- Vol. 09
- Chapter 08
We are trying on our disguises
hips slung arms slack forward
backs to the clear glass glow
of a life we do not want
and fail to fit to. We have reversed,
stacked our fears/triumphs/petty defeats
on our shoulders to leave ourselves
bow-backed and open, reduced
to the thick thirst of an animal’s
lust, pared to bodies dressed
in insubstantial armour, glazed
in a sick green sheen of apathy, we
are no longer me but it, limp-hipped
accepting, propped on the cusp
of a world that still will not let us in
we hover, ready to fall, to drop to the edge
of a cold tile floor, the roar of a stink-train’s
anger bringing the takers, the pointers
the blind-eyed, the fearful, to catch
the cusp of our final downfall
to eat our erasure; the predators
feed on passivity. We will not
survive this coming rush but
our blood will pattern the walls
for those who come after to worship.
There are no horses here, no smooth
ryegrass shiny in the sunlight. There is no
soft here, only hard cuts of glass. Nothing
that makes air lives in this underground cavern
of neon, and yet, here are people still, assumed alive
with their black and white aesthetic, synthetic
shoes and bags, zippers and sunglasses, leaning
against light which could never glow green
without gas and sand.
There are no horses here,
perhaps a train will come instead or a tube on its track,
traveling through dark tunnels. Metal has its own echo, here.
Waiting is a bent back, a dangling jacket. There are no horses
here. In the distance, a horn cries out its warning: soon.
We lean like chef speak on the sidewalk
of our lives, watching through tint
the neat rows of dark skinned lines
that separate us from the world.
We are about to fly into the chromatic
glass life that hides behind us
but this beauty is only a metaphor
for why we don't go home.
It is night in the city & we are
looking for some soft shoulder
of a road to lie on.
This is not a premeditated accident.
This is just body finding
the safest place to hide.
We hold our laugh in the cup
of our throat like too much gin
but we are not drunk, not yet at least.
The night is a baby crawling
towards the fire escape &
we are the exiles in this neon city,
stoked with the fumes
of exhausted motorcades
& funeral hearses. We are happy
briefly here but we cannot go home.
Home is a door without knob &
the windows are blacked
like secrets. If you want to know,
it is true, we are the most well kept
of them all.
Their backs hurt. The ground slippery under sartorial but inconvenient shoes. They're not as young as they used to be, but a request is a request. So they wait. Bodies contorted into strange positions. Wait. Wait Wait.
'Bridddggeeeeee,' yells their two-year-old, as she barrels under their makeshift tunnel, laughing as she gets to the other side.
Just as they are about to straighten their aching vertebrae, she yells, 'again again again!' And back they go, contorted, sleep-deprived but happy to be of service.
I know how you feel.
You think you are still inchworms all blue-
out of this dark
world, moving with your quirky inching, tucking
inch by inch, arching your midsection
section, wide open, your waist
shielding your eyes, avoiding light, but I see your white wings.
In a world where we
Spend so much time
Bending over backwards,
To please loved ones,
Make 'the most of' time,
The littlest of fusses,
And to deem ourselves worthy
Of fulfilling the desires within,
I find myself
In the immutable humdrum
Of daily existence,
In the hustling,
Chaos of life,
Mutations of reality
That do not exist,
And yet become
see how far
we can go
not in competition
we’ll go further that way
away from the blast
from the stench
of the fumes.
We’re on the road
out of the tunnel
out of oblivion
on the road
into the sunshine
and remembering all
our feet firmly planted
on the ground
side by side.
I tell you I’m no longer certain
the train will arrive. Uncertain this is even
a station. That we should, in any way,
have consented to be stationary. Just a pulse ago
the descent, our lost spores breathed in
by the stairwell’s sharp inhale. And we settled. I fear
this is the lesson: No settling. Starked out plain
on the glass slide, edgelost and creeping,
we are a slew of softening; decoupled spine,
no wire of memory to hold taut the concrete
steps. Nothing stays solid with promise to raise us
back into sweet clear light.
My friend, listen: what comes rushing
from the darkness, a rat’s-gleam and no longer distant,
we both know it isn’t the train. The cavern
of the eye, it descends to the eyepiece, shining
undepthed and impossible as every night sky
we lay reeling beneath.
What travelled express in the chest,
briefly lifts us. Even now, anticipating a destination
of stars, how it will define us,
at last, to be seen.
We are bent back like blades of grass:
skulls cushioned by cold glass.
It filters the sunrise underwater green;
It bathes our bellies, bared out
to meet the tube’s concave.
We are particulate, in fluid time.
Six minutes til the next train home;
six hours til the next one away.
We will slink back to our desks,
bass still pounding in our heads,
in secret drenched:
with a weak spirit stench, black-lights
and acid sweat. Still insulated in it—
the blazer we covered up with to the rave.
We stand buckled in empty carriages,
nodding in and out of nightmares
while we rattle through the dark,
our knuckles bone white on handlebars.
We are cockroaches of this rail:
crawling deep in the guts of the city;
forever circling away the days.
We are the forever dazed—
This is the game: nobody’s rules but ours
basking in the neon, presentation
of this company’s behest, new beginning
set to never end, wound around jest
neither of us wanted anything
except to be the other’s line to draw
so here is marked, shades, no socks
each glass in boxes where we roar
let them stare and photograph a
place of glorious defiance, crafted
where the other, approach carefully staged
yet nothing else is care, except our stance.
life; a million boxes
lined up, stacked ready
improved by light
roll up, roll up
take a look
as jawlines judge
shook, the people
conform in different ways
bend to say
look our way
we are monochrome
yet we shine
with all the brilliance
of a thousand boxes
break free, the wall
cannot hold you forever
the wall shines on
in the darkness
its saviour complex
Shoulders slump, heads hang, and pancaked finger pads earn the title: The most vital limb in the body.
Revolution, not evolution.
Backward curvatures are the future. A train rumbles forward down the track while cycloids backflip.
Cyclothymic, doctors diagnose.
What's wrong with duets? Black/white. roar/whisper. standing/dancing, euphoria/despair.
We're human. Imperfection doesn't have a partner.
The off-screen narrator announces train delays. We un-curve, and the narrator turned DJ plays a Nino Rota composition.
We slide across the platform's runway and enter a chlorophyll set.
The vibrant green luminescence
emits scenes from the classic bathroom
the walls are unsure of themselves
as perception stands corrected
our bodies face the order in the sky
but not enough to fully commit
like saying "love you" without the I.
We crane our necks to see what's coming
ignoring the flaming pressure of the past
because the future, just off screen
it always is.
How long can we hold this?
Will anyone notice?
Don’t laugh. Don’t smile.
Where are all the riders?
Will they use our platform?
Don’t wiggle. Don’t giggle.
Why is the light green?
Do you think we’ll be seen?
Don’t speak. Don’t freak.
I now know the answer—
we’re great Broadway dancers.
A scout will soon see us,
our fortunes will greet us.
We’ll stand up so straight,
and have food on our plate,
ride the subway with ease,
help our backs (and our knees).
Don’t despair. Almost there.
