Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Depth Perception

Hey cuties, it's time for your annual public service announcement that Hollywood was wrong! Slamming doors and yelling things on drizzly street corners and slapping your lover in the face and being furious and miserable and dramatic is not a sign that your love is foretold in the stars, even though pressing a hand to your forehead is superfun. This year, you are allowed to be nice to each other and make each other happy and, if you are not making each other happy, you are allowed to leave.

Also this year: read more female authors, take more bubble baths, and always use more lube.

And on that note, here is a flash fiction about love & fireworks & the myth of deep-and-meaningful, DEPTH PERCEPTION, published today in the ever-awesome Wigleaf.


<3



Sunday, 28 December 2014

burned

the furniture seems to be a lot more on fire since I started thinking of you

maybe not

maybe it’s just heartburn

I sit with my stomach and the blue tits chirping

in the smoldering penthouse, drinking rob roys again.

remember when cookie set the attic on fire?

remember the pony girl, remember last year?

since I started thinking of you, everything seems to be a lot more glowy

cosmic deliverance & flamingo treasures

I walk from room to room with a bucket of sand

but I can’t

I tell the cosmic fire your embers are too damn cute

she winks at me and draws back a blaze

like a courtesan I step inside


(via Russel Swensen.)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Help

The internet isn’t helping.

The internet—like a cat—has no eyelids. That is, it can’t be blinked away. The internet is sticky.

When you wake up on a cold morning and removing your flesh from the duvet is impossible, the internet is a hot pocket of air you curl your toes inside.

The internet will be better this year. Other things that will be better this year include:

headwear / appetiser selections / the weather in fall / your allergies / the traffic on the way to most major appointments / rap music / motivation / the muscles in your lower back / sex

It’s been three days in a row I’ve promised to paint my toenails and

I’ve forgotten, I’ve forgotten, I’ve forgotten

My feet are boring. The days contract. It’s winter and

I’ve barely emerged when it’s already dark, when the sun submerges.

When the hot pocket of duvet beckons.

The internet isn’t to blame, but

I can’t help but wonder what a winter would look like all stretched out

Without a single web-peg to ground me.

You eat the chilli because you’re bored. I can’t blame you.

Your mouth becomes swollen. Your drool is thin and slick.

Maybe I’ll kiss you.

Maybe I’ll let myself become unmoored; I have no need of tethers.

The internet suggests cableties as a cure for everything:

lost keys / loneliness / shelving brackets

But the internet doesn’t know shit.

Bored of Saturdays, I roll a dice and pack a wet sack and blink three times.

When you wake up on a cold morning and escape outside.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Ask

He is telling everyone. He is at a funeral, and he tells them. He is at the gallery. He is at the video shop; they are watching the 2004 remake of the Stepford wives, and it’s terrible.

“I’m leaving,” he says.

They ask him all of the questions that are right to ask, and he answers honestly.

“I don’t know.” “I have no idea.” “It’ll work out.”

When he tells her this later, when they are curled respectively in differently-lit bedrooms, pawing at the screen that separates them, she laughs.

“It’s going to be easy,” she says.

What she means is: “I am going to be easy.”

The girl can barely believe it. The girl has spent years being the girl who never asks for anything. The one with shiny boots of pride lined up in her hall.

What she means is: “Do it. Oh do it. Drop everything for me.”

The girl has been reading Grimms’ fairy tales and trying to work out the morals.

She has been keeping a list of the things that people ask for: a golden bird, a little cottage, the wonderful stone, some honey, a piece of meat, the thousand pearls belonging to the king’s daughter, the king’s daughter, to be king. For the head of her slaughtered horse to be hung on the gates of the city. For a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur put together, to which every beast in the kingdom must give a part of his skin.

Next to them, the girl isn’t asking for much. Sometimes, she cannot tell if she is asking for anything at all.

The last time the girl led a boy to this city, things did not end well. The last boy was swallowed up by the dark winters and thick vowels, and what will the girl do if this happens again? She does not want to be swaddled in sorrow. She will not be lapped by the ox tongue of guilt once more.

So the girl refuses to ask too hard. She is still polishing those boots, she still refuses to say prove it where by it, if she said it, she would mean: your love.

She says, “Do what you want.”

(“Do it, do it, do it.”)

And yet, he is telling everyone.

They have never lived in the same city before and he has no idea what he is going to do and she is still afraid to ask for anything.

Still, she says, “It’s going to be easy.” She believes it.

Kiss me.
Bite the back of my shoulder.
Bring me coffee and morning notebooks.
Leave me alone, I’m writing.
How much?
Tell me how much.
Prove it. 
Be in the front row.
Hook my wrist to this bedpost.
Draw me.
Film me.
Harder.
Tell me again.
Drop everything for me.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Chair-oh-plane

Last night I dreamed of a girl with a pixie haircut, an Olympic-sized pool, and the chair-oh-plane. I dreamed no one would notice. I dreamed of you, touching the back of my neck, while those seats on chains flew around & around & around.

I was the only one in the swimming pool. And later, at the party, I could still smell the chlorine. I rubbed the skin behind my ears and pressed my palm to my lips. My fingertips against my nose. And every time I smelled it, I remembered that feeling of being sublimely alone.

It’s strange: I never thought that smells could slip through the gap between waking and dreaming. I wouldn’t have believed it. I think, perhaps, it was being surrounded by so many people. My subconscious wrapped a thick hand around my neck and whispered sniff.

But here I am explaining about the pool and the chairs, when I haven’t even mentioned Angie yet. She of the so-sweet and so-fearless. Of the nose piercing and stomach tattoos. She who always smells like throat lozenges, whose fingernails are always so dirty.

I’m sure it’s from operating the winch shaft on the chair-oh-plane. Or it’s from foraging for morels in the woods. Or it’s from all the places where her hands go when they’re not in mine.

Last night I dreamed that no one would notice. I dreamed of girls who don’t exist. I dreamed of the fair that comes once a year. I woke up terrified that these things would be forgotten. That no one would notice. I sat cross-legged by the radiator, in his cardigan, and wrote this down.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Boy Princess

Excerpt from something recent. I'm totally back to finishing a short story a month, and it feels damn good.

Everywhere it is autumn, the leaves are capsizing, and yesterday I saw the boy princess in the woods. He was squatting beneath a stone bridge, throwing pebbles into the stream, while I watched from the other bank. I like to watch him balance. His thighs are sturdy—meaty, in fact—but I could see the muscles quivering underneath the skin. A pulse in the neck of a baby bird. His garter had began to unravel, and the dirty end of the lace was lapping in the stream.
    I didn’t want to disturb him. The boy princess is a paper sack of contradictions—part brittle sugar-glass, part thick, sure flesh. The pebbles made an empty thwack when they hit the water and I thought of wishes and wells. If I could be granted three true things by the wish master, what would they be?
    To be the stream, nuzzling at that grubby lace? No—
    To be the garter, quick against his thigh? No—
    To take the boy princess in my mouth and taste him, so sweet and slick he hurts my teeth. My rock candy.
    The wish master gave me none of these things. I left the boy princess to his pebbles and reflection, and climbed over the rocky banks towards home.

Monday, 27 October 2014

cleaning

I clear the detritus.

I thought about doing it yesterday, but yesterday my bones were loose and my skin was a delicate net webbing holding all the toxic cat tongues inside.

I tended to myself gently. There were cheese boards, nap times and gif-based pornography; I amused myself with flash fiction and cartoons. Brief things, suited to my attention span of the day.

I asked for things from the ones who like me. Send me filth and affirmations in the mail, please. Come over here and drag me from this slippery hole. 

The far-away boy sent me adorations in caps lock. My butt, my skin, the cutest things. The closest boy came over and swept my floor. There were feathers everywhere, shed by glamorous beasts in the night. A glitter of broken glass.

We watched psychic reality shows and ate ripe brie, and I let myself fall and be caught. I trusted in the universe. Sometimes I am bruised and spent and slaggy, forgetting my chat of the night. Sometimes that’s okay.

“You are the cutest wreck,” he said. “Sit down,” he said. “Let me take care of this.”

I am not used to being taken care of. I protest, I stand up: “Let me be worthy of your attentions.”

I am trying to remind myself that I am. That this liking is sturdy, not fickle—none of it will dissolve in the night. I don’t need to prod and test these gums. The answer is yes. It always has been.

It is two days since the party and today I clear the detritus, wash the boys’ party dresses, and make myself pumpkin soup. I indulge in small kindnesses. I sweep the bathroom floor.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

SAND

You can find one of my poems in Issue 10 of SAND Journal, online here or at any of the fine bookshops of Berlin!

