She loves silently, stealthily;
a shadow of a longing that stared at him
from the bottoms of desk drawers or
inside undeveloped rolls of film
in which she shows up as a blur,
a cloudlike suggestion of warmth
and the cause for years’ worth of
bad horror films and paranormal fetish.
When we lived next door I would
sleepwalk through your dreams
but you were never home -
only our skeletons’ ghosts listing
lazily in the spaces where the wall
between our bedrooms should have been.
No. Should never have been.
One night I saw you, standing naked
in my doorway as though this were the
natural conclusion of every moment
of your life falling away to
I touch you and you shift; you take
the forms of all my former lovers
hungrily as if their shapes should have
been your own, hungrily as if
you knew they weren’t.
Our walls built walls around themselves
and I didn’t sleep for days.
I had to move rooms when I realised
I wasn’t sleeping because I knew
you were only inches away, had seen
our room without the wall,
clumsy extensions of each other,
and how can anyone sleep when
their bedroom is a prison?
Or their body?
I used to cling to you as if
you were a life raft, and I would not
be saved until your skin absorbed mine.
Now there are only walls and mostly
dreams of fire.
It should have been easier to burn
than build, so of course
I dream always I am bleeding,
our bodies bullets dying with the dead.
We are spent lives with closed eyes
coasting towards something doomed,
biting our tongues.
The blood streams from our mouths hot and steaming
and sounding like a scream from the tops of roofs
on war torn streets and into the empty sky,
answered by a breath of vague dismissal -
What more did you expect?
But tell me you don’t feel the wind in your hair,
tell me you don’t feel alive heaving forwards and forwards,
the wind howling sympathy all through the streets,
at night, sleeping under canopies of devastated clouds
and feeling the Earth subdued with sounds of rivers
that sigh with the tears of gods,
of a whole world’s feigned concern.
On the night before the Earth shook
and opened up mountains in the spaces we had been,
we looked back and saw ourselves on the horizon,
far back, dancing, so close to the sky.
Carved in our newborn skins may be the wounds of history,
but in our minds still the right to dream of bliss;
of moving through a place where time stands still,
of the warm, approving breath of sunlight,
of kneeling in settled dust,
of dancing over waterfalls
bathed in moonlight and mountainwaves;
of our children’s children,
of rain healing wounds and
of the place where the Earth heaved mountains
underneath our feet so that, singing,
we could build ourselves closer to the sky.
At first there was a ball of string -
nestled tightly in the belly of the first,
all bound up in mucus membrane threaded
with tiny suggestions of almost-limbs -
and each daughter the ball unfurling,
the string cut, the lives spent coasting
downhill, counting years on fingertips,
girls tumbling from each other
And of course I’d talk of birthdays,
of being shaken into growing up,
of life as anything but a fall downhill
with resignation in its effortless yeilding
but the truth is when I ran out of
fingers and toes to count on,
I looked up and found myself still
at the foot of the hill, small and feeble
as a newborn,
the faces of my mother’s mothers
crowded over mine like a spectacle
and a crowd to block the sky.
Perhaps I was always the endpoint,
whose solid and self-contained being
carried with it a suggestion of finality,
a promise of completion,
and they stand over me now
beginning to wonder why their own
child prodigy, end point of their lives,
the death of their name and their final
desperate throes at perfection
still hasn’t gotten her life together.
Why she is still writhing around
in the dirt, and I’m sorry but
it’s difficult to feel any older or wiser
or more complete when you realise that
you’ve misplaced everything valuable
you’ve ever managed to own.
Or perhaps they still expect my insides
hollowed out like a nest for something better
to grow and unfurl, something sweeter,
something improved, something that would
They are waiting with the patience of
certain reward, only everything I’ve managed
to produce has been clumsy, accidental,
or not in the form they expected -
all hot air and words dissolving
into a far-off suggestion of warmth
in the breath of the wind.
Or, more likely, I am one of those paintings
that only makes sense from far away,
and when you move closer, all unstructured,
fleeting bursts of light.
I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you
not to stand so close.
(This is a part of a zine I’m working on, in which I’m having fun with gory metaphors and attempting to draw)
You are in a room, lying on the bed.
He is leaning over you, but not really looking at you, more like looking through you.
His eyes are flecked with green, the colour the trees would be if there were any trees.
There aren’t, but his eyes will do.
You want to climb inside, want to bring canned food and cigarettes and a thermos of hot coffee and never come down.
What better hiding spot?
There should always be one safe place in the world, just one, that’s all you could ask for.
He snaps your ribs apart like twigs trying to get at what’s inside.
So it’s summer, so it’s Christmas, happy Christmas baby, there are lights everywhere and ribbons on the presents and a look of forced surprise on his face meant to conceal his disappointment when he does not find what he had hoped for.
You knew it had to be this way.
You are sorry.
You are the city children,
born clawing at your windowsill
as if you could imagine
what it means to escape.
At night you clutch your notepad
like a bible on the walk home
through buildings that sleep standing up,
or maybe hanging upside down
like stalactites with roots
in the ceilings of
The cold wind slaps our faces to remind us
that we are still alive,
drinking all and tasting nothing,
taste of drunken love.
