Ghost

Ghost

S;

here comes your ghost again through the wall
wailing. The scars in the meat of your arm,
beneath spectral skin, catch on the iron nails
that hold up your art and make you scream
and pull away the muscle itself. With
scrabbling fingers, hooked claws, puncturing
the air like talons howling, disturbing,
disturbing my sleep and burning, burning,
burning the air itself with formless lungs
of rotten space that exhale tobacco cider
smoke. Nameless ghoul, wearing
another’s face come to take my soul
as I sleep.

To think,
that you return to me now a memory
rising from unfamiliar streets, when I
dreaming of chaining you and your
ghost beneath familiar flagstones
bloated, billowing through cracks
in the very stone; to smile and recall
crying at the sight as you drive
spikes from the railway through my
eyes and the bookshelves of pages
of half-forgotten verse turning
about you and I had nothing,
nothing else to stumble and
support myself against, along,
than the dream of a heart never
beating in time
with mine.

Of nightmares,
talk honestly about depression though
honesty doesn’t come honestly to us or
the gas of your breasts and your
thighs half-hidden in the shadows
cast by a dozen men’s eyes, and lips
and fingers but never mine though
they trembled and made the air shudder
in passion that left me sweat and
empty breathlessness
around the vowels of my affection,
trembling bookstore dancing and
blinding tears and scars on terrified
arms, and love.


So, I’m expecting to get my next novella in the Broken Polemic series out within the next week or two – make sure you keep an eye out for that. If you want to catch up (not that they’re necessarily essential for understanding, but they might help) then follow the link above. For more poetry, why not take a peek at Bluebird, or All These Words? I also recently wrote a short opinion piece on religion and atheism, A Gangrenous Limb, so you might find that interesting as well.

On Passion

On Passion

Mightn’t it make more sense to spill my passions out upon the floor,
Than direct it in meaningless frustration at these hollow keys,
And the clicking clatter of their tombstone impact upon the white-page door –
To ignore the lure of life’s great, dreadful typewriting ink seas,
And its prison-cell freedom;
And simply live?
Simply love?
Simply wear my knees to a ragged mess as I crawl to your apartment door,
Or to the door of your family home in the Northern night?

To ignore the maddening pulse of drug-dealing conversation’s lure
And the threatening theatre of post office robberies in the half-light,
And the smoking meth addicts outside the body of our Queen?
To ignore the bitter rain sweeping cold and frost from the ground
And into my freshly-shaven jaw
And my conscience stinging like a needle
In the pit of my throat and the back of my stomach?

Am I not to fall in love, in a moment, with the girl
Who rescued a ladybird on a drunken bus as I rolled with the ocean,
From the depths of disturbing slumber to weary wakefulness?
Am I not to love the waitress with gleaming eyes,
Whose smile makes my meal taste of ash?
Am I not to love the artist, for a moment,
Nervously expressing her passions and hearing nothing
But the practicality of HTML 5 in return?

Am I not to love the women,
Who refuse to dance but instead sit and drink and stare
And long and mock those who rename themselves
In their public self-loathing,
After talentless Shakespeare melds and acts
And dreams from the nights of Midwinter?

Oh, me; Am I not to love?
Am I not to love at all?

Am I to resent passion as a foreign body,
And resent orgasm for residing within the thoughts of your foreign body,
And hold affection in disgust as a weakness not a strength,
A weakness birthed from olive overhangs beneath the Italian sun and ignorant
Of Roman ambition and Venetian Titian artistry?
Am I to read of love and mark it down and return to the underground bars
Which have been my home and hope to see you once again
And know that you exist and that you are happy,
Or unhappy,
Or spitting out your happiness with shots of absinthe that ceased to work their magic long ago.
Are you to spend your weekend with vampires?
Am I to spend mine with ghosts?

The metal road screams with electricity, moaning
beneath the midnight summer streetlights.

 

The moon is on fire.


