St Albans Churchyard where they buried your sister

There is no crowd or witness murmur 

Only the bell tolls with each proud pelt

And hums as it eases

When you kick up some dead leaves 

And earthworms are scattered up with the mulch

Your hands with crags and stony dents 

Placing each thorny flower into its careful pose 

I don’t call your name 

I fondle my own hands— cold 

And Autumn berries saddle the leaves 

Of a tree with a cotton rabbit on its uncovered feet

The mound is the size of the headstone

I follow the flight of a ladybird 

On the search for a half-open door

Or a crow with bottle-caps in its beak 

Or a fox dragging limp feathers into its earthy home

A bundle of badger melding with the tarmac 

That will be bones tomorrow 

The sun leans into the cluttering roofs

Gathers up its caustic rays and streams 

The sober clouds are diffusing now

You come back, bending 

Under the tree’s archway

And I don’t call your name 

Something rattles, 

Like a stone in a can,

In the organs of your motorbike 

I warm my hands in the pockets of your jacket 

Some uncollared dog chases desperately after us 

There’s something written on the overhanging bridge

Graffiti so wet it rains down the brick 

A moment of apocalyptic message 

Then gone again 

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

I went to sleep in my bed and woke up in my basement

When you were a baby

And They saw you 

And They birthed you, They bore you 

They handed you to Mother 

She dressed you and bathed you, 

She taught you

Mirrored fingers cast back your large, sleepless eyes 

She cradled you for the first of many times 

The finite twists in your cloth-wrapped torso 

Your wrists stuck clamped and birling out 

Your self unravels as twirling paper strips 

Your childhood home 

Now a map and a blueprint

Of crooked door frames and diagonal notches 

Taken out of stair steps 

In years or inches 

Solid wax on the table

The belching plumbing 

That climbs up the walls 

The sharp corner that punctured the soft part of your skull 

The first time you fell from a tree that’s as old as I am

And a moth swept past you

Owl-like eyes on its wings 

Large— like dinnerplates

The memory of which will flash like a bulb 

Like the first time you cried alone 

And how you could recount in detail 

Your heart, a rising plane engine 

And buzzing of blood that pools in the hollow drum 

Of your ears 

Your eyes, 

Bagged in plastic 

And projecting foreign pictures

You clasped your knees to your chest 

To keep the cage from bursting open 

To keep it spewing out as a faulty faucet 

While light glowed through the tiny gaps in your fingers 

Locked and barred like dog teeth to signal

That time 

is passing 

You swallowed that pain like the rising vomit

In the bathroom cubicle of your primary school 

And the loneliness dampened your bedroom floor 

Spun you drunk 

Took you up like a tongue

Lifted your sailless boat of a bed and stole you

While a flurry of moths spattered at the window 

Like tossed rocks of future lovers (all of which you’d never let touch you) 

Bumbling for the opening 

Your head on the sodden sponge of your pillow

While you cradled your stony body in

They scooped; kissed the candle, lit on your desk

Desperately scorched their furs and their fans 

Fell to the floor, weighed down by the flames

Their impulse was a tinder sparking 

On a child’s tight fist of damp moss in the forest 

When you were a baby

And They saw you 

And They birthed you, They bore you 

They handed you to Mother 

She dressed you, bathed you, 

She taught you

Mirrored fingers cast back your large, sleepless eyes 

As she cradled you for a finite time

Whatever I decide

White wing moths crash at the windshime

One day I will choose to be alive 

As the last paper thread lets go of my fingertip

I fall through the bed

Sink in like the rot

Bend through the floor

Stream and split through the prism 

I know these things come back in other forms 

ORIGINALLY titled: “extermination”, then “go away/ don’t leave me alone”, then “uroboros”, “Time loops” and “death drive” until finally settling on this haha. I’ve been MIA because I’ve been kind of sick, but I’m okay. Maybe I can get back to writing soon, when my life feels more stable and normal  ❧

Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash

When the riverbed shifts its silt

It blurs as dyes colliding 

Until the mallard flock flurries 

And the water swirls muddy

When the riverbed reclaims its sediment 

We collapse in stifled combining

Taint me until I’m something different

Blend me into something pretty

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

This is a rework of something I wrote for someone when I was 18 that I found in my outgoing email. It’s pretty pertinent to circumstances right now which is strange, but things always seem to work out that way. 