Friday, 24 October 2014

kicking leaves

I will go for a walk today and kick leaves. They're asking for it: these clumps of orange clouds who've given up on the trees. At least they have the decency to blush. So: I will go for a walk and kick things, and laugh at myself for being the girl that I am. I’ll go shopping. I will get drunk in the afternoon. Just a little: not so much that you'd notice. But still. I will leave the house behind, leave the worries about whether I am doing all of the right things. Which of us could ever keep up? I will have a daydream about a cute girl with a fat lip. I will promise myself fishnets. Oh and Sazeracs and laughing gas. I will give myself something good. Today, I will record church bells and play them back in the toilet. I will learn to wear earrings. Maybe I’ll just push paper clips through my lobes. Stationery is my heart's truest desire. Punctuation. Today, I will pretend the leaves are library books and I will borrow them from the parks and fill my bathtub. I will bathe in russet bubbles, which will stain my thighs. Leonard Cohen will be in the bathtub with me and we will talk about autumn and Leonard will ask me "Jane, is this your favourite time of year?" and I'll say "I think so, Leonard. But then again, I always do." He will pick up an armful of leaves and start lathering them into my hair and autumn will dissolve into a crackling amber froth. I will sigh into his fingers in my scalp. All my worries, all the things I have forgotten to do, will leak out into the bathtub. I will relax. Lying back between Leonard Cohen's thighs, I will concede that everything is right with the world. We will have squat tumblers of thick cut glass and Leonard will pour out two fingers of brandy—each—and we will raise them and clink. "Here's to the season," he'll say. "There's no need to worry at all."

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

w i g l e a f top 50 (very) short fictions 2014

My short story, Mermaids, was chosen as one of the top 50 short fictions of 2014 by the lovely people at wigleaf! You can read the rest of the winners here.

Black & BLUE

The REVOLUTION issue of Black & BLUE is available for pre-order now!

You should buy it.

You should buy it because language is an uprising and who doesn't want to fight the good fight with words?

You should buy it because I am in it talking about jerking off—because self-love is totally revolutionary, you guys—and when the revolution comes, you're going to want to be on the side of the lovers.

Right? 

 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Not dead yet

Words. It's been a while. It's partly because my brain keeps skittering around the same loops << boys – lace – teeth – skin – cannons – go – boom >> and there are only so many poems a girl can write about jerking off (this is a fib). It's mainly because I've been taking a break from the words in order to send things places, and it turns out the places want to publish the things, and everything is working out damn fine. I have pieces forthcoming in SAND journal, Camroc Press Review, Black & Blue, and Make Out Magazine. I have a cutie who's skipping out of one life in favour of the hitch of my breath and the softness of my skin. I have a new all-riot-grrl-all-cello band and there are two day-glo movies in production where I take a starring role. New old friends in the city. So many Arabic feasts. And it's almost seven years since I didn't die in that house fire, and I wrote a story to celebrate my resolute aliveness, and you can read all about that at Litro here.


<3 Ericka and Jonathan, so very not dead yet

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Toilet Walls


Sometimes, when everything is right with the world, I kiss the toilet wall. I close my eyes. I mouth "I love you" to the wall, but really I mean it to myself.

Love is a simple business. All I really want is something close to my face.

When everything is right with the world, I become a fool. I get lost on the cycle from work — these familiar streets choked with swoons and skin. I emerge from daydreams slick and uncanny. I kiss toilet walls.

My own, and other people's. Other places'. When everything is right with the world, I have perfect trust in the purity of cool white tiles.

The "I love you" is an incantation to protect me from germs and judgement. Love, sometimes, is a hex.

On a good day, my scabs are amber-studded jewels I can't help but harvest. I hide them around his room so that when I'm gone, he'll remember. My grossness. My finery. All the torments of my skin.

Gary Indiana is on the floor saying PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT and I do not want to be protected. Everywhere are roses suspended in salt water, blushing and translucent. Sometimes, I feel the world can see all the way through me.

But the stuff inside is sweet words carved on toilet walls and sometimes, everything feels right with world. I am a simple creature. I unlatch the door and let them peek inside.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Love Rode 1500 Miles by Judy Grahn

Love rode 1500 miles on a grey
hound bus & climbed in my window
one night to surprise
both of us.
the pleasure of that sleepy
shock has lasted a decade
now or more because she is
always still doing it and I am
always still pleased. I do indeed like
aggressive women
who come half a continent
just for me; I am not saying that patience
is virtuous, Love
like anybody else, comes to those who
wait actively
and leave their windows open.

Keep sliding

Keep sliding. Don’t land yet. Don’t believe in that “yet”. Don’t land ever. Raise your eyebrows at the meme that there’s a better place, an emotional destination. Raise your voice at the idea there’s a stop. Keep sliding. Stay sliding. Enjoy this feeling of loose and lovely ankles. Relish in the catapult. You opened your mouth and things started to fall inside; now a whole universe is snarled in your teeth, and you’re grinning. Keep sliding. Whether you end up—eventually—in his arms is of no import because ending up means ending means dead. You are not dead yet. Don’t believe in that “yet”. Refuse to angle yourself to a destination. Adore everything. Get all dizzy by the smell of that neck.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

anti-fucking-everything


lovers against haters

hecklers against grownups

kisses against the patriarchy

explosions against the status quo

girls against bus stops

bruises against collar bones

swoons against the handcuffs

hyperbole against restraint

dream sequences against logic

fisting against the dirty dishes

makeouts against the history channel

sunsets against a cantaloupe sky

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Caterpillars

Go read a short story about Caterpillars, by me, at the fucking fabulous Word Riot.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Busted

I bite his lip, he busts mine.

We don’t mean it: we are, together, too many teeth. Too many sharp kinetic wavelengths. What we are, we shouldn’t be allowed.

He’s on his back. I’m on his front, leaning down for the Hollywood close-up, when he twitches. He twitches like a heart monitor yelping “stat!” at the chest of a dying man. His broken tooth into my soft upper lip.

When the blood swells, both of us open our mouths wide.

He didn’t mean it. We are counting off all the things we didn’t mean. We didn’t mean any of it and we meant everything, all at once. I touch my finger to my lip. The blood mixing with my spit.

Everything is so new, so red and so shiny.

We pretend to be shocked, but we aren’t. Not really. I lick my lip with a wet tongue, because I am a sucker for a dramatic mug shot. “I can’t believe you did that,” I say, because this time around, I’m allowed.

I sit back on my heels. I probe my mouth with my tongue. I ooze.

He is flickering like a zoetrope between horror and giggles. He says, “I’m so sorry.” He is trapped in the moment after flinging the ming vase against the wall. Aghast at shards and spatters.

I bite my lip but it’s too late: I’m already laughing. We’re not surprised a bit; we know what caused the twitching. I meant it.

He catches my giggles and steps forward to join me in a place that is oozing and easy. A place where everything is allowed.

Monday, 1 September 2014

creatures

The creatures are nestled and sleepy and coated with bruises. The bruises pattern their pelts with all the certainty of yesterday's clouds.

In this city, it feels like summer is ending. But that's okay. It's okay, because this skin isn't fit to show the world anyhow: so purple and so private. It's okay, because tomorrow there will be a hammock and a balcony and a sunbeam. She will pluck a tomato from the vine; the girl will crush a pepper in her fist just to luxuriate in the squish.

But all this is still in tomorrow. Today, the creatures must drag themselves from the pit and attend to the blunt teeth of the day. There are bags to pack and tickets to print and a dozen messages mewling, and it's tricky. It's so tricky—the pit is right there. What if they fall inside?

Maybe they will. Maybe that's okay. Maybe falling is the simplest thing yet.

The creatures had not prepared themselves for how good the pit would feel and they have failed in all their preparations. They have not stockpiled for winter. What if the supplies run out soon?

The creatures cannot bring themselves to care.

The day mewls and the bellies growl with small, soft claws. "I need to go to work," he says. "I know," she says. They lie and watch the sky change to a grey uncertain pink.

The world is made up of so much skin and she thinks about scrambling but this thing is so simple and so sweet. Outside the pit, the world continues its ministrations. The sky continues to change.


Monday, 11 August 2014

wordweeds

I wake curdled and plot ways to make the day acceptable. All-girl groups, loud and louder. Slow coffees. Scratching an insect bite all the way to the blood.

I drop a glass, my favourite glass, and in the slo-mo instant of falling, I curse myself, my life and gravity. But the glass bounces without a crack and for a moment I let myself feel wonderful.

Too many hours of sleeping and I am bloated and loose like tomatoes watered too many times.

Blown summer weeds are taking over my balcony and I can’t decide who to support. The flowers, the gaudy red geraniums who huddle in my boxes, laughing at the sun? Or these spindly interlopers, who scaled six floors to park themselves in my life, who are—already—taller than the rest?

I am such a sucker for persistence. But there’s another charm altogether in telling myself it’s okay to choose.

My pen springs a leak all over my fingers and I wonder if this should be my next tattoo. To be marred forever by my own future intent—it seems charming.

I need so many reminders to keep doing the things I mean to do.

I take thirty minutes at the start of a day to write this down and it is strange how the words work, how placing language over the muss of life—like marks on tracing paper, like trigonometry—serves to coalesce so many things.

I let my own metaphors take root. I go to the balcony and close my fists around a plant and yank. I let my feet be scattered with soil.