If you liked this, why not check out some of my other writing? For poetry, why not take a look at Bluebird, A Red Dress or All These Words? For opinion, check out my latest essay on Atheism and morality – A Gangrenous Limb. If you’re looking for prose, you can always follow this link to my Smashword‘s page, or click on any of the covers to your left (at the bottom on mobile devices).

Unfocused

Unfocused

I can’t get the camera to focus.

All the streetlights are stretched from Heaven to Hell;
they make it impossible to see.

The sky pants to itself,
desperate, behind the yellow flowers,
starved, and crucified on the grass,
thirsty, beneath the splintered lights,
waiting for the cool yellow milk of dawn to sober it up.

The road seems brighter, stained with headlights that move like ghosts.
The underground bridge of colour,
and the dark alley of pure blackness beneath the sky,
don’t belong here, here; glorious here.

They scream to me, and tell me I’ve been pissed on every street corner.
They moan at me, and remind me I’ve fucked in half the alleyways between the bars.
They remind me that I’ve thrown men into brick walls and red doors.
They tell me I’ve stood, after wearing my feet all night,
and felt the blistering heat of the sun.

And the camera mocks my shivering hands, recording gold exchange brilliance
that sets the acid rain aflame;
the gasoline in the air, gasoline in the mist and gasoline in the fog of the industrial night
and the cold water dripping from a railway bridge hangs – suspended –
icicles of a moment; breathing –

Frost Giant eye diodes in the floor, brutal blue and lighting
up the bare legs of stumbling women hiding imperfections
in wine bottles and beer tables and vodka pedestals;
dried-out scars presented with surreptitious pride
and catches the haze of cabalistic laughter
from steroid-bitten throats,
and a taxi driver smokes as the train lines shudder,

and you,
shivering.

Shivering in your passion,
shivering as you pull the headphones from your ears,

shivering as you open the window of the 11:43 bus to infinity,
shivering as you breathe in the air of the drunks, already asleep in their seats,
shivering as you smile at the cocaine rain lines crashing across the scarred glass

and watching the lights of the river mutter
unfocused promises that they’ll never be able to keep.


If you enjoyed this, why not check out some other stuff I’ve written? For more poetry, try A Red Dress, All These Words or Bluebird. If you fancy trying something a little longer, then all my prose is available for free on Smashwords.

All These Words

All These Words

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of feeling the soul pulse in the stomach and spit;
all these words like black bile raindrops on a white porcelain page

And all memory of the moment is replaced with the aftermath,
and the harsh pleasures of endless revulsion become apologies
and concerns and damage control.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of feeling the soul shudder in the gut and spit;
all these words fading in the fluorescent light reflected from the tarnished drain.

And all things recorded are as nothing,
and all words that make the heartbeat faster or slower are a lie;
all things are a falsity.

And the nightmares come so easily now,
and the language of my dreams changed from English to Latin
and German outcries of hate.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of knowing the soul revolving in the bladder,
all these words getting out of the body in any way they can.

And I’ve seen you, S, in my dreams,
and walking through the streets of Liverpool and shivering from the Mersey,
and rolling your eyes in fever.

And there is no madness on the minds of my generation,
and there is nothing naked about our confessions,
and there is no honesty in our self-portraits.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of knowing the heat and bitterness of creation;
all these words getting stuck in the throat and exploding.

And that I were who I am,
and that all these words might blossom from my skin,
and my hair would be replaced with flowerings;
my sweat with the scent of grass.

And all these words were, once, the act of vomit;
and now they’re a memory of Rorschach ink on plastic;
of knowing the act of creation for a moment, and the dullness of maintenance;
and waiting for the shivering pipes to carry the water up the first floor
and washing my art away.


Last night, Saturday the 23rd of April, 2016, I got incredibly drunk. The drunkest and most obnoxious I’ve been in a long time. I woke up this morning wretched and retching and naked to the waist on a pile of old clothes next to my bed. I feel incredibly guilty and I’m not sure why. I’d like to say the being pissed makes me a great poet, or writer of some ability, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie. Anyway, if you want to read something that I didn’t write whilst massively hungover, why not check out some recent poetry of mine, like Coal Carthage, Bluebird or A Red Dress. You can also head on over to Smashwords, and download some of my long form writing for free.

