I have recently moved house again. I’m now I’m a small village part of Todmorden, officially the strangest and most fascinating place I’ve ever lived in. Already odd things have been happening and the weather has been freak, but on the upside I am writing a LOT. I can’t share too much with you because I’m not really at liberty to but here’s a sneak peek.
I have a book to write and recently, I’ve lost the ability to write. I read my recent book tonight, and it was almost as if I was reading the work of someone I admire, and can never be. This upsets me a little, as I know I wrote that book severely undermedicated. Since that book came out, my medication was increased and more added. Writing poetry has been hard, but here is the first full one I have written in weeks. It has no title yet. I’m trying to marry alternative spiritualism, psychology, and the pastoral, whilst trying to remain contemporary and I’ve set myself a stupidly high standard. My inner editor is a real cunt right now, but I’m actually happy with this one. I hope you are all happy with it too, and thank you to those who are still reading after the dramatic posts of this summer.
Trimming your beard
Neglecting the top button of a
Second hand shirt, to be a trip
In the mirror, for me- you are a
Separate you, seeing things afresh.
This man who knows – you,
Who knows – is the man who sees
Several parallels at once:
One world and its ten imposters
Soil and river heights, his
Girlfriend’s silly witchcraft
And newfound earth study
You do not know
That you, and only you,
Illuminate me as a Goldstone.
Forgive me internet, for I am drunk. Thee nights on the sauce and I am now exhausted. Gone are the days that this behaviour seemed normal and now I am ready for a hot toddy and a good book before bed.
Tonight I was with some friends, one of whom is also a poet. We were challenged: who can write the best poem in ten minutes? I rose to the challenge as I’m super competitive and going through a dry spelled regarding poetry right now, so an excuse to write was fantastic. The other poet was bragging he writes every day. So, I put it to you, internet. Which poem is better? Both were written in the beer garden of a village pub, both took ten minutes. Comment on this with your preference to settle a bet. Here is poem one:
Remember your secret name?
Of being both jeweller and appraiser
What are all these stones
You gather in those tusks?
It went dark tonight. A secret shade
Discovered only by
A secret name.
Do I worship mundane things?
Overwhelmed by the gone ones?
I don’t know me like you do.
I’ve no framework or reference
Divorced: I run the basin
Watch my own eyes on the pool
A muddied brown
And morning frown
Whilst yours sing of a youth
I’ve been losing sleep since June.
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, for poem number two.
I am the most faltering of bedside manners
My psychopath wakes up and wipes the wakey dust away
And whistles nonsense tunes
Imbedded by his parents
Moving diatonically around.
There’s Opera in his croaking marsh
Whose Voicebox was a raindrop
Descends a crooked canon
Falls into plagal, false endings
From the Bedroom to the kitchen
Then the parlour and the Library
Like it was something to be proud of
A note suspends in steam
My psychopath sings in the shower
A silverish sound when partnered with
The cascade of shampoo bottles
The jam red flood of the hot tap
I lie in the bedroom
Aware that one day I will be found
On the floor in the wet room
Ten years after
My psychopath died.
ALL VOTE NOW
I haven’t updated recently as I’ve been busy getting my first tattoo and getting back together with my ex-boyfriend and let me just say this about that: I will come to regret neither. I know this blog was a place for me to get angry about the break up and yes, it was a horrible, horrible time in my life. However I’m sure a lot of my fellow crazies will appreciate that sometimes being the mad one in a relationship can make you temporairily ignorant of your own unreasonable behaviours. I wasn’t seeking help the first time around and anyone who knows me will know I am capable of being really “quite a handful”. Throw a misdiagnosed mental illness and ineffective medication onto an already insecure and unstable person and they’re hardly going to be perfect girlfriend material. No, I am not taking all the blame but I’m able to reflect and correct the errors I made. If someone like me can do that then I respect my boyfriend enough that he can do the same. I am hopelessly in love and losing him was a pain I will never allow myself to endure again. Yes it will always sting a little that it happened, but I’m not about giving up on people. Love is love and love is imperfect,like everything else. But it’s real and it’s worth it, and that’s our decision. For those wondering, me and the other ex have decided to remain friends rather than a dramatic goodbye. He’s dating someone new now and what’s left of the tatters of our previous relationship is an enduring friendship with someone is, admittedly, quite a bit of a vile fop, but someone to whom I am indebted for the help he offered when my partner (and a few friends) deserted me. Also we’ve lived through a lot together, and I think a sensible friendship with someone like that is necessary. I hated being given up on and I hated feeling like my flaws were somehow luminescent to those I loved, them forgetting the nice person I am capable of being. I don’t want to do that to anyone, especially not someone who pretty much saved my life and helped me to give myself time to grow.
