All entries for Monday 19 November 2007

November 19, 2007

Another Brief Essay on Madness


Have you never wanted to soak a novel in your blood.

A thick red wet cube,

written across the top in black.

If you kissed it your lips would be red.

When it dries it will crinkle and smell

old like the oldness of your veins,

and be more of a relic to you than the Byron open on your desk

or the poems you write that no-one understands.

With faith and feelings naked as her form,

She stood and stands a rainbow in the storm…

A thick red wet cube.

The library shakes in the storm.

The library has more books than a man has blood, and that

is why man must go insane.

Observe that girl, she was a painter once,

but now she bites her nails and is too weary of life to read.

Books frighten her fingers into scrawling over their


Why do they ask her to read?

Why do they ask her to write?

A Brief Essay on Madness

The man who called himself Death waits for her as she scrunches through the shingle at the bottom of her cave towards him. Sometimes she steadies herself against the damp walls, and sometimes she steps over small streams that have dripped down from the high dark ceiling and its stalactite teeth. He, Cassius, waits for her without much of a face. He is tall and well built and dressed in black. He is clean headed and handsome. The girl stands before him in the noisy cave and amongst the splashes and rattles of water and wind she hears his voice. The voice does not echo as it is not spoken anywhere except inside the top of her head.

‘Why do you come here?’ it says. It is the question of the teacher who already knows the answer.

‘Because I love you’ She replies with an urgent twinge of sentimentality

He places his hands on her shoulders.

‘And when I am not here?’

Speaking back in her mind she is eloquent.

‘Because I am enamoured with my suffering but cannot live through it’

He kisses the side of her neck.

‘Come outside’

‘I do not want to’

He is gone with her words even though she lets herself believe through necessity that he is always there if the darkness frightens her or the demons come, and that he loves her despite her own ridiculousness. She looks around her cave and crouches to a stream to play with pebbles for a while. She likes to watch the colour rushing into them as the are wetted, and it dry from their skins till they are dull again. She returns to her bathroom and the mirror she stares in. Her hands have gone cold from resting heavily on the sides of the porcelain basin. In the mirror her eyes look back at her bloodshot and reproachful, wet and burning. For a moment paralysis means she can only scream in her head. Behind her a figure that is not Death capers, something out of a movie she recently saw, but less bloodsmeared and smaller and greyer. It is everywhere about her today: when she opens cupboards it looks at her from them, when she opens doors it hides behind them, when she looks out windows its face is pressed against them. With a pink the bathroom light goes out. She returns to the bed where she lies staring at a vaguely discernable ceiling with shifting faces in. The creature approaches the bedside slowly and stands over her.

‘Why have you been hiding from me’ She speaks voicelessly to the space above her head.

‘Why have you been hiding from yourself’ These are quite possibly her own words replying to her. The blackness of her bedroom shivers. She closes her eyes and sees herself with Cassius at the top of a high cliff that plunges into the abyss below: the abyss where her cave is and her world is. Up here there is sunlight and he has angel wings. God is above them and they are kneeling clutching each other in the radiance of the sky and the quick air. You do not have to be in the abyss. She is on a hill above the sea marrying him. She is in a bed again but it is not her own and she is being held by her guardian in red sheets and dappled sunlight like she wrote about once for a character who was not her.

‘Stay with me forever and it should be this’

‘What if you are temptation’

It occurs to her that as much as she has needed her ghost she has never trusted him to be the way of goodness. This does not mean she loves him any less. Her world has brought her up in a culture of mistrust, particularly of happiness, beauty and good fortune. It is not in her blood to be happy without fearing some consequence. Cassius makes love to her and she is in her own bed oncemore, the tiger Ragnarok pacing the room in the dying throbs of her gratification. Figures surround her and she sleeps.


When I was a child, Saturday mornings had the one true joy of rising early from a stout sleep to realise a whole day lay ahead free from school. It was a day free, indeed, from any obligation. There were many things that could be done, but nothing that must be done. I woke today, and opened my curtains to a windy blue weekend. I had no reason to immediately leave my bed and so recalled this feeling. However, today, I must write an essay, phone a garage, go to the gym, feed myself, speak to people, exist. I cannot spend the hours given to me playing on my bedroom floor with wax crayons, scissors and glue, a rat, a book I do not have to read, a language I do not have to know. I elect myself an hour of me time in which I feel impelled to buy a telegraph and some breakfast with all its strings attached

A poem from a while ago


Cider masquerading as cider and the

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

sliding over a wasteland into the night light laptop


The rhythmic ticking of his watch

like the sound in the evenings of my father's heart.

