a bowling ball and send it down the centre of lane. A crow is laughing from its belly. The birds flock round the skies on the surface; the birds form a patchwork blanket with the weft and warp of their wings.

Strange scenes. The after-effects and flickers of a pipette full of wonder. Let’s drink another coffee, sit quiet, and think about the stories. Think about the words we’ll use to tell.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Spreewald

We feed each other soup, and be kind, because our poor frazzled brains have trekked further than you could ever imagine in these elastic, liquid hours between the small of night and the dawn.

The small of night like the small of your back: a curved hollow it is nice to rest hands in.

The walls are still full of faces; the knots in the wood haven’t yet closed their mouths. But it is quieter than last night when downstairs flickered with torchlight and prison guards, when the room was full of dark holes and malevolent shadows, when the pheasants rattled their wings and blood oozed through their breasts: pfffthhrpp.

In the chasm between the chemicals and the brandy we clutched for strings, but it was tricky. Our hands were strange entities and we lost the language of their spheres. Perhaps deep frying would help, perhaps everything could be crisped and crisped again, and what better way to treat this shaft of madness than leaning over a pot of boiling, burbling oil?

J took to the kitchen and I fell in love again, and again. Dominoes collapsing. He stood in a sphere of yellow light while I tried to hook my brain onto some spur, some thorn, any kind of barb to stop this wriggle and shift. My spills of tobacco stretched and slid and turned geometric in the liquid surface of the table, and it was more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Droplets of water turned the ink to twenty dimensions. All this, slidey things.

We feed each other soup and hold small, soft hands. Our brains are still throbbing. The walls are still gaping. We twitch at turn at the spickles and spackles. We bring the deckchairs out into the light.

Tequila and orange juice for breakfast, and this warm shaft of sunbeam. It’s enough.

A lesson: we will remember to cook for one another, offer small, hot bowls of soup when such things are necessary. We will wait life out until the sunlight and we will learn to be kind.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Penthouse living





I feel like Anna Karina: all the dancing, all the screaming "ROLLER GIRL!"

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Autumnal

Autumn enters left stage with sharp teeth and shiny pennies.

An upturned copper coin: heads and tails and nobody loses.

Remember that word hibernate, remember the h you breathe
out and your breath a cloud of dust kicked up in the afternoon.

The sky kites freeze and crack like the wing of a dragon fly suspended in ice.

Let’s weave a cocoon of yak fur and alpaca and shack up together
until the seas round Manhattan turn to cubic zirconium.

Shack up and stay warm and crackle these tiny mind fires.

Paper gloves from the pages of books.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Grouse Season

He lines up the ducks and shoots them ratatatat.

Falling feathers tickle the sky; it sneezes.

You are standing in a field, face upturned, waiting for spittle.

Tell me, what do you get out of these roles of the dice?

What cloven pony hooves gallop on your heart?

Well, it is hunting season and the leaves scatter and curl on the ground

bright orange chanterelles dirtying in the gutters.

The new wind knocks him down like a combine harvester

and the gun goes bang.

Autumn is turning the leaves aflame in their puddles.

Pasted in the cobblestones, the leaves turn red.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

More tales of the princess

How do you deal with the fact that, just maybe, they don't like you? Do you lie in bed with your eyes drawing constellations on the ceilings, darting for Ursa Major and Perseus? Are you weak and weeping and done?

The princess closes her door and pulls the snib right closed. Sits on the floor with crossed legs and wet tissues like paper boats sailing shipping routes round her feet. The people do not love her. There is no prince with a dandelion headdress waiting for her hand. Once she was a real bitch and the consequences fill her drawers like dirty laundry, like too many two pence coins on the desktop, like used loose tea clagging around the plug.

How do you rule a town whose heart has turned to spit and sawdust? Does your voice keep steady when they hiss and they thud? Are you crumpling in your stomach, is your appendix wild with pain?

