Sunday, 15 December 2013

It's not

I say, It isn't supposed to be this hard, you know, and he snorts, he scoffs, he says, I have seen a mushroom push through asphalt and I know the ways the world conspires. He says, Sometimes you need to work at things, child, don't you even understand? He says, It's all very well for you. His words pat me on the head and I am a foolish girl with feathers for knickers and a coterie of mina birds chirping in my hair. I am not a part of the real world or the here world or the this world. Yet.

In the real world it is supposed to be this hard, he says. In the real world, love is a large house with many rooms that are slowly decaying, eternally filling with dust and trinkets and calcified noodles, and if you want to live in the house of love you have to spend some days caretaking. You have to sweep and tidy, you have to say no to that invitation to the bang bang party, you have to do the attic this weekend. Love is about more than helter skelters, he says. Who wants to live in a pit of filth?

I keep my mouth shut because I am thinking and because the surfaces of my own house are smattered with motes. My finances are slowly decaying. Sometimes, my body in the real world feels like a hessian sack of rice that has been nibbled by rodents and is spilling an endless trail. I am forever darning and unravelling all at once. I know of this real world and its incessant demands, its arm-tugging neediness. I have watched it grasp and grasp like a toddler. I have resented it everything.

I keep my mouth shut because what do I know? I live alone. These days, my heart is full of rooms and raucous guests, but the visitors bring their own polish and belts and feather dusters. They bring champagne and bubble bath. They clean up after themselves. These days, love is not a thing to maintain. I ride my lust over cobblestones in the small hours of the day and the neon bulbs of the city wink and conspire and my chain does not grow loose even though, by all accounts, it should.

I do not know how to explain this thing to him, the thing that is alone and alive, bristling with fireflies. I want to ask him, what is wrong with helter skelters? Since when did you ever give up on the fair? I want to take his tired skull between my palms and whisper all of the ways it is possible to bunk off on work when the work is your heart and the alternative is a field of jubilant daisies, giggling and trading favours in the sun.

He tries so hard and sometimes when you are trying so hard it is impossible to take stock of the situation and lift your hands from the stone. Sometimes the uphill swells so large before you that the universe isn’t stars and wisps and galaxies; the universe is the thing before your eyes: grass. Rocks. Hill. Sometimes the push push is addictive, the gnaw in your muscles, the rodent teeth, the strain. Sometimes you are a good man for keeping going and that is enough.

I say, It isn’t supposed to be this hard but my voice is quiet because I am thinking of a time when it was this hard, when I was straining with every fibre of my hessian sack to hold everything together. I am remembering my own hill I chose to die on and I think myself lucky, even though such an idea is bizarre. I am lucky that the flash floods and monsoon cracked down and turned my upwards path to mudslide; I am lucky that the towns were ravaged; I am lucky the universe became too broke to fix. I think if it had been different I would still be weaving things together. I would be darning the future of my fate.

When I say, It isn’t supposed to be this hard, I am not really talking to him. Or, I am, but I am already resigned to the fact his ears are stopped with amber beads of resin. Mainly, I am talking to myself. I am making a note in the spiral bound book to remember if anything ever gathers around me this way again. Do not push, do not strive, believe in fireflies and helter skelters. Keep galloping through the city on your heart’s pony. It isn’t supposed to be hard at all. It’s supposed to feel as if, all at once, all of the catherine wheels are starting to spin.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


I decided to be kind to myself. Small treats. The night had been thick and dense and full of warped dreams. I was obsessed with cutting fabric. I took E's dress and picked up the pinking shears and revelled in the sound of the metal jaws dissecting the cloth. I could almost taste it.

Outside, last summer's dead plants were rotting. I had not taken the opportunity to cull these fallen soldiers and the result was a procession of festering mulch, making me feel guilty as I sat at my desk. I had promised to give up feeling guilty too, but some habits are tricky to shake. I was trying my best. Really, I was doing everything I could.

I had started using the health of my plants as a moratorium on my worth as a human being, and this was a bad idea. I had started using more guttaral sounds on my verbs, hitching the noises from the back of my throat. I had promised that I would tell the people I adored that they were fabulous and make sure it was written on the insides of their wrists: congratulations! You have arrived in the universe.

All the decisions I had made in other lights of day were stuck in my throat. A procession of used bottles made its way across the kitchen floor and the prospect of changing was more daunting than I had any right to expect. I believed it should be possible to write things softly and whisperly, a sensual tongue in your ear. I believed it should be possible to explain.

None of my exercises allowed my legs to keep up and I knew that if I could only write enough different words all in a row, we could all prance through the double door together and take a bow to the audience who were facing up.

I decided to be kind because my dreams had been like razorblades: full of opportunities for wounds. I took a thick swatch of fabric and wrapped it around the bulkhead. We were all placing our thumbs against a swatch of skin and experimenting with listening for a pulse. There was no pulse. I dreamt you had a giant hot tub pool that you filled each lunchtime with warm water and one bucket of molten butter. I dreamt I was desperate. In the dreams, I couldn't help cutting things up with knives.

Even though, upon waking, I knew you had no idea of the things inside my dream, a dull wallow of guilt remained lodged in my stomach. In my dream, my ex-boyfriend was on holiday and I was sleeping in his empty bed. It did not smell like him; I barely recognised the sheets. I decided I could move in. The party was going to be fabulous, if only I hadn't ruined the dress.

The crypticism was not intentional. It was the result of a forked brain mashed into a pile of beans. That is to say, it hadn't had enough sleep. Or it had had too much sleep. Sleep was a confusing thing that simultaneously cloaked and revealed its subject. Sleep was wonderful and deadly and full of the soft fur of bears. I wasn't ready to stop yet, but I knew that dwelling any longer in this kingdom would make me bound to attraction to all the wrong decisions. Oh, but those decisions. So soft! So scritchy! So sweet!

I decided to be kind to myself, as if being kind was a decision that had to be made again and again. As if whenever we forget to remind ourselves, sometimes we can tend towards the cruel. We are all worriers of soft flesh. In science, in magnets, teeth are attracted to gristle.

Here is how the day would spread out before me: I would write a few sentences that were scattershot and sweet and fell to the floor like broken saucers. I would drink a large quantity of water until my piss turned pale. I would eat something small and savoury, then I would soak my weary bones in a sauna until I couldn't tell the difference anymore. Perhaps I would read. Perhaps I would let myself be taken. Perhaps perhaps there is more to this than you could imagine. I could even do some exercises and see how I would react to the stretch. I could run somewhere. I could walk. I could make the decision again, and again: be kind.

Turn off the internet. Create a small castle out of all the right words. Stop apologising for your dreams. Put the scissors away.

Monday, 2 December 2013

"Just master the art of preserving your spark and it'll all turn out fine."

Saturday, 30 November 2013

the final 630 words

The only thing I could possibly ask for now from the universe is for you to put your hand in mine and not worry about any of my bruises, not bitch about any of my broken, just give me you and take me you and let's both run together. My skin is patterned with purple and my brain is blotched with welts of every which colour. I do not mind. My legs are so fucking tired from all this running and my fear of stopping outweighs my desire. I do not mind.

The only thing I want is to feel the wallop of these feet on the soft green grass and never mind if they slip on dew. I lost a lot of things, my dear, I lost my heart and my mind and my way but I kept on looking in foxholes and I found them again. I found my tiara. I found my tiger. All the things I had given up on are once again in my pockets.

At one point, it seemed like everything was some kind of an ending so I decided to turn to magic. I believed in fortunes that could be read like fairy tale books from the reflection in a curved glass mirror. I believed in my own reflection in the water. I was narcissus, but I think in some ways we are all narcissus. I leaned all the way over and took a deep breath and was prepared for whatever was there. I was prepared for everything that I saw.

The fortunes all said the same thing and still I could not quite come to terms with the fact it was true. The fortunes told me that I thought the drawbridge up ahead was some kind of ending but, in truth, the drawbridge was just another bridge. And that all bridges connect two pieces of land, and that when I arrived at the other side I would meet people who had come as far and as long as I had, except they had started over there. I would talk to these people and ask them about their journey and things would start to curdle.

Listen, they would tell me, it's been a long an arduous task. I have come so very far. But it's okay, they would tell me, because finally after all this effort I have reached the end. Some sort of end, anyway. They would mop their brows and swell with pride and I would have to say that I, too, had come a very long way. And that I, too, thought I had reached the end. But I would know that behind me was a very long path with lots of trials and goblins. I would tell them that. Perhaps. I would feel like they had a right to know.

And if this was the case, I would have to acknowledge that behind them, too, was a very long path of trials and goblins. And even if I found the feet to traverse it, I would just get to some other kind of beginning.

All these thoughts in my brain terrified my soul. I did not want to believe in fortunes but I had already decided that witchery was not a false god; I had already made the concession to my fate. All that remained was for me to turn my body like an arrow towards the place I had said that I was going.

But my body is forever a wind vane and a strong breeze came up. I spun. In every different direction. Still, this was some kind of enough and I let myself enjoy it. Every which way and any which way. I had not reached an ending, but I had got exactly the thing I deserved.


I wrote 50,000 words in a month because I am pretty fucking amazing.