Which brings me neatly to the tattoo. I have changed a lot. The problems I had in ALL of my relationships were these: wanting too much too soon, relying too much on the other person, not getting help when I need it, and becoming too entrenched in the relationship. Those things have changed because my outlook on life has. I no longer feel unsafe most of the time and my insecurities have settled somewhat. I feel more independent. I feel braver, and getting the tattoo was about that. It’s a triangle, which symbolises power, change, intellect, protection and summoning, and for me that’s an important symbol to wear on my body. Also I confronted the fear of the unknown in actually getting it, I’ve been putting it off for a long time. Finally, my body is too full of ugly scars as it is. I wanted to make a scar that looked nice and meant something positive.
Okay. So that’s all out of the way now. Let us get to the matter in hand. My good friend Max Dunbar has written a short piece of prose which is about what it would be like should I become poet laureate. He does things like this. It’s called The Drunken Laureateship.
The Drunken Laureateship
I really don’t know why they chose me. Perhaps the local talent pool wasn’t so good: Simon Armitage too Northern, Seamus Heaney too Irish, Larkin still dead. My investiture followed the Hay helicopter disaster of 2010: I imagine they had to make a lot of phone calls before they got to me. My first composition, on the occasion of the wedding of the Duke of Cambridge to Catherine Middleton, was a shock. Called ‘Diamondcore Plebstomp’, it was a result of my involvement with the flarf movement in poetry, and also contained elements of, H P Lovecraft, e e cummings and a new versifying style of my own invention that I like to call ‘witchhouse’. The poem was broadcast on a big screen set up in the Mall in a four-minute YouTube collage where I narrated the verse over mashups of tableaux from medieval history, Daily Express front page generator sites, and Breaking Bad meth cook montages. There was some criticism (‘I couldn’t really identify with it,’ I remember Lord Bragg saying) even talk of having me sued to meet the additional costs of policing the event, but Christ, what English wedding went without a riot?
For the Olympics, I had been told, quietly but firmly, to ‘tone it the fuck down’ and ‘try to do something more traditional’ and so it surprised me that my Opening Ceremony composition, ‘Fuck This Discus Bullshit’, was not more appreciated than it was. I mean, they had like Danny Boyle and Underworld, so I thought I could attempt something a bit more adventurous. The accompanying music I chose was a tasteful blend, I thought, of Unforscene’s ‘Nuclear Symphony’ and Apollo 440’s ‘Altamont Superhighway Revisited’. I certainly didn’t expect to be rugbytackled and tasered, mid-recitation and in full view of the dignitaries and viewing public: the last thing I remember is shouting ‘We want more cycle lanes, motherfuckers’ at the Prime Minister of Turkey, and Sebastian Coe sobbing into his hands.
On a last warning, my composition for the birth of George Alexander Louis was, I thought, a subtle and discreet affair, yet full of ambiguity and allegorical weight: ‘Oh, a royal baby/How vulgar/Prince William’s going bald.’ That was it, apparently. ‘Call Simon Armitage,’ I remember the Lord Chamberlain shouting. I became the first laureate to be dismissed since Dryden.
I immediately went back to my little drunken poetry circuit in the pubs and hipster bars of the North: I came to think of the laureateship as a rather silly affair. Still, perhaps it taught me something, at that. Come with me. Don’t think of routine. Desire is not weakness. It’s been a beautiful summer. Let’s do something different today.
Nobody, except you, can do it right
to feel the morning-ache, the playful
up and down of the iris. But, when
we rubbed against eachother, you gave
a sound of pitch. You told me to give
up, and I told you to be quiet, now. But still.
A door shuts. A voice is clipped. A
want is illuminated.
You told me to ignore all come-ons,
Impressionistic. A beautiful exorbitance.
We are all impressionists.
Cutting the stem before it’s beautiful.
I dreamt of careful beauty.
You stepped in my nights, like I was
You dreamt of the country,
And I did too.
Your energies wasted on small things.
I admire you as Vines die.
You’re very pretty
I want to understand this boy
in vague, GCSE versions
Of small language.
It’s vulgar to show off but I’ll do it anyway,
it’s only natural I would. It’s because I
live in the beautiful countryside, overflowing
and wild, non-judgemental, ever-changing in
subtle ways that I always noticed, and you never
could. Would it irritate you that these are my
pleasures now? The joy I feel of seeing where that
river forged those valleys, the height of it, what
the cloud formations mean and why? Yes, I am
more alive than you but now I am even more alive
than that. I saw baby goats in a neighbour’s garden.