The princess was young, you see, and it is easy to be a dope when you are young and a princess, it is easy to think you have gold and greatness bubbling in the cauldron you keep in your tower. When your hair is field of rapeseed the summer's done with chastising, when your skin is soft soft softer than lips and silk. Of course, silk comes from worms and there are all kinds of things wriggling in this garden. Of course, she made mistakes and this is why teenage princesses should never hold the keys to the city, for they're bound to go out and dance and swim in a lake and lose them in the gutters, in the first glass of sweet desert wine, in the mulch at the bottom of the pool.

Did you ever think that maybe it's your fault? Do you ever question the heft of the questions you ask, do you ever decide they are elephantine and impossible and too much for her to hold above her head?

The circus came to town and the strongman lifted the princess up above his head with barely a grunt. The strongman's head was bald and his eyes seemed kind and he didn't ask, he just lifted. He always just lifted. 

Listen: I have a soft spot for the princess, I confess. Kindness smooth on your tongue as a pebble. Step back, place your rocks back into the dirt.

Forgiveness.

Let your hearts bobbin and spool.

Oh my god.


Oh my god. Everything worked out.

There is money in the bank and an apartment of dreams and a boy in love; there is sage oil infusing in the kitchen cupboard and beetroot vodka too.

I have been writing, writing allegories and recipes for happiness, trying to teach myself to shh and still and close the laptop lid. I think they might be working. 

I said deadhead your responsibilities like summer roses, Jane and then I did it: snip. Snip. Snip! 

Ben bought me a Hausaufgaben book with a unicorn and a princess and a sky castle. I write in my chores for the day and then I do them then I’m done. I have pulled myself out of the freelance guilt quicksand. I am dusting off my ass and grinning.

Turns out, I love making collages. Turns out, maybe I can sell them for money. 

Last Sunday’s Flohmarkt: a polaroid camera, a box of books on witchcraft and voodoo, champagne glasses that they filled with champagne. 

We are leaving the house. There are things to tug us from the delicious balcony, free John Waters films in cheap-beer bars, Gudrun Gut outdoor afternoon music, talks on revolution and beautiful trouble, a massage at the market, an aye-aye at the zoo.

Oh, I put on a sort-of Golden Hour as part of the literature festival and 150 people came, they listened, they cheered. It went…perfectly.

We are excited. We will be Berlin promoters. The venues here are waiting for us to trip and scatter them with words and music and red rope light dancing.

For my birthday, I will be in New York. 

Oh my god. Everything worked out. 

From now on we will support ourselves busking and snipping up junk mail and bubbling vats of chutney. From now on, we get a free pass from the pavement slab London sky. From now on, we never need to commute again. 

My fingers are sticky with PrittStick and it is time for lunch on the balcony. Eggs and smoked fish and black coffee. 

Good things. Happiness. Wow. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Snip

Be kind.

Take your squawking soul out for kimchi, egg fried rice.

Dedicate Tuesdays as Wild West Days and spend the afternoons atop a pony, sipping bourbon, winking at all the pretty ladies in your cosmic saloon.

Breakfast in champagne and red silk while caressing the bubbles with your toes.

Lock all your assignments in pirate chests and cackle as they sink to the depths of the sea; watch the sharks whip their tails to avoid the plummet.

Plan a trip to Cambodia, to Christmas Island, to all of Jupiter’s moons.

And snip those maths-homework dirty-dishes have-to friends

from your life, close the doors in their face, listen:

I know I am adorned in cliches but this world does not tilt and timeout for the hours you have wasted mired in should.

It is as easy as I promise; it is easier.

You’re at a pair of swinging doors with bonsai shears in one hand, the Jack of Hearts in the other. 

Spit in the sawdust and burn a bridge and stamp your cockspur boots in the ashes.

Whoopee! You’ve the afternoon to yourself,

to paint your toenails gold and your fingernails crimson,

to be kind.

Perhaps you will become addicted to this moment.

Feel the phlegm in your throat. Feel the weight of the metal in your palm. Snip.

Monday, 3 September 2012

How to sit still.

I promise myself that I am going to learn to sit still.

Tell my brain to close the sluice valves; stop the heave and ho of the oars.

Stop the cells blaming each other for firing and bring back the boiling oil from the crest of the surrounding wall.

Cut away the world with pinking shears and perch in my garret. Caw like the lovestruck dove in the bellfry tower waiting for all the homing pigeons to come home.