(why hello there, December of Editing)


Saturday, 23 November 2013


The wolf lurking in a long tunnel with drips falling from the ceiling. The wolf howling and pulling thorns from his paws. The animals of the forests and plains refusing to help because the wolf has bad PR, the wolf has a reputation for teeth. I feel bad for the wolf but what do I know? My PR is not the greatest either. We all have reputations we carry in the sacks yoked to our carts, and none of us are ever quite ready to spill the apples.

Or, then again, perhaps some are. How did those voles get so damn cute? How did that girl get to glow like a reclining moon, a moon that has never shone upon criminal proceedings? In the wilderness you can hear the insects, thick as bean soup in your ears. In the desert you can hear your own heartbeat, you can listen to the blood pushed round your body, listen to the creep of life-liquid. You can catch the accent of your veins (oh blood, oh thick guttural Rs, hello).

In the morning, I am so much phlegm and teeth mould. I am kittens deep inside the sack. I try to make time for the small, perfect rituals: screw the silver coffee pot, open the gas, hear the hiss, strike a match. Trust in a blue flame and the alchemy of ground brown beans. Trust in the fingers in the crick of my neck. In the morning, I am less than Jane. Skittish and clickery. The internet, the internet, the internet. The taste of curdled spilt things. The smell of my seeping self.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Complete immersion

You will put up with so much if you think it is the choice between that and an empty plastic bag to carry from land to land. I taste how it pains your heart to show up at the door empty handed. I know you would like to be the guest who arrives first with a plethora of rose stems. I would like you to be the one in the Jacuzzi whose nose is full of bubbles.

You have two options, my sweet, and neither of these is being the right person in the right place facing the right direction. You are slumped and slalomed in a bed of your own choice. You are drunk and dashing in a city of your own choice. You are a wild pony in a corral of someone else’s desire and you cannot stop bucking even though it makes your backbone ache.

This is the inevitable price you pay for having a heart. It is expensive. Did we ever tell you it would be cheap? Did we ever pretend that it wouldn’t cost a whole sackful? This is the inevitable concession to complete immersion. You will put up with it when you believe it is more important to be a thing in the world than a thing who is right about the world. 

You put up with it so that you may have a heart to take outside and show to the ones in the houses all down your street. You soak yourself in the bucket of ammonia. I know you are ashamed of your valves, you steal bleach to strip the stains you are so sick of hefting. Darling, please. There is nothing more adorable to me than the fingerprints on your skin.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Guidelines for getting by

This is the time of the year for caramelising onions. Reek out your kitchen with a sticky pirouette of crisp white elbows turned to swooning golden sludge.

You must make chutney. Sterilise all your jars and stack the cupboards with winter sustenance, for the cold will come soon.

Next, line your insides with hot wine steeped in cinnamon and mistletoe. Line your bed jacket with fox fur and mink.

Take a new lover to your boudoir and feed her cherry brandy until the flush rises in her cheeks, until her lips are bitten and red.

Fill your desk drawers with printed letterheads for correspondence and post a pressed dandelion to whoever deserves it the most.

Get warm. Light fires in the bedrooms and cast incantations while flinging runes at one another, whilst believing in sage.

Set up all of the dates to drag you outside because outside is so many crisp things and you are not ready to hibernate yet.

Trust that this winter is going to be fabulous and filthy and bottles of red wine all wrapped up in gold.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


The city is on the turn. The city begins to shed its summer skin. Leaves fall from the trees and carpet the pavements and then secret dwarves come in the night and whisk them away, leaving everything naked. Leaving the world bare. The bones of trees are silent skeletons encouraging the night to tuck close to the day. They pull the blanket of darkness closer to their chins until all that is left is a small blink of daylight in the centre of the day. When I walk the streets I feel the city's sharp winter elbows. Juttings of frost in the hollows of my ribs.

Even though the city is outside and I am inside, we are able to communicate. I send the city folded missives printed on bright yellow flyers that I crumple and fling from my windows under the guise of falling leaves. Mine are weepy love letters declaring my body a checkered blanket, my heart a picnic basket packed with gentleman's relish and hot cross buns. Here, I tell the city, feast upon me. I am yours to devour. I want to be chewed up and swallowed by your streetlights.

I watch the streetlights halo in the first fingers of frost. This night is built of mist and the exhales of clouds rising from the water. We walk to the boat across the swaying decking and for a moment I know that I am holy. Everything above the water is swirling, the contradiction of the softness of haar with the hardness of teeth. By this I mean: the biting of the sharp, cold night. I walk through it, my body a prow that can cut the night like cake. Here in the city, everything is pure white frosting and I lick my fingers and laugh at the sweetness on my tongue.

Friday, 15 November 2013


Cure for sickness: Bring all of the cushions in the house into bed. Bring extra blankets. Bring fleecy things that feel like the skritchy patch behind cats' ears to stroke against your cheek. Brew all the coffee. Brew strong coffee, the kind that makes you shudder. Find your hipflask, the hipflask you filled with cheap scotch and took to the party and forgot about somewhere in the giggles between vertical and horizontal behaviours. Choose a mug that pleases you. Make it a large mug with a thick handle and a broad lip to rest your mouth upon. Fill it with 4 parts coffee to 2 parts whisky to 1 part honey. Return to bed. Pretend your bed is a slow ship sailing through all kinds of make-believe oceans. Pretend you are beset by pirates and crows. Drink the coffee. Cough lumps of brown phlegm into all your tissues and scatter the bed ship with crumpled white clouds, some kind of sky beneath you--imagine your bed can fly. Choose books that you have read at least four times or those that have at least seven sex scenes. Feel sorry for yourself. Keep spitting. Read old emails from lovers who are distant enough to make you grin. Compose imaginary missives saying "I love you stop I always loved you stop Let's make a blanket fort makeout post behind the bang bang mountain". Make a blanket fort. Hide inside the blanket fort from the detritus of your life. Realize that, in fact, your life is not in detritus--realize that your life is, in fact, full of sweet candy opportunities like scattered shards of mother of pearl. Play pretend anyway. Recall the bed jacket she gave you and dress yourself in padded glamour and long for a gold bell with a bright tinkle to summon all the things your heart desires. Turn off the internet. Turn on the trash. Write daydrunk words with a woozy honeyed head. More coffee whisky. Cheese toasties. Believe in mustard as a cure for all the things that may ail you. Surely anything that makes your tongue tingle will salvage 90% of your wayward health. When you still don't feel better, pretend you are Balzac swooning with consumption. Bring a hand-held mirror to your face and blink your eyes wide; look aghast and ashen in your pallid cheeks; sigh. Declare today an island in the midst of all the waters of living, or a pond in the midst of all the sandshores of life. Wallow as long and as loud as you feel fit. Keep ringing the imaginary golden bell and wait for something to show up and wipe the afternoon's dirt from your boots. Keep drawing the barricades and stay safe, stay warm, inside. Give yourself to the soft sweetness of illness or fight it like bears. Do you really want to fight bears? They will maul you, my sweet; they will rip your skin from your bones. Play dead, my sweet. Lie still, and wait for the bears to leave. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


The mortice-eyed witch wanted to save that boy, the boy with the ink stains on the backs of his thumbs. She had turned so many locks just to hear the thud of the snib, just to step through a door into another castle, and she watched him sit in his garret playing with unravelling strings, and there was nothing she could understand.

The witch had potions and unctions and runes; she believed in catoptromancy. There were hung curtains between dimensions that, catlike, it was possible to slip beneath. There were sash windows on the seventh floor that could slide upwards for the leap.

But the boy thought the future was a tossed ball of string that must be followed and found, and he walked behind it.

She scattered the trails from his path with juniper berries and satin pin cushions and handfulls of gems. She whispered filthy witch words in his ears: incantations. When music played, she tapped a Morse code of fleeing beneath it: darling, won't you .-.././.-/.--. ?

The boy continued down his own tunnel, feet sticking in the heady gloop of should.

This witch was not yet ripe with confession and had not yet learned the language of her need. There were feral cats mewling inside of her and a deep, dark well with a tiny voice at the bottom. The voice in the well said "stop dropping those worn metal coins" said "where is your own rope?" said "I'm going to start sinking if you don't let me climb".  The witch drank elastic green potions and stained her teeth and hiccuped and giggled more than witches ever should.

It was easy to silence the voice with projects and she had oh so many projects, so many castle doors, so many boys, so many strange scarlet pains, so many promises. Gathered them all up in a fat red sack and carried them to all of her wells at once and upended the sack and everything--yes!--comes tumbling down.

If she could say just one thing to the boy it should have been: come with me, motherfucker. You don't need me to save you, you have never needed me to help you escape. Need is a word built of hollow sticks and hit donkeys. Need is a tongue stuck behind its own teeth.

If she could say just one thing it should have been: I want you. I want you to come with me; I want you to take my hand and drag me hapless and helpless behind you. I want to tie both of us up in your own ends of thread. I want to bite you. I want to be with you. I want you to want me the most.

The problem with spells is that after you have cast them, it is impossible to know whether the swoon is from the sweetness or the sorcery. The trouble with incantation is that it is one thing to bewitch but another to step outside with all your skin on the outside and ask someone to like you, please. The problem with this is that everything gets so tangled and you start to rely on winking and it is easy to decide that you don't have to put yourself out there. A witch can trick you into thinking you've never seen her cry.

