Swearing in Italian

Swearing in Italian

I spend my days wrestling with angels,
gripping and grappling;
I am regularly surprised by the amount of Mumford & Sons
played in the coliseums of Heaven;
what wars are empty wrestling rings;
nothing is so loud as the echoes
from empty stone seats flirting
with the skeletons of lions
and cannibals about the crucifix – licking their lips.

I spend my nights framing invisible scars,
with expensive ink from Rialto
and granting the same privilege
to mad doodles;
and only saliva or turpentine can bleach
the skin back to sweat only
the crushed bodies of purple leaves
can make the wiry hairs regrow;
like rat’s fur unrolling on the floor
of a shaded glass idol merchants’
swearing in Italian
with an honest smile.


This was something I wrote almost two years ago, while drunk in Venice. I’d spent most of the day walking around the city, admiring the streets and the canals. I stood on the same bridge that Byron did, surrounded by tourists with cameras and selfie sticks. It kind of ruined the mysticism of the whole thing, and what romanticism there was left there became nearly impossible to hear amongst the footsteps and chattering in a dozen languages.

Anyway, my latest novella, The Burden, is up on Smashwords, if you fancy something vaguely miserable and fairly existential to read. It deals with some issues I have around depression and identity and what the cost of any kind of mental treatment actually is on the individual. 

If you’re not in the mood for something quite so mentally-taxing, as it were, then check  out some of the other stuff I’ve written over the years like the short poems For Hannah;A Red Dress or Bluebird. And, as always, everything you see on the left is completely free.

A Very Gentle Suicide

A Very Gentle Suicide

She was smoking by the Irwell when she decided to kill herself and I couldn’t stop her.
She decided to buy a house in Marsh Green – in that part near the factory where the locals say they’re from Orrell and not Kitt Green, and take their dogs on long, noose-like walks along the Bell.
She decided to keep 10% of her wages in a different bank account so it could accrue interest.
She decided to cut down on smoking and drinking – she said it wasn’t doing her any good, and she wasn’t feeling electric anymore, just tired all the time.
She chose to find someone who’d marry her, and I told her I wasn’t marriage material and she laughed and said she didn’t love me anyway.
She said my chest hair made her feel sick, and the way my stomach vanished under my ribs didn’t look right.
She said I’d grown a beard to cover how weak my chin was.

Her cigarette smouldered in her hands, hanging over the water.
She said she was going to fall in love so hard, and then let it gently simmer until it wasn’t passionate, but a friendship with someone who wouldn’t want to have sex too often.
She said she didn’t want to pretend not to want a wedding day anymore, and wear a long white dress in some church somewhere – I said the one in Pemberton had a good reputation; down by that pub we never went in.
She said she wasn’t going to take my advice anymore.

She listened to me smile.

I asked her if she’d thought about having kids, and she said yeah.
She said she wanted two girls and a boy; the two girls could share a room, so they’d only need a three bed.
When she was old, and tired, they could look after her and her husband and it’d all be worth it just to look up from the hospital bed and see them looking down at her with such sorrow in their eyes.
She said she’d know that she was loved then.

I told her if she jumped I’d be sad.
She said that didn’t count because I was sad all the time.
She said if I wanted my misery to have an impact on her, I should try smiling once in a while.
I couldn’t help but smile at that.
She said she didn’t want dogs either; she wanted cats; two or three of them.

She threw the cigarette, still burning, off the bridge.
I watched it curve. It fell quicker than I expected. So fast that the moment was gone, instantly, and I never had the chance to catch it.
When it hit the water, and fizzled, she was gone, and there was a stranger in her skin.


I’ve started to wonder just how much of our creativity is dependent on us. Is it our role to simply take what we view and turn that into poetry or prose? Is there, then, no innate creativity? I’ve started to question how many of the poems I’ve written are simply down to the odd spare phrase thrown by women in conversation – how many pieces of prose can be traced down to an odd feeling? Maybe I just need to get over it. Stop asking questions and just write, write without consideration. Write without thought. Just let the fingers play.

For Hannah;

For Hannah;

I go looking
every morning, for the clearest view; for that
clean contrast between the greens and the blues.

I go looking on hilltops and riversides,
atop tenement buildings and trailing the gutters
through the cities and the towns,
to the thatched roofs of true, archaic beauty
surmounted with ancient waste.

Clarity reflects when, enrapt,
eyes lock on some impossible feature
of minute proportions.

And then the ink of pens bleeds into my irises
and turns to white-yellow trailing red into milky seas
of blackness.

The clatter of keys drowns the birdsong,
and conversations and the rattle of train wheels shaking
the true metal of one’s own clarity.

And the fog comes rolling in,
rolling in shrouded words
in thick black strings coiling,
in thick black strings falling
down the whiteness down the blinding purity
down the Heavenly earth turned Hellish in the mind
and the eyes more accustomed
to their own obscenities.


I’ve been away for a while. Threw myself back into education; lost what creative ground I had in desperation. Am I better than I was? I don’t think so. I think I know about more to know less about. My world has become larger and I have become smaller – subjectively anyway.

Anyway, I intend to get back into this thing. I’ve got notebooks on notebooks of poetry and prose and half-formed ideas that I need to do something with. So, stay tuned for more, I guess.

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.