Swim Like You Mean It

This will be my second year in a row without the sea

Hideous, I swim
As silver hoops warp sunny wind into gales
Lulling me to sleep

My imaginary friend swirls in my stomach
And my nipples come out to say hello to the whole damn neighbourhood
I used to hold my breath underwater for so long that my head started pounding

But I felt safe in my chlorinated womb

I love how human blubber moves when kicking in a swimming pool
Creating beautiful waves in our flesh

My dad taught me to swim in Lanzarote
My mum told me recently that I could have come out of her pool a mutant
But instead
I arrived fat and juicy and ready to dive in

My fins have become prematurely arthritic and
There are cigarette butts stuck in my gills
I narrowly escaped that plastic 6-pack from strangling me

And yet

I still swim deeper than the vibrations of a humpback’s roar.

We can’t scream under water
So we may as well smile and let the air bubbles out slowly through our nostrils

A lovely grimace of survival

This poem was inspired by the above image, Mermaid, from the collection of the Bodleian Libraries of Oxford University. It is published by Visual Verse magazine: 

http://visualverse.org/submissions/swim-like-mean/ 

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Swallow me, please and thank you 

Gold hoops warp the wind as I stride 
Pus grows above my lip 
Foot stepped on the screen
Slick palms 
Welcome the tide 
Welcome the excuse to dip 
Into the needles of your glossolalic misery 
Your tongue whips to swallow mine 
Sweat drips down through our shared distillery 
Pure poison now slips down my spine 
Chemical incense of your sweaty hands
Slackens and stains my grip 
I smell ghostly and blue 
Vision blurred from the sand 
I slam to the ground 
Just a blip 

Dappled

His grey back melts into the sky
Faces reflect in the glass
A black dog rides at our feet
My laces catch in the door
And I’m
Stuck
Distorted in the brass
Bloody iron and juices turn sweet

Lotuses fly and land on my wrinkled palm
My breath sends them floating
Glassed flowers hold flickering light
A raindrop falls on his nose
I stroke it off
Windy tears cloud our desperate sight

My hands melt into his
Dappled skin
Grips the rains
Flood water divides as we move
The black dog clumsily swims
Resting swans flock to smoking clouds
Hair slaps my face
Pink petals were destined to soothe

I unclog the doorway
Menthol fills my xylem
Plants manufactured to elevate
His hot breath warms my frozen air
We reach land again and
He throws me off
As if to celebrate

26-10-14

Your photo is staring at me 
The plumes of my cigarette create a veil 
Grief hasn’t overpowered me yet 
Instead I listen to music and 
Intoxicate my body 
Cleaning away the sadness 
I keep flying to escape 
Runways provide a road to being a stranger in lands
Where no one knows our stories 
The ink on my arm seeps into my bloodstream 
Filling me with you 
I can’t swallow the lump in my throat
I see you in her blond curls 
In the tapping of his thumbs on the video controller 
Your face is plastered everywhere 
It’s touching 
But it makes me want to smash my fist through the glassy frames 
And pull you out and hold you close 
I don’t want to be touched yet 

Still you are looking at me 
I’m listening to acid 
And want to take it 
So that reality becomes warped 
A chosen distortion 
Maybe then I will see you again 
In a world I have chosen to twist 
Like you used to twist strands of my hair 
In between your fingers 

The Golden Apple 

I want to show you my new skin
La peau fraîche de mon nouveau corps 
Human cells replace themselves after 30 days of living 
Sinews and pathways 
Change their direction 
Bringing the lodger on their travels 
We refresh 
Dirt stubbornly clings to the foetus of our new cell-born soul 
Self-born 
We are turned over 
Oozing from our own pores 
Like the caramel of a tarte tatin aux pommes 
We stick together 
And it is only then 
When
Caramelised and sticky 
Our messiness becomes communal 
Our bubbles explode sweet excrement 
Coating our psyches 
We are all jagged cuts of the same fruit 

I want to show you my new skin 
Despite being reborn
The scars and freckles are mine forever
Les cicatrices intérieures soufflent comme des poumons 
Their exhalations are salty 
Paris has made me one of her rats 
She doesn’t exist to make me happy 
I exist because she makes me happy 
My new skin glitters on the hour 
Gold contrasts with my blues
Dévoilez-moi de la fumée 
And 
Watch the light reflect its caramel hues

I want to show you my new skin 
It woke up like this (flawless)
I did too 
As humans we try to suffocate the self 
Painting chemicals 
Stippling 
Squeezing 
Painted curtains to hide a broken window 
Idealised perfection allows for human rejection 
But
We are all jagged cuts of the same fruit 
Strange fruit 
We hang from a single tree
An apple should not be perfectly round 
The Apple was eaten in rebellion
Allowing imperfection to reign 
We took the earth