Monday, 11 November 2013

It's fine

She stands in the kitchen and says it is fine, it’s all fine. And no matter who in the world thinks her a fool (because, make no mistake, the girl is a fool, with cherries beneath her tongue and all the trouble in the universe tucked behind her ears), she is right. Everything is. All the things that happened are on a plane so distant that her ears are no longer strong enough to catch their sound. The things that happened can communicate only by smoke signal now, and their small purple flames haven’t the heat to scar her skin.

She stands in the kitchen and she is drunk and speeding with this revelation. She wants to careen off the walls telling them it’s fine (whap/bam) it’s fine (crash/doosh) it’s fine (bang/wallop). Instead, she picks the one who needs to hear it. She would like to talk quickly and tell him everything: about the city hall, about girls, about the thumbprint bruises on the inside of her wrists, but she doesn’t know how they got there, any of them.

The girl wants to scrabble her paws up and down his arms like ferrets. She wants to be lying back in a bubblebath with her legs in the air, kicking furiously and turning the air to a soapy snowstorm. She wants wrestling and tickling and biting: the silliest of human contact. She wants to go back years, to a point before seriousness, when everything was turquoise potential and the holy goof. She doesn’t want to go anywhere because every moment made her this.

In another city, her life reclines like a fat tabby, purring and licking its feet. There is the real world, the serious real world, the world of storytelling and cellos and champagne. The world of afternoon escapism and so much skin behind doors. Here is not her real life; here is a holiday on a boat where she can swoop and play, then flee before the hour of other pumpkins, before the sun is high in the sky.

In this city, she is standing in the kitchen and she tells him it’s fine and suddenly everything is. All the half-filled sacks of grain she has been hefting around for years thud and spill on the floor. Everything is so light and lovely that for a moment she almost wants to fall in love with him all over again, just to get to this point. Almost. Just to stir the universe’s soup.

But this time round she is smarter and sillier all at once, so she presses her thumbs on his wrists and promises him all the things she has no right to promise. It’s going to get easier, you have no idea, it’s going to get so good you will barely be able to breathe. She is laughing. It’s all fine, she says. She isn’t laughing at him. Mainly, she is laughing at herself.

Friday, 8 November 2013


In the depths of the clouds, there is a castle full of goats and wishbones. The goats wear mayoral ribbons pinned to their chests and proclaim every second Saturday the day of oranges. The goats sit at long wooden tables that sail through the clouds like viking ships, adorned with crests and proud ribboning flags. They feast upon tangerines and mandarins and satsumas, on clementines and blutorange; the goats sink their sharp pointed teeth through the dimpled skin and close their square eyes in bliss.

What are the goats thinking? What thoughts buff and cloud in their minds as they sit across from one another, chewing? I will tell you: the goats are thinking about wishes. They are dreaming of the ways they will get all of the things that they want. Their thick, curdled goat brains are full of cowgirls and painted red fences. Sacks woven from shimmering turquoise thread and filled to the brim with fruit. Also, they are thinking about food. The goats may spend their hours indulging in all kind of sweet feral frolics--the goats may be busy--but when it comes down to it, the goats are preoccupied with feasts.

It is a different kind of life, high in the clouds, looking down on mortals. The goats never intended to live forever, but we're not always in control of the way things turn out, you know? Somewhere in the vast chasm between intention and action, a proud man tripped on his shoelaces and ended up on his face. That is a goat proverb. Here is another: Beware the direction of the peel.

Since they began to live forever as keepers of immortality and kings of the clouds, the goats have been pretty quiet about what goes on. I cannot blame them. We have all heard what happened when Prometheus nicked the fire for mankind, we know the wrath handed to Loki for all his murk and mischief. At the point of dabbling between realms where the creeping vines of fruit trees form a soft, sweet tunnel, things are precarious. Buckets of water are balanced on wobbling stones. The air smells like citrus. The goats keep mum.

Here is what I can tell you: Once upon a time, all the animals lived together equally on the green grass of the earth. They did not question the fact that below them was fire rumbling like bellies, that above them there were pillows in the clouds. The animals were content with the soil, but there was one goat who was bored. This is how things happen, when it all comes down to it: there was a creature, the creature was bored. The creature tried something new, just because they day is so long and so vast and so full of minutes. Because it is almost unbearable--this--the sand ticking down.

A man leaps up and over heaven, pinching a single flame. A god asks a man to kill his son, just because he can. An eagle pecks a liver. The sun continues to spin.

And the goats--this goat, the bored goat, our hero of this tale--decide that something must be asked of the universe. The goat kills a chicken just because he is bored. Sinks his sharp pointed teeth into feathers, shakes his head from side to side, lets the blood spurt from its neck. The blood spatters onto the sand. The white feathers tickle crimson. Look at the goat's face: his moustache is soaked with clots and sinews. Look into the goat's eyes: fall deep into those slits, shirk from the squareness. You will never win a staring contest with a goat. You may try, but you will always end up disgusted. You will be forced to look away. They say that any woman who could hold the gaze of a goat for an hour had to be a witch. They would try to kill her, but by then it would be too late.

So the goat kills the chicken, just because; the goat rips the carcass in pieces and casts it on the floor. Amongst the detritus of life, there is a forked bone. The goat stares at the bone without blinking for what seems like a very long time. The goat makes a wish...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


The boy with the anarchist tattoo says “You do decadence well” and I agree, the other boy agrees; we draw up a deed poll for our senate proclaiming “Jane wins at life.”

We three are lying on my penthouse floor in a fugue of red light, smoke, champagne spills and drying sweat, and I can barely remember how to breathe.

There is so much skin covering the corners of my body and these patchwork bruises are waved surrender flags giving up on ownership, saying hey goddamit take whatever it is you please.

We toast everything: this evening, this view, this birthday. We mainly toast ourselves.

I try to recline like Botticelli but my face is plastered with the renaissance of this grin and instead I start giggling.

It is way too late for cool. I am way too fun for dignity. Everything is way too much or exactly the right amount. I have no idea which way to turn.

Monday, 28 October 2013

What they said

They say I want doesn’t get because they are idiots who never knew how to say please to the universe. I am learning so many contrary lessons. I am living in Berlin listening to the Cabaret soundtrack, requesting all the things I would like brought to my boudoir. I am full of want and I deserve everything I get.

Ah these months, these broken champagne flutes—did I mention it is almost my birthday? Did I mention I can’t swipe this stupid fucking grin off my face?

Think for a moment of the things you are most terrified to put into words, because just maybe if you did you would discover that yours is not an eternal corridor petalled with roses. Just maybe the bastards in charge would say no.

Now open your fucking lungs, mein Herr, meine Dame. Stop hiding beneath your patchwork quilts, all worked over with purple thread. Stop believing in cracks.

There is nothing wrong with being a freak and a fruit with small scrabbled hands. There is nothing wrong with you. You need to stand on those perched heels and open your mouth. You need to let them stuff the entire universe inside.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Character sketches

The boy with no hair has the sharpest of teeth. We roll in sugar dust & popcorn husks, trying to pull each others’ pigtails. I am left with a fistful of grins.

The boy with the gelatine vowels tells me I am so goddamn sweet when he smacks my face on the hardwood floor. My bruises are strings of unbinary code; they carry letters and laughter through my skin.

The girl with the candied orange peel voice rustles, badger-like in the undergrowth. I shout “I love you” and push her in the waterfall (there is tinfoil glinting in her hair).

The boy with the tiger stripes is going out and smooshing his softness against dark city corners. The night is a giggling beast with a velvet tongue, and I want to gallop in pony hooves by his side.

The girl with the magical fists has promised me a date. She is tea and whisky and blanket forts—we are cosy—and November is a month with jaws.

The boy with the Irish filth mouth is crackled stubble behind a candelit fire. We slide down giant metal slides into pits of sand (we slide down silk) and everything is gritty for days.

The boy with the cartoon fingers makes me egg burritos for breakfast, makes grapefruit salsa, hands me a vanity mirror pasted with vintage smut and says look at all the things you have done.

The girl who reeks of smoke and bath salts is so far away and sporadic. I want to bring her rope ladders and books with folded corners (I want to tell her it is all going to be fine).

We are sitting in the anarchist bar puddling beer on the tabletop and I am laughing, because we three are new stories, we are poetry, we are longform novels telling the secrets of the universe. A message from the tiger boy says “it’s utterly astounding” and I know it. I have to agree. I want to explain to the others that being left alone is nothing like you thought it would be, that the air up here is so thin and so sharp—it makes me giddy. I want to explain how you can feel it all the way down your throat, how you will taste sherbet and flying saucers, the way your teeth will vibrate. I want, I want. I want everything and it all.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Queer 4!

I'm super-honoured to be in PANK's Queer Issue, burbling about girls with tails.

Also, read Kima Jones's Editor's Note, she has smart things to say.

"Part of queering literature is queering the lens with which we look at words."


Tuesday, 15 October 2013


So distracted of late. So many things to do. I feel the tug of writing about to start again this week, but in the meantime enjoy this: the National Anthem of Balconia.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


For my birthday this year we will be mainly playing Tischtennis.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


by Oh Comely magazine, in case you were wondering about all the things that go on in my head.

So what else do you want?

We are sitting in the bar and she asks me, "So what else do you want?" and I laugh, because it has been a long time since anyone said that, a long time since someone asked as if things were easy spread gems across the runways of life's video games, as if we could choose our path to pick them. I laugh because in six months everything has changed so much I barely recognise my grin in the mirror.