There are so many mouthfulls of air in these surrounding streets and sometimes it feels as if I’ll never run out. Sometimes I wonder if there’s even a reason to fret at all.

The week begins and the floor is scattered with paperwork like love letters pasting the floor in the soldiers barracks.

I could toss die all day and never come up with double sixes, and that’s fine. There’s no gold star from the universe for a girl with ticked boxes in her columns.

So: breathe in and out from the air that sits and waits by your window.

Close your eyes. Stare at the warm orange of your inner eyelids.

Sit still and stop talking, Jane.

Breathe in and

.



Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Princess

Listen. Princess. We cannot have you dying like the others, can't have you skinning your knees, can't lose the crabshell-pink glow in your cheeks.

This town needs you pristine.

When the minstrels and the alchemists ask, where is your princess, where is her smile, we must be able to unhook the catch on the tower window and let it creak wide and say, "Lo!" and "Behold!" and reveal you to the world.

Too long, I say, too long we have been the butt of the jokes, been the punchline. We are sad that they point, your mother is sad, there are postcards of carparks and suburban shopping malls with our name on them. All we want is to be something.

All we want is that people flock from far and wide, that they gather here like mercury. Unconsciously led. All we want is a trickle like the hole in the damn, the pressure, the building; all we want is goddamn immortality and diamonds, all we want is an arrow lit up round the sides like a starlet's dressing room mirror. Listen, can you hear the sound of the bulbs all turning on: plink, plink, plink?

It's been too long that we've here sat and shrunk, our village the final manicure on a dying woman who left her will to the geraniums, left her diamonds to the dirt. We don't need diamonds but we do need to singe the alabaster from our skies, we do need to paste a typewritten love letter over the cracks, we do need to bung our holes up with glue.

Listen. Princess. Stop tugging at the leather, stop turning quite so pale. We are just waiting for another sunrise and the world to notice.

We are just waiting for this telephone to ring.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Quitting

It’s ok, you’re allowed to quit, you can

take the book of neatly lined appointments

and rip it into feather confetti for this—

your marriage to a summer wasting.


Spend your wedding night sat up in bed watching

technicolour cartoons and pritt-sticking collages of

three-eyed spider-goats and flying horses.


Stain your sheets with cookie dough ice cream,

pecan bourbon, sticky-hot-breath kisses.


Do not go online.

Do not answer a phone that beeps and shudders.

Do not feel bad and do not allow

the mean hissing hand on your shoulder

to tell you those things that need doing.


Melt cheddar on toast with pickled onions and

find yourself a tree to climb.


Quit like a habit, quit the letters you have to write,

quit the jobs you have to get done, quit your

cleaning and step outside where the dirt and the ground

are the same. Quit mocking your brain and quit picking

the scabs that have formed on its surface.


Find a kite, and fly it.

Find the smothered giggle in the base of your throat,

and crack your cowgirl whip at its ankle.

Find the grin you mistook for grimacing. Phone in sick

to your brain and decide

that you get to pick and quit and stay home,


or you get to go out and make nothing of your day

but cut grass.


Cut grass and a nap

in a nest that is built of summer.

Monday, 20 August 2012

no medals for martyrs

We said

there’s no medals for martyrs

she said

it’s not fair they all got the reasons to smile.


We said

stop then, there’s no brown bear dressed up for the circus beating his drum behind your back, on the soft cobbled road his brown feet chose to stomp on

and still she whined, still she wept seven tears for each day of the week, still she said

you don’t understand how hard life is—for me—

and we, not being soothsayers or psychics, not being fleet-footed sprits with mischievous grins, said

the wine spills the same on every carpet

every ankle has the same tendons for twisting

love does not fall like cherry blossom

but if it did

you’d need to have your face pointed up for it to hit you on the nose


She stomped her foot and cursed the foul winds that blew her to our crossroads.

She stomped and she told us we were no use at all and it was just her luck,

well, we grinned and said

yes

just your luck

just like that.

The hottest day

Perhaps the hottest day of the year, perhaps time to lash the wicker basket to his bike and cycle to the lake.

