The General Election, 2010

I didn’t know I was a poet yet
but I borrowed your words and
made a note of them on my phone.
The streetlight illuminates my
living room. An ice cube melts in
your whisky, which means

it’s watering down. Soon I will
take a cigarette, blow into
the melee of smoke, and drift
into the comfort of your arms,
where there’s always room for me
and where the air is expensive.

Slightly drunk, I watch the coverage
newsreaders and MPs become
frantic and scramble for something
to say. You breathe me in this time
and the moon appears to pulsate

like a jellyfish in the sky. We drink
more and your boyfriend asks where
the bathroom is. When the election
is over we’ll fall asleep on eachother
and wake up now and then to check
we’re all still here, and happy.

I miss you now, my partner in crime
my brother, in a light spring suit.
Everything goes away, eventually.
We think we have control but we don’t
the coverage is ending and we’re
no closer to knowing our fate.

For Stephen

I wrote your name
in the back of a Maths book
under the desk
I found myself falling
for an older man
you texted me between
Biology and Health
I was sixteen.

I told my friends about you
I wondered if they’d worry
and over time, your name
multiplied
in the back of my book.
My lungs full of smoke
breathed you in
your sallow skin and
cold, green eyes
fixed me whenever I
hopped in your car
I got a detention for
being late, and a C in
Maths. Ten years on
and I’m living with a
handsome, bearded man
not as tall as you
but in some ways
much richer.

Study in Rhyme 

Tonight, I’m left to grieve the empty chair
which gathers dust and holds old secrecies
the views that you espoused whilst sitting there
of masters, wives and common decency

I must not dwell on strangers of the past
their appearances catching me off guard
or question any moves that you’ve amassed
now that you’ve heard I lack in that regard.

I remained vague about your orange light
as beautiful scenes to Impressionists
and when I’m asked to remember or write
it’s true, I won’t recall the times we’ve kissed.
But now, there is no start or end of you.
The empty chair won’t miss you like I do.

Look for the Man

When I mistake the church’s clock face
for a full moon, I am mistaking my love
for a mere theory circling my brain.
In the context of a great love ending,
one may understand the attraction to
a blind hubris with hips.
I had hoped, at the time, that you would
surround yourself with the kind
of genial friends who wouldn’t try to sleep
with you and instead provide you with some
crucial distraction: a cider and then another, and
then a party, laying on their backs on the
lawn with you, pointing out patterns in the
great clouds above. When you left me
I had hoped the same for myself, but
when the Summer mayflies hopped about
me, up my arms and thighs and prickled
I found myself lying next to who might
next replace you, much as you did when
we first ended. I learned, and cannot
forget, with what confidence she imbued
you. We were planning our life together.
A life, in which we would drink ourselves
into a stupor and lie, a life that needed
your revision before embarking upon
and getting that one last fuck out of the way
before working out that this was real.

The Hex

You. Red lips and cold eyes, child-
bearing hips that he loved, friend.
Post-coital tristesse, call it adultery.
Through the broken glass your arm
snags on the shards, poet, and
you shout: “Let me in! Let me in!”
because you are a part of this game
now. I will call you Old Me, and curse
you, Sloane you, whose words come red.
May you be known as whip-crack
head-smack and devil-cunt, you.
I want to visit your home and burn it
all to the ground. May you never conceive.
May all the matching underwear you carefully
plan catch fire and blister the parting
of your legs, and may you be forever
alive, never dying, wandering the earth
with unflattering, exhausted and fragile
age, a half-ghost battered by the
harsh winds and rain.

The Ghost

I can feel something unearthly in my flat tonight
or someone, quiet in the shadow of a shadow
I lie here unsure as to if I should communicate
its hands hovering above my face,
Like a starling, I fly close to its body, fluttering
close to a once-beating dead heart.

I remember thinking, as your thin frame stood at the
bottom of my bed, “this is rare”. I thought you were

perfect. Because to me, perfection is what pleases me.
I am reduced to real tears when perfection isn’t with me.

We know what perfection is by virtue of nothing being perfect
but I know what it is because I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it

betray me too. I remember everything, and when I remember
you at the bottom of my bed, I remember how you paraded

her in front of me, and I wonder why you would do that,
not knowing how I would react, guessing I wouldn’t need to

find out. Real perfection probably doesn’t exist, now that I
think about it. Disappointed, I was no longer calling you perfect.

It’s the same with perfection as it is with obsession. You
are reading your poetry to a book shop full of listeners.

You are singing songs in my bedroom to impress me.
I wish perfection existed so your flaws didn’t have to exist.

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