worldlymy father has europe and asia painted on
tawny skin, the scent of shanghai in his
nostrils and hazel eyes afire with amsterdam
my father has seen dunes
deserts, vast oases of concrete,
flown over fathoms and watched
steam curl slowly from turbines
thousands of miles away from the familiar
taste of morning teacups and the clink
of spoons in ceramic
his daughter exhales england, the scent of
wood burning and 3am. she dreams of london,
berlin, vienna, sofia, rome, copenhagen,
budapest and minsk and riga, helsinki and stockholm.
each plane overhead is a breath of belgrade
or dashes of denmark:
his daughter will one day wake up
on the wrong side of the bed a thousand
miles away drenched in brisk air, smiling
with her own face on
In Every Seasoni.
This month, branches are outstretching
timidly, naked, shy of leaves. Autumn
is burning, the rich golds and twigs
snapping underfoot: a funeral pyre for every
late dawn and crisp, woodland scent that ever
trickled like honey down the throat.
when the ice awakens, colours have already
gone to sleep, tired from their all-year curtain call
of full bloom. powder falls, the stars are
shedding their skins, congealing in gentle dustings
on your eyelashes. you blink, and the dream is gone.
if winter is a sigh, spring is a gasp for breath:
rhythmic, unsure, but fully alive, as buds tremble
an ostinato in the breeze. tulips tenderly sing
lullabies to tiny green leaves, peeking with awe
out at a brave new world, straining to listen to
what will become a floral symphony, half dreams
and half oak and acorns.
when summer pulls on a garish shawl strung of
rose petals and water lily scents, the world
laughs, ricochets of mirth up to the atmosphere,
hot breath forming in clouds trailing
six thousand timeswe - yes, you and i - have woken up six thousand
five hundred times now, we've watched this amateur face
day in and day out
if i was an oil painting i'd colour me in
tattoo myself with names across my eyelids so
you could see who i am when i blink or when i sleep,
maybe i'd hold one eye shut and examine all
the people i've been - and i don't pretend to
have charted the constellations from my bedroom,
or to have crossed mountain ranges
with bare feet - but i've braided dreams and songs
together like daisy chains and
no, these eyes aren't haunted, they've got a
ring of gold and green for every shooting star
or midnight foggy cloud of breath
if i was a poem i'd stand up on stage
and read myself out, every twist and turn and
awkward simile i've fumbled with like trying to
tie cherry stems with my tongue, and maybe
people would toast with champagne flutes or
maybe i'd be booed off stage. i am no odyssey
no artemis, no juno, no epona, no eostre, no kostroma,
no cassius, or castor or pollux o
my secret is autumnseasons dance across the palms of my hands.
fresh petrichor dripping from leaves, slowly
unfurling little waterlogged petals and lambswool
and ocean air behind my eyeballs, sand sinking
and strawberry fields gently rustling with the taste
of smoothies and gentle swan calls in the lazy marina,
little bits of cloud-dust falling onto your numbing
cheeks, and choirs breaking out of church halls to
serenade snowfall and poppy-red lips.
but it is october that truly sinks into my pores.
if autumn was a woman, i would tell her how clever
she was, choosing red and orange for her leaves
and pouring fog like dust motes into sleepy towns
if autumn was a man, i would tell him how beautiful he was,
when dew freezes over jeweling grass, and when
pumpkins glow, beacon-like, next to billowing string
for spiderwebs and the rustling of costume.
it's sad that autumn is purgatory, between one rose-red to another
(blushes in summer, poinsettias at winter)
because the rattling of rain against windowpanes
fox firessome say the northern lights are dancing maidens or torches
lit by the honoured dead, or charged particles
colliding with atoms in what could be the most
beautiful lovers' dispute known to man, sun, sea, flora and
fauna. some tongues whisper that a magical fox is sweeping his great
tail across the snow, spraying it up in to the sky.
the fires of a fox could be myth, legend, anything, but even so
if you're wandering around in december and see red foxes scampering
through sleet, wish that they'd sweep it up into the cosmos
and craft you a perfect lovesong.