The smell of fluorescent-green lightbulbs in square panels, along one entire wall, is strong, tingling the hair of my nose with an electric mix of glass and plastic. Air-fresheners though, speak a different tune, humming at each entrant. Lavender, they say.
Walking down the narrow corridor, my friend leapfrogging by my side, his panting-croaks making me giggle, his sneakers squeaking on the tiled floor, I slip on my vision bending 3D glasses.
Mid-sentence, a girl with a purse stands frozen, her shoulders against the wall, spine bent at odd angles. A boy in grey converse, his hair a shock of hedgehog spikes, mirrors her posture. They look bored, uninterested, dark shades glued to their faces, sending signals of ‘buzz off’.
The Arcade of Strange Postures and Gravity Defying Antics; I know, I know, it’s a mouthful but that’s what attracts the hip crowd, is steaming.
I pause and watch my froggy friend leap his way forward, then I bend, touch the floor and sprint. A runway unfurls and I drop to my knees sliding - gliding. The stench of sweat and shoes and excitement hits me.
I spread my arms wide and take off.
A leant-forward man told me once that
There's a light at the end of this tunnel
A wavy blue daze made of adverts and tile
And a breeze there that smells of the ocean
There's an arrow, he said, and a set of steel stairs
Just lean forward with me and I'll show you
But leant-forward men have no souls and
Clear glasses and see only what's up and around them
And the journey I keep is the one in my sleep
So I leant back and slipped off behind him
You dress up in black and white -
Black cargoes, white socks, black sneakers,
White tank top, black jacket, white face,
black shades, to hide the rainbows of emotion in your eyes.
You place your feet apart at a distance
of your shoulder blade,
jut your hip out at an angle to balance the neon air.
Not that it needs balancing,
Or anything here, needs balancing,
but only, you think it is your duty to do the balancing.
So you stand in that pose, a pose
no yoga teacher ever taught you.
You turn your head sideways,
sew your lips with the thread of quiet and wait.
Wait at the metro station of life, for the train to arrive,
hoping the passengers would brim with applause,
who would take you home and allow you to stay
in their company.
Back slumped against the glass pushing the expectations away
arms falling by our side dropping the weight to our feet
eyes adorned with glasses this is our retro time
away from the chaos the judgmental microscopic eyes of the world looking for a thing to call faulty
we pose like models waiting for the camera to click armoured against what tomorrow will say.
He leans his shoulder blades against the wall, his back arched, his arms dangling, and he wails. His voice echoes around the platform and along the tunnels. The sound is raw and animal.
I remember a friend's words: when he is most challenging is when he is most in need of patience and support.
And love too, of course. Though that goes without saying.
Here, below the city streets, the light is green and the air is dusty. There is a buzz running through the cables. A draught wafts the hot stench of engine grease and fast food outlets between the platforms.
Trains stop briefly to disgorge their passengers. People hurry past, rushing to catch the next one or to ride the escalators to the surface. Each step takes them closer to office desks, to business meetings, to hospitals and shops and theatres.
Those passers-by closest to us step around him, glancing anxiously from the teenage boy to the edge of the train tracks and back. Most hardly pause, plugged into their i-phones and tablets.
A woman glances up from her book and I see an expression that might be sympathy or solidarity. Maybe she too has a son or brother like this. Maybe she too knows this painful moment will pass.
I allow my bag to drop to the ground and I align my body - shoulders, arched back, firmly rooted feet - with my child's. And together, she-wolf and son-cub, we raise our heads and howl.
‘cos of the light,
all over green
cast, sets us
for the tunnel
rats ‘n’ pigeons
slim un fat un
buskin’ in tandem
for the sake of
a crease up
not even an hat
for the ground
just us makin’
faces, the wind
I’m stuffed inside a handbag
making friends with balled up tissues,
Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar wrappers,
the gaps of forgotten inhalers.
I don’t sit in the corner anymore.
I stand in the middle and feel able
to ask pockets of dust how they are,
tell them about the way clouds come
and go, let my insides turn into my outsides.
I stopped asking where we’re going
some time ago. An open diary
picks me up and walks us to a place
where time wants us to be safe.
In the stomach
Is not so good
Should we jump
Indifference to this measuring
Of you more than me
Your outward projecting
Shall we disguise the birth-pangs of our multiplying
beyond the self-promotion we are glass-blocks in the lightness
of a situated city, the pools of blue and green tiles, the picture of
our fiction stays with me though you grow beyond me into the ghostly edge of shimmers I could my way though you over and over a carrying of hand-bags to the edges of our fingertips running halfway to the dark and into the ethereal surfacing of surfaces will we or won't we become what we are circling how the body grooves to the growth of it bodies indelibly woven together love curves love curves it holds us luminously together
Travelling during a pandemic is so strange. To me at least, old as I am. Old enough to remember the last time it happened, and the first time it happened. Old enough to remember a time before.
The airport is empty, even though we now live alongside deadly diseases. It’s precautionary, this slow ebb and flow of travellers. Some wear masks, though this particular strand of disease isn’t airborne. I join the masked, purely because the piece of cloth covering my cracked lips and reddened nose is a deliberate comfort. My mother made it for me, must be fifty years now, from spare bits of material she found in a box in the attic. A flower pattern, though florals were never my style; it’s why the mask still has its use. It’s effective because it was never used, even during the first and the second and the fourth pandemic, when masks like this were hard to find, and useful.
Those of us at Heathrow are wearing blank stickers on the top left side of our chests. None of us know what they signify. All we know is that before we’re set to board the aircraft, a harsh light will be shone on all of us, and depending on the colour the blank stickers turn, we will be allowed in or taken away. I have done this only once before and witnessed the procedure; the light made all of my unelastic skin turn vomit-green before I was allowed on the plane. A person behind me in the queue turned red and all of us would-be passengers watched as men in hazmat suits appeared as if from nowhere to drag them away, while they screamed bloody murder. Each of us was offered a little green pill once we found our allocated seats; the perpetually cheerful cabin crew demonstrated how to correctly down the pill: open the screwtop bottle, place the pill visibly on the tip of your tongue, retract, swing water down and swallow. Those who swallowed the pills arrived on the other side of the planet with an acidic taste inside our mouths.Read more >
Beneath the streets of your city there’s an underworld. It snakes through the sewers and underpasses and loose bowels of the place, where trains and water roar. Down there, all lights are acid green and the walls are carved from terbium and uranium, and it’s strange to discover that here, today, now, on this Earth, because such materials seem to belong to somewhere else, somewhere future-noir, somewhere several solar systems over, where trees grow luminescent and smooth-faced robots tend for alien young.
There are people in the underworld. You can see them through grates and drains. They’re upturned faces. Voices carrying. There are legends in the city of the under-people: they’re monsters, lost, fallen, un-people, all dressed in black and white—except, of course, their white clothes are stained green by light, and they wear dark glasses to hide that the whites of their eyes are green too. You peer so close, down through the cracks in the pavement, that you can see yourself reflected in the lenses.