Monday, 4 August 2014

on vanity and cute butts

My legs drive him wild with desire. It’s ridiculous, because we’ve known each other way too long for my legs to be something that go all the way up to here, but here they are, legs, going all the way up. Here. I feel like a cartoon. I feel like a plastic doll designed to illustrate limerence to anatomy students. My butt, in these shorts, is too damn cute. It warrants a second look, so I take a second look, and send him a message saying “my butt is thinking of you”. The message is a folded paper airplane with psychic intentions. I am telling the truth when I say my butt is thinking of him, but not the whole truth, which is that my butt won’t stop entertaining thoughts of a wooden ruler going thwack. Put that in your paper airplane and fly it. My legs and my butt— so full of their own thoughts in this situation. So needy for attention. I hang a full length mirror in this hallway and twist myself back and forth. “Hey there good looking,” I say to the girl in the mirror, and she shows me her butt, and it looks great. I bet she shows it to all the girls, but still. Everything is fine, damn fine.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Let's

When Clay’s around, I feel like I’m more exciting too. That’s a good quality to have in a gentleman friend. I come up with plans of my own for us. Let’s try to befriend the squirrels that live in the walls and the attic. Let’s go get some candy and stay up all night watching horror movies. Let’s sleep over in a graveyard, so the dead can visit us in our dreams.  
– Joey Comeau, the meteor shower  


I want to surround myself with people who make me feel like I’m more exciting too, and then I realise that that’s what I’ve done. We sit around, in the hours that are small and open as books. We come up with plans for ourselves.

Let’s leave our half-eaten midnight dinners and traipse into the woods, the night; let’s find a cool midnight lake to swim in.
Let’s go to the Japanese gardens and eat magic mushrooms. I want to watch the fountains undulate in the sunshine in the afternoon.
Let’s have a date where you teach me how to lasso and I teach myself to stand very still, as the ropes tighten around the tops of my arms.
Let’s pretend we’re other people, and then let’s take each others clothes off, and then let’s watch these other people have sex, and let’s judge them.
Let’s decide that they’re doing wonderfully.
Let’s take the first bus leaving the city and get out by a ruined pub, and let’s climb onto the roof of the ruined pub and lie on the tiles, and you can shove your hand into my underwear and I can wriggle and howl at the sky, while we hide behind chimneys, while the other buses pass us.
Let’s go to the restaurant in torn velvet and finery and let's order only starters for hours and for hours.
Let’s never eat anything from now on that isn’t each other. I’m so hungry. I’m so hungry. I’m never leaving this bed again.
Let's sneak out.
Let's not tell anyone where we're going.
Let's have a secret love affair where the only people that know are the palms of our own hands.
Let's tell each other these plans again and again while the small, open hours twist to day.
Let's not be afraid.
Let's kiss and giggle and giggle and kiss.
Let me take your thumb between my teeth.


Friday, 1 August 2014

Guests

The final guest has gone and this flat, these corners, begin to return to me.

The final guest has gone, for now, and my body is slowly shifting: blue to green to yellow to skin. I am growing back into my limbs.

“Stop scratching,” they all tell me, but how can I resist? Have you seen these marks, have you ever seen me so red and welted?

Oh, have you ever considered how delicious I taste?

This week was one of so much biting: the bugs, the boys, the bugs, the beauties. This week I was devoured by things both bigger and smaller than myself.

I let myself be taken. It’s a hobby. I’m never cuter than when I’m being devoured.

The final guest has gone and these two weeks are an inhale between then and Sweden. The oxygen I inhale will be breathed out in fjords and gulleys. Jack will catch a fish.

In two weeks, I will sit in silence, stacking small pebbles as monuments to the stream.

The laundry is in the machine and the dishes are stacked by the sink and I am about to slowly and meticulously return myself to this place.

This last month and a half came out of nowhere. Or rather, this last month and a half came out of the past, and sometimes the past oozes into the present like insulation foam expanding into all of our corners.

I let myself be filled. It’s a tendency. I’d forgotten just how good this one felt.

But now the final guest has gone and my body is not an apartment and the present asserts itself with sharp elbows. A jab beneath the ribcage to remind myself of me.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

to be

To be honest, sometimes I get dizzy picking at the sides of my happiness, making sure that it's all real.

To be honest, sometimes I come to at the side of the canal and my friend is singing that song again, the one he changed the lyrics to, so it would really, definitely, be about me.

To be honest, 5.33 is not such a silly time to go home and go to bed.

To be honest, the only reason I am writing these words is to wake up on another day and remember that there was a throb of morning light yesterday and I wandered here and I felt so giddy and so fine. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Ants

I wake with pants full of ants. It’s the thunderstorms. Or the old friends. Or the new benders, again & again. The slip and the slide.

I meant to get up earlier today; I meant to embark on the week as if the week were a pony and all the things that grip me in the night were merrily painted hurdles my week’s hooves could catapult over.

I slept late.

I meant to have a quiet night last night, but you know how those go. How could I resist anything? The Wagonplatz glowing fairy lights & film screens in the twist towards dusk. Those Sternis, those spilling of secrets. When I walked D home, the sun had already mustered itself in the corners of the sky, and it was balmy, and wheeling my bike was a whispered I like you in the ear of a friend. 

Today, the afternoon air is thick and carbuncled. It is starting to rain—the drops are like fists. I cannot stop thinking about hickeys. I want to wake up with so many neck bruises, so many bite marks in skin.

How could I resist anything? Why would I resist anything? I have large hands with scarred knuckles and gold nailpolish and I am hefty with want.

The thunderstorms make me think of A, because he is always talking about fucking in thunderstorms, and, of course, the thunderstorms make me think about fucking in thunderstorms.

(Scorpios. Obviously. Trouble & scorpios & kabooms & skin.)

I wake with pants full of ants and I feed the ants coffees and I refresh the internet and I write the same words over and over hoping that, in doing so, I can alchemise time.

I haven’t spent a night at home alone in so many weeks I have almost forgotten what the inside of my brain smells like. I want nothing more than to lock all of the doors and switch off all of the devices and lie underneath a skylight and listen to the thrum of the rain.

But I have made promises. But I am still dreaming of fucking in thunderstorms. But the world is built of large hands and scarred knuckles and sometimes the world is so grabby, so greedy—I get it. I let it take me. I try to hold onto my shins.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Circe

We are in bed again and the light coming through the curtains is cunt pink, which means it is probably already afternoon. I am telling him about Odysseus. No, wait. I am telling him about Circe; Circe is the salient detail. Odysseus is just something that happened along the way.

I am telling him how Odysseus showed up on Circe’s island and she turned all his crewmates into pigs. How he stayed with her in her lady cave for years, while Penelope wove and unwove her blanket. How Circe hushed, “Shh, shh, stay here a while” while turning the looms of her magic; while flickering snake tongues on his cock.

Here, I get the details wrong, which is to be expected, because it is eight years since I studied classical literature, because I am telling this story for a certain effect, because I am re-enacting all the salient details.

The truth is even more interesting (the truth often is).

In reality, Odysseus shows up on Circe’s island, but Odysseus stays with the boats while his men make their way to the woods, where Circe dwells in a mansion surrounded by docile lions and wolves. Surrounded, that is, by men she has bewitched. She is a good hostess, Circe. She brews them a feast. But the wine is laced with potion, the cup is enchanted. The crew drink and forget their homes, and she turns them into pigs.

All but Eurylochus, suspicious Eurylochus, who forsakes the wine and piggery to sneak back to Odysseus and warn him of the danger. Odysseus strides to the rescue and this is where things could have gone so differently had he not been intercepted by that trickster, that meddler, Hermes. Hermes gives Odysseus moly, an antidote to Circe’s magic, and tells him that, when she feeds him her potion, when she draws her wand, he should threaten her with his sword.

So he does.

Circe is amazed that Odysseus is unharmed by her magic, and not a little dazzled by that sword against her throat. Circe licks her lips and swoons. Circe says, “Sheathe your sword and let us go to bed, that we may make friends and learn to trust each other.”

But Odysseus, always with the conditions, never one to leap into the moment, replies, “Circe, how can you expect me to be friendly with you when you have just been turning all my men into pigs? And now that you have got me here myself, you mean me mischief when you ask me to go to bed with you, and will unman me and make me fit for nothing. I shall certainly not consent to go to bed with you unless you will first take your solemn oath to plot no further harm against me.”

So she does.

Circe promises—no more plotting!—and they go to bed.

They stay there for a year. They feast and drink wine and makeout all day long.

But it is not her magic that keeps him there; it is not a spell. As Penelope weaves and unweaves her blanket, waiting, sending away suitors, Odysseus sticks around because Circe? Circe is so much fun.

Circe says, “Stay here, and eat and drink till you are once more as strong and hearty as you were when you left Ithaca; for at present you are weakened both in body and mind; you keep all the time thinking of the hardships you have suffered during your travels, so that you have no more cheerfulness left in you.”

No more cheerfulness left! Fortunately, Circe is an expert in cheer.

“Thus did she speak and we assented. We stayed with Circe for a whole twelvemonth feasting upon an untold quantity both of meat and wine.”

Of course you did, Odysseus.

I am so charmed by this story. Circe does not need magic or spells or trickery. Circe gets what she wants by kisses and wine.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Tonight at Curious Fox

I'll be reading poems, come?

Flughafenstraße 22 // 8pm // free

https://www.facebook.com/events/1447095268872909/

full of stuff

There are things we forget and sometimes it feels like life won’t stop overlapping itself; sometimes it feels like life is oozing with so much stuff.

