All writing is my own - please do not copy or use without my permission.
Reading my poetry at the launch of 'The Gallery', St Edmund Hall Oxford
Brain and body are getting a divorce. They’re stating irreconcilable differences.
Body wants to play but brain’s too busy fighting to play. The fighting is wearing body down; she’s tired all the time And she can’t escape brain’s shouting.
In a perfect world, brain would become a balloon and body would hold the string of that balloon in her hand. And she’d keep that balloon close, but not too tight. So brain wouldn’t be trapped.
And brain balloon would float closer and closer to the sun.
And body, who loves the sun so intensely, would never need look at the sun. Because brain balloon would be able to send the sun’s rays back down to her, through its stringpulse.
Rays of sunshine like blood.
And then body wouldn’t feel sad, like she does now, knowing that if she looked at the sun, she’d go blind. And she’d deserve it.
And brain balloon would let body’s eyes bounce around inside it. So they wouldn’t be trapped or under such extraordinary pressure // but what if brain balloon popped?
Like eyeballs, squirting jelly; like brain, squirting blood; like banana, squeezed too tightly; like people. Like people.
And what if brain balloon got too close to the sun?
Icarus fell. But brain balloon would burst.
Maybe it would burst into light.
The space I inhabit
Could be folded neatly into concrete Walls. And the gaps in pavements. Tie up my tiny offering with my vocalcordribbon.
So my silence would never need admit I killed my brother in my dreams Woke up and wished that I’d been born the boy.
Feared I was womb-raped empty And hated my body because Of how it shines in the dark, A welcoming beacon for beer soaked lips.
Let’s play a game Where you chug a kettle of boiling water And I curl up inside the kitchen cupboard and eat my fingernails.
Let’s play a game Where we forgive all your tremble and all your shake And I jump from Chesterfield’s crooked spire and land in a pint glass.
Let’s play a game Where we name your orgasm paranoia And fall asleep underneath the bed.
Trained like Japanese schoolchildren Where to Hide. From the earthquakes Of my body’s anarchy.
Let’s play a game Where we name every cut and every bruise after a Shakespearian villain And chase down the pills with the muddy water from a supervised bath.
Let’s play a game Where you’re tied to a lamppost in the middle of a motorway And crushed by a stampede of horses.
Let’s play a game Where we both pretend we’ve forgotten I ever asked you if the mortician would paint me pretty And neither of us is ever scared of our humanity.
Detach my body from Myself. So I know where I am Every time I wake up.
Remember licking the baking tray in the oven, 220°c?
Remember licking the baking tray in the oven, 220°c? Blistering your tongue until we could smell ash.
Remember lying in the middle of a road in the fog? Cars rushing over you at 80mph, until you were unrecognisably
Remember soldering off your thumb print in metal work? You threw up in the sink and didn’t tell the teacher.
Remember pulling out each of your teeth with a pair of purple tweezers? Stolen from your mum and hidden behind your
Remember when you sliced open my stomach with a coat hanger? Stuck in your hand and pulled out my uterus.
Remember running into my bedroom after I set it on fire? And pulled out your favourite pink dress.
Threw it at me. Watched me. Watch myself. Putting it on.
Laundry (1 & 2) (1) Help me please My friend is stuck in the washing machine She climbed inside I shut the door and turned it on She’s shrunk now she’s very small It’s hard to see her Amongst the jeans and t-shirts It’s very hot in there. I think it’s a Boil Wash. Her skin has all burnt off She looks like a baby mouse without fur. They’re called ‘pinks’ You feed them to little snakes. My snake is too big for them now. But if we get her out And put her in the freezer. Then you can get inside. I’ll shut the door and turn it on. And after an hour or so. I’ll have two. A nice dinner. (2) There is a problem I guess With the laundry It ate my clothes They’re gone. I’ll have to buy some more. They were all there. It was a big wash I’m very cold now Standing here naked And wet After climbing inside To look for them And going for a spin In search of them.
Enough, Enough, Enough
Last night, I lay my head on my pillow And chanted, ‘Enough enough enough’. Thanked the horses in my knees For always knowing when to run. Held my breath so deep A cave opened up in my lungs And filled with a thousand bats. I spat up all my food, like a mother bird Regurgitating to feed her children But I had no one to fill Only myself to empty.
Last night I broke like bone Turned every goodbye into a necklace That I slept for days And hung over my own body Like a responsibility. I bled out for ten years in a night Didn’t realise how it hurt Till someone told me to stop screaming. So I pushed myself out to sea Or wherever it is things go when They are too tired to float And made this girl a dying thing.
Last night I ate a tube of yellow paint To try and keep happiness inside. Dyed the under-colour of my eyelids gold And two stepped waltzed with your memory As if you were here. Let the wound close over like a Rusted garage door And said ‘leave’ over and over When what I meant was ‘helphelphelp’. Who could blame you for putting Your hands round my neck. When I was The one Who showed up with a neck in the first place.
I Dreamt I Was A Boy Last Night I dreamt I was a boy last night, Mum. With broad shoulders and razor bone hips. I cut off my breasts and they Fell to the ground like paperweights Sprouted coarse hair from my newly Square, toobig chin; protecting a mouth Full of newly birthed certainty.
I dreamt I was a boy last night, Dad. The girl next door peeled my adam’s apple Crunched and swallowed it And kissed my neck with rosebud lips. Pulled myself erect to tower over her Caressed her milk smooth cheeks Jerked her hips hard against me.
I dreamt I was a boy last night, brother. You tackled me into the floor, blackened my eye And reddened my teeth. Our fists dripped with one another’s blood Told our mother to clean up the mess. Surveyed my kingdom proudly and Comfortably occupied every inch of space.
I dreamt I was a boy last night, sister. Watched the girl I used to be shrink into shadow-land Saw her silhouette curl up next to my grandmother, Hold her newspaper hands and whisper, “Dios me hizo mujer para castigarme.” Allowed a tear to scar her crumpled face Before weaving herself into the darkness.