A Red Dress

A Red Dress

A red dress, and said “when you were a boy”;
I choked on love; I was a boy and you were the night forest – lost,
scared, alone in you, alone with the wind moans
through bracken branches making a stranger’s bed with my name engraved in the headboard,
with half-satisfied boasts in the chisel-daggers’ art.

City light; hideous against you and joy,
when eyes above smiling lips should have tasted the nightmare frost,
icy wastes of Imperial doctrine, dust-ice on frozen tomes,
disturbed by our warm bodies at the end of the universe held by a strand of hair, a chord
breathing ragged lungs as I play my part;

The part of the boy, waiting for you to acknowledge you are a girl
with the withered soul of a woman, cut liquid legs and striving arms,
pushing aside the red, the night, the sound of rain on sleeping cars
and three-hour worship to caffeine gods,
rejecting love.

I’ve cut the beating heart out of poetry because I am scared,
scared of hate and preaching hate and letting you know I hate you;
hate overpowers love in a heartbeat,
pulsating on the floor.

And there are a thousand words for love;
your name seep through them all.

You,
in your red dress by the broken glass,
made me realise that there is no word that means ‘I don’t love you’.

There is no word to proclaim your weight as a chain,
a word that reduces your dreams and longing for mediocrity to dust;
a word that makes your love for Carthage impossible to understand;
a word that dictates the fading of our affections in favour of comfort;
a word that means nothing – and nothing is our confession;
a word that says I still want to fuck you, but I don’t want to want to fuck you;
a word that echoes, and hangs, in the empty space between us;
a word that blinds me and makes me grow my beard and cut my skin.

A word that pulls aside all fallacy,
and reveals my self-loathing. A word
that tells you about hatred, beyond fear and reason,
beyond forgiveness.

I don’t always hate myself when I’m with you.

When you wear that red dress,
I dare to think I’m not ugly when I wear you.

I can believe that I am capable of love.


There’s a poem I’ve had for a year. A great declaration of love to someone I’ve only met once. I can’t seem to match it, so I’ve kept it hidden away on a document on my computer. I’ve printed it out and crossed through every line and told myself that it’s ridiculous and nonsense, and never changed it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be happier with something that I’ve written and not forgotten about. If you like this, why not check out some of the prose that I’ve written, over on Smashwords?

Bluebird

Bluebird

Liz,

I don’t know how to start this letter.

I’ve spent hours; countless papers sprawled
across my bed and in my bin; that perfect opening line.

I wanted, in a sentence, to remind you; reflected
a thousand times against the glass walls
and above the pool table at 3:00 am beneath the ground;
in that Sodom that cut
through the drunkenness and left us sober and retching in the heat.

But I don’t want to talk about me;
I want this to be about you.

I want this scrap of ink to be nothing but a question mark for you.
I want you to tell me how you’ve been;
where you’ve been;
why I haven’t seen you in months.

I want you to tell me that you are happy.

I want you to tell me just how broken you are;
tell me about the sieve you call a heart.

Let me know that you are damaged, damaged
beyond redemption and driven by bitterness,
by hate and shame for your failures
and mine.
Tell me about the ones that fester in your stomach.
Tell me about the mistakes that can’t make their way out of your throat
and will never be confessed.
Use your fingertips to mouth your wounds and,
I swear,
I will absolve you of them.

I need to know that you are impossible
and that your hate starts in the half-wakefulness;

I need to hear about the summers
and winters that you’ve sweated and shaken through.

Tell me about the old scars,
about the dark,
about how you’ve covered yourself up with tattoos, tattoos that speak of music you’ve always had your doubts about.

I need to know that you sometimes look in the mirror
and struggle to look yourself in the eye.

I need to know that your pupils are distended and broken
and that tears slide along your skin.

