Night Terrors

Night Terrors

When Nox and I go panting

beneath, we
have asked the same black questions;

Who Sleeps Now, In The Hydra House?
Who Wears The Ugliest Chains Of Art At All?
Who Rattles The Bells Of Tinnitus?
Who Else Has Broken Their Teeth In Passionate Delusions?

Arrrrrrrhhh, you?
Is it you,
hanging in your silken slip?
You, my barbiturate?

Arrrrrrrrrrhhh, who can follow
that great shearing of love
in a look out the window,
and a panting on the pillowcase?

That I have screamed for angels! and asked:

Why Are The Mad Treated With Small-Town Philosophies?
Why Does The Shower Persist In Its Bitterness?
Why Must My Laugh Be One Of Such Cruelty?
Why Does My Heart Keep Breaking, All On Its Own?

And in your passing,
as it were – the passing of angels –
gave life to both the lily and the nettle;
life to the Caique and the worm impartial!

And Nox’s visions,
pale, dark you’s all,
trembling beyond finesse!

Those fragments creaked
and groaned
Beauty!

What fantasies, what mad passions do I dare reclaim?
And of what insanity? of what, sheer madness?
of what mad obsessions? of what consequence memory
breaking teeth
in the sleeping man’s throat?


I’m going quite mad now, I think. It is a controllable, manageable madness. I am drinking less and smoking less and thinking barely at all. I am able to work all day without thinking about my liberties and freedoms. I am able to satisfy myself, if only temporary, with driving a little too fast and drinking too much coffee. I am able to sleep quickly most nights, and wake up wholly exhausted.

I think I am becoming too distant now. I think I’m losing something, but I’m not sure what. I’d show my work, such as it is, to people I know but I don’t want to. I don’t want my depression to be taken seriously; I want to remain fodder for endless jokes. I don’t want my hatreds to be revealed, but will content myself to rant and make bitter smiles blossom into joyous ones. I don’t want me to be seen everyday. It’s important, I think, to keep hiding who I am in some small, dark place where only I can see me, and talk to me, and let me out occassionally to masturbate my ego.

I’m glad I’ve never shown my work to the people around me. I’m afraid it’s all shit anyway. I don’t want to watch people I know pretend to care about every idle thought; every mad desire. I want to stay quiet, and secretive, and let my figure be a lonely one in the bars and pubs, in the cafes I frequent and slip whiskey into my coffee. I’m glad, I think, and ashamed, that my depression has turned into nothing more than a tag I can use, to drag foreign eyes to read the exhausted notes I play.

I’m sorry for being so unhappy all the time. I’m sorry that the noises I make are so ugly.

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes, we kneel in the shower with the pressure
and the heat turned up as high as they can go. We let our music play from our mobile phones
and hear the tinny, hollow sound reverberate from the grey-white tiles. We let the heat
and the sound
and the fury of the moments steal our breath away
and make our skin steam
and we kneel there until the muscles
and tendons in our feet
and legs cry out for us to move. We let our hair run
and create bars, a prison cell, in front of our eyes. We blink until the water spills down like a shroud across our faces
and make us blink in agony.

Sometimes, we stand in front of the mirror
and close our eyes
and listen to the water slapping against the towel
and the tiles. We close our eyes
and concentrate on the cool air, dressing us naked
and making our skin rise.

Sometimes, we take disposable razor blades
and hold them against our arms
and there’s a way that we can cut it that doesn’t break the flesh but shears the skin. Invisible; agonising; everything we ever wanted.

Sometimes, we confess
and act on our confessions
and the mists clear
and we want to be exactly who we are. We try to explain
and see revulsion, blankness
and disinterest in the eyes of our audience
and shut off the valves of our personality. We retreat
and lock up the gates behind us
and glance through the iron bars which rust in days
and remade in moments.

Sometimes, we turn out the lights
and search for the memories of all the men
and women we’ve loved. We look for their memories on the backs of our eyelids, for the faces of people we’ve never had the chance or the inclination to love but we can feel their skin in our hands like their own. We picture legs
and eyes in the lights of gas-lamps
and the red strobes which gives even the drunks the chance to look sober
and spit vomit from their lips
and still have the chance to pull or be pulled.