What else do you want?

I just want his hands to stop shaking, for a moment, to breathe.
I just want to get through the next five hours until sleep comes like bird wings and we are sunk under feathers.
I just want to drink this.
A moment to wail and gnash my teeth for all my things that are broken; just a moment to mourn my life instead of supergluing the shards of his
I want you to feed me gin the way you always do and sing me juniper-soaked lullabies about the highest shelf
I want to believe I can pay my way, I need money to fall on me like stop-gap animations of snow
I need to get laid oh holy shit I need to get laid
I need a holiday in a country where the sun never sets and the lakes are vanity mirrors for the smugness of the sky
I need friends who will drop everything when I panic in the bathtub to bring me cedarwood and blutorange and smudge the corners all with sage
And, oh,
I want
I want to flail 5.a.m to drag queens and rock&roll filth
I want to rip my clothes off and smudge these purple glitter-vaseline eyes, leap into that swimming pool, and bob
I want you to slap me holy-ow-shit hard
I want two-feet-take-offs in skates, landing on my feet or my face
Hairpulls and highhats and headstands
Fables in the kitchens, cigarettes
Stories in magazines
Cellos on stages
Teeth in skin
A moment to sit and inhale between the torrents of life and take stock of what just happened
What just happened?

It is the last day of September and we are sitting in the bar and she asks me, "So what else do you want?"' and I look at the week ahead of me and laugh because I am fucking ready for October, I am ready for feral undergrowth, I am ready to be a grownup, I am already there.

I once watched a projection on old rat-a-clack film of a typewriter being slowly, infinitesimally, covered in falling snow. Crouched by the gallery wall, we were so close to the typewriter; the keys were huge. I luxuriated in the curves of g. I watched the bars pile up with sharp white walls. The typewriter was smooth black plastic with the first feathers of snow on its bulk. The typewriter keys were cutouts and tutorials in space. The snow fell and built up tiny-huge typewriter drifts. The black disappeared. The angles disappeared. The holes between the keys became soft, sweet slalom runs, winking in the sunshine. It happened so smoothly. It was impossible to say when this thing became something else, something smothered; I could not have pointed to a moment and told the typewriter to run.

It is the first day of October and all the muscles in my body are screaming curses in Mexican because I never learned how to let them get warm--I either sit and do nothing or I leap and I run. It is the first frosts and time for thinking about saunas, a swaddle of green glass warmth round my body, pricked shards of the cold of the snow. I felt bad for a while because I tried to make everything different, I tried to stop time, I tried to clear the falling snow with my hands. Everything happened so slowly that I did not know how to stop it. Everything fell so quickly that when I tried to fix it, I was just flinging dominoes at a racecourse track, begging them to stand.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

5 minute freewrite

If you do not open this valve every so often then there is a chance you will start growing so tense that the dinosaurs will take over with their feathers. There is a chance you will explore. I would like to be able to writhe and rhyme—all your subtitles and tense phlegm makes my mouth taste surly. Take off your top. Take off mine. I would like to talk about being a gothic cathedral against the annals of time, I would like another cigarette, a sip of the beer. Now the judge says shut up to the prosecutor and sends a wink to the stenograph son. That is a cute boy at the table, that is a nice typewriter that says rat-a-tat-a-tat. I would press my ear to its sail horn, I would press my lips to his cock. Ah, I should be writing of filth and fairies. Ah, I should be more upright than you. It has been many days since I last did nothing but nothing is a bile in the mouth that sullies the ups and downs of the pirate ships, forever hung and hitched on its wrench. Do you have a clue what they speak of, the ghosts, the boys in the haunted house? I cannot believe how many thoughts can coexist in a brain but the only way you get to peek is to start talking quickly. I am a feral puppy dog with braids in my tail, I am wagging, I am forever a bitch on her knees. Come over here and let me taste you, come over here and I will take you like a shin. I will swallow you like oysters and spun spaghetti; I will bite your neck. The ads in casual encounters, I read the sign wrong, I thought it was causal encounters and I started to think of the physics of fucks. Would you like to play Newton to my brass band? Would you like to take me in your arms and pretend I am Einstein? They said he was smart but maybe sometimes he was also on his knees and begging for something. Maybe we are all fools and the thought of contact is faster than the speed of a thousand motorway lights. Be quiet. I am listening to my own hands tapping. I can barely see the screen now. I have written more than all of your monkeys and I am scared to stop.


The last time we walked this street the gutters were rampant with
flung shoes, aglitter with smashed glass, thick with the mucus of lungs.

You turned into an alleyway and turned over a card; you prayed pokerfaced
for no Jacks to break or besmirch us, no sharp objects, no guns.

But it was good—our hearts were beneath our tongues and they tasted
like engine soot, your skirt was rucked, all the needles and nitrous

could not puncture our skin. This city was a spider’s web of bluebottles
half-decayed but somehow still abuzz; our feet were broken motherboards,

sending blue and violent sparks with our shoes. We were not broken.
This time the street is clean, you push a stroller by the boutique, I cannot

recognise the clack of your shoes. It is foolish to miss the city’s gangrene
but still. I peek down alleyways, hoping for a glimpse of the goods.


the door

it’s over

the windows, the sky
has spoiled

today is
tipped pitchers

drunken wasps
to the floor


the door

tread bare
foot on
summer’s corpses

gargle umber
gargle ochre

stay till dusk


the door

make a
flipbook of
fallen leaves

pages gathered
Gideon Bibles


the door

it’s warm here

to my skin, your skin
is toasty

we have
upon month

of teeth
below the sheets

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Something normal at last

The girl is not fashion, she
thinks too much
eschews the ampersands
eyelids are swollen.

The girls stores saltmines of hair,
pigeon mail to her lovers
a hawk, a seagull chanting
the girl chancing her mitt.

Halfway through the evening
a zeppelin falls
sparks of liquid helium
the goats all gone to hell.

Coatcheck cutouts, our
sunglasses are full
our worn out jeans
knees gone to gauze and gaudy.

The girl falls down a flight
of pelicans and lands
on bacon
something normal at last.

Trumpet solos.
Exploding sugar.
The encore.
Your own private apocalypse.

Your house, after the electricity is gone

No need for live wires, let’s haul
the generator to the living room floor

let it squat and grin with mean metal teeth,
feed it gasoline till it heaves. We have

no tabletops but mirror shards, dark
corners of the room refracting,

your face your face your face
on every surface, turn on

the strobe. Shred the roses he posted,
fling the petals like slideshows of storms.

In the garden, let’s paint a warning
B E W A R E  O F  T H E  G H O S T S

spring traps for giraffes and councilmen
—let’s tripwire the bins. It is just

six days since the electricity and
the phone is dead, the fridge,

the nectarines are sick swollen cheeks
gone to rot. You prance in arabesque

robes of hijacked curtains, laughing
from the stairs. Your house is the

aching cavity of an old tooth, and
we wait in the hollows for dares.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

breakfast drunk

we are liquid people
we are lying on the floor, trying to craft the day out of the ends of spider webs
we taste of elderberries and gin

the cars on the cobblestones make the whole flat shiver
the cuttings from the plants are taking root
the coffee the coffee the coffee

this an ode to drinking until the floor capsizes
this is nonsense
this is all I have to offer the world right now

quantum makeouts!
cowboys with quick leather boots!
you killed me first!

take out an insurance policy on dragonfly wings
and dream of wasps in your mouth
take me to the church

sometimes I forget I have a husband
and the whole world is foolish

sometimes I stay inside and photograph my bruises

sometimes I am on the floor
(I am on the floor now, and

my mouth is sandbanks and screws)
seven shades of topsy turvy

your mouth is mulch and chanterelles
you made me laugh

my afternoon is broken bears
my life, my day, my heart
is tipsy

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Spoilt Milk

That girl smells like spoilt milk. That girl listens to records that tell her, being born was your first big mistake. All the passwords that girl uses are cuss words against former lovers who have spurned her. All the messages that girl picks up from the shop are full of instant gratification. That girl stands in the kitchen and dinners on dried onion flakes and jarred anchovies. That girl uses dinner as a verb.

Look at that girl in her slacks and wet hair, trying to build a network from marker pens and day old wine. Look at that girl practicing rollerskating from the desk to the bathroom. Judge everything she does and never worry about your own first mistake.

Listen to music so loud it's impossible to hear the clack of the keys you are typing. Forget about sounds, listen to the beat of your heart and your drum. Look up cigarettes in the Dewey Decimal System. Put the record lid down to protect against dust. Take a month off writing, your fingers will be there when you return. Never stop this, your words are worth more than anything, your imagination is firmer than the beat of your own heart.

Taking advice and scrunching advice into a spit-stained ball.

Saying yes to all the dates.

If your flat is built of windows, like a greenhouse, are you ever allowed to throw the first stone? Are you allowed to walk around in a bra doing fauxyoga stretches while clutching a bottle of champagne in one hand and turquoise nail polish in the other? Will the neighbours notice; will the neighbours complain? Do you need me to answer any of these?

By this girl's desk is a list of hieroglyphics that promise she can communicate by means of snakes and fists and stacked knifes. Or daggers. I am sure none of believe that cutlery is suitably ancient.