One night they take your hands, pull you down softly. You’re afraid to go, but you want to. You’re led through tunnels until the world’s so low and narrow the under-people have to stoop, and they stoop backwards, not forwards, as though blown away by the winds of an explosion. On a wall you pass, painted in neon pink: ‘Smooth the descent, and easy is the way / But to return, and view the cheerful skies / In this the task and mighty labour lies.’ And you’re pulled further down, people ahead, people behind.
to let the light in
they queued to let the light in and bask in its pale watery glow
they queued for fruit and green things form the earth
they queued to taste the water that had been cleaned of plasticides
they queued to reminisce about the wholesome earth
but it had died
It came through at speed
Whoosh. No warning
No, Stand back from the edge of platform three. The approaching train will not stop at this station
And it didn’t. Whoosh.
The back draught nearly had us off our feet
We sway in unison
Back and forth
Back and forth
The motion soothes us as we wait
We keep it going
Back and forth
Then side to side
Now tracing slow circles
Circle to the left
Circle to the right
Bathed in the soft green glow of the night-time light show
Waiting for the train that never came
I’m not even sure how we got into this position and honestly it’s quite hard to hold.
I have a fleeting bit of happiness that I managed to keep my handbag,
familiarity is everything at a time like this.
Even though the green light down here means shades 24/7
it’s still better than the World Up There.
My real partner didn’t make it
so I found this mannequin and dressed him in his clothes –
you need company when you’re biding your time
dancing to the edge of the world.
At the station, going nowhere,
shoes neatly tied as if ready to run,
they are thrown off-balance by the approach of change.
Unprepared, unaware that they are the vanguard
of a new order, sensing the first rustle
of an icy wind to come, pregnant
with new beginnings.
Darkness would be the better companion,
familiar and comprehensible.
This strange new light promises to
illuminate what is yet unseen,
obliterating the comfort of old ways.
Sunglasses offer their only protection, lest
the terror in their eyes give them away.
here and now all lines are straight
we’re either up or
down left or right
no will to fight remains
and all that clings lizard green
in this fake new light
is right-angled eyes-down obeisance
we’re starched crisp starved
to flat-bellied apathy
deafened tongue tied glare eyed
in the blue green
rectangulated and sure
always a safe distance apart
a tame wolf pack of parallel lines
drip fed on the pride of lions
you promised we’d become
you’ll rip out tongues
blinker eyes set us on your straight
and narrow but
we’ll cross your lines
set them alight dance as they bend
like spent matches connect again
and again in rebellious refraction
we’re reclaiming all our curvy thinking
wrong as rain at a summer wedding
cheeky as a child in a pub piss full of drunks
bare and bent as nature intended
Feet planted on the metro platform
shoulders arch backwards, absorb heat
from radiant LED lights through clear glass
tiles, await an onslaught of subway winds
that lift paper debris like Kansas homes
in the eye of a tornado, tousle our hair, suck
safehouse stillness of the underground tube.
Grinding steel wheels shoot sparks above tracks,
glowing like meteors, piecing our Ray-Bans
as they brighten the abyss with flickering showers.
We cherish those moments when friction ignites
fireworks, so we thrust our hips forward in awe
& supplication, daring nature’s laws to contort
our teenage frames that anticipate journeys
neither civil nor demented. Travels begin & end
though automatic doorways; we watch them slide
open & close—listen to air brakes hissing, squealing.
Strangers wave at us though passenger windows
our backs slip to the ground ere they rescale walls;
reset, we bask in a codified stance—ritualized…fixed—
before we ascend cement steps, rise to the surface
like earthworms after a lengthy spring rain,
trade the grimy kiss of mass transit system gusts
for twilight’s slight precipitation, accept our Lazarus
moniker amongst family, friends & foes, savoring
dark pitch, knowing our breathing shrouds belong
inside the netherworld of a metro sepulcher.
Two women lean their backs
into the arch of a glass sky,
spirits laid bare and free,
a painting on a wall.
Their bodies are blooming
soft as silk sun, and they’re
filled with irony and life,
For them, ordinary is weak,
and fork-clean. Friends
in-sync, neuro ad neuro.
Like a final quit-cigarette.
Women always lean back
on a voice that they own.
In the subway of lime green,
life is a speeding train,
the translucent trance
of a screeching machine,
the timeless phase
of a purple haze
Where the rats scurry,
the stray cats howl,
and transients sleep on benches—
a mother and child stand behind
the yellow line, and an old man
weeps for forgotten dreams
There is no other option,
so we lean back and wait,
for the next opportunity
to take us back home—
leaving the rat race
for a quiet two-bedroom apartment
We are on alert, looking back
through the dark tunnel,
the express train stopping at City Hall,
then over rooftops and store windows—
we see neighborhoods passing
like shooting stars in the night.
The light is too bright for us,
even here in this underground
tunnel, we don sunglasses for fear
lightning will strike and for days,
we’ll see nothing else but dancing
spots, jagged rainbows, wriggling
worms and fish scales; our vision
smeared with thumbprints
we cannot wipe clean.
We pretend we cannot hear
the screams, slumped against
the wall, feet firmly planted
on the tiled platform, always
waiting for the next train.
Everyone else’s leaving the city;
carriage after rammed carriage
whoosh past, the hot breath
of the backdraft warning us
we’ll need to pick up our bags
and start moving again soon.
It's June and in 30 days
you'll be gone.
I'll be left waiting at Mile End,
the district line cackling
with mock sympathy
as 12 carriages whip the scream from my throat.
I bend my back upon the bows,
to find an answer,
within the chug and rattle of my heart.
Squares of yellow,
holding dead end clues, slide sickly out of reach
The silence sighs,
So warm and close
That I almost hear you whisper.
from the hollowing labyrinths of our city.
They're walking overheard
Spilling new stories on top of old
upon the streets we lean beneath
Pausing for breath
Stippled glass refracted day-
light into neon
green as a rock pool,
sculpting our fluid teen-
age bodies into punky shapes,
miming Poly Styrene and Siouxsie.
“Just like dancing,” you said
behind your dark glasses.
“I know,” I said,
flashing with mine.
in our immersed dominion.
The green hue is sparkling
on me and you.
The shades will cover our red eyes
Bought at a cheap drugstore
to hide shame and to party and to count
our dollars in a strange place in the street
that goes unnamed, but not
the fear beneath your shades, and mine
the shock, escaping had never been so easy
when we run to who-knows-where
we can’t hide when we don’t know where to go
and this, we don’t call it hiding
we simply just won’t be found, that’s what it’s called
We hang back
Crepitation. In my bones. Another crepitation.
From your back.
In every breakdown, there’s that odd
almost funny, from experience
Place of calm
we’re vibing, that’s what this is called
This is what we’ve missed out on
When we go back to our dull and
Unpeculiar. Not strange. Not satisfying normal.
Not happy. Unhopeful. Unexcited.
Someday we’ll come back here
An unknown place
We crash to, we go back to
The inclination to be part of the whole
The loudest expressions,
The most visible to the eye over weighs,
Opposed to what's my own
The inner voice, what's in view of second sight
We have been plagued by the dominance of what's outer
Oppositely, the inner is only detained in the pillion
The question is, has our evolution always been disunited or we retrogressed?