Sometimes, we force ourselves out of bed before our alarms
and stand, naked, in front of the window
and look at the small streets in the small towns in the small countries in the small world, filled with small people or lost in miniature cities grown to an impossible scale. We punch out at the walls on either side
and dig our nails into the wallpaper
and lean forward until the moonlight dawn casts shadows behind us to make us look like we aren’t alone in our beds. We throw on clothes that don’t fit us
and walk down the stairs
and across the hall to the silent rooms lit by the red of a muted television. We step onto the cold tiles of the kitchen
and look across the terraced gardens of a terraced life belonging to our parents
and their children too; not to us.

Sometimes, we sit on our laptops
and phones when everyone else is asleep
and watch old adverts on reruns. We spend our time learning what we hate
and why we hate it. We watch conversations develop between people we don’t know
and long for them to realise that they love each other.

And,
sometimes, we sit there
and do nothing at all; just let our eyes make patterns that don’t exist.


I’m trying to slow down on my drinking now. It isn’t doing me any good. I don’t enjoy it so much anymore; I just end up ill all the time, still completely lucid, just clutching my stomach. Maybe it’s what I’m drinking – I need to get back into cheap wine, into sheer rotgut that makes me sleep. I’m not discerning enough for the whisky I’ve been knocking back the last few… some amount of time.

If you enjoyed the above, there’s something wrong with you, (everyone’s brain is allowed to misfire on occassion, right?) but you can always check out more poetry or prose, if that stakes your fancy.

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.

Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

Whenever I think of happiness, I’m filled with this kind of hopelessness.

I can’t think of a single time when I have experienced the joy that I’ve read about – the kind of elation that spits
fire through the veins.

And that is all I’ve ever wanted. I’m not interested
in money, or popularity;
I’m not even interested in love, if I am being honest
with myself. I just
want to find a way to be happy for half-a-second; an instant.

I want to know what it is like to look into myself
and see something other than a hole staring back at me.

I want to know what it is like to be able to look in the mirror and smile,
and not immediately want to cry. It isn’t like I’d call myself depressed – I’d just call myself empty.
It’s like I’m watching a character;
like I’m staring around the room whilst these fingers
– weak slabs of meat and bone – type away.

It’s like I’m pushed on by the winds of habit;
like I’m driven forward by a sail and no storms touch me,
no cool waters make my progress all the easier –
no sunlight falls across my prow and
no rain makes my deck wet and dangerous.

I just go.

I just keep going, with no direction and no purpose and no stars overhead to light my way.

Whenever I think of happiness, I don’t even know that I would recognise it. I have slept with beautiful women and drank until I can’t see; I have smoked and walked and fought and knocked head-wracking painkillers down my throat.

I don’t want anything, except to be happy. And to be honest, I don’t think I’d even recognise it if I was happy, because happiness cannot be this hollow feeling in the back of my throat.

Happiness cannot be waking up with a bad taste in my soul. Happiness cannot be blinking in the sunlight and tightening my brow until I can see. Happiness cannot be hesitating in the shower and turning the heat up until my entire body feels like its burning and turning it up again. Happiness cannot be hovering over the disposable razors and cutting my skin without breaking the flesh until my arms sting but don’t bleed. Happiness cannot be drinking at 3:00 in the morning and waking up at 6:00 and wanting to do nothing more than drink again. Happiness cannot feel like a leash, holding me in place though I’m holding onto it myself.

Happiness cannot be this, this bloody, turgid life waiting for the next time I can go to sleep and, for a few hours, hate myself in dreams rather than life.

So, if you know how to be happy.
If you ever knew how to be happy.
If there’s something that makes you happy, let me know.

Because I want to be happy. But I don’t want to be happy, because I don’t even know what desire is. I don’t know what it feels like to want something so fervently that your heart races at the very idea. I know sex. I know drink. I know drugs. I know food. I know music.

I don’t know how to be happy.
I don’t even know if I want to be happy.

I don’t know how to want. But I know how to hope.

I hope that I’ll be happy one day.

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.