I was supposed to give up on the dull and give this heart fully to words and mysteries and the inky sweet void.  I asked the i-ching and the i-ching said as soon as I stopped worrying, all the opportunities would fall into my hands.

But who can place their destiny in the hands of wheat? Who can count sticks and take it as gospel? Only the smart, I reckon; possibly not me.

The speakers are all gone to fuss and crackle. The kitchen is avast with fruit flies. The bedroom floor is slippery with cast-aside polyester frocks. Am I happy, you ask, and the answer is yes, probably. I am feeling the inhale and exhale of the universe more and more.

The only thing I don't understand is why it is so hard to remember to take time every day and sit and spew like this. Or the only thing I don't understand is everything.

They told the girl that she would never make anything of herself giving it away for free. They told the girl she should edit everything she put into the world. Her words, her pitch, her face, her attitude. They told her to hold out for the good stuff but the girl was so spellbound by the prospect of anything that she moved her fingers and laughed and started anyway, saying, there will always be tomorrow. There will always be more.

Or even if there isn't, what do you get by holding it all to your chest in the depths of a black soot pit? I would sooner be taken advantage of brutally and without mercy and be left with fingerprint bruises than be bored. I would sooner have every idea stolen than let every idea wither. Ah, tugs on the hair and tugs on the heart, I want to be so many boats coming in and out of the harbour at once.

I want to be everything.

Such as: a red-faced spider monkey, a glass of autumn's first mead, Clara Bow, seventeen pomegranate seeds stored in a virgin's moist cheek, your sister, a chest about to be thrown over the side of a sinking ship (so full of treasure), a filthybroken degenerate, clothesline tied on things, hieroglyphics, a legend, Lorna Garman, the electric forces inside a neon tube, the crackle on a record player, gin fizz, a kiss, myself.

I know, I know, none of this is anything and all of this is nonsense. I am distracted. I smell of spoilt milk, even after the shower, I can taste the degeneracy of sweated slapped evenings on my thighs. Still, there are fishermen who hang a dozen trout on a line and stop to build a soft autumn fire with the ashes of their summer. There are days ahead of us that will be full of beached whales.

Three days into September and I have no idea what the hell is happening, but I am happy to hitch this horse and wait.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

lovely nonsense

addicted to the internet
addict for validation and cat tongues
all the pictures keep on falling off my walls
I am so done with the smell of cigarettes
I would like to be dropped like a glass
I would like to be crashed into like a sheet of glass
carried across the road
carried across a motorway bridge
all the streets are ripe with broken fridges
it is 2013 and there are no horses left
we have forgotten the smell of spurs
it is 2013 and I bought a new set of envelopes
I promised everyone in my pocketbook a letter
but all the news is five days old
—five months old—
these post offices are foreign
how are any of us supposed to be sugarcoated?
clutching beakers and tripping on bumblebee fuzz
how are any of us getting through?
proud as all the captain’s prows / I have
more faith in your ukulele string
than seventeen scripted missives
from countries who have yet to stake their flags
all these evenings are drenched in lou reed and
all these days are parched
addicted to this age / as if
medieval chanting was another door
in the labyrinth / as if
we were offered jodhpurs or saints
I will take everything I am given
I will click
it is 2013 and we are doing better than the Iceni
I would sack London for any of you
you people who smell of salt and vinegar
you people who bring me crisps

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Sometimes I like to hang out in my flat in my underwear and lie on my back in the middle of the floor with claws and feet in the air, pretending to be a cat while listening to Yoko Ono at full volume.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Things in magazines

I have a piece of flash fiction in the wonderful Lascaux Review which should make you feel giddy and hyper and full of summer dreaming.

Ladies, gents, let's do this. I want all the fleeing and convertibles and sticky summer thighs.

I'm also in the new Thrice Fiction Magazine! Yum, they have done such delicious things with fonts and artwork.

Read about all the kinds of life lessons we can learn from the beasts of the sea...

Thursday, 22 August 2013

one more dream

I dreamed that you and I were escaping the apocalypse. It was lovely. I mean, the terror was there, the water was rising, but we were having so much fun.

You were draping rainbow-dyed wool around your shoulders, around the fuzz of your soft shaved head. You kept hugging me from behind. We were watching ships made of matchsticks crack and crumple on the waves of the heaving sea. We knew that these waves were getting closer—we could see it in the breath of the ocean—but I was transfixed by our loveliness and couldn’t find the will to flee.

Things had gone beyond seediness. We had slept together, or been kissing behind a rock, or shared some delicious secret—I could tell—but whatever that was was less important than this moment: your grin. My grin. Getting away with the universe. The colours of the rainbow-dyed wool were so bright, brighter against the matchbook ocean, against the shore. We were happy to be here.

Eventually, the screams of the people dashed on the rocks drowned out our whispers and we reluctantly gathered ourselves to leave.

I was slow at escaping the apocalypse. I kept getting hit by waves.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Recently, Ryan Van Winkle asked me to collaborate on a poem with him for his monthly Commiserate series.

Ryan has a book out with Salt, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, and has been published in the American Poetry Review and actually makes a living out of being a poet. He is kind of a big deal. He also sometimes feeds me port and makes me play fuck / marry / kill about all of our friends. I like him a lot.

This was some of the most poetry fun I've had in ages and now I want to collaborate with everyone.

Read it here.



The fist in her hair is all the small knives, just below the surface. She is sinking. She is dropping into water while a thousand bubbles explode across her skin. Her scalp. The small knives dig deeper. She is pulled across the room.

The way blood rushes: in heaves. In tidal forces. All of it and then none of it at once. She can feel the blood rushing across her skin, her scalp. She would put her hands out to stop her falling but her hands are behind her, her wrists are bound.

The girl is a marionette held up by hair and scalps and knives. The girl is kneeling on the floor. There is a thumb pressed into the print of her throat, pressed tight to the curve beneath the bone of jaw. There are fingers wrapped like rope around her breath.

Opposing forces. The girl is pulled in one direction by knives. The girl is pulled in the other by rope. She is trapped in a moment, teetering on the cusp of the cliff. She is trying to draw breath from the air in another room.

Stop. Look at this moment. Try to find something perfect in the balance. Try to picture yourself in the taut silver string.

Saturday, 10 August 2013


I wake to the sound of wasps. I wake to the sound of a dog's nails on a tiled bathroom floor. I wake to the sound of thunder.

All my dreams were of women. In my dreams, I was pulling sunflower seeds from flower heads and testing them between my teeth like pearls. All the women in my dreams were on trains.

I wake and across the road there is a man with all his windows open singing gloriously out-of-tune pop songs, loud and unashamed. It is 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning and the hour for karaoke is past. I raise a mug of coffee to you, Captain Pop Song; I am delighted you are unencumbered by modesty. It is the responsibility of the tuneless to tell the rest of the world it is all--all of this--fine.

Sometimes we are all just colourblind children, turning the rubix cube in our hand and trying to figure which side is the same. Decide you know nothing or decide that from your eyes it is all perfectly right.

I wake to the smell of coffee and I pour myself a cup and wander out onto the balcony, ragged dog nails clicking on the cold tiled floor. Place a cliché beneath my tongue and let it dissolve into my bloodstream.

Every time is the first of the rest of my life. Every last one of them. There are no wolves to judge us. No sentries to stop us from starting again.

Thursday, 8 August 2013


I am giddy as kittens
snorting at screens

giddy as kittens
on roundabouts
barfing into
tiny paper airplanes

all of this is foolish
all of this is as expected  
as sunspots

all my syntax is
gone to Swedish

all my backbreakers
are snapping

hej, write me back
a screed of interrobang
and quesclamations

wire me confetti
wrapped in pantylace

I am drunk on a hand
on the throat / I am

giddy and ready
to be shot
with my very
own gun

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Filthy Hot

It's filthy hot.

We're too limp and liquid to move; we try to start sentences but the end of the sentence is so far a hike that
already we drop to our knees in the desert,
already we,
you know what I mean...

I love it.

I have been lying on the balcony listening to the wasps chewing untreated patches of wood from the walls.

I lie around and rub my fingers in my armpits and enjoy the sweet fetid stench.

I am pretty gross.

But there is something restorative about all of this. Letting the rankness ooze out and into the mattress cushion I've dragged out here, a cushion that now smells of meat gone sour and tacky, of honeysuckle fallen in the canal and left to rot.

I am probably not fit for company.

Imagining myself as some kind of seabird who got drenched in oil. I have been cleaned up gently and soapily with soft, sure hands and all that is left is for me to sit here in this sunbeam and allow myself to be restored. This is not an arduous task: the worst is behind us. But I am allowed to be slow, to drag these sentences, to laze, to be cured, to heal.

I am practicing grinning at strangers again.

Not for any particular gains; just for the joy of it. I am sailing past on my bicycle, grossly, with my meat sweat and a skirt flying up over amber-studded, mosquito-ridden thighs, and I am noticing the beautiful people (oh, Berlin) and I am grinning. Most often, they grin back and we look at each other and toast Hah-hah, we are getting away with the universe! and I cycle on and come home to this laptop, to this balcony, to the cushion and its stench.

I am proving that opportunities are everywhere.

It isn't difficult: you just have to start saying yes. I have been saying yes to all the things and each one, when you step into it, is dazzling, the way Wikipedia is dazzling on a hungover Sunday--so many blue links and each one a portal to so many others!--but I am not talking about the internet anymore, I am not talking of blue links, I am talking of people and perhaps of the world.