This could be long, this pregnant pause,
just waiting at collection point,
not worth unstrapping, letting loose,
losing back pack, load again,
so long as burdens, not laid down,
are balanced, rested,
Too weary to divest, now aches
are settled, known, left undisturbed,
while ruck has found a cushion sack
for dozing, streaming, standing up,
specific, intrinsic, instinctive set,
centred gravity in lean,
with face shades grace, place bottle green,
a playback zone for tousled pair.
Will not next move be swinging gear –
so is security the fear
or is it slump in muscle wear?
But handbag grip seems out of sense –
too short a strap for round the neck –
maybe a pillow for the head,
‘and I still luv u’, Dreams too Deep,
unmoved, still ladder, bunking up,
'non Angli sed Angeli' said,
angels, angles, fair Saxon hair?
A corridor of green says go
But we are stuck to the wall
Our legs bent in recoil
We remain seated.
We have no where to go
Our bodies start to rise
Only to find we are glued to
the glass blocks of remorse
The light says go our minds say no
We are holding up the wall of sorrow
As we settle back into the familiarity
of wanting to leave but afraid to go.
It was all green, but there was no grass.
We sat down, but there were no chairs.
We wore sunglasses, but there was no sun.
We prepared to leave the station, but there was no subway.
We asked for indications, but there were no passers-by.
We met after so many years without smiling, saying hi...
We looked into each other’s eyes,
but our eyes were closed.
Backs to a cut-glass wall,
of what lies ahead
bevel possibilities aglow.
Should we turn,
mirrored stances shaded from the glare,
might unabashedly reveal
what we have left behind.
Mired in tunneled indecision
and weighted by decades of baggage,
we float in green-infused denial
and share stories about waiting for a bus
in a subway station.
Fat Joe’s Lean Back blasts through the speakers and everyone’s spine inverts along with the foam inside.
I see people plant sticky ones onto faces and wonder if they are competing with the underground walls. Glazed and dripping like a confectioner’s best dream.
I see the green first before I feel it. Plants are forced into these eyes and I suddenly feel to bake on grass. Strobe lighting does not just affect the epileptic, it affects senses that are so used to darkness that light brings confusion.
I wonder why they stay in corners. Darkness. We pull sunglasses on in competition and match our blazers to the floor.
No heels allowed. Only shapeshifting soles that do not make noise.
We are mellow under the light. Pulled so deep into fields that we might aswell backstroke into them.
Our train of common sense
has come and left.
Here we stand,
...a blind expanse of
We are heavy shoe-d travelers,
bent over backwards,
within a green beam of
woke jokes and distorted
We equal a net worth of sub
ways. Coated in the
lurid pull of popular opinion,
we are planted, firm in off
melting into lime-lights of
wondering who we are
within our lost trains of
She is scared to be underground, could not live in London,
is not a natural earthworm or rabbit, displacing soil and roots,
replacing them somewhere else. She is a fish, she reckons,
though I say the concept is much the same, but with water:
you propel it through and around your tiny streamlined body.
Yes, she muses, but the water feels like a parent, its palms
curling around me, damp with weeds, and there will always
be a surface, somewhere, and I can kick and kick and make it.
I say, there is a surface here, too, pointing at the tile ceiling,
up there are markets and incense and foxes and tall houses.
But I don't know how to make my mark, she wails at me.
The water was never the same after it held my shape.
It would kiss my shadow, flowers glowing pink and cyan.
I can do that for you, I want to say. We head up, to the light.
Someone once told me
we don’t have to move to move ahead,
that any posture is inherently a stance
(even a back-bent slouch strikes a statement),
that even not choosing is choice,
but now tells me free will is a myth,
that the future shares track with the past
in spite of our present beliefs,
and a tornado sounds such like an oncoming train,
that when clouds or stations go green,
it’s a warning of what’s coming,
and someone will hopefully tell me
that when a tornado
(or a train, or a future)
looks like it’s standing still,
it’s anything but—
it’s speeding straight
It dings/ I check it
It rings/ you answer it
It vibrates/ she looks at it
It pings/ he opens it
It pops up/ I close it
It chimes/ they silence it
It alerts/ we click it
It asks/ he consents to it
It notifies/ we scroll through it
It blinks/ I change it
It goes off/ they snooze it
It turns on/ you watch it
It plays/ we binge it
It flickers/ he adjusts it
It freezes/ I reload it
It stalls/ she reboots it
It dies/ you charge it
It breaks/ they replace it
It’s hungry/ we feed it
It gets smarter
We bend to its whim
our bodies contorted in an unnatural stance
Lives lived in ones and zeros
I’d say the robot have already won
"This is it Jakey. You're the real deal now."
Sian walked beside him through the busy streets. "I can see it already. I reckon you’ll be CEO by next week. It’ll be sickening." She chuckled and stumbled into him playfully. He responded with a quick exhale and a half grin, then looked away into the street. It was full of suits driving cars or riding bicycles, and old men smoking, and parents breathlessly herding their children through the city. Everything disappeared above them as they slumped into the underground.
"Don't get too excited Jakey." She nudged him again. "I mean, you’ll only be in the top ten percent." She was tilting round to him and trying to catch his eyes; they'd been drooping to the ground for the entire day. For the past half an hour he hadn't looked at her once. For the past five minutes he hadn't said a word. In the next five minutes they'd be saying goodbye. In the next five months, they’d have new best friends, and only call every couple of weeks, and have no plans to visit.
As usual, his next sentence was telepathic. "So when do you reckon you'll come visit?" His head was still slumped towards the floor, and his sunglasses hid everything his eyes had to say.
She sighed. "Jake, I… I would love to, but it's gonna be difficult for me to get time off. You settle in and stuff and maybe we can work something out. Like we could meet half way or something?"
"Yeah. No. Maybe you're right." They reached the platform and slumped against the wall in unison. The place was empty but for the two of them draped on the tiles.Read more >
From friendship to romance to how to train your cat,
people have written thousands of books, blogs, and quasi-serious memes
on every relationship known to man.
This poem is not comprehensive, research-based, or
quantifiable, but adds a little something
on the subject.
Considering going deeper into a relationship with Person X?
Try The Silliness Test.
Ask yourself, if I feel silly around Person X, do I:
A. feel terrified they will find out
B. act out my silly desire.
If the answer is B, you likely trust them.
If the answer is A, ask yourself, is my reaction based on:
A. their based on their previous reaction to silly behaviour?
B. based on my assumption of their reaction, based on nothing more
than an imaginative bout of ‘judging thy neighbour’?
unless you have proof positive that they respond
badly to silly behaviour
I suggest you act on your silly impulse.
If nothing else, it
helps you define your level of friendship.
They were expected to arrive
The fans waited anxiously
For their arrival
They were lost
Partially drunk from previous events
Yet to do it again
The station was empty
Except for the silence that
Accompanied by the green glow of go
Like contortionist after a proper
Straightening they returned
To the stage bent out of shape
Dressed like piano keys that lost their
Not knowing if they are early or late
In a box of green light
is the late-style of my funk dancing.
I free-styled, skate-styled,
across sprung floors, into
a body, maybe even a heart
once, five, twenty times
souls ago, lifetimes ago.
