Learning How to Spit

It’s always with the intention of breaking,
of messing up, wild night, laugh too loud
and all teeth catching spotlight.
Bad milk in the back of the fridge
and nights where you can’t find your hands for his.
Him, this nameless thunderburst,
the soul residing in ‘someday‘, caught
on the sharp edge of your ending,
your becoming,
and the kind of mystery you know he’ll bring.

The intention of a bite, two,
your throat the tunnel of a train, unstoppable
and everywhere at once. Someday
I’ll be the girl who stays out too late,
wanders into lamplight, sparks like flame
and finally says ‘Yes‘. Yes. Yes isn’t
something I’ve allowed myself, lately,
with my hands this soft,
watching bluebottles dance themselves
to death by the window.

I will be heavenfire. Tomorrow
the barstool and a dark mouth, wet touch
to the power outlet, divine, you know.
My words will move like butane, lick of promise,
I’ll watch as they ignite boys’ match-heads
and burst into smoke.
But first I’ll answer a question without
sewing my own teeth together;
light means soul, means mind, means talk,
you know, get over it.

Rough.

I don’t know why I thought
the sun would like my palms-
like their desperate grasp,
their weakness.
I thought it would make my heart
grow taller, somehow,
like shadows in the daylight,
but all I’ve seen here
is the moon.

A plus A never equals
anything good, at least
in my case, with the night
air on my skin.
I wanted the sum of letters,
the alpha sequence,
to fall around me like rays.
Maybe then there’d be fire
on my tongue.

All I got was burnt.
Ash and library books,
a closed mouth to the third
degree. The goal
was never to rewind four years,
to where the wall
comes up between my teeth,
to where being in shadow
means existence.

To where the electric light on
means I can’t go inside,
not there. I’m a fox
chasing a torch-beam, ravenous,
and it’s just not fair
that some coins shine
at the bottom of the well,
while others, muddied, forget
the wish they fell with.

The Best Week of Your Life

The sky hangs lower here
than it did back home,
back West, back where the hills
could hold it up
with their verdant atlas arms.

Who knows, maybe
I’m suffocating
in the secrecy of the
South, street-lamp bronze-bright
in my window
where an old oak used to sit,

and maybe it’s not the silence
in the room that’s trembling
at my closeness
but the lack of accent
in the footsteps outside.

Oh God. If time
ran backwards in paradox
and hours unravelled into frames
and frames into phrases,
how would you phrase this?

That I can’t make my tongue
move ‘I miss you’
through the wires, or
that soon I’ll see
everything but you and not cry.

That I’ll be coughing
up gin on my own, raw throat,
trying to forget how damn
guilty I don’t feel
about not being there.

You know this.
I’m lying through clenched teeth;
I’m fine, I’m fine, yes, no,
I talked to someone today,
I can function. I can function
and not crush

my heart
in the process. My bones
are metal, mother, metal.
I’m talking to strangers because
you told me to.

But the sky here
is like gorged fruit. It
hangs so low over the roofs
more like factories than
homes.

The rain here is sea-spray
not downpour. Who
knew I’d long
for grey, for the stillness
of three minds in place of one.

Play to Progress

I will come to you
open.
You will love me-
ribs like wings,
my heart no longer
mine
but everyone’s.
One day I’ll be a vine.
One day I’ll only paint
a single layer,
a mirror of someone
stronger,
but for now I’m the eye
of the storm.
I’m an honest wound
and I will come to you
as a parachute.
You will die for
my mouth,
and learn,
marrow and soul,
that missing me
means
drowning.

I want to destroy your holy

When they scream,
when their warped mouths glow red,
stretch, howl,
wolf-bitten fingers torn
past the nail.
Maybe they’re prophets.
Maybe they know things
the Devil doesn’t want revealed.
Maybe your grandfather,
the exorcist, aches
for that unholy penetration
to confirm his faith.
Because
what’s better than martyrdom?
Or, rather,
What’s better than light, a fire,
so bright it is only extinguished
through confirmation?

Lucifer, on seeing the girl for the second time

Don’t lie.

