life has holes – 16 june 2015

“Life has holes.”

My mother told me when I was younger that the world had gaps,
had gaping edges,
had unfolded patches,
places where the colour couldn’t run, where the crayons missed, places the sun wouldn’t reach.

She told me there were entire universes, cathedrals,
whole oceans of darkness and sadness
and sometimes, not for negligence nor for caution,
you can find yourself opening your eyes right in the middle of the black cathedral,
gazing up at the altar where the priest wears black, where his skin glitters like the veil on a bride. She said you’ll stare at the stain glass window, where the colour is always blood,
at a picture in black and white,
told in shades: shades of pain, of tears, of torn flesh and searing wounds.

One day, my mother found herself waking to darkness,
to a hole she was collapsing into and no one knew why.
She told me she had simply found a small detail God had overlooked
in his haze of finding a home for Jesus
and a cage for Lucifer in which he could believe in.
She said the pews were like canyons and once she sat down,
it was near impossible to bring herself back up.
She told me there were angels and sinners alike who had awoken lost on the pew,
listening like she, to the hymns of the Angels that God never intended us to hear;
the hymns they sing at the water cooler,
they whisper behind the bible,
they call in the hallways of God’s home,
they write into their diaries long after Cherubim and Seraphim have sent them to bed.
She said she saw a woman she didn’t know sitting beside her.
That the woman told her that life has holes,
that she once had had a son made of pure sunlight,
a son who adored a man who adore him back,
and then one day he found himself in a cage somewhere different than before,
with his light gone out,
and someone else’s name written in fire on the door.
My mother said the woman told her that when she went to visit,
she saw her Lucifer still in his eyes but she knew not how to separate him from Satan,
how to bring back his light.
She said he said he wouldn’t walk out of the fire with her,
he wouldn’t leave his cathedral,
that he enjoyed too much the hymns,
was tantalised too much by the stain glass.
She told my mother that life has grey areas but people do too
and that there is always someone willing to walk through flood and fire to help you.
She said my mother needn’t worry.
She said God sometimes missed the holes,
that he’s always so worried about finding us a home we can put our faith into he forgets to fill in the dark spots and the gaping edges so instead,
he tries to put people far from them.
My mother says people roam,
that we like to wander,
that souls collate,
hearts seek out those that beat familiar
and sometimes that means we meet in the dark
or one of us has to cross a sad canyon just to find bliss
but my mother told me not to worry.

“Life has holes.” she said
and so it does
and sometimes the people in the streets call the cathedral a treacle palace,
and sure we all lose a loved one to the endless cathedral
and sure sometimes we get to see a loved one walk out and sure,
they do walk out into the light like a newborn, gasping,
but mother says not to worry about any of that.
My mother says, “life has holes”
and I know she means that mothers stay inside burning buildings to protect their children,
that brothers storm black cathedrals to retrieve their sisters,
that friends drown in oceans to help another.
She tells me not to worry about the holes
and I know she means “I’ll follow you.”

POETRY SITS UNDERNEATH THE TOENAILS – july 23 2015

 

I have poems stuck in places I can never reach –
you know that dip between the backbones?
I must have spread them all out onto my bed and fallen asleep with them still in the duvet –
you know the notches of the ribs?
I must have found them on the wind on a cold, February morning –
you know the bumps of the teeth?
I must have forgotten them on the floor –
you know the spaces between the toes?
I must have shoved them all into a shampoo bottle when I was running out of space –
you know the knots in the hair?

My mum used to tell me that you’d never feel clean unless you got every corner of the body with soap but know I just think you can only feel clean when you’ve got all the dust out of the stickiness of the brain
and my teacher used to tell us to ask for help when we can’t reach things but now I can’t bear someone else’s hands on the poems in my skin.
And I’m sure theres a word for this – perhaps it’s delusion – when you keep seeing bugs crawl over your flesh, but they have poetry taped to their beetle backs so I can’t wash them off.
And people say storm clouds pass but they drop down letters and the folds of my tummy are missing 8 vowels and the canyons in my ears need a few more ’S’s so I’d welcome the storm to stay.

And I know there’s a word for this, for finding objects with poetry written on them in other people’s homes but my Aunt has a tea set with a poem about fragility written in it’s cracks and my best friend has a diamond necklace with a poem about worth wedged between the silver plating and theres a word for it, I’m sure, but my kidney needs 2 more rhyming poems and my sister has 3 whole rhyming poems in the ridges of a glass tumbler she bought in France.

