Monday, 23 March 2015

Scrape your knee, it is only skin.

A tender disease is all it is. We've carried it from dublin to london and now to manhattan where the tree-lined streets pour worn out dreams from every criss-cross fire-exit.I'm still learning I am young enough to fix it all or to suppress it enough not to care.  Mourn the memories later, laugh now alligator, do you still sing that song to yourself from your old ashen grave, Phoenix Heart? What is it in you that refuses to be still? Don't you know now that love is just an insecurity? Maybe you called it God or maybe you called it Vodka or maybe it dripped from the tip of your needle, but it's the same thing really.So hush now, the damage's been done to all of us, love, though if it's all the same, listen how my own one sings on, plaintive dischord.
Later now, standing on the pavement outside the Chelsea Hotel (another pilgrimage, what a cliche!) and I do remember you well, how you stumbled through the kitchen and your cigarette smoke clung to my hair and the velvet coat I lost, and I whispered your name to the mirror, to the sky, to the river where a trail of white feathers swam past and I promised the world it was angels' heavenly debris. Prayer and love, no difference really. Prayer, grief, love, death, sex - little rituals. 

I remember the next coward well too, how I thought I might have replaced you and somewhere (from soil or ash, I neither know nor care) you laughed and laughed, winking at us. Just crack open another beer and wait babe, I'll catch you on the other side. (Oh, even for him, I cried for months.) And the next strange stir? Did it come from nowhere? Oh, tender ugliness, isn't it funny how it goes, it glows, how something persists, on and on. You know, he blocked you out completely, I thought I was healing when he threw in a light so bright it filled all of the cracks and I realised how blind we'd all been all this time. I did care and love and pray to him and for him, more than any whispered half-name, more than any still reflection or talismanic angel feather. Did I compromise with a tightness? A taut string, stretching and stretching. I no longer break, but I do bend. 

In the afternoon light pouring out over Brooklyn (why here, why now, do you fit yourself in?) I laugh at the old dirt still in my hands. I wonder if anyone else grinds salt onto their chocolate, lol. I can keep running away if I like, but I'd still have to carry myself around with me. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

I'll stand outside your window and proudly call your name.

You gave me a kind of sadness I have probably known before but must have forgotten.
Like the unique sadness there is to mornings. Like the olive grey light that slants across the walls when I have slept too late. I dreamt of you again this morning (again, sleeping late.) It felt close.
This afternoon, still grey, tentatively February, I acknowledged acceptance of a kind, but it was like sinking into bathwater a few degrees too cold. I have been cutting fragments of my self away bit by bit and eagerly handing you the pieces until there was nothing left, and then apologised for not giving enough. I'm sure there was a precise point that it all changed but it felt like a gradual lethargic degradation. A bow stretching, stretching. A hem unravelling.

There is something sweet around the edges, you know, I would have done anything for you (I would still.) But here I have isolated myself and have nothing to fall back on. I do tell myself to stop using people (oh, men then) as crutches. To stop looking for myself in others. I dreamt you up, if I am honest, I dreamt everything up. I once knew a man who was too alive for this dead world that he let himself out and I've been finding ghosts of him in every man who's ever called me beautiful since. In every drunken slur, in every house that swells with silence.

Some days I wake up and can't move, and only then do I remember that particular strain of sadness (you do not know it until you feel it) only then do I remember the certain kind of hopelessness of knowing the bathroom floor after testing the strength of the shower curtain. But I have my rituals. Awareness of self-fragility is not the same as conscious naivety. I forge a quiet confidence in the fact that I have learned to accept solitude, it is a gentle victory. No one can touch you there. The days press on and stretch out regardless. Last week at 6 am I rode the DLR alone just to see the pink dawn bless the docks, and make silver silhouettes of the skyscrapers. I find a small solace in my ability to see love in everything, it is a gift that no one can take from me.

Some day we might find a soft place together.
Somewhere you say my name to me again.