when the winds are roaring outside and the rains are knocking at my window
i'll think of winters gone and winters to come like any half-sleepy soul at
fourteen minutes past three,
spewing stories from chapped lips in frosty breath, fidgeting uncomfortably in
leather jackets, hair crusty with sky-fallen crystals
or pink-nosed children excitedly breathing out,
fingers to their mouths, pretending they were
exhaling cigarettes and carcinog
to the sunset leaves sweeping on waves of
exhalations and to the soft sound of mingled
watercolour paints dripping onto rustling paper.
to the tinkle of children dropping pins in the cracks
of frostbitten lips and crevices in bricks built
to keep the winter away from shrinking crabapple trees.
or you'll miss watching the names of strangers be
daubed in wet concrete onto the icy streets and the
knock on your door as you're visited by ghosts in white
sheets and creased eyeholes.
or you'll miss the delicously sugary irony of warming
your hands on liquid nitrogen and setting fire to your
sweatshirt to cool down.
scrape your palms and bruise your shins enough and you
might step out of your skin and leave ribs as wishbones
by your side like you believe in yourself. tie your knuckles
round your clavicle and unfold your spine and if you close them
hard enough you might start to see the fifth of november in
your hazelnut eyes.
did no one ever tell you that you had
i write bad poetry.You are made of bone, sinew, gristle, synapse, skin, keratin
not inkwells and Hemingway, galaxy-cuttings and star-trimmings
or dream, Edgar Allen Poe, absinthe, reflections and sin.
You know a hundred words to describe every pockmark that dots
your face and the way your pens fit into arrow-quivers by that
ricketty old desk of yours but
Words will not
from your mother-of-pearl lips
Apply cleverly-done descending letters here
and sprinkle one jaunty hyphen across the page
because after all, punctuation is a hitchhiker
and you're speeding down the word count like a cargo truck
till you crash into an abrupt ending or more likely
a lack of poetic inspiration.
Today and yesterday and seven days before, you might have
prostituted your muses, a penny for your thoughts, looked with
cross-eyes at your empty lined pad of paper and then
wrote seven pages about a cloud you saw that eventually scattered
into dreamy folds and smoke.
The sky is blue.
The sky is big.
Apply 'the sky is
What If We Were Poets?Do you ever wonder what it's like to come face-to-face
with the planets? To curl your fingers in the air without
meeting thousands of plaster ceilings? What if I showed you
how to cross Saturn's rings, inhale the atmosphere of Venus?
You would enter the Earth (and it's a strange place to call home,
really) with ice crystals at the corners of your mouth and ash
clouds stuck to the insides of your fingernails. Let me tell you,
it's a beginner's worry that you'll burn up in the atmosphere,
but I've had helium and hydrogen daubed on the base of my tongue.
Oh, and do you ever brush past the windows on train carriages
and wonder what cornfields are like when they're your sky
and your Earth's crust? What if I took you to the white cliffs
of somewhere or other and taught you how to spread your wings
and not hit the ground? What if I showed you mazes, and became
the red threads around your thumbs? If you'll just trust me, I'll let you
see that getting lost should only worry you in jungles of co
wanderlust, and what i knowi know things.
i'd like to pretend to the listening frost on car windscreens
that i know these things from the song of birds down my ears.
'a little birdy told me' they say, but what they're forgetting
is that birds, if they could talk, wouldn't waste time telling
humans other peoples's secrets when they could be teaching
me how to grow featherdown and fly. yet here i am, a bird
telling scraps of paper what i do and don't know.
everyone gets a miracleeveryone gets a miracle.
the thing with miracles is that who can tell a
miracle what it is? is it watching the sun bleed
into the horizon holding your lover's sweaty hand,
all cheap perfume and hour-old petrichor like a
twenty-first century version of numinosity, since
it's amazing you even found their heavy-lidded,
flecks-of-gold eyes in the first place? is it near-death
experiences where you're lifeguarded back into the world
by a kind stranger in a surgical mask? or is it nothing
spectacular, at least by those standards, but just
simply waking up in the morning, having the eyes and
lungs and heart to do so, the mouth to speak 'i
am alive and that is pretty awesome in itself'?
but, see, everyone gets a miracle.
a true, unrelenting one, the kind where your heart
swells up to nearly burst out of your body and your eyes
well up and the only word you can speak is 'wow'. maybe
you're twenty-eight or eighteen or forty-two and perched
precariously under fog and mist and shying away from the
Collab: holding starsDid I tell you about that girl?
