Temporary Grace

This surface has a temporary grace

a fingerprint, a name, a recognisable face

here’s a shoulder to cry on, when the world grows cold

here are my open arms, my hand to hold

While beneath my eyelids

I am always awake

the architect of my dreams

choreographer of the moves

tearing down and rebuilding worlds

the playwright, script and scene

The actor in costume

a child playing hide and seek.

 

So, count to ten, try to find me

try to find me where I roam

don’t weigh me up in flesh and bone

that’s like staring at the building

and never making it home

you need to dig deeper

for the gold

you need to dig deep

for the gold.

The Vase

Like a vase of dead flowers

bowing out of existence

once vibrant, where petals and leaves caressed

now wilted, they shrivel and fall.

 

Love abandons love

our hearts land hard

broken, like a shattered vase

the shards of glass

cutting like razor blades.

 

We attempt to pick up the pieces

though no glue can mend them

nor resurrect those flowers.

 

We sweep up the remnants of our lives

until only a tidy sorrow can question

what might have been.

 

How Pieces of Me Disappeared

They set my feet in concrete when I wanted to dance

I lost my patience.

 

I was born to roam free, so they caged me

stole my lions’ roar and I lost my pride.

 

They discussed me like an abstract art exhibit

that they didn’t find aesthetically pleasing

I lost my imagination.

 

They cut out my tongue when I wanted to sing

I lost my voice.

 

They sent me to sleep with fairy-tales

of lands, they tell me, never really existed

there goes my happy ending.

 

Lullabies

You confide in the moonlight

night after night

your endless disenchanted lullabies

I know you ache to smile

through each wave of disappointment

yet the song grows older still

as do you.

 

Your world of false limitations

fantasies and infatuations

they leave you weak at the knees

far too eager to please.

 

You’re barely living, but very much alive

don’t underestimate either

nor the way you steal their hearts

when the mist lifts from your mind

when you drop your disguise

open your eyes

there’s more to wisdom than being wise

more to dreams than lullabies.

Nothing So Constant

There is nothing so constant

as the moon and stars

down here on the concrete Earth

we’d tear down the sky

if we were equipped to redesign it

we destroy all that we create

even our own history

deleted scenes

memories edited to suit peace of mind

recalling only the favourable times

decorating them with pretty words

anything less than perfect is an eyesore

I dissect everything I ever knew

under the scrutiny of the constant moon.

 

Intelligence

To monotony and mediocrity; chained
in the wreckage and ruin of an average day
I rack my brain and try to recall
the last time the media excited my intellect
after all
it’s been a while since emotions were deemed important
to the human cause
as I slalom downhill through drifts of disappointment
it’s like we’re in this race to complete a chore
a complete bore
with a lack of adrenaline and endorphins.

to endure this mundanity
requires total indifference.

I’m different-
an ‘as is’ package
I contain all ingredients
all flavours of emotion
and I recall what it meant to be alive
I can taste the bitterness
the sweetness, the false and the true
in each bite that I take out of life
and when it comes to the crunch
I swallow it down with the salt of my tears
because I wasn’t born for a nonchalant world
of half-assed entertainment, cheap deals, ready meals
a defecation on-demand ideal.

Reduced to the products we buy into
we’re the profit margins
percentages, labels
price tags and barcodes
of an ethos devised by men in high places
who drive fast cars, who have fat wallets
who live in big houses with plastic wives
who go under the knife to stay young
whose diamonds and sequins make them sparkle and shine.

While some may stare enviously
at the lack of laughter lines
and want their share of
Botox, liposuction, plump pouts
facelifts, designer vaginas, boob jobs
I seriously doubt
they own any
of the insecurities, they flaunt day in day out
That demand they conform
to the only ideal they know
-a fake.

Well, damn society
for deeming the contents less important
than the book cover
intelligence less worthy than breasts
the brain might be our sexiest, most sensual
most alluring feature
and intelligence makes us tick
it’s the most potent aphrodisiac I know
you should try it sometime.

 

Open

These bones of broken faith

crushed by the hand of fate

this twisted contorted us.

 

Staring through our mirror world

we sing the same lullaby

a hymn to lost time

we reflect each other’s light

it is just

-another sleepless night

 

where words cascade from my fingertips

letters slide off the pages

swallowed by the pools of black ink

my tears have become.

 

I regret what is past

cannot be undone

these brittle remains

disintegrate as I sip

each sweet word that passes your lips.

 

I need you to sit beside me

read me to the end of the book

leave the last page open.

Hindsight

How often my heart sinks when you talk that way,

when you remind me

how it was when I was drowning.

 

Caught in a maelstrom of emotions, delusions and paranoia

when I was lost to myself completely.