Monday, 26 January 2015

fifteen minutes with you, well I wouldn't say no

Remember in our living room, someone's hand knocked my drink and glass glittered the tiled surface of an appalling 1970s coffee table. A red haired girl sprawls out gin-drunk on the swirling carpet. A boy, potentially beautiful, is playing Reel Around the Fountain on my guitar, but he's too kind to keep my attention (isn't it always the way) I remind myself only to be hurt by the tangible. In the evenings we traipsed across the grass to the petrol station to buy more wine or coffee or tobacco or porridge. Winter came and there was no hot water in the taps and we did more traipsing under four jumpers and babushka scarves and the rain seeped through our shoes. I remind myself not to be surprised, to curb my expectations but press on despite it all. I used to listen to the sirens and next door's baby crying through the walls. I fell asleep counting the stains in the rose-patterned wallpaper and felt free. In this room it's quieter, I fall asleep staring at the William Morris curtains boasting their old embroidered taunt; 'love is enough, love is enough, love is enough.' And it must be, it must be, I love, I do, if nothing else, I do love.
Are you any happier now than you were that day it rained and your best friend went to the beach without you so you sheltered in the 3-storey bookshop on Dawson street and spent an hour on each floor and bought nothing. Or the nights in that room you spent dreaming to Astral Weeks, and spreading out the tarot deck, knowing there was something out there, and sprinkling salt circles around you, just in case. Or when you took the train to London in the summer and learned how to pray, happier than you'd ever been. Do you remember sitting at the grimey green tables in that cafe, smoking and reading Jean Rhys in your black sixties' polo-neck and your black fishnets with your black fucking coffee, a magnet for the junkies and buskers and acid casualties and sad-eyed forty-somethings searching for the Manic Pixie of their dreams, while she just sits daydreaming at the walls softened by decades of gig posters and graffiti. Speaking of graffiti, do you remember that scrawl you spied on the bathroom door in that pub in Galway that said 'the boy I love just asked me to marry him in the smoking area' and, underage-drunk on cheap cider, you cried and cried. (Please, by all means, drag me to any smoking area anywhere and ask me to marry you, drunk or otherwise.) Do you remember the sunny days you spent wandering from Eyre Square to Quay Street and back again over and over, waiting for anything to happen, and the time you hadn't seen or spoken to another human being for days so you just put on a Talking Heads cd and danced and laughed at it all and prided yourself on your ability to endure and went out to sing to the apple trees. Do you remember all the times you sat in Stephen's Green telling secrets to the ducks, reading in the shade and the time you found the bus ticket in your bag that said 'Adult Single' and you took it literally and cried or maybe laughed, and you first read that Anne Sexton quote that said something like 'I've been lost for a long time now, it's about time I stop expecting people to keep me found' and you nodded with a knowing acceptance and the bus kept trundling.

But do you remember when we first kissed, in the cooling twilight and our hands knew where to meet and for a second I thought I actually had been found, and somehow the clocks kept going, and the city sighed on regardless.

We're all going to die, we're all going to die, we're all going to die! Look how free we are! We're all going to die! Can't you see everything is irrelevant?! We're all going to die! Hold me while you can!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise

Hush now, let the days come and go like anxious breaths. I'm not quite sure now but I don't think I've been able to sleep for over a month. In my kitchen in Dublin I left half a block of goats' cheese on the counter the night before I left. There was a silver heart-shaped earring on the floor behind the dresser in my room. Hahahaha look how far you've come now; alone drinking £1.85 wine disguised in a paper coffee cup at 2 in the afternoon.

oh but this makes it all ok, like it always does

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Catch me in the afternoon, I let your bruised light fill the room and it almost blinds me. The walls blush in your glare, it refracts and drags us out across the old lusty counters, the bleak car parks and winter beaches, the still pebbles. A dust that sweeps itself. Here we are something new, something varnished and pristine. I want to crawl into it all, and not to be untangled or unraveled, or something ephemeral to just toss away with the wind. I'd happily be a lamp-post, a mast, a whole row of reticent houses, if you'd only hold me still enough. We are not just collapsible or telescopic, not self-assembling old prefabricated tear-duct parts.

But here we have come to the year's midnight. I whisper solstice prayers out of my box-room window into the red-brick jungles of London suburbia. They catch and tangle. Snagging in my hair, a filmy stickiness on my skin, a snare for words or wishes. At least it's dark outside, dear, the night only knows to get brighter. You exist somewhere before the daylight, in that fragile time framed by the night's bodiless velvet and the brassy self-aggrandising old sun. Lace-edged, a frail tangibilty, a shock to each sense.

Meanwhile I have grown accustomed to survival, I eat at the right times, I sleep whenever I can. I go out wrapped in coats and scarves, solitary perhaps, but not necessarily lonely. In the evenings a few early renegade dreams bend over the alleys and the breeze block walls, they tumble out like nettles or ivy. The twilight swells smugly to itself, quickly cooling hearts or crumbling tin foil touches, and I can't help but feel a kind of selfish freedom. A reluctantly cultivated love of my autonomy, of the efficiency of my own two feet and the little wisdoms written in my hands. Between us we find the cusp days, the little hinges. Between us our soft powdered truths fall softly softly into eachother.
How sweet we are.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Darling, all night I have been flickering, off, on, off, on. The sheets grow heavy as a lecher's kiss.