I know theres a word for seeing things that no one else can – for running up to little children with my hands like a cup to collect the sounds they keep dispensing, for stealing the tears of the weeping on a wooden chopping board and trying to carve them into hieroglyphics when I get home and my mum keeps begging me to stop digging my nails between the flesh and the peel of the orange like that but I can see Shakespeare’s lost sonnets down there and I can’t bare to have her eat The Bard.

And I know theres a word for seeing poetry in places where it shouldn’t be but I saw it once on the underside of a jet but I was wingless and slow and so I never caught it – so I know theres a word for it but I’ll just have to tell you that I have poetry in places I can never reach.

god – august 06 2015

The sun rises in the east in this world.
It throws Adam off.
His bones are used to a home where the sun does not set at all.
The bed is empty in the east.
This throws Adam off.
He is used to a home where his bed is always full.
Eve has left.

The baby cries and Adam misjudges this as a wail for all of sin,
for Eve’s wrongdoing,
for the problems she caused when the snake whispered what she already knew,
for the heartache and grief she inflicted when she told Adam she was made for something bigger,
that if he loved her he’d eat the damn apple,
that if he loved her he’d help her find a world she was made for,
that if he knew what was good for himself, he’d unlock the gate and free them from their enclosed paradise.
The baby cries and Adam is confused.
If God was all knowing, how come he did not relinquish to them everything they would need to know?
How come he no longer speaks to them?
How come they now walk in a world where the sun rises in the east and sets in the west,
and the babies cry
and the beds are empty
and his wife no longer looks at him and sees God in his irises but defies him, defeats him,
looks at him and asks for more,
asks him to swallow another apple,
asks him to help her open another gate,
asks him to ignore God.

Adam’s day begins,
he asks God for forgiveness.

Eve is at work.
She is not convinced this is the more she was searching for.
She is not convinced God knew what she meant when she ate the apple.
She is not convinced God knew she had to coerce Adam into helping her.
She did not like that she was punished again.
She thought escaping God’s garden would free her of his wrath.
She did not understand how she could free the human race, how she could have the courage to defy the only God she ever knew, how she could be so sure that her small heart was made for a world that held more than fruit trees and speaking snakes and still not find it.
In her breaks, she sits in the bathroom stall and reads the graffiti.
She questions if she likes God. She remembers Adam’s preaching over dinner, his prayer before she eats. She knows she is to love him, perhaps more so now she defied him but she questions how this can be fair. How he could not have given her the freedom she craved. She does not understand how he can be all-knowing but ignore the thumping heart that aches for more, for a world where she does not have to listen to a man all day at work and then listen to her husband when she gets home.
She is not convinced this God is the one she needs.

When she gets home, Adam is snappy.
He has looked after the child all day.
The child has cried all day.
He says the baby knows what she did.
Eve tells him, ‘Good. Perhaps he’ll know what I want.’
Adam asks what she means.
She shrugs and goes to shower.
Adam watches his wife’s back.
He does not understand what she wants. He ate the apple. God freed them. She is the one working, seeing the world, being the world. He does not understand what more she is looking for.

Underneath the searing water, Eve cries.
She asks to speak to God on the phone.
His line is busy.
His secretary speaks in that tone that means he just doesn’t want to speak to her.
She wants to ask him if he knew what she meant when she chose sin.
She wants to ask him if he knows what she wants.
She wants to ask him if he can help her stop everyone hating her. If he could get everyone to listen to her.
She wants to explain that no God has the right to create life and limit it.
She wants to explain to him that he does not own her, she owes him nothing.
She wants to explain that he should have left them without consciousness if he wanted them to stay in the Garden.
She wants to explain so much, yet she is limited with her outlets.
Her boss looks at her chest when she speaks, her co worker makes jokes about sex all day.
Her mother in law says she is not a decent women for not staying home with her child,
her own mother does not understand what more she could want when she has an Adam who will eat all the apples under the sun for her.
Her mother does not understand that eating the apple is not enough,
she needs him to swallow the seeds.
She wants to explain to this God that if this life is a test,
she can guess who gets the bigger reward.

When she gets out of the shower, the phone rings.
Adam gets it, the baby in his arms.
He tells her it’s for her. He tells her it’s God.
She picks up the line.
God tells her straight. He tells her that this is the world she was looking for, this is her more. That He understands why she defied him and He has forgiven her, He has bigger fish to fry.
She asks why then, if this is the more, if this is forgiveness, why there are women suffering, children suffering, why nothing seems to make sense, why her husband does not understand.
He tells her this is the world she was looking for, this is her more.
She hangs up in anger.
She wants the sky to thunder with her.
She sits on the edge of the bed, in her towel and thinks about it again.
She ate the apple to free herself of God, yet He has her still.
She moved the playing fields,
she is now in a larger Garden.
There are no snake’s offering her help anymore,
just Forbidden Trees that people keep locking her out of.
She gets changed and goes down to dinner.