I feel the things running through the soil like seams of gold and copper. I feel them run—electricity sprinting through circuit boards—and I hold my fingers outstretched and let the crackle leap inside my nails.

I had forgotten. I am teeth and ink and bruises. I am circuitry running in parallel and all of life happening at once.

Oh my god, so many cuties. The town crier rings their bell three times and says, “You, sweetheart, how are you going to choose?” and you shake your head and you laugh. You say, “I want everything and it all.”

And sometimes the past is a small, pinched place filled with ultimatums.

I guess to get here we had to walk through so many copses, so many paths in the woods. Links, rechts, geradeaus? I guess it doesn’t matter. Didn’t you always leave a thumb behind in the Choose Your Own Adventure pages?

It isn’t cheating. It’s just figuring things out.

Another week in this city and there are so many things I need to pack into the box of time. I forget appointments, so I tattoo them on my skin with biros. I forget to eat, so I feast on the flesh of my friends.

I am convinced there is room for everything. A is laughing on the kitchen counter. He wipes his eyes. He says we were different people, then.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Osiris Myth

Everyday Genius just published my poem, The Osiris Myth.

They are Melissa Broder's publishers, which means they are totally badass and awesome, which means you should go and read that right about now.


Monday, 16 June 2014

The gulf

Somewhere in the gulf between excitability and accountability, I find a foothold. I climb up. The view from the top is multi-directional and spattered with gobs of grin. Big toothy white lumpfest. I feel good.

The week was one of old friends and new cricks in the neck. The week was wonderful. The week wriggled and wrought the destinies we deserved and, in the shelves high above the city, a mina bird copied the caw of my cry.

Everything is still falling off the walls. I paste photographs of myself to every available surface. I subsist on tinned fish and espresso and kissing the insides of my elbows, the way we’d practice when we were young, before we were quite sure how to get it right.

The insides of my elbows have no tongues and the tinned fish has no backbone but the espresso? The espresso has everything.

Somewhere in the gulf between excitability and accountability, I make the right choice and scramble. We reach a plateau, we reach the source, we get mud between our toes. I survey the lay of the land and press my teeth together. I think of filth. I whisper to my elbow: One day, all of this will be yours.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

chickenfactor

I paint a shelf red.

Later, when the shelf is dry, I’ll screw it to the balcony wall.

I’m a terrible carpenter—far too impatient and frantic. I eschew a vice in favour of my fist and saw off a knuckle. I haven’t worked out yet the times when a drill is necessary. I can’t be bothered with newspaper; I spatter red paint on the floor.

But I get things done.
But I look around my balcony and it is full of life and I think: this is mine, now.
But soon there will be a red shelf covered in peonies, cascading to the floor.

The other night I lay in bed with a body lying beside me and a story came to me with all the immediacy and nonsense of a dream. I tried very hard not to move or to fall asleep, convinced if I did either, I was lost.

In the story there is a person working in the factory where they check the chickens. Someone told me about this factory recently and I have been unable to get it out of my head. In the factory where they check the chickens, there is a conveyor belt with chickens that go by. The checker picks up each chicken in turn and looks at their crotch. If they are a female chicken, it’s fine. The checker sits them back down on the conveyor belt and the world continues to turn.

But if they’re a male chicken, it’s terrible.

If they’re a male chicken, the checker throws them straight into the grinder. The grinder grinds the chicken into bones and dust and meal.

I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

I keep thinking about the person whose job it is to check the chickens. In my imagination—in the story—the person wants to make a small, soft difference in the world. The person is horrified by everything. In my imagination, the person holds up the chicken and checks the chicken and—the moment before the decision is made—the person whispers Love in the chicken’s ear.

Just the word; it is enough.

Love means many things to the chickens, but what it really means (what it has always meant over all times to all of us) is Everything is going to be okay.

The person whispers this because they want so badly for it to be true.

Love, says the person, and the chicken is placed down softly, fluffily, yellowly, on the conveyor belt.

Love, says the person, and the chicken is flung through the air into the grinder. Its bones snap. Its skull is squeezed like a blister until it explodes.

The thing I can’t stop thinking about is the chicken who escapes. Love, whispers the person (everything is going to be okay), and then they are flung to the grinder, but something happens. An ungreased cog; a snag in the machinery; a last-minute reprieve.

The chicken escapes.

And though this is a small, good thing—this escape—it is also an ending for the chicken. The chicken will never again be able to sit snugly in cupped palms and hear the word Love. The chicken and trust are over. Nothing will ever be the same. Everything is not going to be okay forever.

It’s okay—the chicken will be fine, I reckon. This a moment we have all been through, when we discover that the world isn’t the perfectly benevolent deity we had hoped for. When we discover our startling capacities for pain.

We discover and we make our peace with this…but that moment, that poor chicken.

It is 34º outside and the shelf is probably nearly dry. I’m going to get out some power tools and experiment with holes.

It’s okay. I won’t fuck things up too badly.

I have animal-print plasters for my knuckles.

I have turps for the floor stains.

I whisper Love to my own cupped hands. Everything is going to be okay.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

On Envy

She doesn’t understand anything. She thinks everything can be easy and glitter and drunk forever; she wants to be his holiday. She doesn’t understand that in the real world there are responsibilities. Prescriptions. Sodden pillows. Jam jars smashed against the wall, Branston Pickle spattering the floor.
    She has never been the one to scream, mascara-damp and blotchy, “Well if she’s so great then why don’t you just fuck her?” She keeps her screaming for fairground rides; she is forever tottering around in neon; and I hate her.
    I hate her because she’s cheating. We don’t all have the option to be the fireman’s pole—some of us are stairs, there are different ways to get places—and I hate her.
    She hands him a fistful of giggles to remind him that I’ve stopped laughing. She touches his fingers to remind him my own hands are fists.
    I know no one can be like this all the time, that around him she is a woman holding her stomach in for photographs, except instead of her stomach she is holding in all of the bad parts of herself: the scowls, the snipes, the hatred.
    I hope that as soon as she is on her own in a room they explode out of her, covering the carpet in thick brown chunks.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Through Your Eyes

I try to look at this room through your eyes, as if by doing so I can catch a glimpse of the person that I am.

—the person that I am to you.

I look at the things in this room as if they were not my things.

    As if the things in this room were ciphers through which my heart could be decoded.

Look at this scarf tossed across the bed, casually, like it was tossed there by an errant movie star, (like it had never been knotted around an ankle.)

    Look at this loofah: this immense sand whale taking dock in my bathroom, winking about exfoliation, bellowing about skin.

        Look, these floors, scattered with cableties and bottle openers, scattered with the petals of broken flowers.

    What kind of a me would use any of it?

I look at this room through your eyes and I see myself, this girl, here in the room before I have arrived.

    This girl smells of eucalyptus bath soap and lime pulp beneath her fingernails.

        This girl is shrouded in typewriter letters and seven-sided dice.

    This girl tries so hard to be a creature who is capable of love.

I am in this room, looked at through your eyes, reduced to a series of things placed out like the pulled husks of teeth.

I ask myself who I am and the answer bounces from one thing to another before returning to my ears.

    Echolocation.

I twitch my ears and travel, like a bat, to the other side of the room.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Things that are making me happy on a Berlin morning

Limes. Limes limes limes in everything.
STEREO TOTAL YES YES YES
An aesthetically pleasing ball of string.
Tying up tomato plants. Talking dirty to tomato plants. Pretending tomato plants are raucous puppies and saying HUGGUHAHAHA, WHO'S A GOOD BOY?
My new blue watering can.
Toilet poems.
Sharp scissors.
Bears versus Bares.
The existence of gingers.
Prittstick.
Sun-melted candles.
OH MY GOD, CABLETIES.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Belief

You believe in magnifying glasses. You think there are things that you can see through; you think that sometimes tings are larger than other things because of your own perception, for no good reason of their own. You are bad at giving credit where credit is due. If you were given ten gold cards, and told to hand each one out to a person that deserved it, you would paste them to your wall in a circle and marvel at the rise of the sun. You are problematic. But you do these things because you look towards your own foundations and they are weak and suspicious and not yet made of bone. You do these things because you exist on a plane of rainbows and roses and you are hungry. You are not all bad. You are cute. I like you, I like you more than the deposed monarchies of imaginary nation states. I like you more than Monarch butterflies, or moths. I like you more than the first beam of sunlight on a cold winter morning, even if I am not wearing slippers, even if I am craving, like a desperate cat, the sun. No matter your motivations, never mind your trouble—I think better of you than I think of genuine vine-ripened tomatoes, grown on my own balcony. I like you more than mozzarella marinated in pesto and fed to me, in torn chunks,  by a lithe, lovely hausfrau who has promised to clean every last one of my dishes. You believe that I am just saying these things to make you feel better but I have my own fish to fry, and let me tell you: halibut. Perch. Sardine. I am about to drink coffee and I am about to make toast and I have no time this morning for any words but a pure, sweet, unencumbered "hello".

