Wednesday, 15 May 2013

not yet written

i dreamed of allen ginsberg last night.
he was in a whorehouse somewhere in america,
wondering what to do
with the vast array of T&A
that was on display in front of him.
and i was right there too,
fourteen years old
and long past childhood
with bruises and lipstick and bright blue mascara
and judy garland cheeks.
i saw him,
bearded and balded,
trying not to listen
to the southern accents arguing
through marlboro breath
and absinthe teeth
but looking at me with those smiling small sad eyes
full of befuddlement and buddha
and he stepped towards me and held out his hand
somewhere in a whorehouse in america
and i led him gently to my room and closed the door.
his hands were soft and his beard was soft and it smelled like tobacco
and he held me in his arms and he couldn't understand when i told him
that this was the safest place for me to be, here among the old and haggard whores
who reeked of perfume and sloppy sex and all the old men who passed through
and paid me well and sometimes extra and who didn't ever hurt me all that much.
and then allen ginsberg held me even tighter and we smoked a joint together and he read me
a poem he'd not yet written and we laughed at the clouds that formed inside the rose red room
and everything suddenly made sense.
but then i was gone
and he was still there,
in a whorehouse somewhere in america,

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A rant about whistling

Are you Andrew Bird? No. You’re not. You are anything but a musical virtuoso/genius who can whistle at the same time as playing a violin or a guitar – or a violin like a guitar (Jimi Hendrix missed a trick there). So why the fuck do you think it’s okay to whistle in public? If I wanted to hear someone do that, I’d pay to see Mr Bird live in concert. The last thing I want is to hear your dreadful approximations of a tune you like that doesn’t sound anything like the actual thing. I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ. I mean, remember that fucking tune by Peter, Bjorn and John? The actual thing was bad enough – it’s one of the most boring, bland songs in the history of pop music – but all those fucknuts who started pursing their lips together as a result made it infinitely worse. Because everyone everywhere was doing it. It was the end of days, the death of culture through ubiquity, the transmogrification of an entire generation (and then some) into a parade of sheep, all whistling gleefully while they’re willingly leading themselves to the slaughter. Get some fucking culture, you fucking clueless cunts. Maybe that’s too harsh, too angry, an unjustified outpouring of bile for something that really doesn’t warrant it. But then, when I’m sitting on a bus or in a waiting room or in a pub with some friends and some idiot starts whistling – usually badly – it pisses me off. Personal space isn’t just physical, you know. You might as well be sitting there farting, waving the particles of your flatulence towards me with your hand, because that’s just as repugnant and direct an assault on my senses. I don’t need to hear you whistle. I don’t want to hear you whistle. Neither does anyone else, you selfish motherfucker. Are you Andrew Bird? No. You’re not. So shut the fuck up and give the rest of us a break. John, Bjorn and Peter – that goes double for you. Long may you suffer. Preferably in silence.  

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

low-lit (for DH)

late one valentine's night
i read your emails for the first time in years -
no longer digital but printed and dog-eared
and full of a younger man's older hopes.
though we both remain who we were then -
captured on paper, preserved in ink -
who we were then we can never be again. 
i still see you sometimes
when our continents collide
maybe once or twice a year
and i remember and remind you of your words,
enthralled at how our worlds diverged
and how i'd hoped they could always stay the same
in my dumb, naive, romantic way.
i still see you sometimes,
but it's never long enough
to recapture what was lost - the last time
on a wet and windy norwich afternoon
just minutes before i had to catch my train
(my past derailed once again)
to pass through my old homes -
but it's enough to share the smiles
of all the miles i never thought we'd gain
from all the things i never thought would change
but that i knew deep down could never stay the same.
so late one valentine's night
in an ever romantic daze
i read your emails for the first time in years,
your words low-lit, lying loosely on my desk,
our traumas waiting to unfold.