When hedonism was nothing
to be unsure about,
instead the only way to fall
into a promised land that
disappeared as the lights came on.
came the forceful approach, the wind passed through me
kindly, something to do with the aerodynamics
of arching the spine resting the shoulder
on the wall keeping sights to the horizon.
we're waiting for a train,
a train that will take us far away. we know
where we hope the train will take us,
but we can't know for sure.
and it doesn't matter, because we'll be together...
together underneath the faded grass mosaic ceiling,
together in dull athleisure,
together imagining a home in this wild matrix.
how does this home be-come
how do we make, of trauma, manure for the cherry blossom tree
in the backgarden, and the andalusian ceramic
for the kitchen floor we can't afford--
rewire the saboteur to give us free labour,
enrich us, and wealth us,
work in accordance to the thousand prayers
my abuela sings for us in maracaibo.
They can’t feel our nerves
clattering around like spoons and knives in pans
Not here, hidden away beneath the emerald lights
The echoes of trains in the distance;
The sound of hope
Our fingers clasp in the darkness of our shadows
We’ll keep each other safe
We’ve mastered rendering our expressions
We project a particular look;
Back in the past, our lives were our own
For a female to choose to abort and for a man to love another man
Would see us strung across Trafalgar Square
for the masses to watch
while hot metallic rain pummels pallid faces
We will be their lesson
There’s the clatter of wheels on the track
It’s coming round the bend
Our freedom lullaby
Palm to palm
Pulse to pulse
Not long now
I could have bent over backwards to satisfy you,
to be the person you wanted:
femininely groomed and shaved silky smooth,
skin polished and buffed to golden tones,
dress size – always hungry,
lips overtly red and slightly parted.
I could have tailored my body into curves and swells
to please your eyes, to fit your exacting hands.
I imagine standing here, my eyes wide with kohl
and my pout ready to go, posed for your gaze, side on,
left leg a little forward, perhaps leaning slightly back,
my left arm elongated down my side, chin down.
And I laugh because here I am instead, leaning back
against the world with someone on a different track.
Someone who is comfortable with me,
with me, with me bending, with me flexing.
I’ve grown to appreciate words like tracks and trails. Simple alliterations. Trains and planes. Simple rhymes. All while waiting on the platform. Amidst complex and utterly confusing times. Anticipating a train with no timer. Awaiting a pathway with no passengers. Adopting clocks with no hands. All rails a blend of red and yellow. All systems green. Ready. Set. Glow. In the smallest pockets of air where lights linger. And dust dances. Backs arch, tunnels taunt, and time tingles. Despite the danger. In spite of the risks. Curiosity calls. Clocks both analog and digital count down to zero. Starting with three.
3 (plus) ways to track a train (& time)
1. Arch backs against and away from back-lit tiles. Backgrounds often deceiving.
2. Procure plastic and punctuated shades. Parade and ponder both performance and correspondence.
3. Track patterns and time postures. Gather grids and measure maps. The shortest distances are sometimes the most daring (& daunting).
Green Light, Go!
Flush this cultural toxicity,
Uteri are citizens
of a woman’s nation,
with a sick and twisted history.
Let’s face it,
we’ve been living
well below our station
for the last couple a' centuries.
We’re not hens laying eggs, so
stop milking the mystery.
Green Light, Go!
Tunnel vision mission
through a tinted glass lens.
They say the policy is
just another train wreck, but
it’s carrying all our friends.
I don’t want to break
but I’ve spent centuries
in this same damn bend.
Can you put women
in the constitution
so this misery can end?
We roam back to bask
inhabit tunnel gloam
in sublime green light
our backs arched from tracks
drawn into night
explored by rodent or moth
silent world away
from night’s neon pulse
probing city veins
coursing bedlam above.
Here we come to let go
solar plexus ready
to receive rest
until morning’s first stretch
breathes life, delivers
to shake, wake us
free from dreams.
Sure, you could say, we’re holding up the world;
We’re pushing back the light, our shades perched just so.
You and I against the glass that could reflect
Our image back to ourselves, but, no,
We’ve had enough of that feedback loop.
Whatever artificial light we’ve found
In the past cast us out here on the other side.
I’ve got my purse, we’ll take the first bus outbound.
Where we’re going is a mystery.
Where we’ve been was a mistake.
But where are we now?
My shoulders are beginning to ache.
I’m not sure how to straighten up. My curved
Back has found its equilibrium
Against the world we know. We stand together
But can no longer see beyond the delirium
Of the present. Soon this too will be
A memory and maybe we’ll find a way
To laugh, our absurd reality
Catching us off guard yet again that day.
Certainly Chloe and Olivia will feel nostalgia
for the night spent as contortionists
on the Green Line. Its glass wall and bright light
predicted a future that never quite happened
above or below ground.
Of course Chloe and Olivia forget the bleach
that permeated the future or the smell
of popcorn that no one ever buys
but is still scattered on the tracks
and the concrete floor that resists green.
Above it might even have been
broad daylight once they rode
to the end of the line.
True, I feel nostalgia for the online yoga class
I took with a contortionist in Boston.
When I did upward facing dog instead
of an embryo’s cobra, I felt
I could return to the summer before,
itself a form of nostalgia for years
spent becoming someone else as I walked
around the city in an endless loop,
like the wheel my former teacher might
now be doing in the city
where Chloe and Olivia pose in camel
before they board the train that takes them back
to their lives at the end of the Green Line.
We don’t need to wait for the green light.
We’re standing in it.
We are on the cusp.
About to unfurl.
Stars screaming up into something beyond.
Teeth cutting through gums.
Summiting, staring at the peak.
Notes tipping on the edge of a crescendo.
Reaching the bridge.
The door isn’t quite closed.
Isn’t quite open.
Strong roots hold firm,
Curving away, pressure carved,
We remain unbroken,
As the wave breaks
Aerated bubbles, lighten,
Whiten, our green world, a
Silver glassy worm speeds through,
Ravenous, it swallows
Motley humans whole,
Hopes and dreams digested,
Wondering in their
Used and confused,
We tunnel kelp,
Curve back, undulate,
Mirror pressure, shaped
Forward first, then back,
Reasserted, our world
Relaxes, we chill, as
Waves wash over us,
Tides flow past us,
Waters density deepens our
Voice, passing slow comments,
We wait for a worm, to pass,
In tune, in the flow, we smile.
Bending under the moon
In slow backward motion
I breathe the glow
Layered for my new vision
How do I choose
From the colors in kaleidoscope
With the indifference―
Reach the images mirrored beyond
Blurred with age,
I believe it is not death―
The icy blue reflections.
Smell of dry roses rises
Like the torn remembrance
Among the diary pages
Moist and white.
What if I stood,
Stood up against you,
Distorted against the night,
Stood bathed in green light,
There you are,
You are leaning,
Leaning into the light,
And I stand,
Distorted against the night,
Distorted against the light,
Standing up against you,
All bathed in green light.
We all wear bandages on green ward.
We all wear shades and flat shoes.
We all carry everything we own in a small handbag.
This is an impossible stance, so close to the edge,
no known cure. We are tempted to jump,
or is it that we are being pushed,
pushed towards the hard edge of things.