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Impossible to Resist

I know I shouldn’t have, but let’s face it—you started it. You leaned down to kiss me and you have the kind of lips I find impossible to resist. Fat lips, bee-stung lips, lips like a punch in the face. A mouth like a discarded mattress on the pavement in the 7 a.m. walk home and, though that mattress is probably filthy, it’s also impossible to resist. So I flung myself on it and I bounced upon your springs.

confession

A confession: sometimes when I am leaving a busy place—a train platform, for instance, or a cinema after the credits come up—I let myself accidentally-not-accidentally fall into step with someone next to me. I do not mention it and I do not look in their direction, but I judge their step and balance it with my own, so we are walking side by side, not quite touching. It is a delicate thing. They are not supposed to know and we are not supposed to talk. But for those few moments, acutely aware of our arms’ proximity, I do not feel alone. We are at the end of a long day; our relationship is close enough to allow for this companionable silence. We walk next to each other and I am tempted to let it go on forever. I will follow them by their side until eventually we get to their house and climb the stairs and spend the night sitting on their sofa, silently, comforted by our companionable arms. But I don’t. I hold onto the moment for as long as possible—a breath in the back of my lungs—and then they turn a corner or duck into a shop, and I barely miss a beat. I keep on walking. I come back to my house. I sit and I run the tips of my fingers over the skin of my arms. I tell myself it is nice here. It is so peaceful to come back to a house alone.

yesterday's 5.30pm note to self

It is raining so I buy a bottle of red wine in the afternoon and come home and hatch plans to stay inside. I unplug the router. I make cheese on toast: emmental and black olives and cheap supermarket pesto. I spent 49 cents extra for the dense volkhorn bread, and it is delicious; it goes well with the wine (a rioja) and the day (a grey so thick it is almost guttural, a lazy insistent rain). There is no one to tell me what to do, except for myself, so I plot.    
    Today, I will read some short stories, luxuriantly, whimsically, in no hurry at all. When I find sentences I like, I will write them down. Later, when I come across these sentences, I will think for a moment that I’m a genius, and then I will remember, and I will laugh.
    I will burn incense. Why not? I don’t live with asthmatics any more and the smell of nag champa evokes everything about being seventeen. Why shouldn’t I, tonight, pretend to be seventeen? I will burn candles too, and when I blow them out I will make wishes that I believe in wholeheartedly. After all, there is no one here to stop me.
    I will take a bath. It will smell of eucalyptus and mint, and have far more bubbles than is strictly necessary. I will stay in the bath for a long time, topping up the hot again and again. I will read in the bath and make yet another book bloated and warped with steam.
    I will cook. I don’t know what yet, but it will be unnecessarily elaborate for someone living alone. Perhaps there will be multiple courses. There will be aggressive flavours: anchovy and capers, carmelised onion, szeuchuan peppercorn. I will serve myself at a candlelit table. I will send my compliments to the chef.
    I will write—of course, I will write. The stories I am working on: a dark little tale about teenagers and menstruation and the delirious feeling of girl-crush. A horror story about Salome and Circe. A childhood tale about cliff tops, about fate, about the game we played with the reeds. These words here.


<it was all true. I did each of these things in turn and ah, they were glorious>

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

certain things

The man with the sad dandelion eyes said take a deep breath because once I start talking we are ON this helter skelter and once I open my mouth you're going to have to crawl inside.

The girl with the fingerling lashes said come here little one, get under my stoop. I cracked my back and tested my knees on the floor; I got down. Under the stoop was dark and full of spiders.

The boy with spray glue secrets is stuck on me. I have slipped him in my pockets and carried him across a feral and febrile land. He believes in magic carpets and I don't have it in me to tell him that there's no such thing. I don't have it in me to lie.

The princess pirate is besotted with feathers. I take her to my bedroom and start plucking until all that is left is pale, dappled skin.

I am willing to share certain things: this beam of sunlight, this gold box of cookies, the girl with the fingerling lashes, the meat and the bread. We will sit around a table and you will break them and crumbs will fall onto our laps like timelapse photography of snow. Why look at this, we will say. It looks like the summer is over. We will laugh. I will share things with you. I will hold your hand at the fair and take you up the magical staircase. I will covet your lovers; I will dream of you on waltzers. When we are not around each other, I will spin, spin, spin.

The melancholic stopped answering her letters and they piled up by the door like garish white mountains, harkening for skiers who were, by now, all dead.

She did not write expecting a response. Rather, she had become addicted to the sound of her fountain pen scritching across the papery soil. She told people it gave her brain orgasms. This made people feel uncomfortable, but she was bad at reading facial expressions and kept on talking, laying out these truths like flags. She did not believe in salvation by pencils. Whenever she started talking, she got distracted by herself.

The melancholic moved more slowly than the creep of hieroglyphics. The melancholic made promises to dinosaurs. Many years ago, many centuries and millennia, he sat down with the pterodactyls and spelled out the destinies they both had coming. Of course, the melancholic lives outside of time—lives forever—because God is a trickster with pockets full of fortune cookie jokes, and what better one to play than this? Let the goofballs and the hula dancers die young. But you, your sad bitten lips and braces? You will live forever.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Where I Write

I blogged for the Scottish Book Trust recently, all about my desk. My tricks to keep me writing. My knowledge that yes, I am lucky to have this place.

Finish writing your book, Jane. How are pretty ladies ever going to read your book if you don’t finish writing it?

Read it here

Apocalypse

We left it too late, and I dreamed of the apocalypse again. We got distracted; there were too many conversations to be had, and by the time I remembered about dismembering the bombs, it was already too late.

There were four bombs and they were all going to turn the sky purple. There were four bombs and these were the big ones. Although none of us could quite believe it, these bombs were the final punctuation to an existence that had been going on some time. Punkt, punkt, punkt. Punkt.

I was surprised we forgot that the bombs were about to explode, but there were so many sweet other things in the universe that it was hard to dwell on that. Small platters of food. A gameshow we were uncannily invested in the outcome of. Adorable people—such cute people everywhere. Is it so bad that I was fine with the apocalypse, if it meant I got to move my hand onto your knee?

I came across D, in bed, and they were crying. They were wearing a grey cotton ballgown and mourning humanity. I giggled, then hid my mouth with my hand. “It’s not funny!” they said. But laughter snuck into their face like bees. “Stop it!” We bit our lips and giggled. We hugged each other quickly. There were only four minutes left.

It was funny, really. Because how could we have forgotten; how could we have messed it all up this bad? But here we were, lasting it out, effervescent with everything. It was funny. And then it all went kaboom.

Four bangs, falling on the earth like the footsteps of otherworldly giants.

A violet sky, gathering and dissipating like shoals of flying fish.

Tents dissolving in thick, orange rain.

Three dimensional cloud patterns.

Radio static.

And then we were just sitting at the drive-through, still giggling, and waiting for the wind to change.

Monday, 5 May 2014

30. Making Time

I forgot to make time. I sometimes
do. Dishes turn scabrous; floors lapse;
people traipse to and from the city
thick with need. Work beckons
its claw. I cannot forsake
these insistent children, so I let them
fill time. I think
these insistent children are
small-bellied bairns, but then
they open their maws. Time slithers
down gullets—seagulls ransack
the binbags—and I am standing in a city
strewn with junk. I give myself to
tasks and get swallowed; you can
see my silhouette in the snake. A throat
contracts—it is me or the snake, so
today I slit the belly and fuck
the tasks. I will gnaw a small cavern
in time and curl up. Take
my stick smudged with ash
and start the words on the walls.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

29. Today, I Want to Forgive Everyone Everything

The lover who shuffled out on his bills, whose stubborn
white envelopes still thunk on the mat.

The Mexican lucky candle merchant in Queens,
who promised fortune in the flicker of the wick.

Everyone who ever stole my pens. No matter
that I wake in the night, bulging with ideas
that are lost to feathers and dust.

Today, I want to forgive birds for morning birdsong
when dark moods curdle my horizons,

forgive houseplants for their slow brown suicides,
forgive the architect who installed my kitchen sink.

Forgive my heart its softness, its inability to stay
upright, forgive every fall.

Take this—my hive of resentment—and let it
burn magnesium sulphate flowers.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

28. There is a Moment

There is a moment
when the house is quiet. I say
a moment, but
it is time spilled out like honey
on a countertop
beset by fruit flies.
I step into time and
my feet are sticky—what am I
supposed to do with this?
So many noises
oozing from the street;
so many pockets
for dust to collect in.
I prance through
the empty house
in babydoll lingerie because
the whisky is mine
the cigarettes are mine
there are no eyes left to see me.
Even the windows
are thick with dirt. Perhaps
I will choke
on an old, hard gumball
—there are so many things
to rise in my throat. But the house
is quiet, so the house
and I spoon softly.
There is a moment tonight
when the house is mine.

27. Happenstance

I tossed three coins upon the desk
believing they could read
the futures that the air impressed
the fortunes that we bleed

I trusted in the furls of fate
the thread that does unwind
belief in kismet was the bait
for my impressioned mind

The I Ching told me there was worth
in actions done with grace
for beauty, ritual, love and mirth
will set a steady pace

So trust in music, be afraid
of those who will not dance
The foundations of a life are laid
all else is happenstance

Monday, 28 April 2014

25. Jam

Snarled as backmuscle.

