Relatability #1: entering the week with all these grandiose ideas about how productive you’ll be but then never following through on any of them.

I follow all the self improvement sub-reddits. The ones that make you gasp and ‘gosh’ at all these humans around the world who wake up at 5am, go for a run, do some yoga and contribute more to the world before their Cheerios than you do in a full day.

Yes, I’ll say, this is my week. This is when I’ll finally write a poem every day, meditate for an hour, and work out every other day. I’ll get up and go for a jog just as dawn creeps in, and I’ll then whip up something green and nutritious in my Nutribullet before journalling like I’m fucking Ernest Hemingway.

I’ll sit at my desk and tap away at emails, words cascading down my fingers like children on water slides. I’ll break for lunch and not feel guilty about fucking off for half an hour to eat some beans on toast and maybe watch The Office. I’ll log back on and do my work and boss that meeting I’ve been so terrified about for weeks (the one where I’ll have to speak and sell our services with a honey-laced voice that only grows so sickly sweet when speaking to clients).

I’ll log off at 5.30pm and not feel guilty about not staying online for another three hours like that other girl, her icon a stubborn Shrek shade of green. It’s like a fucking challenge to find out who can stay online the longest, and who’s the most dedicated to this really-not-so-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things job. But instead I’ll shut the lid and forget about all the nothingness, and I’ll banish tomorrow’s meeting and next week’s presentation and the following month’s review from my brain as though they were cat hairs that met their end at the hands of a lint roller.

I’ll turn to YouTube for a workout that gives me electric thighs, Barbie doll arms and calves as juicy as hamburgers within a matter of weeks. I’ll see the poundage drop like Deliveroo groceries on a pandemic doorstep and I’ll finally feel chiseled and strong. Then I’ll take myself off for a shower and get in while the water’s running cold (I’ll do this three times a week to boost my immune system and tell everyone I know about it so they’re aware of how incredibly awesome I am).

I’ll apply skincare products as part of a rigorous routine to make my face porelessly porcelain. I’ll coat my hair with a masque that makes it smell like the inside of Victoria’s Secret or the Playboy Mansion. I’ll then read five thousand pages of a book, shunning Netflix for Sylvia Plath because I can learn much more through books than I can from Michael Scott obviously.

In fact, I grow so ambivalent towards Netflix that I cancel my subscription altogether. I sign out and tell my stepdad ‘no, I won’t be leeching off your account anymore’ and I bid adieu to Pam and Jim and all the others.

I’ll read a thousand books in a year. I’ll start studying beginners’ Arabic and take the GCSE in Russian I’ve been considering for a while. I’ll speak to pen-pals in unusual corners of the world and once I’m proficient in Russian and Arabic, I’ll apply to MI5 and become the next James Bond.

Oh the things I could do, if I could just get off my sodding arse.

From very high to very low

Today was a day of mammoth contrasts

when the good met the bad and then the ugly

and I found myself struggling to claw my way out of

a cylindrical hole

my feelings had pushed me into.

I think I broke part of my brain because this oxymoron was so loud

and moronic, true to its name

I think the bits of flesh couldn’t handle two juxtaposed giants

vying for my attention

I’d like to think they had equal chances but it’s clear the bad had the upper hand

the smirking winner

the bad took control and the good lay flaccid and dull

under a dreary spotlight

incredible praise met with steamrolling terror

that glides over you like you’re a wannabe pancake

making mince meat or mashed potato out of my head

an unbelievable contrast that collided against my skull

and I haven’t been able to think straight since.

Ldn

I like London

even when I’m breathing in chemical cancers burped up by buses

and dodging dog turd seeping into the pavement when I’m out for my run

the dozens and dozens of cookie cutter couples

humming around like bees in beanies and bright baseball jackets

that drip vintage down to their kneecaps.

I like London

the convenience, the ease of delivery, the lattes brewing around every corner

that gaping chasm beneath our feet

where people sit and sweat

and bounce from borough to borough in a rattling box

that spot on our walks where buildings bruise the battered skyline

and shed the puffy clouds.

