Coca Cola fantasy

Beer-soaked bellies tend to bash my chair

as they rumble past, making me jolt,

drink spilling, temper flaring.

Gazing at my caramel concoction,

a tooth-fairy blend of Coke

and sickly-sweet, candy-cane Malibu.

“I’d rather just have the Coke,” I say

And the whole room chuckles

because a spiritless double or gin-less tonic

is just crazy, apparently.

Florida dreams

Driving around Florida was perhaps the happiest I’ve been.

This was back in June when responsibilities were low and expectations were high

when the orange-clad Disney-donning streets always led us to Chick-fil-a or Moe’s at the height of hunger

stomachs beaten by pangs, the allure of burrito bowls and buttery milkshake broths awaiting.

We stopped in at all the parks and scaled iron-fisted fortresses and dropped

down vicious clanging paths

took oodles of pictures for the ‘gram and drank pint after pint of poisonous soda

to ward off the southern sun, bleeding onto our skin…

while fabric Mickeys and Minnies gasped for air

through the winter-laced fibres of their bulbous heads

probably paid a pittance

to stand in the sun and boil like broccoli

skin wretched and pasty at the end of the day; ours firetruck-red.

We went to Medieval Times because you said I ought to get a taste

of American pastimes

there we watched horses charge up and down with stout little fellows on their backs

wielding sticks and swords

jousting like they might have done back in the day

while we hunkered down over a medieval meal

turkey leg, garlic bread, tomato soup and enough Coke refills

to disintegrate a steak, and rot my molars.

Sort of a love letter but not really

To myself,

I do not give you permission to message him.

No matter how twinkly Thursday night’s sky is or how uplifting Friday’s morning is, you’re not to reach out. You’re not to slide into his DMs with a flirty quip about how your peach is the same size and does he still live in Notting Hill or has he gone home home.

Are his family fine? You don’t care. Is he working? You don’t care. Has he cut his hair recently? YOU DON’T CARE. (Except if he has cut his hair, that makes him a tenth less attractive so let’s just imagine he has cut his hair and it went horribly wrong and he now looks like Phil Mitchell.)

When loneliness curses your name, yanks your hair, spits in your face, you still don’t have permission to reach for your phone. Oh but we had something special – oh but you didn’t. You had rough and tumble, frothy, hazy delights last summer where you travelled two hours to see him. 

The current situation – you know, the one where you’re sat at home, wondering about boyfriends and getaways and how much you’d need to earn to afford one of those studio flats with the spiral staircase leading up to the bed – does not permit you to punch yourself in the face romantically. It doesn’t mean you need to start treading water after starting to swim again. It doesn’t mean you need to mow the lawn of introspection, not when things are just starting to grow.

Starve yourself of flirtation, make do without a flurry of grade A bullshit “if this is still a thing in March we should go on a bike ride in the countryside” messages and learn to live and love yourself and not the dreamboat, duvet-lipped figure of irrelevance.

The world stands mighty still

the world stands mighty still

like a door swinging off its hinges

bust open like a weeping sore

bare, ready to heal.

balmy evening skies soak crisp lawns

freshly painted, manicured

nails scratching at the jet-sprayed slabs

of suburbia.

morning tones are a mix of silence

and the breathy earth panting

suddenly able to catch its breath

unchoked, unstrangled by smog

sitting pretty

air dripping with peace.

Quarantine

The weirdest time to be alive

Shut off, in concave houses

Dead to the world

Except the delivery man

A shell burning from the inside out

Due to family tiffs and full blown rows

Drifting from one room to another

Like mouldy, unshowered ghosts

Undecided, aimless

Wandering like wicker men.

Eyes darting from screen to screen

Big and bright

Then small and polluting.

Tiktok guzzlers

Stay at home Sally’s

Faux pro medics

Idiots dressed as preachers

Experts waxing lyrical about distancing

Stockpiling

Worrying

Dying.

In amongst all the chaos I sit

Like a bit of pavement in Syria

A bird above an explosion

A witness to a car crash.

Calm, serene

Calmer and serene-r

Than I’ve ever been-er

Fomo kept at bay

At home is where I stay

Drunk on harmony.

This is going to be a bad day

Eyeing up a bench

A bit of solid mass to sit upon and escape the cold

And my ridiculous self

Arrived too early and now I’m confused, anxious

I retreat into a toilet to escape a self that can never be escaped from

And it’s tough knowing I did this to me

A sort of torture you don’t imagine you’d put yourself through

And it’s hard to see where the wiring went wrong

Where the brain fell short

And why the calamities burst forth

You’re late as ever and I’m in a cubicle

Outside it’s chilled, like that bottle of babycham we left chilled in the fridge for months

Seeking solace in a loo

Because I don’t know what else to do

A nod to travel

Thoughts of lemon groves and clifftop towns

Come flooding in like siren calls

Music to my ears, anguish to my mother’s

The word interrailing instils a jolt of excitement

A pang of yearning

It shocks me on this tube

And I sizzle under it’s electrical wave

Sicilian lemons and towns perched atop cliffs

Inked a teal blue

Etched in a haze of mythology

Parting the blue with our flippers

(There’s an “our” in this solo travel tale?)

There’s rusty coral smirking at the bottom

Fish wide eyed and grinning from fin to fin

I’m poised on the edge of adventure

And every reminder of Europe

Every soot saddled tunnelled journey

Makes me long for it even more

Those Sicilian lemons

That castle in Ischia.

Colin Firth on my commute again

Chug chug chug

There are looks and then there are stares

And wide-eyed candy floss pink blushes

Contained in dim lit, smoke studded carriages

Stuffed with meat and bodies and faces and breaths

Some of which aren’t as sweet smelling

As the dulcet tones of Elizabeth Bennett

Or Mr Darcy and his linens (I presume)

A meaty marathon of viewing this weekend

Has urged me to start saying “I am not 27”

Just like when they say they’re “not 16”

Or “not one and 20”

Because it sounds more abstract

A guessing game

And I’m sure I would be looked at quizzical

But I’d probably enjoy it
As that’s the kind of shit I get off on.

Cafe de los reyes

Oh coffee cup

Symbol of wealth, fragility,

Can’t get my kicks, can’t start my work,

Until I’ve sipped you, slurped you, talked dirty to you

Oh wonderful crutch

In my palm oh so much

Once a day when the dawn is yawning

And the desks are filling

I’ll dodge the queues

Trek upstairs to abuse

That frothy little mouth of yours.

You’re a white girl’s wet dream

A bolt of electricity

That mini panic attack shooting through me

As idle hands make their way around the city

They stumble onto you

And wrap around like an octopus

A rite of passage for the working youth

That I’ll fill with sugar to claim that boost

Because I can’t stand the taste

Of this drink that has such a place

Such a presence

In society today.

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.