It's filthy hot.

But I'm getting into the habit of saying things again (it's now three fucking mornings, I'm glorious).

New routines. New practices. New people. All the same old filth.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dream baby dream

Last night I dreamt my agent saw me on German television and came here to lie with me in a swimming pool and talk about stories. Her presence attracted the flamingoes, but when I told her I was terrified of large birds she shooed them all away. She kept moving behind me in the pool. Televisions flickering with pictures of me in a green and navy polyester dress and the birds necks hanging in the water like bunting ribbons.


I need to finish some more stories. I am aware of this. Fuck the working week. Hello notebooks. Hej där! following these paths down as deep as they go. Aloha! a patch of grass by a lake under these 34º summer clouds. Dobrodošli! some time in my brain for these words. 

I know I am crafting my own life out of the felt of the universe.
I know I have no more excuses for not getting things done.

But but but. Friends visiting to feast with. Soft weekend skin to feast upon. All of our crises raining down at once.

I need to remind myself that there's never going to come that day where everything is sorted, so I might as well get started.

This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don't want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don't wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It'll never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.
- Natalie Goldberg

I know. I get it. Why are we so bad at remembering?

I am reading metaphors into everything: an aubergine recipe, my bathroom cleaning technique, last night's weather, those sunflowers.

I am listening to pre-1980 Queen music and nursing a HOT-DAMN crush on Freddie Mercury circa-Crazy Little Thing Called Love. (Seriously. I just. Wha.)

I am doing a yoga routine every fucking morning. There have been two mornings so far. I cannot help but feel foolish about my tendency to believe wholeheartedly in the transformative power of new routines and my ability to stick to them.

You know?

I am also forever starting new notebooks with the promise that this will be the right one, the one I will carry everywhere, the one I will write in every day, the one that will come with me, the one that will only be for creative words, never for shopping lists. I am convinced that one day I will buy the right notebook and become this person.

I am a fool. Whatever. I have very few problems with this label.

Some recent story obsessions: an old library after the apocalypse. A funfair haunted house lit up entirely in blue. Lightning storms. The idea that stories literally create the physicality of the universe. The sound of wasps chewing untreated wood. Hurdy-gurdies. The symbolism we place in crocodiles.

It's time to stop writing around the words and get up close, face to face. To look these stories in the eye. To walk up to them in the field and not worry if they've invited my presence, if it's awkward, if they're not quite ready to be my friend. Cześć. I need to tell them to come inside.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


There has been some healing needed of late for me and my best friend and tonight the thunder and lightning finally came, having been waiting for a long time, since the day I came to the airport and the whole sky exploded around us in purple and jagged rictures of light, as if it was saying, This is the beginning of something else for you and you need to be afraid. But also: oh my God, it is so fucking beautiful, this new and terrifying thing. You have no idea to what extent the world is about to split apart but it is going to and if you are prepared this is the backdrop to your new reality: a sky lit up with pure electricity, a force so powerful it could set the entire world on fire.

Today it came back. It has been a while and things have not been easy but this is the way when the sky splits apart: it is not easy. We stripped down to swimsuits and underwear and stood on the balcony as everything ripped apart around us and we watched the lightning and ducked the thunder and raised our glasses over our heads. At moments I was struck somewhere deep inside me with the feeling that if I just lifted my glass higher, it would catch a bolt and I would be electrified from the cheers to the toes. This was not an idle fancy: my balcony is on the top floor of the tallest house and we were under the storm and the rain thrashed down on us and the lightning wasn’t a distant and idle tickle of the heavens—it was all around us, to the left and right and burning up the TV tower with its throaty metal show.

When we were too wet and too cold to stand yelling any longer, we pulled ourselves inside and sat on the kitchen counter, watching the sparks fly out another window, because the storm was above us and this flat is an attic flat and the beauty of the storm is that it can be all above you and everywhere all at once. We watched the storm be everywhere and all about us all at once. When I tried to focus on the kitchen wallpaper—the red and orange poppies—my eyes were tricked by the lightning and it seemed to weft and warp in three dimensions. My skin was red and tingling, vibrating with the coldness of the thick fat drums of rain, but I wrapped a towel around me and sat curled atop the counter, hugging my knees. I wanted to sit until the storm passed, staring out this kitchen window, but I also wanted to write this moment before it slipped out and was lost, so here I am.

The rain has just slowed and I know the storm is heading somewhere else now; I know that people are sitting inside another flat looking out their windows and thinking about Zeus. I hope they are feeling majestic. I hope in another balcony, south of where we are sitting, there are people about to leap outside and stand in a monsoon created from electricity and sandpaper. I hope they raise their own glasses and whoop from a place deep in their throats, feeling that the universe is about to open up for them. I hope they understand that there is something better in life and the only way that you can ever get it is by stopping being afraid of getting wet or getting struck by lightning. The only way you can get it is by going out to yell.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


I just found that my poem, Baking Bread*, won the Ideas Tap Editor's Brief and I will be spending £250 prize money on fine cheese and champagne!

You can read it here.

* Yes, it does seem to be that I like writing about kneading dough very much and that whenever I do, I am infinitely more successful than any other topic. Probably I should just give up all this other nonsense and become a reader in residence at a bakery.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Beginning

You keep asking me how the world began so sit around, sit by my side and I will start the long process of Tell.

The world began with a tornado. That was the first thing: the spin.

Somehow there was nothing but nothing wanted to be slightly over there in a world that was all just space in different directions and fortunately the nothing that was there wanted to be in the nowhere of the other nothing, so that happened. The nothing began to move.

Slowly at first, circularly, because in the beginning there was no place for corners. The nothing became a small spin, a tiny rotation, a prehistoric vortex at the time before stuff.

And it is quiet in the nothing, in the space, but it does move, it whips around like the gathering noose of a lasso, it rotates. If there was sand, it would draw circles in the sand.

But of course, the thing about spinning is that it cannot stay the same. Spinning gets faster. Spinning goes whee. Spinning is the hands of a clock trying to get ahead of time and even if it doesn't quite succeed, it gets so very excited trying.

So after the tornado gets going, the snap of the whip hits the nothing of real pure air. Don't you know that friction can cause the smallest spark? Don't you know that fire can be made out of nothing? Don't you know that heat comes from the spin and where there is heat, there is the chance for creation, don't you know that that is the way of the gods?

A snap and a crack and a fire is burning beneath the tongue of a dragon, because after the tornado and the fire, there had to be dragons. There had to be creatures in the sand.

Here is a long straight view out over the forever-endless and all that dots the wind is tornadoes like whirpools of the sky, ashing and shooting out lazers of dirt. All that dots the wind is the smoke over forever-burning flames. All that flies in this air is dragons.

I am not allergic to their scales, and I exist yet only in the mythologies that are typed backwards on the skins of their forebearers, and we are so far before cavewalls that I, who am only made of stories, have very little left to say.

I am talking round in circles, heading into and out of the subject, because it is hard to tie together the threads of a shared history that exists only in the tales of mythological creatures that we no longer quite believe in.

I have written the histories of a thousand civilisations and it all comes back to this: The beginning is a foolish place, quieter and less explicable and somehow wilder too. The beginning is a thing we don't have to trust but we do have to acknowledge. The beginning doesn't make sense in our own mouths because the beginning is a place of contradictions, wild and headbucked, wanderlust and witchety.

Of course there are stupid stories, of course there are contralogical dragons, of course, I whisper, of course.

What else is the universe if not changing?

There is a different world and I am not yet in it and it makes no sense that I am the scribe because in the beginning I had no hands to write with. In the beginning, I was not yet a woman...


Monday, 8 July 2013


Tonight I am in my apartment drinking gin and listening to music by all the insanely talented people I've been lucky enough to befriend // tour with // put on in my venues // make fires with in the woods // makeout with in the cities // dress up silly alongside and fall over around Edinburgh // book for festival stages // have happenings with // sit in a tiny office printing album covers for // throw feathers at // forever adore.

It is very sweaty and balmy and summertime and I am in my underwear. The balcony has red lights. The record player is loud.

I have just taken my cello out of its case for the first time in a while and, while I am confused about where my sequined hotpants ended up, I am excited about making noises again.

Things of late have been some heavy shit.

By that I mean: depression, mental breakdowns, tears, breakups, the end of good things, financial freakouts, shaky foundations, woe, oh, such woe.


If you can't afford your life, you might as well be living in a penthouse, playing at being a poet until the world works out.

If you can't stick at one job, you might as well be a writer and a cellist and a philosopher and a promoter and a drunkard and a lunatic and a terrible singer and a brewer and a venue manager and a lady who howls at the moon.

If you can't persuade a boy that it is better to twist like sunflowers, ever-towards the grin, you might as well hold out for yourself.

If you can't play in tune, you might as well play loudly.

You might as well sing like a doofus in your apartment. You might as well go out again. You might as well stop shaking the batea in the mud, you might as well break a window instead and grab your handful of gold.