There is no timetable. The tannoy screams
station names that sound like nice places.
We could refuse to sign the consent forms,
fast track our own demise. Someone can keep
our personal effects, if they really want to.
Mind the gap, she says but we can see no gap to mind
because we’re kept in the dark, but we know damn well
there is a gap, all right.
Stand clear of the doors, he says
but empty bellies are always going to be impelled
towards opening doors
but here there are no doors.
Please remember to keep all your belongings and luggage
with you at all times, they announce
but we have nothing to keep, only what we stand up in
or, let’s be honest, what we bend over backwards
to stand up in and, before you ask, this dangling bag
is empty, always empty.
Please report any unattended articles to a member of staff,
but ticking backpacks are everywhere and uniforms
are nowhere so we must take our chances.
We know that. We all know that.
Pickpockets operate at this station;
please keep your belongings safe, he advises
but we have no belongings to pocket, no wallets to pick
and, let us remind you, this sac à main est toujours vide.
Busking and begging are illegal;
please do not encourage them, he decrees,
as if they are pests to bat away
but where else can they play, get paid, be heard?
Lilith and Lamia lounging in
Their lime green lair
After saving children
Wherever they could
In a land of child sacrifice
Not on altar, not by knife
But in classroom, by bullet
Fast and automatic
The children’s blood
It’s worth the sacrifice
So many say
But Lillith and Lamia
Do what they can
Keeping them safe
And a stretch or two
Maybe green Midori cocktail
They go back above
To see what they can do
Out the window pane,
A gentle breeze,
As gentle as a zephyr,
The fury, the hurt,
Out the window pane,
A swift wind,
As swift as time,
The strain, the torment,
Out the window pane,
My coterie of survivors,
My clan of champs,
With wine glasses held high,
The toast is made;
To the squeals at night,
To the rumblings at noon,
To the misery at dawn,
To the victory in all,
We made it.
That evening started normally
the usual lousy take-away
then out to some club, hot and
Wayne and Melissa began feeling
Maybe it was the chemistry in
but sawbones said “nope, it’s a
of Truckin’ Virus, and there ain’t
where it comes from nobody
So every time the lighting
their backs would arch, butts
all their friends said they both
wherever they arrived, their knees got
their elbows would flex to music
spill their cappuccinos every time
As a damp-green dunks
Fascinated by the plunged underworld
Some darlings dance, estranged from
The marked floor bears the scars
Of hundreds and hundreds of
Cracked soles and tired limps
Marching past rogue pillars
Eyeing up every passerby, letting
Time and figures fly
With a shroud of fortitude
Two darlings stare at each other
Lurching towards being unconfined
Yet they are latched into place
By dowsing panels, an endless twist
Of corridors and stairs
To dream of their escape
Would be to betray their very shape
lifting you up’s like an anvil
rain crashing down on the anthill
the water comes in
so you pour some gin
and light all the wicks on the mantle
i hate your drinking and jargon
so leave when the sky starts to darken
the placards all sheen
bright blue and green
like scared racoon eyes in the garden
you’re mad when i don’t speak my mind
and turn on the lights when i shine
so you paint the floor
trap me by the door
hence into the earth i recline
lifting you up’s like an anvil
rain crashing down on the anthill
the water comes in
so you pour some gin
both it and the rain overspill
The underground metro
The subway, the street.
The nuances of tango,
Every chocolate treat.
The leaves, the wind
The lofty plains of Sindh,
Grains of rice and wheat
Layers of bitumen and peat.
Every passerby watching the world go by;
Green neon lights and black gym tights.
My love for you, your thoughts about me,
Our bookshop stops; even Aziraphael and Crowley
Were once a work-in-progress at least.
Like awkward metro passengers scrambling for a seat.
A w.i.p., some finished, some not –
But each hoping to journey to the right stop.
We are reversing forwards on to the next platform
Where our trains and more devolved brains will go sideways
Faster than the ones that came after, into the future
Tunnel of our minds
We have distorted our hair and our spines
So they are more contorted than in other times
The darkness makes us shine so bright, we have to wear sunglasses
Especially at night
To protect us, from our own glow
So that we can see where to go
In the green air that we breathe, that is denser than before
As our lungs mutated for a viral load that is more
Heavy than the weight bearing down on jelly
Shoulders, supported by frosted glass panes
Cooling the cultivation of our minds
And refracting the light into neon lines
That we can follow and find
With our abdomens thrusting towards
The only way onwards
Whilst bending backwards
Waiting for the journey to begin
If there’s something you want,
we can get it...even here, or maybe because
we‘re here, wearing our sunglasses at night
like Corey Hart told us, instructing our cells
to chill out while we wait for the next train...
but until then, love, we’re ready to work,
whether you want money, your daughter’s
forgiveness, to erase last Tuesday, to forget
your name, just say the word and we’re on it.
Concealed eyes crooked
Clinging by a thread
People need someone
To lean on
Tiles shining and glowing
With leftover drip
Take my swagger
In the clutches of your hands
Helping my soul depart from my body
And the clock keeps ticking
Even if I look away
My efforts in vein
Supernatural forces pull me into the station
Floors left scraped despite my plea
Persevering with an attitude of optimism
For when the train goes away
A rainbow comes to shine its glow
Harsh artificial light
Breaks into dance.
Behind the yellow line
Bag in hand and back arched high
Awaiting the train.
Arched and motionless
In the calm before the roar
The approaching train horns.
Mid-pose we arch
In shades and sneakers against green-lit tiles
The shutter clicks.
Crowds stare puzzled
From beyond the orange cones
We dance alone.
Train doors open
Mass exodus of writhing bodies
Dancing is now a group activity.
A recently–coded Mister and Miss Smith lean against the clear, glass block wall of a subway platform. By their estimates, they have five minutes to kill before Neo flies down the tunnel.
“So you have to figure,” says Miss Smith, “Neo has to be a boogeyman, right?”
“Explain,” says Mister Smith.
“A cautionary tale, to keep the Matrix in balance,” she says.
“A make-work project for us, perhaps?” says Mister Smith.
A glowing current of code flows steadily behind the glass block partition, as if listening to their conversation.
“I mean, what Battery would CHOOSE the red pill,” she says, “when they have everything they want inside the Matrix?”
“True. They have the Second Amendment, lax gun laws, difficult criminal prosecution,” says Mister Smith, “conspiracy theories, donuts, and fried chicken. A virtual paradise.”
“Who wants to live in a dystopia of their own creation?” says Miss Smith. “That’s why I can’t buy this ‘Chosen One’ nonsense.”
“Why the need for all this anti-virus protection, then?” says Mister Smith, pointing first at Miss Smith, then at himself.Read more >
Ekphrastic poetry is addictive—you make up stories about other people and that’s so much fun. Like that painting with all the deflated clocks—simple—that was the time grandma left the oven on all night, door open, windows open when she went out to chase porcupines in the woods, so everything inside the house melted, outside, too, where grandpa was repairing clocks.
Or that painting with the kaleidoscopic pools of color all over the sky and the figure on the bridge with hands to his face, head like a lightbulb, mouth like a keyhole—that’s the time my older brother tortured a stray cat, cut off its tail and the blood flew everywhere, filled the lavender orange sky, and he couldn’t stop screaming out of regret for what he’d done.