Fizzy Sundays

Sun pours from the sky’s kettle

making everything drip with warmth

outside there’s a rattle and a clang

the window shakes with the passing of buses

sitting inches on the pavement below

burning their rubber into the road’s pores

burping up toxic gases

that I’ll beckon into my lungs when out for a run.

The Sunday air is quiet and creamy

writing from my bed feels eerily perfect

ahead of a week of probable worry

mind ready to melt

like an ice lolly

body like a train chugging towards burnout.

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.

Small accidents

The thing with this illness is that it wears me like a dress, parades around with me wrapped around its waist, forces my insides to squeeze into its elastic. It wears me like its favourite suit, especially when I’ve done my makeup or my hair isn’t right.

I’m black and bruised, fluttering about in a frenzy, its favourite court jester, its clown that skips to its beat, making itself look silly, feel silly, act silly.

I need to get out. I’m dying to quit posing as one of its outfits, desperately deafening cries from inside that never make it out my mouth. I’m paying more attention to this disease than the one that’s currently plaguing the world.

Avoidance behaviours

My narrative is a series of shoulds and should nots
I shouldn’t be afraid of the things I fear
And I should be more ballsy, more ebullient
I shouldn’t need help
I should be able to untangle all of this myself
A very intricate and unforgiving
Cats cradle of “threat”
The brain is an unkind, messy, gelatinous lump
That’s ingeniously cruel
Like Hannibal Lecter.
I take myself off to parks
Remove myself from these four walls
Sip lattes I can’t afford whilst mulling over these shoulds and should nots.
At least when working, theres no space to think
No need to dwell and torture and yell
At your insides as though they were naughty children
With their Ribena-stained lips and
Mud-caked fingers.
When the day is bulging and fully occupied
Fronted by a “no vacancies” sign
There’s little time for grumbling
Everything’s poised on the edge of eruption
Full and tiring
But when the days off clump together
Like hairs in a drain
The mind starts to melt
Fog throws itself over everything
Like an invisibility cloak
Enveloping, suffocating
Darkness inflates like a balloon
It covers all the corners and climbs into crevices
It fills its boots with the pure air
And stomps away with it
There’s gorgeousness in everything
But today I am blind to it
Blind to everything except myself.

Hamster wheels

I might be a slave to capitalism
That’s what I’ve decided
These wild hours sat with a screen
And then evenings spent pumping out words
Like some verbose, defecating machine
Weekends working that hamster wheel again
The money is addicting
And the silence of not doing
Is deafening
So I’ll do and continue to do
To fill the quiet air with pennies and pounds
And stop it inflating with the cold tickle of worry
Bumbling, sore, back is bruised from the inside
Chest is tight, feet feel swollen
Convinced I’m dying in some way
(I guess we all are, in the end)
Poised to deliver, biting off more than my mouth and fingers can handle
Capitalist slave, I didn’t realise rest is rebellion.

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.

Dirty puddles

I’ve been sitting in this chair

for what feels like eternity

this crusty, scabby armchair

with spiders’ webs for decor

and the scent of mustard-soaked dirty socks

dripping their Dijon all over the fabric

they might end up burying me in this chair

epitaph reading “Killed by The Game”

long sleeves fingering the armrest

gripping on for dear life

like I’m on some sort of rickety ghost train.

I’ve spent more time waiting for you

than I have queuing at Tesco in my whole life

I was promoted quicker

I graduated quicker

than the time it’s taken you to reach out.

Hungry regret is eating away at me

rage bubbles like bone broth

loneliness creeps in

offering up its bitter taste

(if that’s all you bring to the table, then forget it)

I’m on this eternal cosmic pogo stick

yo-yoing to and fro to the rhythm

of that beep, buzz, ring.

I’m full of what ifs, I’m bleeding desperation

and fumbling about for reasons in my mind’s dust

completely invented, untrue

you’re about as clear as clouds

leaving me to create my own weather.

All I can say is it’s stormy and wet

and I want to leave this armchair

before I start to decay

loneliness keeps me locked in

while the floor floods with a sea of what ifs

the eye of heartbreak drawing closer and closer

and swiftly punching me in the jaw.