This is my promise to myself for now. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Her Body Was a Map and an Axe

I told you my body was a map and an axe and that if you followed the paths, scrabbled into the woods, if you found the hollow beneath the boughs of the old oak, if you got down on your precious filthy knees and took your hands to the soil, if you bent over double and buried your arms to the elbows, if you dug, if you found the chest, if you pulled it out and unpacked the papers, then you would find something, I told you.
I told you.
But it was raining.
But the paths were worn down in the soil.
But you had just washed those jeans.
But you don't believe in pirates.
You don't believe in buried miracles.
You have never, ever, staked your life on a promised bag of shiny gold coins.

this may not sound like much

I'm not going to say that if you get the words right then everything else will follow. But. If you get the words down, then at least you will have footholds. Footholds may not sound like much but you come to realize what they are when you start looking for a ground and start falling. Falling may not sound so bad but this is coming from someone who has never broken their neck on the floor. Breaking your neck may not sound like the end, but it's hard to stare wistlessly into the distance when the bones made to support you are limping. Well, you ask, laughing and brushing the hair from your eyes, who ever needed to stare into the distance? Well, you say, I have no need of words or footholds or ground or gazes. You pick up a stuffed giraffe that has clearly been adored through the ages and rub its soft flannel cheek on your own. You pick up a cigarette butt and rest it on your bottom lip so it points at the moon, but the moon has yet to rise, so you just stand in the desert cursing your mother and the day you were born.

Everything keeps expiring. The milk the jobs the invitations the days. Everything is fickle and out of place. I am jumpy at the desk like the desk is a trampoline. Oh, I want to leap on a trampoline. I have never found anything in life as fun as arse over tits over head heels heart. Blindfold my eyes and make me write you a story about the moon and a turnpike and jumping jacks. Blindfold my heart. Let it be unable to see where it's going, try that out for a change. Let me be unable to walk. I am not averse to a sledgehammer to the knees, just as I am not averse to leaping into situations that gnaw at my cartilage and snap at my sinews. I will wait by the window for a breeze and when it comes I will strap these crepe paper wings to my back and try not to be surprised when it turns out they are ripped by a gust from the north.

It may look differently, you may see the bike grease on my knuckles and the fold in my brow and you may surmise that I am just a broken kettle waiting to whistle, getting hotter by the moment, quivering on the hob, somehow bereft of voices. It may look differently but that is because you are the kind of sailor who spent the afternoons in the crow's nest playing dot to dot with the picture books, because you never believed in augurs. I smile a crepe paper smile back into your eyes but the truth it that we need some kind of navigation if this ship is ever going to reach the shore. Aha, you say, as if this is all the stumbled knees you have been waiting for. Aha, but whoever spoke of reaching the shore, Ms Mermaid, who promised that land is better than sea? 

And I know you are right and it's nothing to do with mooring, it's nothing to do with aching not to be adrift. All the truth is and all the things I have are that I want to send a crow in a straight line and listen out for how many hours it takes for the cawing to stop. I want to tie rocks to the ankles of bears and fling them overboard. I want to be all the things every mother warned of. Snapping danger like gum beneath my tongue.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Melusine have a poem of mine up in their spring/summer edition. It's pretty sexy. Check it out.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Olentangy Review

I have a poem at the Olentangy Review. It uses the word "mandrake".

Friday, 26 April 2013

24. She Holds Her Breath

there is time, later,
to become a better swimmer

later, when she is not
on the bottom of the ocean

there will be time to learn knots:
sheep shank, clove hitch, studding sail

it's hard to fly a hundred kites
when you're playing tug of war

cliff's edge and crackers
and if you let go, he falls

it's not about gold medals yet
or a shiny gold cup

it's a high wire and holding
the breath against the wind

23. Skittish

skittish, I try to listen to a pop song
eyes swollen and out of season

I have no patience for pop songs
the geraniums are all still parched

skittish, impossible to settle here
the blue-tits plot a barricade

I am willing to let them all take over
ripe chirrups marvelled on the floor

let's befriend the birds and beg
happiness like ruffled feathers

I keep on waving mine for subplots
skittish, ever-reaching for the door

Monday, 22 April 2013

22. Clover

It was effortless.

He did not move
from where he sat, but
like a long giraffe
moving its nose
to water.

He said, “I am lucky.”

For six days, I scoured
that green Sahara
dizzy & cross-eyed with

I found nothing.

They say to find water
in the ocean
is effortless, but

in the desert
you get tricked
by the sand.

21. Ladybird

even now
through these
broken saucers
& hearts askew
ankles dragged
in mud
—through you—
even today
a ladybird
stutters across
a counter
& my heart
sits straighter
believing in
the warmth
of the sun

Sunday, 21 April 2013

20. Waiting

There is nothing I can do
but wait—trees will hiccup green

again from brown brittle throats,
waltzers will whirl and whoopee, and we

will remember the holy goof,
the guffaw.

I will wait out this, the dark
that crisps and curls,

burnt paper corners
in the embers of fire.

I have nothing but
holding out for happiness,

as sweet and as sharp as
the first asparagus spear.

Friday, 19 April 2013

19. Bitten

hungover &
not worth a damn

all I can think of
is the smell of
burnt corn
and the creak
of yellow

things between teeth
for biting
is a balloon
to a hatpin
I am smitten

moving beneath
the sheets and
marks in the skin

my new favourite photographer

hell yes, Pierpaolo Ferrari

everything about this

Thursday, 18 April 2013

18. Genie

Sometimes, I
am a genie
who got drunk
and smashed
the lamp.

I follow
children down
the street,
holding out
like lollipops.

No one seems
to turn, the
children don’t
my breezes.

and out of
wishes, I am
a genie, but
mainly I
am just
a fool.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

17. News

I have given up the news,
those opinions calcified like
ancient rock monoliths
built to lasso the sun.

For years, my eyes
paid penance.

Looked upon the worst
of this world's stories
until I too was a
solid wife of Lot.

I have quit all
that now.

There is still blood,
revolution, tax,
bile, the boats
of sailors sinking.

It did not change
a thing.

A chirruping blue-tit
reads the barcode
of the sky
and has worth.

More worth than
all of my watching.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

16. If you are going to be wise

if you are going to be wise
be foolish
seize the day
as decapitated chickens

take off
your safety locks
and let
the mariachi band burn

take off
your buttons
and have your coat
become cape

if you are going to be wise
be falling
feathers, or flying
barbecue ash

be lighter
than neon,
unknot like
greased threads

if you are going, go
places, even
places you
can not spell

a heavy conclusion
is not
the only
wisdom here.

15. Time

In ancient China
people did not measure time
with ticking-hand clocks.

A stick of incense
the length of some man's thigh bone
burned the day instead.

Hours pass in camphor,
patchouli, champa—the ghost
of time is sniffing.

Today is first spring
the air reeks of bumblebees
and I can smell time.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

14. Happy spring haiku

Balcony sunbeam
Computer screen is dazzled
Already, I quit

13.This is a stick up

Okay. This is a stick up.

This is me telling you to cut the crap, princess cowboy.

Take a hike up the long hill and survey the capsized fruitbowls of the land.

Take a walk.

I'm going to stick around and check out my kingdom and

feed the goats used love letters from stupid boys who thought they'd last forever.

Lazerdolts and bang bang fools.

I am channeling a tunnel from the top of my brain

to the hypocritical sky horse

and asking the clouds what thundering hooves they have for the day.

I am asking the sky.

My heart is a glowstick dropped in a waterfall and

all the while you are trying to learn surrealism from the psychic fish.

The snow is over, amigo. The sun is out.

Time to quit all this weaving and bedward mulch.

Wild optimism in the chest like mushrooms through asphalt.

Fields of wild garlic stinking up the soil.

Friday, 12 April 2013

12. Moment

The moment before
I tell you
is the softness of water
at the top of the waterfall—
as clear and spun
as molten sugar candy
trawled round a
cold metal stick.

11. Everything

I did something,
and that counts for nothing more than chickens.
Or tulips.
That counts for nothing more than a tiled room with patterns all over the walls,
than a girl who is sitting and staring at her face in a mirror,
wondering how it got to be so round.
You count for more than me.
You can.
You start counting whenever I sit up and it is motivation enough to keep sitting up,
to stand,
to pull myself from this bed and start to think about the day.
My heart is twenty different hearts at once all standing on the starting block,
ass cocked to the air,
waiting for the bang of the gun.
I tell myself that it matters which heart is the fastest,
which one makes it to the line first,
which breast breaks the ribbons
—but it does not.
There is nothing wrong with hearts in tandem,
just like there is nothing wrong with placing hope on a flower unfurling,
even though the bud has been closed for seventeen weeks,
even though the hospital room is wipe-clean antiseptic smell.
There's nothing wrong with antiseptic,
because infection is the dusty mother elephant who will stick around forever,
until her baby dies.
There is nothing wrong.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

10. Pigeon

Do you believe that rainbows
are made of
crocheted birdseed
planted in the sky 
to help pigeons transition
from crappy sky rat
to dappled grey angel?

God must prefer
those rumpled beasts,
cloud-pecking like
sewing machines,
than a thousand
ruffle-feathered doves
carping about this sky.

It turns out heaven doesn't have half
the gravity that makes flying a ball.

It turns out heaven's in space.

The doves are pissed to be
chosen swoopers
in a land that is nothing
but weightlessness,
pissed to see folks in the clouds.

The pigeons are busy
in heaven
eating kitkats and laughing
about pavements
in space.

9. Fensterln

I want a word
for the change
of light in spring.

