April 26, 2010

Until death do us part

Wedding Dress

I wore my mother’s wedding dress, although it was old and worn and more grey now than white. I wasn’t pure anyway, I figured, as I tied the lace into a bow. My garter itched, and turned the top of my thigh red: but it was something blue, so it would do.

I would have worn my father’s wedding suit, if my brother hadn’t already. Besides, it would never have fit me, and I was not my father. The sun glinted upon the mirror as I tried to peer into it, but I couldn’t see myself.

Pearls, they had said. Pearls are what you wear on your wedding day. But I couldn’t afford pearls, and the replicas looked cheap against my already paper-white skin. “Beautiful,” Annie whispered, but Annie would. She could afford pearls. She could say whatever she wanted. I straightened them out so that they didn’t hang like a noose around my neck.

Who knew cufflinks would be the most difficult part of the day? Callie had said my outfit had to be perfect, down to the last cufflink, but what’s a perfect cufflink meant to look like? Harry said mine were fine, but Harry was single and had a bachelor’s mind. I debated taking them off, throwing them into the drain, throwing my whole suit into the drain, screaming to the skies, but I decided that would be childish, and Callie would not approve of me being childish on our wedding day. Instead I ignored my cufflinks and straightened my tie, tightening it so that it felt like a noose around my neck.

It’s odd, how you’re not allowed to arrive on time to your own wedding. “No-no-no-no-no,” Mum said, quite emphatically. “And God forbid if you’d tried to go early.” Aunt Kathryn shook her head like a rolling dice. “Uh-uh.” “Calandra; there are rules to this wedding malarkey. If you arrive early, you’re desperate. If you arrive on time, you’re still acting pretty rash. Ten minutes late, well, you could be less desperate, but you’ll do. Twenty minutes late, perfect. Half an hour late, you’re pushing it. Forty minutes late, okay, time to arrive now. Later, we’re all bored; we just want a bloody marriage already. Do you see?” No, I did not, but like all else in this wedding malarkey I nodded my head in agreement. “So when’s the car arriving?” I asked. “At two,” Mum replied. So when the wedding was due to start? Sensible. Real sensible.

Where was she already? The priest looked perfectly calm, rereading the Gospel according to Mark quietly to himself. I, on the other hand, was not calm. Relax and bloody well learn to breathe, I reminded myself, as Dad whispered, “brides are always late” into my ear. Were they? Was that the norm? I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember any wedding other than my own: mocking me with its own bridelessness. The church smelt like incense, a cocoon around my nostrils, and I was yet to have a wife. I had wanted to visit her in the morning, to tell her... I don’t know. To tell her anything. And to make sure she was still happy. To make sure that she still wanted this. But she couldn’t and she didn’t and she was running away and she must hate me and – oh, a car. Her mother. She’s here. Right. So that’s that then.

I have never been so scared of my own imperfections. What I won’t have done right. What I’ll have forgotten about.

I have never been so scared of my own imperfections. What she expected of me, what everyone expected of me. Was I a husband? What is a husband, after all?

And as I entered the church I realised he was more handsome than any prince, he was wonderful, he was mine. He was not the moon or the stars or the sun, but I gravitated towards him, my smile stretching like wings across my face.

And as she entered the church I realised she was beautiful, fantastical, she was Godiva, she was Elizabeth, she was herself. She was mine. She was the grey in my hair and the wrinkles on my cheeks, but mostly the beam upon my lips.

All the days of my life.

Until death do us part.

One, two…

One, two...

Monotony is a lifestyle, but not a lifestyle choice. It is not repetitious but repetition itself, embodied in ritual, in habit, in convention. In one, two, threes.

The kettle bubbled on the hob, and screeched like a rake on red brick when it hit boiling. I took one part milk, two spoons of coffee granules, three sugars. The kitchen smelt of burnt toast and stale cigarette smoke, like a worn-down office, or an old launderette. Except that the taste of detergent was absent, and rather than the steady hum of washing machines and dryers all was silent here. I debated turning on the oven fan just to disturb the peace. But it wasn’t peace. Silence isn’t peaceful. Silence isn’t anything at all. I cleaned the dishes and put the knife away. I counted the steps on the staircase as I took out the bins. One, two, three.

