I am the reflection in the broken mirror
seven years bad luck but who’s counting?
I am the blood on bruised knuckles
as strong as iron yet easily washed away.
I am the nicotine stain on a finger
a small reminder of a lifetime together.
I am the abnormal cell in your lung
leaving you breathless with anticipation.
I am the person who looked closely at his belief
who easily picked out the lie.
I am multifaceted, an imperfect gem,
expose me to the light and see my many flaws,
all wrapped tightly around my DNA
like a Rizla round a badly rolled cigarette.
I am the lifeless soul of the party,
always found hiding in the kitchen
nursing my spirit.
I am the over analyser,
constantly looking hard for hidden meanings
in friend’s words, then replaying conversations
in my head like a scratched CD.
I am the smoker outside,
hiding behind nicotine clouds,
trying to find the courage to step inside.
I am the hoodie wearer on the bus,
whatever the weather I hide
avoiding eye contact,
pretending to be asleep.
“I am a textbook case.“ My GP often says.
“I am getting better.” My Psychiatrist makes me repeat.
I am just taking it all a day at a time.
The final days of the year draw in like starving wolves
all harsh red eyes and sharp slavering jaws.
Pouncing they smash you to the floor,
you close your eyes begging to be allowed to forget it all,
as the pack close in with a bloodthirsty roar.
Or maybe it ends this way?
The final days of the year draw in like starving wolves,
all hollow dull eyes and toothless jaws.
Your simple truth sends them cringing to the floor,
that there is no part of this year you wish to forget at all
and the song of your days becomes a primordial roar.
Happy New Year to you all.
These folded pieces of paper I hold are
worn and creased like the soul they come from.
They contain stories pulled like a
rotten tooth from my life,
stories that are as tired as I am,
that are hard to read.
But I still carry these pieces of paper with me
forcing my life into
the ears of puzzled strangers
continually courting controversy
just to spark any reaction.
Until my audience reveal their hand,
their own pieces of paper just
as worn and creased but also
burnt, ripped, shredded and worse.
I fold my life back up
and put it away again in my pocket.
Wondering why I
ever took it out in the first place.
Life doesn’t stop
no matter how much you
beg, wish, scream or whimper,
it doesn’t fucking stop even
when you grab it by the throat
and punch it in its smirking face.
No, life just looks you straight in the eye
smiling back through broken teeth
and laughs saying.”The best you get out of me
is a pause mate. Make the most of it.”
And a pause is just, well just shit really
as you try hard to remember.
Elastic shoved down your sleeves holding gloves,
going over the lines in Action Man colouring books.
Breaking prized Poole Pottery mugs
and all the things you once shared and loved.
And now you collect certificates and bills, wince at condolences and hugs,
try to sleep without the aid of prescription drugs.
“Stop snivelling you little shit.” Life says.
“The world is still turning it won’t stop for you and your memories.”
Memories of discovering a shared love of ancient history
puzzling over the solution to Sunday night Miss Marple mysteries.
Standing round bonfires waving sparklers and shivering
helping with that first job of newspaper delivering.
And now you fill in so many forms your fingers feel like they’re blistering.
“I’m OK, thanks.” You lie, voice barely above whispering.
Then you realise you don’t need the world
to actually stop you never did, so
you release your grip on life’s neck
dust it down offer and apology and say.
“Thank you for that pause
it encompassed a life time
and that was all I needed,”
Slouching down the street
drinking shrapnel jangling
rough rolled cigarette smouldering.
Sun’s blinding like a flare
shadow loiters behind me,
I feel like I’m aging in dog years
panting, looking for shade,
when I just want to jump pavement cracks
fall and laugh and feel young.
But as I look down
I pretend not to care where I tread
focusing anywhere but the here and now so.
I don’t hear the tune of the coins in my pocket.
I don’t see the patterns forming in the clouds.
I don’t see the words dancing with the litter in the breeze.
I don’t see the poem stalking me from my shadow.
This is the story of the girl
who fell in to the cracks between the world.
Who found herself among all that is lost,
all that is unloved, unwanted, all that has been forgot.
This is the story of the girl,
trapped in the cracks between the world.
Who at first tried hard but couldn’t escape,
Until she realised this life was now her fate.
This is the story of the girl,
resigned to living in the cracks between the world.
As she gave up on hope and began to fade
slowly becoming another trapped shade.
Then there is the story of the boy who saw the girl
as he stood on the edge of the cracks between the world.
And they fell in love at first sight so they say,
though what happened next is a story for another day.
I feel like I’m on a mortician’s slab lying here in my bed,
unable to sleep, yet rattling with my tablets and meds.
Seemingly stuck in a half-life, feeling neither alive or dead,
while this poem’s like a cockroach trying to burrow out of my head.
It’s the ultimate earworm, eating my brain while creating this rhyme,
there’s a pain growing rapidly behind my eyes.
I won’t look at the alarm clock, I don’t need to know the time,
all I know is I need to use my pen to cut this poem from my mind.
You see I never realised and other poets never told
poetry is literary haemophilia, it’s hard to stop its flow.
You can try to sew your mouth shut but if the truth be told,
writing is just another scar you’ll carry until you’re old.
You realise you see fucking poems fucking everywhere
it’s like poetry is tattooed on your eyeballs, it’s everywhere you stare.
It feels like an itchy scab at which your fingers long to tear,
Poetry fights against you in your brain, pure biological warfare.
So here I lie still feeling like I’m laid out for dissection
thinking that if I took my pills I’d get cranial contraception.
Not some bullshit words, an immaterial conception,
breeding and multiplying like a bacterial infection.
I’ve been thinking too long the sun’s up there’s a new day ahead,
and I can’t move from this slab, my bed.
I reckon I’m still alive, it’s just my feelings that are dead,
and this poem is still like a cockroach trying to burrow out of my head.
Something was gnawing away at me
something long-forgotten now returned,
demanding my attention as it
dug its way out of the dark hiding place
I thought it would never escape from.
So it was free at last,
free to demand answers from me,
free to demand the truth.
I had no idea where to begin to look so
I stared at the television news until I nearly went blind
flicked through the daily papers until my fingers were stained black
and trawled social media until my phone and will to live nearly died.
But none of these contained the truth and probably never did.
So I re-read the incomplete chapters of the book I had tried hard to write,
examined the scruffy lines of poetry I had set aside
then looked hard at myself in the mirror.
I asked my reflection. “Where is the truth?”
My reflection stared back at me
then said. “You do realise you know where the truth is.
It’s still exactly where you buried it,
I know I helped dig the hole
and we both knew this day would come,
when you would ask me where the truth was.
But don’t you remember,
you made me swear on my life,
that I should never tell you.”
When I woke in the early hours of the morning
you were quietly lying next to me,
and in that brief moment between your breaths
it felt as if the world had stopped.
No sirens screaming as they fade into the distance,
no branches shifting to the wind’s command,
no couples sneaking home rustling chip papers,
no television static crackling through a dividing wall.
Then you started to breathe again
and the world inhaled with you.