I need to know that no one can make you cry like you can.

I need you to tell me that wine in my journal, stout on my sleeve and rum in the drawer beside my bed doesn’t really mean anything.

I need to know that you have found something
beyond the ghost of the girl I knew
and that there is hope for me too,
to survive who you were.

I need to know that there is something after confronting your ghost,
curling through the flagstones of foreign cities.

I need to know that every step is going somewhere;

forwards,

backwards,

left,

right,

ascending to Heaven or descending
to God and weakness;

that I am not held in place by chains like those which your spectre rattles.

Listen to me, Liz;
I need and I want and I need and I want and,
honestly,
I am desperate for dreams.

Dreams that I dare to steal,
dreams that I can pluck wildly from the dawn;
dreams that are capable of hanging heavier than your chains could ever have a hope to.

I need to be something more than this;
more than a caricature that shudders around a pen and screams out ‘No!’ above a Guinness.

And ‘No!’ is all I am, Liz,
all I know now that you’re gone.

No! to life, to holiness, to the locked door of potential;
No; to Edinburgh, to Norwich, to London and Greenwich and Paris;
no to Liverpool and Manchester;
No; the austere governments keeping us apart;
no; the zero hours that hold you;
no; the children crying in the doorway between murder and life;
no; the British missiles in Saudi hands;
no; the bald slavery of the rotten monks;
no; to Mary, sleeping rough on the streets of Wigan.

I don’t believe in marriage, Liz; you know that.
I don’t believe in marriage, but I would marry.
I would choose the chains if I were chained to the moments that we knew,
between drunkenness
and hangovers
and glasses of water from a bar that sells Trooper.

I’d marry your dreams, if I could; dreams of artistry,
dreams that go beyond stained tables
and tablecloths
and old men leering from behind their coffees
and solitude within the crowd.

Did I tell you that I saw you,
hours before we first met,
with pale skin and red hair and metal in your face?

Did I tell you I saw the ghosts of you above the pool table?

Did I ever tell you I think about you every time I bite my lip?

Once I’d seen you, I knew;
Knew that there was a bluebird inside my heart.

All the poison made sense, in a moment;
I tried to drown my bluebird in whiskey
and rotgut and whatever else I could find.

I muted incessant cries
and chirping with slurred words and glazed eyes
and lazy smiles.

And I heard its silence,
Liz,
like it was screaming.

I heard the silence one morning and tore my chest apart.

I broke bone and ruptured muscle,
split flesh and spilled blood onto the floor
and wheezed air and gagged on the smells of my own stomach –

Liz; I found my heart and it was empty.

Not even the skeleton of a beautiful creature,
just hollow.


If you liked this poem, why not check out some of the longer prose stuff I’ve written over at Smashwords? It’s all completely free, so I can hold onto some vague anti-Plutolatarian ethos. If you’re looking for more poetry, in a similar vein to this one, why not read Coal Carthage, one of my most recent pieces about my hometown?

Nothing

Nothing

Wooden fingertips of electricity puncturing the heavy mist,
the mist that doesn’t dance from molecule to molecule,
the mist that doesn’t spread like wildfire,
the mist that doesn’t expand like the crackle of napalm, but is slow,
pregnant and mute,
the mist that weeps into the eyes
and the cameras
and blurs everything into a short-sighted daydream;
the mist that cuts everything down to nothing,
the mist that simmers around the breath and takes it and makes it its own.

Oh you;
I want to hold you,
when we meet in the crowded mist,
and I want to say nothing, in so many words;
to have to say nothing.

I want to dance with you – if I could dance!
I’d want you to spread, from the hands to the heart to the mind and have you be my happiness.
I’d want you to crackle, across my motor neurons, like strings on a marionette.

I want our fingertips to be eternally pregnant.
I want our souls to be sterile
and newborn,
and to love each other like we were all that we had –
love each other like we were the world.

I want you to cry your tears into my eyes,
and have you,
and have you be my mist.

I want to see you, and nothing.