I should have done, always talking of her
Always on my mind
Jumping on my mind
I have no ways to explain how she makes me feel...
What words in the world could we use to describe
What words could you use to describe how much
you really love somebody?
Maybe a thousand astral cords tied to the tip of
your tongue, and maybe just one spiral galaxy
wrapped around your ankles.
But what is as perfect as a hundred leagues
under the sea, that first gasp of ocean and rock
salt, with years of rainwater rushing through
the gaps between your ribs and the walls of your
Our love growing like the universe, by particle, by stars, by worlds, getting ever wider to line up our perfect future, our world together, her love is my star, the warmth of the sun by her touch, the smile as wonderful as the eclipse but never as rare but still as perfect.
The shooting I saw on its path,
red red rosesi am not a goddess
nor do i
believe i wish to
i'd rather be a half-forgotten
or a girl with opium
eyes and a
who doesn't believe in
kisses demons with lips
that whisper poetry as artificial
as the mannequins in a
i want wings:
appendages stitched from
and the feathers you
can find on
the ground - dirty,
ripped, but still
and i would soar
higher and higher
and buy up
all the stars.
if i am being
i fall in love with
and wolf boys
much like the way a candle
melts; fast, hot, and dripping
wax down the side.
i just want to fit
between these ugly bones
and the too-tight skin
that stretches across them.
wishingshe wishes she had pretty legs,
all cotton and threaded silk
but masked behind an awkward, lolloping grin
stand teeth stronger than diamond, gritting
noiselessly when her arched feet fall
that churns with her motion and uproots
dandelion clocks, but leaves
tiny blue petals waving tenaciously
like garden palm fronds and her
effervescent eyes cast downwards,
where the girl with dirty soles
has forget-me-nots growing around her
for holden caulfieldwhen i was sixteen years old
holden's words were echoed to me, ironically
in a voice not his own. phoney, he'd call it,
but as my literature teacher would say 'reading aloud'
but too softly
too kindly for the room, nineteen of us
all with bored, hooded eyes -
and wouldn't he just hate us?
the boy awkwardly ruffling his hair and turning to
his reflection in shiny glass, smoothing more strands
and the girl whispering and the one next to
her pretending to listen, smacking gum
and me, tracing words with my pupils
doodling stars and clouds on scrap paper
'what do you think of holden?'
'he's weird', 'he's right, i guess?'
but i pity caulfield.
and if i could travel back in time and
scoop up all of holden's baby teeth and
tie them in a little necklace and wrap them around
his neck, i would, and if i could tell
holden caulfield that childhood and cigarettes
are the same: both end.
but it is up to you what you do afterwards
and if you choose to grind it in the ground, do so,
and if you choose t
GrowthI remember the day I caught him 'gardening'. His cheeks stained cherry with the brisk wind that trotted beside him up and down the smothered garden path. He dropped a seed as his feet brushed past each other. Up and down he walked, a solemn lieutenant. I asked him what he was doing and those wide sky eyes reflected the ice as he told me he was trying to grow flowers for his mother. I looked at the seeds spilt on the snow and told him that they could never grow in these circumstances. I will never forget the clench in my heart when he responded, with a child's tongue; "I know".
If I Could Send Post-It Notes Back in Timei.
No matter how many times the world
says to “be yourself”
it will never accept you
when you are.
You’re on your own. Always.
Admit to yourself that you lie.
You don’t have to make it
a point of conversation with others
because most will not understand
nor love you regardless,
even though they do it too,
but admitting it to yourself
opens the door for growth and that
is very important.
There will be a boy who you find
sitting next to you in a library one day
and he’ll eventually ask you to do something.
The road to hell may be paved with good intentions
it’s better to do the wrong thing
than to do the right thing with your heart
not in the right place.
Learn to laugh more.
Life is much more bearable.
Don’t blame society for all your problems.
Don’t blame yourself for all your problems.
Don’t apologize for everything.