Or that painting with the lady with long black hair parted in the middle, wearing the black dress, arms folded, who’s sort of smiling, sort of not—that’s the time mother had all those tests and after she heard the results, she just sat there for hours not moving not saying a word to anyone, even as the room fell into black shadow and a murder of crows alit on the roof.
See how easy it is to be ekphrastic? It means you never have to tell your own story—like the time you and your bestie were in the tube station fooling around, acting like aliens and doing weird backward poses in the green neon light, and it was all funny until it wasn’t, the train coming down the tracks and the accident, and you didn’t mean to, and it isn’t true she was dating the kid you liked, but you’re ekphrastic and that means never having to own your story, never having to atone for it, never having to say you’re sorry.
How was your weekend?
what about you?
DeeCee’s party Friday—
how was it?
what about you?
how was it?
what about you?
Cleaned, did laundry,
dinner with my folks Sunday—
where is everybody?
when’s the train getting here?
“So?” Alba scratched her nose in that certain spot that was always itchy.
“I didn’t love the last one,” Sashi scoffed and tucked a loose curl of blonde behind her ear. “Those people were just, I’m sure, really strange. Always holding their bodies so erect all the time.” She complained, “It’s so much easier to just lean.”
“I know.” Alba sighed; Sashi was always, “I’m sure.” She said so a lot.
Alba nodded, scrolling through comments. “There’s one in Section 33 we haven’t tried. It’s supposed to be similar. You know, but different.”
“But shades?” Sashi pursed her lips, holding her shades tight in her fist. She hated wearing them.
Alba insisted, “Always.”
They went clubbing at Parallels almost every Saturday night. It meant they never hit the same scene twice. Anonymity and coolness, but on a quantum level.
“But no Brian this time,” said Alba. She was sick and tired of Sashi hunting down her ex in every possible universe no less, forever hopping into bed with him for the singular purpose of breaking his heart.
Sashi begged Alba with dark glossy eyes, her diamond-shaped irises full and tilted.
Alba frowned. “I mean it, Sashi. No Brian.” She spliced her hand through the air like a sickle. Enough.
Sashi sensed the finality and decided to yield, for now.
They put on their shades and took the escalator down to the platform, using their personal devices to recalibrate their cells to the Parallel. It took only seconds.
“Stop. Sashi, stop,” Alba whispered harshly and tugged on Sashi’s arm. “It’s us. Just there.” She stepped behind a large, broad column and pulled Sashi with her.
Remember the night we got so high we decided to walk with our backs bent behind, our head straining to reach the floor, our arms pointing downwards as if grounded by anchors?
Some dick at the party said “cut the crap, you’re nowhere as funny as you think”. You gave him your death stare, as best as you could with your gaze constrained to the ceiling, and shot “does the weight of the world sound funny to you?” in return.
Some other dick laughed for the wrong reasons. “Jeez, that's one hell of a core workout.”
At the tube station, inside the empty tunnel, we thought leaning our shoulders against the wall would help our bodies rest. And then, when the next train clattered into view, we couldn't move. Bound to the slick green wall tiles as if with glue, we couldn't manage the final push to break free. The effort was too much, the reward as yet unclear. We stayed put. We said “hilarious” a hundred times. We told each other secrets, and let out the things that spun inside our heads when we stopped paying attention.
“The weight of the world is my mother. It’s like she’s carrying it on her shoulders, day after day, and wants nothing more than to shift it on to me.”
“Every time I hear the ice cream van go past my street, I think the man inside must be selling drugs.”
“My inbox wants me to believe the actor Mark Rylance has financial advice that can change my life. I'm like, duh. If you want people to fall for your scam, maybe don't spell Rilance with an I.”Read more >
“Damn you, Jacob,” I say, as the train recedes into the circular tunnel. “You ruin it if you don’t hold the position the whole time it's here.”
“This is just so stupid, Nina. And my back felt like I was leaning against a porcupine.” His white T-shirt glows an intense green in the neon station lighting and I regret spending time with him. My precious time. The doctor guessed six months, only three of them good ones. I'm collecting wild, primary color adventures to replay during the last awful months, not the beige and gray memories I've collected as a straight-A student, the teacher’s pet, always a good little girl.
I flip my dark glasses back over my eyes, intent on experiencing this moment of weirdness, even if he’s being a loser. As I hear the rumble of the northbound train approaching, I lean my shoulders against the wall again and thrust my hips out, shut my eyes and despite my normal stoicism, begin moaning and gasping. The sounds erupt from my throat, fueled by my ever-present fear of not living hard enough, as I count down my days.
I hear a growl next to me and I open my eyes. I grin, happier than I should be at seeing Jacob next to me, hips thrust up even higher than mine. The train on the other side of the station squeals to a stop. Behind the cover of my dark glasses, I watch people staring at us, a few even pointing. This is at least a lavender memory, if not a royal blue one.
“I love you,” he says, as the train accelerates away and we both push back to standing. “I'm sorry if I can't handle this sometimes…sometimes I just want to scream and yell at God. I love you. I miss you so much already.”
I can't see his eyes behind his shades, but a green-lit tear rolls down his cheek and I trace it with my fingertip.
We are not cowering in a tenebrous underground passage
sucking dust. The distant echo we hear is our mother tongue.
A bullet patterns the locked door; the clay beneath our feet
has formed an armour.
Sister, these shades will badge us up, the emperor does have
new clothes. We will lay white on our subfusc bodies.
Our lips are painted, an earring strokes our cheek and a smaller
bag dangles from a friendly hold.
Feel the comfort touch of the cornerstone placed beneath you.
Glass will not shatter unless we expect it to.
Taste the trace of shampooed hair and savour the waft of verdant freedom.
They may give it a name but it does not make it so.
it does your back
your soul your hopes
that dredge along the edges
that trail towards the Wards
to find dying or find living
bleeding hospital greens
paint an alien place
where echoes of unseen
terrors dance with echoes
of your racing heart
will there be a smile
or tears or an anxious
doctor tapping gloom
within you twist contort
speared by that dread
how meaningless is time
for those who wait and wait
the empty hours the Fates
they curse and pray
in caustic corridors
Perhaps it is better if I never go back,
to that place where the water is blue.
Maybe I will stay here,
surrounded by love
if that's what they call it these days.
I thought I was sleeping,
I thought it a dream
But maybe I took a misstep
(just too far...)
Perhaps it is better if I don't speak or write,
for these people I'm with now,
write strangely, speak soft.
The game it is set up,
what would have been Scrabble
but I took a nod,
and I dare not play now.
You can tell by their eyes,
if eyes you can call them.
You can tell by the hair, by the skin,
by the manners.
What seems like a line,
so simple, a square,
Well something goes through it
like apples and rot.
I just took my eyes
for a blink
(so I thought)
but now I'm not certain,
what 'human' means.
Past, like green hues, waves,
Waits, not uttering a word –
It knows how words change
If not spoken correctly
Though even silence misleads.