At the table, Adam praises God. He thanks him for his all-knowing ability, for the punishment and praise he gives them.
Eve does not ask what punishment Adam has. She does not ask how God is limiting him.
She keeps quiet.
She touches her baby’s cheek. She kisses the forehead.
Adam finishes praying. He knows he has figured out how to give her more.
He has served her apples.
Sliced.
She looks at him, and he smiles.
‘I will be here for you through everything.’
She looks at him blank.
She wants to flip the table and scream.
She grabs her fork and stabs an apple, bites into it.
She smiles. Chews.
‘Thank you, sweetie.’
Adam thinks he has solved it, he has helped his wife, he has given her her more, every woman is stronger through her man.
Eve swallows apples seething.
She will never find her more.
God set up his game biased before it even began. He created Adam first. He created Adam so that no matter the playing field, he will always win.
He made woman his accessory. No apple can free her of those chains.

The sun sets in the west in this world.
The baby is asleep.
Adam makes love to his wife.
Eve wonders if there is a world where the sun has not yet risen for the first time,
and a God will make a woman first,
and the gate will already be unlocked.
She wonders if God deserves his power,
she wonders how Satan must seethe in his Hell,
she wonders if she will meet him one day,
she wonders if in his world, the sun has never risen,
she wonders if he’d create woman first,
she wonders if his gates ever lock.

revolving door – may 28 2014

My mother is an unstoppable revolving door.
She wakes up, always finishing one last job, always reminding us one last time, always checking one more thing. She goes to work, always finishing everybody else’s “oh and one last job” always fixing our “mum i forgot this one more thing” always promising to look for her missing career “one last time”. She comes home and cooks the same dinner with the same one missing ingredient she forgot to buy, always asking if we have one more thing to do for school before we completely give up for the night, always starting the one mores she’ll finish one last time in the morning. Even when she sleeps she thinks, one more thing, one more list, one last time.

My mother’s an unstoppable revolving door.
She spins round and round and round and round, dizzying me just to look at her. One time, she went away with her friends for 4 nights, and my Dad’s far too familiar with the Patriarchal system that our society sustains (far too familiar for my liking) and I automatically assumed the position of Mother because I couldn’t stand to watch our house crumble down after the one last nail my mother had hammered into the wall one last time to allow it to stand one more night. And I was more like one of those outdated, swing open right into the person walking out of the store, semi automatic, half functioning doors (which makes my Dad one of those stiffened lock wooden rotting doors you imagine in ancient castles, and my brother a 4 code, retina identifying, morse code padlocked safe door that belongs to government intelligence agencies) and all I kept thinking as I kept getting jammed with the force of people walking in and out, the one mores and one lasts that kept being swung my way, was…my Mother is not a brute force. She’s small and soft and gentle and kind and she pulls enough weight to kill her.

See, my Mother’s an unstoppable revolving door.
She swings and swings and swings and swings and she lets people come and go and to and fro, and she’s always there for the kid hanging on to her shirt tail, begging “one more thing”, and for the broken heart’s dashing into the street and screaming at the back of a head “one last time”. Please. Let me tell you one more time, one last time, how much my Mother isn’t an unstoppable revolving door.

2016 – no one ever kissed me a liberation, a revolution, an uprising in mid-march

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no one ever kissed me a liberation, a revolution,
an uprising in mid-march

strawberry laces held my trainers together when i was small –
i wanted to smell nice for the ants
i wanted to intrude their home as politely as
i could,
an apology for being so large but
please forgive me with my
strawberry shoe laces

when i got older my tongue had it’s own
strawberry shoe laces
it’s own moments
when the laces would
restrict and say sorry for the intrusion –
forgive me
when you kissed me you melted the strawberry
the laces fell to gooey ruins at the
bottom of my mouth
and now i’ve swallowed it all –
i feel butterflies when i open my
mouth, as the laces try to reform
but i manage to speak without
forgiveness – i say

“come back to me – i miss the way you kissed me.”