Me and your fella once kept ducks, those were
the people we became, and I’ve tried every day to
find it: the Heights. I’ve been climbing over stiles,
I’ll reach a farmhouse sitting solitarily on the moors
and yet, it becomes too pretty to be what I wanted
it to be. Would it irritate you that I’m still trying to
find it? Didn’t we once pin it down in the ruins of a
farmhouse? Didn’t we do a picnic there? I lived
there for a little while. That was the person I
became and he was there too – those were the
people we became, all thanks to you. Would that
irritate you, now? Am I not grieving when I am
dragging myself up the steeps ever afternoon? Or
sitting on the village green and smoking, writing,
scribbling away in this old notebook, does it seem
too much like I am enjoying myself? Is that why you
appear? Guess what, today I saw the hawthorn bush
and I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I sat next to
them absolutely silent out of respect. I out-sat the
misery. In fact, the misery sat opposite me
and I stared it down. I out-sat the grief. These are
my little pleasures, the names of birds, the scent
of leaves, the tracks I make and return to: I was
here, and once, so were you. I read emails last night
until 3am. The beautiful countryside is not mine to
be proud of. I didn’t do any of this myself. Do you
think you’d have been beautiful here? Would the trees
have all bent toward you, the vines grip at your ankles,
do you think even the crags would have started talking
and shouting at you for everything you were? Do you think
the countryside knows how to love me? Does anybody
except you? I sometimes feel we’ve been apart too long.
You’re sitting in the creepy treehouse near the farmhouse,
smoking pot. You’re laughing at the sign that warns
dog-owners that their pets will be shot if caught off-lead.
You’re telling me to go off-trail and start a new one, you’re
setting fire to dry grass land to teach it a lesson. But,
even you couldn’t remove the truth from these old trees. They
would have made you saintly. They might have shaken their
leaves onto you like light drops of rain. You would have
become baptised. The pain might have stopped.
The bleeding might have stemmed. The heart might
Still be beating, your eyes might still be open. No, I
still don’t understand what happened or what that
meant for me, me, me. I am sitting in a forest.
It is different to the forest you are resting in now. I
am more than awake, I am super-conscious, and
I am kicking up the soil in my boots, digging for
digging’s sake. The trail of our abandons finds me
here, as a whisper of your voice, and a grip on my
arm from the wind. You were a forest of constant
diversions. I forged my own desire lines through you,
and closed each single one of them off from the
general public. Welcome to my enclave of selfishness.
I wish I could bring someone here and they’d feel
as close to anything as I still feel to you. Don’t allow
yourself to be irritated, but kindly pity the fact that every
single leaf, each stone in rubble, every single breathing,
living animal or insect, somehow reminds me of you.
How they move and grow with the freedom of unknowing.
I guess you’d say that was quite ironic, if you were
I don’t have a name for this poem but it comes in several parts. My writing, when I’m completely overwhelmed with honesty and truth, really suffers. But that’s the job of a poet in these situations. I don’t want to get into it, all I know is this is my new poem.
I packed the house away without you.
Bagged and wrapped each memory with
ideals of progression.
Your shirts were
then a friend administered
to your letters, I had no
say, in the matter -
I only watched them cripple, and
I tried to hold it all back.
In the bedroom, which became
clinicised; the sticky pads
that lived on my body
that I tore off when peacefully discharged
(they checked me, for
ten hours, only my heart –
until they checked my mind.)
I became obsessed with one shirt.
I don’t recall its pattern, but
It was ether when pressed to my face
every day and every night
over and over, and
over and over and over and over
and over. I could not
breathe you out. The final
ingestion left me short
of breath. Like someone should
rub my back.
Your shirt’s threads got thicker
and try as I might to thin them out
they only ever
East Lancashire’s mill-smoke still
leaves me feeling sick.
Love me the way I still love you.
guess what: I’m far flung into
space right now. I’m the burning ex-planet
learning the sky
as it learns you in turn – shifting phantasm
earthing out the sky
like two people
making it making love
So yes, perhaps I am the half-snapped vinyl of you
existing in splinters on the floor, smashed up when
it was thrown against a feature wall, a record
whose grooves I could not needle the tune from
not even one last time
no matter how much I tried.
The bright purple light of potassium’s
thankfully died down in me now. I exist
much more like lithium. You might not recognise
me now – but it’s good – I’m that ether I mentioned
in that mix-CD inlay.
I’m a million molecules
trying to find home
every day but -
one caught – and took
and I’d give it all to see you here.
Yes, I am swathed in the 96% darkness
of missing you.
Honey. I fit snug in the crags of
Yorkshire, and yes, it might pause me
for worship of the world; but I am seeing it
all (in absentia) for you. I am walking with
the constant flicker of you, still by my side
like a sticking tape
like ghosts in the machine: God –
I never thought I’d miss you
half as much
as I do.