We breathe in barbeque smoke, sweat, cut grass, and pickle juice; we breathe the lavender oil which soothes the itching from our bites.

Patches of water in the lake are warm, like stepping into desert quicksand. Tendrils of cold current lap and coil round our feet.

I float on my back and look for familiar faces in the clouds, but the sky blinks a huge blue eye back at me and has nothing to say.

Scratching my skin until it is red and swollen, scratch till amber beads to the surface like resin oozing from the bark of a tree.

We look to one another and we are happy that we’re here.

I’m so glad we left, I say, the words a shiny red apple rolling down the grassy bank.

The boys grin; the sun pads round the edge of the trees like a tiger blithely stepping out from behind the rock and standing askance in our presence.

Everything is roiling orange flames.

The sun bounces off Ben’s hair and we are drenched with gold.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Handlebars

We do not place our hands on the handlebars; we fold our arms.

Tell the runway to flip its hair like a sorority girl and snap its gum,

sniff the sun on the backs of each others’ knees and
bury our toes in the guttural vowels of the soil.

The sky today was the inner surface of a chirruping blue pedalo,
the clouds, sea foam from the wayward prows of ships
who got convinced they’re pigs snarfling the dirt for truffles.

(For trouble.)

Wouldn’t you like to be known as that scuff-kneed troubadour with a
penchant and pizazz for double sixes?

Or maybe that’s the trouble: maybe it doesn’t matter which
lacquer the world points and stares at;

maybe your meringues will sink in the oven while your
heart still jangles; maybe your soul isn’t made of

headlines and dinner parties and that girl-over-there’s approval.

Truth be she’s a dick and a doozy, truth be
you were always the radio station worth tuning to

and I’d listen all day to your bow-wows and howls.

Take your hands off the handlebars, princess;
take your feet off those pedals.

There’s a stiff breeze whipping this sunset into shape
and the moment

you stop panting

it’s yours.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Belly-aching

Learning to put one foot in front of the other again, learning to
stop the sages who yell faster faster faster for the express bus, for
the trains that leave in the morning.

I know a boy or two who taught themselves to sit and let their skin settle,
rounded up their molecules with a circus whip and cracked SIT

—or who am I kidding? There’s no sawdust, no trumpets and drumroll,
no announcement that now is the moment for peace (Ta-dumM!)

Trying to remember that lucky and happy aren’t synonyms one bit,
and Plato was a fool to believe in immutable forms.

Going to choose the giggle and guffaw of the Infinite Goof,
stop all this belly-aching and trying to prove the world I’m smart.

This girl can roll in the muck waiting for meteors to hit the moon
and waft off the assignments of the working week like
an American Indian wafting messages from the smoke of his fire.

Don’t forget: there’s no parrot on your shoulder demanding
sit straight and look busy.

The referee’s got no medals for a martyr with a scowl.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Good morning gibberish

Puffy eyes, this puffy girl dozed with dreams the morning has yet to overturn. Dreams in buckets. Sloshing and sliding over the wooden floorboards. I'm sleepy.

Sleepy when the morning tries to snag my attention with its fishhook fingers.

Sleepy for online hollering, the internet a sorry dustbowl I sit and wait to settle.

The air turns chalky and red in this breeze and I can't see the things I came here to seek.

Coffee, coffee, cacophonix. Parp your caffeine bugles in the crook of my ear and let me leap out of this skin that's got so goddamn dusty.

I know you're not trying to make me fall face-first to the floor, but I am clinging to the sides of the room like a broken spiderweb who is shocked to find she’s sticky.

Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Give me a set of divining rods and tell me to walk like a tightrope acrobat—foot after foot after foot—until the twitches whisper here is where the hot brown liquid steams through the earth.

Give me a grinder and old rocks that turn to shiny beans under a sleepy noon. Magic beans. I'll trade a thousand cows for a cup of your kisses.

Puffy eyes and an overhanging rock I keep my body tucked up beneath. This dust sticks to my soft and squidgy flesh. This dust lands everywhere, the sleep that crusts in the corners. I can't tell you what the day is demanding yet, but I'm not sure that I'm ready.