Let us make a tarte tatin 
Paint ourselves in dripping gold 
Let our juices explode into history 
Escaping the frying pan mould 
Let us be apples 
Sugar saturated seeds 
Let us be saplings 
Blossoming  
Bold

 

L(A) (M)achine (D)u (M)oulin Rouge

It dissolves in my mouth
Paper turns bitter
I dance manically
Pretending I am fitter
Than I really am
Than I ever was
But now I am shaking
Out of control
A bird taken by wind
To fly is her goal
Trying to soar
Trying to glide
A lonely bird caught in her faltering stride
She took it too soon
She knows it herself
And now she is milk going sour on the shelf
The sounds of Nirvana become hell to her ear
Have you noticed how milk tastes so horrible here?
The French think (for some reason)
That fresh milk should be preserved
That butter should be unsalted
That it’s okay to stare at girls
I’ve noticed in Paris that
Being grim is not okay
That the weather will turn to mimic the
Torment of your scag day
It’s okay to write it off
Because the French do it to you
Don’t get me wrong
I love them really
I do
I love being invisible but to a small few
Almost as much as the French love standing in fucking queues
I don’t know why I need help to be happy
My top comes off
Hands clutch at my body
The photographer realises now is the time to snap me
Not before when I was dancing thanks to gay friends and poppers
People stare and internal voices scream
STOP HER!
They’re angry because I’ve reached out for external help
For something that prevents my brain from becoming pulp
Contradictory
As are most interactions in clubs
It sharpens and flushes
It heightens and I thud
To the floor as I get down from my imagined stage
Both the one I induced
And the one in the Moulin’s rage
Head spinning
I falter
And crash down in a blood red poof
The smoking cage ignites
So does the jealousy I stirred
And I scream in his ear
“Do you fancy that blonde bird?”
I clutch at his glass of water and
It disappears in one
I don’t know why I do this
It’s not as if I’m having any fun
But the picture from earlier reminds me of my beauty
And the thick tears welling up rekindle my purity
It’s a fire I extinguished
I don’t even remember when
Maybe it was when sexuality confused me at age ten
It’s still all-consuming
The confusion
I mean
But anyway
Let’s continue with my night in La Machine
These thoughts begin to spiral
Chewing inside my head
And I think of trippy Kygo
And the sexual healing that I dread
But long for in his body
In his mouth and in his yells
I don’t know why I think it
But I think of wedding bells
The albatross is said to be the loneliest bird alive
It spreads its huge wings
Flying merely to survive
To survey the life unfurling beneath its fantastical wings
Underneath her in Paris
Whitney Houston’s voice sings
I will always love you
A small part of you at least
But that thought is chewed up by
My ingested chemical beast
And you go back to her
And I go back to me
I’ve asked you already
Why can’t you fucking see?
But enough about you
About him
About me
You’re probably bored of my drug-fuelled sobriety
Of my antics and my angst
I’m bored of it too
I’m bored of falling asleep thinking about you
Of thinking of whether or not you think I’m cool
Of whether or not I am
Oops
My gurning jaws let out some drool
My teeth are in agony
The next day
The next week
And my eyes tell the story that
My mouth cannot speak
My beak becomes clamped with dusty gold tape
My eyes become clouded
It’s time to take a break
It’s time to allow my old feathers to moult
To cruise along slowly
Avoiding the jolt
I will become the lonely bird again
Who draws out her birds-eye map with her pen
Just for a little while
I will become she
You can still see my heart beating if you take time to look at me
My pupils will slowly return to their normal size
I will migrate with the birds
Dissolve the chaos in my eyes
As I write this I’m lying naked in my bed
And I thank you
For taking the time to get inside my head.

KMJKLC

Sometimes I think I’m incapable
But then I get this overwhelming
Feeling of
Love
It makes me nauseous
Seeing the pictures
Reminds me I am human
Smiles with friends
Remind me I am wanted
I feel like crying because

I don’t know why

The mask on my face is cracking
Clay is falling into my lap
Mixing into salty love and
Repression
I stuff it down my throat
Clogging it up
Sometimes it must fight back
The tears
Have gone
But my hands are shaking
That music video really got to me
I feel like I am that
Midnight flower
Blooming when nobody sees
It comes in waves
I can’t distinguish the positive
I don’t know why I’m shaking

Just stop

Friends and picnics
Reiterate my inclusion
Big groups still provide
A halt
To happiness
My petals curl into themselves
And I have to go lie down
Stop laughing without me
At least you’re not laughing about me

My loneliness is now on the back pedal of my brain
It cycles incessantly
Like myself
A successful bike journey is when I don’t get knocked down
This stomach pain is mixing with tears
I want to hurt again but
I don’t know why
Maybe it’s to shut off the knolls
It’s 12
The halfway point
Happiness overpowered by guilt has now become the norm
Push off the power –

I can’t afford to think like this

Just stop.