Monday, 30 April 2018

2018.18 Three Card Draw

IV The Emperor

Every element is carefully selected, from the rams’ heads to the shades and shapes of his draperies. He is bulked and bulwarked, encased in ridged, rigid materials from crown to spurs. Everything is gorgeous, from gorge view to gorget, and preparation is everything; thin-lipped, narrow-eyed, he is unfond of surprises.

He waits, gripped in dread
Battles the creep of ageing
Less feared than fearing.

6 of Wands, reversed

Dread Emperor I have…

So, my liege, a funny thing happened
On the way to the battle


Bravely caparisoned and thronged we strode
High were our hearts and strong our voices
Many who cheered us along our road
Blue were the skies with a myriad choices.

Cut to the chase. I think he’d…
He needs to.

Fear now follows fear
A new day beckons the land
The wall has fallen.

8 of pentacles 

No matter what occurs, the sky never actually falls. It calls: blue, grey, white, star-sparkling, or rain-blessing. The sky knows its own business; a kind of competence that only the masterful possess. Gaze focused, intent on craft, this one spins out protection, carves calmly the shape that turns back indignities into equality, perfectly balanced.

Empires creak and fall
Wisdom rises to artful
And work still goes on.

2018.17 Cycle of Development

I ask you what you want from me,
I try hard not to sigh
I lay out: Time/ Cost/ Quality?
I ask you what you want from me,
You say that it’s all up to me.
(I wonder if you’re high…)
I ask you what you want from me,
I try hard not to sigh.

2018.16 Pilgrimage

It is maybe the third time,
Limned in sticky sunlight,
Wild with sleep deprivation,
And wrapped in last night’s stop-out clothes,
I stride to the place,
Still unmarked save in memory.

You hated this time of year.
I wonder if that’s why you checked out then;
I find it hard to credit any of this
As under your control.
I find it hard to see you here;
I have no memories of it but this.

We’re supposed to congregate,
Take our time to murmur to you,
Deep in earth and sunlight.
I’m remembering the time
I staggered to your bedside dressed like this
And you whispered, mischievous:
“Are those leather trousers?!”

Yes, they are. I am Saturday night dance-sweat sticky,
Sick with longing a year on,
Humbled by Sunday’s brightness.
I hope you don’t mind:
I brought no flowers,
Just this overwrought body and half a brain.

The earth is dry and sickly
I sympathise, braced and baking in heathen pigskin,
Whispering, miserable: I miss you
Wishing I could sing you to sleep again.
My brother stomps here most weeks,
Mine will be a different type of guilt.

I will seek you elsewhere:
Seeing you in tulips, these unruly tresses;
Hearing you in the way my voice curls Hibernian, Caledonian;
Feeling you in sea breezes, freezing and freeing;
Tasting you in bolognese, scenting you in heather.
I know you in these bones you gave me.

It’s taken me 6482 days to write this poem;
I had a lot of things to learn without you,
And yet every step was braced,
Threaded through with your essence.
I still sing, still dance, your legacy
More than conscientious memory.

June Roberts: February 1946 - July 1999 

2018.15 Suffered a Sea Change

Woke to grey fingers
Legacy of last week’s sweat -
Spring’s gait hitched again.

2018.14 Crossing the Water

I knew she was dark, but not like this,
Didn’t see the stark silhouettes
That leered, card-sharp;
The theatre of her mind
All cameos and tragedies.

I never credited her fascination
For the gravity that dragged at her;
The open maw beckoning with
Sweet, dark songs;
The temptation that thronged in every shade.

I should have listened longer,
Combed through notes,
Read the echoes of her wine-dreg codex
In the way she dodged the mirror’s glare
To gaze on emptiness instead.

Inspired by this.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

2018.10 Here be Unicorns (or: my 40s are a lot better than my 20s)

Ladies and gentlemen (and every other particular), strap yourselves in for what some call the ride from Hell; the deceptively exclusive:

Bisexual Bagatelle 

Our choose your own adventure starts with you -
A newly-sundered miss
Who’s strayed into the Hetero Zone
And now finds yourself cut adrift.
Misanthropy beckons, but you’ve reckoned without
The healing power of friendship
(and the unending source of solace that is:
The Internet.)