In the morning they will sweep the glass
from the streets like settled dust,
and we will hold hands,
raise an empty bottle to the sky,
and fog the wreckage
with the warmth of our breath.
Winter is a place where
frost bites the faces of your lovers
one at a time until you realise
that as badly as you want to,
you can never save anyone
from the cold.
Tell me the dream of burning buildings.
Tell me how we were inside,
and how we were afraid, the smoke
clinging to our lungs like condensation
and me clinging to you like
condensation, and we ran
until we forgot what we were
Tell me the part where the streets
spun roads of broken glass and
torn up plaster from underneath
our feet, trucks roaring
past us like a sigh
to clear the wreckage.
Tell me how we stood in the centre
where the daylight splits in half,
and on your half the likeness of
my face carved into every surface
where you had expected to see
On my side, only darkness.
I’m sorry that you got to keep
all the light, and I’m sorry that it
doesn’t really amount to anything much.
I’m sorry about the scene I made at
the bottom of the burnt down stairwell,
my words catching fire before
you could perceive them as sound.
I’m sorry about the part where everything
we did was just another way of screaming,
like the overflowing ashtrays and the
scratches I carved into your back
just to feel as though my hands
were something more than
In the dark I can almost feel
your breath against my skin,
but when I reach my hands out,
The radio grinds out love songs
from broken wires, and tell me
that that doesn’t sound like
Tell me how we built new towers,
but this time we would build them
by the sea, so that maybe,
when the ocean swallows us whole,
we would not be surprised.
It was on the platform of a half-abandoned station,
my wine-hot face resting in the curve of your detachment
whose fingers leaked a smoke of burning green.
The end of the line was hardly the escape
that called you from the bottom of an empty glass of wine,
but it was enough for you to talk
of sometimes lovers,
of oil spills and rainbows
and street lights counting down
to the roads we built on tomorrows
because they seemed more solid than todays.
You told me that the secret was
to fuck more and care less,
but I was never very good at the not caring.
Or perhaps, too good, only choosing
to know that there is always dust
that never leaves your fingernails, and
rain that never leaves your skin,
unless that’s just the poet in me
and it really is as simple as
to run before it gets too hard.
I have always fantasised about leaving someone
with a closing line just blunt enough to slice their skin.
So here it is.
I hope it kills you.
Speaking of sunsets,
this one is particularly beautiful;
like the sky caught fire somewhere
off the west coast and pulled its blaze
in towards the city to be dismissed as
I think of you west from here,
where the heat bends lines on the horizon
until everything is smoke.
I think of you in flames,
burning with a pain that was never
your own, and people screaming in the street,
their mouths overflowing with apocalypse.
Someone once told me that if you were
to condense the entire history of Earth
into a single day, then humans would only
be alive for one minute.
So what does that leave us with,
a millisecond, maybe, if we’re lucky,
the exact moment where the clock
ticks midnight and it is neither
one day nor the next,
the moment where you drive your body
into mine like crash test dummies
in the hope that we might stick.
What would it say about my capacity for love
if I told you there is no way
I would rather spend my millisecond
than trying to merge bodies
It grips my churning insides like a hand
to force me from the folds of a stranger’s bed
and dazed into the burning sun.
It would have almost been worth it,
only we look so different in the daylight;
pale-skinned and deflated
and the spaces between our skin and clothes
the ghosts of who we might have been,
almost were, when the sun was down
just long enough to be forgotten,
the wine danced in our glasses like alchemy
and you danced on me like something
much more complicated than that,
more like your nails on my back trying to unravel me
and use the pieces to conjure something whole.
Only the touch of an arm on an arm at a bar
is less like magic and more like science,
a careful formula of slow blinks and stolen glances,
advances, calculations of cab fares and drink prices,
evidence of how want feeds on want, leaving nothing
but a heavy head and wine-stained bottom lips
and an equation whose answer means
a deeper void to fill.
We walk home, I hold your hand.
I hold your hand and wrap myself around your elbow
to keep me standing upright as I try to count the stars.
The moon is there, too. Look, the moon! Hello moon.
The moon is land, the moon is big and round and bright and blue.
The moon is actually Earth and we are standing on the real moon and it is cut in half.
There is a man with an axe somewhere,
he cuts the moon into pieces and he puts it all together one piece at a time
and then he takes it all apart again, one piece at a time.
There is a man with an axe and now he is coming for us, my dear,
coming to carve our waning crescent, coming to carve us new.
We hide in craters with our backs against the wall.
We hide in craters and pray for gravity.
Your elbow is touching my elbow and I can feel that you are shaking,
I can feel you are afraid, unless it’s just the poison
trying to shake itself out of your bloodstream,
or shake you out of your bloodstream or your bloodstream out of you.
We hide in craters, pushed up against the sides,
crouching down and now lying flat on our stomachs.
If you close your eyes and stay real still then maybe he will not see us.
If you close your eyes then maybe we’ll disappear.