Vigil

Vigil

This should feel like bliss,

like it does for him

except you’ve gone from tired to high alert

in the time it takes to drive

the five minutes back to his place.

His sweet embrace does nothing

to change your unconscious response

to different bedsheets

as insomnia replaces your ability to sleep.

Counting sheep hasn’t worked in years;

they’re just prey, after all,

to your predatory fears come out to play

and your mind is a coward,

feeding you to the ghosts

for your usual dose of triggers, growing like weeds

somewhere you’re trying to plant only seeds of peace,

but for the former to die and the latter to grow

they both need exposure to air.

So as he holds you close, remind yourself

that underneath this choking layer of soil,

somewhere lies a radical act of self care

and you’re prepared to take the hit,

maybe eventually your body will switch off

and dissolve these flashbacks bit by bit,

maybe one of these days you’ll sink into the pillow

next to him, reaping what you sow,

his gentle breath on your neck,

in a bed that feels like home.

Pickle Jar Karma

Pickle Jar Karma

Today I’ll sit right in the middle of it,

in the thick, dense, lush bustle of love.

It does not do me any good

to exist on the periphery of this one.

Feel the pulse of my heart beat

as it runs through your finger tips

and turns your lips the richest mix

of red and pink. Forget all future things;

now is for sinking into our spirits,

the way yours sparkles through your eyes

and I’ve lost all doubt in universal signs,

spellbound in this spotlight for as long as it shines.

You’ve conjured up an aura that preoccupies my mind

with fascination for how the chapters in our stories

might use the time these bodies

find themselves writing the same lines

on the same side of the page.

Leftovers

Leftovers

What’s wrong? Can’t you stomach the meat of my raw words?

Why should I melt into pretty poetry

just to make myself heard?

Find different herbs to soften delivery,

heat them on the slow cooker,

turn down the temperature to a simmer,

my heart charred with this slow burner

till I feel as alive as a used piece of furniture,

one that supports the curvature

of your collapsing backbone

as you sink me ever deeper

into your salt and pepper flavours

and I’m sick of how your cooking tastes.

When I force down each mouthful

I’m chewing on hate

and this is too late to salvage,

no amount of running under the cold tap

would ever turn these ingredients back

into their natural state.

Yet here I am, and here I’ve fucking been,

I wait and wait for the texture to change,

trying to sieve through the mush in my brain

whilst I choke on this hate

that’s now starved of patience

from watching you carefully decorate this opera cake.

Repeated layer after layer

and I’m placed in the centre,

a showcase for the shop window display

and how much staying here do you expect me to take?

Your tongue spins sugar lies

made to sound like appreciation

but you’re a self-obsessed chef

dressing deconstructed plates with destruction,

spreading poison

with your rotting food and garlic breath.

You should have learned to savour this

but instead it’s death by leftovers.

The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman

Monday’s papers sing your praises.

‘What a show’, they say,

‘what a final performance’.

Hear the echoes of an applauding audience

as you exit through the stage door.

The crowd wants more of your play pretend,

a curtain call to delay the end

of your tour de force,

but I’ve seen this theatre piece before.

It’s deja-vu, I don’t need to read the reviews

when I watched you write the script,

editing out the bits where your heart lived

and calling it a work of art,

calling it method acting,

like you were just playing the part of the bad guy.

Carving your lines into my chest

for it’s so easy to forget

where the breaks come, where you pause for breath

before cutting out the section

where I had your respect.

Now I’m nothing but a prop in your creative process,

one you dressed in full costume

and cast as the princess,

kept in a tower

like the damsel in distress you wished I would be,

one that needed saving and would never be free

until you rescued me.

But this is the Disney story that never made it to screen,

where the hero and the villain

are two sides of the same person

and the princess doesn’t know which version to believe.

His charm is all that everyone else sees

but with her it’s coercion, it’s invisible chains

that succeed in depriving her of liberty,

threats that prevent her ability to leave.

He tells her she’s easy, that when she speaks

to male friends it causes him anxiety

and why did she like that guy’s picture on Instagram?

He bets she wouldn’t care if he killed himself,

she wouldn’t give a damn, and that a week later

and her legs would already be open to another man

as she tries to convince him

to step away from the train tracks

but he says he can’t bear to be without her

and with another apology she decides to take him back

because as he says,

if she loved him,

she wouldn’t just give up like that.

His monologues win him an Oscar

and five stars in the national newspapers,

he’ll definitely be remembered

and she’ll never forget what he said

about where she’d find his dead body in the valley,

about how it’s her messing with his head.

Fed lies that spun a spider’s web

that make her blame herself instead,

speeches that made him famous,

convincing the world that it’s love in these pages

as she internalises all that hatred

and for biting on his bait again

he’s offered a residency in the West End

for his perfect portrayal of the heart broken victim.

So as the fans queue for his autograph

she’ll don her disguise and quietly slip past,

return to those train tracks

and follow them till she reaches the station,

booking a one way ticket to a new destination

as she’s plucked up the courage to say it’s not her role to fix him

and this time she’s prepared for the tricks.

Like every good actress, she’s grown a thick skin

and as the train leaves the platform, the lights dim

as she takes her cue to curtesy,

raising her head to watch the credits roll in.

Extinction with an Open Fist

Extinction with an Open Fist

A butterfly, landing on your upturned palm

seeks trust in the warmth of your skin

and a place to rest, to shelter

in the spring days that still bring winter chills.

For the minute she sits in your hand

could be years in her life span

and yet she chose you, saw something

in the blueness of your eyes

that she wanted to be closer to.

Maybe it reminded her of the sky,

where her blessed wings allow her

to spend her time;

except you’re jealous of her freedom,

her ability to fly

and whilst you didn’t stop her leaving,

instead you took the fingers from your other hand

and in childish fascination

slowly plucked her legs off one by one.

Humanity’s twisted appreciation

for the wild creatures, who give us love

that we just maim until they’re gone.

Puppet Show

Puppet Show

If there is no God, instead can I

grant myself the strength to do what is right,

help myself decide

which piece of my fragile heart

I should be guided by.

It doesn’t know whose side it’s on,

where to stand to be on mine.

So much does it love,

but so much it is lost at the same time.

Would it be letting go

of the most precious thing I’ll ever find

or is this a lesson

in treasuring moments while they last,

learning to leave what no longer serves

my best life.

Or is it you, walking away from me

because I don’t deserve this gift,

have I not cared enough and in the right way,

have I been too afraid to give it my all

or did I give all I could by two months in

and the rest is my passive acceptance

along a road I’m not meant to live,

waiting for the end

like I can’t start my own beginning,

like I can’t be my own higher power.

You’ve Got Mail

You’ve Got Mail

Dawn; when the wild birds

serenade me into waking,

for even at 5am there are war wounds to nurse,

new peace treaties to sign.

The words I write are wet from last night’s rain,

folded into a paper aeroplane

and dried by the wind as it journeys to your door,

where you’ve sat up waiting for the news pages.

Today’s headline is ‘Growing Pains’;

the weariness when the hard work comes,

when our love hits the breaking wave

and we’re thrown in new directions.

We become the weekly crossword puzzle,

finding the missing letters of how we fit together,

the clues by which we are defined.

Turn to the classifieds, all that’s seeking and selling,

the ones you’ll read over morning coffee

with tired eyes from yesterday’s late to bed.

There’s my scribbled message in the margin,

my simple advert for a better life –

‘If I can keep you, I’ve already found mine.’