Those seven devils were facets of your own mind.
I caught you in my mouth with Wrath, and you crawled
out, changed, from between my teeth. Broken
bones stopped you like Pride never could-
your hands hit his serpent’s head often
enough,

and it’s testament to the golden idyllic ice-heart
melting inside your chest that Envy didn’t get you
until you saw how his tongue touched the sky,
until you realised, burning, that you’d never be
special. Not in that way.

Then came Lust in how your howl-strung,
dog-dark eyes landed on the man before the messiah,
the mortal before the heralded heavens,
and it was his name you rasped, not mine,
never mine, because Greed

had already taken hold. The coveting
of white eyes and grace and life and being
and no destruction, eternally, in that everlasting
blasted abyss. The cave of your chest not a shelter,
but a hail-storm,

swallowed up. You’re a Glutton for a ghost
you can’t even feel. Intoxicated on air
and the blazing smoke of fading oblations, glass
in your lungs- the shards of my ribs bleeding sounds
from your lips.

But there’s a card in my hand of which he can’t rid you,
a paper cage, the locket that keeps back the voices
and drowns you at sunrise. It’s name is repose,
Sloth in the infinite apathy of new faith’s bright burn.
It’s illusion is safety

as it winds through you like desert dust, the dull side
of the sword. Run, child, but know I will be dancing
in your bones. My nightshade and suicide tree
has already taken root, liver-deep, buried
in the word-softened soul
where your man makes his home.

Helplessness takes many forms. Like the lovers stranded on a northern road, a world away, miles stretching along the horizon and aching across the tightrope between their bodies. Like the old bluejacket who spends all his money on first day covers and all his time with his sons not visiting him.

There, sat on a stranger’s lawn, blinded by the low evening sun with prayers ringing through my ears, I had the distinct notion that if I were to experience God, anywhere at all, it would be here. If there was ever going to be a singular time, a singular sensation, a singular place where the presence of God would hit me suddenly, electric and heavy like the feeling before a storm, it’d be in a garden full of strangers, a boy too young and too innocent to be looking at me like that peering over his glasses as his father leads hymns I’m expected to know.

But it didn’t. And now I don’t know what to think.

Babylon

What did you take
when Babylon burned?
A stone, a smooth-rough palm-
sized kick in the teeth,
no historic indentation
on which to hook trust’s claw.
The same stone that turned
the water flow, sword
at dawn, your eyes like figs
drying in their skins.
Maybe someday your tongue
will be the soldier at the back door,
goat’s head and horns,
goat’s head in smoke,
but for now you just
won’t leave. Terror
exists today too, you know,
I’ve seen it. The citrine-fingered
child in the sand
tells me I can’t go back
ever, and it’s like I’m gasping
for air, no longer fettered,
no Diasporic doubt.
I crush him underfoot
and it’s like this stone, the heart
of the river, floods
from Assyrian wrists,
yellow wine at nightfall.
Sometimes, when an empire falls
you don’t get to move
your mouth. Sometimes,
when an empire falls,
your feet welcome
the fire.

Bird

The car,
to my grandmother,
wasn’t a vehicle.

It was a signal,
a proud principle,
the whole jazz

age and suffrage.
Broken bridle
and walking frame.

When age sapped her
strength, she didn’t care,
almost. The car

was a beacon.
No longer driving,
But there. Hope

manifests in strange ways.
Even in dead machines;
the Trojan horse

changed its form,
didn’t it? And so
metal turned to metaphor.

Now, rain in the cracks,
no dry centre.
Midnight

trips to the window
to gaze upon
no shadow.

Now; citizen,
not soldier. A
mother cut down

not armour inside
a wooden shell.
She told me she cries

sometimes. I suppose
when the caged
bird sings,

it’s not joy,
not defiance
in the face of captivity-

It’s a lament.

Five Proofs

I want to see the world how you see it.
When you fix your gaze on every man’s every breath
and see the brushstroke of God.
You know what they say,
we can’t contain anything greater than ourselves
or else it contains us,
a model ship inside corked glass.
And I know you have to be outside it
for me to breathe, but can you
at least tell me what I’m meant to do
with these hands.
These cursed fingers that scratched
and scratched, until
your light became dark.
It’s privation, it’s poison,
but it’s so,
so hard
not to see your smile in every nightfall.