 

Now I watch and listen, over my glass of gin

tonic, ice and a slice of citrus, bittersweet

pondering possible cures.

 

There are no answers

when the light leaves your eyes,

not even a healthy dose of hindsight, and wishful thinking.

For the Lost

For the ones who stagger drunk

down dim lit alleyways, 3 in the morning

past graffiti-stained walls

through piss scented subways

those who blow smoke rings at the moon.

 

Those blown from one disaster to the next

like yesterday’s news blown in the wind

for the ones rocking back and forth

cold sweat running down their spines

head in hands, worried for their sanity.

 

For those crouching in shop doorways

asking for spare change

from passing strangers

smoking cigarette ends off the concrete pavements

eating leftovers from supermarket bins.

 

For the addicted and the abused

for those scoring pills and powders

those in the aftermath of the fight

bruised grazed and believing the lies

circled by the redness of tear-stained eyes.

 

For those hanging around dingy flats and broken homes

with nowhere else to go

for the dealers, for the whores

for the things that brought you here

whether you were rich or poor.

 

For the losing, for the lost

for battles fought at the greatest cost

for the countless ways you’d wave goodbye

for the countless reasons a new-born cries

you’re still worth the fight to survive.

Regrets

Regrets don’t define me

they have a conscience

remind me

refine me

guide me

adjust, redesign me

they find me

walk beside and behind me

they change me for the better

wise me up

shake me awake

shock me real

turn me around

I turn on my heel,

they drop the hints

push me forward

give me reality checks

give me facts

behind the lies

behind the eyes

I’ll never deny them, but

they’ll fuck me up if I repeat them.

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.

 

 

 

Caricatures

Sitting in the tavern

waiting for food to arrive

the table next to us

massaging its ego

six people in total

four doing the talking.

 

One of the four, an outrageously camp guy

whose effeminate mannerisms and voice

made him obvious

was the more sensible conversationalist

most the time.

 

Another was a lady with a posh prim English accent

who, over-accentuated words

clearly spoken full of upper-class pomp

she seemed to like to maintain, her idea of personal status

boasting about her education and upbringing

she had an air of self-importance, insulting to watch.

 

The next guy sitting adjacent to her

had a bunch of witty anecdotes

for all occasions, most of it ridiculously unlikely

most likely bullshit

he was one of those ‘popular guy’ types

alpha male, one of the lads

but it kept the conversation fresh

his lies, were well-rehearsed

 

While across the table an American woman

with a blunt, self-righteous humour about her

with an over the top ‘put on’ laughter

painfully embarrassing to listen to

impossible to avoid

the laugh would last for a while and then stop abruptly on cue

it screamed through everyone in the bar

fake as hell, ridiculous

loud as a fog horn

we couldn’t hear ourselves think.

 

When their food arrived

there was peace for a while.

 

The waitress could barely keep a straight face

she tried so hard but she cracked a little.

 

 

 

 

 

Shape-shifters

The agreeable sort concern me

those yes men, yes women

who’ll bend over backward

to grab your attention

shape-shift to fit the mood

chameleons, slippery little critters

if you’re in the right crowd

at the right time, with the right face

if you’re popular, if the pieces fit

if you have anything they want

anything they crave,

they’ll suck up to you like leeches

they’ll wear your mark of approval

like a flashing neon sign

sirens blazing,

arrows pointing at them,

whilst screaming look at me! Look at me!

They’ll follow you like a lost hound

everywhere you go

in case you might adopt them

or throw them a bone to chew

they might even share it with you

something you can both sink your teeth into

you’ll begin to wonder

at the bones, you’re picking

you’re living, but who’s living it

who are these impostors?

 

Whoring for attention on your time

sneaky opportunist bastards

I don’t trust them, they don’t like me so much

these days.

 

Fade

Days pale into insignificance

dreams fade with the first light of day

I remain like driftwood

waiting on the shoreline

to be washed away by the tide, lost to time

I leave no impression in the sand

nor bruise on your heart.

 

My bottled dreams cast aside

our picture torn in two

heartfelt words laid to waste

this page, a blank canvas now.

 

Drunk with the heat of the sun on my brow

you are no more than a mirage

this too will fade.

Hypothermia

The thin ice where we danced together

had been weakening for a while.

 

I watched your smile and mine

slowly turn to frowns.

 

The cracks appeared swiftly

once they began to show.

 

We had shared the same dream, but

we were competing for the same ray of sun.

 

So the icy water gripped our bones

and together we drowned.

 

We pulled each other under

struggling for air in the deep water.

 

Nothing is ever solid as it seems

we murdered the dream that day.