The first light,
the belly flop,
so green and so gold.

In German,
there is a word
for climbing in a window

to fuck
without your parents
noticing, but

this spring is
an old, oveslept drunk,
too long in his sackcloth.

I want a word
for your bed
in the winter.

An underarm crook
word, a blanket fort

Sunday, 7 April 2013

7. Time travel

We waited out the darkness and today our reward for loyalty to the air is a trickle of hot dry sunbeam paw prints across the back of my neck, so I purr and I wriggle and adjust to the fur.

Belle and Sebastian on the headphones because nothing is so loud as music when there's no air between it and you: snare drum / ear drum, it's all the same.

Nothing in my skin crackles so much as the thought of legs that run like propeller wheels, like church clappers, like the hands of a clock set to accelerate, trying to count up to tricking the system.

My philosophy teacher wore a pocket watch and taught us how to build time machines, he said all we need is to get the big stick rolling until it reaches the speed of light. But better not, better not he said,

because if we're learned anything from Hollywood's henchmen
it's that the past is a gnarly hillock and you're bound to get tangled, you're bound to fuck it up.

More coffee please, coffee ratatating like a windup metal monkey with his proud red drum.

This year we will sit in the park with wicker whimsy, you'll pour me prosecco and my heart will be the wet red strawberry in the crook of the glass, bubbles swarming and shivering all over its skin.

Wouldn't you like to get away? they sang, and all the Saturdays of solitude said yes yes yes run.

Well, you can run all you like, but eventually the doors will all close, eventually the sun will emerge, eventually it all comes back to kicking a balloon in a circle, being told to keep it up,

realising you could spend all day staining your knees on the green gold grass, realising the balloon could go out with a pop or a long slow sigh, and neither one will destroy you.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

6. Space breakdown

Breaking down in space is not like
breaking down on the motorway
where the other cars continue to hurtle.

It is much, much slower.

We judder like a girl trying to tamp
down giggles in math class, we sink
like a cushion tossed in a lake.

The dials are flashing and sputtering
like neon peonies, the dashboard is Vegas,
but my pockets are all out of chips.

The spacecraft is rolling down a hill
with its arms hugging its shoulders,
daisies tearing into the sky like a shaken snowglobe,
grass stain elbows,
can this really be the endless black out there?
It looks so very, very green.

Soon we will careen into the big rock
and shatter it to shards, to the farthest end
of the cosmic pool table.

I hope the pieces get snagged
upon far off galaxy brambles.

I hope they light up lifetimes from now
as new constellations to bet on,

new horoscopes
for a distant world
date night and destiny.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

4. Do you?

Do you believe in roads and pennies and past lives
in magic carpets and genies
in the concept of a Holy Land
the prevalence of broken bottles
and the smell of the sun?

Do you believe that snow melts in springtime?
Do you believe in dinosaurs (I do)?

Do you believe that broken glass is the godson of gracious ladies,
that time turns like a screw driving into thick wood,
that even shavings could catch fire
if you stood before them with a magnifying glass
waiting for the sun to emerge from its home in the cloud?

Would you break a date with a guinea pig
before you'd tell the world the truth about your crotchety turd heart,
would you just cancel, straight up, like neon, flickering, fut?

It's so hard to watch the bulbs die
but nothing lasts forever,
not even the aftereffects of gold.

3. Holy Land

I would like to try on your destiny
like a cape, who doesn’t want
to try on a cape?

Who would say no—confess!—
to a retrograde holiday
in the Middle Age?

I still wake up from dreams of catapults
I still would storm a fort

Never mind the spill of boiling cauldron oil
don't fear the bubo’s ooze
or the dunking of heretics aligned with chaos

In your cape of destiny I can fly over
the rooftops the river the Styx

In your cape I can quit this Christendom

I can see all the way to the Holy Land
Burger starlets and letters down the hill

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

2. Matryoshka

Let me tell you a bedtime tale, Matryoshka,
About a planet where time is a lake.
The beings take air in their lungs, Matryoshka,
They understand what is at stake.

When life becomes too full of whim, Matryoshka,
They submerge themselves in the deep.
But to duck into time is a tease, Matryoshka,
You’re mulched into destiny’s creep.

Cause and effect are not fruit, Matryoshka,
To be carelessly picked from the hedge.
If time is a lake on this world, Matryoshka,
Then what is left after the dredge?

Inside you are lives yet unled, Matryoshka,
But each one is smaller than you.
We’re not what we once could have been, Matryoshka,
We are just the things that we do.

Monday, 1 April 2013

1. Where we are going, we don't need roads

Where we are going, we don’t need
roads, or storm shoes,
or oompah
bands to stomp
the cobbled morning streets,
dragging us from our slumber
with ripe mango trumpets.

We don’t need slumber,
quiche or cave walls,
not a single moment of
clutched coverlet
before the rev and rack
of the day.

Where we are going, we
believe resurrection is a two-part
joke played on sailors,
that crows are descended from dinosaurs,
and it must be spring,
because all the beasts are nesting.

Where we are going, we are
hot meat and cha cha.

We don’t need alarm clocks
or beep-beeps or adaptors so wake
me when we get where we are
going, when the road runs out,
at the last of the bassoon.

Or before that, wake me faster,
let the screams hurtle down.
Hit the horn with the flat of your palm.

Monday, 25 March 2013

dancing girl press, spring fever sale!

3 chapbooks for $10, you say? Normally $7 each, you say? Why not go buy some beautiful handmade books from DGP, possibly even including *ahem* Quick to the Hothouse?

Surely there is no finer way to wait out this wintery winter than with all the poetry in the bath...

Poets & Writers

I'm now in the poets and writers directory, so will hopefully be getting asked to come and read stories places

The List

The hyper-talented Kirsty Logan just commissioned one of my flash fictions for The List. Read it here, or get your arse to Scotland and pick up the magazine.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Not-yet-spring fever

Whether or not the outside is wallowing in sleepy snowfall, there's a sunbeam by this window worth lying inside, worth taking your clothes off and reclining upon, worth offering up a stretch of naked skin that says tattoo me with your pretty yellow fingers, grab my shins, scratch my cheeks, be my saturday breakfast valentine. Whether or not we have plans for the afternoon, I need to heft this body off the wooden floor and jackknife upright and thud down the stairs like a pocketblade just picked up and flung at the pretty assistant who is standing by the wall. Whether or not we are going to the lesbian dating pond, I'm still happy to dab the backs of my ears with orange oil and blossoms, I'm still pleased to be a thing with dappled back marks and nicks from the whips. I've still a cowgirl crop in this girl's back pocket because we've better proactive practices than merely waiting with a bit in between the teeth, waiting for a neigh, waiting.

I anoint the flat with grapefruit oil and blutorange, I burn them in the burners, and when we come back home from being outside the air is soft and round and spurts beneath the teeth. I make things here good because all we have to wait out the endless tundra are small soft things and the ability to make here, just this little bit, pleasant and sweet. I turn the light red and stick another picture frame to the wall, I like you, I like girls, I like the smell of oranges, I like cotton dresses blowing on a washing line in the back garden, I like a verdant copse with spatterings of dandelions and daisies, I miss London's dandelions, Berlin, you had better start putting out for me soon.

Take a notebook and tuck it in your back pocket and walk foot after foot towards the end of the road. There, you will find a small park with a swing and the snowmen will be kicked over by then, I promise, I pray. Remember Switzerland and Belle and Sebastian on your walkmen, remember Lolita and the swings, remember one afternoon off a week and now that makes you laugh because you have trouble conjuring up the work to fill one, never mind. Remember that all things come in cycles and no matter how much your jerk brain tricks you it's Sisyphus, there will be a point in the day where the big bad rock starts rolling on down.

Cast your lot in with every poker round, stop clutching at your straws, be generous, be the soft floating dandelion timepieces, be yourself and when they roll their eyes be pleased. There is no greater winner than the fool with the hoolah hoop whirling like a hurdy gurdy; there is no greater pleasure than this sunbeam, the sun. The moment you hold back on the bets and sit this life out is the moment that your hand will start coming up tricks, flushes and full houses, and your tricks are worth nothing if you've sworn off the game.

I am pleased because breakfast was bakery croissants, buttered and flaked, because fresh squeezed orange juice, because Saturday, coffee, because there is a drag queen burlesque party tonight. I am pleased because I did the I Ching, and after so many readings of doom and despair it said never mind pretty Jane, the cycle is upended, you're not going backwards, if you recognize this walkway it's because this is all part of it, and spring, I promise you, will come.

This is all I can think of and this is me all off kilter and I am as impatient as any Greek god who dropped a thunderbolt to prove a point--if I had thunderbolts now I would be flinging them at you and the sky and at every snowdrift, because I am crazybored of this winter time, I am stir crazy lady, I am enjoying the movies and redlight nights but I am also a thing of fury who just wants to skip by the old canal and drink a long frothy pint and look out over the Lee River marshes where the bugs make mayfly promises and fuck and die that very same afternoon.

I have a friend with a boat and a promise of a dry gin fizz and where are all the flower markets and do you ever wake up in sweats with thoughts of wicker, or are you even dreaming birchwards? and if these words have anything to say it is that there is a sunbeam and it has been a long time since sunbeams and I am slightly crazy with coffee and it is minus four degrees, still, outside.