As the tangled jamboree bunting
from last year’s drawers.

I try to unwind the traffic.

Concentrate. Create a snake
of breath forever tailgulping.

When it slithers by their
side they’ll grow loose.

Relax. All this thrashing
will welter the barbs.

There’s no escape from
the black exhale of tarmac

exhausts panting, from the throb
of one another’s tyres.

Let’s sit here, for a while,
engines thrumming.

The motes in the air are
moments outside of time.

24. Rapeseed

Go to the fields of rapeseed. It doesn’t matter
how you get there—walk, crawl, hitch a truck
so long the caterpillars mock its axles. Just go.
Forsake everything for a yellow so ripe it unfurls
in your mouth with soft lion tongues that transmorgify
into attic cobwebs and leap headfirst into the breeze.
Don’t pause for thronged traffic or spilt sugar
or lover’s letters caught in the mail. Go—
I’ll be waiting, swaddled in pollen, drenched in dust.
Come on hands and knees to the field of rapeseed.
I’ll scald your eyes with gelb horizons, then
pull you to my level and make you sneeze.




23. Reek

I can’t believe I forgot the reek of spring-ache

The fists of leaves holding thunder’s last exhale

Last night I biked home through the park

Waltzers lolled from steel shafts &

Neon branches twitched pink and emerald

Last night I clambered on a Turkish carpet

Hooked my feet in the golden fringe

And pedalled for all I was worth. I am worth

Everything. I have earned this much spring

And more

22. Cups

we turn over cups
    believing the ball is beneath

this one / that one
    —we shadow the sleight

the movement of hands
    pheasant wings aflutter

tracked skin and
    everything is worth it to follow

me and you believing
    in springtime and skin—I

do not doubt that
    eventually we will flip

the cup and find
    a round white future

just ripe enough and exactly
    where we thought it would be

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

21. Nettles

A wise man told me:

    Wear gloves thick enough
to repel the nettles
    your fingers will be too fat
for the scissors’ holes.


I threw three coins and cast the mountain.

The mountain said:
   
    The heart thinks constantly
and I laughed,

for mine is steeped
    in lunge and whim.

I sat cross-legged at the mountain’s feet.

I asked of the mountain:

    Tell me how to conduct myself
for my electricity is fickle
    and impossible to earth.

The mountain sighed and shook the ground.

    The movements of the heart
        —that is, a man’s thoughts—
    should restrict themselves
to the immediate situation.
    All thinking that goes beyond this
        only makes the heart sore.

I left the mountain.

I drew a ring of daisies around
    these present lovers
fingers tingling with
    tiny vicious currents.

—I lied:
there was no wise man.
   
—I meant to tell you:
    I picked the nettles myself.

Monday, 21 April 2014

19. Choices

What broke? You were the one
of lazercats & exploding candy

who wrung the skins of the small hours
to eke out dawn’s juice.

Remember when everything beneath
our soles was mattress springs?

When, looped on gravity, we reneged
our feet-promise to the floor?

Remember? Besotted by power tools,
you drilled LPs to the ceiling

so that music drummed on our collar bones
like thunderous summer rain.

I miss that. Something slipped; the soil split—

for a moment, you were bow-legged,
trying for footholds
    on each side of the gorge.

Distracted by avalanches,
I glimpsed away.

Then she held her hand out.
Then you chose.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

18. Eke

Tomorrow will be 3m 55s
longer than today.

Enough time
to gulp four oysters
play a pop song out of tune

yank off
almost all of our clothes.

These days are oozing
overripe camemberts
we stick our fingers in
luxuriate in goo.

Cycling home beneath
the wallow of cherry blossom

we yank fistfuls of moments
to smear upon our chests.

Let’s eke out all of it—
the three minutes
and fifty-five seconds.

Let’s fill ourselves to the brim
and luxuriate
in the glug.

17. Twigs

“Let’s gather sticks,” he said.

Beneath our feet were broken
acorns striving to take root.

Everything was twigs.

We made small pyres—
bonfires for the voles,

their lithe velvet bodies
fit to stuff in our pockets.

Night fell like soft black snow,
gathering in clumps and hollows.

Our fires were tiger eyes
that blinked in the breeze.

We followed the tigers
all the way to the water.

We made boats from twigs
to sail across the Styx.

Friday, 18 April 2014

16. Hasenheide

Before the fair, the grass hollow
is still a cupped palm,
aching to be filled with candy.

This spring, this benevolent aunt,
has sprinkled puce caravans

& gaudy day-glo waltzers
amputated from their sockets.

Without skeletons, the waltzers
are abandoned porch swings
dreaming of dust.

We are still on the inhale.

The moment before the crest
of the coaster,
our bellies suspended in sky.

Lungs primed
to helter skelter.

In one week we will be flung
confetti, gorged on neon,
exploding gunpowder buckets.

Today we wait with outstretched
palms, waiting
for the gumballs to drop.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

15. Was this not yet enough?

Listen. We already repurposed
the broken benches of our lives
for new shelves,
for matchstick people
glued together with
the unlicked envelope flaps
of bills we hadn’t got to
yet. We already did good.

When everything was calcified
hip bones, when quicksands
gnawed our blue parasols &
nothing could block
out the sky: we did fine.

Better. We became outlaws
sketching new candescent
lungs. We spun
words from taffy.

Really? Do we still need
to face the letterbox
(it could be rank
with dragon claws
& the lurk of collectors)?

Werewolf demands for all
the scrolls we took as tapers.

I think we’ve done enough—
we can opt out of believing
in four white corners
in missives.

Listen. We already trekked
jungles and now, you, now
you expect me to pick up the mail.

14. Scour

A memory: saying a word
I knew I should not
to feel it burst like a plum
in my mouth.

And: touching a thigh
I shouldn’t—I knew—
but who knows where thighs go
in the dawn?

My mother took soap
and scoured my tongue, with
crushed beetles, bile, frenzied pink.

And the word turned to bubbles,
lodged in my neck

to be hocked up later
    in beds, on backs,
pinned against the wall.

Last night I descended
into bathtubs. 

I scoured my skin. I am still
that girl, who will make
a fast thing mine. Who will taste
everything with tongue.

The loofah smelled of
pine & peat,
distillery casks.

I wallowed in bubbles.
I wrote your name in foam.

I soaked in the water until I
was already clean.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

13. spring makeout haiku

tangerine mouthfeel
without meaning it, you got
grass stain on my heart

12. Of all things

This, of all things, is easy.

You’ve the keys to my bikes & houses,
I’ve the passwords to your presence

so when you die I can update them all:

see you later stop
    I love you stop
        be back soon (stop)
            I’m gone

This, of all things, is not
quail eggs or sugar-perspex;

it will not shatter in the morning
under the heft of beams of sun.

Of all things, I am grateful that
no matter how lewd or loose

the evening gets, by hangover
I am already forgiven.

My like for you is tough bricks
& scaffold poles.

Already, we have vaulted the cringe.

Monday, 14 April 2014

11. Cartwheels

I woke today believing
I could whirl cartwheels—

warum nicht? After all,
it’s been twelve months &

the fountain is regurgitating
summer, the dandelions

have recommenced
the assault on the lawn.

It’s not so strange that
somewhere in the lunge

of night, gymnastics
soaked into my bones.

What I mean is stranger
things have happened.

It’s been twelve months &
we are not dead yet;

when the wolves pawed
the door we gouged

their golden eyes
with splintered sticks.

The wolves cried blood.

I woke today grinning &
tossed one leg after another.

My ankles recommenced
their flight to the moon.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Editor's Eye

Gary Hardaway says nice things about my poem and picks other things on Fictionaut you should be reading, in this month's Editor's Eye.

"But one cannot describe a poem by Jane Flett– one must experience it first-hand. Her visual and aural imaginings are without equivalent."

 I am blushing and delighted.

9. Grace

Sucker. You walked
in my kitchen, slick
with garlic & grease. 

I slipped banana skins
under your furling
feet; you thwacked
your skull.

My paring knife
slipped a slit
from groin to gullet, and
I licked an oyster.
I shucked your skin.

Inside, you were wet meat.

I stuffed your cavity
with bärlauch and
whispered, let’s writhe
in allium, let’s coat
each other’s tongues.


We were on the floor
and covered in
hollandaise. Your butter
wriggled. I ate

your chunks with no
though of ablution.
Already too late
to say grace.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

8. What Takes Work

I am willing to strive for the things that take struggle
teaching honour to foxes or signing to chimps.

It takes years to paint bridges or perfect a soufflé
but strive for the struggle and you'll catch a glimpse

of the purpose we stack in the shelves of our person
the reasons we tread through the woods in the night—

it is doing that makes us become whole as creatures;
it is practice and action, completing the rite.

Though holiness lies in the sweet repetition
of a task done until it is lodged in the bone

there are things that take toil; there are wild flights of pleasure,
and you shouldn't keep striving when you should have flown.

I spoke to a mystic about my heart's beating
“It's so hard,” I told her, “But I'll make it work.

I know that the best things take effort and trouble—”
then the night nudged the moon; both started to smirk.