The Remedy

I close my mouth and listen

to words unspoken

they shout louder than silence.

 

Dissolve on my tongue

like bitter pills

I am reluctant to swallow.

 

I take the remedy

like a worm in my gut

eating me inside out.

 

You might thank me

for what I didn’t say

if you knew how it felt

to feel.

Get Passionate

If you get easily angered by passion

you’ve become part of the problem

your apathy is a valuable asset to politics

lay down at the doorstep, watch them walk all over you

wiping and dragging their feet as they go.

 

They love that you can’t muster the energy for debate

your boredom and disinterested glances

they appreciate your lack of intelligence

keep switching channels, till you fall asleep

big brother has you on camera 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Your every move is scrutinised and monitored for surveillance and your ‘protection’

they keep their own world top secret as much as possible

they choose words of convenience smoke and mirrors, cloak and dagger

social triggers.

 

They prefer you don’t stand up and be counted in peaceful protest

showing solidarity with your fellow man, woman and child

they’ll contain you with an underfunded police force

they thrive on your ignorance, fear and inability to fight.

 

Do you comprehend?

 

They dumb you down, they count you out

they abuse your human rights, your dignity

now they want another war and they want you to fight it

want to spill your blood and mine, so they don’t get near to it.

 

While they sip champagne on the side-line

delay your pension, grab at your earnings

they want you to turn the cogs of the machine as they

victimise those in poverty

the mentally and physically disabled

to the financially destitute.

 

Now they want to cut back on school dinners for kids

they want to dismantle the NHS as we know it

want to raise your taxes, protect the rich

make health care a privilege of the privileged.

 

Cut your benefits, limit your housing rights

they want to criminalise homelessness

that their system caused; is still causing.

 

They want to attack refugees for seeking safety from terror

waging war on ‘terror’ with more violence

they need their scapegoats, a group of people to blame

they breed hate in the community

they breed racial violence and intolerance

they rely on your hatred.

 

They kiss babies and promise change

and with every baby they kiss, another lie is born

with every positive change they promise

the more promises they break.

 

With every scandal, they deny or invent

another parliamentary abuse moves out of the radar

their violent hearts drop bombs to cause distractions

they do not feel the bloodshed, they see gold.

 

No, they don’t feel it like we do

they do not feel the aftershock

they rely on our vote

they rely on our gullibility

they rely on our silence

Our stupidity.

 

Fuck them

fuck them

fuck them

get passionate.

The Music Box

She was the ballet dancer in a music box

he discovered sitting in the corner of his hotel room

with curiosity, he twisted the key till it would turn no more

opened the lid and dutifully she began to dance

singing the same song over and over

dancing around and around in circles

against the backdrop of her vanity mirror

he left the room and left her alone.

 

Becoming dizzier and dizzier and more lightheaded

singing to herself, for hours on end

desperate to please, with an urgency to enchant

even though he wasn’t listening

even at distance

as the mirror watched her enthusiasm gradually slow

every time she faced it

a teardrop slid from her cheek.

 

When finally he returned

he closed the lid

silencing her song, returning her to the dark loneliness

of the music box

he didn’t spare her another thought

she was little more than an ornament to him

a curio, a toy

her song too sweet to be trusted

her dance too predictable.

 

That’s what unrequited means baby-

 

One day a stranger will open the lid of that music box

excited to hear her sweet music for the first time

only to discover she’s been waiting around

long enough for the key to rust

her clockwork heart to become brittle

and the only tune she’ll have left

will be a remnant of a broken dream

a slow fractured melody

her favourite song, ending with ‘once upon a time’

she’ll struggle to find the notes

that made her sing

she’ll remove her ballet shoes

for good.

Sociopath

 

Whenever I felt your hands delve into my skull

I knew how you needed me most

like putty in your hands; malleable.

 

If you were to reshape the things that make me, me

go in and fix what wasn’t broken, smash up the things you fixed

you needed me; vulnerable.

 

Always acting like the one with all the answers

the first to speak up, last to shut up

you needed me silent; gullible.

 

To play me like a puppet

make me dance at your command

you needed me reliable; agreeable.

 

To validate yourself, in your own hour of weakness

you needed me.

Saturday (Explicit)

The nightclub toilets

are full of staggering heels

tight dresses, short skirts

fake tan and lashes

loud shouting women

fixing their makeup, and hair

with as much care as possible

after several shots of happy juice

there’s a heady mix of perfume smells

sweat and booze

That hits you as soon as you open the door.

 

You stand in a queue of women desperate to pee

you can hear every word of

gossip about the ‘dance floor incident’

where some random cow threw lager

over Angela’s new dress, in her face, in her hair

it was completely unprovoked says Sharon

bitch was trying to stir shit says Kerry

she was trying to flirt with Ange’s fella says Laura

this fucking dress is ruined says Angela

dry clean only too for fuck sake!

