Happy yawns

I never write when I’m happy

Except for now, while I’m bursting

at the seams with gratitude.

It’s overpowering

like water running through the pipes of the soul.

I sat on the carpet beneath the Christmas tree

and soaked up the flickering of the lights,

brushed the lukewarm, balmy carpet

with my fingers

and felt comfort envelop me,

cradle me,

shower me with its kisses.

Past experiences will always remain,

the future will always feel foggy,

I’ll always grapple with the present.

I may look upon it all fondly,

but that doesn’t mean I need it.

Tired and lonely

“Oh my god, other people struggle”

that’s what you hear them say

today it’s debilitating

so was yesterday’s pub visit

and Friday’s pool palava

enough tears to sink a ship

watching Blended with Drew Barrymore

and yearning for that family

my feelings are playing musical chairs

when it stops you hear the clap of arse cheeks

sit themselves down

and with no music to dance to

they twiddle their thumbs gingerly

Christ knows if the noise goes

the fear starts

leaps to attention

like some Nazi guard

the music can’t die down

else I’ll die with it

I stepped out to Londis and squirmed

teeth chattering

mind nattering the whole way

it’s cruel to live like you shouldn’t be here

and the crying is getting old now

I’m bored

wilting like a weed

I’d like to hit somebody

and really yell with my lungs

because I haven’t done that before

(except into my pillow)

and make them burst like two water balloons.

A hazardous week

I have been knocked over this week

Like pins at a bowling alley

Kicked and thrashed

Battered against the back

Of that mysterious black bit

You can’t see behind

Throttled by failure

Plagued by faux pas

And today I am supposed to dust

Myself off and present the shiniest

Brushed aluminium version of myself

To a total stranger

Desperately seeking an escape route

A respite for this mangled brain.

Sensible bodies

You used to make me feel like I couldn’t dress myself

Like every piece of clothing lurking in my wardrobe

Wasn’t fit for purpose

You swatted away every pairing I attempted

Frustration etched across your face, thick like butter

And marinating your tone

‘Of course that doesn’t go with that’

‘Gosh you’re useless’

‘Let me do it for you’

Choice escaped me, driving off

In a sedan car, roof open, wind tugging at carefree hair

Because no matter what I chose, you would berate me

Belittle me

Bemuse me

And suggest your idea was better

You made me feel like I couldn’t dress myself

Like every attempt I made was childlike

Like everything I picked when we went shopping

Was five years my junior

The result is a current questioning of everything I buy

From the t shirts to the shoes

To the dresses to the playsuits

I feel incapable of dressing myself

And knowing what looks good

Even when parcels from far-flung places arrive at the door

And I unwrap exasperated, excited

There’s something I’ve ordered that you dislike

And you’ll tell me, naturally

Why keep quiet after all these years

Why stop licking the nettle

Why stop hammering at my self-esteem

I can deal with the bile, the upchuck, the name-calling

Better than I used to

But it still stings like chlorine

And lingers like burnt toast

Gurgling in the pit of my stomach

Until the next parcel arrives.

Minor occasions

I’m sorry I didn’t ask you how you were

As we tumbled down the stairs

Like soldiers in formation

I’m sorry for not tapping on your shoulder

And saying howdy how’s it going

Instead of staying silent

Humming like a torch’s bulb.

You see my hair was sticking to my cheeks

Stuck something silly like a tangled mess of hay

And my face was clogged with sweat

From the day’s struggle and strife

I’d picked at my fringe and prodded it sideways

Toppling over my eggy forehead

In a bid to reduce what I saw in the mirror

A ghost, a thief, a terrifying mirage

That burned holes in my outer shell

And poured its poison through them.

You see I wasn’t in a fit state to speak to you

I didn’t want your first impression to be

A slippery, oily mess of a girl

So I left you to glide down the stairs amid a sea of strangers

While I stayed back, coolly

Deranged and broken.

Friday TCR

And she sat up there

Words like rose petals floating from mouth to floor

And I’m just perched here in awe

Having travelled an hour and a half door to door

To listen to words that are honey-like

Dripping into the mic

Sweet and inspiring

Forehead perspiring (don’t all of ours)

And I’m fearful for tomorrow

For the fruits it’ll bring

A dark shadow sewn into my skin

Brain etched in a fog

Burnt out by the London smog.