This is neither attractive nor healthy;
it makes you
confirmation biasi am
arranging the facts of us
into a transcendent artwork,
dreamlike, pure, ( false )
twisting our story, the
fragments and fairytales
into a maybe some day
into a perhaps
into a future
where you feel
as i do
Goodbyei didn’t fall in love with you
until your skin was already grey and i
had to tell you what the weather was like
since you couldn’t leave your bed.
i didn’t mind long nights in the hospital
because making you laugh brought a warmth
to my cheeks that burnt hotter than a
forest fire, you never laughed at me for blushing
i snuck you in alcohol and forbidden foods
and pushed you around in that rusted wheel chair,
and all the nurses looked at us with
miserable eyes that said more than the doctors
would ever tell me.
naively i thought it was good news
when you said they were sending you home; but
when i saw you strewn across your wine red sheets
my heart was heavy with foreboding, and
neither one of us said anything while i
slid an iv into your paper-skin hand, so
i never asked if you were okay.
we kissed and i didn’t comment
on your snowflake lips or the fact that
your hands shook like earth quakes when
they grazed my thigh and i held you tightly
like if i could keep
I saw thatI saw that.
The way the words
stuck in the back of your throat like glue.
The way you held your tongue
for fear of ridicule if you spoke up for yourself.
The way the syllables gushed from their mouths,
a torrent of excuses,
when they did you wrong
because you didn't make your own case
and you should have been more forceful.
I saw that.
And I've been there, I've lived it.
I know it's hard to let their criticism
roll off your back when
they've already knocked you
flat on your face.
But I saw that.
And I won't let you fight it alone.
Last WordsIn the beginning you never want to let her go,
and so you don't for a long, long time.
You commit to bobby pins underfoot, mismatched
plates stacked like landmines,
long hairs that circle and clog the drain, filling the tub
with stagnant water.
You tell her something that you love about her
each night before you fall asleep,
until one day you look at her and realize that you
don't know what to say anymore.
“I am not happy.”
You whisper this to yourself once and then try to say it louder,
but the words won't cooperate.
Maybe a whisper is as loud as this thought can exist,
or maybe some words weren't meant to be spoken aloud,
but you still think them, and yes,
you whisper them to yourself
when she isn't listening.
Perhaps this is what you should have been telling her
each night as her hands searched for you in the darkness.
This isn't happening, you think,
unless it is.
You wonder if you owe her something,
like your heart, maybe, your red hooded sweatshirt,
bridges of mistwe've built our lives on
ghosts: whispers of truth, shadows
of fact, pixie-dust
dreams daring us to find a
solid foot-hold in the haze.
maybe it's time to stop cradling and killingit's more common
to press flowers
between age wash
but i was raised
to press weeds
there's less guilt
in picking them
An Artist Without Paper or a Pen.If a picture says a thousand words
how many of those are lies?
And if I could see them all
would I even mind?
I look without a hope to touch.
An artist without a canvas or a brush.
That's the difference between now and then.
An artist without paper or a pen.
If the eyes are windows to the soul
what does it mean when they're broken?
And if I could say it all
that would go unspoken.
I speak without a word to say.
An artist's landscape at different times of day.
And that's the difference between blindness and sight.
An artist without eyes, or a light.
If the pen is mightier than the sword
how many lives has the pen took?
And if I could keep score
will we need books?
I say it all without a hope to act.
An artist without a chisel or an axe.
That's the difference between hope and what comes next.
An artist without an eraser or a subject.
Unable to draw it out.
Can't even write it down.
Finding it hard to believe in
all my minds been weaving.
every night my hair is falling outI have heard that in 7 years
every cell in your body
& isn't it beautiful that it will be
a body you have never touched
but I know that when your brain cells
fall like ashes through your skull
they stay dead
& I can never scrap the memories out of their corpses
the way you speak through incisionsoh, disaster dweller, you were
bone-ache blue & cyanotic.
we wore lonely luminescence
'round the wrists that held
our god-hands, but you were
livid skin & anesthetic to the
touch. a river of pitted veins,
you said: we'll all grow weary of
the rising of our ribs someday.
somewhere beyond hurricanes made
only of butterflies
and carpets pushing moss
between your toes
and trees that rut green
against stained glass
and dandelion clocks that blow
june around the snow-capped peaks
of your shoulders and the mountain
valleys of your collarbones
"we are all just stories"
and i have mine to tell
if we're all myths
strung up on strings of dragonfly wings
let me walk on fire i stole from
mount olympus, let me open pandora's box
of phoenix flames flashing purple and blue
and let me be a girl wearing a queen's skin
or cloaks of thistledown and lost baby