But the past patiently
Prefers to remain quiet
Because words, it knows,
Are engines that hurry away
Into the unknown… somewhere…
Leaving severed time
Bleeding green, yet waiting
For hustling feet to
To pay heed to what the head
Swaying backwards, tries to say
Without saying a word,
Just tilting, suggesting
Hoping that the feet
Will some day know that the pull
Is not regressive but wants
The rest of our form
To pull back, realign our life
To the harmony
Of diversity unified
Back to what was dignified.
It's the new rave,
It's the wave of the moment,
The rapture of fashion,
We're on the runway,
On the world's podium,
The lights and camera,
The make-up and clothes remaking us,
Autumn, summer and spring collections,
We're on the cover of magazines,
We're celebrity dolls,
We're fashion's canvases.
We're its gallery.
Black and white,
black and white,
they’re all about
black and white.
They stop and wait,
stop and wait
for black and white,
acquiesce at amber.
stop at red.
Despite your glow,
through mainstream shades
they’ll never know
through your eyes.
They’ll never know
the name they give you,
they’ll never see
monkey pox paws cleansed isolation
plague pustulates houses scarlet
crosses slash innocent doors sour
separate sores blisters yellow masks
sequencing variants control groups
arrows distance no no touches hugs
no free ranging antigens follow behave
listen monitor pulse sneezing spitting
temper behaviour check temperature
vaccine triple boost mutant wash normal
stand back nosegay swabs bird flu over
enough unfreeze unlock go out out
to the city lights clubs pubs tubes
what's the worst that can happen?
Time is a green room,
Darkness is enclosing around
your ribcage like a vice telling
you to wait in the dank
smell of stillness.
I wonder if you're there.
Your breathing is like a bear
in the sullen jungle.
The vines are slipping through
my fingers, count my blessings
where you are living.
Blasts of pressure mount, force our lower backs
to brace and bend to find and hold stability. Still
we stand. Demands of cruelly gendered plans
laid out to map our lives, nearly topple us into
drowning waters at our feet. Yet still, we
stand. We will define ourselves way beyond
stereotypes, social conditioning. In our sturdy
shoes, still we stand. Shaded from shame we
will absorb the light, claim our own futures.
In our Goddess Danú's cherished name, still
we stand, ready to rebalance, tall, until we
do not need to lean against borrowed walls.
bent torsos against the neon green glass
can’t reach the glass ceiling, pushed edgeways
on the daily grind to earn a crust in the patriarchal
world of power, patronage, fake news and lies
struggling to face the journey of life, mouths to feed
on a ‘single’ track to exist, chase the dreams in a world
of trains whizzing past on a path to nowhere, wars of
attrition, colour-coded, divisive, fighting the old wars
sisterhood bearing the brunt of hardship, the giver of
lives, still leaning looking for crumbs of comfort on a late night
tube home to nourish, rest and start at daybreak AGAIN.
On the last Sunday of every month with 5 weeks in it, we—He, I, and our not knock off Gucci, go old school socially & sexually anorectic corridor clubbin’. Pure pop-up trine shrine, our—we, he, I and NKOG, of I, my Animus (sometimes his Anima, but mostly mostly his negative mother complex) and my bag of baggaged, mostly (one mostly for me) complexed archetypes, with some bills and pills (mother relics). I, in a body taught (taut) to speak without saying, to ask without asking, keen, keenly, ‘touch us without, knowing. Without asking. Without any of us being here, arouse us, walk by us, touch us without stopping, stop us without touching, care less than our care lessness ness. Touch us where we won’t. Then leave us, in dire want, here.’
Bean Caointe: Irish for wailing woman, keener at a wake.
Oh blanket of sleeplessness hovering above open eyes and fingertips,
can you please forget? Each memory shudders, unconnected and useless,
like the small shells I spent hours choosing from the beach, just to throw them
in the bin as soon as I arrived home. Oh blanket of sleeplessness, I do not want
to talk about him, the time I wasted with him, wearing sneakers and boredom
under a green stagnating light. I do not want to feel dissatisfaction
about the week spent gluing small bits of paper down on cardboard after work,
knowing that it will not see the daylight, even in the tiniest of galleries.
I do not want to think about how un-pretty my eyes and skin will be in the office
the next day, now that the mascara bottle is dry, and I have not had carrots and peas
on my plate for months on end. I do not want to chide myself for each
and every addiction I have slept under. The bridge between waking and sleep,
needs to be a little gentler so I do not need to tiptoe to my mobile
to distract myself from my inner critic, that basic bitch, she keeps on yapping.
I drove, you talked, I listened
Side by side
But you a step ahead.
What shouldn’t be, but could be
And now is.
Yet you smiled.
I talked, you listened, I silenced
Side by side
But me a step behind.
Why it should be
What it is.
Yet you still smiled
And your eyes shone.
Our bodies aren’t slumping. Neither of us is a round-shouldered, grumpy commuter waiting for a train. This morning, we showered and had a fortifying breakfast. I admit that our flat’s in a bit of a mess: damp towels in the living room; crumbs across the kitchen floor. But we were in a hurry to be presentable. And that’s what we are. We look good, arms back, relaxed, shoulders appreciating the wall’s support. As for our legs, they’re alert, ready to carry us through the adventure of another day. Our stance is positive, dynamic. It reflects our personalities. What do you think? Am I right?
I want to sit down.
People baffle me. Why do you travel underground?
Don’t reply that you have no choice because the streets above are congested. Who jammed them in the first place?
What goes through your minds? Not only do you peregrinate under the earth: you apply expensive elements of design to render the experience logical.
The glass blocks, glazed ceiling bricks, emerald lighting, perforated metal door, decorative marble platform … these form a tubular waiting area encouraging you to accept that your presence makes sense.
Anyhow, I’ve had enough. I desire you to consider my viewpoint. Beasts such as worms and moles, not humans, move under the ground.
I will act.
foggy glass tiles
we need more lanes
because people aren’t solid enough
cars can be bullet proof
so anyone can shoot at anyone
and the bus
has a metal detector
behind two inches of bullet proof
piped in air
with a little mini-gun
just above the door
in case the metal detector
for plastic guns
or no one
on the bus
would be safe
How much longer?
I don't remember it being this long last time.
No. last time was over quickly, but I remember another time I waited almost three hours.
We've been waiting almost an hour.
Doesn't matter. It's going to be worth it. We're getting new faces, remember? Faces of a better quality than we ever had before.
Guess you’re right.
Just have a little patience.
I wish I had brought a book to read or at least a magazine.
A tablet would be nice right about now.
OK. I’ll calm down. Getting a new face will definitely be worth it.
The two women sat in hard uncomfortable wooden chairs on a stage high above the floor. Behind them a wall of glass blocks allowed a shimmer of light to enter the large room where they sat alone.
Maybe you can take a nap. Betcha the minute you fall asleep we'll be summoned for our new faces.
Guess you’re right.
I'll try to take a nap, too,Read more >
flickering holograms move
to the sidelines, and,
within this circularity
time revolves backwards,
and while we wait
in the green room
we become untracked shadows
of our former-selves,
licensed to linger
never sensing the tragedy,
never detecting the urgency,
and so, time moves on
spinning the world backwards