After the gig I paced up and down Tottenham court road

Like a wildly indecisive runner

With too much time on her hands

And a stomach full of Dr Pepper

Couldn’t bring myself to go back in

And bare my soul to someone new

Whose job isn’t to listen to me natter

Burst my thoughts forth in glorious splatter

So I trudged to the tube and hissed at tourists who wouldn’t move

As quickly as my marathon legs

Short and strong

I made the hour journey back home

Walking up a dimlit alley I’m fearful of tomorrow

And I’m laced with sorrow

It permeates my core

And leaves me sore

But strong all the same

For ever more.

The middle of the carriage

And I’ll stand in the middle of the carriage

Entwined around a bar

Legs wedged around rucksack

Head resting on the pole

And instead of feeling exposed

In a sea of people – the only one standing

I toughed it out and remained there lurking

Could have hop-footed to the end

And hidden by that menacing window

That blows your hair to and fro

And is too stiff to raise

(I know, I’ve tried)

Instead I stayed stuck firmly in the middle

Of this leaky, foul-breathed carriage

Where coffee slurps and morning angst

Flood through like creaking sludge

The middle is where I was

Until a seat popped up

Like those rarest of Pokemon

And I snatched it and sat

Content with my mini achievement for the day.

The Irish Goodbye.

On the day of my departure, I spotted a corner in her bedroom and thought about what might happen if I stayed there. Lurking, hiding, tugging at the duvet with nimble fingertips… the corner looked so comfortable, so peaceful. Shrouded beneath micro-fibres and cat hairs which always flutter up my nose and make my chest wheeze, I could stay there and not have to go back. The life of an expat isn’t always so rosy when you’re headed for a country you wish you hadn’t ventured to in the first place. And as you feel your body being shoved hard in one direction, you start to dig your heels into the ground and that corner, that tiny, honeycomb crevice of carpet and dead skin suddenly looks so appealing… The same thing happened at Disneyland. I was on my year abroad and hating every second. A moment’s joy came in the form of a weekend break to Disneyland Paris and I found myself staring at another corner (this time in a bathroom) and wondering what would happen if I just stayed there, curled up like a kitten… and never went back to my desk job. Strange, isn’t it? How corners and small spaces seem to offer comfort in dark times, beckoning me in with open arms and clutching me to their simple bosom. Safe spaces are lovely and inviting, but in a similar vein to comfort zones, nothing grows inside them.

Sixteen.

I’m trying to remember what I was like at sixteen.
Hair flat, nails worn, a thick shell weighing heavily down on my back,
I fell in love with a rockstar with thick, tousled locks and tight, leather pants.
He was better than any boy I’d gazed at, any boy whom I’d written to on MSN.
That callous green icon flickering.

My students aren’t like sixteen year olds.
Immaculately groomed, nails chiselled, no shell displayed on their backs,
I shudder when I’m with them, hunch when I’m explaining,
Confused gazes litter the air,
And smirks and faces smacking of apathy.

But they are sixteen, that ripe old age,
When Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink should be a staple.
And me?
I withered like a flower in front of adults,
I retreated back into my shell in class,
(Don’t. Make. Me. Read)
I self-flagellated any chance I got,
And still do.

Where is my confidence? Am I lacking some crucial brain component?
I’ll soon be turning a quarter of a century.
So why do these sixteen year olds intimidate me?

Stuff.

With oodles of stuff greasing our palms

The charcoal children across the pond look on enviously.

Candle holders, glitter bralets, pasty camera lenses

Stuff pours from the crevices of the West.

I sit at my computer, bug-eyed in front of Primark hauls

Poundland hauls, bikini hauls

This is what I bought, this is how it looks

But all this stuff is made by dirt-ridden, miniature fingers

In dingy factories, sordid and dim-lit.

Half the world is overflowing with stuff

While the other half is dying.

And yet I’ll continue to sit here watching people unwrap packages, boxes, food parcels and useless objects ’til the cows come home. Purchases which make no sense, purchases which are unnecessary and make me wonder why we yearn for SO. MUCH. STUFF. Is it just our generation? Are we just a product of capitalism? The puppets in its sour show? Online shopping makes us green with envy and purple with desire. Wallets wide open, money flaunted and egos stroked. Yet, across the pond there are people dying of starvation,  crippled by wars and dictatorships. These are people who struggle to find clean water and a decent meal, who would give anything to be fighting the crowds in Primark instead of fighting to survive, ducking from bombs, dodging injustice, and squirming at the corruption which lies so blatantly within their lands. These are the same people who are responsible for crafting the products we pay through the nose for, and yet barely a penny reaches them. We show the world what we’ve bought and how much we’ve paid, failing to acknowledge how we came to acquire it and who was instructed to make it. It’s disgusting and mind-numbing when you finally realise how messed up everything is.