Monday, 18 February 2013


There was more I could have done. There always is. It’s like the perfect comeback to that cunt on the bus or on the train or inside or outside the pub that you always think of way too late, after the incident’s over and they’re gone and you’re never going to see them again. This was the same. I should have done more. But it all happened so fast that the cliché is true – it was a blur. I don’t remember how old I was but I think I was probably in my early 20s, because you died when I was 24 and it was towards the end of your life. At least, I think it was. Maybe I was younger, in my late teens, but I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter anyway. The point remains the same. Every time we walked past this one house round the corner from mine, on Mandeville Road’s curved trajectory, these two dogs would yap crazily from behind the double-glazed window of their living room and press their noses into the glass and bare their teeth. It never bothered you but it annoyed the hell out of me. One afternoon as we walked by, the front door to that house was open. I didn’t think anything of it, until we walked closer and I heard the feral growls of these two dogs louder than usual. Before my brain realised what was happening, they’d set upon you, plunging their teeth into your stomach, because these little fuckers were smaller than you and they got underneath your legs – or one of them did, anyway. And I remember panicking as this silent fear rose up inside of me, manifesting itself in goosebumps and shivers because I was fucking scared and I didn’t know what to do. I remember shouting and yelling to scare them away, but at least one of the dogs still had its teeth plunged into you and you were squealing with pain. I don’t know how long it had been – mere seconds, probably, but everything that happened in fast-forward blur also took place in slow motion so it felt like minutes – but I heard you whimper and I saw the dog beneath you and I kicked that motherfucker. I didn’t connect properly but it did the trick and the dog – I don’t even know what type it was; I think a terrier of some sort, but looking at pictures of them on the internet now they look too cute, so maybe they were Chihuahuas, that most redundant and repugnant of breeds – yelped in semi-pain and ran back inside, followed by the other. Luckily, you had so much fur, their teeth didn’t do much damage, but as I walked past the house I was fuming. But I didn’t have the guts to confront the owner, who was just standing there. I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t hear or see what happened. But I did. And I should have given him the hell he deserved. Even today, the thought of it makes me wish I’d crushed the skulls of those little cunt dogs. It makes me want to strap their owners in a chair and stomp the life out of those dogs in front of their eyes and then burn that fucking house down and hear them scream in agony and watch as their skin charcoals and their bones become powder and ash. Because you were always there for me – unwavering in your love from the moment I held you in my lap on the long drive back to Canterbury from the kennel in Norfolk – and, eight years later, I still love you and miss you like hell and I can’t help but feel that, that day, I let you down. I’m sorry.

Friday, 8 February 2013

dead skin

alcohol breath
counting steps
tinnitus leaking
from your ears
like life from limbs
crushed beneath wheels
- "did you hear? they say
he'll never walk again."

old photographs
unwritten books
the slow tick
of the clock
dead skin
turns to dust
and ghosts glide
through your dreams.

snohomish, wa.

the bridge was train tracks
stretched across a river
beyond a fence
we could have climbed
we should have climbed
we didn't climb
that day.
we swore with bitter breath
the next we would.
we never did.
not because
we didn't want to be a cliche
like the movies -
because that stand by me nostalgia
makes my bones break still -
but because
we never made it back
and time ran out
like coal and steam and train tracks
that stretch across a river
beyond a fence
behind a tattered sign with peeling paint
that says 'no trespassing'
as waves lap hungrily below
and ghost trains speed across in fury
as decades pass in minutes
and seconds turn to years.
i never even took a fucking photo.

broken suitcase

vast blue and vivid green
fill my dreams of then 
back when we were one long dusty highway.
we sliced through texas and its morning roadside breakfasts
glimmering with grease and our greatest expectations
as wheels spun past polaroid snapshots of vacant car lots
and bankrupt bail bond offices offering freedom for a fee,
where the slumbered homeless slept through the afternoons,
too drunk or weak or dead
to wake just yet.

and in these restless visions, sweat clings to clothes
and weathered veins bulge blue through tanning skin
and fingers twine tight as white knuckle drives
take us far from our origins to render us lost
cross country in that crisis-ridden continent
searching for a future
that was outlined by the poets of our past
and which we kid ourselves is hidden somewhere
in the desert's brimming, burning, ever-setting sun.

from greyhound station to greyhound station,
decade to decade, state to state,
the same sad hand grips a broken suitcase
and writes postcards never sent
because they can never be delivered,
like dead roads traced on crumpled maps
that can no longer be traversed,
that only exist on paper now,
inches long and miles short
of the vast blue and vivid green
that fill my dreams of then.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


