Her faux fur drapes across her shoulders
Atop a bra made from dense black lace
Matching her long faded lipstick
Her legs dangle like water droplets
As she sits on his lap
Both of them pinch their wine glasses like tiny teacups
The content spilling as the talk together
A story of misadventure from the night before
They swear in unison
Throwing f’s and c’s
She laughs at the catastrophe
It catches roughly in her throat
She swills her red wine before gulping
Hanging loosely between matchstick fingers
She inhales an overly long menthol cigarette
Something about her eyes seems scared
Something about her pasty white skin seems off
She tries to talk and coughs again
She smokes and drinks to push the words away
She laughs instead
His legs shift beneath her all-bone bottom
She jiggles around
Seemingly unperturbed by the move
Keeping straight back stance
As he adjusts upon the old style garden chair
A hand across her back
Morning sun in his squinty eyes
His dirty hair upon her shoulder
She drinks again
Smacks her lips
Take your tongue honey
And squash it up
Inside your mouth
Don’t let the words come out.
Just read the script
The way you should
Have those butterflies,
So obvious in your quaking hands,
Suffocate on the dioxide
Because no one has time
For anything else
But your handbagging
And manicure nails
Know your place sweetheart
And just read the words we wrote
True or not
I don’t want to be a rural library
Full of expected titles
Thrillers with predicted deaths
And echoed romances
A hero atrophied by his own ego
Loving a sugary woman with closed lips
Chapters of long gazes and held breaths
A history book finishing at 1984
And incorrect African geography
I want to be the tiny bookstore
With a blue front door
Only found by a strange set of wooden stairs
I want second hand titles
No one has read since 1972
A little slip of paper between pages 48 and 49
A pressed ticket to a Bowie concert
In the front
And a receipt for three months rent
In the back
I want to be a secret
Through a gap
In her clamped lips,
She sings out of tune.
Her hand-rolled cigarette
Spills grey ash
Onto her white t-shirt.
She doesn’t care.
On playing the piano
Forgive my sins against myself;
All the words
And the white noise.
For they might be the size of needles,
But make enough holes
And my blood leaks out.
“Naw Baby, ” he says with a smirk.
“Did you forget your meds?”
Taking off a wedding ring
He puts it on the faded dashboard.
I touch my wrist
Where my heart beats rapidly.
“Kicking on like hummingbird,” I tell him.
“You dead then? You’ve got them numb cheeks.”
“What’s that mean?” When he talks,
He hisses out his ‘s’ sounds
Like a stuttering snake. He’s fiddling with his zipper now.
“It means your face is falling like a dead man’s.”
“When’ve you ever seen a dead man?”
He laughs because he doesn’t know a damn thing.
“Lookin at one right now.”
Before he can do a thing
I push a fork in his eye.
While he screams,
Grabbing at the bloodied weapon
I unlock all the doors of the car
With his wallet, three cards and a fist full of cash.
Mama’ll be so proud.
You know what I’ve realised?
We’re all miserable.
Cathy, three doors down with the spotty cheeks
And loud, obnoxious children –
And Beth, covering herself up while walking home
From another late night class
Gripping the wine bottle like an inhaler –
Nicholas, the guy with the fruit chin and
Cauliflower ears who smells like soup on a good day –
And Mike, who spits out poetry like its God’s gift
To the unpublished kingdom –
But he owns it.
We all do.
In between fucking
And writing it down in blogs and vlogs and Facebook posts
Twisted up in cocktail pictures on Instagram
And faceless ponies on our quick fix Snapchat
We are all fucking miserable.
Because we were told we could achieve anything.
So when we get to anywhere and we realise it isn’t anything,
We consider the things that may have led us some place
Because no one likes a man
In sweatpants, eating cornflakes
On a second hand loveseat,
Watching re-runs of Golden Girls
On a Tuesday afternoon
I’m there too.
I tumbled through the lights and bulbs
Like Alice and the hole.
I looked to either side and saw nothing
But a way out to China.
A cold thumped me right-side up
There the world was big
And I was small.
Everyone was having babies
With rings on their fingers
And bells on their toes
So we could hear them coming
With promises in their pockets,
A jingle jangle of small change,
While my own pants lay silent.
This world only ceased
When my double made an effort
To say all the right things
To all the right people
With their mouths full of teeth
And tea up their sleeves.
Yes, I am fine
(I say to a lady with red wine lips)
Yes, I am fine,
(She stands up to brush away crumbs)
Yes, I am fine.
(Her skirt flays out like the petals of a rose,
Her face tells me she doesn’t actually care)
She promised herself
To eat five things a day
Yesterday is was tomatoes
The day before grapefruit
The day before that mince meat pies.
She promised herself
To clean once day
Tomorrow it’ll be her toothbrush
Today it’s the compost heap
But yesterday was funny
Not ha-ha funny
More odd than anything else
She saw her own reflection
In the mirror by the door
So she ate her third tomato
And imagined herself as a vegetable
Slipping down the gullet
Of someone making promises.
Today she lathers her toast
With what looks to be mottled yoghurt
She got the idea while elbow-deep and cleaning.
There were five caterpillars in her fridge this morning
Only four to go ’til sundown
With a wink
Drenched with intent,
Smothered by innuendo.
His rotten cord
He strangles truth
Between his teeth
Extending a hand
To those who wish to fall as well.
Don’t let eager ears fool you
Their tame pigs
And fame whore guests
Grapple with fevers,
These are the purists
These are the truth tellers
These are your Gods