Fortress

Who would dare to unveil

memories I cast into deepest corners of my mind?

Coiled up like tightly wound springs

hidden from prying eyes,

for fear of them bursting free.

 

I am a wild flowing river,

capable of flooding this great city of life-

 

I’d sooner drown silently in the swells of sorrow

than make islands of us all.

 

I keep a close watch on defending my rights,

hold a blind stare

through history I unwrite

in a fortress, I guard zealously

with violent pride, these wine-soaked days.

 

Sometimes I swipe the earth from beneath my feet

fall free, through thin air and

I dream of a soft pillow

that might catch me.

 

Though there’s no comfort inside of this fortress,

tears fall like rocks from my eyes,

the landslide of my pillow

fits the contours of my face, smothers me

seals me in my place like a sarcophagus.

 

How will you know my heart?

if not too tender to touch

pulsing the life through these veins

to stand guard, over all I love and all I cannot.

The Day I Was Born

This life is a book I shudder to read

characters enter and fade from the text

as I turn the pages.

 

There are fewer characters

fewer friends now

still, I read about myself in the past tense

and realise it had the makings of a Hollywood movie

with special effects and original soundtrack

with the camera panning, from one scene to the next

in a fantasy world that never truly existed

because it never could.

 

I played the part of numerous characters

none of which looked like me

I was trying to find my place in this big picture

trying to find my face in the crowd

I was taking off costume after costume

peeling back layer after layer

to find myself.

 

I often forgot my lines, missed my cues

botched the stunts

I was a bad actor.

 

With every costume I left strewn behind me

the more I exposed of myself

my tough exterior gone, my bravado undone

my confidence and strong words

struck dumb

my health failing, bones aching

my energy to fight falling away.

 

My past was a sham marriage

between who I was and who I always dreamt I could be

I had nothing to prove to anybody except me

I had big dreams and ambitions

I had curiosities

made bad decisions

I was writing this book for half of my life before I realised

half my life was gone and, I had not yet found myself

I’d never truly lived at all.

 

In the present tense

I unwrite the book, word for word

I peel the layers down to the bone

I take off my face paints

my glitter and gown

I strip myself down to the soul

and letter by letter

the words fall from my pages.

 

Chapter one: (Reading)

-The day I was born I was 42 years old

I’m just starting to find my feet now

one day I will stand up on my own.

 

 

 

Sentimental

These strange things that hold sentimental value

like my great grandmothers’ pocket watch

it has one hand only to tell the time by

and no longer winds or ticks, the silver case is badly tarnished

family jewellery, engagement and eternity rings

gemstones missing

the big old seashell my grandfather kept in the hallway for years

that I used to hold up to my ear to hear the sea

old pencil sketches he made of his allotment

where we used to plant vegetable seeds together and watch them grow.

 

Kitsch ornaments that play musical tunes

old teddy bears threadbare, stinking of age

knitted hand puppets made by my grandmother

stitches weak and unravelling

a moth-eaten Robert Burns poetry book

dated 1896 with yellow thin fragile pages

a rhinestone necklace that used to grace the youthful neck

of my grandmother when Clark Gable was her favourite actor.

 

The last time my grandad held my hand before he died

sometimes I can still feel his grip on my fingers

I don’t think we ever truly let go, do we?

The Room

Before I moved here
the room was clean, neat and tidy
pristine, there was a corner for guitars
a corner for creating music
a TV set and a bright sunny window
no dust, no cobwebs
no love.

I arrived and tidied up of course-

No!

I came in and trashed the place completely
I gave it that shabby chic touch
I hung the cobwebs and sprinkled the dust
I gave it that squatters paradise look, with added glitter
I left my muddy footprints on the carpets
I left my lipstick on the rims of cups
I made the cracks in the paintwork more apparent and
I moved in to add that, left-overs-on-a-dinner-plate appeal
yes, I gave it that lived-in quality.

I gave it; me.

The fresh outlook on life you found my love
me, in all my chaotic glory
no pretence left in my bones
no appearances to live up to.

I turned down the silence
turned on the music,
and dimmed the lights.

The house is a ruin-
a few years’ have passed now, and the room is a pigsty
me, my stuff, my creative flair and late-night brainstorms,
my creeping up the stairs.

while our guitars have been replaced, with photography magazines
camera club paraphernalia stacked under the windowsill.

There’s a large artist’s easel, paint brushes in jam jars
a desk covered in paint spatters, loaded with clutter

-Like

Old compact discs, hairbrushes, tape measures and diaries
old books, new books, paperclips and lens hoods
cameras, hair scrunchies, keyboard and mouse
I can barely move about this desk let alone the house
trinkets and craft bits and microphones and a wool hat,
jewellery wire, beads and a cinnamon bun; half eaten.

There’s a corner dedicated to paint pots and tubes
art inks and pens, there’s art on every wall in this room.
You know I turned your world upside down
inside out and back to front, but
this is home, and every room knows we’re alive!