No, it is fine, I do not feel lost in the slightest. Tomorrow morning I will step off the bus with an adroit indifference. I will not be late. I will put on my tacky apron and fix my face in its polished post-caffeine sugar-mold and hand out cups of foaming milk to skinny men with sculpted quiffs and androgynous girlfriends. It is an art, and a delicate one, to so calmly appear as though you are not trying to appear as anything at all.
I am not disappointed. Today, yesterday, last week - it has just been a lull, with the change in the weather, that is all, the cold is unsettling. It is the time of year I usually re-read Wuthering Heights and spend inordinate periods of time taking deep, hot baths and eating more food than I can justify. But anyway in this house there is no hot water (yes, yes, I know; what century is it? Obviously you've never encountered an Irish landlord.) Oh god, don't I have anything  better to do? What strange void have I found now? I could go out, like my horoscope said, 'you could meet somebody who really loves you,' (so, you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own...) but I don't want to meet anyone new, I know too many people all ready. Tomorrow though, I will go out, I can't stay here eating bowls of porridge and listening to Sylvia Plath read from Ariel while spilling wine on my friend's ***white*** sheets again. Oh but lonely people are contagious, all you have to do is catch one and then suddenly they're everywhere. Do you remember how you first caught me?
Outside the streetlamps have just turned on, a strange hopeful glow. I tried to explain to someone why I romanticise about flickering neon lights at twilight, but I can't articulate it. It's the same way I romanticise midnight ferry crossings and night buses skidding through the rain. Above the identical pebble-dash houses the sky is a heavy, silent grey, and the line of trees has - almost overnight - been transformed to the most gorgeous, nostalgic amber. I am happy here, I can hear a siren (a siren! A real siren! Unless you too grew up miles and miles from civilisation you won't understand why this is exciting, don't try.) Everything's fine, I am so, so free, and I'll have left before the last leaves have fallen.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


There is nothing like stepping out into the night in skyscraper heels. She tells me this as she shuts the heavy door behind her. On the step she pauses, teetering, to light her cigarette. Her hair glows, brazen and fox-red. Above, the moon is so bright that the sky is green. We laugh in the verdant light and walk out singing David Bowie songs to the pavement. Past the hydrangeas, the silent houses are demure and innocuous; every window is censored by identical lace curtains. I am craving the sea. Though there is something comforting about suburbia, the harvest moon solicits the old ritual and I am nostalgic for silver beaches, cold grey oceans, damp sand, salty lips and wilderness - lifetimes ago.

Tonight though, we walk to the river, more of a trickle really, strewn with polystyrene takeaway remnants and broken bottles. I am staring at the sky, I can't think of the moon (white as a knuckle and terribly upset*) without Sylvia in the sentence. I say this and we laugh again. Across the grass a group of hooded teenagers regard us warily. Beside me she is spewing pseudo-profundities and snippets of poems between drags, she says something about being free. I am distant.

Have you ever considered that maybe you expect too much? Hail Mary, full of grace, put your old dress back on and learn to kiss with your mouth wide open, we will burn and fade like the stars, but our memories will throw a light out for years after we cease to shine. There are lovers though; the men that will learn how to catch the chunks of meteorite that hurtle towards us. To hold them close as shrines, as altars, as pieces of another life. Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me, I don’t care if you think I’m sparkless and tarnished, I can be anything you want. I know you are scared of standing too close, of catching alight and burning to dust, but know that if you do, I’ll still be here to choke on the ashes. We are in love with our own suffering, how disgusting, how self-indulgent we are. Yes, yes, I understand you but look at how deeply I’ve been wounded. We are only a vapid subtext, she tells me not to believe in god, but trembles when she speaks of heaven. Doesn’t she know that in just one second with the right person, we are god, just as god is irrelevant? Salvation for atheists. Our hymns in tune with thoughts, in time with hearts, the psalms written in our veins, our molecular structures just as fucking cosmic as the whole dazzling self-sure milky way.

It’s fine. If I stay here, I could learn how to ground myself, the earth is solid, the concrete is cold: I can touch it. The grass is dew laden and star dappled and the damp seeps through my soles. But I am already too far gone, miles away with a man so bright that even the moon is jealous.

Neon text installations by Jung Lee, more here, a bit melodramatic but lovely - neon is my favourite thing