Entropy (Heat Death)

Only Entropy Comes Easy

Anton Chekhov

In the day

I create a breeze on the porch swing 

Summer breathes shallow on the nape of my neck

The hot hands clasp my chest 

Another daybright fragment coasts on the grass 

Like a mallard, sparks splutter when I slam down the mallet

Like I’m forging it

And when the sickly orange rots, melts and flushes the clouds

Widowed heat radiates long after the sun is snuffed out 

And swallowed, as the garlic-shaped buds plume up their pollen 

My legs prick red by groping tongues of mosquitos

That come in fat clouds and swat like rain to the window 

Supping up the blood

Spit in something that numbs 

Attracted like the flushed-pink stomach of a lying dog in August

In the night

Somewhere, a moth storms, desperate under lamplight

Somewhere else— darkness seeks out the darkness

I begin to drink

Tongue the drips rolling off my fingers

But not with soft brush

Careful blend of the watercolour,

Rather, Instantly pulse 

Grasp like a sponge 

Rinse and throw down the cup

The bowl of my hands 

Outstretched for my ration of wine and not wafer 

The bottle of amber ran almost empty

Tucked beside my bed 

Its short-lived sympathy

A brief mattress boat that rolls

On nodding heads of the drink

The sky folds the reds in

And gold, sticky ring 

At the bottom of the glass

The half torn poster rattling 

Against the blades of the fan 

Tomorrow, the sun will birth stairwells through the thick branches

Scold shadows on my eyes, the twisting dancers

Illuminate the mosquito clouds 

Scatter them as dust blown when I pass

When I’m gone, rearrange and

Create a new shape 

I open my eyes 

Skin thorned to gooseflesh

Head light and sloshing 

Boat in the land, sunken 

I thought, maybe when I was young

On my floor, on a sheep rug,

With a pen and bound diary 

“Dear twenty-four year old me”

Would she be disappointed,

Would her eyes widen at the sight of me?

I roll over to nobody 

Outside— a distant, scorching firefly 

of a cigarette

And the shallow breath of Summer on the nape of my neck

Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

A tree wears Winter like earrings

Like my previous poem Hunger, I wanted to write about struggles with ED relapse. A large amount of the ED struggle is characterised by an unquenchable, unattainable obsession with perfection, which leeches itself into my ability to write. I want to be able to write for me again, and worry less about the need to adhere to an impossible standard, so I’m going to try to do that. As a concluding note, please remember that no one should be expected to be constantly productive in a pandemic, and please be kind to yourself and your body as you would your friend. Take care ❧