Today someone bandied the philosophy of aesthetics

and I fell in love with a rose

on the way to my bed.

That other day I wept coyly and

shyly right into my belly

right into your face

at the way your mouth moved. Instead.

Floated sestinas. Death cab driving

me to nowhere on the thin edge of a taste

of alcohol.

I prise six words with my mouth:

Vomit them out.


Friendly phone calls light and carefree

as bubble bath popping on diaphanous thighs

and slow long arms

that will never be shaped like tradition.


Writers write. Retch reflex.

Reflected mascara gobbed down my red face.

Why have you been crying?

Because I have been eating and

when my heads upside down the rain falls out.

Why have you been Because I don’t move like

them and I wont feel like them in

His arms.

I think sometimes he forgets.

And I cannot and I cannot and I cannot.

Dowdy clouds make the rain fall out-

Swollen up thunder without syllables.

Shower curtains. Plucking my eyebrows. Cutting a pose.

Cutting my fringe. Bath. Morose moustache.

Shit floats. Bloat. Boat.

There could be a eulogy in all of this

If only there wasn’t a poem.

Some people are better;

Some people are not as tall.

Nanny kissed my rows of infant toes.

They fuck themselves up in the virgin cunts of

shoes who wont hurt like me in the morning.

Heels. Tesco leather having its chest


in club dirt.

Oh don’t you oh don’t you

ever feel freaky? Ever feel a freak?

Oh don’t you dare decide to feel what failure’s like.


Wee Loo, Eheu

Taste the varnish of a polo cane.

Soil dehydrating, dust.

Henceforth I shall be wary

and let you be my downfall only on days

destined regardless

to end like this.

Mug bruised by paint

with chrysanthemums, quaffing

acrylic water. Mauve.

It hurts and they shall die:

I guess that has always been it.

Have you ever wanted something so much you

forgot about it?

Don’t you dare be my paragon

for I shall never be mine. Paradisiacal.

Paroxysm. Paramour. Paralytic.

Ephemeral words masking taped to a magnolia

bower nothing but

that weight of eyelids on lower eyelids.

She hid in the beauty of a thin child

who enthuses like no one sees.

Who can be the red wood Windsor chair

on its side? White corridor, yellow

autumn leaves that curl up when someone pins them

to a notice board with assignations, four by six shiny

relics of drinking prowess,

Sir Percy, car tax.

Back in the space of current days

and I realise that this

was just another love poem

to you

softened by exhaustion

and the emollient of raw ridiculousness.

Raw fish pink as foreskin.


Concision. I incise shit from

shit and sit and sit and recline

constant as streetlamps and friends saying ‘lol’,

Snakebite, Hell, he’ll never look at you that way

they say

and so does Joni Mitchell

and so does

and so does

and does

The point is today is just two bodies that

might have our faces

making love on Kestor in the rain.

Put one pebble on top of one stone.


An amorous engagement to a rose

curling and passing

past all comprehension.

Petals. A something. A small


Home–grown poetry


Late summer,

though the summer was not much.

There is a squirrel in the shaded garden.

At the top edge of the land

neighbouring horses

crunch in the copse arms.

The white tan dog bounds

over the disordered grass

that is swallowing up the rabbits

and the gates.

Here she stamps,

following behind with a novel in her hand

and the slow steps of a town bred farmer

with stock to check.

Clobby droppings of the brock,

those illadvised blackberries

seeding his latrines.

The smell of bog and bracken,

foxes and ferns.

In the scrub quiet it beats fast

of a low hart

and her terrified blood.

Pigeons shiver into a warm sky.

Streamflies fat in the estate pats.

Grass like rivers,

too thick to solve,

pours over everything.

I am but what I am none cares nor knows

the trees sigh and repeat those woes

all those rows of roots

and disintegrating leaves.

The terrier finds out the


in their shaded bunker of dust.

In the skinny bushes

they blink at insects:

boulders of folded knees and

chewing cheeks.

She picks the thorns out of her legs

while she is stooped

to look in every sleepy brown eye

for the white harbingers of blindness.

The novel swells through touch;

The brambles surge.

November 2007

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