 

Fucking bitch, fucking slag!

 

-She mops herself up with toilet paper

wipes the mascara into a tidy smudge

plotting silent revenge.

 

Pissed up women are hell in a handbag

for losing the plot on the sudden

Stacy is crying her eyes out in a loo cubicle

kicking the door like a mad head

refusing to come out after an argument with Richard

cursing the tosser, for choosing tonight of all nights to kick off.

 

Next door,

Jane stands in a toilet cubicle with the door unlocked

half swung open

snorting a line of coke off the top of the toilet cistern.

 

Done, she folds the tenner note back into her purse

along with a credit card

sniffs and wipes her nose before shimmying her way

bold as brass past the toilet queue

back out to the banging tunes

the flashing lights, the ultraviolet

a crowd of fucked up happy fools

all jabbing at the air with arms and hands

wiggling their asses

dancing up close and personal

on a sticky dance floor.

 

This is Saturday night,

heaven for some.

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.

On a Broken Wing

Can’t fly far on a broken wing

can’t hit the right notes when they sing

can’t see the forest floor for the trees

my angels fell and bruised their knees.

 

Halos slipped around their eyes

as they stumbled on an idea less wise

to hitch a ride from the roadside

they thumbed a lift and stepped inside.

 

One red devil, in the driver’s seat

was totally baked on high-grade weed

said I’m going to hell for the company I keep

and just before he fell asleep

 

he winked at my angels with a grin

said so are you for the shape you’re in.

 

Can’t fly far on a broken wing

can’t hit the right notes when they sing

can’t see the forest floor for the trees

my angels fell and bruised their knees.

 

 

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.

 

Out of Sight

Out of sight, out of mind

out of the way, I had no say

so, you were free to entertain

the notion I could not complain

some witty anecdotes were made

my misplaced trust of yesterday

you think its funny game to play

when I can’t stand my ground

when I’m not around

to defend or to explain

to cut you dead, correct your claims

as you placed my picture in your frame

you think you’re perfect, what a shame.

 

Out of sight, out of mind

how fucking weak of you to dare

to make a comedy of my despair

to sit and smirk and gloat and stare

at my expense, and start to laugh

you find amusement in the past

I lick my wounds, switch you off

conclude enough is enough

knowing you’ll juice it all you can

it doesn’t make you much of a man

to confide in someone real and true

you can’t be trusted to tell the truth

I may be broken, may be bruised

but I don’t have anything to prove.

Convenient Parking

We’re not getting any younger

we’re losing our looks

losing our minds, gaining body fat

our bones are tired

our spark has died

friends are too busy to socialise

jobs, kids, date nights

holidays and lives

don’t get out of the car yet

yes, I know it won’t start

but we need each other

To conveniently park.

 

 

No-one Can Hear Your Heartbeat

No-one can hear you talking girl

they have their own dialogues

no-one can hear you breathing

no-one can hear your heartbeat

no-one except you

you stand on the periphery of the social circle.

 

Your sob story sinks you to the lowest rank

we only want the good news today, but

your happiness is too loud to deserve airtime

check in some other day

your world is on the other side of the screen

not here in a social media dream

go away, entertain yourself

go away and fuck yourself

but do something productive.

 

No-one can hear you talking kid

we’re all talking to ourselves

we’re all talking about ourselves

don’t have time for anyone else

I like your funny picture

I glanced at it between rants

I smiled at your meaningful meme

on my way to my inbox

-cynically

 

Hmm no reply

 

I saw you posted music videos

but I don’t know the band

So I won’t listen to it

I won’t waste my time

it’s not Ed Sheeran

no-one can hear you talking mate

no-one can hear you scream

no-one cares when you’re cut up

on the other side of the screen.

 

We can switch you off, report you

block your updates

we get to pick and choose the content

we can edit conversations, delete our guilt

we can deny everything

claim we missed your news

no-one hears your heartbeat stop

no-one here can hear a pin drop.

 

The chatter is too loud

the news feed clouds the view

no-one can hear you weeping babe

no-one except you

this is nothing personal

we hope you understand

we really like you, but we just don’t care

we just don’t care.

 

Soulmates

When you find your soulmate

you’ll know.

 

your eyes shine

you remember how to smile

when you fall in love

for the first and final time.

 

You feel you’ve known each other forever

can’t imagine ever being apart

you are two bodies

sharing one heart.

 

No matter how many others

you have known and kissed

and used the word ‘love’

to describe it.

 

You have never truly loved

like this.

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.