Let’s site this in context:
2004, another door slammed in your face,
And, having been placed in the category of
“Failed Lesbian” (true story)
Our heroine is keen to reboard the
Train to Lapland (if you know what we mean)
Strapping yourself into a magical capsule
To bounce around the board that we call
(other products available, your mileage may vary, your peace of mind may be at risk if you don’t keep up repayments into the Bank of Bliss.)

Cite your preference,
Sit this psychometric test,
Bless yourself with a unique username.
No, not that one.
No. Not that one either.
Adding 69 to the end
Will garner you no friends
And besides: someone else already did.

Bingo! You’re appellated!
Now, reach out! It’s easy!
But don’t forget to pay attention
To geographical preferences
And sexual preferences
And romantic preferences
And hair preferences (that’s length, style, colour, and body… oops)
And musical preferences
And fitness preferences
And bodyshape preferences
(though “no fatties” (really) is less important than the far more common “no drama”)
And smoking preferences
And pet preferences
And kink preferences
And hint: preferences may change over time.
And this is 14 years ago (almost to the day!)
So no chance to say that
You’re starting to feel unreasonably constrained
By the Exclusive OR of female or male…

What’s this?
No bisexuals
Okay. Next…

Lesbians only

No bi’s.
Fine. Bye.

No bisexuals - no offence
I wish you’d get off the fence…

No non-lesbians

Wombyn only
Give me strength…

And then we’re bounced to
The other end of the spectrum -
The seemingly unending stream of people
Keen for you to enhance their lives
By joining them.
Both of them.
In their marital bed.
Their copy-and-paste charm
Seems harmless and direct
And yet you can’t help but wonder
Whether you’re ever going to be other then the glue
To someone else’s imperfections,
The gold chasing to their cracked vase
Your body the album-pressed memory
Kept from the grandchildren,
Banished to attic dust,
A one-time dare.

And yet.
And yet you’re tempted.
So you don’t answer no.
Not yet.
Don’t scrawl your own Ctrl-V, fleet and meaningless.
Not. Yet.
Because you’re no stranger to polyamory
But you do want to notch that stick
With My First Threesome.
And it would be so easy…

But you play it cool,
Keep switching up text dialects -
Butch enough without being brutal,
Funny enough without being futile,
Deep enough without the drama,
Real enough to balance your karma,
Carting your dreams between
This weave of half-truths,
New acronyms,
Apparently ancient profile pictures,
And women with interesting issues.
And husbands.
And children.
And cats.
And bad habits.
And a real failure to grasp basic grammar
And the realisation that you are a snob
A hypocrite
And desperate,
And you’d best get back to better
Masturbation techniques at this rate
Except your toys all bear memories
Of him.
And her.
And them.

And unending despair is
Leavened only by the ping!
Of notifications,
A good half of which are
Angry men bent on negging
Your HTML, of all things, and
Showering you with dick pics
Which you hadn’t expected to pick up on a
Queer dating site, for shite’s sake.

Time to close some profiles.
Time to block some pricks.
Time to pick and choose.
Time to get back your diurnal rhythms.
Time to sew the schisms of your soul.
Time to dole out some peace,
Pay the fees for qualified counselling
Instead of rendering yourself down
For literally faceless strangers.

Time to admit:
You are not ready to date again yet.
Time to admit:
You need sleep more than you need sex right now.
Time to admit:
It’s fine to be alone for a while.
Time to admit:
You’re more than someone’s ex.

And now you’ve anecdotes,
And a list of narrow escapes,
And new ways to say no,
And are no longer hopeless,
And have at least one new friend as a result,
And know that you are not alone,
And that you’re more than just some mythical creature,
And that treating yourself well is the opposite of weakness.

Lean into the calm curves of self-acceptance
And smile.
A day is coming when you’ll stop bouncing
And start to weave your own path
Between extremes.

(And, in the meantime: there’s always erotic fanfic and fingers.

2018.12 Helm’s Deep

He scribes lines,
Tries to define the intersection
Of flesh and everything

His spanner eyes
Peer, grappling with the
Gears of the universe

Passion is a curve
A perverted slant;
The shan’t to his must

Even circles twist -
There is nothing Euclidean
In this sly existence

He curses, hammers, scores,
Sure that, this time,
The sky itself will bend.

But precision eludes him
Elision creeps,
Steeping him in sleepless sweat

Next time, next time,
Next time, next time,
Next time, next.