Hating yourself one-thought less per day for who you. Writing sad poems in your journal without saying sorry to the paper. Texting your friends too ill to show because it’s better than pretending to have fun for five hours. Catching buses home from parties before the parties arrive. High-fiving your anxiety in the bath. Coming up w/ fresh ways to explain away your boring decisions: Being alive is a game everyone plays differently. Safety is the coolest.
Sorry, what? I was too busy being okay to hear a word.
quit prising open my mouth
like the language staggering out
is not already butchered
If you go wow! at the novel
chilling with a coke
in the green room of my eyes
remember they’re not green.
& wide wide open.
Better to go SAW on me.
Hack open my chest
gasp! in shock at the film reels
in place of expected
You know it was just an image.
You know I have organs
& an on-point chicken dance.
Just like you know
you leave Subway
having said zero to your crew
of the movie pushing through your skin
so desperate to chat it out
as they were to claim
a free table.
& these poems? Real-talk:
when your heart has cried a bit
over how close they came
to nailing what it means
to be you
there’s really nothing left here
but to click your fingers
order a glass of wine
& feel weirdly in need
of physical contact
that is not
to be grabbed by the hand
of this almost-there language
to have someone partially explain
your troubled, turbulent life
& then bolt intentionally
remember oh damn
it’s 9.20 & you’ve a bus to catch
& a new Eastenders episode
to watch with someone (girl / boy / cat / mr. or miss solitude)
not limited to three minutes in front of a mic
who unlike a poem
will fall in love
what i’m trying to say here
is everything i want to say
already ran off
as soon as my fingers
hit the ‘t’ key .
if this were the 80’s
I’d glide into whichever disco hall
looked the least like OCEANA
which is to say any club
that could ruin a boy like me
arrive easy as your grip
on the joystick for the PacMan machine
you’ve named GhOst-Getter
& spent more time with
than anyone else
the whole night
until your glasses
Game Over! to the floor
& i dive in their vague direction
like the part in the Matrix
that was so cool
they had to
only to end up in a bizarre head spin
like a lost extra in the video for Thriller
but we’re not in the 80’s
we’re hardly a heartbeat into 2017
& my 80’s knowledge goes little further
than a) Carly Rae’s E.M.O.T.I.O.N
& how it makes me feel
& b) the episode of Black Mirror
where optimism outshone the loneliness
lingering in technology’s eyes
& romance was coloured with a softer palette
a thing to be straw-slurped like a Vanilla shake
in a diner of denim & SO-IN mini-skirts
speaking of current
let’s talk about last night
how what i thought was your brother
getting a new year’s text in early
was actually a Guardian notification
that 35 were shot dead
in an Istanbul nightclub
yet Jools Holland still asked
a couch sunk comfortably
into their wine / nibbles of Meh
‘how was 2016 for you?’
& some radio host joked
hey it wasn’t all bad
I mean I got five fingers
on my Kit Kat once
& everyone laughed
except I think
but maybe the studio didn’t know
the year couldn’t end its life
without us saying goodbye
to 35 other lives first
& as this poem ends
like I imagine the 80’s did
in a wink of velvet sunrise
escaping the rearview of an 84′ Chevy
painted blue or yellow
or something as crazy
let me let carly rae
sing it’s a different world
when you’re not here with me
until we all
& definitely not to be cool because that chance went when i asked the Y9’s stressing over a lost snapchat if they had checked their blazer pockets but maybe because little mix wrote a song called shout out to my ex which i pretend will not inspire an arena of thirteen-year-old girls to polish a destructive relationship into something sexy & chart-ready & look there she is my future daughter wandering quietly into this poem looking for something but not a snapchat not a chance to be cool just my hand in our living room where little mix come on the t.v & she shakes her head & turns it off & i say ‘shout out to good choices!’ but she’s too busy checking in with the cat to really hear me.
i woke up. flawless. okay fine. i woke up & nobody noticed / wrote it down.
beyonce’: listening to your work makes me feel more current & sexy than i think i deserve. gives me something cooler to offer rooms other than poems wishing they were hotter.
in the video for Flawless i looked for a seventeen-year-old boy punching the snooze button / a duvet / his depression so i could Like something more specific than everything.
if i shot a documentary on your rise to fame i’d shoot the fame between the eyes & zoom in on whatever parts of you were left for the world to relate to.
last month over steak at rhianna’s you told jay z he should mix his emotions the way insert celebrity here mixes drinks. one million girls scanned their menus wondering what you would order for dessert.
jay was super wiped after playing a club show with his eyes closed but heart smashed open.
‘honey, MTV told me I killed it tonight. what did i kill?’
you were quiet the whole flight home.
in bed, you lifted his right headphone with a whisper.
‘love, turn all these tears into raps for me?’
jay nodded heavy like she’d dropped the one beat he could never put anywhere but between them.
remembered the most beautiful things he writes
we won’t get to hear.
i leave a workshop where not enough poems happened. ok they did i just don’t know if anyone believed in them. it hurts when you go in all ‘writing warriors to the rescue!’ & end up scrambling for paper in the dirt. the failure squirrels through your bones. follows you onto the bus one stop before a man w/ shattered teeth for veins jumps a boy violining through the rain in a lady gaga hoody. i ask the driver if there’s a difference between arriving & leaving but he just shrugs. says you want a return to wherever someone cares. i lose my laughter in his ENGLISH&PROUD tattoo. mumble caring is my home no matter how much apathy falls through the letterbox. ask him to stop the bus because i need to leap wildly into the sky w/ ridiculous expectations of change. i put a knife to the moon’s throat. hold it there until she says sorry for what she let pretty become. a thirteen-year-old girl drops the gossip magazine held above her eyebrows like a compact. i take the stars hostage for the whole ‘pressure to be bright all of the time’ thing but my imagination gets hit on by a few of the cockier ones so i float quietly down from the sky & hop back on the bus. i get carried away (because i need to be carried somewhere tonight) & announce to six passengers: the next stop will be my heart. things get messy when i try to slice open my chest because i left the knife in the sky. i give up & just say things i’m only brave enough to say in a poem w/ dramatic tears in my eyes even though i don’t know if anyone on the bus really believes in anything anymore just like i don’t know if you believe in this poem & before you ask if i believe in it let me tell you
i am trying to
I wake up in a park without sun or trees or even a dog just sky mostly & H laughing at the weird faces I make in the reflection of a piano lid to hide my nerves because I have no idea why I’m at a piano so I act real casual ask H if she’s in a Mozart or Miley Cryus mood but she just shrugs her shoulders so I play a cover of Drake’s ‘Started From The Bottom’ because H loves Drake but turns out I only know how to play what I feel as H swirls around the piano like snow & gets out her phone to video my hands but I don’t want her to video any of me so I play the less beautiful things that I feel until it starts to rain super hard & H hides under the piano & whispers I could get lost in you her whole body a shiver but I don’t want her to get lost in anyone so I play whatever I can to make her stay I play her Dad blowing a kiss from the edge of an empty crib I play a crescendo of missed hugs & I want to stop playing because I’m making H cry but when I take my hands away she looks sad so I stare at my hands & get angry at how my feelings sound better coming from a piano than a mouth until H wraps her arms around me & the piano & the park & asks me to keep playing so I nod ‘okay’ & hit the keys with all of my huge problems I hammer everything I feel into something the world can hear until I wake up tangled in my hoody sweating everywhere my bedroom the quietest it’s ever been.