More of his blood is outside than in, but the boy is alive. Stiff, crimson bandages hide holes in his hands and feet. His skin is translucent white. He whimpers slightly as paramedics wheel his stretcher through the hospital. 
“Fucking kids, says one to the ER doctor. They were playing crucifixion. Friends get three nails in before he lets himself scream. Parents rush out, find him pinned to a tree. Hes 12.” 
The doctor shakes his head. Jesus Christ, he mutters, without realising. 
Eight minutes later, he does. 
This one,” he sighs over the ECGs flatline beep, “isn't coming back.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

yesterday's news

our loss was
situational -
discarded papers
at the station, all
crumpled up
and muddied
by commuters'
dirty footprints.
it was as if
we missed
the 8.06
into st pancras
five days in a row
and our boss just
let us go
without a warning.
but really, we'd
misread the signs,
instead aligned
that caffeine-stained malaise
from all those days
stuck behind desks
in london grey
as life and truth 
when, in truth, that life
was sucked like smoke
from smiling eyes
to make us unnotice
how lucky we'd been
and how fast our past
had unravelled unseen.
and so, instead, we
merely stood silent -
the living dying dead -
burning our lips on too-large sips 
of too-hot, shit-brown coffee,
wishing for more milk, more sugar
and a fuckload more sleep

while we read yesterday's news
and waited for apologies and trains.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Thoughts scrape the inside of my skull like dead bodies dragged through a forest late at night. They dart like eyes in the darkness, bouncing off the walls looking for a resting place but finding nothing except infinite momentum. It’s too hot and it’s too cold, covers half-strewn across my legs and torso as I rustle restless relentlessly. Insomnia. Insomniac. Insomniache. I want to sleep but I’m wide awake. I don’t know what time it is, but it feels like 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, yesterday, tomorrow, last night, last year. The start of the universe and the end of the world. I hear cars pass through the curtains and the window, hear you sleeping silently beside me, you rising and falling peacefully and calmly, the way it should be.

But then I wonder if you’re actually there or just a figment of my imagination, whether me being awake is just a dream, that really I’m asleep and lost deep within myself, that this reality is unreality and this unreality my life. The lines are blurred and I can no longer tell. The dreamer examines his pillow. I pinch you and you murmur something, inaudibly disgruntled, and shift your limbs slightly, edging them ever further from me and towards the edge of the bed. But there is nowhere you can go. You are on the inside edge, the side against the wall, and there is nowhere to go except to push yourself ghost-like through concrete and glass, a dead soul sliding through atoms to mix with the crisp air of winter.

I get out of bed and I feel my way through particles of dark, tiptoeing as quietly as possible so you as not to wake you up, and I make my way to the kitchen. I open the fridge and bask in its cold yellow glow while I look for something to drink or eat. But there’s nothing I feel like so I close it again. I rub my arms as I walk towards the bathroom, wince as I turn its bright light on, close my eyes once the piss is flowing because I can hear my aim fine. I flush, then wash my hands and catch my face in the mirror as I do so – large, dark circles under my eyes, my skin a sallow, sickly yellow, pimples and veins decorating the surface of my flesh. I hope it’s just the light, that this is not who I am or have to be or what I have grown into, but an unfair reflection, a grotesque caricature, a replica that exists only in the parallel world of that late night/early morning mirror, but as I splash water on my face, I feel how old I’ve grown beneath my hands. I know what’s been lost.

I head back to the bedroom via the fridge again – still nothing I want, but I want something in there I know it – and then fill a glass with water and drink it so fast my teeth hurt. I refill it and head back to the bedroom. I can’t see you in the darkness. I can barely see myself. But I can feel the cold glass in my hand and I know I am here. I place the glass down on the bedside table, then take a swig, then put it down again. I sit down on the edge of the bed and the mattress sags under my weight. I lie down. I touch your arm to know that you’re still there. I hear all the words you’ve ever said to me run through my mind. I try to think of the last time I saw all the friends of mine who are dead now and remember what, unknown to us, would be our parting words. Always so much left unsaid. 

I lie back, eyes wide open and listen to the buzz of the apartment. Everything is magnified. The clock ticks louder with each second, flitting between the past and the future, my future and my past. The ebb and flow of your breath increases with each inhale and exhale. I can hear the fridge hum from the kitchen, even though I know I can’t. A car drives by outside but it sounds like it’s racing through my skull. My heart is beating loud enough for two. The hours pass and as they do I start to make out the shapes inside the room – the bed, the desk, the wardrobe, the record player, the clothes lying on the floor, books, a coat hanging from a hook, the radiator, the heaped duvet next to me, my naked feet wriggling restlessly, the bones of my toes trying to escape their prison. I watch the pale rectangle of curtain grow brighter and brighter until there is a world outside. There is a world outside and the world outside is waking up. I yawn and yearn for sleep.