“My dear,” said the mystic, “it's all your decision,”
(she glared at the moon while the moon blamed the breeze)

“pick that path—the striving—of course it's an option,
but know there's no cheating in choosing the ease.”

Her words hit a place I kept lodged far inside me:
a deep heart vibration; a whole body hum.

When trying is tricky you look to the outcome.
But if each part is painful, then what of the sum?

I'd eaten the cake that said: love is a battle
it's not always easy, you might have to chew.


I'd forgot the feeling of breathless excitement.
All giddy and tipsy—a heart set askew.

These days I am wiser and more effervescent,
I gallop my feelings and leap on a whim.

My kisses are waltzers, my heart is a fairground,
and I try for my passions. I don't try for him.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Ark Books

I've been in Køpenhavn reading at the fabulous Ark Books, a newly launched non-profit English and Danish language bookstore. They lit me a digital fireplace.


If you find yourself in the city of Danes, check them out. They live at Møllegade 10, near the cemetry where Kierkegaard is buried. Here is an adorable manifesto:
on april 1st 2014, ark books will take you by storm. we will give you the bookshop that has been missing in copenhagen. ark books will read all the books and choose the best ones for our shop for you to read. we will invite all the writers and all the translators to our shop for you to listen to. if they live in antarctica we will invite you and all your friends to skype. ark books will bring world literature to the danes and danish literature to the world citizens. our shelves will contain carefully chosen literature ranging from new to old, from narrow to wide. the shop is run by volunteers so all money made will be used to get more books, more events, more of everything good.

6. Ducks

I confess—today
I mistrust the ducks.

They've been diving
for brass knobs and buttons,

came up speckled with lens-dew.
Those focussed feathers.

A fat chap cocks a crooked
duckbrow and shakes

seven years of penitentaries
from his tail, but I suspect

the ducks are not on our side.

Give a duck an inch &
a duck will snatch

your scent, your cigarettes,
your shift dress, the one

adorned with pearl buttons,
sparrow bones,
the ducks will take those.

Don't believe me? Don't.

Park your rump benchwards
where polystyrene blossom

scatters in the wind. Hold out
your palm. Offer popcorn &

coke crumbs. The ducks
will take the whole goddamn

matinee. Don't believe me.
But don't come crying

when they've burned your boats
and sacked your cities, for

you cannot trust the ducks.
These ducks, loosely woven

of another skein and skin.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

5. Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard is dead
and buried beneath
pink trees. Poor
Kierkegaard. I bet
he has no idea that
spring has finally
hocked up daisies.
I bet Kierkegaard
hasn't changed his
watch yet, hasn't
scavenged one more
hour for lolling.
I wouldn't be surprised
if Kierkegaard still
had his winter coffin.
That guy never notices
shit, never gets a round
in--I don't mind
Kierkegaard but I wish
just sometimes
he would stop. Take
stock. Open his eyes.
Kierkegaard is in
the midst of cherry
blossom as heavy
as a grown panda
and Kierkegaard
doesn't even notice.
I don't mind, but
I'd hope that if I
were Kierkegaard
I'd be better. I would
notice the cabbage
white butterflies.
I'd pay attention
to the coming of spring.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

3. Journey

You board the bus, the train,
the rollercoaster--it doesn't matter.

What matters is you're moving, at last,
yet lashed--the bloodcell beating
in the throat of the gull.

Between you and the sea there is
skin and plummet; between here

and where you're going
you need not say a word.

Tumble into limbo, wrap this rug
around your trunk, roll all
the way to the crook of the hill.

Crush daisies. Decapitate buttercups.
Be a Sufi dervish tricking the shackles of time.

It doesn't matter. You will get
where you are going--the crook
of the hill. The stubborn city. Home.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

2. Harlequins

Who knew that
last night we were wild storks,
butterflies out of tune?

I peeled my distressed
rapsichord from under my tongue.

I handed you
diminished sevenths,
wasp spit and bone.

Last night we were
wailing walls &
slippery coconut innards.

I scattered secrets,
raucous bats and lungs.

Then this morning
trod in on lumpen
ankles—who knew

it would not last
forever? This feeling

of harlequins.
Power outages. Gold.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Flash fictions in TANK

I recently did a collaboration with the ridiculously talented Magda Boreysza.

First, she sent me this picture of a horse:



And, based on the picture, I wrote this:


White Horse

You have been inside too long. The room closes around you with every exhale, layers of your self coating the walls like breath in an igloo. The floor is dotted with spent matches. Party decorations loll at your feet, embarrassed after the fact.

If you stay here much longer, you will form your own private coffin from your own frozen breath. So you leave.

You step outside, and the city opens up like a rare jungle flower. Place one trembling leg inside and let the pollen dust your thighs. In the city, you are suddenly a wild pony with hooves built for the night.

So you start to run.

It is a Tuesday and the roads glitter with broken bottles like mock galaxies demonstrating the foolishness of time. You hurdle entire universes with one well-placed leap. You run further and faster than any creature has a right to. You run, crafted of need and knuckles and bone.

In the city, you are not running from predators or villains or anything with teeth. The only thing behind you is your own quiet room with your own quiet mind, snug and swaddled. And yet, no beast could pursue you faster. You run on. 

Past neon shopfronts and crooked bus stops and lurching playground swings. Past gates and gutters. Past empty phone booths that have all run out of calls.

Finally, you reach the riverfront, which even your legs cannot leap. You stand, hands on hips, panting, while the river rushes by carrying all the sky’s stories from the mountains to the sea. You stand, panting.

In the frosty night, your breath is a white dove testing the buoyancy of air. It leaves your lips, beats its wings twice, and takes off into the night.


Postcard from the Party

Postcard from the Party

You have to be invited, and there’s nothing
you can do to be asked. Headlines and bloodlines
don’t help. It’s a long way from home but I’m
here, the view much better than I’m used to.
How did this happen? Dumb but good luck,
right place and time, the planets aligned.
No contract, no deadline, no risk. And what
did I do to deserve this? Slept with all
the wrong people, gambled too much on friends
of friends with light bulbs over their heads.
Wrote every day no matter what.

– Wyn Cooper

Monday, 17 March 2014

Cabaret

Maybe this time I'll be lucky. So says Sally Bowles. Two years in Berlin today and I am in a penthouse where Cabaret plays with all the scratches. I put my legs up in the air. I drink Highland Park whisky. Everybody loves a winner. All the odds are in my favour. Something's bound to begin. It's going to happen. Maybe this time. Maybe this I'll win.

I believe in everything. I got lucky. I need nothing more or less than the clack of fingers on a keyboard, on a typewriter; all I need is the scratch of a nib. Did you ever think it would end up like this? All of the patterns on the floor. All of the music. Opportunities spring up like the first signs of sunflowers. The best is the moment where the seeds you have sewn in the earth are shrugging the top layer off like it was so many past decisions. I stand in my kitchen looking at soil being tossed into the air by sullen spring shoots, and I think that all your decisions are the right ones. Hey Jane, you fell into something lucky.

Luck and gack and fuck: all words in your throat. Fuck is the one that you felt when everything fell apart like all the hailstones on top of your intentions. Gack is the things that you just cleared from the clogs around your taps. Luck is the one you promised yourself no matter what the other ones said, no matter that the world looking upon you with heavy eyebrows and a penchant for the scowl.

Doesn't it feel great that you were right? Even when your freezer is leaking like a dog tongue on the kitchen ground. Even when your mailbox is full of demands like sulfur and brimstone. Even when you wake up with the tap gack all around and inside your throat.

If you happen to be rich and you feel like a night's entertainment, you can pay for a gay escapade.
If you happen to be poor and you feel like a night's entertainment, you can get whatever you want through wet tongues and intention. Don't believe me? Don't believe me. I make all of the promises and nine tenths of the curled hair. I make seven eights of the red lips. I will bring you something, that is what I promise, when you are weak and waiting.

There is something in these in these streets that I have felt nowhere else, or perhaps only in the corners of New York. There is something that comes alive and makes me feel like a creature who is so much more than skin. I shrugged off everything that the British had to offer and I have never missed it for a moment, except for those people who are still there and ripe like mangoes dribbling down my chin.

They all smoke and drink gin and I would hold all of their hands. I would run up and down their arpeggios; I would point my toes on the glockenspeils they craft as staircases all the way to their bedroom doors.

All we ask is ein bisschen verstanden
. That's it. I am writing along to Cabaret like you might sing along to all of the songs people around you once snagged. Let me tell you: I got lucky. Tomorrow belongs to me.

Queer stories at Another Country

Oh look, this is what I am doing tomorrow.

There will be food. I will read stories about mermaids and cunts and hearts like pyjama forts. A boy I like a whole lot will be playing music I like a whole lot. I already invited all the prettiest queers I know.

Join us?

x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Crossroads

I showed up in the city without a penny to my name and I thought I would make my way trading in hieroglyphics and porcupine quills. I set up a small stall at the dusty crossroads; I took out my crochet hook and darned myself a sign. It had taken a long walk to get here and already I was coughing up flowers: splotches of petunias and small orange roses. The ground beneath my feet was beginning to resemble the cemetry beds of freshly buried Catholics and I hocked up a string of pansies, promising myself I'd quit.