Everything was white. The floor was a pasty linoleum, the desk painted veneer, the plasterboard surroundings ashen. I stayed in my box, the four walls glaring at me, laughing at me. Soon, I thought. Soon. The day would be over and I could return home. I needed to pick up lettuce on the way. I wanted salad with my dinner. The clients entered, and they looked like chickens, confused, their beaks poking their way into my undersized coop. Mother, father, daughter. One, two, three.

The reporter read out the news, her eyes crying MURDER, MURDER MOST FOUL, at the Tuesday Night Club or the Vicarage or somewhere, and I flicked the channels to find something more interesting. I watched the music countdown. Who would be number one this week? Who cared? It enthralled me for at least a minute, as I waited to discover. Three, two, one.

My life ran like clockwork. I was a broken record. I was any Tom, Dick, or Harry. I was a walking cliché. Out of all the gin joints in all the world I walked into hers, and our eyes met across the room, before she turned away. I tried to think of an excuse to approach her, but none sprung to mind, other than the fact that I wanted to. She smiled coy as a chameleon, blushed like a china doll. She picked up her glass gingerly, as if afraid to break it. I wanted to hold her. To breathe her in. I began walking, my feet moving without any conscious thought. They stepped and stepped and stepped. Left, right, left. One, two, three.

We didn’t stay for much longer. I was trapped in monotony but she laughed so new, so sharp, so curiously. Her hair was a faraway kind of gold, and her skin had an olive sheen that made her heritage near impossible to place. It complimented her mahogany eyes, deep as a philosopher on meth. You could count the freckles on her chin. One, two, three.

The lavender Air Wick spray smelt just like you would expect lavender to smell. It hung in the room, like the stale odours had, festering at the bedside. It was better than before, I supposed, as she lay down in front of me. I could see the knife glinting beneath my pillow. She didn’t seem to notice. I sprayed the mist again. Just spray it, smell it, enjoy it for the hour. Spray, smell, enjoy. One, two, three.

Blood was seeping from her like pus, and I washed it away before it would thicken and clot and start to smell. The clock ticked on the wall rhythmically, ritually. One, Mississippi, two.

Monotony plays out in perfect repetition. It is seamless but in this seamlessness is threaded worn-down patterns and deserted narratives. I took out the bins as I waited for the kettle to boil. I cleaned the dishes, I put the knife away. The smells were stale. I needed salad with my chicken. I counted the steps.

One, two, three.

January 28, 2010

Two days ago it rained

I wrote this poem as a performance piece for One World Week, so it's related to World issues. I decided to write a poem against weapons of mass destruction, and linked it to nature to try and create the paradox between humans fighting against nature, and then fighting against human nature. I hope it worked alright, so let me know what you think.

Two days ago it rained like the skies were shattering

It rained, in beacons of trust like blood pouring from an open wound

It rained, and stained the ground

Like dominoes it barely made a sound.

Two days ago it rained, and we put up

Our umbrellas and moved in colourful rounds

Through the crowds.

Two days ago it rained, and we slept

Soundless as children in our beds

Two days ago it rained

And we brushed the water from our heads.

Three weeks ago it snowed, like crystallised diamonds

But soft, and feathery and icy and cold.

Three weeks ago we pulled out old cotton jumpers

And stepped like glass, fragile on the frozen grass.

Three weeks ago it snowed, and we

Caught the flakes upon our tongue

Complained of traffic and moved on.

Four months ago the skies were clear

The air was smooth, our eyes they peered

Into the light. The sun beat bright upon our skin

Upon the freckles on our chin

The days were warm, the nights were still,

And we were invincible.

And in three centuries, or three hours

The rain will go away

But rather than come back another day it will fall

On barren earth, if it dares

To drop at all, and rather than wipe it from our cheeks

It will streak upon our graves

And the sun will blind the hardened trees

The leaves will fall in empty eaves

And the snow will bury what we have done

We can look back all we want and think

God, what a cruel world they lived in

But now we’re on the brink of something

So hard to link to human minds it won’t sink in

We have wars that we don’t understand and

From human hands we have built

Weapons that can kill the world

And what do you want to massively destroy?

We are a game for the big boys to

Toy with until they deploy the final

Stage, the bloody page

We don’t live in an age of war but an age of


We’re all waiting for the final score

Waiting for the last eclipse

We have no idea what’s in store

Two weeks ago the Earth shook like a

Titan it took solid concrete from

Beneath human feet, the streets

Creaked and teetered on the edge as

Mothers clasped babies to their chests.