2016 – these days

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there are days and years and hours that ask questions and then there are days and years and hours that answer or so someone
(zora neale hurston)
said.

and ee cummings writes a lot of good things and he says (a lot of it) in brackets
and i’ve yet to master the importance of (closed) parenthesis and the significance
of absence
and yet i lie

i know the importance of closed (parenthesis)
because
you wrote i will (always) love you and now i know that the things hidden in smiles
can’t always be kept (savoured) held
and i know that’s unfair because you’ve taught me how to master the
significance of absences
and what i’ve learnt
is that they kill you
but slowly
like accumulative grief
like accumulative wounds
like 1 bee stings, a thousand kill
like death by a thousand cuts
and yeah ok
i could live without knowing absences drown you
but
is there not a hidden smile in it?
or rather…is it not held in a smile?

i’m no poet (my love)
but i’ve learnt (how to treasure)
these days how (the ache)
you still cause me (gone always)
remains (with yesterday)

 

05 march 2016 – james joyce and summer

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05 March 2016

I’m reading ‘The Portrait of the Artist as a

Young Man’ (James Joyce) and I’m
enjoying it in the way that I enjoy all
modernism – that ream, spiel,
endless, unexpected rhythm of the
subconscious which entirely
absorbs the mind – truly a step into
someone else’s mind – the connections
their brain makes with the smell of
pipe tobacco and soap – who they think of
at 2am. I’ve loved, or was moved by,
this passage

‘Whenever the car drew up before a
house he waited to catch a glimpse of a
well scrubbed kitchen or of a softly
lighted hall and to see how the servant
would hold the jug and how she would
close the door. He thought it should
be a pleasant life enough, driving along
the roads every evening to
deliver milk, if he had warm gloves and
a fat bag of gingernuts in his pocket to
eat from.’
At the time, of this I wrote:
‘What is the appeal of a simple
life? Without complexities, with ease.
Why is it that simplicity settles hearts
and softens nerves? There is so much
time for the complicated loves, the dramatic
narratives when the dullest part of life is
softest, simplest, stunning.’
Please don’t hold me to all of that. I
wrote it in a rush in the school study room –
trying to scribble some semblance of
the vast trough of words that came to
mind on this passage – and I am going
to try and make better sense of it now.
I think this passage (God, I hate how this
began – I think – as if this is a
school essay) stood out to me because
now, older than Stephen at this moment in
the novel – I am struggling with how to
professionally pass my days. The world
seems a vast arena – with so many roles to
play both in the seats, and out

and I’ve no idea which member of the
audience or performance I’d like to be.

Pushed, encouraged, guided into the ‘open’
and ‘supportive’, ‘eternal’, ‘everlasting’ arms of
a degree or of ‘formal education’ – I
am being pushed into complexity. Into –
detail?  Into the outer mesh of life when,
there is perhaps, at the right time of day, the right
day in the season, far more beauty, admiration,
enchantment with those professions shrouded
in simplicity. A milkman. Dawn and dusk.
A necessity. Monotonous, maybe, but – like
Stephen thinks, ‘it should be a pleasant life enough’
a distraction maybe from the passion you have to,
and i say have to, because humans are creatures
du passion and if we do not offload it into a
profession, then this is where we are left without
option, and are forced to leave it in our homes, so
distracted from the passion that you have to
unleash at home – be it
in love, in folly, in hobby, in your every
breath and movement – it must be somewhat
humane, somewhat, in a time of fast paced
life, of striving for amelioration and
job complexity, a job of salvation or of
advancement of the human race, a job with
‘meaning’ – it must be somewhat ambiguous,
enigmatic, regressive, to be a milkman with a
passionate homelife. And if that does not explain it –
close your eyes, think of a street in your hometown – think of
dusk (or dawn if that’s the twin you’re better acquainted
with), think of a van (like a golf cart but maybe
bigger), think of a trailer full of glass milk bottles
with the foil tops, think of summer, of the
prickly breeze mocking the hot air, think of that
afterlight glow, the amber, the amethyst of
oncoming eve, think of birdcalls, sleepy, jittery,
think of midges flying about, of sporadical
traffic, think of children laughing, adults chattering,
think of summer evenings – and think of home –
whatever home you have – think of home on
a good day, maybe the home you left
that morning when the light seemed to exist in
abundance – and summer seemed a red carpet
rolled off the edge of the earth, ad infinitum.
Think of that montage of senses, of bumblebees
and cut grass. Think of that stopmotion memory –
think of delivering milk – think of how
settled your heart must be, how soft your
nerves will be – think of that and tell me

it’s not a pleasant life enough.