Jenny makes a play of detaching her head and putting it on the table to face the rest of the group. ‘Sorry,’ it says, giggling, ‘I just get a sore neck from watching everyone talk. It’s like spectating tennis, sometimes.’ We weren’t forcing an exclusionary point, so the move feels brattish and the LOL in Lolita manner is disturbingly forced, those mealy blue orbs bouncing back and forth between us, watching smugly while her body crosses its legs and folds the hands on top. ‘Don’t let me stop you,’ the head says, but, as usual, Jenny’s killed the conversation.
I don’t have anything to say
when she looks at me
hollow, I think she says
not much by way of greeting
meeting her halfway, deep
in fleeting moments, chasms wide
my hand feeling what I ask it to
upon a curvature of thigh
heavenly inverse sloping
porcelain trained swell
I think, hell
and don’t speak
as time unfurls
sitting there for all the world
like nothing ever happened
she says, hollow
are you even there?
She plays hard to get
the way jelly sets,
an easy indifference
in different flavours.
I wonder if she savors
what she does to me?
If she does it deliberately
or simply exquisitely?
We go forward by default
it’s not our fault,
simply habits inhibiting,
learnt with time,
ingrained on our unconscious mind.
We sit on cardboard cut out couches
eating dinner from a box,
living in die-cast diorama dreams,
where sometimes feeling feels too hard
and talking about something real
is hard to imagine unless its on TV.
We play games made of electricity,
fused with no spark, sitting in the dark
faces infused with flickering blues
glowing wherever we go.
Communication broken down
into bits and bytes.
Digital rights that shouldn’t be left
to register on an analogue scale.
In an age of scrap and metal
where information falls like hail
and melts more easily
than the machines we control,
we go forward by default.
Once, you held my hand
You took my hand in yours
and said I love you
through your teeth.
You sat with my hand in your lap
and told me what was wrong.
What was wrong with me
eyes cast like iron
filings flung into a lake.
Once, I tied your heart around me
with second hand string
and swam out after you,
choking for all the good it did me.
I took your hand in mine
and tried to save you
You must not please me
Put your heart against me
Because didn’t I see you
In your dreams
Or is it a place
Where I love you
Haven’t we lost this dance before
Using hands that held me as a child
my mother crafted a cup
with soil from the earth,
painted a veneer
with words from my soul,
and presented it without ritual.
Silt bound into substance,
burnished like the truth,
glazed like eyes into the past,
empty like so many promises.
She has beautiful lips this girl,
plump and firm, pale crimson,
if that can be said.
When she smiles
it takes on the air of a spectacle,
a Broadway performance
as they slide gracefully back
revealing the uniform white
light of teeth,
an ensemble cast of joy.
They work in tandem,
lips and teeth, with her eyes,
those deep-set green forests of thought,
so that when she smiles,
when the curtain is raised
and the show commences,
her eyes work the room,
a talented spotlight to attract your attention.
And all the while she never sees you.
like propaganda disseminates,
a willful charm
you can’t disarm,
that holds you still,
caught and captured,
bound and wound
around her finger
the more you linger.
she’s a vitriolic vixen
you can’t ignore
but only fall for,
I wander the night in search of meaning
but all I find is cold, stale air.
My teeth chatter, a rattling tattoo
of sombre notes and mournful tones
played for one inside my skull.
My friends, I wonder, what of them?
where are they now? At home?
I hope, but knowing not their names to seek
for all that was has long grown weak
I huddle in and breathe
this cold, stale air that rapes my lungs
and having passed just leaves me
stung, hollow, done and gasping.
Coming down from LSD,
I tell my friend
I’m going to kill myself
and he smiles, thinking me a fool
and it’s true, though not for his reasons.
He thinks it treason, my attitudes
my apathetic discontent,
my seeming relent,
but he doesn’t understand my embrace.
I have chosen
and having decided
my fate is freed.
There is need no longer
to feed on malcontent.
I am liberated from deliberation,
alive in a land of opportunity,
knowing my death
waits at the end of my hand.
You sit down and for all intents
you play my chords the way they’re meant,
but I’m not sure, it just sounds hollow,
you play a tune that I can’t follow.
It seems to me upon inspection,
your finger’s movement,
placing and inflection,
the way they hover over keys,
only roughly where they need,
and now no longer in your thrall,
that you’re not playing me at all.
All this time I’ve loved your talent,
your style and grace,
your gaited ballad.
I’ve admired your composition,
your fleeting touch
and sharp precision.
But it was merely artifice.
Performance true but not a fact.
A simple farce, a way to lure me,
a little act, a tune in your key.
So now your lie has come unthreaded,
the gorgon gaze has been beheaded.
I see me how you saw me then,
the way I think you see all men,
as instruments or simple tools,
you play us so we play the fool,
but it stops here because now I know,
I was just your piano.
A beating heart
At home in the stars
Above the troubles
Of life and love
Above the casualties
Bound by vice
Held in thrall
By the deprivation
Of a beaten heart
Her laughter fell around me
like rain in crystal goblets.
‘How much do you want it?’
‘Enough,’ I lied. ‘What is it to you?’
‘Nothing,’ and I knew that it was true.
She had no vested interest
but for a fleeting fascination
with the machinations of my mind.
I often asked her for the truth
in those dying days of ours
though she would only smile,
rankling my spine with her indifference.
He looked at me and shook his head.
‘Son,’ he said, ‘you don’t think right and it bothers me.’
If only I’d fallen further from the tree.
I search the bough and dig the roots,
footing loose under leaf cascade
I strip the bark and count the rings to find a gauge.
Kicking rubble clear of recesses I have mined,
I find kindnesses kept in corners, and dust them clean.
Dirty, lean, forlorn faded scenes,
moments rendered in muted pastel mosaic.
Sic transit gloria.
Such brief euphoria
A cobbled collection of passed injustice,
weakened bliss and cracked smiles
draped over miles of life and lot
and lessons since forgot.