But at the end we did not fall

The human race stood tall

We would not crawl to

Nature’s call or stall the

Anguish of us all. The earth

Can shake and shake again

But in two weeks time there may be no

Mothers to grasp children near, no

Dear sweet parents to wash away the

Tears there may be no humans left

To walk in fear there may be no

Humans left to persevere

To steer us down the last frontier

There may be

No humans left to hear the Earth

Fall from the sky

As we all die

There may be

No humans left for humankind

For we shall leave no souls behind.

December 08, 2009

How to Not Write a Poem

Hi! This is my first entry (scary :S) so I thought I'd start with a poem I've read out a few times now, because that's slightly less intimidating than putting up new material. This piece is called 'How to Not Write a Poem'

And what shall I write?

It could be a haiku that I tell to you

Of observations made that we once knew

Or imbue the strange hue of society’s view

And two dead men shall talk to one another

As we stand out cold in the blue.

The schools chew out new prisoners

And 2 plus 2 makes 5 now,

Or some crap like that.

But they also said that we were through, and every day

The numbers grew and the coffins queued

Outside the cemetery gates. The soldier crew

Made their debut to force the

Enemy to subdue. All this

Hullaballoo has gone askew, and what,

We gonna bomb them back

Into the stone age again?

At the end leave only a baby’s shoe.

But that’s a little bit taboo, and so for now we’ll say adieu.

I could write a sonnet but it’s so cliché

And I wouldn’t know what to say.

A ballad too, a Mary-sue:

It’s just not really my thing thank-you.

A nursery rhyme? How sublime!

From times that have now passed

Their prime.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall?

Well it’s his own bloody fault for sitting on the wall

When he didn’t have any balance at all.

And I wouldn’t have cried at Georgie’s kisses

But how he ran from those boys’ hisses

And how cupid’s arrow truly misses its mark on me.

And why put a baby in a tree

When it’s gonna break? You must agree

It’s lunacy! I plea to hush them any other way.

And I never lost my pocket, though if I had

I bet that Kitty Fischer would have nicked the lot,

The bitch.

And when did the bells of London start to talk?

I walk the streets without a squawk from them

But I pray that they will say something today;

But that’s only child’s play.

And the tradition every year to get together

And sing remember remember about a man

Who had a plan and burn him on a fire.

What a fun night, kids.

Maybe you should’ve sung the last verse, Mum, in which Molly Malone dies.

I don’t think I would’ve cried.

But is this what you want to see?

Shall I write of birds and love and trees?

Is that what you want of me?

Am I now writing poetry?

And do you expect us to sit in coffee bars

And discuss Joyce and beheaded green knights and –

Okay, well, we have done that. But we’ve also

Sat in pubs discussing Twilight, so it’s all in balance really.

And what, do I have to quote like Eliot? Sell it

In hits of nature with some wit.

Will my message then transmit? Is it now legit?

Booze by any other name would taste as sweet

And get you just as drunk

How low now have I sunk?

Okay, so I will write of love from heaven’s above,

Except that it doesn’t work like that.

We date, and I have to say I think it is going well;

If by well I mean swell we could dwell

On the ways by which my heart is

Bewitched, and count - by clock - the mount

Of my beating tock. But to ascertain

Affection as though it were a mathematical

Equation - by Jove, we couldn’t and shouldn’t,

Wouldn’t assess the invasion of Cupid’s dear

Persuasion. And though downpour could take

Its toll and let us loll apart, it’d be sheer

Folly to hide beneath separate brollies; because,

As I’m sure I’ve said, it’s been quite pleasant

Thus far.

And if perhaps I had to desist

Would it be my eyes that resist, and

Dismiss your jist, or rather my lips

That persist in missing your kiss.

Could I list the ways in which

I slam my fist?

Oh, but why would I want to fly out of my

Pure sweet lure, I cannot know. For so far the

Fire has boiled with desire and I’d be a liar to

Call the situation dire. Or even risk the brisk

Pace with the face of our decisions.

It’d be a crime. Oh, it’d be a crime.

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Most recent comments

  • It's lovely… can't wait for you're second one. Can't believe I missed it! by on this entry
  • I love this, its my favorite! I can't believe you remember it though it is sooooooooooooo long. x by on this entry
  • Forsake the introduction, the poem is good. Also, remember to order your tags in alphabetical order.… by J on this entry

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