The crossroads were neither in the the city nor out of the city. They were the crook of an elbow where dust and vagrants gathered, where the hurdy-gurdy man serenaded the gypsy queen. Strings of necklaces were forever clanking and clattering, hems rose and fell like theatre curtains. The field mouse audience hollered, convinced by what lay beneath.

What lay beneath? What could you find if you picked and prised at this corner of the crossroads? Where the east met the north there was a loose thread, a place to be tugged and twisted. If you took that loose thread between two wayward fingers and gave a hefty yank, what precious ruby treasure would you find? 

You would find a hot wet gash in the earth, quivering with meat and promises. You would find tyre tracks and crumbs of asphalt, waiting for a fifties future. The crossroads were before time and against time, and if you were willing to whip the crossroads off the surface like a tablecloth, preying the glasses would balance, then you'd better have opened your throat in time for slick new meat.

I was not willing: the crossroads were my home. At least, the crossroads were a new set of strings from which I hoped to craft a tune. I sold a chipped stone eagle to a man with three fingers on his right hand, telling him that all of the mistresses he'd ever waved goodbye to were bound to come back to him, soon. I sold a long, curved quill to a green-eyed scribe, telling him his stories were the thick red threads of Irish looms. When I looked at him, I heard them weft and warp and weave. When I turned my back, I heard snakes flickering their tongues.

I did not become rich at the crossroads; I never found my treasure trove candy. I did not dig deep and hit my shovel on the chest. I learned to bitch and barter and filled my pockets thick with pomegranate seeds, promising if I ever got out of this place, I'd make sure I could find a way back. The tips of my fingers were stained magenta: I had been digging in my pockets. I had been crushing seeds between the tips. I had wanted to look at my fingers and see wet meat, while my eyes burned for the moon.

Nothing in this story ties up like a neat bow on an expensive present. Nothing seals shut like lips. The moral of the crossroads is that every place you think is just the in-between, the half-house, the not-quite-there is already somewhere and seeped in its past. The moral is that no amount of running can take you away because your feet are hooked to the ground the way all of us are hooked to stories, and without the words to weft a real live life, all we are is the meat beneath the soil.

If I could take you to the crossroads, I cannot guarantee you'd even notice. There are plenty of places where the east meets the west; there are plenty of points where the surface of the earth is looser and less settled. If you know how to pick at hangnails, you could discover how to pick at the edge. Let's take a long walk to silent city, letting our hems swish and swashbuckle on the floor. Before we get where we're going, let's sit and rest a while. Let's be the dirt beneath our own feet.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Something to start this day

The sun is shining for the third day in a row. No, wait. That's a lie. The sun is shining for the first day in a row, but I'm sure it was also shining a couple of days before that. I'm sure spring is coming in increments and we'd be churlish to be too stuck on detail. Besides, yesterday I woke to the sound of hail and this bed was full of people, sweat, and giggles. Besides, there are bluetits in the trees. Besides, my own criteria for happiness has always been easily adjusted. Start again: the sun is shining and I am awake. What more do you people want from me?

This morning is for listening to rock & roll. Bo-Pete wants to know if you wanna have some fun, and your answer is: Fuck Yes Take Me. Take me up the rollercoaster and the river, ruffle my feather, ruche my skirt. Keep rubbing my feet. Bring me a soda pop. This morning I'm full of begs. All the things I would like. I'd like to go outside clutching a mug of diner coffee and stand on my own pavement, scattering seed for the birds.

Of course, the great secret is that I'm allowed. After a certain age, no one's going to stop you leaving the house with tablewear. You're allowed. Champagne flutes in the playpark. Forks on the street. A long silver-handled spoon you can walk around licking cream from the crevices. Of all the things we were promised: this one excites me. I can't believe I didn't have a single wicker-basket picnic last year. But then again, there are a lot of things I can't believe about last year. Last year, of all years, set a funny bar to follow.

And somehow February is already halfway through, and somehow holidays are coming, and somehow I said I'd write a whole load of stories this year and most of them aren't even started yet. If I don't finish something that I can hold between my teeth in the next sixteen days, I promised I'd give something up for a month. Give up cheese, give up kisses, give up dreaming of cowgirls. Give up the hours between two and eight, the funny coloured ones. Give up long dreamy inhales & cigarettes. Give up pouting. Give up all the Asian and Arabic spices from my rack. Give up morning rituals and mourning orgies. Give up on scattered seeds.

Not a fucking chance.

Of course, this is why I am dragged out of bed, eyes stiff and swollen. This is why I am making the effort. If I don't finish anything, I will have to give up looking myself in the eye or give up calling myself a writer or give up on believing in 68% of the things I believe in.

Still, all of my re-potted plants are doing excellently. Still, I can't afford a house boy to polish my shelves. All my dishes are clean enough and I am re-evaluating my relationship with pride. I am over it; I am done with stiff backs and solitude. I'm ready and willing to put myself on the line. Let's make a pact: if I stand up first and confess I am besotted by all of you and everything, will you follow me? Will you say it back? Can we all be the Spartacuses of communal crushing? Please?

The sun is shining and it is a Wednesday and I have only just dragged myself from the octopus embrace of the weekend. Unfold my stiff limbs and feel a gentle burn in all the places that have been crooked around necks. Eat the molten butter. Roll in small gratitudes. Tell everyone exactly what I think of them. Enjoy pictures of guinea pigs. Take the prize that was promised. Write my own fairy tales. Sit down at the desk. Do something, anything, to start this day.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The things we let consume us.

These are the things we let consume us.

This is the phrase that has been going round my head for an hour, as I tidy my kitchen, as I sweep the black and white tiles with a red and black brush, as I brush the cut ends of spring onions into the palms of my hands.

It is all about that let.

We talk about obsessions as if they were natural disasters, tidal waves sweeping over our barricades. Or at least, I do. We talk about obsessions as if they were not things we ourselves had invited, by making soft hinged entrances, by leaving crumbs by the door.

But I am forever opening myself to consumption. Or at least, I cannot refuse it when it shows up unasked.

I am thinking about compulsions and I am pulling molten emmental from jalepeno-topped toast and smudging it against my teeth. I am thinking about compulsions and I am staring at a low-lying yellow moon.

I am thinking about compulsions and I would like to give up on the things I invited in; I would like to stand firm at the door. This is how it works in fables and fairytales, always. You must issue the invitation. But.

What happens when you refuse to trade with things that dwell beneath bridges? What happens if you sew your lips shut and keep all the Bloody Marys sealed up inside?

I have been thinking about obsessions and I want to confess that of late I have let myself fall into them like a game of trust where you close your eyes, spread your arms wide, and collapse into the group’s waiting arms.

I did not mind if they let my skull split on the pavement because I was so tired of keeping my back straight that any alternative seemed worth a whirl.

I still. I still do not mind.

The yellow moon drifts behind darkness and I am thinking about obsessions and the rhythm of words. I would like to write everything down.

I would like to consume it. And I was lying a moment ago. I am prostrate and waiting for everything to come.

A small, purposeful extraction

We convince ourselves we are unimpeachable things, but sometimes we are still capable of running face-first into the wall.

The things that steep her in fury are so eternal, so common, she feels a fool to say them again. Stupid, thick-tongued wealth. Pure dumb privilege. Never—never—getting the strive.

And, then again, the things that steep her in fury are so intensely personal she can barely choke them up in her throat. This girl is sick of backbends, of being the bigger person. This girl would like to spit on all of your shoes.

They say that time is the great healer but sometimes time just hides the things that bile us, tucks them in pirate chests and wardrobes, squirrels them out of sight. And all of us, eventually, dig up our nuts.

We convince ourselves we are over it, as if it was a thing that stayed stable as a mountain, as if when you’d climbed it once you were free to slide. We forget that it keeps sprouting. Goddamn tendrils everywhere. Still.

Still. Here are three things that make this girl grin: a desk covered in the first daffodils of the season. Dolly Parton so very very loud. A small, purposeful extraction of this life from that.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Perfection

Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving. None of the things that come out of your fingers may be right: keep moving. The internet may tell you that you are a fool: keep moving. The words you said to your friend or your lover or yourself or the world may be wrong: keep moving. Say more things. Make more art. Be an ever-wriggling man-of-war with tentacles all the way to the base of the sea. There is no backing out of this world and the only thing to do with the wrong thing is to bury it in all the new decisions. The ones that may or may not be right.

But listen, you say, I am afraid. I am terrified of all the things I did that weren't the right things. I want to apologise to the world. Here is your apology: moving. You know, I am proud of you and everything you set out on the surface like skimmed stones. I know you weren't ready for that one to sink. In your hand it seemed so perfect, so smooth, so round. Your wrist seemed so flicked. Who was to know that as soon as it skiffed the surface, it would turn out to be for naught?

This is okay. I know you are a creature of terror and nightshade. I know you smell so sweet in the mornings, when your warm breath falls on the pillow, slightly stale and full of twisted dreams. You do not need to always leap and chisel those things away. Your quest for perfection is a stub-armed dinosaur trying to pick quarters from the sidewalk. Your thighs are too big for the bend. Listen, sweetheart, you are doing better than you think you are. You’re doing well enough for me.