I think I'll retreat to the yolk of the egg and cocoon my embryonic self in its shell.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Deadheading #2

This Sunday sky slopes, petulant, towards dusk—
must I quit the weekend’s kites, the summer’s starlings?

Cicadas hissing and chirruping like
mechanical bedsprings bouncing for the 4th of July;

the sky turning Mexican lime,
geranium pink, mandarin.

You breathe an air as sweet as Werthers Originals
and blow candied smokerings, hula-hooping
round the airport towers.

Must this working week lasso your heart with laptop strings?
Why don’t you fall to bed and stroke your softness, sweetheart?

Wake and tramp your untrammeled feet to the twenty
destinations your map has lost in its folds.

Maybe, out there, there’s no hot white seam
running between pleasure and penance.

Maybe the sky doesn’t know that it’s Sunday.

Give yourself up to the drift of dandelion clocks
and cackle at the grandfathers of time.

You’re ready.

Ready to web your feet, to let your
responsibilities fall to the ground.

Deadheaded summer roses.

Just so much mulch the soil’s already prepared to swallow.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The cicadas teach the sky to tapdance

What has become of you, sweet girl, as you sit listening to the first of the night’s cicadas teaching the dusk how to tapdance?

Can you feel a feral tomcat clawing at the strings of your soul?

Does the day-glo pink streak that flirts with your bloodstream start to pulse a little harder; do the veins in your wrists take on a rosy glow?

Are you gawking down the barrel of the television or leaking the winks in your eyes to an ever-ungrateful internet?

And what of tomorrow? Does the threat of Monday ooze into the night before, does the evening blush grey at the thought of the chores for the week?

I want to tell you that you get to choose.

You don’t have to run these thoughts through your head, again and again, until they are soft and worn as Penelope’s cloth.

You get to fling the fear into a park you’ve stacked with wrecking balls and rev up the crusher and watch their metal spines crunch.

Sit and listen to those lovestruck cicadas, endlessly bouncing on their mechanical bedsprings.

Take your grabbing fists and send a lipsticked postcard to decorum yelling GOODBYE SUCKER, because when you tire of waiting for life to unfurl it’s time to get snatchy.

Here: have a heart as light and dandy as August dandelions.

Here: snip the centimetres from your hem and let your knees strike a deal with the tarmac.

Then take take take of this dewy, dusky night; take its barroom sweet-hot-breath conversations and its bucktoothed girls with their daisy chain smiles. Take serenading to the constellations and take another cigarette and take a drink with a sparkler gushing tiny stars and lightning bolts and promises from Zeus.

You’re too pretty to be folded neatly and closed in the drawer. Spin through the night, sweet girl; spin until you can’t stand and you crumple on the floor.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Storm

We were sitting in the disused airport when the storm came. We were sitting beneath the wreck of old pirate ships and the sculptures of hungry crows angled to the sky. We could see it coming long before it arrived.

A greenish-black mushroom cloud sat in the midst of the sunset like a smudge of evil spirits in a gas lamp at dusk. Beams of light spilled out the edges while the smudge harrumphed down to the horizon and squatted malevolently. We did not mind its malevolence; in the distance, the storm was a well-timed aperture that made the snapshot of the evening sublime.

The wind made the broken sales of the pirate ships cackle and flap. A tack-tack-tack of beating rags. When the first drips hit us, we were cocky as the spinning wheels of skateboards and we looked to the heavens and we swore it would pass us by.

    This moment it was drizzle and the next it was pelting with sumo wrestler raindrops, rain     like fat angry bees protecting the hive.

I closed my ears when James gasped and gulped. I had been inside too long with too many moments spent waiting for the wheel of the internet to turn, a slow cantankerous waterwheel here, a sad sit for a brain used to rampaging. 

This was not a British rain. This was a rain that pummeled and exploded on our skin. In moments, my polyester frock was wallpaper paste slathered across my body. I angled my face to the sky and I grinned the grin of the Infinite Goof.

    Thunder cleared his throat. Lightning leapt the high dive and performed a triple pike. And,     under the whims of the wind, the wine bottle teetered.