That night was the hungriest night 

The amber slashing across my face

The slurry churning under the wheel

The speckling shadows of the snow 

A stalking madness I shrugged off as gut 

The windshield fogged and I cracked a window

Let the car take in a thirsted breath 

Wilted green laid down to rest 

Rested its head

Blanketed there

Buried, unaware of my passing 

Or of my body lit up by the lights 

Flashing glimpses and then flitting 

Tens of eyes were bright and orb-wide 

Bordered the road 

And in the boundary line 

Of one second to the next 

In weakness and cession when 

The last-clung leaf finally fell 

I wanted to believe it was a doppelgänger 

That took hold of my hands 

And tore the wheel from them 

And it rolled, slumped over 

The rubied streaks from the flung

The caved crack in the tree body 

The dent where the car kissed it 

Wet, matted pelt, and the sickness of it 

From the jolt, and the last time

The last time it would die 

I hung from the seatbelt

My skull cracked open with 

The flesh of an orange 

Watched the eyes slowly eat of it 

The foul seeks out the sunless

The web of the windshield 

The wax skin of the daughter

Bloodied gold on the forehead

Monks to an offering 

Huddled round— hooded and bowed 

The wet bag of my stomach 

Pumping with fume 

Brimming with plastic

I cut myself loose

Photo by João Pedro Freitas on Unsplash

Hunger

If it wasn’t for the prickly, quivering flame 

Or the smoke ribbon signalling when it was snuffed

The entangling roots of a plant suffocated

Or the way that it drooped, then crackled, and pussed 

For a shroud of grass blades that prong from the ground

The fox wail in the nighttime, and to know that it’s mine 

Or for the fetus bird with its yellow mouth caved

And how it gapes a familiar, white dreamy sea-wave

When the churn dislodges the embedded debris

And lays it all out on the surface before me 

And the foam over-folds to collapse on the rock

I peel away, fractured as a book in the water

I wring out my stomach like a rotten, wet rag 

Paper cranes burst from the droplets and dissolve on the sand

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Chapel

Find something blue 

She’ll be all doe eyes

Weeping deer crowns

Chestnut deep

In oversized gown

She trips over the long hem

Over glass and black car shell 

Over gnarled, overturned tree

Forbidden jump rope giggles

Wild rabbit witnesses

Stop at the bough alter

In bare feet and mud smudged knees

Makeshift plank chapel 

Blossom cross nailed to its peak 

Pulped painted ground leaves 

Follow Autumn’s heel

Gas station lily in her hair

Ascension on oil slick 

Forming vatican of cardinal grosbeak 

4 foot child bride veiled 

Kool aid for dessert 

Honeymoon in the Motel suite 

7/11 soft serve

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash


Published in The American Journal of Poetry (July 2020/ Vol 9)

http://www.theamericanjournalofpoetry.com/v9-fauna.html

‘Nother Dumb Corona poem

Humans evergreen and hibernating 

Enclammed in concave spinal cords, eating

Hunched over hot-white blasting computer screens 

Mirrored like iridescent, plastic beetle wings

These bug shells lined up, dried out on the window sill

The common house spider, butterfly, silverfish

Clawed up in static pose and pawed at by kittens 

Leg raised muscles cry atrophy— placating

Slick crack; an exhale everywhere from beer cans 

‘Nother day like the last, and the other before that

Sirens sound

Echoes rouse 

People from their homes to the streets

Shielding their eyes

As they step out for

The first time, seemingly

I turn over 

And peel away in gummy slug spit strings 

Look back over my shoulder 

The mattress made a mould out of me

Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

Dollhouse Through the Fisheye

It’s hard for me to remember, 

But I can start with what I know

Bleaching mould stains on the wall

That trickle down from our roof split open

That grow darker every Winter

Get darker every rainfall

Dad’s gotta get a ladder up there

Patch up some shingles before the Summer ends

Before we’re flushed like termites and the roaches

When the hose is forced inside the mouth

The smell of your skin in the shower’s splutter

When you’ve terrapin-basked too long in the sun

Your skin like the pavement in the backyard

Wheezing for some heaven-sent water

Childhood’s an unfocused lens,

Mirror’s fogged, vines choke the trunk,

Clock hands seized up a long time ago, 

This stays in the ground, this stays intercepted, 

Light through the door slashed across my face

Watching you padding down the hallway

Teddy robes and darkened footprints 

Trail from the shower to your bed frame

Old, discoloured bathroom mirrors 

Now more blackness than refraction

Mother screaming you’d buried her keys 

And painted another bedroom mural

The faucet surging and gurgling down 

Water vomits over the sides as you heave her body

Into the tub by the threads of her clothes 

You watch me lock my door— slowly

Playing dollhouse while the walls shake 

Stuffing socks and underwear under the door frame 

Dragged a chair to hold up against it 

Made myself small-

Made myself a termite 

Muscle twitching in the evening 

At night I hear the water dripping 

Smell the pavement wake up to drink it

And put a towel by the wall

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash