Full Circle

I was sitting in the cafe of the National Theater this morning, with a hot chocolate and a fruit and nut slice and book of poems (Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing) and note pad and pen, and was just suddenly smacked around the head with how familiar the situation felt. Friday night I dug through a folder I have carted across the world. It is a folder of poems and short creative pieces and drawings, but mostly poems. I was looking for lines by Cohen which I’d taken note of, but couldn’t find them. I remember so clearly sitting upstairs in the National Gallery of Victoria, between shelves, and being awed by this one damn line, and writing it down. And I couldn’t find it. I went out and bought the book, and still haven’t found this line (but found lots of other lines I’ve liked; the spine is already bent, the corners of pages already turned).

But I was sitting in the cafe of the National Theater. And this is something that I spent a lot of time in Melbourne doing: sitting in a very particular cafe, Thresherman’s, with its exposed brick and long wooden tables and dark red brick floor. I would sit with readings, with notebooks. I would write poems endlessly. Some of them are truly terrible. Most of them are stream of consciousness. Most, I have in fact pulled lines from, and inserted them into bigger and better poems. But that feeling of being alone, with a book and a notepad, writing and rhyming in your head – that has not been something I’ve felt for a long time. It is an isolating but comforting feeling. I distinctly had three out of body experiences in the theater, where I zoomed in and out on myself sitting there, perfectly centered, looking out the huge windowed front, rain and grey over the Thames. Everyone with umbrellas. Everyone seemed to be a couple. Everyone in the cafe was an elderly couple (I wrote a few lines on how we are not scared of old age; we are scared of being old and alone).

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T&L, 2012

It is the strangest thing, being with another after being with you for so long. Does it feel bad or wrong? No. Just different. (I do not seem to have a functioning conscience). His lips are firmer, with a metal ring to run your tongue along. The way he looks at me is different – he doesn’t love me, not like how I love you (how can I say this?) and how you love me (how can you do this anymore?) He may love me in an instant of pleasure, of gratification. Perhaps he may love things about me. He said I was slimmer than anyone he’d been with before. He tells me I’m cute, that I look good. You tell me I’m beautiful and I see it in the way your plain brown eyes come alive.

Now he is asleep and it is the afternoon, and I am uncomfortably writing in this dark, warm room that smells of light sweat and stale smoke. But I cannot hold this pen and I am tired, always tired, but that bed is not meant for two. I barely slept last night – even after the kisses had finished (though they began again in the morning; just as passionate as before, despite the bitterness of our tongues and the sobering pastel rays creeping across the sky). I fell asleep again and he watched videos on the internet and now I wonder if he instead watched me – did he glance over the way I just did to see him (one hand to his brow, the other folded across his chest, barely rising with his shallow breaths). You would have watched me sleep – and when, by chance, you sleep before I do, I marvel at the peacefulness in your closed eyelids, the softness of your veins and tendons, pushing against your skin.  You are an angel. But I am sitting here, gold sun streaming through the gap in the curtain, and you are far away. A train ride through green hills and kangaroos and pretty lanes, thick with dust. Now you are in school, or perhaps it’s your lunchtime and you’re choosing not to eat because you hate spending money on food so you’re sitting alone on your phone in the park out the back – but now I’m not thinking of you. The black haired boy in my bed just rolled over, and breathed deeply. His hands are now behind his head, surrendered. And I am confused.

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Last Night

The sheets smell of weed
and my eyes are full of sleep.
The sheets smell of you
and the stains have vanished
now with the winter sun
itching its way over the trees;
they are skeletons across the road, always saluting,
always waving their brown branches
saying they can see me
see us
see our bodies move in the dark
in the grey light of a screen playing a forgotten movie
the lines, the orchestra, the guns, our groans;
the soundtrack as
we shift together,
crumple together, around each other,
a knot of limbs and skin and bones and scars.

Deer in headlights,
our eyes wide
mouths open
and shoulders shaking.

Keloids

This is a very old piece of prose. Written around the end of 2012, and all very much in reference to real life events. There’s a hefty trigger warning on this, for fairly graphic descriptions. There’s something utterly compelling and masochistic about writing about and reflecting on my experiences of self harm, much in the same way there is when partaking in self harm, I find.

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Matthew

(no, no not out loud.)
(my god, yes, yes out loud) –

Faded denim and
Van Halen,
Big brown eyes
with that deep blink
and five o’clock shadow,
Christ
there’s a face I’d wake up to.

I’m going to read to you
he says,
Little Black Book in his hands.
The Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew speaks,
a disciple
a saint
reborn recovered romantic:

when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
and he opened his mouth.

Preach
Preach
Echoing off the walls of your suburban home
Mother asleep next door.
Mottled carpet,
off-white sheets
(the cape of a king)
draped around your shoulders,

blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness:
for they will be satisfied. 

The lamb that bled for you
I have eaten for dinner,
and knelt before my porcelain throne
to be cleansed from the sin
that no holy Father can forgive;

salt of the earth:
but if the salt have lost its savior,
wherewith shall it be salted?

Matthew,
above the law of God
The Lord
the father we never had
still granting love you cannot know
and the love I
will not
can not
give.

Matthew
(mistaking my meekness and mercy)
risking a battered conscience,
by declaring me forsaken;

[my] light [has shone] before men
in such a way that
they [have seen my] good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

I pray you will only consent your
forgiveness when asked for.

Two years, and Counting

here in this waiting room, in my
summer blue dress and they
in their black
with their jackets wrapped
tight around
the bird bones that I
used to have too.
I will float above and watch them.
Listen to their delicate
chirps of conversation,
their little smiles on
the pale doll mouths,
and me,
elephant in the room,
distanced from their world
of rigidity,
alien to their structure
and routine
and power, too.
They’re there, across from me,
the black hole in the
room and it’s all I can
do to not stand and
run to them, to beg them
to suck me in,
to siphon off the blubber
that crept on
when I was busy trying to
find reasons,
scraping the bottom of the barrel for reasons,
scraping the bottom of a 2l carton of light vanilla
trying to find reasons.