We stood up. In the expanse of the airport, all unfurling runways and higgeldy allotments, our heads were the highest conductors. In bare feet and wallpaper paste, I walked towards the tarmac.

It was still hot to stand upon. While the ground slammed against the raindrops—like fifties teenagers learning the twist—it was still hot, I swear.

We passed the man with the kite, who was cackling.

He was laughing about tomorrow’s newspapers, while he played an infinite poker with the sky.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux


Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Happiness

Happiness is a learned condition.

The elephant in the room is that it’s a Goddamn elephant; you lured it here with a trail of peanuts and hyperbole.

At the lake you floated in trance of gold and orange on a water so still the sky took it for glass. At the lake your skin was made a mosaic of hot, red, itching welts by the bastard mosquitos.

Neither reality is inconceivable nor incompatible.

Listen: you get to pick the paper bag that’s filled with marbles, green centres undulating like the arch of the pole vaulter’s back. You get to pick the candy.

Sometimes the universe is a coin flipping so fast it’s hard to see which side is polished and shiny. Maybe there’s a charm to the tarnish if you know how to squint.

The goods and the silt muddy the water. Have you worked out the difference between panning and trepanning yet?

Are you looking for gold or for a hole in the head?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Eyes

Eyes like nests for a new sort of baby glue. Eyes stuck together with the sinewy white cartridge that oozes when the pigtailed girl breaks the grasshopper’s leg. Eyes wet and dry at once. Eyes with crusts of sleep moving over them like the feet of flies padding across butter. Eyes that want to want the day but cannot help pulling their heavy linen curtains resolutely closed. Eyes that sweat from eyeballs like swaddled saunas blinking, blink. Eyes that can’t see kites. Eyes burnt into blistered red parachutes by this dizzy-inducing sun. Eyes that look at short skirts behind sunglasses. Black eyes. Eyes losing fights with you.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Advice to self.

Turn out the lights that you think keep your soul alight. Turn off your browser. Write wittingly and unwillingly until something flows. Don't stop to edit that word. Don't stop to think that maybe the cicadas sounded more like drunk sailors walking down the main street of Jackson.

Whatever.

You know what they're trying to tell you, if only you write long enough and say the words like a dozen broken housewives throwing the flour against the wall. Do you see the way that it bursts like the picture of a galaxy spattered on a ceiling in the bedroom of an eighteen-year-old virgin?

Ah, the eighteen-year-old virgin. I feel your gasp in and out, because I have been that girl. I have been the girl who thought her legs would never part like the Red Sea, like the factory crowds (Oh, Edie!).

Well, hell, what do we know? It turns out the eighteen year olds know nothing and there will be a million more lovers who swoop and swamp and swear and switch your heart from calcified rock to carbon, to diamonds, to rhinestone.

Sometimes the world is a waiting game and sometimes you just need to calculate the angle at which to arch your back when you are standing on the diving block and cocking your ear to the starter's whistle.

Listen.

That is all the advice I have left.

Or don't, don't wait for the world to say it's time. Leap, you lithe and wondrous motherfucker. Feel the water explode around your body and for gods' sake don't stop paddling until you hit the dry beach.

Don’t stop until you’re face-first into the wall.

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I think I am doing something right.

Irreversible temptations

She felt something unravel within her like the unfurling of a dozen Persian carpets, threads glinting in the dust, wondering which it would take to be able to fly.

Responsibilities niggled her like small red ants. Pfft. What a way to sully this baked grass summer afternoon—a funeral spilling into the wake. She harrumphed the harrumph of eleven anteaters and it echoed and by the time the noise stopped bouncing, all the responsibilities were gone.

Irreversible temptation. Like slipping the last cable tie through itself just to hear the click.

Oh Jane. Oh Jane. You cannot trick the universe with scissors and a three-leafed clover.

Her lower lip quivers like the pouted red shell of a ladybird preparing for flight. I watch, fascinated, and wait for a scaly, sinewy wing to unfold.