Yeah, we should tidy this place more often than we do
but the same chaos inside of me, is inside of you
this room is a reflection
of a mutual truth, and affection
of passion and creation
of becoming and undoing
of unravelling and renewing
me and you.

Summer Roses

She turned a cold shoulder with all the usual cutting charm

of a butterfly with razorblade wings, fluttering gracefully by

moving through the scene, a silent tornado

slicing petals off my summer roses

to leave me with this bouquet of thorns

to remind me, that the petals scattered at my feet

would never last.

Itch

You know I’m well acquainted with your smile

having known you a long while

So, no matter how sweet you wear it

I can tell when your pretty face lies.

 

When your “see you in the morning, sleep well, sleep tight”

really means, “goodnight forever, good riddance, goodbye”.

 

If I feel an itch I’ll scratch it, every time

I’ve scratched this one down to the bone.

 

Yes, and I’m well acquainted with my flaws

I went through living hell to be collapsing at your door

I owe you my apologies for the fallout, I know

all I ever gave was honesty.

 

Yes, and I’m aware of how that might read

when you’re looking in from outside of the book

when the story isn’t the fairy-tale it seem

well, the story wasn’t a fairy-tale to me.

 

If I feel an itch I’ll scratch it every time

I’ve scratched this one down to the bone.

 

Hush

I need room,

my brain rattles my skull with white noise

basket case conversations, wastepaper words

I’m tangled in a creative knot

trying to unravel, unwind

my days used to have a beginning and an end

now I can’t recognise either

the markers for awake and sleep keep shifting

weeks bleed into each other around here.

 

I’m tethered to this wi-fi lifeline seven long days a week

ti offers me life signs from cyberspace

where everyone has their finger on the pulse

checking they’re still alive

it makes my head hurt, and destroys my vision

inward and outward

still I’m hooked like a hungry fish

that continues to be surprised at being reeled in

time and time again.

 

I need hush

shush

silence

nothing.

 

I need nothing at all to inspire me

switch off, disconnect

breathe and reflect on nothing

a deep concentration of nothing

I drift out into a sea of nothingness

until I am nothing, going nowhere, thinking nothing

until something comes along out of the blue and stops me

from drowning in the wonderful joy of absolutely nothing.

 

Something worth living for

something that reminds me I’m alive

something that makes me smile

something to unravel me.

 

Like those days when we laughed and danced

campfires and guitars

those nights when we talked till we lost track of time

like those years when everything filled our eyes with wonder

hopscotch and skipping ropes

ice-cream and bubble-gum

discos and celebrations

family, friends-

when the human touch meant something.

 

Shush

hush

silence

let me remember you.

 

Dreaming

The dust and detritus of daily life

burrows deep into the crevices and cracks of pavements

we once walked as children

dragged at the hand by exhausted mothers

smiling at strangers with childish curiosity

pointing at random objects of interest asking, “what’s that Mommy, and why?”

always why-

 

Daydreaming about everything but the harsh reality

of our future adult lives

that we could barely grasp the concept of by observation

from the comfort zone of parental love

the safety of not having an inkling about it

with a vulnerability enough to crave it, pretend

we dressed up in mother’s high heels

put on her makeup

played dress up like we were already there.

 

Whilst here, now,

-if only,

I wish it was still a game to us now.

 

These streets are now walked with eyes cast down

into mobile screens,

we block out city noise,

wearing headphones leaving a tinny hiss behind us

we collide, and brush shoulders

strangers all

we rarely meet eye to eye,

rarely meet at all.

till we’re home and dry,

behind the walls, we build around us

that seem higher and higher

every day

watching the door to the outside world

slip further and further away

from our grasp.

 

Like the childhood innocence

we barely recall

though it seems it slipped from us

only yesterday

when we slipped off our heels

washed off our makeup

staring into the distant silence of our mirror world

wishing for dreams to come true.

 

we never had a clue what the game was

we were playing.

Grace in Surrender

I lost my naivety

learned what it meant to fall

from the dizzy heights of innocence

to no longer be blind.

 

too wise before my time

I lost my sense of danger

as I tied myself to the railway line.

 

The oncoming train

the reality I never anticipated

slammed on its brakes to spare me knowing

what it would be like not to feel

my heartbeat,

but

 

for the rest of my days

I had wasted my prettiest years

on tears, born out of wanderlust.

 

I had wasted my breath

whispering into the night

lost in fantasy world

with no hope of mending

such fractured dreams, and

 

I’m a burnt-out shell of a former grace

with the truth etched on my face

I’m a disgrace but isn’t everyone

I know.

 

Now I’m scared of everything

and I think too much, too often

as do you and so does everyone

I know.

 

Maybe there’s grace in surrender

grace in hindsight

grace in surrender to next time around

grace in surrender to being still after all

grace in surrender to the fall.