Deadheading

This Sunday sky sloped petulantly towards dark, unwilling to give up entirely on the weekend’s kites and starlings. The cicadas hissed and chirruped until the air was thick with a noise like mechanical bedsprings bouncing for the 4th of July. Lime green and geranium pink seeped into the colour palette and, on the horizon, cowgirls snapped leather whips and cracked bubblegum bubbles.

This Sunday girl sat alone on the balcony breathing an air as sweet as Werthers Originals and trying to form candied smokerings with lips in a little round “O”. No one to tell her she was a fool or a heathen, so even her brain stopped bothering. Blowing the last moments of light before the peacock feathers of freedom started to waft her bedward, threatening about tomorrow’s workload.

Maybe she wouldn’t get up and bother. Maybe she’d lie in bed all day touching herself and giggling and goofing about bucktoothed outlaws. Maybe she’d start walking with unwebbed feet and tramp tramp tramp tramp tramp her way to a new destination. Maybe she’d never open her laptop again. Maybe the sky didn’t know it was Sunday. Maybe out there, there was no hot white seam running between pleasure and penance.

Maybe it is time to give yourself up to decadence and drifting, Jane. Maybe it’s time to deadhead your responsibilities like summer roses.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

WoD #1 : Big Wheel

There is something fluttering in her stomach, and she doesn't want to tell. Round bellied, skin stretched taut like a blister. The thing she feels is just beneath the skin. The thing she feels quivers like the finger of an aye-aye tapping upon the tree bark, like a eyelash trying to hold back a river, like a misplucked cello string in the silence at the end of the orchestra. She puts her hands on the bulge and tells it to be quiet, be still. Hush, she says. Hush.

On the date they hold hands and walk side by side on a ground spongy with sawdust and moss. The air smells of sage and engine grease, and it slathers their skin like vaseline as they walk towards the big wheel. The big wheel is a moon from another planet that sneezed and lost the gravity to orbit. The seats are painted fire-engine red and beachball yellow. He leads her hand to one and helps her inside.

A crunch and a clank and the wheel starts to move. Like an ancient mountain god flexing her plates, the big wheel yawns into life. Their carriage spins slowly as they lift up from the ground. She looks at her lap, at her belly, at the twitching.

The wheel is very, very large and by the time their carriage cranks up into the sky they realise that the nuts and bolts are loosening. An ancient momentum nudges them slowly skyward like a dolphin pushing a drowning child to the beach. Still, the stars are hypnotic. The stars are spilt icing sugar and angels' dandruff and carbon. The stars are grains of white sand that split to the universe, exhausted with Hawaii honeymoons, tired of their overblown rep. The stars, the stars. The ground.

She looks down and sees the shorn bolts of metal and the moss recede like jealous relatives gathered on the dock to wave off the long boat to America. Their mouths try to fling kisses and their hankies try to flutter, but they are are swaddled in envy, they are green. Spattered in sea mist, the hankies droop.

The fluttering, the fluttering. She places her hands on her belly. She bends her long neck down and listens, and it is quiet up there in the thick crochet blanket of starlight. He watches her without a word, his face pale and dotted with sweat. His cheeks are green and seasick. He does not interrupt.

She puts her ear to her belly and the fluttering pauses and says "Cuckoo". And again, "Cuckoo." She knows what she has read about the cuckoo and she knows there is no nest inside her for the eggs of another. She lifts her fluttering, quivering belly to the prow of the carriage and looks at his green, seasick face, and she flings the whole lot overboard to the spattered star sky.

Falling between shards of rock and light, she hears the universe giggle.

write or die

Write or die is a genius program that makes babies cry and the screen turn red if you stop moving your fingers on the keys for more than a second or two. It is the best thing I have ever found for making my brain stop trying to edit the sentence I just wrote and start writing the next one instead. I am in thirsty need of more words and stories so I'm going to try and do half an hour of writing on it a day (500 words) and post them here unedited.

Drivel! Garbage! Unexpected metaphors!

Bartleby Snopes

My story, The Wind Turbines, has been picked for the biannual Bartleby Snopes print edition along with all the Story of the Months.

You can download a free PDF copy from here or buy a print copy from here.

Enjoy!

Friday, 20 July 2012

new hair



Let's find out if gingers really have more fun.